Apr 14, 2021  
2014-2015 Graduate Bulletin 
2014-2015 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General Academic Information


A graduate student is responsible for knowing the policies and regulations and the departmental requirements relevant to his or her individual degree program. Only the general academic regulations and requirements governing all graduate programs are given below. Specific requirements pertaining to individual degree programs are outlined within the department sections.

Students should pre-register each semester at the designated time using SOAR on the web. Specific directions are located on the Registrar's Web site at www.usm.edu/registrar. By registering for classes, students are contracting to pay their tuition and fees. Students who pre-register must pay minimum payment (if applicable) by the due date or there will be an additional pre-registration fee of $100 added to their accounts. Classes will be dropped at a later date for nonpayment.

Registration will continue after the close of the scheduled registration period (see calendar ) for five class days.

A late registration fee will be charged to all students registering after the scheduled registration period. The fee is $50.


A student is permitted to drop a course without academic penalty up to and including approved dates published on the Registrar's Web site at www.usm.edu/registrar. After the deadline, a student may withdraw from a  course with permission of the instructor and department chair at which time the student will receive a grade of W. The withdraw grade ("W") will not lower the GPA but may impact financial aid and an excessive record of withdrawals may reflect poorly on student's application for employment or graduate school. Students may withdraw from a course through SOAR (with instructor and department chair permission) and may add courses with instructor and department chair permission using SOAR. Students who drop after the last day to add/drop without Academic/Financial Penalty are financially responsible for all enrolled courses. Adding classes after the 100% refund period could result in additional tuition charges. Student bears all financial responsibility for a drop or withdrawal performed after the 100% refund date, as published in the Academic Calendar at www.usm.edu/registrar.

In some cases, and only with instructor and department chair approval, students may swap classes within a department. This is a rare procedure but might be used if a student in an advanced course wishes to take a remedial class and the department feels the student's coursework will not suffer by swapping classes.

After the withdrawal deadline (up to and including the approved date published on the Registrar's Web site at www.usm.edu/registrar), students can no longer withdraw themselves from a class and should complete the course for a grade. Students seeking a late withdrawal will need to download the Academic Withdrawal after the Deadline form from the Registrar's Web site and submit the form as well as evidence of exceptional hardship to their dean's office for approval. The dean's office will forward the request to a withdrawal committee and their decision is final. Any courses completed before the withdrawal is processed will be awarded grades on the official transcript (including, but not limited to, mini session, eight week one and other non-traditional course formats.)

A student withdrawing from the university prior to the deadline for dropping classes without academic penalty will not receive any grades. His or her record will reflect the date of the withdrawal. A student withdrawing after the deadline for dropping courses without academic penalty will receive a grade of W. Any courses completed before the withdrawal is processed will be awarded grades on the official transcript (including, but not limited to, mini session, eight week one and other non-traditional course formats).

Graduate Assistants should check with the Graduate School regarding add/drop after the 10th day of class.

Withdrawal Procedures

Students finding it necessary to withdraw from the university prior to the deadline to withdraw may begin the process via their SOAR student center with the "Drop ALL Courses" link. Within SOAR, they will view a series of panels that will explain the academic and financial impact in withdrawing from the university at that point in time. Students who withdraw during the drop classes without instructor permission period are entitled to a refund as outlined in the Business Services Refund Policy. After making the requests, the appropriate university personnel including their advisers, chairs and deans will review the requests and potentially discuss alternatives with the students. Upon approval of the withdrawal and final processing, students will receive an e-mail giving instructions on how to return to Southern Miss. If students need further assistance in withdrawing, they should contact the Registrar's office. Withdraw request must be submitted by the last day to withdraw found on the Academic Calendars. After this date, students will receive final grades as submitted by the instructor(s). A non-degree student must begin the process in The Graduate School. This process must be completed in person and cannot be done online or by phone.

Refund Policy

The withdrawal deadline for receipt of a grade has nothing to do with the refund schedule for fees. A student who officially withdraws after enrollment may obtain a refund in accordance with the refund policy. Upon notification to the registrar and business services offices, a review will be made on a case-by-case basis for withdrawals that did not follow official withdrawal policy.

Appeals for refunds due to extenuating circumstances may be made in writing to

The University of Southern Mississippi
Business Services (Attn: Tuition Appeals Committee)
118 College Drive #5133
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001

Course Work

Courses for which graduate credit will be applied are those numbered 500 or above. Graduate course levels are: 500-599 (Master's Level Graduate); 600-699 (Upper-level Master's Graduate); 700-799 (Specialist and Doctoral level Graduate); and 800-899 (Upper-level Doctoral Graduate). All graduate course work, including 500-level courses, shall have a research component that is included in the final grade.

Many courses have certain prerequisites. A student who wishes to register for a particular course must satisfy the department concerned that he or she has had preparation adequate for admission to the course. 

The general regulation that degree work must be completed within a five-year period for master's and six-year period for a specialist and doctoral students applies to all course work.  A grade-point average of "B" or better must be maintained to be in good standing. Students whose grade point average falls below a 3.0 will be placed on probation. On the recommendation of the student's committee or major professor, a student may retake one graduate level course in order to improve his/her grade point average. The original grade in the course will remain on the transcript.

Academic Honesty

Academic and research integrity are critical to high standards in graduate education. Incidents of academic or research misconduct will incur sanctions as defined in the Academic Integrity Policy (ACAF-PRO-012).


One of the most common acts of academic misconduct is plagiarism. The following description may aid students in understanding what constitutes plagiarism.

  • Plagiarism is scholarly theft, and it is defined as the unacknowledged use of secondary sources. More specifically, any written or oral presentation in which the writer or speaker does not distinguish clearly between original or borrowed material constitutes plagiarism.
  • Students, as scholars, must make frequent use of concepts and facts developed by other scholars. Plagiarism occurs when students present the work of other scholars as if it were their own work. Students may refer in their own words to generally known and widely accepted ideas or theories without fear of plagiarism as long as they do not copy the plan or organization scheme used by another scholar.
  • Plagiarism is committed in a number of ways including the following:  (1) reproducing another author's writing as if it were one's own; (2) paraphrasing another author's work without citing the original; (3) borrowing from another author's ideas, even though those ideas are reworded, without giving credit; and (4) copying another author's organization without giving credit.
  • Plagiarism is avoided when appropriate citations are used giving credit to the original source in the following instances: (1) when quoting directly from someone else's writing (a direct quotation must always be enclosed in quotation marks); (2) when paraphrasing someone else's writing (to paraphrase means to restate a passage from someone else's writing in one's own words); or (3) when following the outline or structure of another author's argument, explanation, or theory, even though the material is summarized in one's own words.
  • When in doubt about how widely known ideas are, a student should observe these steps: (1) ask his/her instructor; (2) provide credit to the original source.

Other types of academic misconduct include the following:

  • Acquiring Information Inappropriately – The act of obtaining course assignments or examination questions or answers in ways or from sources not approved by the instructor or proctor (includes, but is not limited to, unauthorized use of the internet).
  • Lying of Falsification of Data – Any statement of untruth in all matters related to the academic experience, including false claims or authorship; falsification of information, data, or results derived from or related to research or to laboratory experiments; the misrepresentation of information, data, or results by any means with intent to mislead administrators, faculty, or others acting as officials of the University.
  • Stealing or Defacing – The act of intentionally taking, transferring, defacing or destroying, without right or permission, any property related to the academic mission of the University.
  • Multiple Submission – The submission, more than once, without authorization by all instructors involved of substantial portions of the same work, including oral reports or work submitted for retaken courses.
  • Conspiracy – The act of agreeing or planning with any person to commit a violation of the Academic Integrity Policy.

Research and Scholarly Assurance Program

All faculty holding Regular or Associate graduate faculty status must complete training modules required by the Graduate School and their departments. All graduate students must complete the training modules required by the Graduate School and their departments the first semester they are enrolled in graduate school. The policy and training information can be found on the following website: www.usm.edu/graduate-school/research-and-scholarly-integrity-education

Final Examinations

Examinations will be held as located on the Registrar's Web site at www.usm.edu/registrar. No final examinations are permitted prior to the scheduled examination period (see calendar ). A student who is absent from the final examination without valid reason approved by the Office of the Provost forfeits credit for the semester.

Course Loads

  • A full-time load for a graduate student is generally considered to be nine (9) to thirteen (13) semester hours. Three (3) semester hours is considered full time for a graduate student in the summer.
  • The courses numbered 697 and 797 – Independent Study and Research – may be taken for any amount of credit (up to a maximum of thirteen (13) hours in any one semester). Students who are not in residence but who are actively working on a thesis, project, or dissertation, must enroll for at least one (1) hour each semester (see Continuous Enrollment sections).
  • The maximum load for any graduate student in the summer session is twelve (12) hours. In the summer term, the load for a student who receives a tuition waiver is one to six (1-6) hours.
  • Students enrolling only for 698, 798, or 898 or courses entitled "Internship, Field Placement, Externship, Project" may enroll for a minimum of one to three hours, or PSY 796 for a minimum of four hours. Three hours is considered full-time and four hours is part-time.
  • Students enrolling only for 691, 791, and 891 (or other courses entitled "Research in …") may enroll for a minimum of one to three (1-3) hours

Grading System

A — indicates excellent work and carries 4.0 quality points per semester hour.

A- — indicates excellent work and carries 3.7 quality points per semester hour.

B+ — indicates good work and carries 3.3 quality points per semester hour.

B — indicates good work and carries 3.0 quality points per semester hour.

B- — indicates good work and carries 2.7 quality points per semester hour.

C+ — indicates average work and carries 2.3 quality points per semester hour.

C — indicates average work and carries 2.0 quality points per semester hour.

C- — indicates average work and carries 1.7 quality points per semester hour.

D+ — indicates inferior work and carries 1.3 quality points per semester hour.

D — indicates inferior work and carries 1.0 quality point per semester hour.

E — indicates a course in progress. Not included in the grade point average, a grade of E shall be awarded for graduate thesis, recital, project, and dissertation course and for such self-paced or skill courses as the Graduate Council may designate. An E shall be changed to a P only in the case of credit for thesis and dissertation and then only for the last recorded credit for these courses. Otherwise, the E remains on the record indicating that to receive credit the student must re-register for the course, repeating it on a regular basis until completing it. Upon completion, the appropriate grade, whether P or valuative, shall be assigned.

F —indicates failure and carries no quality points.

NA —indicates the instructor reported the student as not attending. The grade is considered as attempted, but no quality points are earned. The grade is calculated as an "F" in the student's grade point average.

I —indicates that a student was unable to complete course requirements by the end of the term because of extraordinary circumstances beyond his or her control. Poor performance or unexplained absences are not justification for the assignment of an I. If an I has not been removed by the end of the next semester (excluding summer term), it automatically becomes an F. Students are prohibited from enrolling in any course for which the current grade is I. The I grade is not used for thesis or dissertation hours.

AW—indicates administrative withdrawal.

WP—indicates withdrawal from a course passing after the deadline for dropping courses. (awarded prior to fall 2014)

WF—indicates withdrawal from a course failing after the deadline for dropping courses. (This grade is computed in the GPA as F.) awarded prior to fall 2014

W — indicates withdrawn no penalty (No quality points awarded)

P —indicates a passing grade in courses taken on a pass-fail basis (does not count in computing GPA).


A student whose cumulative grade point average (GPA) or program GPA falls below 3.0 or who earns a grade of "C" or lower will be placed on academic probation for the next regular semester of enrollment (fall or spring). During the probationary semester a student will not be allowed to take comprehensive exams or defend a thesis, dissertation, or capstone project.  The student will be required to achieve all requirements outlined by the major professor that are necessary to return the student to good academic standing. Failure to return to good academic standing by the end of the probationary semester will result in dismissal from the program.

Students may request an appeal of reclassification by writing to the chair of the department and the Dean of the Graduate School. Contact the Graduate School for specific procedures.

Grade Review Policy

The instructor of the course has the authority in his or her class over all matters affecting the conduct of the class, including the assignment of grades. Student performance should be evaluated according to academic criteria made available to all students within the first two weeks of each semester. Grades should not be determined in an arbitrary or capricious manner.

When a student disagrees with the final grade given by an instructor, fair play requires the opportunity for an orderly appellate procedure. The student must initiate the appeal procedure within 30 school days (including Saturday, Sunday, and official student holidays) of the beginning of the semester subsequent to the one in which the grade was awarded, or 120 calendar days after the issuance of the Spring semester grades, should the student not be enrolled during the summer term. The procedure assures due process for both the instructor and student. For policies and procedures governing grade review, contact the Office of the Provost.

Grievance and Appeals Procedures

The right of each student to appeal decisions of the graduate academic units is affirmed and specific appeal procedures are hereby established to ensure timely and appropriate consideration of each appeal to the Graduate School Appeals Committee.

Specifically, the Graduate School Appeals Committee reviews decisions on the following issues: admission decisions, revocation of admission, comprehensive exams, thesis and dissertation prospectus, dismissal from a program, and any other issues the Dean of the Graduate School deems appropriate. This committee also reviews academic grievances filed by graduate students. This committee does not review grade appeals or disciplinary actions taken by the Dean of Students. The grade appeals process is listed in this Bulletin.

The Appeals/Grievance Process has five steps:*

  • *Step 1: Department/School Level. The chair or director must receive a written signed letter from the student within ten (10) working days that states what action the student is appealing; the pertinent material is reviewed; the student and faculty are interviewed; a resolution/decision is offered in writing.
  • *Step 2: Dean of the College Level. An appeal of the department/school decision must be made in writing within ten (10) working days to the dean of the college that has jurisdiction over the department/school. The dean will review the appeal and render a decision on the appeal in writing.
  • *Step 3: Dean of the Graduate School Level. Should the student desire to make further appeal, the written appeal must be sent within five working days to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean will confer with the student and refer the matter to the Graduate School Appeals Committee which will hold an official hearing on the appeal. The hearing will be held within ten (10) working days of the receipt of the written appeal letter as long as the university is in session or within ten (10) working days of the university beginning a session. The student may attend the hearing and a representative of the department/school may also attend the hearing or respond to the appeal in writing. The Dean of the Graduate School will send the student a letter indicating the Committee's decision.
  • *Step 4: Provost Level. Should the student desire to make further appeal, the written appeal must be sent within ten (10) working days to the Provost. The Provost will review all appeal materials and render a decision on the appeal, normally within ten (10) working days of receipt of the appeal.
  • *Step 5: President Level. If the student is not satisfied with the decision of the Provost, he or she may appeal to the President of the University in writing within ten (10) working days. The President will render a final decision on the appeal, normally within ten (10) days of receipt of the appeal.  

These steps are also listed on the Graduate School Web page and at the following link http://www.usm.edu/institutional-policies/policy-stua-ds-002.

Administrative Withdrawal

A university transcript is a legal document that provides a true and accurate account of academic performance. Any alteration of the history of academic performance as reported by a university transcript should be done only if there is an obvious rationale for doing so.

On rare occasions, academic performance is severely affected by some emotional or personal disaster beyond the control of the student. If a timely withdrawal was impossible or overlooked, a procedure known as administrative withdrawal may offer a remedy.

A student who wishes to petition for an administrative withdrawal should be aware of the following criteria in considering the request:

  1. The student's academic record under review indicates a clear and consistent pattern of good academic performance prior to and subsequent to the semester in question if he or she is currently enrolled.
  2. The problem encountered by the student was debilitating and beyond his or her control.
  3. The student is able to document the nature and extent of the problem

The following guidelines pertain to a petition for administrative withdrawal:

  1. A petition for administrative withdrawal will be considered only if it is filed prior to graduation.
  2. Relief by administrative withdrawal will be limited to one semester.
  3. The grade of administrative withdrawal ("AW") will be assigned to all courses taken during the semester in question.
  4. Administrative withdrawal must be approved by the department chair, the dean of the college, the dean of the graduate school, and by the provost. A student may request administrative withdrawal only once during his or her academic career, and that request must be limited to one particular semester.

A petition for administrative withdrawal must contain the following:

  1. A concise but thorough statement of the circumstances responsible for the poor academic performance;
  2. Evidence (e.g., a medical diagnosis) supporting claims made in the statement; and
  3. A complete set of official transcripts exhibiting all college-level course work.

Petitions for administrative withdrawal will be acted on within five working days after receipt by the dean of the college.


An official transcript is the reproduction of a complete, unabridged permanent academic record validated with the university seal, facsimile signature of the registrar, and date of issue. A Key to Transcript is included, which contains a full statement of pertinent definitions. Currently enrolled as well as former undergraduate and graduate students may obtain an official transcript by writing The University of Southern Mississippi, Office of the University Registrar, 118 College Drive #5006, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406-0001. Transcripts are not released when there is an indebtedness to the university.

Tuition and Responsibility to Pay Tuition

All students are responsible for maintaining their accounts with the university.Students are responsible for paying tuition and other fees for all classes completed, classes enrolled in but not attended, classes that are dropped or withdrawn from after the published deadlines etc.The university will withhold grades, transcripts, and diplomas for students who have a balance on their student account with the university.