Jul 13, 2024  
2016-2017 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2016-2017 Undergraduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General Degree Requirements

The sections listed here provide information regarding many aspects of earning a degree at The University of Southern Mississippi. Students should refer to this section for clarification about broad topics pertaining to all students. They should refer to the department of their degree for information pertaining specifically to the degree.

Choice of Bulletin

Graduation requirements for any degree program must be met under a bulletin of the student’s choice that is not more than six years old at the time of the student’s graduation (exclude the current year’s bulletin in counting the six) and that carries announcements for a year during which the student earned some credit at The University of Southern Mississippi or another accredited institution of higher learning, including community and junior colleges. When a student is pursuing a degree that leads to external licensure, the student must meet the licensure requirements regardless of Bulletin year selected.

Campus Location for Degree

A student’s degree will be awarded from The University of Southern Mississippi regardless of the campus location. The university does not offer all degree programs at all campuses. Each authorized degree major has a degree audit sheet associated with a particular campus based on IHL authorizations. For more information regarding majors offered at specific campuses, contact an official degree auditor in any of the academic colleges.

Hour Requirements

The IHL Board directs each institution’s faculty to set degree programs at 124 hours or less if possible. Developmental and curriculum prerequisite preparative courses do not count as part of the 124-credit hour requirement. Not more than nine semester hours in physical education activity courses and not more than four semester hours credit in any one varsity sport may be used in meeting total hour requirements for a degree. Courses in dance are excluded from this limitation. Of the total of 124 semester hours, 50 percent of the hours applied to a degree must be earned in a senior college, and 45 of the 50 percent of hours applied to a degree must be in courses numbered 300 or above.

Hours to Declare Major

Students will be required to declare a major once they have completed 30 credit hours at USM. Transfer students entering the University with 30 hours or more must declare a major upon admission.

Grade Point Requirement

A student must earn a grade point average of at least 2.0 (an average grade of “C”) based on all courses taken at The University of Southern Mississippi. A passing grade in a pass-fail course is recorded as P and carries credit toward graduation. However, a grade of P does not carry any quality points and is not used in computing a grade point average. A failing grade in a pass-fail course is recorded as F and is computed in the grade point average in the same manner as other failing grades.

Courses Taken Out of Career

Upon admission to the university, each applicant is assigned to an academic career of undergraduate or graduate. A student’s grade point average and hours earned are determined only on courses taken equivalent to the student’s career. Only courses taken within a student’s career will be calculated toward the grade point average or toward earned hours. Courses taken out of career will reflect the grade earned in the course, but will not be included in the student’s grade point average or hours earned. The course can be considered passed if a passing grade is issued.

Courses taken out of career will be noted on the official transcript as “Grading Basis: Out of Career.” In some instances, some courses may be given special permission to be given credit for career. Those courses will be noted on the official transcript as “Grading Basis: Credit Out of Career.” The process for taking courses out of career begins in the Graduate Studies Office.

Residence Hour Requirements

For graduation purposes, “residence hour’ include all credit hours earned through any University of Southern Mississippi teaching site, USM online or other distance education course work, and USM-sponsored study abroad programs.

To become eligible for a bachelor’s degree at The University of Southern Mississippi, a student must:

  1. earn at least 25 percent of the credit hours needed for the degree from The University of Southern Mississippi.* There are no exceptions to this requirement.
  2. earn at least 21 of the last 30 hours of course work from The University of Southern Mississippi. This policy applies to all students, including transfer students from other colleges and universities. The transfer student must meet the quality point requirements for work undertaken at The University of Southern Mississippi that apply to all the regular students;
  3. earn at least 12 hours at the 300-400 course level, including the capstone course required in the student’s degree plan, in the major area of study from Southern Miss; Special Note: The College of Business requires 50 percent of all business courses required for the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration to be completed through Southern Miss.

Any exceptions to Requirements 2 and 3 must be approved in advance by the department and dean of the student’s major and the Office of the Provost.

A degree-seeking, active-duty servicemember and his/her adult family members (spouse and college-age children) who enroll at Southern Miss will be exempt from Requirements 2 & 3, according to conditions outlined in a plan of study developed with the student’s academic department and dean and approved by the Office of the Provost. Former servicemembers and their spouses who began their studies at Southern Miss while serving on active duty may also be similarly exempt from Requirements 2 & 3. In general, academic residency requirements for such a student can be completed at any time during the student’s enrollment at Southern Miss, subject to stated requirements in specific course areas such as majors.

Hour and Quality Point Requirements for Preprofessional Degrees

Students of The University of Southern Mississippi may be allowed to complete degree requirements for the Bachelor of Science or the Bachelor of Arts degree in professional, accredited schools of medicine, dentistry or law on the following conditions:

  1. that 90 hours of credit and 180 quality points shall have been completed, with a minimum of two semesters and 30 semester hours of residence at The University of Southern Mississippi
  2. that all General Education Curriculum requirements for the degree shall have been completed
  3. that credit and quality points shall be transferred back to The University of Southern Mississippi from the accredited school of medicine, dentistry or law to complete requirements for the degree; a minimum of one year’s work must be transferred. In any case, a minimum of 120 semester hours must be completed before the degree can be awarded
  4. that the program leading to the degree shall be completed within two calendar years of the termination of the last semester of residence at The University of Southern Mississippi

Major Field Requirements

All graduates of Southern Miss are required to complete specialized study in a single discipline, which the student elects as his or her “major.” The major serves two main purposes: It provides intellectual depth in the student’s undergraduate education through concentrated study in his or her chosen field, and it gives the student the fundamental knowledge necessary to practice professionally or pursue advanced study in that field. Because of the varying demands of the many disciplines, specific requirements for each major are determined by the faculty of the appropriate discipline. Generally, the student must complete a set number of hours in the discipline, usually one-quarter to one-half of the total hours required for a degree, and must maintain the minimum university GPA for these major courses. Other requirements may include the completion of specified courses, course sequences or course distributions; the completion of a concentration or emphasis (further specified course work, producing greater specialization) within the major; the completion of a minor in another discipline; the maintenance of a higher discipline-designated GPA for all or part of the major courses; juried or public performances; field work, teaching practice and other training programs; and any other course, standard or training that, in the opinion of the discipline’s faculty, is necessary to achieve the purposes of the major field requirement. The student should consult the appropriate description and academic advisement degree plan in this Bulletin for information on each discipline’s requirements for a major.

Minor Field Requirements

In addition to the major, the student may (or, if required by his or her major program, must) also choose a minor field of specialization. The minimum hours required for a minor are 18 semester hours in which the student must maintain the minimum university GPA for minor courses. The specific requirements for each discipline’s minor are indicated in the appropriate description in this Bulletin. Since advisement for the minor is conducted by the minor discipline, the student should consult with the faculty of the minor discipline.

Grade Point Requirement for the Major and Minor

A student must have a grade point average of at least 2.0 in the major field and in the minor field on courses taken at The University of Southern Mississippi.

A transfer student’s work done in the major and minor fields in another institution must average at least 2.0 to be applicable toward the major and minor requirements at The University of Southern Mississippi. If the transferred work does not average at least a C, the student must remove any deficiencies in that part of the major and minor credit being transferred. Transferred deficiencies may be removed by repeating at The University of Southern Mississippi a sufficient number of courses on which grades of D were transferred and, thereby, raising the grades in those courses to the level required for a C average. Southern Miss does not round GPAs.

Application for Degree

A student is expected to file an application for a degree one semester before degree requirements are completed, and an application will be accepted no later than the published deadline (see Calendar ). This application filed with the Office of the Registrar will show the work completed by the student and the courses planned for the ensuing semester. Filing in advance of the proposed graduation date will allow time for checking the application and also allow the student time for making up deficiencies found in the degree program. Each student has final responsibility to ascertain that he or she has complied with all applicable Bulletin requirements for graduation. Faculty advisers assist students in developing their programs, but these advisers cannot, of their own accord, waive or vary degree requirements as they appear in The University of Southern Mississippi Bulletin. After the application has been approved by the academic department, it becomes the student’s official degree program. Students graduating in the Honors College must submit the Honors College Attachment to the Application for Degree. Students may begin the process via their SOAR student center with the “Application for Graduation” link within the drop-down box in the Academic section, Upon completing the application, please refer to http://www.usm.edu/registrar/graduation-commencement for the specific steps to file for your college. If students need further assistance, they should contact the Registrar’s Office.

Advisement Registration Transcript

From the point of advisement in the academic department through the filing of the application for a degree, the university utilizes the Advisement Registration Transcript. Each semester the student’s record (transcript) is evaluated by the computer to verify progress toward completion of the degree in his or her declared major. Questions regarding the student’s advisement registration transcript (or Degree Progress Report) should consult the advising administrator in their college Dean’s office. Degree plans are discussed in the narrative for each department within this Bulletin.

Degrees with Honors

Students with exceptional academic records may be awarded degrees with honors or highest honors based on hours attempted at The University of Southern Mississippi. A degree with honors will be granted to a student who maintains a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more. A degree with highest honors will be granted to a student who maintains a cumulative grade point average of 3.8 or more.

Degrees with Latin Designation

Graduation with Latin designations will be granted to students who complete the requirements for Honors Keystone in the Honors College. As an alternative to Honors Keystone, graduating cum laude will be granted to students who meet the following stipulations: (a) the satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination in the major field, such examination to be designed and administered by the department involved; (b) the satisfactory completion of a senior project resulting in a written report on that project meeting guidelines based on those presently in effect for Senior Honors projects; (c) notice of intent to meet these requirements must be filed with the department chair or school director at least one calendar year prior to graduation and (d) an overall grade point average of 3.25 to 3.49. Graduating magna cum laude will be granted to students who meet the following stipulations: (a), (b) and (c) above, and (d) an overall grade point average of 3.50-3.79.

Graduation summa cum laude requires (a), (b), (c) and (d) an overall grade point average of 3.80 or above. Southern Miss does not round GPAs. A student’s status concerning honors for commencement is based upon the student’s cumulative GPA at the end of the term preceding the ceremony for which they will participate. After all grades are awarded, the honors standing will be adjusted accordingly on the diploma.

Second Baccalaureate Degree

Students who have earned a baccalaureate degree may be granted by The University of Southern Mississippi a second baccalaureate degree based upon requirements of an applicable Bulletin, provided the program for the second degree includes at least 30 semester hours in residence. The actual number of hours to be taken, which may exceed 30, as well as the specific degree requirements, will be established by the academic department responsible for the area of study in which the second baccalaureate is sought and will represent at least 25% of the credit hours required for a first degree in the major. Prior to the start of the program, it is the student’s responsibility to obtain a signed, approved program of study from the specific academic department for any second baccalaureate degree. In all cases, a 2.0 grade point average is required. Hours required must be related to a specific major separate from the first major. Additionally, all of the hours applied to the second degree must be earned after the first degree has been awarded.

Double Majors and Double Degrees

Students may wish to pursue a double major (one degree with two majors) or a double degree (two different degrees for two majors). Courses for the individual degrees need to be carefully planned and should be taken in consultation with the faculty adviser in each of the majors. While courses may overlap (i.e., General Education Curriculum), the additional college and major courses must be completed according to the individual degree requirements listed in the Bulletin.

Academic Standing

A candidate for degree must be in good academic standing before his or her degree can be conferred.

Academic Authority Chart

This chart represents signature authority for university academic issues. The student is responsible for knowing and complying with all university minimum requirements for graduation, especially for the student’s major program. All students are required to have minimum overall hours for degree, a 2.0 Southern Miss GPA, 62 hours at a senior institution, 45 hours at 300-400 level and at least 21 of the last 30 hours in residence at Southern Miss.

Academic Issues Originator/Office Instructor or Adviser Dept. Chair/Director or Designee Dean’s Office Provost

Enrollment Activities

Eligible to enroll Major Department Adviser      
Add/Drop course
(prior to deadline)
Student via SOAR        
Add/Drop course
(after deadline)
Registrar’s Office X of course X    
Withdrawal from
(drop all courses)
Student Dean’s Office X X  
Prerequisites Student Adviser X of course    
Overload of hours
for a term
Student Adviser X X  
Grade change Student Instructor of
X X  
Official verification
of enrollment
Registrar’s Office        
Veteran’s Affairs
permission letter
Financial Aid
Mississippi residency Registrar’s Office        
Repeats (maximum of
two courses or six hours
Registrar’s Office        
UNOFFICIAL transcript
with advising audit
Student via SOAR        
OFFICIAL transcript Student via SOAR        
Degree application www.usm.edu/registrar X X X  

*Withdrawals from the university or individual drops on courses cannot be processed within two weeks prior to the end of the term.

Academic Credit, Substitutions and Transferability

Within degree program
for major
Adviser Adviser X X
Within degree program
for minor
Adviser Adviser in
Within General
Education Curriculum
Adviser Adviser X** X*** X
Advanced Placement
or CLEP credit
(IB credit)


Military Credit Admissions        
Credit exam
(Challenge exam)
Adviser Adviser X    
Study abroad
Study abroad
Adviser X    
University minimum
hours and GPA +
Adviser Adviser X X X


Excessive repeats (more
than two courses or
six hours)
Student Adviser X X X
Major Department
Dean’s Office
  X X X
Suspension Major Department
Dean’s Office
X X If dean
and chair
or for
Probation Continued Major Department Adviser/
X X  


Change major/minor
New Department   X X  
Change catalog year
(requirement term)
Major Department   X X X
Change personal data Registrar’s Office        

**Two chair signatures are required: (1) chair of the department where the course is offered and (2) chair of the student’s major.

***Dean of the college where the course is offered

+ University minimum hours/GPA include the minimum overall hours for degree, a 2.0 Southern Miss GPA, 62 hours at a senior institution, 45 hours at 300-400 level and at least 21 of the last 30 hours at Southern Miss.