Jun 13, 2024  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2021-2022 Undergraduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General Degree Requirements

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 program’s campus location or mode of delivery. The university does not offer all degree programs at all campuses or in all modes of delivery. 

Hour Requirements

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Policies and Bylaws document states undergraduate degree programs must have a minimum of 120 hours and a maximum of 124 hours unless the Board has granted an exception. Developmental and curriculum prerequisite preparative courses do not count as part of the established total hours to degree requirement. Not more than nine hours in physical education activity courses and not more than four 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 hours to degree, 50 percent of the hours applied to a degree must be earned in a senior college, and 30 hours of those 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. Prior to fall 2017, a failing grade in a pass-fail course is recorded as F and was computed in the grade point average in the same manner as other failing grades. Starting fall 2017, a failing grade in a pass/no pass course is recorded as an NP grade and is not counted in the student’s grade point average.

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;
  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 school 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 the requirements of at least a single degree plan, also known as a “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

A minor field (minor) is a secondary academic discipline of study. A minor is a transcripted credential awarded by The University of Southern Mississippi to the student upon graduation. Students may declare one or more minors in addition to their declared major. Some academic majors require students to declare a minor. As such, a student must work closely with their academic advisor early in their academic career in selecting an appropriate minor that is compatible with their major requirements and satisfies the goals of the student. Students are encouraged to obtain minors as a way to enhance their educational experience and acquire additional skill sets needed to be competitive in an ever-evolving workforce.

Minor requirements:

  1. A minor must be between 18 and 24 required credit hours.
  2. A student must pass each required course and maintain a minimum 2.000 GPA for minor course work.
  3. A minimum of 25% of the credit hours required for the minor must be earned at The University of Southern Mississippi. No exceptions. Transfer students may take additional coursework in the field to satisfy this requirement.
  4. No more than 9 hours can be applied to a minor from the student’s major DEG01 courses.
  5. A student cannot obtain both a major and a minor sharing the same program name.

Grade Point Requirement for the Major and Minor

A student must have a grade point average of at least 2.00 in the major field and in the minor field on courses taken at The University of Southern Mississippi.

A transfer student’s work completed in the major and minor fields at 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 2.00, 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 2.00 average. Southern Miss does not round GPAs.

Undergraduate Certificate Requirements

In addition to the major and minor, the student may also choose to complete an undergraduate certificate. The specific requirements for each certificate are indicated in the appropriate section of this Bulletin. Since advisement for the certificate is conducted by the certificate discipline, the student should consult with the faculty of the certificate discipline.

Certificate Requirements:

  • A maximum of 3 hours of transfer credit may be used to satisfy certificate requirements.
  • No grade below C will be acceptable for certificate courses.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.50 is required for certificate course work.
  • At least 50 percent of the hours required for a certificate should be outside the DEG01 requirements of the student’s undergraduate major.

Digital Credentialing Badges

A digital badge is a micro-credential that students can receive during their studies. Badges provide students an opportunity to digitally showcase the skill sets that they have acquired during their participation in university activities and coursework. Badges allow students the opportunity to showcase their acquired skillsets to potential employers and others by displaying badges on social media, email signature lines, etc.

Students can select from foundational badges or proficiency badges. The foundational badges allow students to earn a digital micro-credential upon successful completion of various professional development activities that are experienced outside of the traditional classroom environment. Foundational badges may have an expiration date and do not appear on the student’s academic transcript. Proficiency badges allow students to earn a micro-credential upon successful completion of a combination of specific coursework and demonstration of proficiency in one or more skillsets. Proficiency badges require no more than 9 credit hours of specified coursework. Proficiency badges appear on the student’s academic transcript and have no expiration date. 

Badge requirements and definitions:

Foundational Badges (Level 1):  Indicates successful completion of non-discipline-specific professional development activities designed to cultivate transferable skills through non-credit activities. Foundational badges bear the imprimatur of the university, and as such, students must demonstrate an appropriate level of achievement through a set of significant activities. Foundational badges do not appear on the student transcript.

Requirements: Foundational badges require students to develop and demonstrate a minimal level of competency in one or more transferable skills acquired outside the traditional classroom environment. Students will spend a sufficient quantity of time developing transferable skills and demonstrating an acceptable level of competency. A foundational badge requires a minimum activity time commitment of 20 hours over the course of the activities and the demonstration of competency in those skillsets through the use of specified assessment instruments.

Proficiency Badges (Level 2): Indicates the completion of specific coursework aimed at developing a skillset competency. Proficiency badges require less credit hours for completion than a minor or certificate and appear on the student transcript upon graduation. Students will receive the digital badge upon completion of the proficiency badge requirements.

Requirements: Proficiency badges require 6-9 credit hours and a demonstration of skillset competency in order to complete the micro-credential. Students need not complete all proficiency badge requirements within the same semester.

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 neither faculty advisors nor program/school directors may, of their own accord, waive or vary degree requirements as they appear in The University of Southern Mississippi Bulletin. As specified  in the Academic Authority Chart found in this section below, such waivers or variations require approval from the college and/or Office of the Provost. 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.

Degree and Certificate Progress Reports

University advisers and Degree Progress Specialists monitor student progress toward degree using both Degree Progress Reports (DPR) and Certificate Progress Reports (CPR). The DPR and CPR are tools that assist students, advisers, and Degree Progress Specialists in determining which completed courses satisfy degree plan requirements as listed in the bulletin for which the student’s degree plan originates. It is important to note that the DPR and CPR are only tools to assist in the evaluation of student progress toward degree. Students, advisers, and other university officials are responsible for knowing the degree requirements as listed on the degree plans in 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 3.50 or more. A degree with highest honors will be granted to a student who maintains a cumulative grade point average of 3.80 or more. Degrees with honors will be determined at the closing of the graduating class. After the closing of the graduating class, honors designations and class rank will be determined based on the GPA at that time and will not be recalculated. 

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 school 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 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 from the University of Southern Mississippi or any other regionally accredited institution of higher learning may earn a second baccalaureate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. The following criteria must be met to obtain the second baccalaureate degree:

  1. The student must earn a minimum of 30 credit hours in residence from the University of Southern Mississippi in the second degree.
  2. The credit hours applied to the second degree must be at least 25% of the credit hours required by the degree plan. For example, a student must complete 31 credit hours to obtain a second degree from a program that requires 124 credit hours.
  3. The first baccalaureate degree will satisfy the University’s General Education Curriculum requirements (GEC 01-06). Programs may require GEC courses in DEG categories that are not satisfied by the first baccalaureate degree.
  4. The student must satisfy all course requirements in GEC 07, GEC 08, GEC 09, and all DEG sections of the second-degree plan.
  5. Course waivers may be requested to satisfy select degree requirements through the second baccalaureate approval process. Approved course waivers do not reduce the minimum credit hour requirements needed to obtain the second degree as stipulated above in 1 and 2. Students are required to complete the capstone experience (GEC 09) in residence, and therefore GEC 09 cannot be waived. Waiver requests must be submitted for evaluation during the student’s first semester of study in the second-degree program.
  6. All credit hours that are applied toward the second degree must be earned after the first degree has been awarded.
  7. General elective courses earned while completing the second degree may be used to satisfy credit hour deficiencies.
  8. Students must select a degree plan from the bulletin year for which they are admitted to the second-degree program.
  9. Students must satisfy both the University minimum GPA of 2.000 and any program-specific GPA requirements as required by the second-degree program.

The student will work with their advisor to complete the Second Baccalaureate Approval Form during their initial semester in residence for their second degree. Courses completed before the approval process is completed may not be applicable to the second degree. The University of Southern Mississippi is under no obligation to accept credits awarded to the student before completion of the approval process. 

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. 

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)
Student via SOAR X of course X    
Withdrawal from
(drop all courses)
Student Dean’s Office X X  
Waive a Prerequisites Student Adviser X of course    
Overload of hours
for a term
Student Adviser X X  
Grade change/Grade appeal See Grade Appeal Policies and Bylaws found on the Office of the Provost website.        
Official verification
of enrollment
Registrar’s Office        
Veteran’s Affairs
permission letter
Financial Aid
Mississippi residency Registrar’s Office        
Repeats (maximum of twelve hours total) 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 twelve hours)
Student Adviser X X X
Major School
Dean’s Office
  X X X
Suspension Major School
Dean’s Office
X X If dean
and director
or for
Probation Continued Major School Adviser/
X X  


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