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 the date located on the Registrar's Web site at www.usm.edu/registrar. After the deadline, a student may drop a course only in the event of extenuating circumstances and with permission of the instructor, department chair, and dean of the college offering the course, at which time the student will receive a grade of “WP” or “WF.” Non degree students should go to the Graduate School after the chair signs form.
A student is permitted to add a course after the fifth class day with the permission of the instructor, department chair, and dean of the college offering the course. However, a student will not be allowed to add a course after the last day to drop without academic penalty as located on the Registrar's Web site at www.usm.edu/registrar. Adding classes after the 100 percent refund period could result in additional tuition charges.
A student withdrawing from the university prior to the deadline for dropping classes will not receive any grades. His or her record will show the date of withdrawal only. A student withdrawing after the deadline for dropping courses will receive a grade of “WP” or “WF.”
Graduate Assistants should check with the Graduate School regarding add/drop after the 10th day of class.
A student finding it necessary to withdraw from the university must begin the process with the dean of his or her college who shall complete the withdrawal and refund authorization form. A non-degree student must begin the process in The Graduate School. The Web may not be utilized to withdraw.
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
Courses open to graduate students for graduate credit 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 (Doctoral-level 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 a six-year period for specialist and doctoral students applies to all course work (except 898, Dissertation). Contact the Graduate School for exceptions. 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 (see Probation section of the Bulletin). The use of the pass/fail option at the graduate level for any course must be approved by the Graduate Council. 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.
When cheating is discovered, the faculty member may give the student an F on the work involved or in the course. If further disciplinary action is deemed appropriate, the undergraduate student should be reported to the dean of students. A graduate student should be reported to the Dean of the Graduate School.
In addition to being a violation of academic honesty, cheating violates the code of student conduct and may be grounds for probation, suspension, expulsion, or all three. Students on disciplinary suspension may not enroll in any courses offered by The University of Southern Mississippi.
- 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 and borrowed material constitutes plagiarism.
- Because students, as scholars, must make frequent use of the concepts and the facts developed by other scholars, plagiarism is not the mere use of another’s facts and ideas. However, it is plagiarism when students present the work of other scholars as if it were their own work.
- Referring to commonly known facts is not plagiarism.
- 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 organizational scheme used by another scholar.
- Plagiarism is committed in a number of ways including the following:
- Reproducing another author’s writing as if it were one’s own;
- Paraphrasing another author’s work without citing the original;
- Borrowing from another author’s ideas, even though those ideas are reworded, without giving credit; and
- Copying another author’s organization without giving credit.
- Plagiarism is avoided when students give credit (footnotes or another documentation forms) to the source in the following instances:
- When quoting directly from someone else’s writing (a direct quotation must always be enclosed in quotation marks):
- When paraphrasing someone else’s writing (to paraphrase means to restate a passage from someone else’s writing in one’s own words): or
- 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, observe these steps:
- Ask your instructor.
- Document the source.
- Plagiarism is a serious offense. An act of plagiarism may lead to a failing grade on the work involved and in the course, as well as sanctions that may be imposed by the department, the Graduate School, and the University.
* If questions, talk with department chair or director, or the Dean of the Graduate School.
Responsible Conduct of Research Training
All faculty holding Regular or Associate graduate faculty status, must complete RCR training modules required by the Graduate School and their departments. All graduate students must complete the RCR training modules required by the Graduate School and their departments the first semester there are enrolled in graduate school. The RCR policy and training information are found on the Graduate School web page – www.usm.edu/graduateschool. Contact the Dean of the Graduate School if you have any questions regarding the policy of training information.
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.
- The normal load for a full-time graduate student is generally considered to be twelve (12) semester hours. With permission of the dean of the Graduate School, the maximum load of a full-time graduate student for the fall and spring semesters is fifteen (15) semester hours.
- The minimum load for a full-time graduate student is nine (9) semester hours for students living in Pine Haven, using the services of the clinic, using the services of veteran’s affairs, or using other similar services of the university (spring and/or fall). Three (3) semester hours is considered fulltime for a graduate student in the summer.
- The minimum load for graduate assistant is twelve (12) hours. The student should receive a tuition scholarship in the fall or spring semester. The maximum load for a graduate assistant is thirteen (13) hours.
- The courses numbered 697 and 797—Independent Study and Research—may be taken for any amount of credit (up to a maximum of fifteen (15) hours in any one semester). Students who are not in residence but who are actively working on a thesis, project, research problem, or dissertation, and consulting with the major professor or making use of the library or other University facilities must enroll for at least one (1) hour each semester (see Continuous Enrollment sections: Master's , Specialist's , Doctoral ).
- In no case may the total hours involved in a student’s program, including both the course work and the assistantship assignment, exceed eighteen (18) hours.
- 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 to 6) hours.
- Students enrolling only for 698, 798, or 898 or courses entitled “Internship,” should enroll for a minimum of one to three hours, or PSY 796 for a minimum of four hours.
- Students enrolling only for 691, 791, or 891 (or other courses titled “Research in...”) should enroll for a minimum of one to three hours.
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 courses 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.
WF—indicates withdrawal from a course failing after the deadline for dropping courses. (This grade is computed in the GPA as F.)
P —indicates a passing grade in courses taken on a pass-fail basis (does not count in computing GPA).
A student whose cumulative graduate grade point average (GPA) or whose program grade point average falls below 3.0 will be placed on probation. That student must attain a cumulative 3.0 GPA by the end of the following (probationary) semester including summer, if the student is enrolled summer term. A student who fails to achieve a 3.0 at the end of the probationary semester can be reclassified as a dismissed student. Departments may set more stringent probationary conditions. A new application is required for consideration to reenter the program. Graduate assistants on probation may lose their assistantships.
Students may request an appeal of reclassification by writing to the chair of department and the Dean of the Graduate School. Contact Graduate School for specific procedures.
Grade Review Policy
The instructor (defined as one who has the responsibility for a 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. A student must initiate the appeal procedure within 30 school days (excluding 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 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 or School Level.** The chair or director receives a written signed letter from the student within ten (10) working days that states what action the student is appealing, reviews the pertinent materials, meets with the student and faculty if appropriate, and resolution of the appeal is sought at the department or school level.
- Step 2: Dean of the College Level.** An appeal of the department or school decision must be made in writing within ten (10) working days to the dean of the college that has jurisdiction over the department or 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 should 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 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 or 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 should be sent within ten (10) working days to the Provost. The Provost will review all appeal materials and render a decision in 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. The President will render a final decision in the appeal normally within ten (10) days of receipt of the appeal.
* These steps are also listed on the Graduate School Web page and in the Student Survival Guide www.usm.edu/student-life.
**If the appeal concerns the chair, director, or college dean, the student should appeal to the next level.
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:
- 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.
- The problem encountered by the student was debilitating and beyond his or her control.
- The student is able to document the nature and extent of the problem
The following guidelines pertain to a petition for administrative withdrawal:
- A petition for administrative withdrawal will be considered only if it is filed prior to graduation.
- Relief by administrative withdrawal will be limited to one semester.
- The grade of administrative withdrawal (“AW”) will be assigned to all courses taken during the semester in question.
- 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:
- A concise but thorough statement of the circumstances responsible for the poor academic performance;
- Evidence (e.g., a medical diagnosis) supporting claims made in the statement; and
- 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.