Apr 25, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin 
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin

General Academic Information


A graduate student is responsible for knowing the policies and regulations and the school 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 school and program sections.

Students should register for classes through their SOAR account each semester during the designated open enrollment period. Specific directions are located on the Registrar’s website at www.usm.edu/registrar. By registering for classes, students agree to pay their tuition and fees. Students who have a balance after their anticipated financial aid is calculated will be required to pay the balance in full or enroll in the installment payment plan by the deadline set by the Business Services Office at https://www.usm.edu/business-services/. Classes will be dropped at a later date for nonpayment.

Registration will continue after the close of the scheduled registration period (see calendar) for 5 class days. However, a late registration fee will be charged to all students registering after the scheduled registration period. 

Ethical Recruitment of Students

As an institution of high integrity, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is committed to ensuring that recruitment and enrollment activities conducted at the University promote an environment of high integrity.

USM ensures compliance with Program Integrity Rules consistent with federal regulations (34 C.F.R. 668.71-668.75 and 668.14) and the Department of Defense (DoD) Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding restrictions on misrepresentation, recruitment, and payment of incentive compensation. 

The University, its agents, including third party lead generators and marketing firms, will:

  1. Ban inducements, including any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, transportation, lodging, meals, or other item having a monetary value of more than a de minimis amount, to any individual or entity, or its agents including third party lead generators or marketing firms other than salaries paid to employees or fees paid to contractors in conformity with all applicable laws for the purpose of securing enrollments of Service members or obtaining access to tuition assistance funds. Educational institution sponsored scholarships or grants and tuition reductions available to military students are permissible.
  2. Refrain from providing any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based directly or indirectly on securing enrollments or federal financial aid (including tuition assistance funds) to any persons or entities engaged in any student recruiting, admission activities, or making decisions regarding the award of student financial assistance. These restrictions do not apply to the recruitment of foreign students residing in foreign countries who are not eligible to receive Federal student assistance.
  3. Tuition Sharing: The U.S. Department of Education generally views the payment based on the amount of tuition generated as an indirect payment of compensation based on success in recruitment and therefore a prohibited basis upon which to measure the value of the services provided. This is true regardless of the manner in which the entity compensates its employees.
  4. However, the Department does not consider payment based on the amount of tuition generated by an institution to violate the incentive compensation ban if that payment compensates an unaffiliated third party that provides a set of services that may include recruitment services. The independence of the third party (both as a corporate matter and as a decision maker) from the institution that provides the actual teaching and educational services is a significant safeguard against the abuses the Department has seen heretofore. When the institution determines the number of enrollments and hires an unaffiliated third party to provide bundled services that include recruitment, payment based on the amount of tuition generated does not incentivize the recruiting as it does when the recruiter is determining the enrollment numbers and there is essentially no limitation on enrollment.
  5. As a Title IV institution, the University remains responsible for the actions of any entity that performs functions and tasks on its behalf. These responsibilities include ensuring that employees are not paid for services that would convert these payments into prohibited incentive compensation because of the activity the employees engage in.
  6. Refrain from high pressure recruitment tactics such as making multiple unsolicited contacts (3 or more), including contacts by phone, email, or in-person, and engaging in same-day recruitment and registration for the purpose of securing Service member enrollments in non-credit courses or programs.


A student is permitted to drop a course without academic penalty up to and including approved drop/withdrawal dates published on the Registrar’s website at www.usm.edu/registrar. After the deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with permission of the instructor and school director, 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 the student’s application for employment or graduate school. Students may withdraw from or add a course through SOAR with instructor and school director permission. 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. The student bears all financial responsibility for a drop or withdrawal performed after the 100% refund date, as published in the academic calendar at https://www.usm.edu/registrar/calendars.php.

After the withdrawal deadline (the approved date is published on the Registrar’s website at www.usm.edu/registrar), students can no longer withdraw themselves from a class and must complete the course for a grade. Students seeking a late withdrawal will need to refer to the office of the registrar’s withdrawal policy and follow those instructions. The dean’s office will forward the request to a withdrawal committee, and the committee’s 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).

Graduate Assistants should check with the Graduate School regarding dropping a course after the 10th day of class.

Withdrawal Procedures

Students who find it necessary to withdraw from the university prior to the deadline to withdraw may begin the process via their SOAR student center, then follow the directions on the Registrar’s website to drop courses (see step 5 for specific instructions: https://www.usm.edu/registrar/internalportal/registration-instructions.php).  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 students’ advisers, directors, 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 with instructions on how to return to Southern Miss. If students need further assistance in withdrawing, they should contact the Registrar’s Office. Withdraw requests 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).

Refund Policy

The withdrawal deadline for receipt of a grade is unrelated to the fee refund schedule. A student who officially withdraws after enrollment may obtain a refund in accordance with the refund policy.

Appeals to the refund policy must be submitted in writing to

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


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 coursework, including 500-level courses, shall have a research component that is included in the final grade.

Many courses have specific prerequisites. A student who wishes to register for a particular course must satisfy the administering school that they had preparation adequate for admission to the course. 

Coursework applied to a program are valid for a limited time, and time limits are strictly enforced: 5 years for certificates, 5 years for master’s degrees, 6 years for specialist’s degrees, and 8 years for doctoral degrees. A grade-point average of 3.0 and no grade less than a “C” are required for a graduate student to be in good academic standing. Students who fail to meet these requirements will be placed on probation.

Course Retake Policy

On the recommendation of a student’s graduate committee or advisor, a student may retake 1 course throughout the entire degree program to improve the grade point average (GPA). The original grade in the course will remain on the transcript, but it will be excluded from the calculation of the GPA once the retake has been recorded. The Course Retake Form must be submitted to the Graduate School during the semester the course is retaken. The course to be repeated to improve academic standing must be retaken as soon as possible, normally the next semester it is offered. 

The course retake policy does not apply to the grade XF, which differs from an F.  An XF is a sanction indicating violation of the Academic Integrity Policy, and it cannot be removed from the transcript. A graduate student cannot graduate with an XF on the transcript and must be dismissed from their graduate program.

Academic Integrity

Academic and research integrity are critical to high standards in graduate education. Incidents of academic or research misconduct will incur sanctions. Students are responsible for understanding the policy and sanctions as defined in the Academic Integrity Policy.  (PolicyStat ID: 7488242)

Integrity Assurance Program (IAP)

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

Final Examinations

Examinations will be held as noted on the Registrar’s website at www.usm.edu/registrar. No final examinations are permitted prior to the scheduled examination period (see calendar) . 

Course Loads

  • Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 1 hour during their proposal term. Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 1 hour during their defense and comprehensive term.
  • A full-time load for a graduate student is generally considered to be 9 to 13 semester hours in fall and spring semesters. One semester hour is considered full-time for a graduate student in the summer.
  • The maximum load for any graduate student in the summer session is 12 hours. In the summer term, the load for a student who receives a tuition waiver is 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.

F —indicates failure and carries no quality points.

XF — indicates failure due to academic integrity violation 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.

W — indicates withdrawal with no penalty (no quality points awarded)

N/NP — Failure in a course taken on the pass-fail basis. Not included in GPA.

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

PS — Pass. Not included in GPA. No quality points earned. 

S- indicates satisfactory performance in thesis (698), specialist thesis (798), or dissertation (898) research courses.  A pass (P) grade will be awarded instead of an S the final time the student enrolls in thesis, specialist thesis, or dissertation hours if the student successfully defends the thesis or dissertation and submits the final document to the Graduate School.   Neither S nor P grades carry quality points.

U- indicates unsatisfactory performance in thesis (698), specialist thesis (798), or dissertation (898) research courses.  A U grade carries no quality points.

Z — Satisfies pre-requisite requirements. Not included in GPA. No quality points earned. 


A student will be placed on academic probation for the next regular semester of enrollment (fall or spring) for the following reasons: the cumulative grade point average (GPA) or program GPA falls below 3.0; a grade of “C-” or lower is awarded; a seventh hour of C+ or below is awarded; a U is earned in thesis or dissertation research. During the probationary semester(s), a doctoral, specialist, or thesis master’s student may not engage in progress toward degree activities, which include defending a thesis, dissertation, or capstone project, participating in qualifying or comprehensive examinations, and applying for graduation. A non-thesis master’s student is not prohibited from engaging in these activities while on probation. The student’s school will inform the student in writing that they will be placed on probation for 1 semester or as directed by the program (if full-time) or up to 2 semesters (if part time). The notification will include a set of expectations for the student’s return to good academic standing. Once the terms of the probationary period are met, the school is responsible for informing the Graduate School and the student in writing. Failure to return to good academic standing by the end of the probationary period will result in dismissal from the program. A student may not graduate until they return to good academic standing.

Grade Appeal Policy

When a student disagrees with the final grade given by an instructor, the student has the option to appeal the grade according to the Grade Appeal process. The student must initiate the appeal procedure within 30 days (excluding weekends, and official student holidays) of the beginning of the next semester, 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 appeals, see Grade Appeal Policy.

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. This procedure does not apply to grade appeals or disciplinary actions taken by the Dean of Students.  The Grievance and Appeals Procedure can be found at https://www.usm.edu/institutional-policies/policy-acaf-grs-001.

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. The Petition for Administrative Withdrawal form includes a policy summary, procedure, and instructions for requesting an Administrative Withdrawal.


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 filing a request online according to instructions. Transcripts are not released when the student has an outstanding financial debt to the university.

The cumulative statistics reported on the transcript of a continuing graduate student will be restarted when the student completes a graduate degree program or changes and begins a subsequent degree program or non-degree coursework. A summary of all graduate-level statistics will be reflected at the end of the graduate transcript.

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. The university reserves the right to withhold readmission of a student until all delinquent accounts have been paid.

The Academic Common Market

Mississippi is a participating state in the Academic Common Market, an interstate agreement among 16 primarily Southeastern states for sharing academic programs. Students who qualify for admission may enroll in a specific program in another Academic Common Market state on an in-state tuition basis. For information, visit: Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Academic Common Market. For information about The University of Southern Mississippi programs in the Academic Common Market, contact the Academic Common Market Institutional Coordinator/Director of Financial Aid, Office of Financial Aid, 118 College Drive #5101, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406, Phone: 601.266.4774, E-mail: financialaid@usm.edu; website: www.usm.edu/fa.

Student Responsibility

It is the student’s responsibility to be informed concerning all regulations and procedures required by the course of study being pursued. In no case will a regulation be waived or an exception granted because a student pleads ignorance of the regulation or asserts that information was not presented by advisors or other authorities. Therefore, the student should become familiar with the Graduate Bulletin, including 1) the section presenting the requirements for degrees and 2) the specific program offerings and requirements.

The Program Coordinator in the student’s major program should be consulted concerning course requirements, any deficiencies, the planning of a program, and special regulations. Programs may have degree requirements that are not listed in the Bulletin.

Professional Licensure Programs

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) offers several professional licensure programs (“PLP”) leading to licensure within the State of Mississippi. In order to offer online courses to citizens outside of the state in which an institution is located, an institution must become authorized (as defined in 34 CFR 600.9(c))in each state in which it plans to offer online courses or participate in a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (as defined in 34 CFR 600.2).  USM is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA) which allows us to provide online programs and coursework to residents of states other than Mississippi. However, NC-SARA membership does not grant reciprocity or exempt us from professional licensing requirements in other states. As a result, licensing requirements in Mississippi may not be recognized as sufficient to obtain a license in any other state. If you have questions regarding state authorization, please email stateauthorization@usm.edu.

Professional Licensure Disclosure Generally

Pursuant to 34 CFR 668.43(a)(5)(v) and 34 CFR 668.43(c), all colleges and universities are required to communicate publicly and directly to prospective and current students by providing them with a professional licensure disclosure about: (1) academic programs that will not fulfill educational requirements for a specific professional licensure that is required for employment in that field; and (2) academic programs that do not meet the education requirements for licensure or for which an institution cannot determine if the program meets the educational requirements for each state and U.S. territory for all delivery modes of the program. 

Our programs and coursework are designed to meet the licensure requirements of licensing entities within Mississippi. Each state and territory have different professional licensure and certification requirements.  Other licensure requirements may include professional examinations (including state specific exams), background checks, years of work experience, fingerprinting requirements, etc. 

Licensing Rules and Regulations

Each state’s licensing board for each specific profession determines if an individual is eligible to sit for licensure based on the rules and regulations that are in place at the time the individual submits their application for licensure.

Professional Licensure Disclosures

USM is required to notify you if the program you are interested in or enrolled in does not meet, or if we have not made a determination if the program does or does not meet, the educational requirements necessary to apply for certification or licensure in the state in which you are located. A “Does Not Meet” or “Have Not Made a Determination” status does not indicate that you will be unable to obtain certification or licensure in your home state. For information on state licensing and certification boards as well as the name of the contact within your program, see the Professional Licensure and Certification Information by College web page. For general information on professional licensure disclosures, see the Professional Licensures and Disclosures web page.

Student Responsibilities

Please be advised that state laws, regulations, and policies may change at any time up to the time that the applicant applies for licensure. It is the responsibility of the student completing the licensure program to check with the licensing board(s) in their state of residence or in the state in which they intend to obtain a license for the most recent information and requirements.

We highly recommend that students contact the applicable licensure board(s) in their state of residence or in the state where they intend to obtain a license before beginning an academic program that results in licensure.

Relocation Considerations

Students who intend to return or move to any state other than Mississippi need to review the professional licensure disclosures pertaining to their program and consult with the state professional licensing board since each state professional licensing board for each specific profession makes the ultimate decision as to the eligibility of an individual applying for licensure to sit for a license based on the rules and regulations in place at the time the individual submits their application for licensure. Relocation may also adversely affect the ability of students to remain eligible for federal financial aid if a student relocates to a state or territory in which USM is not authorized (i.e., not a member state/territory of NC-SARA- see NC-SARA portal page- https://www.nc-sara.org/state-portal-entity-contacts).

International Students

Before you enroll in any program at USM, prospective students living and/or working outside of the United States should contact the appropriate certifying agency to confirm if successful completion of any degree program at USM will meet the credentialing requirements of the country in which they intend to seek employment, as to certain types of employment or for advanced/specialized educational programs.

International Applicants for Online Degree Programs

The University of Southern Mississippi’s online programs are available for global access.  Students are responsible for understanding requirements related to the country in which they reside.  Students should consider each of the following as to their country of residence:  whether the online degree will be recognized and allow for employment and whether there are any withholding taxes due to their country of residency (in addition to the price of tuition).  Please note not all countries recognize online degrees, and this could impact your ability to work, gain admission to a subsequent educational program, or obtain a professional license or designation.  Those seeking to become licensed in another country should contact the professional licensing board in their country of residence or the country where they intend to work to determine whether an online degree will be recognized.

Future International Employment, Licensing, or Enrollment in Academic Programs

Students who will be seeking to gain employment in a country outside of the United States should contact the country in which they will be seeking employment, licensure, or seeking to pursue further education to determine if that country will recognize an online degree issued from an institution located in the United States.

***Since all situations are unique and requirements may change, The University of Southern Mississippi shall not be held liable if the student is unable to meet the requirements for employment/licensure/admission to a subsequent program in any jurisdiction: this includes failing to be able to obtain a specific practicum/internship location.