Academic Standards

Advancement to Candidacy

Status of the student who has completed all or a substantial portion of the curriculum and has successfully passed either the culminating examination (comprehensive exams for master's and Ed.S. students or preliminary exams of doctoral students). Advancement to candidacy is recognition that the student is prepared to commence the thesis or dissertation research. For non-thesis students it verifies that the student has completed all degree requirements and is eligible for graduation. Advancement forms are submitted to the College of Graduate Studies by the director of the graduate program and identifies the members of the thesis or dissertation committee.

Appeal of Academic Suspension

A student may seek reversal of academic suspension, for cause, by petitioning his/her graduate academic program.

Appeals, Other

Graduate students have the right to appeal for cause any decision affecting their academic standing as a graduate student. Cause excludes grade appeals, which are under the purview of the MTSU Grade Appeal Committee. The Suspension Appeals Committee of the Graduate Council is an ad hoc committee reporting to the dean of the College of Graduate Studies. The committee is convened at the discretion of the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

The Graduate Council and the College of Graduate Studies have approved in principle the document Appeal Advisory Committee of the Graduate Council.

Classes - Adding, Dropping, or Changing Sections

The procedures and deadlines to drop, add, or change a class are listed in the appropriate Registration Guide Document.

Classes - Cancellation of Scheduled Classes

The minimum enrollment requirement is ten (10) students for upper-division and 5000-level graduate classes; eight (8) students for 6000-level classes, and four (4) enrollees for 7000-level classes (exclusive of graduate research courses). Any class may be cancelled if the number of enrollees is deemed insufficient. However, no scheduled class may be discontinued without the approval of the dean of the undergraduate college in which the course is offered.

Degree Plans

Filing a Form

In consultation with the graduate advisor, each degree seeking student must file a formal outline of the degree program on the appropriate Degree Plan form available online. Degree plans should be completed within the first 21 hours of enrollment for master and Ed.S. candidates and 30 hours for doctoral candidates. Individual departments are responsible for monitoring the completion of prerequisites,. In general, students will not be permitted to register for more than 21/30 semester hours unless an approved degree plan is on file. The degree plan requires the approval of the major professor and /or the graduate coordinator. The degree form may not be filed in the same semester that the student expects to be graduated.

Changing a Form

Changes in degree programs are permitted upon proper filing and approval of a Degree Plan Revision Form available online. Changes in degree programs will take effect at the beginning of the semester after the change in degree plan is approved. When unforeseen circumstances arise during the semester of graduation, an exception to the implementation date may occur at the request of the director of graduate admissions and with the approval of the dean of Graduate Studies.


Comprehensive Examination (for Specialist's and Master's students)

An examination given to master's and specialist's students, generally during the last semester of coursework. The examination may be oral, written, or a combination of both modes. It may be taken no more than twice. The purpose of this examination is to assess the candidate's knowledge of a broad academic field and to evaluate whether the candidate has attained certain standards and/or requirements necessary to successfully complete the program. If the examinations are written, they are to be kept on file in the department. The student has the right of access to his or her graded exam for a period of five (5) years.

This examination is scheduled by each department during the time period designated by the Graduate Office. Normally, the comprehensive examination may be taken no more that twice and failure to pass the comprehensive on the second attempt terminates one's degree program. Any exception to this "twice-only" rule must be recommended by the graduate program and approved by the Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Qualifying Examination (for doctoral level students)

An examination given to doctoral students to assess the level of mastery of knowledge in the discipline and in pedagogy. This examination determines if the doctoral student is qualified to continue as a candidate for the doctoral degree. Written portions of the examination are to be kept on file in the department for a period of five (5) years and the student has the right of access. The examination is a milestone in academic achievement by a doctoral student.

Preliminary Examination (for doctoral level students)

The second of a set of doctoral examinations which are taken at the end of coursework and are preliminary to entering the dissertation phase. Preliminary examinations may be both written and oral and are inclusive of coursework and supplementary readings. Students should consult with their advisors as to the individual program policy on timing and content of examinations.

Examinations, Other

Any graduate student may be required to take one or more additional tests designed to measure general educational achievement and/or achievement in selected major areas.

Graduate credit may not be earned by CLEP or Special Examination.

Grades - Grading System

The following notations are used by faculty of the University to indicate the quality of the work performed by students taking graduate courses:

A, A-
B+, B, B-
C+, C, C-
D+, D, D-

Grades That Do Not Influence Grade Point Average

W - Withdrawal
NC - No credit (audit)
I - Incomplete
S - Satisfactory
U - Unsatisfactory
P - Pass

The P/F grade is given only in those courses with prior approval to use pass/fail grading. Courses may be taught on a pass/fail basis only after approval of the Graduate Council. Course descriptions state if pass/fail grading applies.

Pass or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grades are not used in determining the grade point average. However, they do count toward graduation credit requirements and are treated in every other respect as being equivalent to traditionally graded courses.

The grade "I" indicates that the student has not completed all course requirements due to illness or other uncontrollable circumstances, especially those which may occur toward the close of the term. Mere failure to make up work or turn in required work on time does not provide a basis for the grade of "I" unless the extenuating circumstances noted above are acceptable to the instructor. When a student fails to appear for a final examination without known cause, the grade to be reported should be determined as follows:

  • If the student has done satisfactory work to that point, the grade "I" may be reported on the assumption that the student was ill or will otherwise present sufficient reason for official excuse;
  • If the student has attended irregularly and has not done satisfactory work to that point, the grade "F" should be reported.

The "incomplete" must be removed during the succeeding semester, excluding summer. Otherwise, it converts to a grade of "F". A student should not make up the "incomplete" by registering and paying again for the same course. The "I" grade carries no value until converted to a final grade.

Grades - Appeal of Course Grades

Level One

  1. Student appeals concerning a course grade should be resolved by conference between the student and the faculty member who assigned the grade. The appeal must occur within forty (40) days of the graduation date for each term.
  2. In the event of an impasse between the student and the faculty member, a student with an appeal of a grade shall discuss it with the department chair within ten (10) days of the conference with the involved faculty member. The department chair shall investigate the circumstances, record his/her findings, and send a copy to the student and the faculty member within ten (10) days of the notification of impasse. Although the department chair does not have the power to change the grade, he/she will make a recommendation concerning the appeal. These findings will become a part of the appeals record.

Level Two

  1. If the student is not satisfied, he/she may, within fifteen (15) days following receipt of the department chair's recommendation, refer the appeal plus all relevant data including stated reasons why he/she believes the appeal has thus far not been satisfied. The associate provost shall select a college committee to hear the appeal and transmit the appeal documents to the committee chair or to the office of the dean of the college which houses the selected appeals committee.
  2. The committee hearing the appeal will receive documents and testimony regarding the circumstances, will record its findings, and shall render a decision. Notification of the committee's decision will be made to the student, faculty member, department chair, college dean, associate provost for Academic Affairs, and the director of Records.
  3. The decision of the committee hearing the appeal will be final concerning the grade in question.

Note: In cases where the department chair is the person against whom the complaint is lodge, then the dean in whose college the department is located shall assume the duties of the chair in the investigation and decision making.


  1. The number of days indicated at each level above shall be considered the maximum, but every effort should be made to expedite the process.
  2. The failure of the student to proceed from one level of the appeal procedure to the next level within the prescribed time limits shall be deemed to be an acceptance of the recommendations and/or decision previously rendered. All further considerations and proceedings regarding that particular appeal shall cease at that point.
  3. A grade appeal may be withdrawn at any level without prejudice.
  4. All appeal proceedings shall be kept as confidential as may be appropriate at each level.
  5. A grade appeals committee shall have reasonable access to all official records for information necessary to the determination of a recommendation.

Grades - Grade Point Average (Quality Credits)

Grade points are numerical values assigned to letter grades in order to provide a basis for quantitative determination of grade (quality) point averages. The four-point system with pluses and minuses is used.

The following system is used in determining grade point average:

Grade Points




The scholastic standing of a student is expressed in terms of grade point average (GPA). A GPA is the total number of grade points divided by the total number of credit hours (exclusive of P, S, and U credit hours) at Middle Tennessee State University, plus any transferred course work. For a grade of F, the credit hours count, but zero grade points are earned.

Intent to Graduate

Indication that the candidate is planning to complete all degree requirements during the current term. An Intent to Graduate Form must be filed by the candidate at the beginning of the semester of planned graduation. This authorizes release of the student's file for final evaluation and authorizes information to be college for issuance of the diploma.


The prerequisite for the graduate major is an undergraduate minor or its equivalent and/or the recommendation of the department chair. The prerequisite for the graduate minor is 12 semester hours of undergraduate coursework in that area or its equivalent and/or the recommendation of the department chair or delegate. If prerequisite coursework is marginally deficient, the student may be admitted to the College of Graduate Studies to make up the deficiencies concomitantly while taking graduate courses. Prerequisite courses do not apply toward meeting graduate program requirements.

Repeated Courses

A graduate student may repeat graduate courses in which a grade lower than "B-" was earned. However, there are certain restrictions and limitations. A maximum of two courses, not to exceed eight credits combined, may be repeated for a grade change, i.e., the grade in the second attempt replaces the grade in the first attempt. If a third or subsequent course is repeated by the student, there will be no grade replacement and all attempts will be used in the grade point average calculation. All attempts are recorded on the transcript.

Graduate students may not repeat a course in which they have previously earned the grade of A or B without written approval from the graduate advisor and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. If granted, both the original and repeated graded will count in the GPA calculation.

Student Load

A student's enrollment status is determined by the number of credit hours taken per term according to the following:

Full-time - 9 graduate hours
Three-quarter time - 7 graduate hours
One-half time - 5 graduate hours

Graduate students are limited to a maximum of 12 graduate hours per semester. If an exception is requested, overload forms must be signed by the graduate advisor and the dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Full-time status for students holding graduate assistantships is six (6) graduate semester hours. (This is not applicable to students receiving veteran's benefits.)

Teacher Licensure

All applications for professional teaching licenses in Tennessee must be filed with the dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Science who is responsible for recommending each applicant from this University. All applicants for teacher licensing should furnish the Tennessee State Department of Education a report of scores attained on the Core Battery Tests of the National Teacher Examinations. A copy of the scores should be sent to the Office of the Dean, College of Education and Behavioral Science. MTSU verification of the scores will be forwarded with the Application for Licensure.

Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Education Program

The post-baccalaureate teacher education program is designed for individuals who have completed baccalaureate degrees but who did not complete teacher preparation. The College of Education and Behavioral Science requires candidates to address any course and program deficiencies in their undergraduate education to ensure the attainment of the knowledge and skills required in general education, professional education, and the major for the teaching field. Additional coursework and program requirements will be determined by the teacher licensure analyst. Transcript analysis forms for the post-baccalaureate program are available in the McWherter Learning Resources Center 175.

Post-baccalaureate students must also make formal application for admission to the teacher education program. Admission to teacher education is a prerequisite to enrollment in upper-division courses in Elementary Education (ELED), Reading (READ), Special Education (SPED) (except SPED 3010), Foundations of Education (FOED), or Youth Education (YOED).

Time Limits

Students have six years after the date they matriculate to complete the requirements for master's or specialist's degree. There is a ten year time limit after matriculation to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree. Exceptions to these time limitations, for good cause, will be considered by the dean of the College of Graduate Studies when recommended by the graduate advisor and department chair.


Student and official copies of student's records are furnished free of charge upon written request by the student. No transcript will be provided for a student who has any financial indebtedness to the University or who has not completed admission procedures. Official transcripts from other institutions must be obtained directly from those institutions.

Transfer Credit

In general, only coursework taken while in graduate status, prior to attending MTSU, will be transferred and only if those courses were not used in partial satisfaction of degree requirements at the previous university. Transfer credit should demonstrate equivalency to existing MTSU courses acceptable for the graduate degree and requires the recommendation of the student's director of graduate program and approval of the dean of the College of Graduate Studies during the first semester of enrollment at MTSU. In general, credits completed seven (7) or more years prior to admission to a degree program at MTSU will not be considered for transfer. Transfer courses with grades below B will not be accepted for credit in any graduate degree programs.

No graduate credit may be obtained by correspondence or work experience. A maximum of 12 semester hours of residence credit (6 in the major area) may be transferred and applied on a master's or specialist's degree. Doctoral students should check with their director of graduate studies for the policy on transfer of credits into their doctoral degree program.

Transfer Equivalency Form for Graduate Students

Withdrawing from the University

Students finding it necessary to withdraw (completely separate) from the University after having selected classes for a future term should access RaiderNet to drop all classes. A student may also initiate the official withdrawal process a the University College Advising Center, McFarland Building. Consult deadline dates online for each term to determine whether withdrawal should be accomplished by RaiderNet or through the University Withdrawal Office. Once classes have begun for the summer term, withdrawal for that summer term cannot be accomplished via RaiderNet.

The Records Office will be notified of the withdrawal and will enter the withdrawal and its effective date in the computer system. Faculty can access class rolls for up-to-date information via RaiderNet.

The grade for a student who officially withdraws from the University will be determined by the student's academic performance prior to withdrawal. Withdrawal early in a term may result in no grades being assigned to the student. The Withdrawing website carries dates governing withdrawal and appropriate grades.

A student may not officially withdraw from the University after a date in the semester or term which is one week or less prior to the beginning of final examinations, except for reasons of mitigation or extenuation as shall be determined by the University Withdrawal Office.

Any student who leaves the University without officially withdrawing will receive a grade of F for all work attempted.

Requests to withdraw from a term within one year of the end of that term will be considered only if the student presents acceptable documentation of extenuating circumstances to the withdrawal coordinator. in such cases, faculty members will receive a written request for approval to assign a W grade. no requests will be considered beyond one year of the end of the term.

A student under certain conditions may receive an administrative withdrawal from a single course or courses. Similar procedures are provided for a total severance from the University if conditions warrant. The following policy will determine the eligibility for an administrative withdrawal: The entry of W indicates that the student has been withdrawn from a course without reflection of grades. The entry of W results from a situation involving extreme extenuating circumstances as identified and originated with the University physician or counselors at Counseling Services and/or the associate dean of students. The entry of W will be accomplished only with the full knowledge and written concurrence of the faculty member concerned.

Any student who is absent from a state college or university during any school term or portion thereof in excess of thirty (30) days due to active military service shall be entitled to withdraw and receive a tuition credit in the form of credit hours for each credit hour paid by, or on behalf of, such student, or a refund for any payments made. Credit shall be given only if the reserve or National Guard student did not receive a final grade in the course for which tuition credit is sought.