The following are the general regulations governing master’s degrees. Additional requirements established by specific departments and programs may be found in this catalog under the special headings of these units. Before a decision to enter into a particular graduate degree program is made, the student is urged to communicate directly with the department to determine the most current program requirements. The student is responsible for seeking academic advising in the department or program of the specialization chosen. The department can assist in many of the details necessary to completing program requirements, especially early in the student’s program.
Please note that each graduate department is headed by a chair who is responsible for working with graduate students in developing individual courses of study, establishing graduate committees, and in advising graduate students. Some graduate departments also have a graduate coordinator. In such cases, graduate students are expected to work with this person as the program’s chief officer for graduate affairs. In all matters relating to university regulations, the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research is the final arbiter, though he or she consults with departmental officers in carrying out these duties.
Graduate-level credit is given for all courses at CWU numbered at the 500 level and above. However, courses which are specifically numbered 500 are reserved for professional development courses and cannot be counted toward a master’s degree.
Graduate courses numbered 501 and above are typically restricted to students who have earned a bachelor’s degree and who have formally been admitted to a graduate program of the university. Some courses may also require competitive admission to a specific departmental graduate program.
Courses at the 100, 200, and 300 level are not applicable to a master’s degree at CWU. Courses at the 400 level may be accepted for credit toward a graduate degree at CWU provided that they are taken after the student has been admitted to the master’s degree program and are approved as part of the student’s official course of study. In such cases, graduate students are expected to perform at a high level, while completing requirements additional to those expected of undergraduates enrolled in the course.
Transferring Credit To CWU Graduate Degree Programs
Courses taken prior to formal admission to a CWU master’s degree program may be considered for transfer to a CWU master’s degree program provided that the criteria below are met.
A total of 15 graduate quarter credits may be applied to a CWU master’s degree, of which no more than 9 quarter credits (6 semester credits) may be from accredited institutions offering graduate degrees other than CWU.
Credits accepted in transfer are those that are part of an accredited institution’s regular graduate degree programs. In cases where courses sought for transfer generate both undergraduate and graduate credit, students receiving transfer credit are expected to have elected the course(s) at the graduate level and thus have completed more qualitatively and quantitatively than those who have taken the course(s) for undergraduate credit. Credit sought for transfer must be graded “B” or higher and must have been completed no more than six years before the date of the student’s master’s degree program completion. Credit hours only, not grades, may be transferred. The cumulative grade point average is computed for grades earned as a master’s student at CWU.
All credits intended for transfer must be recommended for approval by the departmental/program chair or graduate coordinator as a part of the official course of study filed with the School of Graduate Studies and Research. Before transfer credit can be considered part of a graduate student’s program, an official transcript from the registrar of the institution from which the credit is to be transferred must be received by the graduate office.
Credits used to fulfill requirements for another master’s degree, either at CWU or elsewhere, will not be transferred towards a CWU master’s degree. Credit for short courses, attendance at conferences, brokered courses, workshops, and pass-fail courses are normally not accepted in transfer. Credit from any non-accredited institution or accredited institution not approved for graduate study will not be accepted for transfer. Credit obtained within the state of Washington from an accredited institution whose main campus is outside of the state will be considered for transfer only by special petition to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The university reserves the right to determine the acceptability of transfer credit from any institution.
Course Challenge (Credit by Examination)
Under certain circumstances, the university may award credit or waive requirements based on course challenges or prior learning experience. Graduate students who have been admitted to a graduate program must obtain permission from the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, their advisor, and the course instructor to challenge a course.
Graduate students may take advantage of the credit/no credit option as a way to explore academic areas in which they are interested. Credit/no credit courses will not be counted toward master’s degrees nor will they be computed in the graduate grade point average. Students are allowed to select one class per quarter for a credit/-no-credit grade. A student electing this option must designate a class as credit/no credit during registration or during change of schedule period. The credit/no credit option is distinct from courses graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S or U) basis (see S or U grading).
Credits from Extension, Workshops and Correspondence Activity
No more than a combined maximum of 8 credits of workshop courses (591s) may be applied toward a master’s degree. Courses numbered 491 are not applicable to master’s degree credit.
Credits earned in correspondence courses are not applicable to any master’s degree.
Any graduate student in a master’s program whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 at the end of any quarter will be placed on academic probation for the next academic quarter. While on probation, a student may not hold a graduate assistantship or a nonresident tuition waiver fellowship. If, after one quarter of probation, the student fails to raise her or his cumulative grade point average to 3.0 or above, the student will be dropped from the university. Students may not receive a master’s degree from Central if their cumulative grade point average is below 3.0.
The cumulative grade point average is calculated using all courses taken after admission into a graduate program, whether part of the approved course of study or not. Grades for all courses included on the course of study must average at least 3.0 (B). Credit will not be accepted for courses on the course of study in which a grade lower than “C” is earned.
Student Study Load
The normal course load for graduate students not holding a graduate assistantship is 10-16 credits per quarter, 10-14 for those with assistantships. Graduate assistants taking over 14 credits must have approval from the School of Graduate Studies and Research. For a graduate student not holding an assistantship, a study load of 17-19 credits may be approved by the chair or graduate coordinator of the department of the student’s specialization. Loads above 19 credits are not normally permitted. Exceptions may be made only by the School of Graduate Studies and Research dean.
Maximum Time Limit to Degree Completion
No credit earned more than six years before the date of the master’s degree award may be counted as part of the degree credit requirement except as may be approved by formal action by the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. This includes applicable work transferred from other institutions.
Master’s degree students are expected to complete all requirements for the master’s degree within six years from the date of first enrollment. Students seeking to interrupt their studies may do so with the approval of the chair or graduate coordinator of the home department, but must pay a non-refundable fee for registration as an on-leave student. This fee covers four successive academic quarters beginning with fall quarter. While on leave, graduate students retain library privileges. If a degree program is not completed during the six-year period from the quarter for which a student was admitted, the student must reapply to the university. If readmitted, only those credits graded B or higher and completed no more than six years from the date of the student’s program completion may be counted toward the degree.
All master’s degree students, including students in attendance only during summer quarter, must satisfy the continuous registration requirement each fall quarter or summer to maintain active status. Students whose master’s program runs throughout the academic year will be assessed this fee every fall quarter. Students whose program meets primarily in the summer months will be assessed the on-leave fee at the beginning of summer quarter. A master’s degree student may register as a full-time, part-time, or as an on-leave student to satisfy the requirement. Students desiring on-leave status are required to pay a $40 fee each fall quarter. Failure to maintain continuous registration will be taken by the university to signify the student’s resignation from the program. Students who resign and later wish to resume study toward a degree must reapply for admission and complete all steps outlined for master’s admission. Readmission cannot be guaranteed.
Every master’s degree candidate must have a graduate committee of at least three members. Interdisciplinary membership is strongly recommended. In some departments, a student may choose her/his committee in consultation with an advisor; in others, the chair or graduate coordinator assigns graduate committees. In either case, the graduate student is expected to work with the department chair or graduate coordinator in forming her/his committee. The student must submit a Graduate Committee and Option Approval Form to the graduate office. If approved, the committee becomes the student’s official advisory committee. The thesis or non-thesis project advisor is the student’s graduate committee chair and generally is a faculty member in the department of specialization.
Only a regular member of the graduate faculty may serve as chair of a graduate committee. Adjunct faculty may serve as committee members with the approval of the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
Under unusual circumstances, and with the written recommendation of a graduate student’s home department or program and the approval of the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, an associate member of the graduate faculty may serve as co-chair of a student’s graduate committee. The associate member will serve as co-chair along with a regular member of the graduate faculty. The minimum number of members needed for a graduate committee will remain at three.
The Graduate Faculty
At CWU, graduate professors are teachers and mentors, as well as active researchers and artists. They blend instructional and research activities and in so doing afford our graduate students the benefit of state-of-the-art research and creative experience with personalized instruction.
Course of Study
All candidates must complete at least 45 credits (some programs require more credits) as outlined in an official course of study, endorsed by the department chair or graduate coordinator and the committee chair and filed with and approved by the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The credit on the course of study must be separate and distinct from credit applied toward any other degree. Course of study forms are available in the graduate office, Barge Hall, room 214.
The course of study should be filed before a graduate student has completed 25 quarter credits leading to the master’s degree; however, it may be required prior to that for financial aid purposes. No more than 15 quarter credits completed at CWU before the quarter of formal admission will be accepted on the official course of study for the master’s degree, although the department and the graduate office reserve the right to limit the use of such credit, or not count it at all. Graduate students are urged to discuss the counting of such credit as soon after being admitted as possible. An approved course of study must be on file with the graduate office before the graduate committee and an Option Approval form will be considered for approval.
The official course of study reflects the credit required to meet requirements for the master’s degree. Unless revisions are approved by the department chair or graduate coordinator and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, the student must complete satisfactorily or be currently enrolled for all credit specified before advancement to candidacy or before the degree award will be processed. Each graduate student, as part of degree requirements must complete a thesis, project and/or comprehensive examination (see below for information about culminating experiences).
The student’s graduate advisor or committee chair, in consultation with the department chair and/or graduate coordinator, works with the student in designing a program of study. Once agreed upon, the student prepares an official course of study form obtained from the graduate office, which is then endorsed by the department chair or graduate coordinator, along with the student’s committee chair. Upon receipt in the graduate office, each course of study is reviewed to ensure that it meets the minimum requirements of the institution.
Individual Studies Programs
Individual studies master’s degree programs are intended to allow highly motivated students to pursue an interdisciplinary course of study combining coursework from more than one discipline, where no such formal master’s degree program is in place. Individual studies master’s program proposals must show academic rigor, be programmatically coherent, and intellectually sound. Final approval of such programs resides with the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research and the chair of the Academic Standards Committee of the Graduate Council.
Prospective applicants seeking to pursue an individual studies master’s degree must contact the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research and the chair of Academic Standards Committee of the Graduate Council to discuss the feasibility of the desired program.
A graduate student must complete at least 45 quarter credits (some programs require more credits) in the 400, 500, and above credit level groups. At least 25 of the total required credits for the degree must be numbered 501 or above.
Some departments restrict the number of credits below the 500 level. Please consult the departmental listings in this catalog for specific additional credit level requirements.
At least 30 credits appearing on the course of study for the master’s degree must be on a graded scale (not S or U). Credit/no credit courses will not be counted toward a master’s degree at CWU.
All students pursuing the master’s degree must demonstrate scholarly proficiency by satisfactorily completing one or more of the following:
- a thesis;
- a written report of a field study, an applied research project, or an internship;
- a creative or studio project;
- a portfolio review;
- a comprehensive written examination; and/or
- an oral exam.
The student’s graduate committee will approve the culminating experience type before work begins. Theses must conform to standards described in the thesis regulations that are available at the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
A thesis is a written study prepared by the student that demonstrates her or his ability to conduct original, independent research. The thesis topic must be approved in its preliminary stages by the student’s graduate committee, the chair of the department of specialization or graduate coordinator, and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. Graduate students whose research involves human subjects or vertebrate animals may not commence research without first obtaining clearance to do so from the appropriate institutional review board. (See Institutional Review Board or Animal Care and Use Committee below.) A form for certifying thesis completion is available in the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
The thesis must be prepared according to standards of format, style, typeface, and paper quality, as outlined in the thesis regulations available at the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The graduate student is expected to work closely with the thesis committee chair and committee in the conception, design, and execution of the thesis. Working with the thesis committee chair, a graduate student will submit copies of the thesis to the committee at least two full weeks in advance of the final examination. A draft copy must be provided with sufficient lead-time to allow faculty to review and critique it. The student should maintain close contact with committee members during thesis preparation. At the appointed time, the student will defend her or his work before the committee. The thesis defense grade will be assigned as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. A jointly written thesis is not permitted.
Approval of the completion of a thesis is a two-stage process. First, if successfully defended, it must receive the written approval of all committee members. If approved by the thesis committee, a thesis approval page and the thesis grade report should be signed by all members of the committee after required corrections, if any, are made. . Second, the thesis must be reviewed and approved by the graduate office. Once the graduate student has prepared the thesis in the format required by the graduate office, and has double checked to ensure that all style and format rules have been observed, he or she should submit the thesis for review.. Please contact the office for additional information concerning specific guidelines for submission and processing fees.
Several departments have a non-thesis option as the culminating experience . Please see individual program requirements for specific information.
Institutional Review Board Approval
Central is concerned that no research conducted at this institution by its faculty or its students expose people who participate as subjects to unreasonable risk to their health, general well-being, or privacy. Therefore, all CWU-affiliated research, including student research projects which involve human subjects, must be reviewed by the university’s Human Subjects Review Committee (HSRC), CWU’s institutional review board for the protection of human subjects. Students apply for HSRC review by filling out an application form, which can be obtained online at www.cwu.edu/~hsrc or from the HSRC office. Early contact with the human protections administrator is recommended. No research can be initiated prior to formal approval.
Animal Care and Use Committee
Graduate students whose research involves vertebrate animal subjects may not commence research without first obtaining clearance from the Animal Care and Use Committee. Forms for applying for review may be obtained in the Office of Graduate Studies and Research or online at www.cwu.edu/~masters.
Completing Degree Requirements
Final Folder Evaluation
All graduate students must contact the School of Graduate Studies and Research for a final review of their file no later than the first week of their anticipated final quarter. This review will evaluate candidacy requirements, grade point average, course of study completion, and culminating experience option form completion. Advancement to candidacy and, if applicable, final thesis defense, oral examination and/or written examination scheduling will not be permitted except during the final quarter.
If necessary for a program’s degree completion requirements, after the student has registered and been cleared to proceed toward completion through a folder check by the graduate office, he or she must pass oral and/or written examinations covering courses, seminars, thesis, or other culminating experiences. A permission form authorizing the final examination will be issued by the graduate office after a final evaluation of the student’s course of study has been completed and once the student has met the final quarter enrollment requirements.
At least two weeks prior to the final examination, four (4) copies of a “brief” must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies and Research. A sample brief is available at the graduate office or online at the graduate studies webpage, www.cwu.edu/masters. Copies will be distributed to the student’s graduate faculty committee prior to the examination. One copy will remain in the student’s file. For the final examination, an outside representative of the graduate faculty may be assigned by the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
If applicable, the permit for scheduling a final examination, approved by the committee, must be filed in the School of Graduate Studies and Research at least three weeks in advance of the examination. The final examination must be scheduled between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, when the university is in session (not between quarters). Final examinations are conducted by the candidate’s committee and are open to the faculty. The committee alone shall decide upon the merit of the candidate’s performance. Final assessment of the examination will be reported on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. The candidate shall pass the examination if two-thirds of the official graduate faculty committee members so indicate. In the event of an unsatisfactory final examination, a second examination may be scheduled upon the endorsement of the major department chair and with the approval of the dean of Graduate Studies and Research for the subsequent quarter with at least two months intervening.
All degree requirements must be completed within the same or next quarter from the exam date. Failure to complete remaining requirements by the end of the next quarter will result in requiring the final examination to be retaken.
Final Quarter Enrollment Requirement
A student admitted to a master’s degree program must be registered for a minimum of two (2) credits at the university during the quarter the master’s degree is conferred. Enrollment for this purpose should be completed during the usual early registration or regular registration periods to ensure degree conferral if requirements are met.
A student whose name has been placed on the degree list for a particular quarter but who does not complete the requirements for degree conferral by the published deadline (two weeks before the last day of finals) and who does complete all the requirements by the last day of that quarter, will receive the degree the following quarter without further registration.
Advancement to Candidacy
A student becomes eligible for advancement to candidacy for a master’s degree upon fulfillment of the following requirements:
- Completion of the course requirements as set forth in the course of study;
- Completion of the culminating experience and, if applicable, the passing of an oral and/or written examination deemed necessary by the major department.
- Attainment of a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (B) or higher for all courses taken since admission to the graduate program and all work included in the course of study;
- Completion of additional departmental requirements, e.g., proficiency in a foreign language;
- Fulfillment of the statute of time limitation (six years) requirement; and
Application for a master’s degree must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies and Research by the stated quarterly deadline. The application is generated by the graduate office. The application will not be completed without payment of binding and degree fees. The fee for the master’s degree is $14 plus a $1 student benefit fee. The application is for a specific quarter of degree conferral. If requirements are not met, the student must reapply and pay the fees for degree conferral in a subsequent quarter.
Candidates for the master’s degree are encouraged to participate in the commencement exercises following the completion of degree requirements. See the academic calendar in the front of this catalog for deadline dates to register for commencement participation and arrange for regalia.
Second Master’s Degrees
Students seeking a second master’s degree must be admitted to the second program in accordance with admission regulations and must complete an approved course of study (of at least 45 credits) distinct from the courses offered for the first master’s degree.
Graduate Certificate Programs
In addition to the graduate degree programs, the School of Graduate Studies offers certificates leading to professional credentials and educational certification. For policies and regulations concerning teacher certification programs, please visit the Center for Teaching and Learning website at www.cwu.edu/teaching-learning.