Return to: Academic Policies
This page contains information on policies, procedures, and regulations that are specific to graduate study at Columbia College Chicago.
Graduate students are also subject to college-wide policies that may be found in the college’s student handbook. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of all policies, procedures, and regulations that apply to their program of study and the college. (Ask your graduate program director whether your program publishes its own program-specific handbook.)
Columbia College Chicago reserves the right to change, amend, modify, or cancel without notice the statements on this page.
Religious Holiday Observance
Columbia College Chicago respects the right of and encourages all students to observe the religious holidays associated with their faith. Faculty should make every effort to accommodate students who miss scheduled class meetings due to the observance of a religious holiday. Students are expected to contact their instructor as soon as possible to make appropriate arrangements to complete coursework.
See Religious Holidays and Observances Calendar 2021-22 for a list of many of the religious holidays observed by members of the Columbia College Chicago community. Please note this is not an exhaustive list and that individual practices may vary.
Columbia College Chicago offers the following degrees:
- The Master of Arts (MA) degree programs guide and support artists and educators who wish to develop advanced knowledge of a specific field of study or area of professional practice by deepening their understanding of theory, history, technique, and creative practice. Students learn to integrate various aspects of their discipline, culminating in a thesis or practicum experience that could lead to professional pathways or entry into further graduate education or scholarship. The degree consists of at least 30 credit hours at the graduate level.
- The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree programs guide students in theory and artistic practice while emphasizing the development of a student’s unique perspective. Students undertake creative and technical studies, build portfolios, engage in collaborative projects, and may develop vital professional connections. Students will complete a culminating project which, depending upon the department, may be a thesis or practicum experience. The MFA is a terminal degree which consists of at least 34 credit hours at the graduate level, in accordance with accrediting bodies or discipline-specific best practices.
- The Master of Arts Management (MAM) degree program aims to prepare students for managerial and entrepreneurial careers in the fields of art, entertainment, and media. Along with the theoretical and practical study of the marketing, legal, financial, organizational, leadership, and strategic concepts that accompany these fields, the curriculum allows students to choose elective management courses in live and performing arts, visual arts, music business, media management, and entrepreneurship. Students will have the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to lead and manage a for-profit or non-profit arts organization or launch their own. The degree consists of at least 48 credit hours at the graduate level.
The following requirements apply to all Columbia College Chicago graduate students; however, programs may impose additional requirements. Therefore, students should also reference program-specific policies and/or handbooks and consult their graduate program director to determine if there are program-specific requirements other than those listed here:
- Candidates for master’s degrees and graduate certificates must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) in all graduate coursework.
- Students may not apply more than six credit hours of coursework with a grade of 2.0 toward a graduate degree or certificate.
- Students may not apply more than a combined total of six credit hours of independent study toward fulfillment of degrees requiring 40 credits or fewer, nor more than 12 hours for degrees requiring more than 41.
- Grades lower than 2.0 are not applied toward the fulfillment of degree requirements; however, they are included in the cumulative grade point average (GPA) calculation.
- Candidates for master’s degrees in programs that require completion of a thesis or equivalent project cannot graduate unless they successfully completed that/those requirements.
- Students working on their thesis must maintain continuous fall and spring registration in an approved thesis course bearing the 691 or 692 designation.
||Program Credit Hours Required for Completion
||Maximum Timeframe Attempted Credit Hours
|MFA with Thesis
|MA with Thesis
Students who do not complete a degree within the prescribed time limit and who wish for an extension must complete and send a “Program Extension Petition” (PEP) via email attachment to their graduate program director to begin the review process. Directors forward reviewed PEPs to their chairs and the dean of the school of graduate studies.
- The PEP is available here or contact the school of graduate studies.
- Extensions are not automatically granted.
- Program directors can only provide initial approval.
- The dean of the school of graduate studies has final approval authority.
- If the petition for exception is approved, the student may be required to retake designated courses. The original grades for any retaken courses are not replaced but appear on the academic record along with the “retake” course grade and are included in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average.
- Petitioners who are granted exceptions after more than a single semester hiatus must complete the applicable degree requirements for the then current catalog year.
All degree-seeking graduate students are expected to maintain at least part-time status (six graduate credit hours) each fall and spring semester they are registered. Some programs do not allow part-time enrollment. International students should be aware of any additional policies in the “Admissions Requirements” section of the Columbia College Chicago catalog.
Students must enroll as follows in order to maintain full-time status:
- Nine credit hours or at least one thesis class each semester during both the fall and spring.
- Five credit hours or at least one thesis class each session during the summer.
Some programs may require additional credits per semester. Students should seek confirmation from their graduate program directors.
Students should also know that an enrollment of fewer than six credit hours may affect their eligibility for federal student loans. Students should seek advice from Columbia Central before dropping or withdrawing from any course.
To be eligible for federal student loans in a summer session, a student must be enrolled in either a thesis class or in classes carrying a minimum of three graduate credit hours.
Students with extenuating circumstances who wish to drop or withdraw from a course after registration and seek a minimum credit adjustment must complete and send a “Minimum Credit Petition” (MCP) via email attachment to their graduate program director within one week of the indicated drop/withdrawal.
- The MCP is available from graduate program directors and the school of graduate studies.
- MCPs include a curricular plan that ensures degree completion within published program completion time limits.
- Adjustments are not automatically granted.
- Program directors have final approval authority.
Candidacy and Status Reviews
As indicated in their handbook, certain programs require reviews of all student achievement at documented points during their study. A student whose achievement at these points is deemed unsatisfactory by the program director may be placed on probation or, when it is unlikely that a student’s achievement will meet published criteria in a reasonable period, dismissed. (See “Academic Probation”.)
- Graduate program directors have final say about whether a student is placed on probation, but must notify their department chair, the dean of the school of graduate studies, and the registrar in writing about their decision.
- Graduate program directors who seek to dismiss a student must notify their department chair and the dean of the school of graduate studies.
- The registrar must alert a student about probation or dismissal at least three weeks prior to the subsequent term.
Thesis or Culminating Project
Students should consult their program handbook and program director for details regarding the nature, scope, format, and procedures governing submission, review, revision, and resubmission of theses or culminating projects (collectively “thesis/theses”).
- All theses are associated with either a one or zero credit (“thesis continuation”) course.
- In certain programs, there is a limit to the number of times a student may repeat a credit-bearing thesis class.
- The graduate program director may allow a student to enroll in a zero credit thesis continuation course if they exceed the number of times allowed for repeating the credit-bearing class.
- Students enrolled in the zero credit thesis class are actively engaged in thesis research under the supervision of a thesis advisor and are thus in compliance with the continuous enrollment policy.
- Students must continue to register in thesis or thesis continuation classes during fall and spring semesters once they have officially begun the thesis process and until their thesis is accepted.
- The graduate program director is responsible for awarding either a satisfactory progress (“S”) or unsatisfactory progress (“U”) grade each semester for credit and zero credit thesis courses.
Except as otherwise indicated in a department handbook:
- Each master’s thesis is reviewed departmentally by a thesis committee, consisting of a thesis advisor–serving as committee chair–and at least one other member.
- A student may request that the committee include a faculty member from an outside program or department.
- The graduate program director is solely responsible for appointing all committee members.
Thesis committees are only allowed to engage in final thesis reviews for students enrolled in a thesis or thesis continuation course; therefore, a student who has not completed their thesis by the end of a semester in which they are enrolled in a thesis or thesis continuation course must register for thesis or thesis continuance in the immediately subsequent semester before the thesis can be submitted for final review.
An “S” grade in a thesis class earns credit and shows satisfactory progress toward the completion of a thesis, but is not included in the calculation of a student’s grade point average; a grade of “U” does not earn credit, does not show satisfactory progress toward the completion of a thesis, nor is it included in the calculation of a student’s grade point average.
In programs that require such, a student must successfully defend their thesis before receiving their degree.
Columbia College Chicago uses a 4.0 scale to calculate the cumulative grade point average. Individual graduate programs vary in the awarding of pluses and minuses. Students should consult with their graduate program directors for program-specific grading policies.
Grade Points Awarded
Unsatisfactory (“U”) Grades and Departmental Review
Certain graduate level courses are offered with Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) as the exclusive grading option.
A student who earns a “U” grade in any course will be notified in writing by the registrar. Copies of the notification will also be sent to the graduate program director and department chair.
Students who earn a “U” grade are subject to a departmental review initiated by the graduate program director and conducted by a committee that includes the director, department chair, and at least one additional full-time faculty member from the student’s home department. Students who accumulate three or more unsatisfactory (U) grades will be automatically dismissed from their program.
The graduate program director must forward the review committee’s detailed determination to the student, department chair, dean of the school of graduate studies, and registrar.
Outcomes for this review may include but are not limited to:
- Academic Probation for the subsequent semester (see “Academic Probation”).
- A semester-long conditional leave of absence
- The restructuring of a student’s curriculum plan and/or degree path
- In addition, the review committee may, in the case of a student who has previously been placed on probation, recommend to the dean of the school of graduate studies that the student be dismissed from the program (see “Candidacy and Status Reviews”).
In the case of forced conditional leave, the committee must provide details regarding what a student must do in order to resume their study.
Graduate students whose performance in a course has been satisfactory and who finds, due to extraordinary and unforeseeable circumstances, that they are unable to complete one or more course requirements by the close of the term may request a grade of incomplete (I). Incomplete grades are not included in a student’s grade point average calculation but are considered in the completion rate and maximum time frame calculations. Students must apply for an incomplete grade and their request may be approved or denied by the college.
The award of an incomplete grade is not automatic. It requires consultation between the student and instructor and commits each of them to a specific agreement concerning the submission of the outstanding coursework. The incomplete grade may be issued when a student makes definite arrangements with the instructor to complete coursework outside of class after the course ends. All requests for an incomplete grade along with related documentation must be submitted during the semester in which the incomplete grade is requested including requests related to medical reasons. A student may not complete the work for a course in which an incomplete grade was received by enrolling in or attending the same class in the next semester.
An incomplete grade can only be issued for a graduate student who has met one of the following criteria:
- A student has successfully completed all course requirements up until the date they request an incomplete but is faced with unexpected circumstances that will make it impossible to complete course requirements by the end of that semester. The student must have, in the instructor’s estimation, the ability to complete missed coursework outside of class by the end of the eighth week of the following semester. The instructor must agree to evaluate the student’s work and replace the incomplete grade before the end of the following semester. A student-faculty agreement, specifying work to be completed and a due date, must be signed by both instructor and student and approved by the department chair. Approval of a request for an incomplete should be on file no later than the last day of the semester. In the event an instructor is no longer employed by the college, a graduate program director or department chair will evaluate the work and assign the course grade.
- An external supervisor for an internship has failed to submit a final report and grade recommendation by the deadline for grade submission. The internship coordinator or graduate program director is responsible for obtaining the final evaluation and submitting a letter grade to replace the incomplete grade by the eighth week of the following semester. In the event the external supervisor for an internship does not submit a final report and grade recommendation, the graduate program director or department chair will evaluate the work and assign the course grade.
Incompletes in spring must be cleared no later than the end of the following summer session; fall incompletes must be cleared in spring; summer in fall; and J-Session in spring. A leave of absence or failure to enroll in the next academic term does not extend this deadline.
An incomplete grade which is not cleared at the end of the following term will automatically convert to an F grade.
A student who is on academic probation is not eligible to receive an incomplete grade for the probationary semester (see “Academic Probation”).
Withdrawal (“W”) from Course(s)
Withdrawal from a course is only permitted at certain times. Please check with the Office of the Registrar for detailed information regarding withdrawal dates and deadlines. For each such course, a grade of W is entered on the student’s academic record. Courses with a grade of W do not earn credit and are not included in the calculation of the grade point average (see “Course Loads”).
After the withdrawal period has passed and, if discontinuation of a course is dictated by circumstances beyond the student’s control, the grade of incomplete may be appropriate (see “Incomplete (“I”) Grade”). Otherwise, the instructor will assign a course grade based upon the amount and quality of work completed prior to discontinuation, which may be an F grade.
If the withdrawal period has passed, and the instructor does not agree to a grade of incomplete, the student may file a petition for administrative withdrawal with Columbia Central. The student’s request for an administrative withdrawal will be reviewed by the graduate program director, AVP of Columbia Central, and registrar. If this petition is granted, the grade of W will appear on the student’s transcript for each course from which a withdrawal was requested. If this petition is not granted, a grade of F will appear on the student’s transcript for each course from which a withdrawal was requested.
Students who are planning to withdraw from coursework should discuss their decision with their graduate program director and Columbia Central. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure they have met all withdrawal requirements and to be aware of any consequences, financial or otherwise, associated with the decision to withdraw. It is especially important that international graduate students also consult the Global Education office to learn how their decision may affect their status (see also “Withdrawal from Program”).
In cases of appeal, all grade changes must be initiated by the instructor in whose course the original grade was awarded, or by the department chair or associate dean of the school with which the department is affiliated. The request for a grade change must be submitted by the end of the semester following the term for which the original grade was awarded. Grade changes are approved by the department chair and then confirmed by the associate dean of the school with which the department is affiliated. A change of grade usually results from one of the following circumstances:
- Removal of an incomplete grade following completion of outstanding requirements.
- Discovery of a posting error.
- Discovery of a violation of academic integrity.
- Reconsideration following an appeal.
Course Credit, Course Transfer, and Academic Records
Graduate students seeking transfer credit must submit a written request to their graduate program director along with an official transcript showing the course(s) in question. (Some departments do not allow transfer credit for required courses.)
If the graduate program director approves the request, the graduate program director must forward a written transfer credit recommendation to the dean of the school of graduate studies for approval. If approved, the student, the graduate program director, and the registrar are notified in writing by the dean of the school of graduate studies and the change is made to the student’s academic record.
To be eligible for transfer, coursework must meet the following criteria:
- Courses must have been taken at a regionally accredited institution.
- Courses must have been taken for graduate credit.
- Student must have earned a grade of B (3.0) or equivalent on a numerical scale.
- Credits earned have not already been applied toward the completion of a previous degree.
- Coursework must have been completed not more than five years before the student’s first semester of graduate study at Columbia.
The total of all hours earned through transfer and credit-by-examination may not exceed six credits in programs requiring 40 credits or fewer or 12 credits in programs requiring 41 credits or more.
Transfer credit is applied only toward credits earned and does not affect the cumulative grade point average.
Transfer credit evaluations are conducted only for admitted graduate students. The graduate program director may, however, evaluate transfer credit for prospective students; such preliminary evaluation is not official or binding.
Credit by Examination
Graduate students may request the award of credit by examination in lieu of enrolling in required or elective courses. Students must make and their graduate program directors must approve such requests before the first day of their initial semester. Examinations of this sort are generally administered by the regular instructors of the courses in question.
The examination grade is submitted to the graduate program director for final approval. Credit will only be approved if the student earns a grade of 3.0 (B) or higher on the examination. If credit by examination is approved, the course title, number, and number of credits, and instructor name are submitted to the registrar for entry on the student’s academic record by the graduate program director. The office of Columbia Central prepares the appropriate statement of charges (equal to the current tuition rate per credit hour multiplied by the number of credit hours earned) for each credit posting.
Credit by examination earns credit toward completion of degree requirements but is not included in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average. A total of all hours earned through transfer credit and credit by examination may not exceed six credit hours for programs requiring 40 credit hours or fewer or 12 credit hours for programs requiring 41 credit hours or more.
Graduate students may study in and earn credit toward only one Columbia graduate degree at a time. If a program within Columbia changes substantially, the college does not limit the number of credit hours that can be transferred. Instead, such internal transfers are handled on a case-by-case basis by the graduate program directors of the involved program and the dean of the school of graduate studies.
Students who have completed a graduate degree at Columbia cannot apply credit hours and grades earned while enrolled in that degree to another Columbia graduate degree.
A graduate student who wishes to transfer from one program to another must submit the following to the Office of Graduate Admissions by the appropriate application deadline:
- A letter of intent addressed to the director of graduate admissions.
- A new application form for the new program.
- Any supplemental materials, such as documents, work samples, etc., required by the new program.
Such students must follow the regular guidelines and deadlines as outlined in the admission instructions. These students will be reviewed for admission along with other applicants for that cycle. If the student is admitted to the program into which they seek to transfer, the registrar, the dean of the school of graduate studies, and the graduate program director from which the student transferred are notified by the director of graduate admissions.
Except when a student is enrolled in a combined undergraduate/graduate master’s program, the college does not permit transfer of credits from undergraduate courses, and undergraduate course work is not applicable toward fulfillment of the requirements of any graduate program. In the case of a student enrolled in a combined undergraduate/graduate master’s program, only pre-approved graduate courses taken as an undergraduate will apply toward fulfillment of the requirements of the graduate program.
Except when a student is enrolled in a combined undergraduate/graduate master’s program, students enrolled in any of Columbia’s graduate programs are not permitted to enroll in undergraduate courses at Columbia. In the case of a student enrolled in a combined undergraduate/graduate master’s program, the student may enroll in undergraduate courses at Columbia only before the student has earned their undergraduate degree.
(Note: Graduate students may audit undergraduate courses; see “Auditing Undergraduate Courses”).
Graduate credit is awarded only through regular enrollment, transfer credit, and credit by examination. At the graduate level, Columbia does not offer course waivers or other exemptions, such as life experience. Therefore, graduate students cannot receive credit by “placing out” of courses; however, the admissions committee of a graduate program may recommend waiving prerequisite undergraduate courses normally required for admission to that program.
When a required graduate course would essentially duplicate life experience or a course previously taken for undergraduate credit, a graduate student may request departmental approval to substitute one graduate course for another. (Some departments do not allow substitution of required courses.) Prior to the start of the semester, the student must petition the graduate program director for approval to substitute. If approved, a course substitution form is completed by the graduate program director, and the registrar, department chair, and the dean of the school of graduate studies are notified. The approval of a course substitution does not reduce the credit requirements for earning a graduate degree.
After registration, a student wishing to drop one or more courses must complete the drop process online. Students wishing to drop one or more courses should consult the Office of the Registrar for details regarding drop dates and deadlines. Courses dropped by the applicable deadline will not appear on the student’s academic record. Students should also consult with Columbia Central concerning the effect that dropping a course(s) may have on their financial aid eligibility.
Any course in which a W was assigned may be retaken for credit. Certain courses required for the degree may be taken for credit more than once within the time limit established by an individual program. The original grade for the course is not replaced. Both the original grade and the “retake” course grade appear on the academic record and are included in calculation of the cumulative grade point average.
Before students decide to retake a course, they should consult with a faculty advisor or the graduate program director to determine whether such a decision would affect their academic standing, and with Columbia Central to determine whether such a decision would impact their financial aid.
Official Columbia College Chicago transcripts are maintained by the Office of the Registrar. Students may request official transcripts online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students must resolve all account holds before their transcripts will be released.
Auditing Undergraduate Courses
With the approvals detailed below, graduate students may audit undergraduate courses they can argue will enhance their engagement with the graduate program in which they are enrolled. Graduate students are, however, never allowed to audit graduate courses, in their or other graduate programs at the college.
Process for Auditing a Course
Note: a student must follow the process below in order to audit a course. Students auditing coursework must be officially registered. Unregistered students are not permitted to audit courses.
Auditing opportunities are subject to class size-limitations, adequate equipment, and other factors.
A student interested in auditing a course must gain all approvals below:
- Complete the “Course Audit Request ” form.
- Use the form to seek approval from the student’s graduate program director. (When considering an audit, both the graduate program director and student should consider the student’s ability to continue making timely progress toward the graduate degree.)
- Obtain approval from the chair of the department in which the course to be audited is housed.
- Obtain approval from the course instructor. (The instructor may delay a decision until regular semester enrollment is determined but should notify the student before the Add deadline for the term in question.)
The registrar will register the student only after the student’s audit request has been approved by the student’s program director, the chair in which the audited program is housed, and the class instructor.
Responsibilities of Student and Instructor
The student is responsible for attending and participating in class discussions and activities and adhering to any policies related to attendance and participation as outlined in the course syllabus. The student should make every effort to complete assignments that are necessary for successful participation; however, the student is not responsible for submitting coursework.
The instructor is responsible for giving an auditing student access to all course materials, including the learning management system; however, the instructor is not responsible for responding to or grading any coursework.
Only full and part-time degree-seeking graduate students are eligible to audit undergraduate courses. This policy does not apply to nondegree-seeking students (formerly known as students-at-large).
Part-time graduate students are eligible to audit undergraduate courses.
A student who currently has an Incomplete is not eligible to audit undergraduate courses.
A student on academic probation or on conditional or unconditional leave of absence is not eligible to audit undergraduate courses.
Grades and Credits
An audit grade of AU will be assigned to those who successfully complete an audit. This grade has no value toward the grade point average.
No credit is earned for auditing a course.
An undergraduate transcript will be generated at the student’s request, showing the audited course(s).
After a student audits a course, the student can register for the same course for undergraduate credit (as part of a second BA or as a nondegree-seeking undergraduate student). However, the work done during the audit experience does not count toward credit; that is, a student cannot earn credit retroactively.
Cost of Auditing a Course
A course audit fee will be added to the student’s billing statement upon registration. The student is also responsible for paying any instructional resource fee, if applicable.
Part-time students pay the same fee as full-time students.
The course fee is not eligible for financial aid nor covered by graduate scholarships.
Available Courses for Auditing
A student cannot audit independent instruction, such as private lessons, independent study/project, or directed study. All other courses are by chair, graduate program director, and instructor approval only. (See “Process for Auditing a Course”.)
Students can audit up to the equivalent of four credits per semester, and up to the equivalent of 10 credits total during their time in the program.
The college-wide Add/Drop dates apply to all audited courses. The Withdrawal policy is not applicable.
Graduate students are expected to be enrolled for each fall and spring semester until they complete program requirements. Any exceptions to this policy must adhere to the policies concerning Leave of Absence. Some programs may require summer enrollment; students should consult their program’s handbook and/or graduate program director regarding summer enrollment.
Leave of Absence
Graduate students may be granted a leave of absence for up to one full academic year (fall and spring semesters) upon the recommendation of the graduate program director. An approved leave of absence does not extend the time limit for completion of degree requirements. Only in extenuating circumstances may a leave of absence be granted for more than one year or commence after the semester has begun.
Students must submit a completed “Request for Graduate Leave of Absence ” form to their graduate program director before the end of the official drop period for the semester in which the student requests the leave.
All students considering a leave of absence should consult the Office of the Registrar for details regarding drop dates and deadlines. Contact the school of graduate studies for more information.
At the end of the authorized leave period, and at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the semester in which the student wishes to resume study, the student must notify the graduate program director in writing of the student’s desire to return. A student who fails to resume study at the end of the period for which leave has been granted must make a written request for readmission to their graduate program director and may be required to reapply. (See “Resuming and Returning Students”.)
If a student who has been placed on academic probation requests a leave of absence in lieu of enrollment for the probationary semester, the probationary semester will be served the semester following the semester for which leave was granted.
The graduate program director must notify the department chair, dean of the school of graduate studies, and the registrar about any leave of absence or resumption after leave.
Withdrawal from Program
Applicants who have accepted an offer of admission but have not yet registered for classes may withdraw from the program by canceling their confirmation of intention-to-enroll. Applicants should do this by contacting the director of graduate admissions before the beginning of the originally intended term of study.
Applicants who have accepted an offer of admission and have registered for classes must notify the director of graduate admissions and the graduate program director in writing of their intent to withdraw from the graduate program to which they have been admitted and must drop all the classes for which they have registered.
Continuing students who wish to withdraw from their program of study must notify their graduate program director in writing. The graduate program director will notify the department chair, the dean of the school of graduate studies, and the registrar in writing of any student who has withdrawn. Whenever possible, withdrawals should not be requested midterm, but the college acknowledges that in certain extenuating circumstances students may be required to do so.
If the withdrawal period is still open, the student must withdraw from all courses. If a student fails to withdraw from their courses, a grade of F will appear for each course. If the withdrawal period has passed, the student may file a petition for administrative (late) withdrawal with the office of Columbia Central. The student’s request for an administrative withdrawal will be reviewed by the graduate program director, AVP of Columbia Central, and the registrar. If this petition is granted, a grade of W will appear for each course for which the withdrawal was requested. If this petition is not granted, a grade of F will appear for each course.
Students who drop all coursework during their first term of graduate enrollment will not have established graduate standing and may be required to reapply. If a subsequent application for readmission is approved, calculation of the time limit for completion of degree requirements will begin with the new term of entry (see “Degree Requirements”).
In any case of drop or withdrawal, it is the student’s responsibility to work with Columbia Central to determine the implications of their drop or withdrawal and to resolve any outstanding balances.
A student whose progress in a graduate program fails to meet minimum academic standards is placed on academic probation for the following fall or spring semester. A student who is on probation will be notified in writing by the registrar. The graduate program director, department chair, and the dean of the school of graduate studies are also notified by the registrar of any student on probation.
The following requirements apply to all graduate students:
- A student who earns a semester grade point average of 2.5 or less in any term (fall, spring, or summer) is placed on probation for the next regular semester (fall or spring).
- A student whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 is placed on probation for the following fall or spring semester.
In matters relating to academic probation, the summer session is treated differently from the fall and spring semesters. Poor performance in the summer session may result in placement on probation; however, since summer enrollment is optional for most programs, the summer session is not calculated as a probationary term for students whose spring semester performance results in probation. For such students, the following fall semester is the term of probation.
Academic probation does not preclude continued enrollment in graduate study.
An incomplete grade will not be granted for any course attempted during the probationary semester.
A student’s semester GPA and cumulative GPA must both be at least a 3.0 at the end of a probationary semester for the student to be restored to good standing. In this case, the student will be notified in writing by the registrar. The graduate program director, department chair, and the dean of the school of graduate studies are also notified by the registrar when a student returns to good standing.
If either the semester GPA or the cumulative GPA (but not both) are below a 3.0 at the end of a probationary semester, the student may enroll the following semester, but will remain on probation.
A student whose semester GPA and cumulative GPA are both below 3.0 at the end of a probationary semester will be dismissed from the graduate program.
Note: Students should consult Columbia Central for policies regarding satisfactory academic progress (SAP) and financial aid eligibility.
A student who has been placed on academic probation and fails to successfully meet the conditions of that probation will be dismissed from the program. A student may also be dismissed if they fail to meet the criteria of a program assessment that falls under the category of Candidacy and Status Review. (See also ‘Candidacy and Status Reviews’.)
A student who earns three “U” grades will be automatically dismissed from their program (see also “Grading Policies”).
Following academic dismissal, a student is not eligible for readmission to any of Columbia’s graduate programs.
The registrar notifies the graduate program director, department chair, and dean of the school of graduate studies of the academic dismissal of any student.
Students who wish to appeal an academic dismissal should see the relevant process below. (See “Appeals Procedures”.)
Code of Conduct
Graduate students are subject to the Columbia College Chicago Student Code of Conduct.
Resuming and Returning Students
Spaces in graduate programs are limited, and a space may not be available when a student desires to return. If a student has left the program without an approved leave of absence or has been absent from the program for longer than the period for which leave was granted, the student will need either written approval from the graduate program director or official readmission to resume study. In either case, the time limit for completion of the degree requirements will be calculated from the initial term of entry.
Within Degree Completion Time Limit
Students who are within the time limit for completion of the graduate program in which they matriculated and have interrupted their studies for one full academic year or longer without being granted an official leave of absence or did not resume study at the end of an approved leave (see Leave of Absence) will be withdrawn from the program. Such students must submit a written request for readmission to their graduate program director. The written request must include an explanation of their absence from the program and must be made at least six weeks prior to the start of the term in question. Their graduate program director will notify the student in writing of their decision regarding readmission at least three weeks prior to the start of the term in question. The graduate program director will notify the department chair, the dean of the school of graduate studies, and the registrar of their decision.
If the request for readmission is granted, the student must meet with their graduate program director prior to registering to discuss required coursework and develop a written plan for timely graduation. Any graduate assistantships, scholarships, and/or fellowships, etc. awarded at the time of matriculation will not carry forward.
Outside Degree Completion Time Limit
Students who have exceeded the time limit for completion of the graduate program in which they matriculated and have interrupted their studies for one full academic year or longer (regardless of whether they have received an official leave of absence) will be withdrawn from the program. Such students must submit a written petition for exception to the time limit for program completion to the graduate program director of the program in which they matriculated. The petition must be submitted at least six weeks prior to the term in question. The petition must be approved by the graduate program director, the department chair, and the dean of the school of graduate studies.
The dean of the school of graduate studies will notify the student in writing of his or her decision at least three weeks prior to the start of the term in question. The petition must be approved by the graduate program director, the department chair, and the dean of the school of graduate studies.
The graduate program director, the department chair, and the registrar will be notified in writing of the decision of the dean of the school of graduate studies.
If the petition for exception is granted, the student must meet with their graduate program director prior to registering to discuss required coursework and develop a written plan for timely graduation. The current catalog year requirements will apply. Any graduate assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, etc. awarded at the time of matriculation will not carry forward. Contact the School of Graduate Studies for more information.
Graduate students may use the “Graduate Studies Academic Appeal” form (available from the School of Graduate Studies) to petition the dean of the school of graduate studies to review any academic decision. The dean of the school of graduate studies will send a copy of their decision to the student, the graduate program director, the department chair, and the registrar. The decision of the dean of the school of graduate studies is final.
Combined Undergraduate/Graduate Degree Programs
In a combined undergraduate/graduate degree program, a maximum of 50% of the required credits in the graduate program may be counted toward completion of the bachelor’s degree. The maximum number of credits may vary from program to program at the college.
Other than the exceptions noted here, all graduate policies apply to students enrolled in combined undergraduate/graduate master’s degree programs.
The maximum time for degree completion listed above applies to combined undergraduate/graduate master’s programs. Degree time calculation begins when a student first enrolls in a graduate course after earning an undergraduate degree.
The leave of absence policies detailed above apply only after the student has earned their undergraduate degree.
The following requirements apply to students in combined undergraduate/graduate master’s programs during the period before the student has earned their undergraduate degree.
A student who earns a semester grade point average of 2.5 or less in any term when they are enrolled in graduate courses will have their admission to the combined undergraduate/graduate master’s program revoked. Here, the GPA includes all courses–graduate and undergraduate–that the student was enrolled in during the given semester. The credits earned will count as electives toward their undergraduate degree. If the student wishes to reapply to the graduate program, they may do so after earning their undergraduate degree, but none of the credits earned may be applied toward the graduate degree.
Once a student has earned their undergraduate degree, all graduate policies related to academic probation will apply.
In order to be considered for graduation, students must complete the graduate application form online and, if applicable, work with their graduate program director to complete and forward their thesis-specific completion form to the registrar.
Assessment of the Graduation Fee
Columbia College Chicago assesses a graduation fee to help defray the costs of graduation-related expenses. These include but are not limited to diploma printing and mailing, degree audit maintenance and evaluation, and commencement ceremony and regalia.
Degree-seeking graduate students are charged the graduation fee at 30+ earned credits or within the first year for graduate students enrolled in one-year MA programs.
The graduation fee is nonrefundable.
All questions concerning the administration of these policies should be forwarded to the dean of the school of graduate studies.
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