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Graduate studies



Procedures for graduate study

Admission to the university

Complete before enrolling:

Complete during first term on campus:

Note: Requirements for admission to candidacy must be met before the last 15 hours of the approved program have been completed.


Final evaluation procedures

Apply one term prior to completion of final course work

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M.A./M.S. in Criminal Justice


M.A. in Teaching (M.A.T.)

M.A. in Teaching: Initial Licensure

M.M. in Contemporary Music

M.S. in Education (M.S. Ed)

Licensure or No Licensure

M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling

Non-degree, graduate level licensure programs


Program objectives

Graduate students are screened and admitted into the various programs, each of which has admissions standards and designated graduate faculty. Campus-wide standards for admissions, selection of faculty, curricular revisions, operating policies and final examinations are established in accordance with recommendations of the Graduate Studies Committee.


The graduate faculty consists of the President and Provost of WOU, the academic deans, the coordinator of graduate programs, the Colleges’ graduate faculty coordinators and members of the faculty who have been named by their divisions and approved by the coordinator of graduate studies.


Each graduate student at WOU is expected to meet these objectives pertinent to her/his specific graduate program:

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Admission procedures


Note: A student seeking either a master’s degree or a graduate license program must apply both to the University and to the program in which they are interested. An application to a specific program is available from that program. The Graduate Web page at: and the catalog have current admission information. Each graduate program has unique program admission standards and processes.


Acceptance by the University does not guarantee or imply acceptance by an individual program; conversely acceptance by a graduate program does not assure admission by the University.


The health report form is mailed to students who are accepted for admission and must be completed and returned to WOU’s Health Center.


Application forms and health report forms may be obtained from the Admissions Office.


All documents become the property of the university and are nonreturnable. The university reserves the right to deny credit for course work completed before a student is officially admitted for graduate study.


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Guidelines for graduate study

Off-campus, evening and summer session students

Students who are working toward a planned program of graduate study on or off campus must file for admission as outlined above if they expect to complete licensure requirements or become candidates for a degree.



The Admissions Office admits and classifies eligible students on the basis of their undergraduate grade point average and declaration of intent in the application for admission.


Qualified students seeking a degree are classified either as regular or probationary graduate students. All students must be classified as regular before being admitted to degree candidacy.


A student will be admitted as a regular graduate student if he/she intends to complete a planned program leading to a master’s degree or a graduate licensure program and meets all of the following requirements:

Students entering a graduate teacher license program must also submit unofficial copies of all previously granted teacher licenses.


A student with an undergraduate GPA of 2.50-2.99 during their last 90 quarter or 60 semester hours, who has not achieved the required score on either the MAT or GRE for regular admission, may petition to be admitted as a probationary student. If a student is granted probationary status, the following requirements must be met upon completion of nine graduate credit hours at WOU:


Filing a plan of study

All graduate students must file a plan of study. This plan will list all courses needed for a particular degree. The plan must be signed by the graduate student and adviser(s). A plan of study is required for financial aid. The plan should be submitted to the Graduate Office as early as possible, and in most cases no later than the student’s second term of study.



Candidacy is required at approximately the time a graduate student reaches the midpoint of his/her program of study. It must be done after the first 12 credit hours have been completed and before beginning the last 15 credit hours of study. Candidacy is the final acceptance by the university of a graduate student into his/her degree program. A graduate student cannot complete his/her final exit evaluation without first being accepted as a candidate. Additional candidacy information and forms are available at


Final exit evaluation

All graduate students must complete one or more final exit evaluations. The type of exit evaluation is determined when the graduate degree is approved. Common exit evaluations consist of written comprehensive examination, thesis, portfolio, field studies, and professional projects or combinations of two exit evaluations. The Graduate Office will determine the type of exit evaluation(s) based on the graduate student’s plan of study.


Candidates who elect to write a thesis in lieu of the final written comprehensive examination must follow the procedures outlined in the guidelines for the development of a master’s degree thesis, professional project, or field study which can be found on the Web at: Copies are also available in the Graduate Office. A final oral examination will be required of all candidates who elect alternative research in lieu of the final written comprehensive examinations. The oral examination accompanying alternative research is not limited to the thesis, field study, portfolio or professional project, but may cover any aspect of the candidate’s program.


A special fee is required when engaged in any phase of research such as developing or collecting data, or any aspects of a thesis, field study or professional project development in which university facilities or library resources are used and the student is not registered for graduate courses. The non-registered continuing student fee is assessed through the Business Office.


Some divisions at WOU require comprehensive written examinations based on course work in the student’s content area in addition to the completion of thesis, field study, professional project or portfolio.


Final written comprehensive examination will be based upon areas of study in the approved program. Subject area questions will be based upon the statement of components, objectives and requirements outlined in the statement of program objectives. Candidates who fail one or more areas of the written comprehensive examination may be given a program of self-study by their adviser(s) and may retake the area(s) failed at another regularly scheduled comprehensive examination. Students who fail one area and score unsatisfactory in another area will retake all failed and/or unsatisfactory areas. Students may retake the written comprehensive examinations only once. Candidates who score unsatisfactory on any component of the comprehensive examination will be required to take a final oral examination on the unsatisfactory section. Final oral examinations will not be required of students who score a pass or above on all areas of the written comprehensive examination.


A candidate is eligible to complete final evaluations only after being admitted to candidacy for the master’s degree, and all course work has been completed or the candidate is in the final term of enrollment. All incomplete grades must be changed to a letter grade before a student will be allowed to take his/her comprehensive examination. Examinations are offered each winter, spring and summer term.


Graduate course numbering system

500-599: courses that are usually assigned dual numbers at both the 400 and 500 level and have both graduate and undergraduates in attendance


600-699: courses are open to master’s degree students or non-admitted students who have completed a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university or college.

At least half of all course work for master’s degree programs must  be 600-699 courses.


Graduate grading system

The following grading scale is employed at the graduate level:


A   = 4.00

A- = 3.70


Normal graduate performance:

B+ = 3.30

B    = 3.00

B-  = 2.70


Below graduate standards:

C+ = 2.30

C = 2.00

C-  = 1.70


Unsatisfactory performance:

D+ = 1.30

D  = 1.00

D-  = 0.70

F   = 0.00


The following marks are also used.

These grades are disregarded in the computation of grade point averages.

P - Satisfactory completion (B- or better, special conditions apply)

NC - No Credit, unsatisfactory

I - Incomplete (see full policy below)

W - Withdrawn

X - No grade received/no basis for grade


Although grades of C+, C, and C- are below the graduate standard, up to eight hours may be counted as credit toward a master’s degree if the course(s) was/were taken through Western Oregon University. Grades below a B cannot be transferred into a WOU graduate program from another accredited university or college.


The graduate student must always maintain a B (3.00 GPA) average on the courses fulfilling the degree requirements (courses listed on the student’s graduate plan of study). A department/program can establish more rigorous policies concerning the use of C grades in a degree program and/or overall minimum GPA requirements. Grades of D or F indicate unacceptable work and carry no graduate credit. A graduate student whose overall GPA falls below 3.00 or receives a grade of D or F must submit a petition with a plan of remediation to the Graduate Studies Committee. The petition and plan of remediation must be approved by the student’s adviser or program coordinator. A grade of P/NC can be used by only a limited number of degree programs that have received special authorization and which can be counted as credit toward a graduate degree.


Special regulations concerning incomplete grades

  1. The instructor of a course has the final decision regarding the appropriateness and willingness to award a grade of incomplete.
  2. A graduate student with more than nine (9) hours of uncleared incomplete course work (except for student teaching, internship, thesis, field study and/or professional project) will have a hold placed on registration until a petition has been submitted to the coordinator of graduate studies and a remediation plan approved.
  3. A student requesting a grade of incomplete and the course instructor issuing a grade of incomplete must both sign a contract that specifies:
     a. the course assignments remaining to be submitted to remove the grade of incomplete
     b. a timeline for completion of course requirements
  4. A student who has a grade of incomplete in a course that is a prerequisite for a subsequent course may not enroll in the subsequent course until the grade of incomplete is removed or must receive the permission of the instructor to be allowed to enroll into the subsequent course.
  5. Any graduate program can decide to not allow a student to register for their final professional field experience (student teaching, internship, etc) on the basis that incomplete grades have not been cleared before the beginning of the final professional field experience.
  6. The Graduate Studies Office will not allow students to sit for their final comprehensive examination until past incomplete grades have been cleared. 


Regulations concerning withdrawals

Withdrawals from a course must be initiated by the graduate student. It is the student’s responsibility to withdraw properly by the deadlines as established by the Registrar’s Office. Two types of withdrawal exist.


Withdrawal from a course:

  1. The student must complete an add-drop form, obtain the necessary signatures, and return the form to the Registrar’s Office before the end of the sixth week of the term. The student may withdraw from any course without responsibility for a grade and no entry will be made on the student’s permanent scholastic record.
  2. After the sixth week of the term, students can no longer withdraw from a class. A medical emergency or other catastrophic event are the only exceptions permitting withdrawal after the sixth week.

Withdrawal from the university:

  1. The student must complete an application for withdrawal from the University, obtain the necessary signatures, and return the form to the Registrar’s Office before the end of the sixth week of the term.
  2. In situations of emergency (accident, prolonged illness, etc.), a student may be permitted by the Registrar to withdraw without penalty from the university at any time. Written verification may be required.


Regulations concerning “X” grades

A student who does not attend class or turn in course assignments will receive a grade of “X”, which indicates that there is no basis for assigning a grade. Students who receive an “X” in any course will have to register for the course again to receive credit.


A student who has participated in a course but has failed to complete essential work or attend examinations, and who has not communicated with the instructor, will be assigned a “D” or “F” or whatever grade the work has earned.


Academic load

The full time course load for graduate students is nine graduate credits, including course work portfolio, professional project, field study or thesis. The maximum course load for graduate students is 16 credits with any combination of courses (graduate or undergraduate) during fall, winter or spring term. Nine credit hours is the maximum load for graduate students during the six-week summer term.


Residency credit requirement

All graduate programs will include at least 30 graduate credits from Western Oregon University.


Continuing registration

WOU does not require a graduate student to be continually registered during each term as he/she progresses through a master’s degree. A special fee is required when engaged in any phase of research such as developing or collecting data, preparing for final examinations, or any aspects of a thesis, field study or professional project development in which university facilities or library resources are used and the student is not registered for graduate courses. The non-registered continuing student fee is assessed through the Business Office.


Special limitations on special arrangement (“0”) courses

A maximum of 15 credit hours of workshops, special arrangement and practicum courses may be applied to a master’s degree program. These courses must be pre-approved by the appropriate adviser. Fifteen credit hours of 506, 606, 507, 607, 508, 608, 509 and 609 courses may be included in a program. Additionally, there is a limit of nine credit hours of any one number.


Transfer credits

Any transfer credit used in a master’s degree program must be documented with an official sealed transcript from an accredited university. All transfer course work must be approved by the student’s adviser and should be submitted and approved early in the student’s program. Only graduate-level course work acceptable to the granting institution for master’s degree programs and graded A or B can be transferred. The maximum transfer credit accepted toward a master’s degree program is 15.


Credits from non-accredited colleges and universities cannot be used in a master’s program.


Special case situation for undergraduate students

Undergraduate students within 12 quarter hours of completing all requirements for the bachelor’s degree, but not including student teaching, may petition to enroll in up to 12 credit hours of graduate courses numbered 500-599. These courses can be reserved for later use in a graduate degree program. Undergraduate students cannot register for any 600-699 courses. Petition forms to reserve graduate courses are available from the Registrar’s Office.


Challenging a course

Graduate courses cannot be challenged. If a graduate student has extensive background in an academic area, the graduate student’s adviser can determine other graduate courses that can be substituted for the course in question on the plan of study. A substitution form must be submitted to the Graduate Office.


Time limit to complete master’s degrees

Course work and requirements for a master’s degree program must be completed within a period of five years. This includes all residence credit, all applicable transfer credit and required final evaluation. If a thesis, field study, professional project or portfolio is involved, it is to be completed within the five-year limit. A petition requesting use of credits earned between five and seven years prior to completion of the degree program may be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.


Application to graduate

Each candidate must file an application for completion of the master’s degree with the Graduate Office. This application also serves as the application to complete the final evaluation procedures. This form must be submitted at least 10 weeks before the date the student wishes to complete his/her degree. Additional general information is available on the Web at:


Conferring of degrees

All courses with marks of “I” (incomplete) from previous terms must be finished and the grades filed with the Registrar’s Office before the end of the term in which program requirements are expected to be completed, or graduation will be delayed until a later term. Incompletes received in the final term must be finished and the grades recorded in the Registrar’s Office within three weeks after the end of the final term, or the diploma will be invalidated. The diploma for the master’s degree will be conferred at the June commencement subsequent to the completion of all degree requirements.


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Office of the Registrar ph: 503-838-8327; fax: 503-838-9696 | or e-mail: