Graduate Definitions


To help you understand the content of these web pages, we've included definitions of some of the more common terms used in UWRF Graduate Programs. If you can't find something here, please contact the Graduate Studies office for assistance.

Academic Program

Your Academic Program is the program of study that you have selected for your degree or certificate. You can find a list of the current graduate programs and additional information on the web page for Graduate Programs.


Your graduate program coordinator will assign a graduate faculty member to be your academic adviser. Your adviser will assist you in finalizing your academic plan, selecting electives, and completing your program requirements. 

Your adviser will tell you how to prepare for the written and/or oral examinations as you near the end of your study program.

College Credits

The unit of credit is the semester hour, which is given for the satisfactory completion of a subject pursued for one semester and having one class period or two laboratory periods per week.


Commencement is the ceremony of conferring degrees or granting diplomas at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters. Graduate students are invited to participate in the UWRF commencement ceremony.  

See Applying for Graduation.

Comprehensive Exam

During the final enrollment period of your graduate program leading to the master's degree, you must successfully complete a written and/or oral comprehensive examination prepared and administered by your graduate committee.

The purposes of this examination are:

  • To provide an additional basis for determining your qualifications for degree
  • To help you synthesize the graduate experience
  • To aid you to make plans for the future
  • To discover problem areas in the graduate program that need further study and improvement

If you are unsuccessful in the comprehensive examination, you may, upon approval of the Graduate Executive Council, reschedule the examination after a delay of six months. If you receive an incomplete on the comprehensive examination, you must make up the deficiencies identified by the chair of the committee.

See Scheduling Exams.

Full-time Course Load

The normal load for full-time graduate students is 8 to 15 credits during a semester and 4 to 9 during summer session.  No more than one credit per week without the Director's permission during summer session.

See policy on Course Loads.

Grading System

The following grades are used among graduate courses:

A = Excellent
B = Good
C = Acceptable
F = Unsatisfactory
S = Satisfactory
I = Incomplete (Given when students fail to complete a course through no fault of their own)
Pass/Fail (used in practicum courses)
SP = Satisfactory Progress (may be used in field-based work or research-oriented classes where the nature of the work involved requires more calendar time than is available during the term in which the student is registered for the course.)

See Grading Standards.

Graduate Committee

A graduate committee, comprised of your adviser and two graduate faculty members, will conduct a review of your thesis, research paper, or oral comprehensive examination,, depending on the requirements of your degree plan. Your adviser will chair the committee and the other members will be from your program and another area.

Graduate Executive Council

This council is comprised of program directors for each of the university graduate programs, as well as individuals who support the delivery of graduate programs. The council provides leadership in matters relating to graduate recruitment, retention, program planning and student services. See Graduate Program Coordinators.

Graduate Plan (A, B, or C)

This refers to the academic plan which you select to complete your graduate degree.

Plan A (Thesis) includes a minimum of 30 semester credits of graduate course work and a master's thesis for which you may receive no more than four graduate credits in your area of specialization. You will also complete an oral or written comprehensive exam. 

Plan B (Research Paper) includes a minimum of 30 semester credits of graduate course work and a research paper or culminating project approved by your graduate committee. You will also complete an oral or written comprehensive exam. 

Plan C (Additional credits) includes a minimum of 34 semester credits of graduate course work with an oral exam conducted by your committee or a written comprehensive examination administered by your academic department.

More information on Plan B papers, thesis submission and scheduling exams is available in Graduate Procedures.


You are placed on probation if you do not maintain a "B" (3.0/4.0) average overall among your required graduate-level courses. If you are placed on probation, you must earn a "B" average in the next enrollment period for full-time students and in the next 12 credits for part-time students.  If you do not succeed in doing so, you will not be allowed to register for further classes.

See Admission on Probation policy.

Temporary Status Student

This status is for persons who have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and who want to take graduate-level courses for professional development. They do not plan to obtain a graduate degree or seek admission to a graduate and/or certificate/certification program. Please note that some graduate courses are not open to temporary graduate students.

If you take courses in this temporary status and then choose to apply to a graduate degree and/or certificate/certification program, you may use a maximum of nine graduate credits from UWRF or other graduate institution toward the graduate degree program. 

See Credits Applied to Plan.

Tentative Degree Plan

Within the first term of your acceptance into a graduate program, you must consult your adviser and tentatively select the courses and academic plan you will follow to complete your degree. You will be unable to register for additional course work beyond that taken in your first term until a tentative degree plan, signed by you and your adviser, has been filed with and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

See Policies for more graduation requirements.

Transfer Credits

Transfer credits are graduate credits taken at another graduate institution, or under another UWRF program, and used to satisfy degree requirements in your graduate program at UWRF with the approval of your adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies.

For more information on transferring credits, see Transfer Credit policy.

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Graduate Studies
M-F, 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
104 North Hall