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 on the Policies and Procedures page. 

Comprehensive Examination

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 on the Policies and Procedures page.

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 Course Load Rules on the Policies and Procedures page.

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 on the Policies and Procedures page. 

Graduate Committee

A graduate committee, comprised of three graduate faculty members, will conduct a review of the students thesis, research paper, or capstone experience, depending on the requirements of the students degree plan. The committee will consist of the committee chair, a member from the students program, and the third committee member will be from an outside program.

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 (Thesis, Research Paper, Capstone Experience)

Thesis (formerly "Plan A")

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.  The thesis is directed at original research that should provide a new contribution to knowledge. You will also complete either an oral and/or written comprehensive examination. Both a hard copy and an electronic copy will be made available through the UWRF library.

Research Paper (formerly "Plan B")

Includes a minimum of 30 semester credits of graduate course work and a research paper. The research paper is directed towards the use of primary and/or secondary sources, and my also include action research and/or a literature review. The expectation is that the paper should be significantly greater in scope and/or of significantly higher quality than a paper produced in a typical graduate seminar. You will also complete either an oral and/or written comprehensive examination. Both a hard copy and an electronic copy will be made available through the UWRF library.

Capstone Experience (formerly "Plan C")

Includes a minimum of 30 semester credits of graduate course work (note: this might be 34 credits depending on the option chosen below). In addition to the options to complete either a thesis or research paper, some graduate programs offer alternative paths towards completion of a master’s degree that might include one or a combination of the following (Note: materials produced through the Capstone Experience option are not required to be made available through the UWRF library):

  • Completion of a minimum of 34 semester credits of graduate course work
  • Capstone course
  • Comprehensive oral and/or written examinationI
  • Internship
  • Manuscript
  • Portfolio
  • Published book
  • Special project

More information on Thesis and Research Paper submission and scheduling examinations is available in Policies and Procedures.

Plan A, B, or C

During spring 2015 the University relabeled Plan A, B, and C options.  Plan A is now “Thesis,” Plan B is now “Research Paper,” and Plan C is now “Capstone Experience.”  See Graduate Plan  (Thesis, Research Paper, Capstone Experience).


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 on the Policies and Procedures page.

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 on the Policies and Procedures page.

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 and Procedures 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 available under Credits Applied to Plan.

Graduate Admissions

Graduate Programs

Graduate Catalog

Not Yet Enrolled as a Student?

Individuals who are not yet admitted to the university should visit the Admissions page to find admissions requirements, a list of degrees and certifications and other helpful information.

Additional links are provided on the UWRF Home page for Current Students.

Contact Us

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