Graduate Studies

Policies and Procedures

It's important for you to understand your responsibilities as a UW-River Falls graduate student. Please see the list below of graduate policies, procedures, and definitions that will be important to you during your graduate career at UW-River Falls. If you have concerns or additional questions, please contact the Graduate Studies Office.

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 main Graduate Studies page.

Adding a Second Graduate Program

A graduate student may change programs or add a program by submitting a properly completed Application for Graduate Admission form, meeting all admission requirements associated with the program, and being accepted into the program. (Faculty and Staff Handbook, Section 9.2.40)


The graduate program director 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 also help you prepare for the written and/or oral examinations as you near the end of your study program.

Appeal of Seven-Year Time Limit

If you are unable to complete your program of study within the seven-year time limit, you may appeal once for an extension. Acceptable reasons might include unusual health conditions, fulfillment of military obligations or similar extenuating circumstances.

To make an appeal, complete the form to appeal the seven-year time limit, available here.  

The Graduate Studies Director will review the request and notify the student and the adviser of the decision.

Applying for Graduation

You must apply for graduation through your eSIS account. Click here for instructions on how to apply for graduation in eSIS. See the Registrar's Commencement Information for deadlines and application fees. Go to the Student Information page to learn how to get regalia.

Changing from One Graduate Program to Another

A graduate student may change programs or add a program by submitting a properly completed Application for Graduate Admission form, meeting all admission requirements associated with the program, and being accepted into the program. (Faculty and Staff Handbook, Section 9.2.40)

College Credit

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 and Enrollment Policies

Graduate students must be registered for at least one credit during the term when they participate in commencement, with the exception of the following:

  • Graduate students who are enrolled during the summer and complete their requirements then may participate in either the preceding spring or subsequent fall commencement as per 9.2.25 above.

  • Graduate students who complete their requirements during J-Term have the option to participate in commencement in either the preceding fall semester or the subsequent spring semester.

Comprehensive Examination

During the final enrollment period of your graduate program leading to the master's degree, your program may require you to complete a written and/or oral comprehensive examination prepared and administered by a graduate committee (also see "Graduate Committee," below). If you are uncertain about whether or not you must complete a comprehensive examination, be sure to contact your adviser.

The purposes of the examination include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • To provide an additional basis for determining your qualifications for degree

  • To help you synthesize the graduate experience

  • To aid you in making plans for the future

  • To collect information about the effectiveness of the graduate program

If you are unsuccessful in the comprehensive examination, you may, upon approval of both the Graduate Program Director and the UWRF Graduate Studies Director, 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.

Course-Load Rules

  • Full-time graduate student status is defined by enrollment for at least 8 credits in the fall or spring terms, and for at least 4 credits in the summer.

  • When graduate students' complete undergraduate courses, each undergraduate credit will count as a graduate credit in calculating load.

  • Graduate students who are working as graduate assistants must be either currently enrolled in a graduate course or admitted to a graduate program and enrolled in a course (either graduate or undergraduate).

  • Full-time graduate students may not exceed 15 credits per term during the fall or spring, or 12 credits during the summer with a credit per week ratio of no more than one credit, unless they have written approval from their adviser, program chair, and graduate studies director. To be granted this exception, a student must have successfully completed at least 8 graduate credits and must not be on academic probation at the time.

Credits Applied to Plan

UWRF is committed to having courses that have content and rigor appropriate for graduate-level instruction. At least half of the credits required for graduate degrees must be earned from courses at the 700 level. No more than 9 credits from courses at the 500 level may be applied towards graduate dregree requirements. Credits earned for a graduate program cannot be more than seven years old, unless subjected to a successful appeal (see "Appeal of Seven-Year Time Limit" above).

Excess Course-Load Requests

See Course Load Rules, above, to determine whether or not you will exceed the course load limits for a particular term. To request an exception, you will need to complete the Excess Course Load on this page, and obtain signatures from your adviser and the Graduate Studies Director. In some cases, a copy of your transcript may be required. It is your responsibility to submit the completed form to the Registrar's Office before the end of the first week of classes for the term that you are requesting an exception.

Good Academic Standing

Graduate students are in good academic standing if they maintain a cumulative resident grade point average of 3.00 or greater overall.

Grade Disputes

Grading disputes should first be discussed with your course instructor. If you are unable to resolve differences, you may appeal your grade by following the procedure described in the UWRF Faculty and Academic Staff Handbook, Section 9.2.20.

Grading System

The following grades are used for graduate courses:

A = 4.000 grade points per credit
A- = 3.667 grade points per credit
B+ = 3.333 grade points per credit
B = 3.000 grade points per credit
B- = 2.667 grade points per credit
C+ = 2.333 grade points per credit
C = 2.000 grade points per credit
F = Unsatisfactory, 0.000 grade points per credit
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 wherein the student is registered for the course)

Graduate Committee

A graduate committee, typically comprised of three graduate faculty members, will conduct a review of thesis, research paper, or capstone experiences, depending on the requirements of the student's degree plan. The committee consists of the committee chair, a member from the student's program, and a third committee member, who may be from an outside program. In some cases, individual programs will require a fourth committee member.  The program director assigns the committee chair and the second committee member. Committee chairs either assign the third member or may contact the Graduate Studies Office to obtain a third committee member. Requests for third committee members should be made as soon as possible, but no later than one semester prior to scheduling the examination. This is necessary to confirm the third committee member's participation, to allow time for the committee chair to communicate appropriate information regarding the student's project and timeline with the third committee member, and to allow the third committee member's schedule to be taken into consideration when scheduling the examination. Consult your adviser if you have questions about whether or not you need a committee and its composition.

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. More information is available here.

Graduate Plans

  • A Thesis Plan 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.

  • A Research Paper Plan 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 may 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.

  • A Capstone Experience Plan 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 examination

    • Internship

    • Manuscript

    • Portfolio

    • Published book

    • Special project

Ongoing Enrollment Policy

In order to provide resources and services to graduate students throughout their academic career, graduate students must be enrolled in a graduate-level course of at least one credit during each term (fall, spring or summer) in which the student requires access to these services, including the term in which the student intends to graduate. 

For more information, consult the UWRF Administrative Policy Handbook, AP-01-213.


Graduate students will be placed on probation if they earn a cumulative grade point average less than 3.000 at UWRF.

Re-entry Requirements and Process

You will remain in active status up to two years after you are last enrolled course. After two years, if you wish to take courses again at UWRF and you are in good academic standing, you may complete a submit the UW System application to be considered for re-entry. Students who wish to change their program of study or status from temporary student to pursue a degree or certificate will need to complete the full graduate admission process. See Apply Online.

Repeating Courses

Graduate students may repeat a course in which a grade of 'C-', 'D+', 'F', 'XF', 'U', or 'W' was earned. Graduate students may request to repeat course in which other grades were received only if there are extenuating circumstances. To request this exception, a Course Repeat Exception form must be completed and approved by the student's adviser, the department chair offering the course, and the Graduate Studies director BEFORE the end of the first day of classes for that term. If the form is not completed and submitted to the Registrar's Office by the end of the first day of classes for that term, the student will be automatically dropped from the roster.

Scheduling Comprehensive Examinations

Oral examinations are scheduled for two hours. To schedule your oral examination, coordinate the date, time and location (either physical location and/or virtual meeting link) with your assigned graduate committee members. After you have scheduled your examination, you or your adviser needs to send an email with the names of the committee members, date, time, location, and the name of your graduate program to the Graduate Studies Office at least two weeks before the examination date and no later than four weeks before the end of your final term. 

  • If your final term happens to be during the summer, you must make your scheduling arrangements during the previous spring term.  

  • If your degree plan requires you to complete a written comprehensive examination, you must schedule this examination with your department.

  • All thesis candidates will complete an oral examination. This might be in addition to a written examination, if required by your department.  Research paper or capstone experience candidates will take a written and/or oral examination if required by their program.  

  • Students are responsible for communicating with all members of graduate committees before examinations to discuss how to prepare for written and/or oral examinations. Always check your academic plan for your program's requirements.

Slash Courses

Slash courses are numbered with both undergraduate and graduate numbers (300/500, 400/600.) Freshman and sophomores are not permitted in 300/500 and 400/600 courses. Juniors and seniors are permitted in 300/500 and 400/600 courses. No undergraduate may enroll in 700-level courses under any circumstances. A sophomore may petition the Graduate Studies director for admission to a 300/500 course, but only under extraordinary circumstances, and with written support of the instructor and adviser.


Graduate students will be suspended if any of the following apply:

  • They earn less than a cumulative 2.000 average at any time.

  • If they are on probation and

    • They earn less than a 3.000 average in the next enrollment period and are full-time students.

    • They earn less than a 3.000 average in the next 12 attempted credits and are part-time students.

Temporary Graduate Student Status

This status is for persons who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution who want to take graduate-level courses for professional development and who do not plan to obtain a graduate dgree 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 a student completes courses in this temporary status and then choses to apply to a graduate degree and/or certificate/certification program at UWRF, a maximum of nine graduate credits from either the UWRF or another graduate institution can be applied toward the graduate degree program.

Theses and Research Papers

Because each member of a graduate committee must approve completed theses or research papers, you must inform all three members of the committee about the development of the topic, research progress, and results, as well as the writing of the research. Theses and research papers are defended in an oral examination. After your paper has been approved by your graduate committee, you will submit it for binding.

For theses, one copy must be bound including the cover page with the signatures of all committee members. To have a thesis bound, a $15 per copy fee will need to be paid (i.e. $15 for the required copy plus $15 for each additional copy for personal use). Bring both the thesis and the cover page with the signatures of all committee members to the Graduate Studies Office in 104 North Hall. After the payment is made, the copies will be sent out for binding. One bound copy will be submitted to the UWRF Library academic depository and you will be notified when any additional bound copies are ready for pickup if purchased.

For research papers, a final copy of your paper, with a cover sheet signed by your adviser, must be submitted to the Graduate Office located in 104 North Hall. 

It is your responsibility to check the manuscripts for proper pagination and deliver them to the Graduate Office. Acceptable margins are either one-inch margin on all sides or a wider margin on the left to accommodate the binding. The cover sheet for the thesis must be signed by your adviser and your graduate committee.

The final paper must adhere to guidelines for mandatory submission to the university's academic repository at MINDS@UW-River Falls

Transfer Credits

If allowed by the graduate program you may be able to transfer as many as nine credits from other institutions or from within our university. Any exceptions need to be approved by the Graduate Studies director, upon recommendation from a program chair. If a student has credits earned at UWRF toward a prior graduate degree, they are treated as if they are transfer credits. In addition to meeting the requirement in 9.2.34 graduate credits must meet the following conditions:

  • Be from courses with an earned grade of “B” or higher;

  • Be from a regionally accredited instution and an acceptable graduate program;

  • Be listed on an official transcript received by the UWRF Registrar’s Office;

  • Be approved by the graduate program director;

  • Have been earned within seven years from the projected date of completion for a UWRF degree.

Once an internal evaluation had been completed, accepted transfer credits and grades will be recorded on the students UWRF record as they appear on the transcript from the host institution or according to the MOU/articulation agreement or as provided by the transcript evaluation service. Transfer grades will not be used in calculating the cumulative GPA.

Undergraduate Student Enrollment in Graduate Courses

A UWRF junior, senior or post-baccalaureate student may enroll in graduate courses while completing an undergraduate degree under the following conditions:

  • On space-available basis only;

  • For courses below the 700-level only;

  • Students must receive approval from their adviser, the instructor of the graduate course, and the graduate program director; and

  • While under provisional enrollement, an undergraduate my take no more than nine graduate credits nor more than 15 crdits total during the term.

Undergraduates will be charged graduate tuition rates for graduate credits (as per UWRF Administrative Policy AP-02-106).

Contact Us

Graduate Studies
104 North Hall
Phone: 715-425-0629