Academic Course Catalogs

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Registration Policies and Procedures

Only students who have been officially admitted to USD’s graduate degree, certificate, credential, or special programs are permitted to register. Registration takes place only when the student completes and submits all appropriate forms and pays all required tuition and fees. No credit will be granted for courses in which a student is not officially admitted and registered.

Registration Deadlines

Students are responsible for adhering to the deadlines for registration, payment, withdrawal, and change of registration listed in the Academic Calendar, published in the Graduate Course Catalog, the Summer Sessions Course Catalog, the Intersession Course Catalog, and in registration instructions distributed subsequently.

New Graduate Students

All admitted applicants will receive new student information and registration materials with their letters of acceptance. Although new students are encouraged to meet with a faculty adviser prior to enrollment, they must wait until they receive a letter of admission and pay the admission deposit before they can register (registration periods are listed in the Academic Calendar). Students must observe all deadlines for return for course reservation and payment of fees. All international students must report to the Office of International Students and Scholars promptly upon arrival at USD.

Continuous Registration

Upon matriculation, students are expected to register every fall and spring semester until all degree requirements have been completed. Some programs have more stringent residency requirements including summer enrollment; consult program descriptions for details.

Exceptions to this policy will be made for students who have been approved for a leave of absence (see Leave of Absence). Generally, a leave will not be granted to students who are approaching the limitation of time for program completion; to doctoral students who have been advanced to candidacy; or to master’s students whose programs require continuous registration between the completion of all coursework and final submission of the thesis. In these cases, students must continue to register each semester until the degree is completed.

Change of Course Registration

In the regular fall and spring semesters, courses may be added during the first eight days of class and may be dropped until the 10th week of the semester. For deadlines during Summer Sessions and Intersession, see the Summer Sessions and Intersession course catalogs.

Students who receive any form of financial aid must consult with the One Stop Student Center if their registered units drop below the required number of units for continuation of aid.

Students who discontinue class attendance and neglect to withdraw officially from the course are subject to failing the class. Courses dropped before the last day to add a class will not be included on the transcript. Courses officially dropped between the last day to add classes and the last day to withdraw from classes will receive a grade of ‘W’ (not included in the GPA). After the drop deadline, a grade will be reported for all courses.

Registered students who withdraw from the university (e.g. terminate all courses in progress) must officially drop their courses by filing a Notice of Withdrawal form and submitting it to the One Stop Student Center. The same drop policies and deadlines apply to students who withdraw from the university as for those who drop only one course (see also Withdrawal from the university).


Auditing a course means attending a class without credit, without the obligation of regular attendance, and without the right to have tests and examinations scored or corrected.

Students register for audit in the same manner as for credit. Those who audit courses are not eligible for credit by examination in such courses, nor are they eligible for financial aid, nor may auditors register for credit after the last official day to register in a class. Each course audited is entered on the student’s permanent record. Auditing of laboratory courses or education recreation courses is not permitted.
The fee for all who audit courses is one-half the standard tuition charge. Students wishing to register for credit have priority over those who desire to audit.

Change of Address

Students are responsible for informing the Registrar’s Office in writing of any change in either their permanent or local address so that they will receive all information vital to their enrollment. Failure to receive instructions due to an incorrect address will not be considered a legitimate reason for a policy exception if the student did not file a Change of Address form in the One Stop Student Center prior to the mailing of the information.

Email Accounts for Graduate Students

All USD graduate students are required to have a MySanDiego email account. The university may conduct official business by sending notices or other information to the student’s USD email address. It is the student’s responsibility to check regularly his or her account and to respond to any notices or information in a timely manner. Failure to do so will not be considered a legitimate reason for a policy exception.

Change of Graduate Program or Emphasis

Students currently enrolled in a graduate program who wish to change to another program or emphasis must seek official approval using one of the following procedures. Students should meet with the director of the graduate program of interest to determine which procedure to follow. The director will review the student’s record in light of current admission criteria, applicant pool, and space available. If approved, the student will be subject to the policies and requirements in effect at the beginning of the semester or session of transfer. Students who are currently enrolled in the Preliminary and Professional Clear Teaching credential program may submit a Petition for Change of Program form to add the master’s degree in Learning and Teaching. The petition must be approved by the School of Leadership and Education Sciences Graduate Admissions Committee and by the School of Leadership and Education Sciences Director of Graduate Programs and forwarded to the Office of the Registrar for processing. Individuals currently enrolled as non-degree seeking students must file a regular admission application described in Procedure Two below.

Procedure One: File Petition for Change of Graduate Program or Emphasis

Students must submit a Petition for Change of Graduate Program or Emphasis (available in the One Stop Student Center and program departments) to the director of the graduate program of interest. Additional documentation may be required by the director. The decision of the director or department will be sent to the Registrar, which will notify the student, original department and other relevant offices on campus regarding the outcome of the petition.

Procedure Two: File Admission Application with Graduate Admissions Office

Students must submit a regular application form to the Graduate Admissions Office and include any additional or updated credentials that are not currently on file in that office. The application will be handled in the usual manner by the Graduate Admissions Office.

Leave of Absence

An official leave of absence is an approved, limited suspension of participation in a graduate program during the fall and/or spring semester. A leave allows students in good academic standing to take time off and return to the university without applying for readmission. However, a leave does not constitute grounds for an extension of the time limit for degree completion. Under ordinary circumstances, leaves will be granted for up to one calendar year. Students who fail to return (or obtain permission to extend their leave at the end of the approved term) and who later wish to return to the program, will be required to reapply for admission under the admission and program requirements in effect at the later date. Generally a leave will not be granted to students who are approaching the limitation of time for program completion; to doctoral students who have been advanced to candidacy; or to master’s students who have completed all coursework and are working on a thesis. Students on academic probation are not eligible for a leave.
Because students are not registered during a leave, they may not be eligible for the campus privileges for which a current ID card is necessary. Financial aid and international student visas are typically suspended for students on leave of absence. In addition, the leave may trigger the beginning of the loan repayment period for students with loan deferments.

Students should petition for a leave prior to the requested leave period. Students who find it necessary to discontinue enrollment during a term may also petition for a leave. In addition, however, they must officially withdraw from their courses by submitting a Notice of Withdrawal form in the One Stop Student Center within the approved deadline and must be in good standing.

The Petition for Leave of Absence form is available from the One Stop Student Center or on the Graduate Records website. It must be approved by the student’s adviser and program director or coordinator prior to submission for final processing. International students who find it necessary to file a leave before the current semester ends must complete a Leave of Absence or Withdrawal form and have it signed by an authorized representative of the Office of International Students and Scholars. This office is located at the Serra Hall, Room 315. The Leave of Absence form must be approved by their program adviser and director or dean of the college or school before departing the university.

Withdrawal from the University

Students who terminate their enrollment in a graduate program must file an official Notice of Withdrawal with the One Stop Student Center. If they are currently registered for courses, students must withdraw prior to the deadline to withdraw from classes (see Academic Calendar; see also Refund Policy). Courses dropped on or before the deadline will receive a grade of ‘W’ (not included in the GPA). Filing a Notice of Withdrawal after the deadline will make the withdrawal effective at the end of the current term and will result in the posting of grades for the term. Students forced to discontinue enrollment after the withdrawal deadline due to a documented emergency may petition their respective dean for an exception to this policy; however, the petition must be filed prior to the last day of classes and is subject to review. International students must follow the same procedures and, in addition, obtain clearance from the Office of International Students and Scholars located in Serra Hall, Room 316.

Transfer of Graduate Credit

Students may petition to transfer credit from another university under the following conditions. It is recommended that students petition during their first semester in order to plan their academic program accurately (exception: PhD, page 190). Transfer petitions for previous work will not be accepted in the student’s final term unless the transfer course is being taken in the final term. Upon matriculation at USD, students must receive approval prior to taking coursework outside USD if they plan to transfer it into a degree program. Students may petition the dean of the college or school in which the program resides for an exception to the following regulations, but should do so only after consulting with the adviser and director or coordinator of the graduate program, whose recommendations must appear on the Petition for Transfer of Graduate Credit.

  1. Credit must be from an accredited, USD-approved university.
  2. Credit must be at the graduate-level at the university of origin. The student is responsible for submitting acceptable supporting documentation.
  3. Credit must be relevant to the USD degree program and be approved by the program director or coordinator.
  4. Transfer courses cannot repeat essentially the same content of work taken at USD.
  5. Credit may not be used (or have been used) toward any other degree.
  6. Credit earned more than five years prior to matriculation at USD will not be accepted.
  7. A grade of “B” or higher must have been earned (grade of “pass” or “satisfactory” ordinarily is not acceptable).
  8. Students must supply satisfactory documentation regarding course content for independent study or self-directed courses.
  9. The number of credit hours transferred will be based on USD’s semester credit system (multiply the number of quarter hours by 2⁄3). For example, 4 quarter-hours x 2⁄3 = 2.67. It is the student’s responsibility to make up the difference if the total number of degree credits falls short of the requirement for the degree. The amount of USD credit awarded may not exceed the equivalent amount on the originating transcript.

Quarter Hours Converted to Semester:
1 quarter unit = 0.67 semester units
2 quarter unit = 1.33 semester units
3 quarter unit = 2.00 semester units
4 quarter unit = 2.67 semester units
5 quarter unit = 3.33 semester units
6 quarter unit = 4.00 semester units

10. Although transfer credit from other universities will be posted on the USD transcript, grades will not be posted or computed in the USD grade point average for probation or disqualification review.

11. See table for the maximum number of non-USD credits allowed:

Maximum Number of Program Semester Units Transferable:

6 IMBA and MBA
6 30-44 unit Master’s
9 45-53 unit Master’s
12 54-63 unit Doctorate

No exception to these limits will be made without the explicit written permission of the dean of the program’s college or school.

Procedure for Transfer of Credit

Courses Taken Prior to Enrollment at USD

The student should discuss the possibility of credit transfer with the adviser and program director or coordinator. Any exceptions to transfer credit policies must also have the approval of the dean of the program’s college or school. The student should secure the appropriate signatures on the Petition for Transfer of Graduate Credit and submit it to the One Stop Student Center. The student must also request that an official transcript of the course be sent to the Office of the Registrar if the transcript was not included among the admission documents. When both the petition and transcript are on file they will be reviewed for conformity to USD policies and posted appropriately.

Courses Taken After Enrollment at USD

USD students planning to take a degree requirement or elective at another university must process the transfer petition as described above prior to taking the course. Immediately upon completion of the course, the student must request that an official transcript be sent to the USD Office of the Registrar. A grade of “B” or better is required in order to receive credit (units only) when transferring a course from another institution. Grade(s) awarded by the issuing institution will not be calculated in the student’s overall grade point average. After the petition and transcript are on file they will be reviewed by the Registrar’s Office for conformity to USD policies.

Waiver of Requirements

Students who have taken an equivalent course prior to enrollment at USD may petition to waive a course requirement; however, the number of required credit hours remains the same. Consequently, students must enroll in approved coursework to make up the difference in the total number of units required. USD has discretion to approve or deny course waivers based on the content of the course and when or where it was taken.

There are two exceptions to this policy. The 45-48 unit Nurse Practitioner master’s programs allow students to waive up to 9 units and the other Nursing master’s programs (39-42 units) allow up to 6 units. In all of these cases students must earn at least 30 units through USD.

Completion of Degree Requirements – The Petition to Graduate

In order to be cleared for degree completion, students must file a Petition to Graduate in the One Stop Student Center by the deadlines outlined in the Academic Calendar in the front of this course catalog. There are three graduation dates: Jan. 31, May, and Aug. 31. The effective degree date for students who complete their program requirements by the posted deadline for the fall semester and Intersession will be Jan. 31. Those who meet the deadline for May graduation will receive their degree at that time and students who fulfill all requisites for their degree in the summer will have their degree recorded in their transcript effective Aug. 31. Deadlines for defense and submission of theses and dissertations are also listed in the Academic Calendar and must be observed.

Participation in Commencement Ceremonies

Commencement participation and program listing at the annual May ceremony are limited to graduates who have completed the degree in the previous summer, fall, or Intersession and to May candidates who met the graduation petition deadline and have completed all work for the degree prior to Commencement.
There is the following exception: Graduate students scheduled to receive their degree in the following August who have 9 units or fewer of remaining work may participate if their work falls in the category of coursework, portfolio, practicum, fieldwork or student teaching, or internship. Such August graduates must take the remaining summer work at USD and they must register and pay for their remaining units in the One Stop Student Center by May 1.

Students scheduled to graduate in August whose remaining program requirements include any of the following will not be allowed to participate in the preceding May Commencement: foreign language or comprehensive exam; final project or integration paper; master’s thesis; or doctoral dissertation. August graduates whose work falls into the latter categories and all students who finish in the subsequent fall semester and Intersession may participate in Commencement the following May, at which time their names will be listed in the program.

In every case, all necessary papers and petitions must be filed prior to the deadlines specified in the Academic Calendar.

Transcripts, Academic Records, and Diplomas

The transcript is the official, chronological record of the student’s credit and grades. It is maintained and distributed by the Registrar in Founders Hall, Room 117. Students may request official copies of their transcripts for a fee of $5. Instructions for requesting transcripts can be found at

The DARS (Degree Audit Report) is a list of requirements for each student’s major and the courses that have been taken to meet the requirements. It is designed to keep students updated on their academic progress and to let them know if waived or transferred courses have been approved and processed. Students may access their degree audit using their email login at USD’s MySanDiego portal.

The diploma is issued by the Office of the Registrar to students who have petitioned to graduate and have been cleared for degree completion by the program, by the Registrar’s Office, and by other pertinent offices on campus. The diploma will be sent after the term in which requirements are completed. Diplomas for January and August graduates will be ordered at the end of the month of their respective terms (e.g. Jan. 31 and Aug. 31) and only after final requirements have been submitted. Additionally, students must be cleared to graduate by their program directors.

Transcripts and diplomas will not be released to students who have an outstanding balance with student accounts.

Reservation of the Right to Modify