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Belmont University Graduate Catalog 2016-17

Academic Policies

Admission

Belmont University's graduate programs are open to applicants without regard to race, sex, national origin, or religious preference. Admission to the graduate programs is based on qualifications and space availability. The university seeks student diversity that enriches the academic community.

International students applying to Belmont University graduate programs may contact International Student Services for information regarding TOEFL testing, student visa information, health insurance, housing, work permission, and social activities sponsored by the International Student Association.

Honor System

The members of the Belmont University community seek to provide students with a high-quality education while encouraging in the entire community a sense of ethics, social responsibility, and interdependence. We believe that trust is a vital part of this enterprise and that self-discipline and responsibility to one another are also essential elements. We also believe that any instance of dishonesty is a violation of the entire Belmont University community. Therefore, the Belmont University Honor System aims to cultivate a community based on trust, academic honesty, and social responsibility that promotes the following:

  • to ensure that students, faculty, staff, and administrators understand that the responsibility for upholding honor at Belmont University lies with them;
  • to ensure that all members of the Belmont University community understand that all forms of dishonesty represent a profound violation of the entire community;
  • to clarify what constitutes academic dishonesty and to define standards of behavior expected of all members of our community;
  • to promote an environment at Belmont University where honor is expected and respected and where dishonesty is not tolerated;
  • to define a statement of expectations at Belmont University regarding behavior, as well as a mechanism for a consistent and reasonable adjudication process for violations of our community.

Affirmation of Academic Integrity

The Belmont community values personal integrity and academic honesty as the foundation of university life and the cornerstone of a premiere educational experience. Our community believes trust among its members is essential for both scholarship and effective interactions and operations of the university. As members of the Belmont community, students, faculty, staff, and administrators are all responsible for ensuring that their experiences will be free of behaviors which compromise this value. In order to uphold academic integrity, the university has adopted an Honor System. Students and faculty will work together to establish the optimal conditions for honorable academic work.

Student Honor Pledge

I will not give or receive aid during examinations; I will not give or receive false or impermissible aid in course work, in the preparation of reports, or in any other type of work that is to be used by the instructor as the basis of my grade; I will not engage in any form of academic fraud. Furthermore, I will uphold my responsibility to see to it that others abide by the spirit and letter of this Honor Pledge.

Standards for Academic Integrity

Generally, academic fraud and dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following categories: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, multiple submissions, obtaining unfair advantage, aiding and abetting, and unauthorized access to academic or administrative systems.

Cheating: using unauthorized notes, aids, or information on an examination; altering a graded work prior to its return to a faculty member; allowing another person to do one's work and submitting it for grading.

Plagiarism: submitting material that in part or whole is not one's own work without properly attributing the correct sources of its content.

Fabrication: inventing or falsifying information, data, or citation; presenting data gathered outside of acceptable professorial guidelines; failing to provide an accurate account of how information, data or citations were gathered; altering documents affecting academic records; forging signatures or authorizing false information on an official academic document, grade, letter, form, ID card, or any other university document.

Multiple Submissions: submitting identical papers or course work for credit in more than one course without prior permission of the instructor.

Obtaining Unfair Advantage: a) gaining or providing access to examination materials prior to the time authorized by an instructor; b) stealing, defacing, or destroying library or research materials which can deprive others of their use; c) unauthorized collaboration on an academic assignment; d) retaining, possessing, or circulating previously used examination materials without the instructor's permission; e) obstructing or interfering with another student's academic work; or f) engaging in any activity designed to obtain an unfair advantage over another student in the same course.

Unauthorized Access: viewing or altering in any way computer records, modifying computer programs or systems, releasing or distributing information gathered via unauthorized access, or in any way interfering with the use of availability of computer systems/information.

Aiding and Abetting: providing material, information, or other assistance which violates the above Standards for Academic Integrity; providing false information in connection with any inquiry regarding academic integrity.

For additional information regarding procedures for upholding the Honor System, including sanctions for violation of the system, contact the Office of Student Affairs.

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Auditing Classes

Courses may be audited provided space is available and students satisfy the necessary prerequisites, except in the Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy programs. Current Belmont students and alumni need to request admission to a course in writing. Others must apply for Special Student status and can either be an observer in the class or an active participant (team projects, class discussions, testing). Admission requests should be made to the graduate office of the appropriate program. Cost for auditing is the same as credit hour tuition.

Students will be billed before the term begins. Tuition is due by the published payment deadline.

Student Class Attendance Policy

Belmont University is committed to the idea that regular class attendance is essential to successful scholastic achievement.  Absence is permitted only in cases of illness or other legitimate cause.  Attendance is checked from the first class meeting.  Late registrants will have accrued some absences prior to formal registration in the course.  In the case of excused absence from class, students have the right and responsibility to make up all class work missed.

  • Provost’s Excused Absences

If a class absence is necessary because of an activity by another class or university organization, the sponsor of the activity will provide a detailed memorandum on the letterhead of the unit to the Provost at least two (2) weeks prior to the event.  The memo will provide the names of students involved, the type of event, and the date range of the event.  If approved the Provost will countersign the memo, generating a Provost’s Excuse, and copies will be provided by the sponsor to each student to present to instructor as an excused absence with the allowance for the student to make up missed class work.

  • Failure for Non-attendance

Should the number of absences other than Provost’s Excused Absences exceed 20% of class meeting time (applicable to every term and part-of-term course) for a given student, the faculty member may assign the grade “FN” (failure for non-attendance) to that student.

  • Student responsibilities

Students are responsible for notifying faculty members if they miss class(es).  They are to provide documentation in support of absenteeism for the faculty member to review and evaluate according to course attendance policies.  Student with excused absences (as approved by the faculty or through the Provost’s Excuse) are able to make up all classwork missed during the absenteeism period.

  • Faculty responsibilities

Faculty members will provide an absenteeism policy on each course syllabus and review and explain the policy to all students.  Faculty members providing for excused absences will review requests for those not covered by the Provost’s Excuse and communications relating to unexcused absences and approve them according to the course syllabus. They will honor absences that are properly documented and provide either the same or in-kind assignments and  provide opportunities for students to make up missed coursework during or immediately following an excused absence period. 

  • Appeal

Students may appeal a disputed absence matter to the chair of the faculty member’s department or to the appropriate dean’s office should the faculty member be the department chair.  The appropriate dean’s decision will be final.  Proper documentation must be provided in support of the appeal.  If the appeal is approved, the chair or dean will communicate the reason for the approval and the remedy to the faculty member who will permit the student (s) to make up missed coursework in a timely manner.

Class Load

The minimum load for full-time status is six (6) hours of graduate credit per term.


International Students

Belmont welcomes international students into its graduate programs and is authorized to issue F-1 (student) and J-1 (exchange visitor) documentation for obtaining visas. International students interested in pursuing a graduate degree from Belmont University should follow the steps outlined in the graduate catalog for the particular graduate program they wish to pursue with the following additional requirements.

International Applicants Seeking Non-immigrant Visas [F-1 student Visa]

In order to be issued an I-20 for the desired entry term, international students must be admitted by October 1, March 1, or June 1 in order to enroll for the spring, summer, or fall terms respectively.

1) International applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in the English language by meeting any one of the following:  minimum TOEFL score of 550 paper-based test (PBT) or 80 internet-based test (iBT); minimum IELTS score of 6.5; minimum SAT Critical Reading score of 530;  successful completion of ELS Language Center Level 112.

2) International applicants with college level course work from foreign institutions must have their transcripts evaluated by a credential evaluation service such as World Education Services, www.wes.org.

3) Submit the notarized Sponsor Statement indicating the individual responsible for financing your education. (Note: A bank statement is NOT sufficient.)

4) International applicants who are offered admission to Belmont must complete the Enrollment Confirmation Form and submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $3,000* payable to Belmont University which will be applied to the first semester charges.

5) Upon receipt of the Enrollment Deposit, Belmont will issue an I-20.

6) After receipt of the I-20, you should apply for the visa by taking the Belmont University offer of admission letter and I-20 to the nearest American embassy or consulate. Please check with the U.S. Department of State, www.unitedstatesvisas.gov, for specific information about obtaining an appointment for a visa interview and paying the appropriate fees.

*Students who do not enroll as scheduled, due to failure to obtain a visa, may request a $2,900 refund of the tuition deposit, if requested within 30 days after the close of registration.


Graduate students are not eligible for on-campus housing. All international students must purchase health and accident insurance coverage. Information and application for an insurance plan with coverage for hospitalization, surgical benefits and medical care may be obtained online at www.belmont.edu/ie.

Application to the University for Resident Aliens or Permanent Residents --
International English Competency

Applicants who are permanent residents or resident aliens may follow the application instructions for domestic students with one exception. Applicants whose first language is not English must have a score of at least 550 (written), 213 (computer based) or 80 (internet based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or successfully complete ELS Language Centers Level 112.

International Students Seeking Exchange Visitor Visas [J-1 Exchange/Visitor Visa]

International students interested in attending Belmont through one of its established exchange programs may be considered for admission by completing the Exchange Application available online at www.belmont.edu/ie. A student must be recommended by his or her home institution in order to participate and be issued a J-1 visa.

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Performance Evaluation and Feedback

Getting feedback on your performance is critical to improvement. A variety of instruments will be used by various instructors throughout your courses. Where appropriate, grades will be given that will be an overall indication of performance. The grading scale for graduate courses is as follows:

Overview of performance quality of letter grades A-F
Grade   Level
A   A high level of performance has been achieved with respect to course objectives.
B   Competency has been demonstrated in all or most course objectives. Class contribution was meaningful.
C   The student has not achieved competency in some course objectives.
F**   The student has not achieved competency in most course objectives.

Eligible grades 

Each hour of academic work taken for credit in the university is evaluated in terms of its relative quality, as shown by the grade received in the course. The various grades and their corresponding quality points are:

A 4.0 quality points for each hour of credit.
A- 3.7 quality points for each hour of credit.
B+ 3.3 quality points for each hour of credit.
B 3.0 quality points for each hour of credit.
B- 2.7 quality points for each hour of credit.
C+ 2.3 quality points for each hour of credit.
C 2.0 quality points for each hour of credit.
C- 1.7 quality points for each hour of credit.
F 0 quality points and no credit.
I   Incomplete grade. Incomplete is used only in cases of uncontrollable circumstances. Responsibility for completing the work must be assumed by the student. An I is calculated as an F. The grade will be changed to an F at the mid-term of the semester following the one in which it was earned unless a grade is submitted by the instructor.
W   Withdrawal during the first four weeks of the semester. Does not count in GPA calculations.
WP   Withdrawal Passing. Withdrawal after the first four weeks of the semester with a grade of C or better at the time of withdrawal. Does not count in GPA calculations.
WF**   Withdrawal Failing. Withdrawal after the first four weeks of the semester with a grade of F at the time of withdrawal. Counts as an F in GPA calculations.
FN** FN indicates that the student failed the course due to excessive absences. Should the number of absences other than Provost’s Excused Absences exceed 20% of class meeting time (applicable to every term and part-of-term course) for a given student, the faculty member may assign the grade “FN” (failure for nonattendance) to that studentFN counts as an F when computing GPA.
FX**

FX grade on the student's transcript will indicate that the failure of the course was due to an Honor Pledge violation. The grade will be treated as an F for purposes of the student's grade point average. After appeal, any decision resulting in a grade of "FX" will automatically be reviewed by the Provost. During a student's last semester prior to graduation, s/he may have the "FX" changed to an F on the transcript in the following manner:
• The student must have been remediated or readmitted to the graduate program where possible, retaken and received a passing grade in the class in which the "FX" was given;
• The student must have no subsequent violations of the Honor Pledge while a student at Belmont;
• The student must write a letter to the Provost requesting the removal of the "FX";
• The student must propose and perform an activity or program that promotes academic integrity on campus and which will be mutually agreed upon by student and the Honor Court. The Honor Court will certify that the program has been completed in a letter to the Provost.

If the student satisfactorily completes the four conditions above, the Provost will instruct the Registrar to change the "FX" to a grade of "F" on the student's transcript.

Note that some individual graduate colleges may have specific published rules which will be applied for academic conduct violations or conditions / actions related to any for of a failing grade. 

P   Passing. Does not count in GPA calculations.
IP  

In Progress (IP) means the course work is continued. Does not count in GPA calculations. A student must complete the IP by mid-term of the follow semester (e.g. fall course in the spring; a spring course in the fall; a summer course by the fall). If the IP is not resolved in the prescribed timeframe the grade converts to "I" and the policy governing an incomplete grade goes into effect and is subject to review by the department. If the course should have been completed in the term of enrollment then an incomplete ("I") is the appropriate grade.

Special continuation and allowances may be granted in specific programs such as Physical Therapy where students in clinical courses may carry the IP grade on-going since the clinical experience/course may not be completed at the end of the semester or may cross terms until completed. Department specific approvals for IPs will be reflected on the departmental page and in the course description.

AU   Audit. Does not count in GPA calculations.
NR   Not Received. This means that the professor did not turn in a grade(s) by the deadline at the end of the semester. No credit is given for a course with a NR until the professor enters an appropriate grade for the course. The NR does not affect the student's GPA. The professor must complete a grade change form to change the grade and the student will be mailed a letter stating their grade and updated GPA when processed.

** See policy below under "Progression Toward Graduation" for actions that result from a grade of any "F" grade.  

Academic Numbering

Graduate level courses are represented with 5000 and 6000 numbered courses. Beginning in the spring 2004 term, Belmont University converted all three digit academic numbers to four digits. In most instances the change was accomplished by adding a zero (0) to the end of the existing number.

Repeating Courses

If a student repeats a course, it must be done the next semester the course is offered. The last grade will be the permanent grade recorded, and the student's GPA will be recomputed accordingly. No course may be repeated more than once.

Grade Appeals

Students have the right to appeal grades directly to the instructor if they believe that an incorrect grade has been assigned for the course.  If a grade issue is not resolved after contact with the instructor, the student may appeal in writing to the department chair / associate dean of the college. This must occur by the mid-term point of the next semester. In the written appeal the student must be prepared to demonstrate and document an unusual circumstance that warrants a review of the grade and evidences of the grade s/he believes should have been given by the instructor. All written appeals will be reviewed within one month of receipt and responded to in writing either confirming or changing the posted final grade. A copy of this response will go to the Registrar’s Office for the student’s record.

Further appeal is through the administrative structure of the college in which the course was taken, with final appeal to the Dean of the College. Any appeal must be in writing and include appropriate documentation to support the student’s position that a grade change is warranted.

The final grade is the instructor’s posted grade, which may be viewed in the student’s grade report on-line at the close of the term or part-of-term. It is solely the responsibility of the student to check that grades are posted for all courses taken during a semester and note the grade given for each class.  All grade appeals must be requested by the mid-term point of the next semester.  Unless an active appeal is under review, after the mid-term point of the next semester, neither instructors nor the university will consider a grade change.

Once a final grade has been posted the student may not petition the instructor to do additional work or extra credit to raise the grade awarded. Any grade change as a result of such action will be disallowed.

For grades of IP or I, once the I or IP is replaced (required prior to mid-term of the follow semester) by a grade, including a change to F, that becomes the posting date of the final grade.  Administrative grades such as W (withdrawal) are handled through the Registrar’s Office.

Transfer Credit

A student may transfer up to six (6) hours of graduate credit with a minimum grade of "B" from an accredited institution upon approval of the student's graduate director. The School of Education has a five (5) year limitation on courses that are transferable.

*The School of Physical Therapy does not accept graduate-level transfer credit from other institutions toward the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) degree. Veteran students who apply to the physical therapy programs are eligible for consideration of graduate level transfer credits from accredited institutions.

*The School of Occupational Therapy does not accept transfer credit from other institutions toward its degree program. Veteran students who apply to the occupational therapy programs are eligible for consideration of graduate level transfer credits from accredited institutions.

Progression Towards Graduation

It is essential that students make satisfactory progress toward their degree in terms of consistency and performance. Unless stated otherwise in a specific graduate school, unsatisfactory progress will result in the following actions:

Condition   Action
GPA less than 3.0   Probation
More than three "C" grades    Dismissal*
"F" grade in any course   Dismissal*
Failure to enroll in a term   Inactive Status

If a student remains on Inactive Status for more than one year without the program director's permission, the student must reapply for admission to the program.

Any student on "Probation" or "Dismissed" (expressed either as "university dismissal" or "program dismissal") academic standing is considered to be "not in good standing" with the university. 

Students on probation must raise their cumulative GPA to 3.0 or better within the next two semesters, unless stated otherwise in a specific graduate school. If a student fails to meet this criterion the student is automatically dismissed from the program. Any student who is dismissed may apply for readmission, but only once. Reapplication under these circumstances does not guarantee admission back into the program. 

*Several graduate programs have specific or additional conditions for program dismissal (such as in graduate business MBA for Massey Program, and in graduate PT for Physical Therapy program). Graduate students should be familiar with dismissal conditions for their program of enrollment. In the absence of specific conditions in a program's graduate handbook (or equivalent) the matrix of dismissal conditions above will apply.

Graduation

In order to be eligible to graduate, a student in any master's program or doctoral program must:

  • complete the specified curriculum
  • have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better (unless stated otherwise in a specific graduate school)
  • complete all degree requirements within the time period specified for each program. Time limits shall be computed from and will include the first term of credit applied to the degree program.
Students must file a graduation application online through their "My Belmont" account by the posted deadlines for each graduation date. These dates are listed in the Academic Calendar in the front of this catalog.  The student will be billed for a non-refundable graduation fee of $250 for candidates of a Master degree and $275 for candidates of a Doctoral degree to cover graduation expenses of academic regalia and diploma. An additional $100 fee will be charged for late applications and an additional $50 fee will be charged for each subsequent application, due to failure to complete the graduation process.

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