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D12.0 Graduation Requirements

I. UNDERGRADUATE CERTIFICATES AND DIPLOMAS

  1.  Satisfactorily meet program requirements of the college. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. A cumulative grade point average of 2.00 (a “C” grade).

II. ASSOCIATE AND BACCALAUREATE DEGREES

  1. Successful completion of all required courses of the university and college, including cooperative employment where applicable. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. A cumulative grade point average of 2.00 (a "C" average).

  3. A minimum of 30 credit hours shall be successfully completed in residence at the university in the college granting the degree (inclusive of service courses). If the student has successfully completed 30 credit hours in residence, a petition may be submitted to the dean to study 10 credit hours in absentia in the final year of the degree; at a minimum, 20 of the final 30 credit hours are to be completed in residence.

  4. Minimum number of credit hours as required by that college, but in no case shall this be less than 60 credit hours for the associate degree and 120 credit hours for the baccalaureate degree.

  5. Wellness requirements as published in the university’s official bulletin.

  6. Demonstrated competence in writing skills as established in the university’s writing policies (see D01.5).

  7. Full payment or satisfactory adjustment of all financial obligations.

  8. Candidates for the university’s associate and baccalaureate degrees are expected to attend commencement ceremonies.

III. CATALOG REQUIREMENTS UNDER WHICH AN UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT GRADUATES

Graduation requirements for an undergraduate academic award are based on the regulations and requirements printed in the RIT Bulletin in effect at the time of a student's matriculation into the student's program. A bulletin published after the matriculation date may be chosen by the student when it is to the student's advantage. The time limitation on this provision is that no student may graduate under the requirements of a bulletin published more than seven (7) calendar years prior to the date of graduation.

Courses are subject to change without notice and the university is not obligated to offer discontinued courses. Individual curriculum requirements may be adjusted upon the student’s request, and with the approval of the head of the student’s primary academic department.

IV. ADVANCED GRADUATE CERTIFICATE

  1. Satisfactorily meet program requirements of the college. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. A program cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (a "B" average).

  3. Adherence to the seven-year graduation requirement.

V. MASTER’S DEGREE

  1. Successfully complete all required courses of the university and the college. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. A program cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (a "B" average).

  3. A minimum of 30 credit hours is required for the master’s degree. At least 80% semester credit hours of graduate level course work and research (courses numbered 600-900) are required to be earned in residence at the university.

    Exception: External master’s degree programs allow for varying amounts of acceptable graduate transfer credits and thus the residency requirement may be decreased, as approved by the Graduate Council and provost. Other exceptions pertaining to a group of students must be approved by the Graduate Council.

  4. Each degree granting program shall reserve the prerogative to require a thesis when appropriate. The thesis requirement may be waived and replaced by other appropriate research or comparable professional achievement as an integral part of the graduate program.

  5. Full payment or satisfactory adjustment of all financial obligations.

  6. Adherence to the seven-year graduation requirement.

VI. DOCTORAL DEGREE

  1. Successfully complete all courses, research, examinations, defense of dissertation, and submission of a final accepted dissertation. All grades must be recorded and any outstanding Incomplete (“I”) grades must be resolved.

  2. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of three years of full-time study or the equivalent.

    1. Courses required for the degree are defined by the individual program. A minimum of 60 credit hours of graduate-level coursework is required.

    2. A maximum of 30 credits may be granted from previously completed coursework.

    3. In consultation with their advisor, students will develop a plan of study during their first term of study that must be approved by the Ph.D. program director. Revisions to the original plan of study must also be approved by the program director.

    4. The number of research hours will vary depending upon the amount of course credits earned. The sum of course and research credits will total a minimum of 60 credits. There must be a minimum of 18 credit hours of research.

    5. Students must successfully complete a qualifying exam by the beginning of the third year of full-time study or its equivalent. Students are permitted two attempts to pass the exams.

    6. Upon successful completion of the qualifying exam, the student and advisor will organize a dissertation committee. The dissertation committee will provide advice and guidance throughout the student's dissertation research. The committee will be composed of the following members:

      1. Required members

        1. Chair - appointed by the dean of Graduate Education via a formal request from the student's Ph.D. program director.  Qualifications:  Not affiliated with the student's Ph.D. program.  Hold an earned Ph.D. degree. Tenured RIT faculty member.

        2. Student's research advisor

        3. Two faculty members from the student's Ph.D. program.  Qualification:  Competent in the student's field of research.

      2. Optional Member

        1. A third faculty member from the student's Ph.D. program.  Qualification:  Competent in the student's field of research.

    7. Students will obtain approval of the dissertation topic and admission to doctoral degree candidacy through successful completion of the Candidacy Exam. The Candidacy Exam, which is prepared by the dissertation committee, must be taken no later than six months prior to defending the dissertation.

    8. A doctoral dissertation will make an original contribution to knowledge in the field and will be written in acceptable scholarly form.

    9. The final examination of the dissertation is open to the public and consists of an oral presentation in defense of dissertation research followed by questions from the audience. The dissertation committee will be joined by one or two outside examiners, to be appointed by the provost in consultation with the dissertation committee. One of the outside examiners will chair the final examination. Students who are failed on the dissertation defense cannot attempt the defense a second time, but may be considered for the master’s degree.

    10. Requirements for the degree must be completed within seven (7) years of the date students pass the qualifying exam.

    11. The student must register for a minimum of 9 academic credits in each of 2 consecutive terms, excluding summer, to establish residency.

    12. A program cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher (a “B” average) is required for graduation.

    13. Full payment or satisfactory adjustment of all financial obligations must be made prior to graduation.

    14. For a Ph.D. candidate to participate in Academic Convocation and commencement ceremonies in a given academic year, the candidate must have successfully defended or have an advisor-approved plan for the dissertation defense by April 15.  The dissertation and all degree requirements must be completed by the end of the summer term following the spring commencement ceremonies.  The Ph.D. program director will verify that the student has met all requirements for participation.  Students may only participate in the Academic Convocation hooding and commencement ceremonies and be listed in the Commencement Book one time.  

    Note: The dean and program faculty can be petitioned, in extraordinary circumstances, to review and judge the case of individual students who believe the spirit of the above requirements has been met, yet fall short of the particular requirement. If the petition is accepted and approved by the faculty, dean, and provost, a signed copy will be sent to the registrar for inclusion in the student’s academic record. 

    Note: The Ph.D. graduate residence requirement implies that following the application of all waived credit, transfer credit and credit by examination, the remaining program results in a minimum of 50% of the earned credit hours are at the graduate level of the university.

    VII. SEVEN-YEAR GRADUATION REQUIREMENT

    1. Purpose

      The purpose of the seven-year requirement in graduate programs is to ensure content currency of a degree at the time of graduation.  The seven-year requirement provides a mechanism for dealing with extenuating circumstances that may have prevented timely completion of a degree.

    2. Applicability

      The seven-year requirement applies to advanced certificates, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees.

      1. Advance Certificate:  all requirements for the certificate must be completed within seven years of the date of the student's matriculation into the certificate program.

      2. Master's Degree:  all requirements for the degree must be completed with seven years of the date of the student's matriculation into the master's program.  For example, if the student matriculates into the program in the fall term of academic year 2016-2017, that degree must be completed by the end of the summer term of academic year 2022-2023.

      3. Dual Baccalaureate-Master's Degree:  dual baccalaureate-master's degrees are accelerated degrees and as such, students are expected to finish degree requirements in less time than taking the two degrees separately.  All requirements for the master's degree portion must be completed within seven years of the date the student completes the credits required for the baccalaureate degree and is classified as a graduate student.

      4. Doctoral Degrees:  all requirements for the degree must completed within seven years of the date the student passes their qualifying exam.

    3. Responsibilities

      1. The observance of the seven-year requirement is a joint responsibility of the graduate student, the graduate program director, the Office of Graduate Education, and Graduate Council.

        1. Graduate Student - the graduate student is responsible for the management of any responsibilities in addition to the student's course or study that may have impact on the time for graduation.  The student is responsible for maintaining frequent and timely communication with the graduate program director and if applicable, the thesis/dissertation graduate faculty advisor toward this end.  The student initiates a seven-year requirement extension request for a petition to the graduate program director.

        2. Office of Graduate Education - the dean of Graduate Education, in coordination with the Office of the Registrar, will conduct a university-wide independent yearly audit of all graduate students that have been in a program five (5) years or longer and provide this information to the graduate program directors, recommending action as appropriate.

        3. Graduate Program Director - a graduate program director is responsible for informing students of the seven-year graduation requirement and making an effort to share with the student the audit information from the dean of Graduate Education.  When a student's program is projected to exceed the seven-year limit, the graduate program director may petition the dean of Graduate Education for an extension to the seven-year graduation requirement.  The student should not be encouraged to take courses or work on a thesis, final project, or dissertation unless an extension has been granted by the dean of Graduate Education or, when necessary, the Graduate Council, with the understanding that a decision has not been made and an extension may not be granted.

        4. Graduate Council - the Graduate Council is the oversight body charged with assuring the integrity of the process.  The Graduate Council assigns the dean of Graduate Education to act on its behalf in granting extensions to the seven graduate requirement.  The Graduate Council assigns a subcommittee to decide on extension requests of unusual complexity.

    4. Petitions for Extensions to the Seven-Year Graduation Requirement

      In cases where the fulfillment of degree requirement may extend beyond the seven-year limit, the student's graduate program director will petition the dean of Graduate Education for a formal extension.  The request must originate with the graduate student.  The student must document extenuating circumstances that prevent completion of the degree within the seven-year limit.  Please note the following important requirements for these petitions:

      1. Application for an extension shall be submitted to the dean of Graduate Education prior to the expiration of the seven-year time limit.

      2. When a student's program is projected to exceed the seven-year limit, the student should not be encouraged to take courses or work on a thesis, final project, or dissertation until a decision has been made by the dean of Graduate Education or, when necessary, the Graduate Council.

      3. Documents included in the petition submitted to the dean of Graduate Education by the graduate program director shall include the following:

        • Petition support signed by the Dean's Office or equivalent representative.

        • Letter of support from the graduate program director.

        • Letter of support from the graduate thesis/dissertation advisor, if applicable.

        • As part of the petition, the graduate program director will provide confirmation of the currency of courses beyond the seven-year limit.

      4. Student Originated Documents:

        • Circumstances that delayed completion of degree.

        • Detailed plan for completion of degree, addressing each unmet requirement.  This should be developed and agreed to jointly by the student, the student's advisor, and with oversight/concurrence of the graduate program director.

        • RIT graduate transcript (and where relevant, undergraduate transcript).

        • Current resume.

        • A copy of thesis proposal or final project proposal, if applicable.

        • A list of courses that will be older than seven years (and by how much) at the projected date of graduation.

      5. A seven-year extension is granted by the dean of Graduate Education on behalf of the Graduate Council.  Generally, no more than one calendar year's extension will be granted.

    5. Exemptions

      Students who have stopped working on their degrees and more than seven years have elapsed since matriculation, may petition the dean of Graduate Education for readmission into a program.  The petition shall contain all the material described in section D of this policy - Petitions for Extensions to the Seven-Year Graduation Requirement.

    6. Appeals

      In cases of unusual complexity (e.g., appeals of an unfavorable decision by the dean of Graduate Education or graduate program director, etc.), the request for an extension may be forwarded to the chair of Graduate Council to be distributed to a subcommittee of the Graduate Council for consideration.  The subcommittee will consist of the following individuals or their representatives:

      • Graduate Council representative from requesting college

      • Graduate Council representative from another college

      • The student's graduate program director

      • Dean of Graduate Education

      • Chair of Graduate Council


    The graduate faculty advisor may be present at this meeting.  Decision are usually made by the Graduate Council subcommittee at the time of the meeting and the student and graduate program director are notified formally by the dean of Graduate Education.  

    Note:  Petitions for a one-year extension are considered on a case-by-case basis.

    VIII. GRADUATE THESIS/DISSERTATION POLICY

    An "R" (registered) grade is given to indicate that a student has registered for graduate thesis or dissertation work for a graduate paper. The student has yet to meet the total requirements for the course or has continuing requirements to be met. Completion of work represented by the “R” will be noted by having the approved thesis/dissertation title, as received by the Registrar from the program, recorded on the student’s official transcript. "R" graded courses are allowed in the calculation of the residency requirement for graduate programs.

    A digital submission of each original thesis and dissertation submitted and accepted for an advanced degree conferred by RIT is to be retained by the library.  The library will assume the responsibility of fully cataloging all theses and dissertations and placing them in the RIT digital collection.  Although the library does not require a printed copy for their archives, colleges, departments and students may utilize the library's binding services if a print copy is desired or required. ​​​​

    IX. CONTINUATION OF THESIS/DISSERTATION POLICY

    In those programs where a thesis/dissertation is undertaken, if the student has enrolled in thesis/dissertation credits but has not finished the thesis/dissertation itself and any required documentation, it is the responsibility of the student to register each term for a one semester credit hour Continuation of Thesis/Dissertation course. Programs may offer graduate students one term extension of time before the continuation of thesis/dissertation tuition is levied. For the term in which the continuation of thesis/dissertation tuition is not to apply, the student will enroll for "0" hours. Payment of all continuation of thesis/dissertation tuition is waived for all summer terms.

    1. Once work has begun on a thesis/dissertation, it is seen as a continuous process until all requirements are completed. It is the student’s responsibility to register each term for a one credit hour Continuation of Thesis/Dissertation course if the student has completed the program thesis course work but not the thesis itself.

    2. The Continuation of Thesis/Dissertation course will be offered each term to accommodate this policy.

    3. If the student does not register for the Continuation of Thesis/Dissertation course for one credit hour, the program may either:

      1. Enroll the student for "0" credits (using a drop/add form) for which no tuition is assessed in order to maintain enrollment for one term only, excluding summer; or

      2. Remove the student from the program.

      Program directors will inform the Registrar of their action.

    4. The length of time to complete a thesis/dissertation is at the option of the program. However, the thesis/dissertation and all other graduation requirements must be completed within the period stipulated by the relevant policy.

    Responsible Offices:
    Academic Senate and the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Inquiries can be directed to:

    Academic Senate:
    asenate@rit.edu 
    (585)475-2016

    Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs:       
    academicaffairs@rit.edu
    (585)475-5572

    Effective Date:
    Approved May 1957

    Policy History:

    • Last revised October 10, 1996

    • Edited November 2, 2006 Edited September 2010

    • Revised May 2, 2013

    • Revised April 24, 2014 - section V.C

    • Revised April 6, 2017 - added/revised sections IV.C, V.F., VI.B.11 and 14; revised section VI.B.6, added section VII. Seven-Year Graduation Requirement; renumbered remaining sections; added second paragraph in section VIII.; section IX revised.  Corrected URLs, position and department names.

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