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​Frequently Asked Questions

About the Degree

Q. How many transfer credits can be added to my degree from a previous university?

A. With the approval of the program director/chair/adviser, a student may be allowed up to six (6) units of graduate-level coursework from an accredited university. The student must provide an official transcript, course description and/or syllabi, text book title and an indication of a matching WashU course. A grade of "B" or better is required for transfer courses. The transfer courses must be graduate level and did not count toward the completion of an undergraduate degree.

Q. What is the recommended course load?

A. This may vary by department, however, full-time students must be enrolled in a minimum of nine (9) units to maintain their status. For specifics on how many courses to take per semester, students are encouraged to work with an advisor to plan for the duration of the degree program.

Grades

Q. If I take a course as Pass/Fail, does it count toward my degree?

A. No, only courses taken for a grade count toward the degree requirements. A student may choose to take a course as P/F in order to gain the knowledge needed for another course in the program.

Q. If I get a poor grade in a course, can I re-take it with no penalty?

A. Yes, a course can be taken again and it will replace the previous grade in the earlier semester. The first course will not count in the number of total units taken for the degree.

Q. If I drop a course or withdraw from a course, does it show up on my transcript and/or does it affect my grade point average (GPA)?

A. If you drop a course prior to the add/drop deadline, the course will not appear on your transcript. If you are past the deadline and withdraw from a course, the course will appear with a letter notation of "W". This will not be factored in to your GPA.

Q. If I take a course that is not included in my degree, will the grade in that course count toward my total grade point average?

A. The course will count toward your total cumulative grade point average but will not be factored in to your courses taken for your degree requirements. Students may audit courses that are not required in the degree in order to avoid any grading issues.

Q. Can I audit one or more courses in a semester? How does an audited course affect my GPA?

A. Yes, students can choose to audit courses and can change the grade status in WebSTAC prior to the add/drop deadline. An audited course will count toward full-time status, however, an audited course will not count toward the completion of the degree nor is it factored in GPA. Many professors require permission to audit courses. Students are encouraged to seek approval prior to moving to an audit status.

Q. My degree program requires a specific GPA in order to graduate. How is this gpa factored?

A. An overall cumulative GPA is factored using all courses that have received a grade. The required courses in the degree plan are used to calculate the graduation status.

Adding Degrees/Certificates or Changing programs

Q. Can I add a second MA degree at the same time, toward the end of my first program or after I complete my first degree? Will I have to re-apply? How many units will be required if I already have a degree from WashU?

A. If it is a degree from a different department within the school, you may need to complete an application. A graduate certificate may require a mini application and/or permission from the program sirector. Contact Graduate Admissions for specifics on whether or not an application is required.

The number of units may vary depending on the degree. Typically a minimum of 15 unique units will be required for the second MA. The date the course was first taken must be within a maximum of 10 years. Courses become outdated and therefore would not count toward a current degree.

Q. Can I switch majors within my department or to a different department in the School of Engineering?

A. To change majors within a department, you will have to have approval from the chair or program director. If the request is to move to a completely different department, you will have to apply. You may or may not meet the requirements for that department and will not be allowed to switch. The Graduate Admissions department can provide details including timelines for admission.

Q. If I am working toward completing two MA degrees, do I have to take two capstone courses?

A. In most cases, you will only be required to complete a capstone course for the first MA degree or the "primary" degree. If you are completing two MA degrees simultaneously, check with the adviser/chair/program director. Some capstone courses are linked to an internship, others are stand-alone courses taken at the culmination of the degree.

Q. Do I have to take the courses that are on the degree planning sheet or are there options for me to substitute a course?

A. In some cases, a course may be substituted for a course listed on the degree planning sheet or a transferred course will be used. This may be based on the previous knowledge or experience of the student. A request for substitution must be approved by the adviser/chair/program director prior to enrolling.

Q. What are certificates and how do I get one?

A. A certificate is an option for students to take a set of courses to enhance an area that may be of interest or may assist in a career field. It is not another degree, but the application is a much less formal process than for obtaining a second major. Students should discuss this option with an advisor and will then be directed to the department for permission to add the certificate. It is important to note that full-time students on a visa will not be allowed to extend their I-20 in order to complete an added certificate. Students must complete the certificate requirements in conjunction with the degree program.

Q. What do I do if I need to take a semester off during my program?

A. Notify the adviser of the circumstances for the request. In some programs a "placeholder" will be entered in order to keep the student status listed as "active".

Graduation

Q. I intend to graduate soon. What do I need to do?

A. Submit an "intent to graduate" on WebSTAC. You will need to indicate if you want to participate in the graduation ceremony. You will also be required to order regalia.

Q. Can I walk in the graduation ceremony even if I haven't finished all of my coursework?

A. Yes. You can participate in the ceremony if you are close to completion (within 6 units). Students are required to wear regalia in order to participate.

Q. How do I receive my diploma?

A. Diplomas are available for students to pick-up in person or they can be mailed. The student must be sure the address in WebSTAC is correct for the mailed option.

Miscellaneous

Q. Do I have to purchase the textbooks from the bookstore or are there other options?

A. You can purchase them online at your own discretion, find rental options or purchase from the bookstore.

Q. English is not my native language. It was recommended to me that I should take English classes. Is it required that I take them?

A. The School of Engineering & Applied Science requires all incoming international students who have not obtained a minimum of three years in the U.S. to take a course in language assistance. This new course was first offered in Fall of 2018. In addition, OISS offers a list of courses to assist international students with speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. It is highly recommended that students take the courses recommended for them. These courses do not cost extra for full-time students and are not counted toward the degree or the GPA.