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Graduate Student Services
FAQs for Master's degree students
About the degree
- How many transfer credits can be added to my degree from a previous University?
With the approval of the Program Director/Chair/Advisor, a student may be allowed up to (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 Wash U 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.
- What is the recommended course load?
- This may vary by department, however, full-time students must be enrolled in a minimum of (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.
- If I take a course as Pass/Fail, does it count toward my degree?
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. P/F courses count toward full-time status. Audited courses do not count toward degrees, grade point averages nor full-time status. P/F courses and Audit courses are charged regular tuition.
- If I get a poor grade in a course, can I re-take it with no penalty?
- 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. Some courses require permission from the instructor to be re-taken. It is important to note that previously used homework/papers/assignments cannot be used again in a re-taken course.
- 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?
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.
- 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?
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.
- Can I audit one or more courses in a semester? How does an audited course affect my GPA?
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 not count toward full-time status, 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. Tuition is charged for auditing a course.
- My degree program requires a specific GPA in order to graduate. How is this GPA factored?
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 or changing programs
- Can I add a second master's degree while I'm still working toward my first degree? Will I have to re-apply? How many units will be required if I already have a degree from WashU?
If it is a degree from a different department within the School of Engineering, you may need to complete an application. A graduate certificate may require a mini-application and/or permission from the Program Director. Contact the Graduate Admissions department 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 master's degree. 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.
- Can I switch majors within my department or to a different department in the School of Engineering?
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.
- If I am working toward completing two master's degrees, do I have to take two capstone courses?
In most cases, you will only be required to complete a capstone course for the first master's degree or the “primary” degree. If you are completing two master's degrees simultaneously, check with the Advisor/Program Director/Chair. Some capstone courses are linked to an internship, others are stand-alone courses taken at the culmination of the degree.
- Do I have to take the courses that are on the degree planning sheet or are there options for me to substitute a course?
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 Advisor/Program Director/Chair prior to enrolling.
- What are certificates and how do I get one?
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. Students must complete the certificate requirements in conjunction with the degree program.
- What do I do if I need to take a semester off during my program?
Notify the advisor of the circumstances for the request. In some programs a “placeholder” will be entered in order to keep the student status listed as “active”. Students on a visa will need formal approval for a leave of absence.
- I intend to graduate soon. What do I need to do?
Submit an “intent to graduate” in Webstac. You will need to indicate if you want to participate in the graduation ceremony. You will also be required to order regalia.
- Can I walk in the graduation ceremony even if I haven’t finished all of my coursework?
Yes, you can participate in the ceremony. Students are required to wear regalia in order to participate.
- How do I receive my diploma?
- Diplomas are sent to students from diploma services. The student must be sure the address in Webstac is correct.
- Do I have to purchase the textbooks from the bookstore or are there other options?
You can purchase them online at your own discretion, find rental options or purchase from the bookstore.
- English is not my native language. It was recommended to me that I should take English classes. Is it required that I take them?
McKelvey School of Engineering requires all incoming international students who submit a TOEFL or IETLS score to enroll in the Communication Tools for Academic and Professional Success course. International students who completed a minimum of three years in an English language university are not required to take this course. This course was first offered in the fall of 2018. This course does not cost extra for full-time students and does not count toward the degree nor the grade point average.