Dec 01, 2023  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Policies

Academic Standing

All graduate students are expected to remain in good academic standing by maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 or higher and receiving no more than two grades of “C” or lower.

Graduate students can earn a maximum of two grades of “C” or lower while enrolled in their program of study. Repeating a course with a “C” or lower grade and replacing that grade with a higher grade will remove the “C” or lower grade from this count for purposes of determining good academic standing. Individual academic program performance requirements may exceed those specified above for good academic standing.

Academic standing is denoted on the official transcript and is updated at the end of each semester or term, including winter intersession and at the end of each summer term.

Academic Probation

A student whose level of achievement drops below that required for Good Academic Standing will be placed on Academic Probation. The student will remain on Academic Probation until they achieve Good Academic Standing, provided that the student earns a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in each term while on probation and does not earn their third grade of “C” or lower.

Academic Dismissal

A student will be dismissed from their graduate program if they were on Academic Probation and failed to achieve a minimum 3.0 GPA in a given term, or earned their third grade of “C” or lower. Students who receive a grade of “F” in any graduate course will be dismissed from the program. Students may appeal their dismissal to the academic dean, who will make a decision regarding the appeal in consultation with the department chair, or their designee. If appeal is successful, the student will work with the academic dean and department chair, or designee, regarding requirements for continuation in the program.

Students may also be dismissed from their academic programs under other University or program policies, including but not limited to failing to meet expectations of program-specific dispositional policies or violating the Student Code of Conduct.

Add-Drop Policy

The Add-Drop period will extend through the eighth calendar day (11:59pm EST) of the semester, excluding holidays and when the University is closed, to provide students with one full week plus the weekend to make schedule adjustments. These periods will be converted to percentages to apply to nontraditional terms (i.e., winter session; summer sessions; sessions within a semester). The Add Drop period covers 8.57 percent of the class days (excluding the final exam period), adjusted to a whole number.

Add-Drop deadlines shall be publicized by the registrar in the Academic Calendar.

During the Add-Drop period, the student may adjust their class schedule by adding and dropping classes. Courses dropped from the student’s schedule will not appear on the student’s transcript for that semester/term.

A student seeking admission to a closed section should consult with the instructor or chairperson of the department that offers the course to either be added to the class waitlist or to receive a Capacity Permit to gain access to the class section.

Aging Adult Tuition Waiver (62+) Policy

All retired individuals aged 62 and older who wish to audit undergraduate or graduate courses will be provided a full remission of tuition and fees for those courses. The student may attend the course during the Add-Drop period, but will not be formally enrolled in the course until after the conclusion of the Add-Drop period based on seat availability.

Courses are recorded as audits with no grades or credits earned. Course auditing provides students the privilege of regular class attendance for personal or professional development. Course auditing does not generally include the taking of exams, writing of papers, recording or reporting of grades or other requirements generally associated with college credit; however, the student may participate in these activities through mutual agreement with the faculty instructor.

All other related costs such as books and supplies must be paid by students under this program. Students are encouraged not to purchase course materials until they have been confirmed as enrolled in the course at the end of the Add-Drop period.

The tuition and fee waiver per this policy does not apply to courses taken for college credits.

Auditing a Course Policy

Approval of the instructor is required for course auditing. The student will not be expected to complete assignments or exams as part of an audited course, but may elect to do so through agreement with the instructor.

Students must notify the Office of the Registrar of their intention to audit a course prior to the end of the Add-Drop period. Audits are processed at the end of the Add-Drop period pending space availability in the class. The course cannot be converted back to a credit course after the Add-Drop period has ended.

When auditing a course, students will receive a grade of AU on their transcript, but will not earn credit toward graduation for the course; this grade does not impact the student’s GPA. Audited courses are also excluded in credit and GPA calculations for Dean’s List determination. Course audit credits will not count toward workload for financial aid purposes and full-time status. Auditing a course may impact student financial aid eligibility, and students are encouraged to contact the Financial Aid Office if considering auditing a course.

Audit course tuition and course fees are billed at the same rate as courses taken for credit. A student cannot audit a course that is required for their program of study (major, concentration, certificate, minor). A student cannot repeat an audited course for credit.

Catalog Term Policy

As the academic catalog is a Fall-to-Fall document, students who are admitted for Winter, Spring or the subsequent Summer terms are considered part of the previous Fall catalog for program degree audit purposes.

A student may change catalog terms if they wish to change to a more recent version of their current program. In this case, the student will complete a Catalog Term Change Form, which will update their program completion requirements to those in effect in the next regular semester. If the student wishes to change their catalog term effective with the current semester, it must be processed prior to the Financial Aid Disbursement date during that semester.

The student can only move forward in catalog terms, and requests to move to an older catalog term will not be honored. Changing of catalog term may dramatically change the graduation requirements for the student.

Class Attendance

Prior to the beginning of the semester, each student is required to confirm their attendance in each course through the student self-service portal.

Students are expected to attend each class meeting in its entirety. Faculty members shall maintain a record of classroom attendance throughout the semester, and the student is responsible for verifying their attendance when arriving late to class and/or justifying early departure.

Class absences are excused for medical reasons documented by medical personnel, university activities approved by the appropriate vice president or designee, and/or for personal exigencies, as defined by the faculty member. Activities to be recognized as an excused absence include, but are not limited to: scheduled athletic competitions; academic competitions in which the student is a participant; military duties; auto accidents; death of an immediate family member; and medical emergencies. Verification of such absences may be required by the instructor, and the student is responsible for make-up work as required by the instructor. Students with excused absences are permitted to make up missed work and are responsible for all missed assignments without penalty. In cases where there have been significant absences, the student should consult with the instructor and academic advisor to determine if completion of course requirements is possible or reasonable.

Faculty members are encouraged to consider unexcused absences in their grading. Unless otherwise provided in writing in the course syllabus and approved by the Provost, a student shall have the privilege of unexcused absences equal to the number of classes held in a week, or to one absence per credit hour associated with the course, whichever is less. However, this shall not excuse the student from any stated deadlines for assignments or other work in the course, and the student is responsible for completing all course requirements missed as indicated in the syllabus. The instructor shall state in the course syllabus the ramifications of unexcused absences beyond those provided for in this policy. The academic dean must approve alternative attendance requirements associated with individual programs within the college.

Confidentiality of Student Records Policy

The confidentiality and disclosure of student’s Education Records is based on the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-380), as amended. Official student records are established and maintained in a number of administrative offices as needed to fulfill a variety of legitimate educational interests. In assuming responsibility for the reasonable protection of these student records, the university recognizes its obligation to comply with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

All records kept concerning students, including those records originating at other colleges or universities and required for admission, are the property of PennWest.

The substantive judgment of a faculty member or administrator about a student’s work, as expressed in grades and/or written evaluations, is not within the purview of this policy statement. Such challenges by students may be made through the regular administrative channels already in existence for such purposes.

Directory Information Regarding Students

FERPA permits the University to disclose certain information, known as “directory information,” without written consent of the student, unless the student has notified the University in writing that the student does not want their information disclosed. The following information, considered “directory information,” is classified as public and may be released without the prior consent of a student:

  • a student’s name and address (both local and permanent)
  • telephone number
  • university e-mail address
  • major field of study
  • dates of attendance
  • enrollment status
  • date of graduation
  • degrees received
  • honors and awards received
  • most recent educational institution attended
  • participation in student activities (including athletics)
  • height and weight (for athletic teams)
  • photograph
  • class standing (e.g., freshmen, sophomore)

The University reserves the right to classify other information as public and available for release without the prior consent of a student. These changes may be made to university policies or procedures to reflect best practices, or to comply with changes in state or federal laws, mandates, or regulations. Reasonable effort will be made to notify students of any such changes. The University does not make directory information generally available to the public.

The University limits its release of such information for official university purposes, such as (a) identifying athletic team members; (b) publishing names of scholarship recipients, graduation lists and Dean’s Lists; (c) issuing academic awards; (d) verifying enrollment or degree status; and (e) providing such information to organizations that are officially affiliated with PennWest or with whom the University has a contractual relationship. See 34 C.F.R §99.37(d).

Current students have the opportunity to withhold disclosure of all categories of directory information under FERPA. To withhold disclosure, students should submit notice in writing to the Office of the Registrar.

Students requesting that “directory information” not be disclosed will have this information withheld indefinitely after leaving the university. Students are cautioned that making this request may have an adverse impact on future information requests from employers or other organizations. Requests for the addition or removal of a confidentiality hold must be done in writing to the Office of the Registrar.

Disclosure of Information to Third Parties

In most circumstances, the University will not disclose a student’s education records to external third parties requesting to inspect these records without a student’s written consent. Exceptions to this general principle include, but are not limited to:

  • Information concerning a student if properly subpoenaed pursuant to a judicial proceeding.
  • All necessary academic and/or financial records of students to the appropriate persons or agencies without a student’s prior consent in connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid.
  • Disclosure to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to: develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; administer student aid programs; or improve instruction.
  • Disclosure to accrediting organizations to carry out accrediting functions.
  • Disclosure in connection with a health or safety emergency, under the conditions described in § 99.36 of the FERPA.
  • Further limited disclosure of certain kinds of information may be required in special circumstances in compliance with the federal law previously cited.

University Officials Responsible for Student Records

The following university officials are responsible for maintaining student records within their respective administrative areas in accordance with the policies of this statement and the relevant state and federal laws.

  • University Registrar
  • Vice President for Advancement
  • Vice President for Finance
  • Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Administration
  • Vice President for Student Affairs & Institutional Effectiveness

University officials in charge of student education records are responsible for the reasonable care and protection of such files in accordance with University policy. This includes the responsibility for the release of confidential information only to authorized persons.

Right of Access by Students and Limitations

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. They are:

  • The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access.
  • The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading.
  • The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Pennsylvania Western University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605

However, the following are not subject to inspection by students:

  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation which were placed in the education records before January 1, 1975.
  • Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the student’s education records after January 1, 1975, if the student has waived his or her right to inspect and review those letters and statements and those letters and statements are related to the student’s admission to an educational institution, application for employment or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition.
  • Financial records of the parents of the student, or any information contained therein.
  • Medical, psychiatric or similar records that are used solely in connection with treatment. Such records can be reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student’s choice.

Course Numbering Policy

Courses numbered 0500-0999 are developmental courses. Courses numbered 1000 through 2999 are introductory undergraduate courses. Courses numbered 3000 through 4999 are advanced undergraduate courses. Courses numbered 5000 through 6999 are introductory graduate courses. Courses numbered 7000 through 7999 are advanced graduate courses. Courses numbered 8000 to 8999 are doctoral level courses. Courses numbered 9000 through 9999 are advanced doctoral level courses.

Course Withdrawal Policy

Students may withdraw from individual courses through the tenth week of the fall or spring semesters. For sessions with special start and end dates, summer, and winter sessions, the withdrawal date deadline will be published and available on the PennWest webpage or through the Office of the Registrar. A withdrawal beyond this deadline for extenuating circumstances (e.g., illness, family tragedy) will require approval by the academic dean; failing or performing poorly in a course does not constitute an extenuating circumstance.

Course withdrawals will be recorded as “W” grades on the student’s transcript.

Ceasing to attend class does not constitute an official withdrawal from the course. The student must follow the procedure outlined in this policy to enact a course withdrawal.

Any student who is receiving federal financial aid should be aware that withdrawing from one or more courses may affect their full-time status at the University and impact their eligibility for financial aid. It is highly recommended that students seek the advice of their academic advisor, course instructors, financial aid advisor, and other appropriate University staff prior to making the decision to withdrawal from a course.

Students may Drop a course from their schedule during the Add-Drop period, which extends through the eighth calendar day of the semester, excluding holidays and when the University is closed. For non-traditional terms (i.e., winter session; summer sessions; sessions within a semester), this period will cover 8.57 percent of the class days. Dropping a course during this period is not considered a Withdrawal, incurs no penalty and does not appear on the transcript.

Credit Load

The following is the level of credit hours that determines the time status equivalents for graduate/doctoral students during a semester:

0.01 to 4.49 credit hours is considered less than half time
4.50 to 5.99 credit hours is considered half time
6.00 to 8.99 credit hours is considered three-quarter time
9.00 or more credit hours is considered full time

Degree Conferral Policy

Students must initiate an Application to Graduate to be considered a candidate for graduation. Applications must be submitted by the student via the student self-service portal, by the deadline published on the Registrar’s website for the semester or term of anticipated graduation.

Degrees will be conferred multiple times during the year:

  • May, at the end of the spring semester;
  • Summer, at multiple times during the summer term;
  • December, at the end of the fall semester; and
  • January, at the end of the Winter session.

Students who have not successfully completed all degree requirements within 30 days after the last day of final exams will not have their degree conferred until the next degree conferral date following completion of their degree requirement.

A graduate of Pennsylvania Western University is a member of the class of the calendar year in which the degree was conferred, regardless of the year the student may have attended the Commencement ceremony.

Grade Appeal Policy

The Administration of Pennsylvania Western University will not change a properly assigned grade - that is, one based upon recorded grades for quizzes, exams, assignments, projects, and other grade criteria as indicated on the course syllabus or outline of a faculty member. However, when a student alleges violations of sound academic grading procedures, the PennWest Administration and faculty mutually support a student appeal procedure that provides both the student and the faculty member a fair process to substantiate and/or refute those allegations.

Conditions for Appeal

Since the grading process involves the instructor’s judgment of the student’s academic performance, the only issue under consideration for final grade appeal is whether the student can provide clear evidence that the assignment of the grade was a result of:

  1. a calculation error, or
  2. unsubstantiated academic evaluation by the instructor.

In the case of unsubstantiated academic evaluation, evidence would need to show that the instructor’s calculation of the student’s grade was inconsistent with their policy for calculating grades as outlined in their course syllabus, written instructions, and/or communicated grading rubric for the relevant assignments. In this case, the instructor may be found to have made significant, unannounced and/or unwarranted deviations from grading procedures set at the beginning of the course.

A grade appeal is not relevant in cases where there is disagreement between the student and instructor on the subjective professional evaluation of the instructor.

Grading System

Grade Grade Points
A (Excellent) 4
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B (Good) 3
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C (Below Average) 2
C- 1.67
F (Failing) 0
M = military withdrawal  
I - Incomplete  
IP - In Progress  
W - withdrawal  
AU - audit  
S - satisfactory  
U - unsatisfactory  
CR - credit  
NC - no credit  
NR - not reported  

Graduation Requirements Policy

Requirements for graduation with a doctoral degree:

  • The student must complete all of the requirements for their degree as specified by their program with a 3.00 cumulative grade point average, or as specified by degree program requirements.
  • The student must demonstrate competency as defined for the major degree program.
  • The student must meet graduation residency requirements determined at the program level.

Requirements for graduation with a Master’s degree:

  • The student must complete a minimum of 30 semester credits with at least a B average (3.0 grade point average), or as specified by degree program requirements.
  • The student must demonstrate competency as defined for the major degree program.
  • The student must meet graduation residency requirements determined at the program level.

Requirements for a graduate certificate:

  • The student must complete at least 50% of the credits required for the certificate in courses from a State System University with a C average or higher
  • (2.0 grade point average), or as specified by the certificate program requirements.

At the time of the awarding of a degree (associate, baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral), the student record for that degree will be finalized, such that additional concentrations or minors may not be added to the degree record through the taking of additional coursework in subsequent semesters.

All students are responsible for knowing the major, degree, and university requirements of their respective programs. Students are advised to meet with their academic advisor regularly throughout their academic careers.

Students must apply for graduation via the self-service portal by the posted deadline. All credentials for graduation, including transcripts of credits from other institutions, must be submitted by this deadline. Failure to apply by the deadline may result in a late fee to be added to the student’s account. All financial obligations to Pennsylvania Western University must be paid in full before a diploma or transcript will be released.

Any student applying for graduation must complete all requirements, including “Incomplete” and “In Progress” grades, within 30 days after the graduation date. If all requirements are not completed within this 30-day period, the student must submit a new graduation application once the degree requirements have been met.

Graduation Residency Requirements Policy

For master’s students, at least two thirds of the credits meeting the program requirements must be taken from PennWest. These requirements set the minimum number of credits that must be taken “in residence.” The university can limit the number of hours that will be permitted for transfer into a graduate program. Active-duty service members who are graduate students will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

For doctoral students, residency requirements are determined at the program level.

Incomplete Grade Policy

The Incomplete (“I”) letter grade may be issued in cases where the student has been unable to complete the required coursework within the time frame of the course because of illness or other valid reason. It is at the discretion of the faculty member teaching the course, in consultation with the student, to determine whether an Incomplete grade may be issued.

As a general practice, students may only request an incomplete grade once three-quarters of the course has been completed. If the student must exit the course earlier in the semester, the student should consider a course withdrawal. An Incomplete grade is not intended to replace a medical withdrawal, or any regular withdrawal, and should not to be assigned when a course withdrawal is more appropriate.

Incomplete grade(s) must be completed before the end of the next subsequent regular semester (i.e., Fall or Spring semester) of attendance. Faculty may lessen the amount of time allocated to resolve the Incomplete grade; in this case, the faculty member will inform the student, academic dean, and registrar of the new deadline.

Students may not register for the same course if they have an outstanding Incomplete grade in the course from a previous term.

Failure to complete the necessary work within the time limit will result in the “I” designator being automatically converted to a failing grade (F) for the course. The student may request an extension to the deadline, which must be approved by the faculty member/instructor, and the department chair or academic dean. The faculty member will determine the length of the extension.

If the faculty member is not available or no longer employed by the university when the coursework from the Incomplete is to be finished, then the student must work with the department chair over the course to determine how the course work may be completed to award a grade, or determine if a passing grade can be issued based on work completed. If neither option is possible, the student may request a Withdrawal (“W”) as a final grade.

Incomplete grades do not negatively impact the student’s GPA; however, they also cannot be used to meet pre-requisites for other courses. Students may need to request permission to register for a subsequent course while an Incomplete grade is outstanding.

A student will not be awarded their degree with an Incomplete grade on their transcript.

Individualized Instruction and Independent Study Policy

Individualized Instruction

Individualized instruction may be approved for a course that is not scheduled during the current semester. Such instruction may be used in cases where the student needs a required course to make necessary progress toward degree completion, and where there is agreement of the faculty member requested to offer the instruction.

The course must not be offered currently, and it should be shown as not scheduled for offering prior to the student’s intended graduation. Exceptions may be granted in special circumstances through the academic dean over the course, and must follow the procedure in Article 26 of the APSCUF- PASSHE Collective Bargaining Agreement. The student and academic advisor should explore all other options (e.g., a suitable course substitution, PASSHE course sharing) prior to requesting an individualized instruction.

Independent Study

Independent study provides the opportunity for a unique academic experience (e.g., study of a special topic) not otherwise available through regular course offerings. A project description must be composed by the student and submitted as part of the request for an independent study. Independent study should not be confused with cooperative or internship courses, which provide job experiences.

Maximum Credit Hour Policy

A graduate student enrolled for a minimum of 9 credit hours within a regular semester is considered a full-time graduate student. In some graduate programs, this will include the Summer term.

During the Fall and Spring semesters, full-time graduate students may register for up to 15 graduate credits without special permission. Graduate students may register for up to 18 credits if enrolled in a combination of undergraduate and graduate courses in a given semester.

Students who intend to register for 18 or more credits must obtain approval from their academic dean. Only in exceptional circumstances will a graduate student be permitted to register for 18 or more credits.

During the Summer or Winter terms, students may register for a maximum of 8 credits in any given term, with the exception of a maximum of 4 credits for a 3-week session, and 15 credits for an internship session. Students wishing to register for additional credits during the summer or winter terms must obtain permission from their academic dean.

Name Change Policy

In order to maintain the integrity and accuracy of student records and protect the rights and privacy of students, the university will permit a change of legal name on official records according to the procedure below.

Students wishing to change how their first name appears on unofficial records at the university (e.g., class rosters) should consult the Preferred First Name Policy (AC056).

The Office of the Registrar will be the sole point for processing a student name change.

Preferred First Name Policy

The University recognizes that many members of its community use a first name other than their legal name first provided to the university to identify themselves. For some students, alumni, and employees, a chosen or preferred first name may be an important component of their identity. Therefore, Pennsylvania Western University has established this policy to allow students, alumni, and employees to indicate their preferred first names to the university community, even if they have not changed their legal names. Anyone is welcome to use a preferred first name. The use of a preferred first name does not change the legal name on University records.

A student or employee’s preferred first name will be used instead of the person’s legal name in select university-related systems and documents as listed below.

  • Class and Grade Rosters (for students and employees taking courses)
  • D2L (Learning Management System)
  • Diploma [See Note 1]
  • Most Employee Self-Service Navigation Panes
  • Most Self-Service Portal Panes
  • Official Employee Email Display Name
  • Official Student Email Display Name
  • Online Phonebook Directory [See Note 2]
  • Press Releases
  • Social Media Sites
  • Student or Employee Identification Cards [See Note 3]
  • Other Venues, as appropriate

For those who have indicated a preferred first name per this policy, legal names will continue to be used for official university records including, but not limited to the following:

  • Benefits Enrollment
  • Degree Verifications
  • Employment Documents
  • Employment Verifications
  • Enrollment Verifications
  • Financial Aid and Scholarship Documents
  • Legal Documents and Reports Produced by the University
  • Paychecks, W2s, and other Payroll documents
  • Student Account Statements (Bills)
  • Student Employment Documents
  • Transcripts

Preferred first name requests will be denied or revoked when the name is deemed inappropriate, including, but not limited to, attempts to avoid a legal obligation, fraud, obscene language, or misrepresentation. Reports of such activity will be handled pursuant to University policies, procedures and applicable law by relevant individuals/offices. Depending on the individual and circumstances involved, this could include the offices of Human Resources, Judicial Affairs, Social Equity, University Legal Counsel, and/or other appropriate offices and law enforcement agencies.

The University reserves the right to suspend the individual’s privilege to update their preferred first name.

Readmission Policy

Students who are returning to PennWest after a period of absence must apply for readmission to the university through the Admissions Office. Graduate students who were absent for four or more consecutive regular semesters. Reinstatement into any academic major is subject to the approval of the academic dean over the student’s academic program.

Applications for readmission should be submitted at least two weeks prior the start of the semester or term in which the student desires to enroll.

Repeating a Course Policy

Graduate students will be limited to a maximum of two course repeats during enrollment in their graduate program. Graduate students can repeat a single course for grade improvement only once.

The most recent grade, regardless of whether it is higher or lower, will be the grade used for calculation of the cumulative GPA. The original grade will remain on the transcript, which will reflect that the course was repeated. Once a degree has been conferred to the student from the university, a course cannot be repeated to improve the student’s cumulative GPA associated with that degree.

Second Majors and Degrees Policy

Graduate Degree - Simultaneous Degrees

Graduate students pursuing two graduate degrees simultaneously must complete all degree requirements at the time of matriculation for the both degrees, a minimum of 15 credits beyond the minimum credit requirements for the degree program with the most required credits. This requirement does not apply for students pursuing multiple concentrations within the same degree.

Post-Masters Students Returning for an Additional/Subsequent Master’s Degree

Students returning for a second master’s degree must complete all degree requirements at the time of matriculation for the second degree, and a minimum of 15 additional credits beyond the first master’s degree. The minimum of 15 additional credits is required regardless of the number of credits earned in the previous Master’s degree.

Student Personal Information Verification

At the beginning of each registration period, each student will be required to confirm personal biographic and demographic information in order to support the accuracy of contact and other reporting data.

The student will be required to use a data verification mechanism established through the student self-service portal.

Time Limitations on Meeting Graduate Degree Requirements

All requirements for a Master’s degree must be completed within a six (6) year time period beginning with the semester or summer session in which the student completed their first credits of the degree program. All requirements for a doctorate degree must be completed within a ten (10) year time period beginning with the semester or summer session in which the student completed their first credits of the degree program. Failure to complete the program within the stated time frame may necessitate the repeat of coursework or additional coursework in the program by the student. Some programs may have different graduation timeline requirements that may supersede this policy.


Pennsylvania Western University does not produce partial, unofficial or incomplete transcripts. Currently enrolled students seeking unofficial transcripts may retrieve them through the student portal or through the degree audit system. Unenrolled students will not have access to unofficial transcripts through the student portal and must make a request for an official transcript through the PennWest web page.

PennWest has contracted with an outside vendor to produce all official transcripts, both paper and electronic. All transcripts are subject to a fee; however, transcripts will not be released if the student has an account balance owed to the institution.

The academic transcript will include all program information including: degree(s), major(s), minor(s), concentration(s), academic standing, GPAs, and institutional, departmental or Latin honors. Transcripts will display the graduation date once degrees are awarded.


Diplomas will be issued after all graduation requirements are met, all grades are posted, and, if applicable to your program, comprehensive/oral exam grades are received by the Office of the Registrar. Any course with a grade of incomplete (“I”) or in process (“IP”) must be changed to a letter grade before the degree can be awarded.

Diplomas will bear the name of the earned degree (e.g., Master of Science) and the date of conferral. Names on the diploma will revert to the Legal Name if the student does not indicate an alternative diploma name when they apply for graduation.

Diplomas will not be released or sent to the student until all student account balances and other holds have been cleared.

Students wishing to order a replacement diploma should visit the Office of the Registrar website for instructions.

Transfer Credit Policy

Pennsylvania Western University generally accepts transfer credit for college-level work completed at institutions accredited by a Regional Accrediting Body, but will also consider credit for transfer from any higher education institution whose accreditation is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). PennWest does not typically accept transfer work from non- accredited institutions. Evaluations for proprietary institutions will be made on a case-by-case basis, where no articulation agreement exists between that institution and PennWest. When courses from other institutions are evaluated, only the credit is counted. Transfer GPA is not calculated or applied.

Life Experience Credit - Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Life experience is defined as learning experiences students have had as part of their employment or daily life, which equate with learning experiences otherwise achieved as part of coursework at PennWest. PennWest will award credit for life experience in those cases deemed appropriate through faculty evaluation and administrative review. Working with staff from the Office of Student Outreach and Support and relevant department chairs, the student should try to equate life experiences with specific courses at PennWest so that credit will be earned for those courses. Credit may also be awarded for general knowledge in a given subject area, which may not be equivalent to an existing course at the university. Final approval for the awarding of credit rests with the dean of the college in which the student has applied for credit. Credit will be coded on the student’s transcript as a “CR” grade, which will not affect the student’s GPA.

Transfer credit is evaluated institutionally and not on an academic program-by-program basis. Although credits will always transfer according to these provisions, regulations that govern the national professional accreditation of certain programs offered at PennWest may not permit some courses taken in programs not similarly accredited at other two- and four-year institutions to be transferred as the equivalents of courses that may be similarly titled or described at PennWest.

Coursework from institutions outside of the United States can be accepted for transfer credit. The PennWest international admissions officer may recommend receipt of an official course-by-course international credit evaluation performed by a third-party organization, such as World Education Services (WES), or require additional documentation to properly assess equivalencies.

All transcripts and records submitted become the property of PennWest and will not be returned to the student or released to third parties.

Current students considering the transfer of credits from another institution to PennWest should review the University’s Graduation Residency Requirements Policy (AC033) to ensure that sufficient credits are taken at PennWest. This policy defines the number of credits which must be taken from PennWest or another State System (PASSHE) institution, as well as the percentage of credits that must be taken locally within the major; additional information is provided for active-duty service members.

University Withdrawal Policy

Students seeking to withdraw from ALL courses should carefully consider such an important decision and its impact on their academic career and financial status.

Students may withdraw from the University through the tenth week of the Fall or Spring semesters.

For sessions with special start and end dates, Summer, and Winter sessions, the withdrawal date deadline will be published and available on the PennWest webpage or through the Office of the Registrar. A withdrawal beyond this deadline for extenuating circumstances (e.g., illness, family tragedy) will require approval by the academic dean; failing or performing poorly in courses does not constitute an extenuating circumstance.

If a University Withdrawal Form is not received by the deadline, a failing grade may be recorded for the affected course(s). Ceasing to attend classes does not constitute an official university withdrawal. The student must officially withdraw from the University.

The Office of the Registrar will update student records to reflect the withdrawal and provide a periodic report to all relevant university offices identifying students who have processed a total withdrawal.

Any student who is receiving federal financial aid should be aware that a total withdrawal will likely result in their financial aid being adjusted and reduced. This may result in owing payment to the University and possibly reducing future eligibility for financial aid. Students should contact the Financial Aid Office prior to making a university withdrawal decision. If applicable, any residential student who withdraws from the university must inform the Office of Residence Life and Housing within 24 hours of their withdrawal action. The student will be required to sign out of their residence hall and turn in their room key within 24 to 48 hours after withdrawal from the university.

It is highly recommended that students seek the advice of their academic advisor, course instructors, financial aid advisor, and other appropriate university staff prior to making the decision to withdraw from the university.

Verification of Student Identity

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires that institutions offering distance education or correspondence courses or programs have processes in place to ensure that the student registering for a course is the same student who participates in the course or receives course credit.

The Act requires that institutions use one of the following three methods to verify student identity:

  • A secure login and pass code;
  • Proctored examinations;
  • New or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification.

Pennsylvania Western University meets these requirements by assigning a secure username and password that is unique to each student. Students must use their secure username and password to access the University’s learning management system, D2L, through which online courses are taught. The username and password are also required for students to access their academic records through the student information system. All new students at the undergraduate and graduate levels receive an email from the Admissions Office with their assigned university email address and instructions on how to establish their own secure password following guidelines defined by the Information Technology Office at PennWest.

Personally identifiable information collected by the University may be used, at the discretion of the institution, as the basis for identity verification. For instance, a student requesting that their password be reset may be asked to provide multiple examples of information for comparison with data on file. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) governs student records access and underpins the University’s Confidentiality of Student Records Policy (AC053). This policy defines the effective safeguards for privacy of student records at the University. Access to student records via the University’s student information system is controlled and reviewed periodically for appropriateness. The Registrar, as the student records custodian for the University, reviews requests for access and weighs the “educational need to know” in all situations when granting access to student records. The Registrar provides regular information regarding FERPA across the University each year to ensure that all employees are aware of the laws governing access to, and the release of, student information. Failure to read university policies, guidelines, requirements and regulations will not exempt users from responsibility.

Visiting Student Policy

To participate in the Visiting Student Program, graduate students must be in good academic standing and accepted into their graduate program.

Graduate students are limited to a maximum of 12 credits via the Visiting Student Program during their career as a student at PennWest. All credits and grades earned at the other PASSHE universities shall be accepted in full by PennWest and thereafter treated as home university credits, residency, and grades.

The student cannot use the Visiting Student Program to repeat courses already taken at PennWest. The students also cannot use the Visiting Student Program for internship credit that is required for licensure or certification without the written permission of appropriate university officials at PennWest, and dependent on placement availability at the visiting institution.

It is the responsibility of the student to work with their academic advisor regarding applicability of credits towards graduation requirements at the home university.

The registration priority level for the student will be determined by the visiting university for purposes of scheduling courses at the visiting university.