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Academic Regulations

All graduate students are urged to read these general regulations carefully. Failure to be familiar with this section does not excuse a student from the obligation to comply with all the described regulations.

Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this catalog, students are advised that the information contained in it is subject to change. The University reserves the right to modify or change the curriculum, admission standards, course content, degree requirements, regulations, tuition or fees at any time without prior notice. The information in this catalog is not to be regarded as creating a binding contract between the student and the school.

Classification of Graduate Students

Full: All students admitted with full graduate standing. 

Conditional Admission: Students may be admitted to some of the graduate programs on a conditional admission basis.  See the Graduate Admission section of this catalog for additional information.  

Credential: Students admitted to do post-baccalaureate work that leads toward an initial teaching credential, specialist instruction credential or services credential.

Academic Standing

All graduate students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward the academic degree for which they were admitted. Unless otherwise approved, graduate students are required to maintain a cumulative minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 to remain in good standing. Students enrolled in the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, should refer to the program’s policies for academic standing. For all other students, academic standing is determined at the end of each term (or after completion of six units during the summer) to be one of the following:

  • good standing
  • probation
  • dismissal


Any graduate student who has completed six (6) or more course units of study and has a Pacific cumulative GPA below 3.0 is placed on academic probation. A student must achieve a cumulative 3.0 GPA (or higher GPA if required by the program) within completion of the next nine (9) units to be removed from probation. The courses included in the 9 units must be approved by the program faculty for degree-seeking students.

A student who is removed from probation is not eligible for placement on probation a second time.


Students on academic probation who fail to raise their Pacific cumulative grade point average to 3.0 at the end of the probationary period (9 units) will be dismissed from their graduate program.

A dismissed student may appeal for reconsideration and possible reinstatement on probation, within the same school. Students who wish to appeal must follow procedures outlined in each program’s policy. If no program-specific procedure is outlined, students must submit a written petition to the Dean of Graduate School. Enrollment eligibility during the appeals process is determined at the program level.

A dismissed student may not enroll in any graduate program for a minimum of 12 consecutive months (waiting period). A student must reapply, meet current requirements for degree-seeking students, and be accepted by the University and the program to enroll for graduate studies following the waiting period. Schools or programs may develop additional procedures or requirements related to re-enrollment following dismissal. Some schools or programs may not permit reinstatement. Please see the appropriate school or program sections of the catalog for specific requirements.

In addition to the academic standing, other academic and non-academic reasons can result in a student's dismissal from a graduate program. Refer to the Honor Code in Tiger Lore, in addition to any program-specific guidelines.

Clinical Competency

Many of the graduate programs offered at the University include experiential coursework. Prior to taking a course that includes an experiential component; students are required to demonstrate that they have the necessary skills, aptitude and competencies to successfully complete the course. Faculty of departments that offer experiential courses have the discretion of denying enrollment in these courses to students evaluated as not possessing the necessary clinical competencies. Procedures used to assess clinical competency vary across programs. Students may obtain additional information from their Graduate Program Director.

Students who do not demonstrate adequate clinical and experiential competency can be dismissed from a degree program, regardless of academic standing.

Course Loads

Course load requirements are program-specific.  The following are guidelines for non-lockstep programs.  Course loads influences financial aid.  The following course load categories correspond to financial aid categories.

  • Full Time: 8 or more units a semester
  • Half Time: 7 to 4 units a semester
  • Less than Half Time: 3 to 1 units a semester

Students with teaching or other assistantships should check with their department for specific guidelines concerning unit requirements. Conditionally admitted students are not eligible for assistantships.

Credit Limitations

All courses countable for graduate degree credit must be either graduate-level courses (200 or 300 level) or, where allowable, advanced undergraduate courses (100 level). Students taking 100-level courses for graduate credit will be required to complete extra course assignments.

Courses not applicable to graduate degrees:

  • Lower division undergraduate courses (001-099)

  • Courses in which a grade of C- or lower were received. Courses that receive a C- or lower must be repeated

  • Courses for the improvement of English language skills of foreign students’

  • Directed teaching or prerequisite courses for directed teaching except for the Master of Education degree or the Master of Arts in Special Education degree.

  • Physical education activity courses.

  • Unclassified Status: No more than 12 units, no matter when they are earned, can be transferred from an “Unclassified” transcript into a graduate program

Double-Listed Courses

In order to differentiate graduate and undergraduate responsibilities in double-listed courses (100/200 levels), there must be sufficient differentiation between the two levels with the graduate level evidencing additional rigor as denoted by higher level student learning outcomes with corresponding assignments and grading criteria.  Graduate students must register using the 200-level course number.

Grade Point Average

The Pacific grade point average is determined by adding the total quality points and by dividing the resultant sum by the total number of quality hours. As a general rule, the ratio is based on the number of letter graded units completed.

Grading Policies

Symbols and Definitions

Graduate students are assigned grades in keeping with the following provisions.  Utilization of (+/-) is at the discretion of individual programs.

Symbol GPA Definition
A 4.0 Exemplary
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0 Satisfactory
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0 Marginal
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0 Unsatisfactory
F 0.0 Failing
I Incomplete work due to extenuating and hardship circumstances which prevent the completion of the work assigned within the regular time of the term. Each incomplete grade assigned must be accompanied with a contract statement agreed to by both instructor and student as to: a) what work remains to be completed, b) how it is to be evaluated, and c) a time indicated for completion within by no later than the following deadlines: for fall semester, by July 1 following; for spring semester, by November 1 following; for summer term, by January 1 following. If work is not completed within these stipulated times, the instructor can indicate a grade in lieu of the F/NC which automatically would be imposed with failure to complete the work. All incompletes must be made up before the last day of the semester in which the student intends to graduate.
Symbol GPA Definition
N Deferred grading for thesis, dissertation or research work.
NC No credit recognition. Represents unsatisfactory work under pass/no credit option.
NG No Grade Received from the Instructor. Please contact the instructor.
P Passing work on the pass/no credit system. Approved only for certain courses and program of a college or school. Note: Research for thesis or dissertation the department may determine whether letter grades or pass/no credit grades are to be given. In seminar or comparable courses, letter grades or pass/no credit may be used.
W Authorized withdrawal from courses after the prescribed period.

Repeating of Courses and Grade Replacement Policy

For courses in which the grade earned is C- or lower, the units are counted in a student’s degree program, and -- if required for the degree -- must be repeated. Some departments or programs have established higher grading standards which must be met by students in those programs. All grades earned in courses taken as a graduate student at the University are counted in the cumulative GPA.

Only courses with grades of “C-” or lower can be repeated. Once a course is completed with a grade of C or higher, the graduate student cannot repeat that course or any prerequisites for the course. When a course is repeated, grades from both the original and repeated attempt appear in the official records and transcripts.  A course can only be repeated once. Grades are averaged when courses are repeated; thus, the Pacific grade point average does reflect the two grades averaged.

Acquisition of Graduate Credit as an Undergraduate

Undergraduate students meeting all of the following requirements may petition the Dean of the Graduate School by submitting the Application to Receive Graduate Credit as an Undergraduate Student to open a graduate transcript (i.e., receive credit in graduate-level courses toward a graduate degree) before the last day to add classes of the last semester as an undergraduate:

  • The student must be within 9 units of completing the baccalaureate degree.
  • The student must be in the last two semesters of the baccalaureate degree at University of the Pacific.
  • An Evaluation of Degree Requirements form has been submitted to the Office of the Registrar prior to the last day to add classes. This must be submitted before or with the Graduate Credit as Undergraduate application. (This serves as permission by the undergraduate advisor for the student to take graduate-level coursework.
  • The student has been accepted into a graduate or credential program.

Graduate credit can be received under the following guidelines:

  • The total number of graduate credits for the semester, including coursework completed at other schools, cannot exceed the maximum graduate course load for the department providing the graduate coursework.
  • The tuition rate for the entire semester is at the undergraduate rate.
  • No more than 12 units (16 units for student teachers) can be transferred from an undergraduate transcript into a graduate degree program.
  • Graduate credit will only be granted for graduate-level (200 numbered) courses and above.
  • Units cannot be retroactively transferred from an undergraduate transcript to a graduate program. Approvals for graduate credit must be obtained prior to the last day to add classes of the student's last semester.
  • Coursework will not count toward graduate credit if the student fails to complete the bachelor's degree by the second semester of taking graduate courses.
  • Graduate courses completed under this agreement will not be recorded by the Registrar as graduate coursework until the baccalaureate degree has been completed and matriculation into the graduate program has commenced. Grades from these courses will not be accounted in the undergraduate grade point average, unless the bachelor's degree is not completed.
  • Students who do not complete the bachelor's degree by the second term when graduate courses are taken cannot start a graduate program and cannot take additional graduate coursework until the bachelor's degree has been awarded.
  • Students bear the responsibility of assuring graduate credits earned as an undergraduate student will transfer to or be counted as post-baccalaureate units by other universities or school districts.

Students are not classified as graduate students until they register for and begin graduate courses following the receipt of their bachelor’s degree.

Transfer Credit

Coursework completed at University of the Pacific or at other regionally accredited institutions of higher education since completion of the baccalaureate can be evaluated for transfer credit work with the following restrictions:

  • Up to nine (9) semester units can be transferred at the Master's level and up to 12 semester units at the doctoral level.
  • Only courses that qualify for graduate or first-professional credit by the transferring institution can be transferred.
  • Only courses in which a grade of B or better are eligible for consideration of transfer credit.  Some departments set higher standards and there are identified by individual program catalog sections.
  • Extension courses do not qualify for transfer credit with the exception of university-approved transfer agreements.

Grade points earned in those courses are not counted in the student’s Pacific grade point average.  This process is initiated using the Degree Requirement Adjustment Form and must be approved by the Director of the Graduate Program and the Office of the Registrar.

Some programs may have more restrictive transfer credit policies.

Unclassified Graduate Students

Students may take graduate level courses as an unclassified graduate student if they meet the following:

  • Have a bachelor's degree or the equivalent from a regionally accredited institution or other international institution of acceptable standing
  • Apply using the First Time Unclassified Application and submit it to the Office of the Registrar

A maximum of 12 units (16 units for student teachers) taken as an unclassified graduate student will count toward a graduate-level program at University of the Pacific. Upon acceptance to the university, resident and transfer coursework are evaluated by school/department for applicability to degree.  Some programs/courses have restricted enrollment and are not open for enrollment for unclassified students.


Registration is the means by which an individual officially becomes a student at Pacific. Registrants are further identified by school/college of the University, degree status, classification and major.

All students must register by the last day to add or drop. Students are held accountable to complete every course for which they register. If it is necessary to add or drop a course, the student must complete the appropriate registration transaction by the last day such activity is allowed as published in the University Calendar.

After the add/drop deadline dates has passed (but prior to the end of the term) requests to add or drop courses must be made by special petition to the student’s respective school/college.

Requests to add or drop courses after the term must be made to the Academic Regulations Committee (ARC). In either case, petitions are only approved if it can be shown that the request is warranted due to some special situation or hardship. Courses approved to drop after the deadline appear on the student’s transcript with the notation “W” but do not count in the units earned or in the calculation of the grade point average.

Any petitions approved after the deadline dates are subject to a service fee. Tuition and fee refunds are based on the date a withdraw form is initiated in the Office of the Registrar.

Continuous Registration

All graduate students in graduate degree or credential programs must satisfy the Continuous Registration Policy of their respective programs from admission until all degree requirements are met or their status as a degree- or credential-seeking student is terminated. This includes students who are completing preliminary or final examinations, or presenting terminal projects.  If degree or credential requirements are completed between terms, the student must have been registered during the preceding term.

Continuous registration is intended for students who have completed all required coursework. The Continuous Registration Policy can be met by registering for GRAD 200 (through Inside Pacific) at least one semester per academic year (Fall or Spring).

There is no limit to the number of times a student can register for GRAD 200; however, Pacific’s Residency and Time Limit policies must be met.

Students enrolled in GRAD 200 may utilize library facilities, but are not entitled to:

  • the use of other University facilities,
  • receive a fellowship, assistantship, or financial aid, or
  • take course work of any kind at the University of the Pacific. 

Students should also be aware that registration in GRAD 200 may cause existing student loans to come due.

Some programs may require courses other than GRAD 200 to meet continuous registration requirements.  Please consult individual program pages for additional information.

Failure to Meet Continuous Registration Requirements

A graduate student who fails to meet the continuous registration requirements will be inactivated. Students in good academic standing who were inactivated may petition for readmission to the program by submitting a $50 reinstatement fee and the Application to Request Reinstatement to the Graduate School prior to the first day of classes.  

After 12 months or more in inactive status, students who wish to re-enter a program must complete a new application with the appropriate fees and documentation.  A decision to readmit a former student must include a statement by the admitting degree program what previously taken courses can be applied to the new program of study.

Registration - Individualized Study

To register for an Individualized Study (Independent Study course, Internships, or Practicum) students must use the Individualized Study Request form. This form is a written contract between students and faculty that specifies the nature of the work to be undertaken and the method of evaluation.  The form must have proper approval within the unit and be filed with the Office of the Registrar. An independent study course may not be taken in the same term in which a regular course in the same subject is offered.

Changing Degree Programs

If a student wishes to change a degree program, the student must submit an application for admission, pay the application fee, and comply with all admission requirements.  No more than nine (9) units of coursework taken in non-degree seeking, certificate-seeking, or previous degree-seeking status may be applied to any Master's degree and no more than 12 units may be applied to any doctoral degree.

Leave of Absence

Students experiencing life changing or catastrophic events are encouraged to request a leave of absence, especially if the Residence and Time Limits policy will be impacted.  Consideration for request submitted after the degree time limit has expired will be impacted by evidence of successful continuous progress towards the degree, programmatic changes, and faculty availability.  A student who is in good standing may petition for a leave of absence of no more than one academic year and the maximum number of Leave of Absence requests is two.  Requests for a leave of absence must be approved in advance by the faculty advisor or Program Director and the Graduate Dean.  Once the petition is approved, the registration requirement will be set aside during the period of leave.  Leaves will be granted only under conditions that require the suspension of all activities associated with pursuing the degree including use of university facilities and faculty mentoring/advice.

Counting of the time to the completion of the degree ceases when a leave of absence is granted and resumes when the student re-enrolls to continue the program.  A student who returns to the University after an approved leave of absence will not be required to submit an application for readmission.

Unapproved Leaves of Absence may result in the student being required to re-apply to their program.  International student should visit the International Programs and Services to find out how a Leave of Absence may impact their stay or re-entry into the U.S.

Requirements for the Master’s degree

In addition to the requirements above, the following requirements apply specifically to the Master's degree.

Total Units

Most Master's programs at University of the Pacific require a minimum of 30 units of approved graduate credit.

Grade Point Average

Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all work taken as a graduate student, either at the University of the Pacific or any other institution.  See the Grading Policy and Academic Standing sections, in addition to program-specific guidelines.  Students enrolled in the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, should refer to the program's GPA policies.

Exit Requirements

Comprehensive Examination/Capstone Experience/Creative Project/Thesis

Most programs have a culminating experience.  In addition to successful completion of all courses required for graduation, students may be required to pass a comprehensive examination taken during their final semester of enrollment or, if specified by the program, successfully complete a capstone experience or creative project or defend a thesis.

The thesis must be checked for plagiarism and approved by the thesis committee prior to the defense.

Students must be enrolled the semester in which these defense/final examination occurs.

(See individual program sections for more information).

Requirements for Terminal Degree Programs (Ph.D. and Ed.D)

The goal of terminal degree programs at the University of the Pacific is to provide students with a comprehensive discipline-specific knowledge base and extensive training in the methods of research/creative activity.  The programs are designed to encourage students to make contributions that advance their field of expertise.

Students are expected to demonstrate an ability to conduct independent research, and the ability to express thoughts clearly in both verbal and written and/or creative formats.  In addition to earning a terminal degree, candidates must successfully complete all requirements, demonstrate a high level of professional skill and performance in their academic work and their internship experience (if required), and submit a dissertation, acceptable to the student's committee.  Specific program requirements can be found in the appropriate sections of the catalog.

Grade Point Average

Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all work taken as a graduate student, either at the University of the Pacific or any other institution.  See the Grading Policy and Academic Standing sections, in addition to program-specific guidelines.

Presentation of an acceptable Dissertation

In order to be acceptable, the doctoral dissertation must be:

  1. a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge or
  2. a work of original and primary research.

Passing of a final oral examination

When the dissertation is completed, candidates present themselves for the final examination to an examining committee which consists of the candidate's advisor (who shall act as chair) and such other examiners as the advisor shall approve.  The examination is oral and deals intensively with the field of specialization in which the candidate's dissertation falls, though it need not be confined to the subject matter of the dissertation.  In order to be considered satisfactory, the report of the examining committee must be unanimously favorable.

(See individual program sections for more information). 

Residence and Time Limits

The period of residence involves students in a total commitment to their graduate program.

Completion of a minimum of one academic year of “residence work”: i.e., the candidate must be registered for at least 4 units per semester for two semesters. Two summer sessions of at least 4 units each are considered the equivalent of one-half year of residence.

Time Limits for Master's Degrees

The requirements for a Master's degree must be completed within fine (5) years subsequent to admission to the program.  The five-year period begins the first semester students are enrolled and is calculated from the date of degree conferral.  Credit that is more than five years old will not be counted toward a Master's degree.  Exceptions, provided the courses were completed at this university, will require strong justification in writing from the student requesting the exception as well as revalidation plan.  Written approval from the department, the Dean of the school/college at which the degree is offered, and the Graduate Dean are required.  See revalidation process below.

Time Limits for Terminal Degrees

The requirements for a terminal degree must be completed within ten years subsequent to admission to the terminal degree program.  The ten-year period begins with the first semester students are enrolled and is calculated from the date of degree conferral.  Students have a maximum of five years to advance to candidacy and a maximum of five years from candidacy to successfully defend the dissertation.  Students who exceed the candidacy deadline may request an extension.  Candidacy extensions will require strong justification in writing from the student and should be accompanied by a plan of study for timely completion of all requirements for advancing to candidacy.  The extension must be approved by the student's advisor, the Program Director, and the Graduate Dean.

Courses taken ten or more years prior to the comprehensive examination (terminal degree programs) or five or more years prior to the final examination (Masters Programs) do not apply towards the graduate degree and must be repeated or revalidated to satisfy the degree requirements.

If revalidation is requested, the faculty advisor or Program Director recommend a revalidation plan.  Revalidation will verify that the student's knowledge in a specific subject area is current and documented.  Options for course revalidation include a written examination, a 3-5 page essay, a project, a course retake, or other equally rigorous academic means appropriate to the discipline to determine the student learning outcomes have been met.

Revalidation request should be submitted on the Revalidation Request Form and accompanied by a written justification, revalidation plan, and documentation used for revalidation.  All revalidation request and plans must be approved by the student's advisor or Program Director, the School/College Dean, and the Graduate Dean.  The student's advisor/Program Director and College Dean are responsible for determining whether the student demonstrated sufficient course knowledge necessary for successful course revalidation.  Successfully revalidated courses may be included in the student's plan of study.  Failure to follow all designated requirements of the revalidation agreement may result in dismissal from the program.  Graduate students will not be permitted to submit more than 12 units of the program's courses for revalidation.  Courses beyond the 12-unit limit will need to be retaken.  Courses must have been completed at this university to be eligible for revalidation.

Individual programs may have additional residency and time limit requirements.

Thesis or Dissertation Committee

This section outlines the general requirements for thesis or dissertation committees. Units and colleges may adopt additional program-specific criteria and guidelines.

Thesis or dissertation chair: Faculty must hold a degree equivalent to the degree being sought and have demonstrated expertise to serve as a thesis or dissertation chair. Faculty members without supervisory experience must serve for at least one year as a co‐chair with an experienced advisor before they may be recommended to independently supervise thesis or dissertation research. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the college or school Dean and the Graduate Dean.

Thesis or dissertation committee: The Thesis or Dissertation Committee is composed of a Chair and a minimum of 1 (thesis) or 2 (dissertation) other committee members. The number of committee members depends on the degree objective. All members of the committee must hold degrees equivalent to the degree being sought or have demonstrated expertise. The committee member(s) may be selected from within the student’s school or college, from another school or college, or from another institution or organization with recognized expertise in the field or industry.

It is recommended that the committee be formed after a student selects a chair for their research and the faculty member agrees to chair. The student, in consultation with the chair, is responsible for contacting potential members of the committee, inviting members to serve, and completing the Masters’ Thesis Committee form or the Doctoral Dissertation Committee form. Upon the approval of thesis or dissertation advisor, department chair, and college or school dean, the form will be forwarded to the Graduate School.  Committee members from outside the University of the Pacific must be approved by the Graduate Dean.

The responsibilities of the thesis or dissertation committee members are:

  1. Providing the student with guidance in their thesis or dissertation research, 
  2. Monitoring the student’s research progress of their thesis or dissertation research, and
  3. Approving the content of the final thesis or dissertation.

In order to fulfill the above responsibilities, the committee should hold at least one meeting each semester.

Thesis and Dissertations

The Graduate School makes available to faculty and graduate degree candidates instructions for the preparation of theses and dissertations. The instructions are to be applied to all theses and dissertations submitted at University of the Pacific. Theses and dissertations must be submitted by the deadline dates published in the Academic Calendar.

Graduate programs have specific courses that must be taken for work on a thesis or dissertation.  These courses are numbered 299 (Master’s Thesis) and 399 (Dissertation), and are graded on a Pass/No Credit basis.


Master’s degree students who are near completion of degree requirements are eligible to participate in the May commencement exercises under specific conditions. The following conditions must be met before the Graduate Dean will approve the petition.

  • A completed Petition to Participate in Graduation Ceremonies has been submitted to the Graduate School by the Spring semester deadline* for filing the Application for Graduation form. This petition must be signed by the student’s advisor and academic Dean (or Graduate Program Director if appropriate).
  • All degree requirements will be met before the end of the summer session of the same year. An approved plan of study that specifies all degree requirements will be completed in time and must be on file in the Graduate School before the Spring semester deadline for filing the Application for Graduation form.*
  • The Master's degree oral examination, which includes thesis defense or written examination (where applicable), will be successfully completed by the Spring semester deadline for Written/Oral Exam — Thesis/Dissertation Defense.**
  • The student is in good academic standing.

On a case-by-case basis, special consideration is given for international students who complete degree requirements after the Fall semester of the same calendar year. Approved CAPP Evaluations must be on file by the Spring semester deadline* and the student must state they are unable to return to campus to participate in ceremonies in the Spring following degree completion.

Doctoral degree students are ineligible to participate in graduation ceremonies until all degree requirements are met and the final dissertation has been approved by the Graduate School.  However, on a case-by-case basis, special consideration will be given for international and domestic doctoral students who will complete degree requirements by the end of the Fall semester of the same calendar year. Approved programs of study must be on file by the Spring semester deadline, and the student’s Graduate Program Director must approve of the request.

Withdrawal from a Term or the University

Students who intend to completely withdraw from a term or from the university have to initiate the process in the Office of the Registrar. The withdrawal date used by Financial Aid for Return in the return of Title IV Aid calculation and the effective date used by Student Accounts for tuition refunds are based on the date of your notification to the Office of the Registrar. If a student intends to withdraw from a semester after the last day to withdraw, it must be approved by the Academic Regulations Committee. Courses the student was registered for after the last day to drop appear on that student’s transcript with the notation “W” but do not count in the units earned or in the calculation of the grade point average. If a student only withdraws from a semester, he/she has one more semester to keep his/her continuing active status. If the student has completely withdrawn from the University, he/she must submit a new application for admission, and file a request for Petition for Reinstatement Form (with a $50 fee) available on the Office of the Registrar web site. The deadline is August 1st for Fall admission or December 1st for Spring admissions.

An official withdrawal from the University is the termination of rights and privileges offered to currently enrolled students, which include, but are not limited to, early registration.