Academic Policies, Procedures, & Guidelines

As a graduate student at Montclair State University, you are responsible for reading and abiding by the University policies, procedures and deadlines outlined in the following documents:

We encourage you to visit the websites below throughout your graduate career for additional, up-dated information concerning university policies and procedures.

Academic Probation/Dismissal

Degree Programs: When a degree student’s GPA falls below 3.00, the student will be placed on academic probation. The degree student must raise his/her GPA to at least a 3.0 within the next six credits of course work taken within the next two semesters from the date of notification of probation. This may include summer session. Failure to achieve a GPA of 3.00 within the prescribed period of time will lead to final review, which may result in removal of matriculated status and dismissal.

A degree student who receives three “C” (i.e., “C+”, “C”, or “C-“) or lower level grades (i.e., “F”) will be dismissed from the program. The Graduate School will make dismissal actions on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a degree student’s Graduate Program Coordinator.

* For students in the Speech-Language Pathology master’s program: Students who earn a grade of “F” in a course will be dismissed from the program. Exceptions to this policy will be considered only in special cases and under extenuating circumstances.

* For Doctoral students: A student who receives a grade of “F” will be dismissed from the program.

Certification Programs (Effective Fall 2012): Students in a certification program must maintain a GPA of 3.00. If a student’s GPA falls below a 3.00, the student will be placed on academic probation. The student must raise his/her GPA to at least a 3.0 within the next six credits of course work taken within the next two semesters from the date of notification of probation. This may include summer session. Failure to achieve a GPA of 3.00 within the prescribed period of time will lead to final review, which may result in removal of matriculated status and dismissal.

Certificate and Non-degree Programs: Students must maintain a GPA of 2.50. If a student’s GPA falls below a 2.50, the student will be placed on academic probation. The student must raise his/her GPA to at least a 2.50 within the next six credits of course work taken within the next two semesters from the date of notification of probation. This may include summer session. Failure to achieve a GPA of 2.50 within the prescribed period of time will lead to final review, which may result in removal of matriculated status and dismissal.

* For students in the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program: Students must maintain a GPA of 2.75. If a student’s GPA falls below a 2.75, the student will be placed on academic probation. The student must raise his/her GPA to at least a 2.75 within the next six credits of course work taken within the next two semesters from the date of notification of probation. This may include summer session. Failure to achieve a GPA of 2.75 within the prescribed period of time will lead to final review, which may result in removal of matriculated status and dismissal.

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Academic Support Resources

Numerous academic resources are available to graduate students in need of help with academic issues, including:

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Analysis of Academic Progress

This service is available to graduate students via WESS and provides:

  • Information regarding graduate program requirements
  • Course selections
  • Comparison of your course work with your program’s requirements for graduation
  • A record of transfer credit, course substitutions, course waivers, and completion of non-course requirements
  • The complete record of your progress that is used by the Registrar’s Office to determine that you have completed all requirements and are eligible to graduate.

Click here to logon to WESS.

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Continuous Matriculation/Leave of Absence

If you are not enrolling in classes for the Fall or Spring Semester:  Students in a graduate program (Master’s, Certificate, Certification) must be continuously enrolled in the Fall and Spring semesters until completion of all requirements for graduation. Students who do not register for a credit-bearing course or who have not been granted an approved leave of absence in either the Fall or Spring semesters must register for a 0 credit Continuous Matriculation course (GRAD-MC1) in that semester and pay a $50.00 continuous enrollment fee. This course is not part of the degree program, not assigned a grade and will not appear on your transcripts. Students must register for the Continuous Matriculation course on WESS by the end of the Drop/Add period (the second week of the semester). Register on WESS, under the subject "Generic Graduate Course", select GRAD-MC1. The semesters registered for Continuous Matriculation will not be excluded from the time limit for completion of the graduate program. Students who are registering for thesis, comprehensive exam or comprehensive experience are not required to enroll in the Continuous Matriculation course (GRAD-MC1). Please see below on how to register for thesis and comprehensive examination. Students who have completed all coursework but are NOT ready to begin the required comprehensive experience (thesis, comprehensive exam or comprehensive experience) must register for the Continuous Matriculation course (GRAD-MC1).

Registration holds for failure to register:

In the first Fall or Spring semester that students fail to register for either a credit bearing or Continuous Matriculation course, students will be deactivated and a registration hold will be placed on their account.  Students will not be able to register for any classes until the deactivation registration fee is paid. There will be no exceptions. Failure to register in TWO consecutive semesters will be treated as a withdrawal from the graduate program.

Withdrawal after failing to register for two semesters: 

Failure to register for either a credit-bearing course or the Continuous Matriculation course for TWO consecutive semesters will be considered as a withdrawal from the graduate program. There will be no exceptions. 

Readmission after withdrawal:

Students who have been withdrawn due to failure to register will have to apply for readmission and pay an application fee, with no guarantee that the student will be readmitted into the program. Students who are readmitted after withdrawal will be given readmit status. This means that all previous semesters, including the non-registration semester(s), will be counted towards the time for completing the graduate program and that any previously granted leave of absence will count towards the total of permissible leaves of absence. 

Leave of Absence:

Students may request ONE leave of absence for the entire duration of the graduate program. A leave of absence is considered ONE semester. The leave of absence will be excluded from the time limit for completion of a graduate program.  Requests for a leave of absence must be submitted to The Graduate School using our online Leave of Absence form by the end of the Drop/Add period (the second week of the semester) and no requests will be granted retroactively. There will be no exceptions. If a leave of absence is granted, it is the student’s responsibility to withdraw from any registered courses.  Students will be held accountable for any costs incurred for registered courses.  If you are readmitted into a graduate program and have taken a leave of absence previously, you will not be granted an additional leave of absence.

Exemptions to the Leave of Absence Limit:

In cases of extreme life circumstances that prohibit a student from attending classes and successfully completing coursework during a semester, the university has a Medical Leave Policy and an Exemption from Course Withdrawal Policy that are administered through the Dean of Students. The policies and procedures are posted on the Dean of Students’ website.

Register for Comprehensive Exam:

Please ask your adviser if you are eligible to take the comprehensive exam. Register for the comprehensive exam by logging into WESS, select the subject "Generic Graduate Course", select "GRAD-CMP Comprehensive Examination". Each section is listed under the major. Students must register the GRAD-CMP course on WESS by the end of the Drop/Add period (the second week of the semester)

Registering for Thesis and Thesis Extension:

Master's Thesis courses are one-semester courses, earning 3, 4 or 6 credits depending on the approved academic program. Students need to have their topic and proposal approved by their committee members before they can register for the thesis course. More information regarding the process and registration of the Master's thesis can be found on the Procedures and Guidelines for Master's Thesis.

Students who are unable to complete the Master's Thesis during the semester in which they register for the thesis course, must register for the Thesis Extension Application (1 credit) each subsequent semester (excluding summer terms) until the completion of the thesis.

Students should register for their Master's thesis or thesis extension course by the end of the Drop/Add period (the second week of the semester). If you are unable to register during this time due to issues concerning your thesis topic and/or committee members, please call The Graduate School immediately.

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Course Load

All full-time graduate students must register for a minimum of nine (9) credits per semester, with a maximum of fifteen (15) credits allowed. To maintain part-time status, graduate students must take fewer than nine (9) credits per semester.

Graduate assistants are considered full-time students and must register for a minimum of nine (9) credits per semester. They may not register for more than twelve (12) semester hours without prior approval from The Graduate School.

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Course Overload

  • Only full-time matriculated graduate students who are registered for a minimum of nine (9) credit hours per semester may apply for a course overload.
  • Special permission is required to take a course overload of more than fifteen (15) credit hours per semester.
    • Full-time graduate students who have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above and who are not graduate assistants may register for a course overload of more than fifteen (15) credits with the approval of The Graduate School.
  • Graduate assistants are not permitted to take more than twelve (12) credit hours without prior approval from The Graduate School.
  • Registrations for course overloads are made on a space-available basis. The university reserves the right to reduce the course load of any student who registers for more than fifteen (15) credit hours without course overload approval.
  • Download the Graduate Course Overload Application form

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Culminating/Comprehensive Experience

All graduate students are required to participate in a comprehensive experience near the end of their degree programs in order to demonstrate proficiency in their programs of study. Requirements for doctoral and master’s degree programs may include:

  • Written and oral comprehensive examinations
  • Theses
  • Written projects
  • Capstone courses
  • Culminating activities
  • Fieldwork
  • Field projects
  • Internships

Your Graduate Program Coordinator will be able to advise you throughout your studies to help you plan ahead and determine options for fulfilling your comprehensive experience requirement. In addition, many departments have study materials that can help you prepare for your comprehensive exams.

  • Comprehensive Examination/Project
    •  This evaluates your integrated knowledge of your area of study gained through coursework and program experience.
    • The comprehensive examination is open to fully matriculated students with a minimum GPA of 3.00.
    • It is administered once in the fall semester and once in the spring semester by individual program departments.
    • Your Graduate Program Coordinator can provide you with the date and time of your comprehensive examination.
    • It is your responsibility to register for the Comprehensive Examination course. Please speak to your adviser to ask if you are eligible to take the comprehensive exam. To register for the comprehensive exam, log into WESS, select subject "Generic Graduate Course". select "GRAD-CMP Comprehensive Examination." Each section is listed under the major. Students must register the GRAD-CMP course on WESS by the end of the Drop/Add period (second week of the semester).
    • Students who fail the departmental comprehensive examination may retake the test two times, but must register each time as described above.
    • Students who fail the comprehensive examination for the third time will be dismissed from their program of study.
  • Thesis
    • This written project demonstrates your capacity for research, analytical thinking, and ability to make interpretive claims in your area of study.
    • Extensive readings and a demonstrated knowledge of a discipline’s methodological approach to research are required for students wishing to develop a thesis.
    • If you select the thesis option, you must register for the appropriate course and selection.
    • Thesis Procedures
    • Master's Thesis courses are one-semester courses, earning either 3, 4 or 6 credits depending on the approved academic program. Students who are unable to complete the Master's thesis during the semester in which they register for the thesis course, must register for the Thesis Extension Application (1 credit) each subsequent semester (excluding summer terms) until the completion of the thesis.
  • Dissertation
    • Doctoral candidates demonstrate their mastery of a body of existing literature and theory and their application to an educational problem through a dissertation.
    • Additional information and forms
  • Capstone Course for MBA Programs
    • This course focuses on actual business situations and their impact on the organization.
    • You must complete the business core courses and a minimum of 15 semester hours of advanced courses before enrolling in the Capstone Course.
    • For more information, visit: http://sbus.montclair.edu

For additional information about the comprehensive experience, please contact your Graduate Program Coordinator or The Graduate School at 973-655-5147 or graduate.school@montclair.edu.

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Filing for Graduation

In order to be evaluated for completion of graduation requirements, you must file an Application for Final Audit with the Office of the Registrar by the following dates:

  • June 1 for January graduation
  • October 1 for May graduation
  • March 1 for August graduation

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Grade Grievance Procedures

A. Goals and Objectives

1. To insure for every student who feels aggrieved a formal procedure to guarantee due process.
2. To insure equitable treatment for all parties concerned and protect the rights of individuals.
3. To insure academic freedom as well as academic quality.
4. To insure remedy within a reasonable period of time.


B. Informal Resolution Procedure

1. It is the responsibility of any student wishing to pursue an academic grievance involving a faculty member to first discuss the matter privately with the professor involved. In the event that the student is unable to contact the professor within a two-week period, an appointment should be arranged through the departmental secretary for the first time available. The initiation of the student grade grievance must take place within three weeks from the beginning of the next regular (Fall or Spring) semester.

2. Should the meeting fail to accomplish a resolution between the student and the faculty member, the student should arrange a private conference with the faculty member's Chairperson. The Chairperson must notify in writing the faculty member involved that a meeting has been arranged between the Chairperson and the student. Following the conference with the student, the Chairperson must meet privately with the faculty member to discuss the problem and attempt to resolve the conflict.

3. Should the grievance still not be resolved, it must be reported to the Dean of the College/School. The Dean should attempt to resolve the problem informally, meeting separately or jointly with the individuals involved. The Dean should prepare a written evaluative statement concerning the student-faculty conflict. All concerned parties must receive a copy of the Dean's statement within eight weeks from the beginning of the regular (Fall or Spring) semester.

4. If the conflict is still not resolved, the Dean of the College/School must notify the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs in writing of the unresolved grievance and must forward all paperwork to the Associate VPAA within one week of the issuance of the Dean's statement. Both parties to the grievance must be apprised of this action. The Associate Vice Provost shall decide whether the institution of a formal grievance is warranted. If a formal grievance is deemed warranted, a grievance committee must be convened.

C. Formal Resolution Procedure

1. Grievance Committee

(a) The Grievance Committee shall be composed of one faculty member from each College/School, appointed by the Dean of that College/School. Each faculty member shall be a voting member of the Committee. A representative from the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs will convene the Committee, chair the meetings, but will have no vote. Additionally, a representative from each of the following bodies shall hold non-voting, observer status on the Committee: the Office of the Dean of Students, and a graduate and undergraduate student. The Student Government Association will select an undergraduate student to serve as the representative, and The Graduate School will aid in identifying a graduate student to serves as the student representative. The Grievance Committee must be convened within two weeks after receipt of the paperwork from the Dean of the College/School.

(b) A new committee will be selected each year.

(c) The faculty member involved may appoint one advisor to be present during committee hearings. The aggrieved student may also bring an advisor to the hearings.

(d) If any committee member has a direct personal with any individual(s) involved in a particular case, the committee member must disqualify him/herself from serving on the committee while the case is being heard. If the impartiality of a committee member is questioned, the committee itself must reach a decision as to the continuance of the individual so questioned. If a member is disqualified, another individual from the same constituency shall be appointed to serve in his or her place.

2. Grievance Committee Procedure

(a) The Grievance Committee will hold hearings in two steps. In the first step the complainant will present the relevant charges and the complainant and the individual charged will present relevant evidence in support of their respective positions and ask questions of the other party. In the second step members of the Grievance Committee only will deliberate leading to a recommendation to be forwarded to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

(b) In advance of the hearing, the Chair of the Grade Grievance Committee shall notify the grievant, the individual charged with the unfair practice and the members of the committee of the time and place of the hearing, specification(s) of the complaint, composition of the committee and the right of the individual charged to be accompanied by an advisor. The advisors to the student and faculty member may be present when charges and evidence are presented to the committee.

(c) At any hearing, all parties with the exception of advisors may question witnesses.

(d) All committee hearings shall be confidential; witnesses shall be excluded except for the period of their questioning.

(e) The report and recommendation of the committee shall be in writing, including the committee's rationale for its decision and any dissenting opinion(s). Only those committee members who have heard all testimony and evidence in a given case may vote on a committee's recommendation. Class schedules of students and faculty members must be accommodated when setting committee meetings.

(f) If the committee finds in favor of the student, the committee's report and recommendation shall be forwarded to the Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University after completion of the hearing, and copies shall be provided to all parties of the complaint. If the committee finds in favor of the faculty member and no appeal to the committee's decision is filed within the specified time period, (see 3a below) the committee shall destroy all documents pertaining to that particular case.

3. Appeal Process
(a) If any parties to the complaint are not satisfied with the recommendation of the Grievance Committee, they may submit an appeal in writing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Such an appeal must be filed within five (5) calendar days after receipt of the recommendation of the Grievance Committee.

(b) Such an appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs shall be based upon: a contention that committee procedure may have had a prejudicial effect on the outcome of the report and recommendation; the discovery of new information after the committee hearing which may have an effect on the outcome of the hearing; and the belief that the committee recommendation was unsubstantiated by the evidence and documentation presented.

(c) The Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University shall weigh all evidence and recommendations and render a final written recommendation of the matter after the expiration of the five-day waiting period. All parties to the grievance must receive copies of the Vice President's recommendation.

(d) If the Vice President is in agreement with the committee's findings in favor of the faculty member, the Vice President must destroy all documents pertaining to that case. If, however, the Vice President for Academic Affairs finds in favor of the student, a recommendation for change of grade should be made by the Vice President to the faculty member. A copy of this recommendation should go to the Chairperson of the Department, the Dean of the College/School, and the Dean of Students. All procedural actions must be completed within the semester they are initiated.

(e) Department Chairs, Deans, Vice Presidents, etc. should not attempt to discuss or resolve any grade grievance unless the above procedure has been faithfully adhered to.
Note: No individual involved in the appeal process should hear, initiate, or attempt to resolve a grade grievance unless the Grade Grievance Procedure, obtainable at Department Chair's offices or at the Office of the Dean of Students, has been properly followed.

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Graduate Program Coordinators

A critical partner in your graduate school experience, your Graduate Program Coordinator can help you with course selection, overall curriculum planning, research opportunities, comprehensive experience, and career goals. Learn more about our Graduate Program Coordinators and their programs. For more information, visit the WESS system’s Student Records page or call us at 973-655-5147.  For further assistance, visit our Student Services page.

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Incomplete Work/Grades

  • The grade of “Incomplete” (IN) is used when a student has not completed the required coursework and indicates that a grade is being withheld until the required work is completed and approved for credit.
  • The IN grade is always a privilege exercised by the instructor. It is not a right ascribed to a student. The instructor is not required to provide an IN grade and it may not be used to avoid the receipt of a low grade.
  • In order to receive an IN grade, the student must initiate the request no later than the last day of class.
  • The student and instructor will develop a formal agreement specifying the conditions for removing the IN grade, using the Contract for an Incomplete Grade . This contract must be submitted by the instructor with his or her Grade Roster.
  • In order for an IN grade to be removed, a student must complete his/her work by the following dates:
    • February 15 for an IN grade assigned in the previous fall/winter semester
    • June 30 for an IN grade assigned for the previous spring and/or summer semesters
  • If there is a reason to extend the deadline for the removal of an IN grade, the student must make this request by submitting a Request of Extension of an Incomplete Grade form to the appropriate department Chairperson and/or School/College Dean.

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Independent Study

  • Montclair State graduate students wishing to register for courses on an independent study basis must take the following steps:
    • Obtain an Independent Study Application form from the Office of the Registrar.
    • This application must be completed in full and approved by the instructor and department chair prior to registration.
    • The full course name, subject code, and course number minus the section number, must be included on the application.

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Request for Course Withdrawal Exception

  • Students wishing to withdraw from a class that they are registered for must withdraw through WESS. If you are having trouble dropping a class through WESS, you should contact the Registrar’s Office as soon as possible.
  • If you decide not to attend a class, it is your responsibility to withdraw from that class. If you do not withdraw, you will be billed and graded for that class.
  • Students may withdraw from a class from time of registration through the ninth week, or mid-point, for short term and Summer Sessions, without faculty permission and without academic penalty.
  • Once you withdraw, a WD will appear on your transcript with no effect on your grade point or cumulative averages. Please note the following:
    •  You are responsible for officially withdrawing from the course, for all costs for the course, and for familiarity with all policies relating to course withdrawal.
    • The university’s refund policy is available in the Web Schedule of Courses book.

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Request for Withdrawal from a Semester due to Extenuating Life Circumstances

  • While rare, there are certain extreme extenuating circumstances that may prevent a student from completing the semester beyond the ninth week of classes and which require withdrawal from the entire semester. These life circumstances may include:
    • Death of a parent or spouse
    • Incapacitating accident
    • Extended hospitalization
  • The following reasons are not considered extenuating life circumstances for withdrawal from courses after the nine-week mark:
    • Failure to attend a class
    • Failure to drop a course
    • Failing work
    • Lack of attendance
    • Dislike of the instructor
    • Wrong course choice
    • Lack of interest in the course
    • Conflict in teaching style
  • Requests for withdrawal from a course after the ninth week of classes must be completed within the semester and must be made by the last day of classes before finals week starts. Note that retroactive requests will NOT be considered.
  • If requests for withdrawal from all classes are honored, a grade of WD will be awarded. Requests for withdrawal from individual courses will not be considered after the nine-week point of the semester.
  • All requests for withdrawals from all courses can be made by following the steps below:
    • Submitting a completed Request for Course Withdrawal Exception form (LINK), which is available online or from the Dean of Students Office, together with required documentation substantiating the extreme life circumstance that prevents the completion of a semester.
    • Once these materials are submitted, a student may be required to meet with a member of the Dean of Students’ staff.
    • The Dean of Students Office will send a completed form to the instructor(s) informing them that the student’s request for withdrawal due to extenuating life circumstances has been verified.
    • The instructor(s) will issue a grade or grades of WD.
    • The Dean of Students will notify the student of the final determination after talking to the respective instructors.
    • If requests for withdrawal are not approved, the Dean of Students will recommend that the student go directly to his or her advisor.

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Repeating a Course

  • While students who receive a grade of “F” in a course are not normally permitted to repeat that course, the Graduate Program Coordinator has the discretion to make exceptions in special cases or when extenuating circumstances exist. The Graduate Program Coordinator will forward his/her decision to The Graduate School for final approval.
  • To begin this process, you will need to complete the Repeat Course form
  • When a course is repeated, your transcript will be changed so that an “RF” grade replaces the original “F” grade. Once the course has been completed, the “F” grade will be removed from the GPA calculation and replaced with the new earned grade.
  • Should you complete a course you previously failed without permission, a grade of “NC” or No Credit will be posted on your transcript.

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Study at Another Institution/Transferring Credits

  • No more than six semester hours of credit completed at another accredited college or university or at Montclair State University may be transferred into a graduate degree program.
  • Courses eligible for transfer to Montclair State University must be graduate-level courses with earned grades of “B” or better.
  • All transfer credits must be approved by your Graduate Program Coordinator and The Graduate School upon receipt of the Transfer Credit form

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Time Limit for Completion of Program of Study

All graduate programs must be completed within the degree-specific deadlines below:

  • Students who enter the Doctoral program with a Master's Degree will have 7 years from the date of matriculation, excluding any leaves of absence, to complete their degree.*
  • Students who enter the Doctoral program with a Baccalaureate degree will have 10 years from the date of matriculation, excluding any leaves of absence, to complete their degree.*
  • Students in master’s degree programs other than the MBA or MFA programs have up to six years to earn their degrees.
  • Students in the MBA program have eight years to complete their degrees.
  • MFA candidates must study full-time and have two years to complete their degrees.
  • To receive a master’s degree, you must:
    • Complete the prescribed number of semester hours and courses required by your program (minimum of 32 semester hours)
    • Attain a 3.0 GPA in your program of study
    • Not present more than 2 “C” or lower grades toward your degree at your final audit
  • All requirements for post-baccalaureate/post-master’s certifications must be completed within five years of matriculation.
  • Certificate program requirements must be completed within three years of matriculation.
  • Under certain circumstances, a one-time extension of one-year may be granted. Students who need an extension must submit the "Request for Graduate Extension of Matriculation" form.

* Doctoral students who have a Master's degree in a different field of study may have additional credits incoroporated into their work program.  In this case, these students may be classified as post-Baccalaureate status.

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Withdrawal from Montclair State University/Graduate Program

  • Students who wish to officially withdraw from Montclair State University must submit this Withdrawal Form
  • If the student is withdrawing from more than one graduate program (certificate, Masters) a separate Withdrawal Form must be submitted for each graduate program.
  • Submitting the form will NOT withdraw a student from any registered classes. It is the student's responsibility to officially withdraw via WESS from all registered classes. Students will be held responsible for all tuition and fees incurred for registered classes.

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