Spring 2018 Graduate and Professional Studies Catalog 
    Oct 07, 2022  
Spring 2018 Graduate and Professional Studies Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic and General Policies

ADULT DEGREE COMPLETION STUDENTS: Please click HERE  for Academic and General Policies that apply to all Adult Degree Completion programs.

University Policies

Credit Hour Policy:

According to the United States Department of Education with regard to the credit hour definition, one semester unit represents an hour (minimum fifty minutes) of class time per week for at least 15 weeks (Carnegie definition). Two hours of preparation are normal for each hour of class. 

Face-to-face instructional hours are equivalent to the following:

1 credit hour = 750 minutes instructional time

2 credit hours = 1500 minutes

3 credit hours = 2250 minutes

4 credit hours = 3000 minutes

Web-Facilitated courses use web-based technology to facilitate what is essentially a face to face course. These offerings can be up to 25% online/web-based work.

Hybrid or Blended courses use online and face to face delivery.  A substantial proportion of the content (between 26% and 79%) is delivered online, and it typically uses online discussion and has a reduced number of face to face meetings.

Online courses have the majority of content online and typically do not have face to face meetings. 

 Academic unit leadership will monitor the unit of credit policy through the course syllabus, schedule, and faculty governance policies and procedures.

Academic Honesty

The Point Loma Nazarene University community holds the highest standards of honesty and integrity in all aspects of university life.  Any violation of the university’s commitment is a serious affront to the very nature of Point Loma’s mission and purpose.

Violations of academic honesty include cheating, plagiarism, falsification, identity fraud, aiding academic dishonesty, and malicious interference.

Cheating is the use of unauthorized assistance that results in an unfair advantage over other students. It includes but is not limited to: bringing and/or using unauthorized notes, technology or other study aids during an examination; looking at other students’ work during an exam or in an assignment where collaboration is not allowed; attempting to communicate with other students in order to get help during an exam or in an assignment where collaboration is not allowed; obtaining an examination prior to its administration; allowing another person to do one’s work and submitting it as one’s own; submitting work done in one class for credit in another without the instructor’s permission.

Plagiarism is the use of an idea, phrase, or other materials from a source without proper acknowledgment of that source. It includes but is not limited to: the use of an idea, phrase, or other materials from a source without proper acknowledgment of that specific source in a work for which the student claims authorship; the misrepresentation and/or use of sources used in a work for which the student claims authorship; the use of papers purchased online as all or part of an assignment for which the student claims authorship; submitting written work, such as laboratory reports, computer programs, or papers, which have been copied from the work of other students, with or without their knowledge and consent.

Falsification is the alteration of information or forging of signatures on academic forms or documents. It includes but is not limited to: using improper methods of collecting or generating data and presenting them as legitimate; altering graded work and submitting it for re-grading; falsifying information on official academic documents such as drop/add forms, incomplete forms, petitions, recommendations, letters of permission, transcripts or any other university document; misrepresenting oneself or one’s status in the university.

Academic identity fraud is the act of allowing a person to impersonate the registered student, by doing the academic work and by submitting it as if it were the work of the registered person. This encompasses both face to face and online environments. It includes, but is not limited to: having another person complete a course assignment, take an examination, respond to discussion board questions, or complete any kind of academic exercise on behalf of the registered student. In such cases, it may be considered collusion to commit fraud on the part of both parties.

Aiding academic dishonesty is assisting another person in violating the standards of academic honesty. It includes but is not limited to: allowing other students to look at one’s own work during an exam or in an assignment where collaboration is not allowed; providing information, material, or assistance to another person knowing that it may be used in violation of academic honesty policies; providing false information in connection with any academic honesty inquiry.

Malicious intent is misuse of academic resources or interference with the legitimate academic work of other students. It includes but is not limited to: removing books, journals, or pages of these from the library without formal checkout; hiding library materials; refusing to return reserve readings to the library; damaging or destroying the projects, lab, or studio work or other academic product of fellow students.

A student remains responsible for the academic honesty of work submitted in PLNU courses and the consequences of academic dishonesty beyond receipt of the final grade in the class and beyond the awarding of the diploma. Ignorance of these catalog policies will not be considered a valid excuse or defense. Students may not withdraw from a course as a response to a consequence.

Response Procedure

The following response procedure is recommended to faculty who discover a violation of academic honesty:

  1. Fact-Finding: The faculty member should attempt to speak or otherwise communicate informally with the student as the first step.
  2. Communication of Consequence: Once the violation is discovered, the instructor should send a written communication to the student regarding the incident and the consequences. Instructors can give students an “F” on a specific assignment or an “F” in the course as a consequence of violations of academic honesty. In cases of academic identity fraud, the act or acts could be interpreted as a criminal offense and could mean administrative withdrawal from Point Loma Nazarene University.
  3. Internal Communication: The instructor must send a report of the incident to the program director, department chair or school dean, the college dean, and the Vice Provost for Academic Administration. The report should include a description of the violation, the action taken, and evidence of the violation. The official record of the incident is maintained by the Office of Records.
  4. Further Action: If a student has been guilty of prior instances of misconduct, additional disciplinary steps may be taken by the program director or the college dean in consultation with the reporting instructor(s). These additional steps should be communicated to the student in writing and reported to the Vice Provost for Academic Administration for inclusion in the student record. Depending upon the seriousness of the incident or pattern of incidents, further actions can include probation, suspension, or expulsion.

Appeal Procedure

The following appeal procedure should be used by a student who wishes to appeal consequences associated with a finding of academic dishonesty.

  1. Instructor: The student should present a written appeal of the penalty to the instructor involved. The instructor should respond in writing, with a copy of the student appeal and instructor response also sent to the program director.
  2. Program Director or School Dean: In the event that satisfactory resolution to the appeal is not achieved between the student and the instructor, the student may submit the appeal in writing to the program director or school dean, who will review the appeal and send a written ruling to the student and instructor, college dean and Vice Provost for Academic Administration.
  3. College Dean: Student appeals not resolved at the departmental or school level should be taken to the appropriate college dean for review. The college dean will review the appeal and send a written ruling to the student, instructor, and department chair or school dean, and Vice Provost for Academic Administration.
  4. Administrative Committee: Student appeals not resolved at the college dean level can be submitted to an administrative committee including the uninvolved college dean, an uninvolved school dean, and a member of the Graduate and Extended Studies Committee appointed by the Provost, and the Vice Provost for Academic Administration. The appeal decision reached by this committee is final.

Academic Behavior Policy

Both faculty and students at Point Loma Nazarene University have the right to expect a safe and ordered environment for learning. Any student behavior that is disruptive or threatening is a serious affront to Point Loma Nazarene University as a learning community. Students who fail to adhere to appropriate academic behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Although faculty members communicate general student expectations in their syllabi and disruptive student conduct is already addressed in the Graduate and Professional Studies Student Handbook, the purpose of this policy is to clarify what constitutes disruptive behavior in the academic setting and what actions faculty and relevant administrative offices may take in response to such disruptive student behavior.

“Disruption,” as applied to the academic setting, means classroom, instructor or classmate-related or online student behavior that a reasonable faculty member would view as interfering with or deviating from normal classroom, class-related, or other faculty-student activity (advising, co-curricular involvement, etc.). Faculty members are encouraged to communicate positive behavior expectations at the first class session and to include them in course syllabi. Examples of disruptive classroom behavior include, but are not limited to:

  • persistent speaking without being recognized or interrupting the instructor or other speakers;
  • overt inattentiveness (sleeping or reading the newspaper in class);
  • inordinate or inappropriate demands for instructor or classroom time or attention;
  • unauthorized use of cell phone or computer;
  • behavior that distracts the class from the subject matter or discussion;
  • unwanted contact with a classmate in person, via social media or other means;
  • inappropriate public displays of affection;
  • refusal to comply with reasonable instructor direction;
  • invasion of personal space, physical threats, harassing behavior or personal insults and/or
  • rude, insensitive or uncivil behavior in online course discussion boards.

The policy applies if the behavior is reported by a faculty member or academic administrator and occurs exclusively or primarily in a student-faculty member interaction whether in a physical or online classroom environment. Incidents which involve both academic and non-academic behavior may result in responses coordinated by the Vice Provost for Academic Administration and the academic program director.

Civil and polite expression of disagreement with the course instructor, during times when the instructor permits discussion, is not in itself disruptive behavior and is not prohibited.

Some students possess medical or psychological conditions that may affect functioning within the standards of the university. Although such students may be considered disabled and are protected under the Rehabilitation Act/ADA, they are required to meet the fundamental university academic and behavioral policy as described in the Graduate and Professional Studies Student Handbook, the Graduate and Professional Studies Catalog and/or faculty syllabi.

Response Procedure

The following response procedure is recommended to faculty who witness or experience disruptive behavior, either in the classroom or in contact with an enrolled student outside the classroom. Depending on its severity, disruptive behavior would result in responses from an escalated use of the strategies below:

  1. Verbal and/or written request to stop behavior and warning of potential consequences.
  2. Exclusion from the current class period/activity.
  3. E-mailed report to dean, Vice Provost for Academic Administration and the program director (in cases of a severe instance, or multiple instances) depending on faculty wish and severity, may result in:
  • Filing of report and no further action.
  • Student meeting with VPAA and the academic program director to develop and sign classroom behavior and growth plan detailing appropriate behaviors and consequences for failure to comply.

Depending on the frequency and severity of the student behavior, consequences may include permanent exclusion from a specific class up to and including administrative withdrawal from the university.

Note: Faculty should immediately report by phone students in an academic context who express either intent to harm themselves or to harm others to the Office of the VPAA or the academic program director, in that order. (University personnel observing non-academic behavior incidents on the part of graduate students should report non-academic incidents to the academic program director or building manager.)  If events occur in classes after university business hours, faculty should call Department of Public Safety and ask to speak to the highest ranking officer who will notify administrative personnel. Students who report a tendency to self-harm will not be subject to disciplinary action for making PLNU officials aware of that tendency.

Education Records (FERPA) and Directory Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 as amended affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These include: 1) the right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the university receives a request for access, 2) the right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading, 3) the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, and 4) the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Point Loma to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

FERPA has specifically identified certain information called directory information that may be disclosed without student consent. Although directory information may be disclosed without student consent, PLNU is not required to release directory information.

The university has defined directory information as name, address (including electronic mail), telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, enrollment status, degrees, honors and awards received, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, degree candidacy, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended. This information may be provided, upon review by the Vice Provost for Academic Administration, as public information or to individuals who demonstrate a valid need to contact students.

Periodically, PLNU conducts formal and informal photo and video shoots (around the campus and at off-campus events and activities) for use in university publications, social media, promotional videos/commercials, and the PLNU Web site. Students who require that no identifiable image be used by the university must notify Marketing and Creative Services in writing prior to the second Monday of each semester. Students should email their request to photo-optout@pointloma.edu and include their full name and student ID number. In addition, PLNU may submit information about students’ participation in school activities to media outlets. Students who require that their names be excluded from such stories must notify Marketing and Creative Services in writing prior to the second Monday of each semester.

The university may disclose education records to college officials with legitimate educational interests. A college official is a person employed by the university; a member of the Board of Trustees; or an individual serving on a committee, such as disciplinary or grievance committees. A college official has a legitimate educational interest if the information aids the official in fulfilling professional functions. PLNU also includes among college officials a student appointed to an official committee or assisting another official in performing tasks and outside service providers who perform an institutional service of function such as attorneys, auditors, and the National Student Clearinghouse. The university may also disclose education records to post-secondary institutions in which a student is seeking or intending to enroll, or is already attending if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.

Questions relative to FERPA policies should be referred to the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Administration or may be referenced at FERPA.

Application for Graduation

A student who intends to graduate must complete an Application for Degree Candidacy (online or in the Office of Records in Mission Valley). The form must be filed with the Office of Records no less than 60 days prior to the anticipated degree posting date. Graduation fees will be applied to the student’s account. Work for all courses considered for a degree must be completed prior to the anticipated degree posting date. Passing grades for all courses must be recorded prior to a degree posting. Posting dates are available on the academic calendar. If all program requirements for the semester of application are not completed, the student must reapply for graduation.


Examinations may be deferred due only to illness or other equally valid conditions over which the student has no control. Approval for deferral must occur before the scheduled examination. Faculty and/or the department or school has the authority to grant examination deferral.

Class Attendance

Regular and punctual attendance at all class sessions is considered essential to optimum academic achievement. Therefore, regular attendance and participation in each course are minimal requirements. Absences are counted from the first official meeting of the class regardless of the date of the student’s enrollment. If more than 20 percent of the classes are reported as missed, the faculty member may initiate the student’s de-enrollment from the course without advance notice to the student. If the date of de-enrollment is past the last date to withdraw from a class, the student will be assigned a grade of “F” or “NC.” There are no refunds for courses where a de-enrollment was processed.

A student who registers late must, therefore, be exceptionally careful about regular attendance during the remainder of the course. Registered students who neither attend the first class session nor inform the instructor of record of their desire to remain in the class may, at the request of the instructor, be removed from the class roster.

Exceptions to the foregoing attendance regulations due to extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control may be granted only by appeal to the Vice Provost for Academic Administration. Students should consult the syllabus of each course for specific applications of and elaborations on the above attendance policy.

Online Class Attendance

Students taking online courses are expected to attend each week of the course. Attendance is defined as participating in an academic activity within the online classroom which includes posting in a graded activity in the course. (Note: Logging into the course does not qualify as participation and will not be counted as meeting the attendance requirement.)

Students who do not attend at least once in any 3 consecutive days will be issued an attendance warning. Students who do not attend at least once in any 7 consecutive days will be dropped from the course retroactive to the last date of recorded attendance. 

Students who anticipate being absent for an entire week of a course should contact the instructor in advance for approval and make arrangements to complete the required coursework  and/or alternative assignments assigned at the discretion of the instructor.  Acceptance of late work is at the discretion of the instructor and does not waive attendance requirements.

Academic Accommodations

While all students are expected to meet the minimum standards for completion of their courses as established by the instructor, students with disabilities may require academic accommodations. All such students in Point Loma Nazarene University graduate programs are requested to indicate a desire for accommodation to the program director (department chair or school dean). The program director will give the student information about how to contact the Graduate and Professional Studies disabilities advisor to begin the official process of requesting an accommodation. This policy assists the university in its commitment to full compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Section 504 (a) prohibits discrimination against students with special needs and guarantees all qualified students equal access to and benefits of PLNU programs and activities. Once documentation is filed, students may contact instructors to discuss reasonable and appropriate accommodations to meet individual learning needs.

Registration and Records


A complete and official transcript is available from the Office of Records. Official transcripts cost $5.00 each and can be ordered through the student/alumni portal or by going to the National Student Clearinghouse website (https://mystudentcenter.org/).  Requests not submitted through online ordering require an Official Transcript form from the Records Office website and a student’s handwritten signature. Transcripts marked for pick up will not be released to anyone other than the student except by a signed, written authorization submitted to the Records Office; photo i.d. is required for pick up.  Unofficial transcripts are free and available through the student portal as well as at the Office of Records. Expedited processing and mailing options may be available for an additional fee.

Course Offerings and Class Schedules

All course offerings are posted on the university website. The university reserves the right to cancel any class with insufficient enrollment and make necessary changes in its schedule and programs.

Course Numbering System

400-499 Upper-division courses open to post-baccalaureate students with the approval of the school dean or department chair upon the recommendation of the program director/coordinator.
500-599 Transition or post-baccalaureate courses applicable to a certificate, credential, or a master’s degree program.
600-699 Graduate courses applied to a master’s degree program.
700-799 Post Masters courses open to students who hold a valid master’s degree.


Some courses listed in this Graduate Catalog stipulate either a prerequisite or a co-requisite. A prerequisite is a condition or requirement that must be fulfilled prior to enrolling in a course, such as a specific student classification, permission of the instructor, or another course. A co-requisite refers to a condition or a requirement that must be met prior to or concurrent with enrollment in a course.

Add/Drop Policy

Adding a Class. The deadline for students to register for courses is the last day of the second week of the semester or the last day of the first week of a Quad. Exceptions to this deadline will only be considered if students have extenuating circumstances beyond their control and the student completes a change of schedule form, with the approval of the school dean/department chair and the Vice Provost for Academic Administration. The form is then filed with the Office of Records.

Dropping a Class. Students may drop a course through the first 50% of the period of offering; enrollment will be deleted from the student’s permanent record. After that, a student with extenuating personal circumstances may request permission of the program director (or the representative director in the case of programs in the School of Education) to withdraw from the course. If approved, a W will appear on the transcript with no impact on the GPA. If the petition is not approved or not submitted, the grade of WF will be assigned or a letter grade in accordance with the grading policy noted in the syllabus as determined by the instructor of record. Students should consider refund and transcript implications when dropping a class.

Maximum and Minimum Course Loads

The maximum course load for a graduate program is 12 units in a semester. Overloads may be carried with the written approval of the Vice Provost for Academic Administration on the recommendation of the school dean/department chair. This must be filed with the Office of Records prior to the applicable registration period. For financial aid purposes, the minimum full-time course load for graduate students is six units per semester. For further information regarding financial aid, students should contact their Student Financial Services representative.

Independent Study

Independent studies at the university level enable students to enrich their academic experience by pursuing topics and research in a closely supervised program with an academic supervisor. In such a study, a qualified student works with the instructor to develop a plan and syllabus. Graduate students may receive credit for up to six units of independent study to be applied to their degree program. No more than four units may be received from one project or study.

An independent study form and proposal must be submitted with a registration form to the program director, with an approved copy filed with the Office of Records. The independent study must be approved by the instructor, department chair or school dean, and the respective college dean.  Independent study fees may apply depending on circumstances.

Grades and Appeals Process

Grading System

Traditional letter grades (A, B, C, D, F) including plus and minus grades are used to indicate the level of scholarship earned for each course. Except for the correction of an error, all traditional letter grades are final at the conclusion of the academic term. Once the degree has been posted on the student’s official transcript, no change of grade action is allowed for courses leading to the degree. The grade of C is the lowest grade acceptable for graduate credit.

[H] Audit. The grade assigned when a course is taken as an audit course. A student wishing only exposure to a course may elect to audit the course. The student registers in the regular manner and pays an audit fee. Regular attendance at all class meetings is the responsibility of the student, but written assignments and examinations are not mandatory. A grade of H is entered only for satisfactory attendance; a grade of F is entered for non-attendance. Courses audited carry no credit toward the grade-point average, graduation requirements, or meeting professional requirements. Audit units count toward the student’s course load, except in determining financial aid, and may be repeated.

[CR] Credit. The grade utilized for designated courses which are graded on a Credit/No Credit basis. Courses graded Credit are counted toward a student’s total number of units but have no grade-point value and no effect on the grade-point average.

[I] Incomplete. A grade of Incomplete is given for work which has been completed partially in a satisfactory manner, but which, for valid reasons such as illness or death in the family, is not finished. The grade of I is to be given only on the basis of extraordinary circumstances clearly beyond the student’s control. The grade of I is regarded as a deficiency grade and may be removed by the assignment of additional work to make up the deficiency; or, in cases where the incomplete is assigned because of inability to take a final examination, by a special examination. A grade of Incomplete must be made up, if at all, by the end of the next regular semester. Until made up, a grade of I is considered as F in determining the student’s grade-point average, and eligibility for financial assistance. Note: Federal fair use policy requires ending access to Canvas resources after three weeks. Instructors should keep this in mind when establishing incomplete grade resolution requirements and deadlines.

[IP] In Progress. A provisional grade assigned to courses, such as fieldwork courses, that extend longer than a semester due to the nature of the course requirements. The grade of IP carries no grade points and is replaced by the grade earned when the requirements for the course are properly completed. If the work is not completed within one calendar year from the end of the semester date of enrollment, the course registration will be concluded and a grade of No Credit [NC] assigned or a grade based on completed work for computation into the grade-point average.

[NC] No Credit. The grade recorded for all non-passing work in those courses graded on a Credit/No Credit basis. The NC grade has no grade-point value and no effect on the grade-point average. In order to complete an NC course to meet degree or credential requirements, including one that was an IP and reverted to NC, a student assigned this grade must register again for the course.

[W] Withdrawn. This grade is recorded when a student doing passing work is given permission by the program or Branch Campus director to drop a course after the first 50 % of the course (for exceptional circumstances such as personal and family emergency).

[WF] Withdrawn under failing conditions. This grade is recorded when a student does not request permission or whose petition to withdraw from a class is denied after 50% of the class has passed. A grade of WF is considered the same as an F in calculating the grade-point average.

Grade Points. Letter grades are converted to numerical equivalents for computation according to the following scale.


Courses in which grades of H, IP, W, CR, and NC are received are not included in determining the grade-point average.

Minimum Grades Required. Except as indicated below, all students admitted to a post-baccalaureate program must maintain a grade-point average of 3.000 (B) or better as a condition of remaining in the program.

  • The minimum acceptable grade-point average for Master of Ministry students is 2.750.
  • The grade-point average is computed on all courses taken since admission to graduate study. Courses accepted as transfer credit are not used in computing the grade-point average.
  • Students may repeat courses in which they earned a grade lower than a C. Students in the Master of Science in Nursing and Doctorate of Nursing Practice may repeat courses in which they earned a grade lower than a B. If this is done, each grade appears on the transcript, but the lower grade is not used for grade-point calculation. Students receiving Veterans Benefits may not be eligible for benefits when repeating a course.

Course Grade Appeals

It is the responsibility of the faculty to evaluate student performance and assign grades. The university has established a course grade appeal policy, however, that may be used when a student believes the syllabus was not followed in the grade calculation or if it is thought that grading was done in a capricious and arbitrary manner. The appeal policy does not include student dissatisfaction with a grade based on the faculty member’s professional judgment. A Course Grade Appeal Form is available at each campus location, in the Office of Records, and on the PLNU website and must be filed by the last day of the following semester in which the grade was given.

Academic Standing

Normal Academic Progress

The academic progress of all students is reviewed by the Vice Provost for Academic Administration. Those who maintain the minimum required grade-point average are in satisfactory scholastic standing and as such are making progress toward a degree. To remain free of academic probation, students must earn a minimum cumulative grade-point average specified by the program in which they are enrolled. A cumulative GPA of 3.000 is required of all programs with two exceptions: The Master of Ministry (M.Min.) degree  requires a cumulative GPA of 2.750 and the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree  requires a cumulative 3.200 GPA for graduation. 

Unsatisfactory Academic Progress

Point Loma takes seriously a student’s inability to make satisfactory progress toward the goal of a degree. The university works with students placed on academic probation to create links between them, faculty advisors, program directors, and other support programs. Policies concerning students on academic probation are administered by the Vice Provost for Academic Administration.

Note: Students who receive federal, state, or veterans aid must meet certain qualitative and quantitative standards of academic progress. As a result, it may be possible for a student to be on academic probation at the university but be ineligible for federal, state and veterans aid. Additional information on PLNU’s financial aid satisfactory progress policy is available in the PLNU Student Financial Services Office.

Academic Warning

Students whose semester or session GPA is below acceptable standards may receive a letter of Academic Warning.  This includes courses without final grades, such as in progress courses or incomplete courses.

Academic Probation Alert

Students whose cumulative GPA meets the minimum standard for academic good standing, but whose session GPA for a regular semester falls below the program minimum, are placed on alert status. While not technically on academic probation, these students are under the strict supervision of the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Administration and may be required to repeat courses in which they received a low grade.

Academic Probation

Students whose cumulative GPA falls below minimum standards are placed on academic probation. Probationary students who fail to earn the minimal required session GPA for their program the following semester are disqualified from continuing at the university.

Continuance on Academic Probation

Students who are on probation and earn at least the required GPA for their program during the current session, but whose cumulative GPA is below that standard, may be continued on academic probation at the discretion of the Vice Provost for Academic Administration, considering all factors. These students are under the strict supervision of the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Administration.

Academic Disqualification

Students whose cumulative GPAs fall below the minimum requirements for two consecutive semesters are disqualified. Students who are disqualified from continuation at the university due to performance below minimum GPA standard will receive a letter from the Vice Provost for Academic Administration describing the reason for the disqualification, the student’s eligibility or ineligibility to apply for readmission and the route to readmission if eligible.  

Degree Requirements

Applicable Catalog

Students in continuous enrollment may elect to graduate under the curricular requirements of either the Catalog for the year in which they enter the university or the Catalog of a subsequent year. Those whose enrollment is not continuous (i.e. not enrolled for more than one semester) as regular students are subject to the Catalog requirements for the year in which they re-enter the university or that of a subsequent year of enrollment. A student may not combine requirements from two or more catalogs.

Department/School Recommendation for a Degree

Prior to recommending a student for a degree, the department or school evaluates the student’s progress based on the department/school’s student learning outcomes, grade-point average, and other requirements. The Office of Records reviews documents prior to degree posting to assure that all requirements for graduation have been met. All work taken toward a degree must be completed in full before posting. Degrees are conferred six (6) times per year at the close of each traditional quad. Commencement convocation is held once a year at the close of the spring semester. All candidates who completed their work and had their degree posted in the current academic year may participate. A candidate who is deficient in meeting graduation requirements by an amount which could reasonably be earned in the summer sessions following may be permitted to participate in the spring commencement. These students are recognized publicly as summer graduates (indicated in the commencement program). The diploma is available to summer graduates upon satisfactory completion of all work for the degree after the closest degree confirmation date.

Time Limit for Completion of a Graduate Degree

All requirements for graduate degrees must be completed within an eight-year period from the time of initial enrollment in the program.

Certificate Requirements

Optional certificates are offered in some schools or departments.  The requirements governing certificates are as follows:

  • A certificate is a skill based program responsive to employer and/or market need that supplements a student’s graduate or degree completion studies.  Point Loma Nazarene University offers certificates which may be one of three types:  academic, professional development or attendance certificates.
  • Academic certificates will be between six (6) and eighteen (18) graduate level units.  Professional development certificates are based on a ten (10) hours per CEU formula. Attendance certificates are awarded on the basis of full session attendance.
  • 50% or more of the units being applied to the certificate must be unique to that certificate.
  • Only academic certificates that appear in the student’s catalog of record may be earned at the point of graduation.
  • Students must earn a 3.0 cumulative grade point average for an academic certificate with no grade lower than C. 
  • Of the total graduate units in the academic certificate, a minimum of two-thirds must be earned in residence.
  • Academic certificate programs will state clearly whether they can be applied to a PLNU degree.
  • Neither professional development nor attendance certificates can be converted to academic credit or applied to university programs or degrees.

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit is defined as graduate credit earned at another regionally accredited institution. Students may request transfer courses to be considered for application to a degree program. Any transfer courses to be considered for application to a degree program must be recommended by the school dean/department chair with final approval residing with the Vice Provost for Academic Administration. No more than six transfer units may be applied to a degree, and all coursework must have been completed within the last seven years at a regionally accredited institution and may not have been previously used for completion of a graduate degree program.

Curricular Exceptions

Occasionally, an exception to the requirements in this catalog may be appropriate. For consideration of a curricular exception, students must file a Curricular Exceptions petition (form available online) with their program advisor. The program advisor will make a recommendation to the appropriate school dean or department chair. If approved by the school/department, the petition will be forwarded to the Vice Provost for Academic Administration for final approval. Decisions regarding exceptions are based on the merit of each individual case.

All curricular exceptions combined may not exceed 20% of the total units required for the degree or credential. The rationale for such changes must be substantiated with official academic records that become part of the student’s PLNU academic records.

Examples of curricular exceptions include: a course replacement of a required course in the curriculum with a course taken at another institution; a course substitution of one PLNU course substituting for another PLNU course; and/or a course is waived, requiring the student to take an elective to replace the unit requirement for the program.

Thesis/Graduate Project

The purpose of a thesis or graduate project is to give students experience in carrying out the kind of research they may expect to do throughout their professional careers. A thesis/graduate project involves investigation of primary sources. It may involve a re-examination or re-evaluation of primary sources that others have already studied in an effort to confirm or revise the conclusions of others. It may involve a new program of testing and analyzing procedures or methods. It is intended to demonstrate the student’s ability to work independently on a problem, to demonstrate wide familiarity with the literature in the field of the program, to demonstrate command of the techniques and principles of research, and to demonstrate ability to form valid generalizations from the data used.

For those graduate programs requiring a thesis or applied project, the school or department has determined the unit credit required for completion of the thesis/applied project. Students will be assigned an advisor to assist and supervise their work. Students are expected to complete this final phase of their graduate study in a timely manner. If, however, the student requires additional time for completion, an extension fee will be charged each semester until the thesis/applied project grade is recorded (see fee schedule ).

Students who have not completed the thesis/applied project after registering for all the units of thesis work required for their major course of study will be routinely registered each subsequent semester for “thesis extension” until completion. This action will add a thesis extension fee, generating a bill but no additional units. Automatic registration will continue each semester until the final grade has been posted by the thesis advisor. This process allows the students to remain registered in the university system for library resources, computer system, and other support services.

The registration for the extension is automatic. However, if a student “opts out” of this option prior to completing thesis work, the course will be graded No Credit or F. For a student to opt back into the program to complete the thesis/applied project, the student is required to file a request for readmission and registration for the balance of units for the original required thesis course. In addition, the school/department makes a determination on the merits of the readmission request. If a balance exists in the student’s account, the payment of regular tuition and fees will be required prior to readmission.

Multiple Master’s Degrees

A graduate student may earn more than one master’s degree from Point Loma Nazarene University by meeting all university and academic department/school requirements and fulfilling all graduation requirements for each degree. When a second degree is pursued in the same academic discipline (e.g., the School of Education or the Fermanian School of Business, etc.), two-thirds of the courses for the second degree must be distinct from the first degree.

Students desiring to pursue two graduate programs concurrently must apply for program eligibility for both programs and be accepted into those programs. In addition, they must meet with the program director of both graduate degree programs in order to plan the joint course of study. Concurrent graduate program students must meet the requirements of both programs, as stated above.

Withdrawal and Readmission

Withdrawal from the University

There are times when a student finds it necessary to withdraw from the university. In order to avoid being administratively withdrawn, courses and incompletes being converted to a failing grade, and financial payments going into default, students are required to notify the Office of Records and complete a Notice of Intent to Withdraw from the university. If withdrawal occurs while a student is registered for classes, students must follow the procedures listed below for withdrawing from a course.

Withdrawal from a Course

Students may drop a course at any time up to the last day allowable to drop a course. If this action leaves the student with no further courses, a withdrawal form (available online) must be filed in a timely manner. Students with extenuating circumstances, such as personal or family emergencies after the last day to drop, may contact the Vice Provost for Academic Administration. If the action is approved, courses are then graded with a W (withdrawal) unless the faculty deems the student’s performance to be unsatisfactory at the time of withdrawal, at which point a WF grade would be assigned.

Students who cease attending or never attended a course for which they are registered receive an F in that course if accepted procedures for dropping/withdrawing are not followed.

Financial implications for withdrawals may be found under “Refund Policy .”

Leave of Absence

Students may apply for a leave of absence from their program. For those receiving financial aid, the maximum leave of absence allowed is 180 days in any 12 month period for professional or personal reasons. Students with an approved leave of absence continue to be considered “in-school status” for Title IV loan repayment purposes.

A leave of absence form must be submitted for approval to the appropriate academic department or school, must be accompanied by the student’s signature, and must have a reasonable expectation for return to the university within the specified time. Upon return, students must resume coursework at the same point in their academic program.

The completed leave of absence form is filed in the Office of Records. Failure to return in a timely manner initiates an administrative withdrawal from the university as of the initiating date of the leave of absence. When leaving and returning from the leave of absence, the student is required to confirm with the Office of Records which academic catalog will apply to their program once they continue their program. This withdrawal may have financial aid implications, such as the expiration of a loan’s grace period and may cause a student loan to immediately be in repayment.


Students who have been admitted to the university, have attended classes, and have subsequently withdrawn formally or taken a leave of absence for more than one semester (or two sequential Quads) must complete a Readmit form through the Office of Graduate Admissions. Students who have been administratively withdrawn must submit a new application and pay a new application fee in all cases. Students who have not been enrolled for three calendar years from the last date of attendance must submit a new application and pay a new application fee for graduate admission. Students who are successfully readmitted are subject to the program requirements of the catalog under which they re-enter unless a leave of absence has been granted.

Administrative Withdrawal

Students who have not attended or enrolled in a course for one semester, are not currently completing coursework, have not filed an approved leave of absence with the Office of Records, and have not officially withdrawn, will be administratively withdrawn. Such withdrawal may have financial aid implications. Students with this status must submit a new application to the university and to their degree program.

Official Catalog

As the online catalog is considered to be the official document relative to academic program offerings and charges, any print-outs of pages taken from the online version are, by definition, unofficial.