HLC FAQ: 4. Prior Course Work FAQs

HLC

a. How is prior course (“transfer” credits) handled?

b. Can prior course work be allowed to satisfy a program’s minor requirement?

c. Are there limits for how many credits a student may use to fulfillment requirements with post-baccalaureate graduate course work taken from other institutions? For example, can we count a large number of graduate-level credits from a master’s degree earned at another institution?

d. Can programs accept prior course work earned several years ago?

e. Are there limits for how many credits a student may use to fulfill requirements with graduate-level courses taken as a UW-Madison undergraduate?

f. May a program allow prior course work taken as an undergraduate from an accredited undergraduate program count toward a UW-Madison accredited graduate program? 

g. Is graduate course work taken as an undergraduate at another institution eligible to be counted as prior course work?  Or must all prior course work from another institution be graduate course work earned while post-baccalaureate student?

h. Our program reviews prior course work for students in order to determine which (if any) program learning goals have been met.  In turn, this informs the type of course work these students should take at UW-Madison for the program.  In addition, sometimes the prior course work reviewed is outside of the new stated parameters listed in the new Prior Course Work requirements.  How should this be handled/considered?

i. How are “University Special”  student credits earned at UW-Madison handled?

j. The prior course work policy stipulates that course work earned five or more years prior to admissions to a master’s degree or course work earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.  Does this apply only to identified prior course work categories or also to any course work taken while enrolled as a UW-Madison graduate student)?

k. How much prior course work can be allowed to count toward all/any degrees in the graduate career?

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a. How is prior course (“transfer” credits) handled?

The Graduate School does not articulate transfer credits (in other words, these credits do not appear on the graduate portion of the transcript).  Programs may desire to accept prior work from post-baccalaureate graduate courses taken at other institutions and/or use credits from the UW-Madison while the student was enrolled as an undergraduate and/or University Special student toward the graduate degree requirements. The new policy for prior work allows for all of these explicitly with some limitations on the number of credits and to which minimum requirements they apply. However, course work earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or course work earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not be allowed to satisfy requirements. A summary of the prior course work policies and additional FAQs are provided below. Please note that an individual graduate program may choose to be more restrictive.



 

**Prior Graduate Course Work from Other Institution(s)

**Course Work from Undergraduate Career at UW-Madison (up to 7 credits total)

**Transfer from University Special Student Career at UW-Madison (up to 15 credits total)

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

No

No

 

*Allowed up to 15 credits numbered 300 or above
if difference in tuition is paid.

 

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

*Allowed

*Allowed up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above

Minimum Graduate Course Work (50%) Requirement

*Allowed

*Allowed up to 7 credits numbered 700 or above

*Allowed up to 15 credits numbered 700 or above if difference in tuition is paid.

* Fulfillment of requirements is allowed in these instances only if approved by the student’s graduate
program up to any stated maximum.
** Course work earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or course work earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


b. Can prior course work be allowed to satisfy a program’s minor requirement?
If a graduate program has a minor requirement, prior coursework can be used toward the minor requirement in accordance with the policies listed in the above chart. If courses towards the minor are taken while the student was enrolled as a University Special student, the difference in tuition must be paid. As is true now, course work earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy minor requirements.


c. Are there limits for how many credits a student may use to fulfillment requirements with post-baccalaureate graduate course work taken from other institutions? For example, can we count a large number of graduate-level credits from a master’s degree earned at another institution?
Some departments/programs already limit how many credits a student may use to fulfill requirements from post-baccalaureate graduate work completed prior to attending graduate school at UW-Madison.  Currently, there are no Graduate School policy concerning limits on how many post-baccalaureate graduate-level credits from other institutions a student may use to fulfill program requirements as long as there is adherence to the following related policies:  the minimum graduate residence requirement, no course work older than five years from admission to a master’s degree or ten years from admission to a doctoral degree, or any program-level restrictions.

For many programs, the allowance of prior course work to fulfill program requirements will need to be reviewed on an individual basis with an evaluation of syllabi, course descriptions, and/or transcripts.  In other programs, it may be permissible to review prior course work in the aggregate assuming specific guidelines (and the rationale for them) are made clear and transparent in their program website and handbook.  For example, a program might allow prior course work from an accredited master’s degree in specifically identified fields from another institution to count toward a doctoral degree. 


d. Can programs accept prior course work earned several years ago?
Please note that course work earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or course work earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.  In certain instances, a program may appeal and justify the use of credits that exceed these restrictions if specific criteria for remaining current in the field can be identified and defended.  For example, if an accredited master’s degree/course work is over five years old, the program might allow the prior course work to satisfy program requirements if the student can demonstrate how they have remained current in the field through continuous certification.  The program would need to state clear guidelines (and the rationale for them) in their program website and handbook. 


e. Are there limits for how many credits a student may use to fulfill requirements with graduate-level courses taken as a UW-Madison undergraduate?
Some departments/programs already limit how many credits a student may use to fulfill requirements from work done prior to attending graduate school at UW-Madison.  For well-prepared advanced UW-Madison undergraduate students, the program may choose to count up to seven credits numbered 300 or above (as detailed above) to satisfy minimum degree credit requirements. If courses are numbered 700 level and above they can count toward the graduate course work (50%) minimum. In contrast to the senior-grad category (which is eliminated as of Fall 2014), these credits may “double-count” towards both the undergraduate and graduate degrees for well-prepared advanced UW-Madison undergraduate students. 

Thus, there is now explicit guidance on the number of UW-Madison undergraduate credits (7 credits) that can be allowed to count towards the graduate degree credit minimum.  As with all prior course work, the fulfillment of requirements is allowed only if approved by the student’s graduate program.  In addition, course work earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


f. May a program allow prior course work taken as an undergraduate from an accredited undergraduate program count toward a UW-Madison accredited graduate program? 
The new approved policies only allow seven credits of graduate level courses from a UW-Madison undergraduate degree to fulfill graduate degree requirements.  An exception to allow up to seven credits from an undergraduate degree earned at a non UW-Madison institution to count toward a UW-Madison graduate degree can be requested on a program-by-program basis when the following two conditions are met:

i) students have received their undergraduate degree in the same discipline as they
are pursuing graduate work, and
ii) the undergraduate degree has been granted from a program which is accredited by the same accrediting body as the UW-Madison program.

Should a program decide to request an exception to this policy, it must provide the Graduate School with information requested in the undergraduate credit exception form to be eligible for consideration.  Please note submission of an exception request does not provide assurance of its approval.


g. Is graduate course work taken as an undergraduate at another institution eligible to be counted as prior course work?  Or must all prior course work from another institution be graduate course work earned while post-baccalaureate student?
Graduate course work taken as an undergraduate at another institution is not eligible to be counted as prior course work.  The two possible exceptions include if the graduate course work was taken as a UW-Madison undergraduate or if the course work was from an undergraduate program accredited by the same accrediting body as the equivalent UW-Madison program.

Beyond these two exceptions, all graduate course work to be counted as prior course work must be earned as a post-baccalaureate student.


h. Our program reviews prior course work for students in order to determine which (if any) program learning goals have been met.  In turn, this informs the type of course work these students should take at UW-Madison for the program.  In addition, sometimes the prior course work reviewed is outside of the new stated parameters listed in the new Prior Course Work requirements.  How should this be handled/considered?
The Prior Course Work requirements indicate what is permissible to count towards a program's degree (not necessarily, the program).  Programs may decide to allow prior course work to count towards the program's learning goals that are outside the parameters of the Prior Course Work requirements (e.g. courses taken as an undergraduate at another institution), but that course work is not allowed to count towards the minimum graduate residence requirement, the minimum graduate degree requirement, or the minimum graduate course work requirement. 

For example, perhaps a student has taken a Statistics course as an undergraduate from a different institution that you would like to recognize in the program.  The program may do so, but that course work would not be allowed to count towards the minimum graduate residence requirement, the minimum graduate degree requirement, or the minimum graduate course work requirement. Thus, the student may need to take additional credits (from more advanced course work or research credits) to achieve the minimums.


i. How are “University Special”  student credits earned at UW-Madison handled?
Generally, students are encouraged to enter a graduate program as early as possible and not to "try out" the program as University Special students.  If students are interested in a graduate program, they should seek admission as quickly as possible.  Officially entering the program allows the student to receive appropriate advising and be fully integrated into the program structure.  If University Special student credits are accepted by a program to fulfill program requirements, it is done on occasion as an exception (on a case-by-case basis) and is subject to the approval of the program.  The new policy limits the number of credits that may transfer from a UW-Madison University Special student career to a UW-Madison graduate career to no more than fifteen credits numbered 300 or above. This must be initiated and approved by the program. Programs may choose to be more restrictive or disallow University Special student credits to count toward their graduate degrees.

Students using courses taken as a UW-Madison University Special student to count toward the minimum graduate degree, residence, or minor credit requirements have to pay the difference in tuition between graduate and University Special student tuition for the terms in question (already a historically established practice for the minimum graduate residence requirement). In addition, these courses are not allowed to count toward the 50% graduate work minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above. Those credits earned in such a semester still appear in the transcript history as "University Special” student, but the Registrar's Office (as is the historical practice) adds a statement in the beginning of the transcript "All credits taken in [term] as a University Special student have been accepted by the Graduate School toward a degree program" after the student has paid the difference in tuition.


j. The prior course work policy stipulates that course work earned five or more years prior to admissions to a master’s degree or course work earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.  Does this apply only to identified prior course work categories or also to any course work taken while enrolled as a UW-Madison graduate student)?
If students are continuously enrolled in a graduate program, all the UW-Madison credits they earn as a graduate student are eligible to count toward their graduate degrees.  This assumes compliance with Graduate School policies including but not limited to degree time limits as well as the approval of the student’s graduate program. 

If students break enrollment from their graduate program they risk losing all credits earned prior to their absence.  More specifically, master’s students who have been absent five or more years and doctoral students who have been absent ten or more years risk losing all degree credits earned prior to their absence unless a successful petition is submitted to the Graduate School.   
For example, a program may wish to appeal on behalf of a student who has been practicing in the field.  In this case, the program should clearly demonstrate how the student has remained current in the field, such as through continuous certification.  All appeals must be made by the program on behalf of the student.  The request should come from the student’s advisor and/or program chair and be sent to the Graduate School’s Assistant Dean of Admissions and Academic Services.  The appeal should include sufficient justification for the request and any supporting documentation.  Please note submission of an appeal does not provide assurance of its approval.

Please note that individual graduate programs may choose to be more restrictive than Graduate School policy.  In addition, after any absence, all students are required to seek readmission to the Graduate School and apply through normal methods set by their graduate program.


k. How much prior course work can be allowed to count toward all/any degrees in the graduate career?
The credits used towards a master’s degree and the prior course work used toward it may also be applied to a related doctoral degree.  However, if the prior course work credit maximums were already reached for the master’s degree (specifically, seven UW-Madison undergraduate credits and/or fifteen University Special student credits), then no more prior course work credits are permissible for the doctoral degree.

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Keywords:HLC   Doc ID:41518
Owner:Michelle H.Group:VCRGE and Graduate School
Created:2014-06-30 14:46 CDTUpdated:2014-09-10 08:57 CDT
Sites:VCRGE and Graduate School
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