2020-2021 Samford University Graduate Catalog 
    Jul 19, 2024  
2020-2021 Samford University Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Policies and Regulations

Areas of Study - Brief Definitions

Curriculum-A set of courses constituting an area of specialization.

Earned Credits-Those credits that accumulate based on successful completion of coursework (excluding repeated courses). Most graduate degrees require a minimum of 30 earned credits. Earned credits may be different than quality credits, which are used to compute the grade point average.

Grade Point Average (GPA)-The number of quality points earned divided by the number of quality credits. Sometimes known as Quality-Point Average (QPA).

Interdisciplinary-Curriculum (major, concentration, or minor) requiring credits in two or more subject areas/disciplines.

Quality Credits-Each course is assigned a number of credits that a student can earn toward a degree if the course is completed successfully. Quality credits are divided into the number of quality points earned to obtain a student’s grade point average (GPA). For a few courses, students only earn credits instead of quality credits, i.e. pass/fail courses, and these are not included in the GPA calculation.

Repeats-A course may be repeated in an attempt to earn a higher grade; however, credits for the course do not accumulate. See Course Repeats in the Grading System Guidelines and Policies section.

Graduate Student Status by Credit Hours
Graduate Level Full-Time Status
Credit Hours
Three-Quarter-Time Status
Credit Hours
Half-Time Status
Credit Hours
Divinity (Doctoral) 1 1 1
Divinity (Masters) 9 6.75 4.5
Graduate* 6 4.5 3
Graduate Night** 6 4.5 3
Graduate Nursing*** 6 4.5 3
Law 10 7.5 5
Nurse Anesthesia 6 4.5 3
Pharmacy 10 7.5 5

*Graduate (as a Level) includes students in graduate, professional, and doctoral programs in the following schools: School of the Arts, Education, Health Professions, Public Health, and Law (Law masters programs only).

**Graduate Night includes students in graduate programs for the following colleges/schools: Arts and Sciences (Environmental Management) and Business.

***Graduate Nursing includes students in masters and doctoral programs in the School of Nursing, except for Nurse Anesthesia, which is its own level.

Graduate Degree Requirements

A list of available graduate programs can be found on the Programs of Study  page. A list of available accelerated bachelor’s to master’s programs and joint degree pathway programs is shown below. For more information on degree requirements, refer to the academic departments/schools sections of this catalog and/or publications from the individual departments or schools.

Multi-Program Definitions - Graduate Level
Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s Pathway Program

Students who have completed three-fourths of a bachelor’s degree may apply to select master’s programs. After acceptance into an ABM program, students will be able to begin graduate coursework to apply to their undergraduate degree. The student must complete all undergraduate degree requirements with a minimum of 128 credit hours, all graduate degree requirements with a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours, and 150 credit hours total to award both degrees. Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s Pathway Programs (aka Fast-Track) are listed below and in department sections.

Joint Degree Pathway Program

Student fulfills requirements for two separate graduate degrees with some course overlap so that the total number of required credits is reduced. The total number of credits completed by a student must be equal to or greater than 60 graduate hours. A joint program may involve degrees from two separate schools/colleges within the University. Students may be awarded one degree independent of the other. Joint degree programs are listed below and in department sections.

Double Major

Student fulfills all degree requirements for two majors/concentrations within the same degree (i.e., master of studies in law, doctor of nursing practice, etc.). At the graduate level, these will typically reside within the same school/department. Students must meet all requirements for both majors. Double major possibilities are not listed in department sections. Contact the department chair or graduate advisor for more information.

Dual Degree
Dual degrees are not defined at the graduate level unless credits are shared, in which case they are joint degree pathway programs (see above). If a student independently chooses to pursue two degrees simultaneously, he or she must complete all requirements for both degrees in their entirety.

Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s Pathway Program

Professional Accountancy (B.S.B.A. in Accounting/M/Acc.)

Health Professions, Public Health
Fast Track Master of Healthcare Administration (B.S./M.H.C.A.)
Fast Track Doctor of Physical Therapy (B.S./D.P.T.)
Fast Track Master of Public Health (B.S./M.P.H.)
Fast Track Master of Social Work (B.A. or B.S./M.S.W.)
Fast-Track Master of Social Work w/B.S. in Public Health (B.S./M.S.W.)

3+3 Law Program (B.A. or B.S./J.D.)
(Popular majors include English, History, Human Development and Family Science, and Journalism and Mass Communication)

Graduate Joint Degree Pathway Programs
(in department/school order)

Biological & Environmental Sciences (College of Arts and Sciences)
Master of Science in Environmental Management/Juris Doctor (M.S.E.M./J.D.)

Master of Accountancy/Juris Doctor (M.Acc./J.D.)
Master of Business Administration/Doctor of Pharmacy (M.B.A./Pharm.D.)
Master of Business Administration/Juris Doctor (M.B.A./J.D.)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Accountancy (M.B.A./M.Acc.)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Divinity (M.B.A./M.Div.)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Healthcare Administration (M.B.A./M.H.C.A.)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Science in Environmental Management (M.B.A./M.S.E.M.)

Master of Arts in Theological Studies/Juris Doctor (M.A.T.S./J.D.)
Master of Arts in Theological Studies/Master of Social Work (M.A.T.S./M.S.W.)
Master of Divinity/Juris Doctor (M.Div/J.D.)
Master of Divinity/Master of Business Administration (M.Div./M.B.A.)
Master of Divinity/Master of Music (M.Div./M.M.)
Master of Divinity/Master of Science in Education (M.Div./M.S.E.)
Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work (M.Div./M.S.W.)

Master of Science in Education/Master of Divinity (M.S.E./M.Div.)

Healthcare Administration (School of Public Health)
Master of Healthcare Administration/Master of Business Administration (M.H.C.A./M.B.A.)

Juris Doctor/Master of Accountancy (J.D./M.Acc.)
Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in Theological Studies (J.D./M.A.T.S.)
Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration (J.D./M.B.A.)
Juris Doctor/Master of Divinity (J.D./M.Div.)
Juris Doctor/Master of Laws (J.D./LL.M.)***
Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration (J.D./M.P.A.)*
Juris Doctor/Master of Public Health (J.D./M.P.H.)*
Juris Doctor/Master of Science (Bioethics) (J.D./M.S.)
Juris Doctor/Master of Science in Environmental Management (J.D./M.S.E.M.)
* In cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
** In cooperation with Albany Medical College, New York.
*** Includes concentrations in financial services regulatory compliance, health law and compliance, higher education law and compliance, and legal operations.

Music (School of the Arts)
Master of Music/Master of Divinity (M.M./M.Div.)

Doctor of Pharmacy/ Master of Business Administration (Pharm.D./M.B.A.)

Public Health (School of Public Health)
Master of Public Health/Master of Social Work (M.P.H./M.S.W.)

Social Work (School of Public Health)
Master of Social Work/Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.S.W./M.A.T.S.)
Master of Social Work/Master of Divinity (M.S.W./M.Div.)
Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health (M.S.W./M.P.H.)

Academic Regulations

Students are expected to know regulations and policies found in this catalog and the Student Handbook. Keeping abreast of the school calendar, critical deadlines, as well as all University communication is also the student’s responsibility.

Academic Integrity

A degree from Samford University is evidence of achievement in scholarship and citizenship. Activities and attitudes should be consistent with high academic standards and Christian commitment and should be in keeping with the philosophy and mission of the University. At Samford, academic integrity is expected of every community member in all endeavors and includes a commitment to honesty, fairness, trustworthiness, and respect.

The University Statement on Academic Dishonesty is as follows: students, upon enrollment, enter into a voluntary association with Samford University. They must be willing to observe high standards of intellectual integrity, respect knowledge, and practice academic honesty. Those who cheat on an examination or class assignment are not only academically dishonest, but also are deficient in the scholarly maturity necessary for college study. Those who engage in academic dishonesty are subject to severe punishment. The more dependent, the more inevitable becomes ultimate failure, often accompanied by public disgrace. Any act to obtain an unfair academic advantage is considered dishonest.

If a student is accused of a violation, a hearing panel composed of faculty and students will review the violation and may impose sanctions that include probation, suspension, or expulsion. The types of misconduct that constitute a violation, as well as the full text of the policy, including procedures and appeals, is available on the Registrar’s Office page of the University website.

Audit Student Guidelines

As an alternative to full participation in a credit course, students may audit the course. Audit students do not receive grades and do not usually participate in examinations; however, instructors have the option of establishing requirements for a satisfactory audit.

  1. From a Grading/Credit Basis to an Audit Basis - A student can change from a grading basis to an audit basis any time prior to the deadline for withdrawing from a class without academic penalty. There will be no financial refunds made as a result of change in grading basis.
  2. From an Audit Basis to a Grading/Credit Basis - An audit student may not receive regular credit for a course begun as an audit, unless the change is made by the last day to add a course for the semester or term.
Class Attendance

One of the most vital aspects of a residential university experience is attendance and punctuality in the classroom. The classroom is the place where each student contributes to the learning experience of his or her classmates; therefore, the value of the classroom academic experience cannot be fully measured by testing procedures alone. Class attendance policies are established by each school at the University, and specific attendance requirements are indicated in the syllabus of each class. Some students participate in institutional activities that require them to represent the University in scheduled events on and off campus. For activities of sufficient importance in the overall life of the University, excused absences are granted. A list of activities qualifying for excused absences is maintained by the Office of the Provost. An excused absence does not relieve a student of responsibility for the academic work in the class missed. However, students may not be penalized for such absences and must be given the opportunity to make up missed work. Students are responsible for informing their professors, in advance, of the class dates that will be missed because of these activities. Practice and/or preparation for these activities would not be a valid reason to miss class. Ultimately, each student bears the responsibility to be aware of and to comply with attendance and punctuality requirements.

Student Bereavement Policy: In the event a student experiences the death of a significant member of his or her family or community, the University may excuse absences up to five days for travel and bereavement. The Provost office will notify advisors and instructors of excused absences. It will be the responsibility of the student to follow up with faculty regarding missed exams, quizzes and required work for the class.

Class Registration and Policies
Cross Registration

Graduate, professional, divinity, and law students may not register for courses in the other academic divisions without permission of the academic deans in both areas. Additional tuition may be incurred; payment is due the day the charges are incurred.

Graduation Requirements

It is the responsibility of the student to see that all graduation requirements are met. A student is required to meet all requirements for graduation as set forth in the Samford University Catalog (or, if more up-to-date, any school/departmental official publications) in effect at the time of entrance into the major, assuming that there is no interruption in enrollment other than for stated vacation periods. Later changes in the requirements for graduation are not applicable to students who proceed through their chosen program in a timely fashion.

Students whose enrollment has been interrupted are to follow the requirements for graduation as set forth in the catalog (or, if more up-to-date, any school/departmental official publications) in effect at the time of readmission to a major program of study.

If the University changes requirements for graduation after the entry of a student into a program, and if those changes better meet the goals of the student, the student may petition the dean of the appropriate school to be allowed to qualify for graduation by meeting the newer requirements. If approved, the student will meet all requirements for graduation set forth in the later catalog. In no case may a student qualify for graduation by meeting requirements set forth in two different catalogs.

Graduation Attendance

Commencement exercises are held at the end of the fall semester and at the end of the spring semester. All candidates completing degree requirements are required to be present at the commencement events, except that attendance at the fall commencement is optional for those having completed degree requirements the previous August.

Students who have a Values Violation pending or have not completed the sanctions given by the Values Advocate or a Values Council will not be allowed to participate in graduation activities, including commencement exercises.

Credit Hour Policy

For Samford University programs, one unit (hour) of academic credit is granted to students who have successfully met academic requirements with an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that reasonably approximates not less than:

  1. One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks or one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph 1 of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, clinicals, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

The above policy is in accordance with federal regulations and requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. It is applicable to all courses offered, regardless of the mode of delivery and/or session length (e.g., standard 15-week instructional format, 10- or 8-week format, non-classroom based learning experiences, and online course delivery experiences). Individual schools and/or programs with course formats which differ from those cited above must define the standards for credit hours assigned and provide those standards and credit hours to students through publication (i.e., handbooks or websites).

Elective Withdrawal
Course Withdrawal and Dropping a Course

A student may drop a course without a grade of W (withdrawn) or academic penalty up through the last day to drop a course(s). Students can drop a course online through the Samford Portal up through this deadline. (See the Academic Calendar section of this catalog for date.)

A student may withdraw from a course after the last day to drop a course and up through the date to “withdraw from a course without academic penalty,” but will receive a grade of W. If the course is dropped after the date to “withdraw from a course without academic penalty,” the student will receive a grade of WF.

The date of the course withdrawal will be the date the official Course Withdrawal Form is returned to the Office of the Registrar. Students can obtain the Course Withdrawal Form from the Registrar’s Office Forms page.

If a student discontinues attending a course after the “last day to add or drop a course” without notifying the Office of the Registrar in writing or exceeds the maximum absences allowed in a course, a grade of FA will be entered on the student’s record with the same penalty as a grade of F.

School Withdrawal

A student desiring to withdraw from the University at any time must secure an official Withdrawal Request Form from the Office of the Registrar. The official date of withdrawal will be the date this form is returned to the Office of the Registrar. If a student leaves the University without completing this process, the permanent record will show a grade of FA in all courses for that semester/term. Students can obtain the Withdrawal Request Form from the Registrar’s Office Forms page.

  • The permanent record of a student who withdraws before the last day to drop a course(s) will not show courses attempted for that semester/term.
  • The permanent record of a student who withdraws from all courses for a semester/term before the deadline, as stated in the Academic Calendar, will show courses attempted and will show a grade of W (withdrawn). A “W” is not calculated in the student’s GPA.
  • No student who withdraws from the University for any reason is entitled to a transcript of credits until his/her financial account has been settled with the Student Financial Services Office.
  • A student who withdraws in the last two weeks of a semester automatically receives a WF in each course attempted.
Semester Withdrawal

A student who withdraws from all courses in a semester or term and is not registered for courses the following semester or term is considered to be withdrawing from the University. (See the School Withdrawal section above for more information.) If the student does not return to Samford within one calendar year, he/she will have to be readmitted. (See Readmission Student Applicant for more information.)

A student who withdraws from all courses in a semester or term but is registered for courses in the following semester or term is still considered currently enrolled. The student may request permission to take courses as a transient student at another institution by submitting the Transient Enrollment/Letter of Good Standing Request Form.

Forms for dropping/withdrawing from a course, University or semester withdrawal, and transient enrollment can be found on the Registrar’s Office Forms page.

Academic Warning and Required Withdrawal
Policies and standards regarding academic standing, academic warning, making satisfactory academic progress, and required withdrawal or program termination are determined by each graduate college/school. See those sections for details.
Grading System Guidelines and Policies

Policies and standards regarding elective pass/fail grading and course repeats are determined by each graduate college/school. See those sections for details.

Grade Changes

An initial grade may be changed by an instructor with the approval of the instructor’s department chair and dean. This change reflects administrative error in the calculation of a grade, the accidental misposting of an incorrect grade, or some other administrative factor resulting in the posting of an incorrect grade. It can also be the result of the completion of course requirements by a student where an INC grade is replaced by a letter grade. An E or an INC which is not changed by grade change automatically becomes an F if not removed by the last day of classes in the next full semester after the grade was given. This grade of F may not be challenged.

Graduate Grade Appeals for Programs without Internal Procedures

An initial grade may be challenged by a student before the beginning of classes of the next full semester. Summer term grades must be appealed by the beginning of fall term. All petitions must be made first in turn in writing to the instructor, chair, and dean. All appeals must be written and demonstrate and document an unusual circumstance that warrants a review of the grade and evidences of the grade s/he believes should have been given by the instructor. The student must include the full and complete grounds for the appeal in the initial appeal. Each subsequent appeal must include the previous appeals and responses by University representatives. If each of these three in turn denies the appeal, the student may appeal to the university registrar. The registrar will convene a subcommittee of the Faculty Academic Affairs Committee who will weigh the appeal. The results of this subcommittee’s decision are final.

While the grade appeal is being considered, a student may attend classes through the first week of the term, which is the add/drop period. The student may not attend classes until the appeal is resolved after that first week. The university will make every effort to resolve the appeal by the end of that first week.

If a student considers either a Title IX or an ADA accommodation complaint to be the basis for the grade appeal, the student should start the appeal with the Title IX coordinator or the Disability Resources Office. Until a decision is rendered from the appropriate office regarding the complaint, the assigned grade will be changed to an “I,” meaning Incomplete. A finding in favor of the student may result in an educational plan to address changing the grade. A finding denying the appeal will result in the “I” being changed to its original grade. The student may then complete the appeal process outlined above. During the time a grade is reported as an “I,” the course will have no impact on GPA or credit hour completion.

Letter Grading System

Grades are indicated by letter symbols. The numerical value assigned to a letter grade is determined by each faculty member.

Grade Symbol Definition Quality  Points Earned
A The highest proficiency in ability and application 4.0
A- Slightly less than the highest proficiency in ability and application 3.7
 B+ Outstanding proficiency 3.3
B Ability and achievement of a high but second order 3.0
B- Ability and achievement of a high but third order 2.7
C+ A better than average performance 2.3
C Average ability or average achievement 2.0
C- Slightly below average achievement. There is a repeat policy. 1.7
D+ Below average performance. Many colleges decline to accept transfer credit of lower than a C grade. There is a repeat policy. 1.3
D Below average performance. There is a repeat policy. 1.0
D- Just above failing performance. There is a repeat policy. 0.70
E Grade given to a student who, though failing a final examination, has a general daily average high enough to justify the expectation that he/she could pass the course if permitted to take a make-up examination. An E can be removed only by re-examination and is never raised to a grade higher than D. There is a repeat policy. 0.00
F Outright failure and can be changed only if it is the result of a clerical error made by the institution. If F is given as a final grade, the student must repeat the entire course and earn a passing grade to receive credit for it. There is a repeat policy. 0.00
FA Grade given to a student who is dropped from a course because of excessive absences or who withdraws from the University without written permission from the Office of the Registrar. It carries the same penalty as F. 0.00
FX Failure due to a violation of academic integrity. 0.00
INC Represents Incomplete. Incomplete grades are valid if the student has done work that would earn a passing grade in the course but has failed to complete some portion of the required work because of an emergency, and the work can be completed without further class attendance. 0.00
IP Indicates that a course remains In Progress and ends after the semester’s/term’s final grade deadline. 0.00
Z Represents No Grade. It is given when a faculty member does not assign a grade. Instructor must change the Z to a grade. 0.00
W Indicates that the student withdrew before the academic penalty period, but was in good standing. There is no penalty for W. 0.00
WF Indicates that the student withdrew during the academic penalty period. WF carries the same penalty as F. 0.00
P Grade assigned for successful completion of a course designated Pass or Fail. It will not be included in the GPA. 0.00
AU Symbol assigned for successful completion of a courses taken on an audit basis. An audited course will not meet any graduation requirement or be included in the GPA. 0.00

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s education records. The rights of the FERPA heretofore assigned to parents are now transferred to their college students.

These rights are:

  1. Eligible students have the right to inspect and review all their educational records maintained by the school. The student must contact the Office of the Registrar to make an appointment to view their academic record.
  2. Eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records believed to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school refuses to change the records, the eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still refuses the correction, the eligible student has the right to place a statement in the records commenting on the contested information in the records.
  3. Generally, Samford University must have permission from the eligible student before releasing any information from a student’s record. However, the law allows schools to disclose records, without consent, to the following parties:
    • School employees who have a need to know
    • Other schools to which a student is transferring
    • Parents when a student over 18 is still a dependent
    • Certain government officials in order to carry out lawful functions
    • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
    • Organizations doing certain studies for the school
    • Accrediting organizations
    • Individuals who have obtained court orders or subpoenas
    • Persons who need to know in cases of health and safety emergencies
    • State and local authorities to whom disclosure is required by state laws adopted before November 19,1974

Schools may also disclose, without consent, “directory type” information, such as a student’s name, address, and telephone number. Samford University has designated the following as directory information: student name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, date and place of birth, enrollment status, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, honors, degrees and awards received, most recent previous school attended, and photograph. An eligible student who does not wish for this information to be released without prior written consent must notify in writing the Office of the Registrar by the last day to drop/add without financial penalty in a semester or term.

Distance Learning

A few academic programs offered by Samford are available in part, if not entirely, in a web-based, online format. These programs are identified as such.

For more information on state authorizations for online, distance learning agreements, see the following link, and click on Distance Learning: