Graduation Requirements

Undergraduate Students

The general requirements for earning a baccalaureate degree are as follows:

  1. Satisfactory fulfillment of the lower and upper division course requirements within each college or school,
  2. Completion of no fewer than 120 semester credits,
  3. Overall grade point average of 2.00 (see GPA definition for more information),
  4. Courses below the 1000-level do not count toward graduation,
  5. 30 of the final 36 credits must be completed through Saint Louis University or an approved Study Abroad program1
  6. The following percentages of credits must be completed through Saint Louis University within a field of study:
    1. At least 50% of a major must be completed through Saint Louis University or an approved Study Abroad program
    2. At least 75% of a minor must be completed through Saint Louis University or an approved Study Abroad program
    3. At least 75% of a concentration must be completed through Saint Louis University or an approved Study Abroad program
    4. At least 75% of a certificate must be completed through Saint Louis University or an approved Study Abroad program
  7. Students may apply designated amounts of post-baccalaureate credit (courses number 5000 and greater) toward their bachelors degree.  Please see the Policy on the Application of Graduate Coursework to Undergraduate Programs for credit limits and details. Please see the Policy on Post-Baccalaureate Coursework for requirements in enrolling.
  8. Students must file an application to graduate through myslu.slu.edu before the end of the add/drop period of the semester in which graduation is intended. After the add/drop period, students must complete the Petition for Late Graduation Application and a non-refundable $50 late graduation application fee will be assessed.

Saint Louis University will award a degree if all requirements are met prior to the published semester/term conferral dates.

The awarding of a degree will be deferred to the next published conferral date if any requirements are fulfilled by a course that either begins or ends after published conferral date.

The one exception is, per the Incomplete Course policy, courses with approved extensions for a graduating student must be completed and graded within 30 calendar days of the published conferral date.

Master's Degree Students

The mere literal fulfillment of coursework requirements does not automatically guarantee advancement to candidate status in a particular program.

Students must file an application to graduate through myslu.slu.edu before the end of the add/drop period of the semester in which graduation is intended. After the add/drop period, students must complete the Petition for Late Graduation Application and a non-refundable $50 late graduation application fee will be assessed.

Master’s Degree

The general and minimum requirements for Master’s degree study are explained below. For some Master’s degree programs the requirements are more extensive and are explained in the Curricula and Courses section of this catalog and in their program handbook.

Courses

A minimum of 30 credits of academic work is required.  For students pursuing a thesis Masters, 6 of the total credits must be in Thesis Research (5990).

Students must complete 80% of total credits at Saint Louis University, exclusive of inter-university credits.

No Master’s degree program may include more than six credits in Research Topics (5970) or Graduate Reading (5980), or a combination thereof.

No more than 6 credits of 4000-level coursework may satisfy the requirements of a Master’s degree.

For rules on transfer credit refer to the Transfer of Credit policy.

Research-Tools Requirement

Individual Master’s degree programs may have a requirement of translation proficiency in a foreign language, statistics, computer literacy, or the like. Students seeking translation skills are encouraged to enroll in courses in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures designed specifically for them. Research-tool proficiency may be demonstrated through examination if permitted by the major field. Arrangements for administration of such an exam are the responsibility of the major field.

Graduation Requirements

Master’s degree students anticipating the final academic term must file an application for degree. The application must be completed, by a set date in that final term. Subsequently, students receive a degree audit that includes information to be reviewed and checked by students and their advisor. If a research degree is sought, the thesis proposal must be prepared, receive major-field approval, and be filed with the Master’s Candidacy Specialist as part of this process.

Thesis

Graduate Education requires the formal appointments of three Graduate Faculty readers of the thesis, one of whom is the students’ mentor. All three readers must approve the acceptable thesis. The written work must follow a composition format within guidelines established by the major field and the Formatting Guide. The Master’s Candidacy Specialist completes a format evaluation of the thesis and abstract by appointment. Students will then submit the abstract and thesis to ProQuest/UMI.

Comprehensive Degree Examination

Because there is variation among Master’s programs and policies regarding comprehensive exams and capstone requirements, students should refer to individual program requirements and handbooks. Individual programs based on disciplinary practices determine final degree requirements.

Time to Degree

The entire Master’s degree program, exclusive of prerequisites, is expected to be completed within a five-year time period, beginning with the academic term of the first course applicable to the degree. Students pursuing degrees by attendance only during the Summer Sessions are expected to complete all requirements for their non-research degrees within a period of six consecutive summers. Students who petition into the Doctoral program after completing a Master’s degree will have a total of eight years to complete both degrees.

Should the five years (or six summers) pass without completing all degree requirements, students cease to be in good academic standing unless they petition for an extension to be approved by the Associate Dean or Center Director of the particular college, school, or center and the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. Extensions are granted for no longer than one calendar year at a time. For students pursuing a research degree, each extension carries with it the requirement of registration for one additional credit (beyond the required six credits) of Thesis Research. Students completing a non-research Master’s degree and exceeding the time-to-degree limit must also petition for an extension and are required to take an additional credit per year until completion.

Additional Departmental Requirements

In addition to these general requirements, each department or major field may set additional requirements that are pertinent to the particular area of study. These specific requirements are found in the program sections of this catalog.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Students

The mere literal fulfillment of coursework requirements does not automatically guarantee advancement to candidate status in a particular program.

Students must file an application to graduate through myslu.slu.edu before the end of the add/drop period of the semester in which graduation is intended. After the add/drop period, students must complete the Petition for Late Graduation Application and a non-refundable $50 late graduation application fee will be assessed.

Coursework

Students holding a Master’s degree from another institution may Petition for Advanced Standing in a Doctoral Program for academic work completed during a prior Master’s program completed elsewhere, up to a maximum of 24 credits.

Students must complete 80% of total credits at Saint Louis University, exclusive of advanced standing credits or inter-university credits.

No Doctoral degree program may include more than six credits in Research Topics (6970) or Graduate Reading (6980), or a combination thereof. 

No more than 6 credits of 4000-level coursework may satisfy the requirements of a Doctoral degree. 

For rules on transfer credit refer to the Transfer of Credit policy.

Research-Tools Requirements

Such requirements are not imposed as a whole because of variable needs across major fields. Most Doctoral programs prescribe levels of competence to be attained in foreign language translation, statistics, computer literacy, or other tools of research. Students seeking translation skills are encouraged to enroll in courses in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures designed specifically for them. All research-tool competencies are generally to be developed in addition to the ordinary academic work required for the degree and may be demonstrated through examination if permitted by the major field.

Preliminary Degree Examinations

Each Doctoral program will administer a written degree examination consistent with the expectations of the academic discipline. In some programs, a qualifying examination will be administered relatively early in the Doctoral studies. In other programs, the written examination is structured to assess comprehensive knowledge of the discipline after all or nearly all of the academic work has been completed. If students’ performance is satisfactory, the student may proceed to the oral exam.

Committees for Oral Examination/Proposal Defense and Dissertation Defense

The chair of a Doctoral Committee must be from the student’s program and a member of the current Saint Louis University faculty. All committee members must hold Graduate Faculty status. An emeritus professor, a non-Saint Louis University faculty member or someone outside of the major field may serve as a co-chair of students’ Doctoral Committee. In order for a non-Saint Louis University faculty member to serve on a Doctoral committee, the person must have a terminal degree in the field and/or have significant expertise or experience of particular relevance to students’ dissertation. Such committee members must be appointed on an ad hoc basis to the Graduate Faculty. The associate dean or director of the college, school, or center upon written request by the committee chair may make ad hoc appointments. The proposed member’s CV must accompany the request. The committee for the oral examination/proposal defense consists of a minimum of five faculty members; some programs have received approval from the Office of Graduate Education for fewer committee members. The committee for the dissertation defense may have fewer members than the committee for the oral examination/proposal defense; that decision lies with the program. Members of the oral examination/proposal defense committee and the dissertation defense committee need not be the same.

Oral Examination/Proposal Defense

An oral examination/proposal defense is scheduled in advance of the formalized research phase of a program and after the Associate Dean for Graduate Education or Center Director approves the examination committee. 

This examination may evaluate broad knowledge of the field or it may be largely focused on the dissertation proposal if the program’s written preliminary degree exam was comprehensive. To schedule the exam/proposal defense, students must complete the “Doctoral Oral Examination Form”; the form must be received by the Doctoral Candidacy Specialist at least two weeks prior to the date of the exam. Upon receipt of the form, the Doctoral Candidacy Specialist will send a decision result form to the committee chairperson prior to the exam or proposal defense. No examination or proposal defense is to occur without the result form in hand. Each program will determine the manner in which a vote for the exam or proposal defense is taken. 

The only information transmitted to the Office of Graduate Education is the final decision, including any notation of passing with distinction.  The result form must be signed and dated by all committee members.  For any committee member not physically present, the committee chair may provide a proxy signature. 

Should a student fail the oral exam, the exam may be repeated a second time. The second attempt may not be scheduled within the same academic term as the first.  An outside committee member (a Saint Louis University faculty member from another program) must be present at the second exam/proposal defense.  A student who fails the second attempt will not be permitted to continue in the doctoral program.

Advancement to Candidacy: Research Phase

Doctoral Candidate status will be given to students after successful completion of the comprehensive oral exam. Graduate Education policy requires that students be enrolled in at least one credit of dissertation credit upon achieving candidacy until completion of required credits.

Dissertation

The Candidate for a Ph.D. must write a dissertation and present and defend this original and independent research. The written work must follow a composition format within guidelines established by the major field and the Formatting Guide. Two special dissertation options are allowed as alternatives to the traditional dissertation in some degree programs: the three-article dissertation format and the non-traditional dissertation format. Students must be sure to check with their departments before pursuing either of the special dissertation options. Further details about these special dissertation options can be found in Section 3 of the Formatting Guide.

The three-article dissertation format permits the doctoral candidate the option of compiling three (or more) related articles that have been published or approved for publication in one or more peer-review scholarly journals. The articles are related to a central theme. Each article becomes a chapter within the dissertation.

The non-traditional dissertation format is somewhat different. The body of the nontraditional format consists of at least three thematically related original article-length manuscripts, with the dissertation normally consisting of at least five chapters, including introductory and summary chapters. The student must be the first (or sole) author on at least two of these manuscripts, but may be the second author on one manuscript. Two of the manuscripts must have been fully accepted for publication in a high-impact journal, and the third must be under review before the dissertation defense can be scheduled. That is, the journals must have Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) impact factors of 0.75 or greater.

Once the dissertation has been successfully defended and all required revisions are complete, The Doctoral Candidacy Specialist will conduct a format evaluation of the dissertation and abstract by appointment. Students will then submit the abstract and dissertation to ProQuest/UMI.

Public Presentation and Defense of the Dissertation

Across all major fields, Graduate Education requires a public oral presentation and defense of the dissertation. The presentation should be scheduled after all Graduate Faculty readers have approved the general content of the dissertation. A Notification of Readiness form must be received by the Doctoral Candidacy Specialist a minimum of two weeks prior to the defense date. Candidates anticipating May graduation must submit the Notification of Readiness no later than the date set in the Graduate Education Calendar of Deadlines supplement to the University Calendar. Upon receipt of the form, the Doctoral Candidacy Specialist will send decision result forms to the committee chairperson prior to the defense. No defense is to occur without the result forms in hand. Following the public presentation, the Doctoral candidate should expect questions from the readers and the assembled audience. The dissertation committee chairperson serves as the moderator for the defense.

Each program will determine the manner in which a vote for any type of exam or defense is taken. The only information transmitted to the Office of Graduate Education is the final decision, including any awards of distinction. There will be separate votes for the Doctoral Oral Defense of the Dissertation and the Written Dissertation. A vote of pass is required from a majority of the committee members for students to pass the Doctoral Oral Defense of the Dissertation and the Written Dissertation. The written dissertation vote can wait until a majority of committee members fully approves the written dissertation. A category of passing with distinction will be an option for each program for the Doctoral defense and the dissertation.

Time Period to Degree and Extensions of Time

If the time in the degree program exceeds the seven or eight years and Doctoral requirements remain, students must successfully petition for an extension of the ordinary time period to remain in good standing. The petition must be submitted prior to the expiration of the time to degree and must be accompanied by a letter describing the justification for the extension and a detailed plan and dated schedule for completion of all remaining requirements. The research mentor, and major-field chairperson or program director, Associate Dean or Center Director, and the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs must approve the petition. A maximum of two extensions beyond the normal time to degree will be permitted. Extensions are granted for one calendar year, but can be given for less if the student is only missing a defense or exam date. Approval is accompanied by the requirement of enrollment in one additional Dissertation Research credit per semester (beyond twelve, which should have already been taken).