2019-2020 Catalog with Addendum II 
    May 21, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog with Addendum II [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Programs

The information provided in this catalog is subject to change without notice and does not constitute a contract between Abilene Christian University and a student or an applicant for admission. The information in this catalog is current as of July 2019.


Abilene Christian University offers a variety of residential and online graduate programs through our two campuses: the main campus in Abilene and our branch campus (ACU Dallas) in Addison.

Philosophy and Mission

The mission of Abilene Christian University is to educate its students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. Our graduate programs encourage advanced learning by providing high-quality graduate education in select areas. Graduate programs are designed to promote leadership, service, intellectual growth, self-motivation, and integrity within a context of Christian values.

Educational Outcomes

An education for Christian service and leadership differs from other types of education primarily in its unifying emphasis on Christian values. Faculty and students at ACU work together toward spiritual, social, intellectual, and professional goals. Those who graduate from master’s or doctorate programs at ACU should:

  1. Be able to review and critically analyze original research and, in disciplines where appropriate, be able to conduct research projects;
  2. Demonstrate expertise in a specialized area at the level to achieve professional certification or licensure, to be admitted to a doctoral program, or to perform successfully in a chosen career field;
  3. Be able to articulate, critically analyze and synthesize foundational theories and philosophies undergirding his or her academic discipline;
  4. Analyze axiological assumptions and philosophies of the field from a Christian perspective; and
  5. Form contacts with appropriate communities and organizations.

We believe that individuals who possess the above competencies will have a love of learning and will pursue truth and significance in every experience throughout their lives.

Graduate Degrees Offered

Some degrees have various tracks available.

Doctor of Education (EdD)

  Organizational Leadership

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Education Specialist (EdS)
Specialist in School Psychology (SSP)
Master of Accountancy (MAcc)
Master of Arts (MA)

  Communication, Corporate Communication, Conflict Management and Resolution, English, Theology, New Testament, Old Testament, Ancient and Oriental Christianity, Modern and American Christianity, Global Service, Christian Ministry, and Theological Studies.

Master of Athletic Training (MAT)
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Master of Divinity (MDiv)

  Ministry, Missions

Master of Education (MEd)

  Instruction and Learning, Higher Education, Teaching and Learning

Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)
Master of Liberal Arts (MLA)
Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT)

Master of Science (MS)

  Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Psychology-General, Information Technology, Management, Nutrition, Occupational Therapy, Organizational Development, Speech-Language Pathology, and Social Work.

Graduate Certificates

  Business Analytics, Conflict Management, Conflict Management for Church Leaders, Conflict Management for Educators, Conflict Management in Leadership, Cybersecurity, Dietetic Internship, Gerontology, Healthcare Collaboration and Conflict Management, Learning with Emerging Technologies, Medical Family Therapy, and Social Services Administration.


Abilene Christian University enjoys a strong national reputation as one of the leading private Christian universities in the west and southwest, indicated by various ratings (such as U.S. News and World Report and other reports). In addition to the university’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, individual graduate programs are accredited by the following agencies:

  • Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition Dietetics (ACEND)
  • Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (AAMFT/COAMFTE)*
  • American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Texas Education Agency (TEA)

    * Currently, the residential MFT program is accredited, and the online MFT has been invited by COAMFTE to submit the program’s self-study for accreditation, but is not accredited.


The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org. Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

NOTE: It is our department policy that all students complete graduation and fieldwork requirements in a timely manner. All fieldwork and course work must be completed in a total of 36 months. Students must complete Level II fieldwork within 18 months of completion of the didactic portion of the program.


In addition, some ACU Programs hold approval by state or national associations:

  • National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
  • Texas Board of Nursing

ACU is also a member of the Council of Graduate Schools, the Council of Southern Graduate Schools, and the Texas Association of Graduate Schools.

Integrated Programs

An integrated or accelerated program shortens the time it takes to complete both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at ACU by allowing high-performing undergraduate students to count a specified number of graduate courses toward both degrees. Students must earn a total of 150 or more required hours to earn both degrees. For details regarding available integrated programs, refer to catalog sections indicated below:

Program Delivery

ACU delivers graduate courses and programs both in-person and online (depending on the program). Web-based courses give students the convenience of online education and the quality of ACU instruction. Online programs are designed for working professionals. The format allows students to concentrate on and complete one course at a time.

Each academic year has three semesters (fall, spring, and summer); each online semester consists of two sessions, thus there are six sessions per year. The dates of these sessions and other important dates regarding course enrollment are included in ACU’s Academic Calendar.

Admission Requirements

Abilene Christian University complies with all applicable federal and state non-discrimination laws and does not engage in prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, nationality or ethnic origin, gender, age or disability in admissions decisions, financial aid and provision of student services, programs and activities.

As a private educational institution, however, ACU reserves the right to deny admission to any applicant whose academic preparation, character or personal conduct is determined to be inconsistent with the purposes and objectives of the university.


The purpose of the admission process is to identify applicants who are likely to succeed academically in a graduate program and at the same time contribute positively to the campus community. To admit students who cannot, or will not, persist until they have accomplished their academic goals is an expensive mistake for both the university and the students. Consequently, the admission process typically evaluates a combination of academic readiness and graduate capability. The admissions criteria are listed below but may include additional departmental reviews such as undergraduate coursework, standardized test scores, professional experience, writing samples, reference letters, or interviews.

Admission Criteria

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A completed application and application fee;
  2. An earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university or equivalent;
  3. An official transcript(s) in English (or translated to English) of all previous colleges attended;
  4. For master’s programs, a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale. For doctoral programs, a minimum cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale; and;
  5. Departmental requirements as stated for each department.

Individual graduate programs may have higher standards or additional requirements for admission to their programs. Admission decisions are made by departmental admission committees or by program directors.

Admission Types

Standard admission is for students who may be fully admitted without further conditions.

If a student requires leveling work, the student may be admitted provisionally.

Occasionally, the department may recommend probational admission for an applicant who does not meet all the admission criteria. For probational admission, graduate admission committees or program directors will make a holistic judgment on the applicant’s potential for success and contribution to the program mission. Students admitted probationally must maintain a 3.0 average in the first 9 hours of coursework, and may be asked to retake a standardized examination or produce evidence of academic readiness.

Pursuant to federal immigration law 8 CFR 214.3(k)(4), immigration documents such as an I-20 cannot be issued to an international student who is admitted on probation or provisionally.

Application Fee

The application fee is nonrefundable. No action can be taken on an application until the fee has been received. The fee is waived for McNair Scholars. No other waiver of this fee will be considered for domestic or international applicants.

Application Date

Unless otherwise specified by a department or program, applications are accepted year round. Thus, many programs have rolling admissions based on space available. Deadlines vary by program, but successful applicants often apply early to secure their placement and facilitate their eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, and graduate assistantships.

Accuracy of Material

All application material submitted must be accurate. Any erroneous, misleading, or incomplete information may be grounds for rejection of the application or, if admitted, withdrawal from the university.

Delayed Admission

Students who receive an official letter of acceptance will be informed that the acceptance is available only for the semester or term indicated. Residential students who wish to change their entry date must petition in writing the college in which the program resides before the start of the semester in which the student was admitted. Online students who wish to change their entry date must communicate that change before the designated deadline. Students taking any graduate or undergraduate coursework between the date of acceptance and the date of first course enrollment at ACU must submit official transcripts for that work before beginning their program at ACU. Students will be governed by the catalog in effect when they actually begin coursework at ACU. The time limit for completing the degree will begin with the first enrollment in the graduate program.

Readmission Policy

Students who leave the university for more than one long semester for residential programs or two sessions for online programs must apply for readmission. All students who leave the university on academic probation or suspension or with disciplinary concerns must also apply for readmission.

Special Graduate Non-degree Admission

A student can also enter classes as a special graduate, or non-degree student, a situation normally reserved for those who want to take a few classes without any particular program commitment. Contact the Registrar’s Office to apply.

Non-degree students must fulfill the same quality standards in class as fully-admitted students. Also, some courses require admission to a program or special permission before a student is allowed to take a course. A non-degree student can take no more than 15 graduate hours without being admitted to a degree program. However, there is no guarantee that the hours taken will fulfill degree requirements. Therefore, it is extremely important to seek admission and follow a degree plan within a program.

Admission to a Certificate Program

ACU offers graduate certificate programs in:

  • Conflict Management
  • Conflict Management for Church Leaders
  • Conflict Management for Educators
  • Conflict Management in Leadership
  • Cybersecurity
  • Dietetic Internship
  • Gerontology
  • Healthcare Collaboration and Conflict Management
  • Learning with Emerging Technologies
  • Medical Family Therapy
  • Social Services Administration

Some students complete these certificate programs in conjunction with a graduate degree program. If a student is not matriculated in a graduate degree program, he or she must apply for the certificate program. If the student decides to apply any part of the certificate toward a graduate degree, he or she must apply and be admitted into that degree program.

Admission Decision Appeal Process

  1. Within 5 business days of receiving an admission decision, a potential student has the right to request in writing to the program director that their admission decision be reconsidered.
  2. The program director along with another faculty member from the department or program not involved in the original admission decision will review the student’s file.
  3. The program director will notify the student in writing of the decision within 5 business days.
  4. If the reconsidered decision is not satisfactory, the student has the right to appeal in writing within 5 business days to the dean of the college in which the program resides.
  5. In residential programs, upon receiving the written appeal from the student, the dean will convene a committee including a program representative, a similar discipline faculty member, and a representative from the Office of Graduate Programs. The committee will review the student’s file and appeal and make a recommendation to the dean within 5 business days. In online programs, upon receiving the written appeal from the student, the dean, an academic administrator appointed by the dean, or the ACU Dallas Academic Standards Committee will review the student’s file. The results of the review will be made available to the dean within 5 business days.
  6. The dean will make a final decision and notify the student of the decision in writing within 5 business days. The decision of the dean is final.

International Student Admission Process

Required Materials for Academic Admission

International students applying for admission to a graduate program must meet the same admission requirements as other students. However, they must also provide proof of English language proficiency. The minimum requirements are:

  1. A completed application and application fee;
  2. An earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university or equivalent;
  3. An official transcript(s) in English (or translated to English) of all previous colleges attended. (Official means an original with the seal that comes directly from the issuing institution to ACU). ACU may request a student’s transcript to be evaluated by a preferred third party for degree clarification;
  4. A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale. For doctoral programs, a minimum cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale;
  5. Departmental requirements as stated for each department; and
  6. Official documentation of English language proficiency by one of the following:
    • A satisfactory official test score from an English language proficiency test accepted by ACU. Official test scores should be sent directly from the testing entity. ACU’s test code is 6001. Accepted English language proficiency tests are: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), EIKEN, Pearson Test of English (PTE-Academic), and CAE;
    • A conferred bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited US institution;
    • A bachelor’s degree or higher in which English was the primary language of instruction; or
    • Successful completion of an approved ESL or English-language proficiency program.

Missing any one of these required elements may delay the admission decision.

Required Materials for Financial Admission - Residential Programs

After an international student has been admitted unconditionally, the following documents must be submitted:

  1. A copy of your valid passport.
  2. Evidence of financial resources necessary to complete at least one academic year of study (9 months) at ACU. Generally, this is accomplished by providing copies of your bank statements to ACU. Please see the Office of Graduate Programs website for more specific information on finances for international students.

ACU is unable to issue an I-20 for applicants admitted probationally or provisionally or for online programs. We must have official copies of all documents before an I-20 can be issued. Once we receive the documents above, we will prepare your admission package and I-20. When these documents are ready, the student will be contacted and asked to provide shipping information. Upon admission and prior to enrollment, a student must submit health forms and immunization records demonstrating completion of the required vaccinations.

International graduate students are required to be enrolled in at least 6 graduate hours of coursework during a long semester. There are online course restrictions based on immigration status. Please speak with the international student advisor for more information.

Once international students arrive on campus, they are required to check-in at the Center for International Education and attend the International Student Orientation. Students are also encouraged to meet with their advisors for program details (see other parts of this catalog), and join the International Students’ Association on campus. ACU’s international community is a welcoming group of around 200 students and faculty with regular activities.

International Students in Online Programs

International student admission for online programs will not require the submission of international admission forms since no student visa will be issued. A TOEFL score will be required in addition to the regular admission materials.

Funding Your Graduate Degree

Students who plan to use Federal Financial Aid, please also refer to the Financial Information  section of the catalog for more information.

Financial Assistance for Residential Programs

Federal Student Loans

There are federal student loans available to most students who complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is a primary tool to help cover the costs of education up front with payments to follow after leaving school. Provided a student has not previously defaulted on federal loans or have already borrowed their limit, they are normally eligible to borrow a sizeable amount towards their educational costs. You can see more details about this opportunity at http://www.acu.edu/loans.


Departmental scholarships are offered through individual academic departments. For more information regarding these scholarships, contact the department of interest.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistants (GAs) at Abilene Christian University fall into three categories according to their major responsibilities:

  1. Performing work as part of training
  2. Research
  3. Teaching

Upon employment, GAs are given a letter clearly stating responsibilities, remuneration, and the expectations of the department and of the professor to whom they are assigned. Both full- and part-time assistantships are available.


Graduate assistants are chosen on a competitive basis. Students apply and are approved by the dean upon recommendation by the head of the department for which they wish to work (and upon the recommendation of their graduate program if it is different from the department in which they work). In order to receive an assistantship, a student must be admitted unconditionally into a graduate program and must be enrolled for graduate course work that semester. For a full assistantship, a student must be enrolled in at least 9 hours or be in their final semester. For a half assistantship, a student must be enrolled in at least 6 hours or be in their final semester.

Qualifications and Work

All graduate assistants are expected to be responsible and successful students who can make a positive contribution to their departments and to the campus community. They each must have completed a baccalaureate degree before beginning their work as graduate assistants. Those who teach or have other job-related contact with undergraduates should be good role models in scholarship, integrity, helpfulness, and commitment to Christian values. Those who teach must have completed at least 18 graduate hours in the discipline taught and must be proficient in the use of English.

Each graduate assistant is assigned to an instructor, who is responsible for training, supervising, and evaluating the assistant in his or her work. Teaching assistants also receive regular in-service training and are evaluated by their students each semester.

Graduate assistants are assigned work space or offices, telephones and mailboxes, as available, usually on a shared basis. Teaching assistants are expected to attend departmental faculty meetings and to keep regular office hours.

Compensation and Reappointment

Pay for graduate assistants varies by department and assignment. Reappointment of graduate assistants depends upon (1) departmental needs, (2) the graduate assistant’s satisfactory academic progress toward a graduate degree, and (3) evaluations from mentors and, in the case of teaching assistants, from students. All graduate assistants must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average to retain their assistantships.

Student Enrollment Status

The following course load policy applies to residential programs. For graduate students, a full-time load is defined as 6 or more credit hours in a long semester, a half-time load as 3 hours during a long semester.

For students enrolled in online programs, a full-time load is defined as 6 or more credit hours during a long semester and a half-time load as 3 hours during a long semester. For students enrolled in the online Doctor of Education program, enrollment in LEAD 791, LEAD 792, LEAD 799, GRAD 791, GRAD 792, or GRAD 793 in the dissertation phase will be classified as full time if they are enrolled in 3 hours and half-time if they are enrolled in 1 hour.

Refund Policy

Students are required to pay tuition and fees for any registered course unless enrollment is officially cancelled during the 100% refund period. All refunds are less any amounts owed to the university and are subject to payment holding periods.

Withdrawal or cancellation occurs on the calendar day that withdrawal is requested either online or by phone with your advisor. By registering for classes, students agree to pay all applicable tuition and registration fees. The university provides a prorated refund for students withdrawing after the first day of class for residential courses.

  1. Students are required to complete a Withdrawal from Class form.
  2. Notifying the instructor of an intent to withdraw from a course does not officially withdraw a student from the course.
  3. Non-attendance in a course will not constitute a withdrawal.
  4. Students who do not officially drop a course will be financially responsible for the entire cost of the course.
  5. Students who are dismissed or suspended from the university during the course of an academic term are responsible for all financial obligations.

Recipients of Federal Financial Aid who officially withdraw from the university will be subject to Federal Title IV refund guidelines. Dropping a course or withdrawing from the program may result in a portion or all of your aid being returned to the lender or grant source. This may cause your account to have a debit balance with the university, which must be repaid.

A refund will be issued to students who have financial aid that exceeds their tuition and fees. Financial aid refunds will not be processed until after the term has started.

Refund Schedule for Full-Term Residential Courses

Withdrawal Day Refund Percentage
Through the 5th day 100%
Days 6-12 80%
Days 13-15 60%
After Day 15 0%

The number of days refers to weekdays. The 5th day represents the end of the add/drop period.

When a class is dropped on the first day of a January short course, there is a 90% refund. When a class is dropped on the first day of a summer term, there is a 100% refund. No refund will be made from the second day to the end of either short term.

Refund Schedule for Online Courses

Withdrawal Day Refund Percentage
Prior to the first day of class 100%
First day of class or later 0%


Academic Definitions

Glossary of Terms

Add/Drop Period For residential courses, begins with pre-registration until the fifth day of a long semester. For online courses, begins with pre-registration until the day before the course is scheduled to begin. See the Academic Calendar for specific dates.
Drop Removal of course registration (registration does not show on transcript).
Withdraw Student stops coursework after the course begins. The student must submit a request to withdraw from the course and a grade of “W” shows on the transcript.
Withdraw from the University After course work begins, a student withdraws from all courses for the semester. If a student is not returning the next semester, this initiates a process to end university student services.
Semester/Term ACU credits are based on the semester system. The academic semester (term) is 15 weeks plus one week for final examinations. The online program schedule is structured to host two sessions per semester. One course is completed during each 7-8 week period.
Session The 7-8 week period for the online course to be completed. Each semester will have two sessions: Session 1 is the first half of the semester; Session 2 is the last half of the semester. A 3-hour course may be completed during the 7-8 week session.
Residency Session A face-to-face session on an ACU campus or other designated location. Individuals are responsible for all costs to attend, including travel, meals, and housing. Residency fees may apply.

Changes to Course Enrollment

Add/Drop Policy

Students may drop or add courses during the add/drop period for a full refund. Courses dropped during this period will not appear on the student’s transcript.  Refer to the Academic Calendar on the Registrar’s Office web site for specific dates for each term. Students wishing to register for a class after the add/drop period must complete a Late Add Petition, which must be signed by the course instructor, the student’s advisor, and the dean of the college in which the course is taught. A late fee of $10 per course will be assessed for students who add or change classes.

For online courses, a refund is only given if a course is dropped prior to the course start date. Contact the Student Services Advisor for your degree program for help with dropping a course. Dropping a Session 2 course may affect financial aid eligibility and result in disbursed aid needing to be returned. For more information, contact the Student Account Coordinator.

Withdrawal from a Course

If it becomes necessary to withdraw from a course, the student should visit first with his or her academic or student services advisor and the instructor of the course. The advisor will provide instruction on completing a Withdrawal from Class form. A withdrawal fee is charged when a student withdraws from a course. Refer to the refund policy for more information about tuition refunds.

The last day to withdraw from a course is:

  • Friday of the 12th week of a long term;
  • Wednesday of the 6th week of an online program’s session;
  • The corresponding day when 80 percent of the course is completed for other short sessions (e.g., Summer Session I).

Withdrawal from the University

Residential graduate students who must withdraw from the university or from their last course are required to complete a Withdrawal from the University Form in Wildcat Central. This process must be completed prior to the beginning of final examinations.

Online students who must withdraw from all courses for the semester are required to withdraw from the university. Send an email to the Student Services Advisor for your program to request a Withdrawal from the University Form. This process must be completed prior to the final week of the session. Online students may not withdraw from the university after completion of a Session 1 course.

Grade Point Average

A graduate student’s grade point average (GPA) is based on graduate courses taken at ACU. It is determined by dividing the total number of grade points (see the table below) by the total number of hours attempted (not including hours where grade points are not counted). Current GPA is a student’s GPA for a single term. Cumulative GPA is the overall GPA for all terms during which a student has been enrolled as a graduate student at ACU. All graduate students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on all graduate credits earned at ACU to graduate.


The table below lists the grades used in graduate programs at ACU. The grade point values shown are per semester hour of credit.

Grades Meanings Points
A Excellent 4.0
B Good 3.0
C Poor 2.0
D Inferior 1.0
F Failing 0.0
I Incomplete Not counted
IP In-Progress Not counted
W Withdrawn Not counted
WF Withdrawn Failing 0.0
CE Credit by Examination Not counted
CR Credit Not counted
NC No Credit Not counted
NG No Grade Recorded Not counted

Course Load

The following course load policy applies to residential programs. For graduate students, a full-time load is defined as 6 or more credit hours in a long semester, a half-time load as 3 hours during a long semester. Unless otherwise allowed by the program in which a student is enrolled, a student may not enroll in more than 12 hours in a long semester or 3 hours in one summer session. A combination of graduate and undergraduate hours may not total more than 15 hours for a fall or spring term or 9 hours for all summer sessions combined.

For students enrolled in online programs, a full-time load is defined as 6 or more credit hours during a long semester and a half-time load as 3 hours during a long semester. For students enrolled in the online Doctor of Education program, enrollment in LEAD 791, LEAD 792, LEAD 799, GRAD 791, GRAD 792, or GRAD 793 in the dissertation phase will be classified as full time if they are enrolled in 3 hours and half-time if they are enrolled in 1 hour. Online students who have completed a minimum of 6 credit hours can request approval to take two classes at one time. Course scheduling is dependent on satisfying prerequisites and must include approval from the program director. Contact your advisor to request a change in course load.

Course Numbering

ACU uses a three-digit course numbering system. Courses numbered 500 and above are graduate level courses. Of the hours required for a master’s degree, at least one-half must be in the 600 level or above.

Graduate Policies and Regulations

It is the student’s responsibility to know and comply with the regulations and requirements contained in this catalog. Graduate students should review their DegreeWorks audit and visit with their academic advisor or student services advisor regarding their degree progress. This assistance, however, does not alter the primary responsibility of the student to adhere to policies published in the catalog.

Minimum Credit Hours

The number of credit hours for various graduate degrees ranges from 30 to 72. All ACU master’s degrees require a minimum of 30 semester hours. The doctorate requires a minimum of 30 hours beyond the master’s degree.


Students are responsible for knowing the registration process for their program. Registration processes may vary by program.

Transfer of Credit

Graduate credits earned at ACU prior to admission to a degree program may, with the consent of the advisor and the college dean, be used in satisfying prerequisites (leveling requirements) or degree requirements.

Transfer of graduate work from other institutions must be approved by the student’s department chair or program director and by the college dean. Transfer work must fall within the time limit for degrees (see Degree Time Limit). However, grades from transfer work do not apply toward the GPA at ACU. Transfer credit may not constitute more than 25 percent of the hours required for a degree. No grade below a “B” will be accepted in transfer.

Changing or Adding a Major

Any student changing degree programs or changing a major within a degree program must submit a signed Change of Program Form to the Registrar’s Office. Students enrolled in an online program should contact their student services advisor. For students to make a change, the departments affected must agree. Any student wanting to change from a certificate program to a degree program must apply for admission to the degree program.

Second Master’s Degrees

The number of semester credit hours required for various degrees ranges from 30 to 72. When students choose to complete a second master’s degree from ACU, they may count a limited number of courses from the first degree toward the second degree if courses from the first degree are also requirements for the second degree.

Degree hours Minimum additional hours needed for second master’s degree
41 or fewer hours 24 hours
42-59 hours 21 hours
60-72 hours 18 hours

Thesis, Project, and Dissertation Requirements

Students who are doing a thesis, project, or dissertation are responsible for following the required process and should obtain a copy of the relevant guide from their program director. Plan early, follow guidelines and instructions, and work with your faculty committee to determine completion requirements.

After students begin formal work on a thesis, project, or dissertation, they are expected to continue working on it each semester until it is completed and formally approved, or until they terminate their graduate career at ACU. In order for the thesis, project, or dissertation to remain in an active status, students must enroll in continuation each semester until completion.

Each subsequent registration will be for zero (0) credit hours in masters programs and the DMin program. Other doctoral programs require enrollment at one (1) credit hour. For masters programs and the DMin program, the student will be charged a continuation fee equal to half of one hour of tuition at the current rate for each semester of continuation. Students in other doctoral programs will be charged full tuition at the current rate during each semester of continuation.

See Course Load section for more information regarding full-time and part-time status for students enrolled in continuation. Students failing to maintain continuous registration must be re-admitted to ACU in order to continue and complete the requirements within the degree time limit, as stated in the current catalog. If a student fails to make progress on their work, the faculty member, in consultation with the committee, has the right to administratively withdraw the student with a grade of W.

Capstone and Practicum Requirements

Students are expected to finish capstone or practicum requirements within the time allotted for the course. In some programs, students needing more time may apply for an extension and, if approved, be charged a continuation fee. The continuation course is zero (0) credit hours and the fee is equivalent to half of one hour of tuition at the current rate for each session of the extension (maximum of one (1) hour of tuition per semester). If students who receive a capstone extension fail to make progress on their work, the faculty member has the right to administratively withdraw the student with a grade of W, and the student will be required to retake the course at the full tuition rate.

Expected Participation in Online Courses

The online program courses are not self-paced but are designed to allow for flexibility in meeting the scheduling needs of busy professionals.

Students enrolled in the online programs are expected to maintain continuous enrollment for the duration of the program. This allows students to build relationships within the online community. To register for courses, contact the advisor for your degree program.

Online courses invite students into a community of engaged practitioner scholarship. Courses consist of 7-8 weekly modules, with a new module beginning each Tuesday morning in Canvas LMS (Learning Management System). Students are expected to log in to the course frequently (at least 5 days per week), master the course material, whether written or in other digital media formats, and to engage the professor and fellow students through the Canvas medium. Weekly individual assignments will allow students to demonstrate mastery over the course outcomes and competencies. Weekly readings and discussion boards will allow students to do what advanced scholar practitioners do: Question the material, reflect on application, note areas of interest, respectfully challenge each other, and discover connections to other reading in peer-reviewed journals.

If a student fails to participate in the course for 14 days, meaning that s/he has not logged in and/or submitted assignments (whether graded or not), s/he will be withdrawn from the course. If a life situation occurs that will prevent the student from participating in the course for a brief period of time, the student is responsible for communicating this to his/her instructor so appropriate arrangements can be made.

Due to the rotating schedule of classes offered, withdrawing from a class may prolong the time it takes to graduate and may affect financial aid.

Repeating a Course

  1. A graduate student may retake a course only one time.
  2. If a student withdraws from a “repeated” course, it may be taken again.
  3. A record of all occurrences of the course will appear on the transcript. Only the most recent grade will be counted in the cumulative GPA. The ability to retake a course may be limited by curriculum changes or by departmental policies.

Low Grades

If a student receives a grade of “D” or “F” in a course, this course will not count toward the student’s degree and may constitute grounds for probation or suspension. In addition, students must have a minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA in order to graduate. Please note, individual departments may have more strenuous policies regarding low grades.

This policy should be considered as the minimum. For residential programs, departments may have more restrictive rules and regulations with the approval of the Graduate Council. Students should refer to the program section of the Catalog for more information regarding this policy.

Academic Probation and Suspension

Any student who does not maintain a 3.0 GPA will be placed on academic probation. If during the next enrollment, he or she fails to attain a cumulative 3.0, he or she will be suspended. Students will be held accountable to this policy as a minimum but must also adhere to their departmental requirements.

In the case of suspension, a student may apply for readmission to the program, after sitting out at least one semester or the length of time designated by the dean and program director. A student who wishes to apply for readmission must develop a readmission plan in conjunction with their program advisor. Residential graduate students must also submit an Application for Readmission through the Office of the Registrar. The program director and the college dean will review this plan. However, this re-admission plan does not guarantee admission. The college dean, consulting with the program director, will decide whether the student should be readmitted, and if so, whether special conditions should be required for readmission. When students are readmitted after suspension, they are placed on probation for one semester and must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements to continue to receive financial aid. If they do not make satisfactory progress that semester, they will be suspended from the university.

This policy should be considered as the minimum; residential program departments, with the approval of the Graduate Council, may have more restrictive rules and regulations. Students should refer to the program section of the Catalog for more information regarding this policy.

Incomplete Grades

Professors may assign a grade of “I” (Incomplete) only when illness or some significant reason beyond the control of the student prevents the student from completing a course by the end of the semester. A grade of “I” (Incomplete) must be resolved no later than the end of the next long term; otherwise, it becomes an “F” on the student’s record. The student is responsible for requesting and resolving an “I” with the professor and a Change of Grade Form. A student who is graduating should finish any incomplete courses prior to the semester in which he or she is graduating. Students must complete all courses graded as “I” in order to participate in commencement.

The grade “IP” (In-Progress) is reserved for graduate students in graduate courses. An “IP” must be resolved no later than the end of the next long term; otherwise, it becomes an “I” on the student’s record. That “I” must be resolved no later than the end of the subsequent long term. Work cannot be submitted for a grade after one year from the end of the semester in which the student was enrolled in the course.

Due to the interactive nature and fixed duration of an online course, students may not receive “I” (Incomplete) or “IP” (In Progress) grades for online courses. Students unable to complete course requirements must withdraw or receive the grade they have earned without completing the course requirement. Contact the course instructor and advisor if an exceptional circumstance occurs after the withdraw date and before the end of the course that prevents successful completion. If an instructor agrees to give a student an “I” in this exceptional circumstance, the student will not be permitted to enroll in another course until the “I” is completed. A deadline for completion should also be submitted to the college dean.

Degree Time Limit

This regulation applies to work being transferred from another institution as well as to work done at ACU. The time begins with the earliest course taken that applies to the degree program. After a student has enrolled for graduate credit, all work for the graduate degree must be completed within six years for certificate programs and 30-45 hour degrees; seven years for 46-61 hour degrees; and eight years for degrees up to 90 hours. Students enrolled in a degree program from the Graduate School of Theology must complete all master’s degree requirements within ten years and doctoral degree requirements within six years. The Graduate School of Theology degree requirements are the same for both residential and online students.

Auditing Courses

Students who wish to audit a course should see the instructor for the course and the chair of the department (of the course) on the first day of class in order to request permission to audit the course. An approved request to audit a course must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office by Friday of the second week of the long term or the equivalent date of a summer session or intensive course. Some courses are not available as audit courses (including most online courses). Once a student begins auditing a course, they may not choose to take that course for credit during the audit term.

The nonrefundable fee for auditing a course is $35. However, certain courses may have additional fees for auditors. Please check with the department of the course offered.

Concurrent Enrollment Policy

ACU students are generally expected to take their courses at ACU. Only in exceptional circumstances may students petition, in advance, to receive credit for a course at another institution during a fall or spring semester that they are enrolled for courses at ACU. Concurrent enrollment includes online, distance, and correspondence courses. Petitions for concurrent enrollment must be approved by the advisor, dean of the student’s program, and the provost. Courses from other colleges or universities will not count as hours enrolled for financial aid eligibility.


For residential graduate programs, the Assistant Provost for Graduate Programs, through action of the college dean, reserves the right to refuse continued enrollment to any student who is negligent in conforming to student regulations or academic standards. For online programs, the dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies reserves that right.

Grading Appeals

The university expects faculty to assign student grades equitably based on academic criteria, but it also acknowledges that grades can sometimes be incorrectly assigned. Students have the right to question grades, and the university encourages students to seek input from trusted mentors when evaluating the situation. Most grading questions can be resolved informally through conversation between student and faculty member, so the student should begin by talking with the instructor. If the informal conversation does not resolve the situation to the student’s satisfaction, the student may initiate the formal grade appeal procedure defined by the university. The student must begin a grade appeal before the conclusion of the next long semester.

Final course grades become a part of a student’s permanent academic history, and the student’s transcript provides the record of academic performance at ACU. Grades for a course become part of academic history after one long semester has passed and may not be changed except in extraordinary circumstances and by special permission granted by the Office of the Provost.

Only final course grades are eligible for the grade appeal process. Students may appeal grades that they believe were assigned in error, without proper consideration of course and university policies, or unfairly or inconsistently among students in a class. The original grade and its consequences — which may include prerequisite qualifications, academic standing, or scholarship eligibility — will stand until the conclusion of the appeals process.

Students may not pursue a grade appeal in cases where the final grade is the consequence of a violation of the Academic Integrity Policy, which provides a separate opportunity for appeal.


Course instructors bear three responsibilities in the evaluation of coursework:

  • Sharing a syllabus that provides the course requirements and explains how the final grade will be calculated.
  • Evaluating the quality of students’ work equitably.
  • Assigning grades that represent the quality of the work.

Students should engage the grade appeal process in good faith and have three responsibilities in the appeal process:

  • Maintaining records of their academic work that are relevant to the dispute.
  • Communicating professionally within the specified timeframes.
  • Representing their own interests throughout the appeal by being the individual to communicate with the faculty member and decision-makers.

Decision-makers in the grade appeal process include the department chair or Dallas program director, dean or designee, and provost or designee. Each has three responsibilities in the appeal process:

  • Ensuring that the student receives due process and that all previous steps have occurred before engaging in the procedure.
  • Deciding whether to uphold the assigned grade. Decision-makers may take a variety of factors into account, including course and university policies, evidence of consistent application of criteria and policies, norms within the discipline and professional judgment of the faculty member, accuracy of the arguments of involved parties, and the remedies recommended by previous decision-makers.
  • Assigning an appropriate grade or remedy if they overturn the assigned grade. Decision-makers may instead identify a process and timeline to evaluate any work involved in the dispute rather than assessing it themselves (e.g., re-grading by the faculty member, department chair, or a neutral faculty member). If the proposed change is agreeable to the student, the decision-maker should initiate the process to apply the proposed change.

Appeal Procedure

  1. The student must discuss the grade informally with the faculty member. If this does not resolve the matter or the faculty member does not respond within five business days of the student’s request to discuss the issue, the student should complete a Grade Appeal form. The student should attach to the form copies of any relevant assignments, communication between student and faculty member, or other documentation related to the dispute.
  2. The student must submit the form and documentation to the chair of the department that offers the course within five business days of receiving the faculty member’s decision in the informal grade discussion process (or at least five business days after the student’s initial attempt to discuss the issue with the faculty member if the faculty member does not respond to the request).

    If the course instructor is the department chair, the student should submit the appeal to the dean of the college overseeing the department. In these cases, the dean will facilitate the first stage of the appeal, and the student skips steps 4 and 5 if the dean’s response does not resolve the question to the student’s satisfaction.
  3. The department chair must provide a written decision to the appeal within 10 business days. During that time, the following must occur:
  • The department chair should share the student’s written statement and documentation with the faculty member.
  • The faculty member must write a response to the appeal and send it to the department chair with any relevant documentation.
  • The department chair must schedule time to meet with the student, either in person or by a synchronous call. The department chair may choose to invite the faculty member to the meeting.
  • After the student meeting, the department chair must write a response to the appeal. The department chair must send the faculty member’s response and the chair’s written decision to the student.
  1. The student has five business days to act in response to the department chair’s decision. If the chair’s response satisfies the student, the student should respond to the chair so the chair can initiate any proposed remedy. This will end the appeal process.

    If the chair’s response does not resolve the situation to the student’s satisfaction, the student may appeal to the dean of the college that oversees the department. The student should send the following materials to the dean of the relevant college: the appeal form and documentation, written response from the faculty member, and written decision from the department chair.
  2. The dean’s office must provide the student and department chair a decision in writing within five business days of receiving the appeal. The dean may choose to make a decision based on the written materials provided or seek additional context from involved parties.
  3. The student has five business days to act in response to the dean’s decision. If the dean’s response satisfies the student, the student should respond to the dean so the dean can initiate any proposed remedy. This will end the appeal process.

    If the dean’s response does not resolve the situation to the student’s satisfaction, the student may appeal to the provost. The student should send the following materials to the provost: the appeal form and documentation, written response from the faculty member, and the written decisions from the department chair and dean.
  4. The provost’s office must provide the student and dean a decision in writing within five days of receiving the appeal. The provost may choose to make a decision based on the written materials provided or seek additional context from involved parties. The decision of the provost is final.

Records of the appeal include the appeal form, student’s documentation, and written responses from the faculty member and designated decision-makers. Records will be retained at the highest level to which the appeal rises according to that unit’s records management schedule.


The University has established formal policies and processes to handle written student complaints and appeals. Generally the policies encourage students to resolve concerns at the initial level of concern when possible, i.e., working with the faculty member or program director to resolve an academic issue.

To file a complaint or appeal, please select from the list below:

  1. Student Athlete Financial Aid — Nonrenewal of a student athlete’s financial aid award may be found in the ACU Student Athlete Handbook.
  2. Title IX — Title IX information is included in the University’s Title IX website and in the Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment and Assault.
  3. Student Life — Disciplinary decisions, harassment, discrimination, residence hall assignments, the residence hall living/learning experience and parking citations may be found in other sections of the Student Handbook.
  4. Alpha Services — Student accommodations by Alpha Services may be found in the Alpha Scholars Program Student Handbook.
  5. Academic Integrity — Academic integrity appeals may be found in the Academic Integrity Policy.
  6. University employee violations of policy or law — Reporting processes for financial improprieties, illegal practices or policy violations committed by university employees or agents may be found in the University’s Whistleblower Policy.
  7. Academic policy or syllabus — A student alleging that a faculty or staff member has treated the student unfairly in regard to his or her academic work in a course for which he or she was registered by either:
    1. Violating university academic policy OR
    2. Violating course policy as stated in the syllabus may complain of such alleged unfair treatment using the Student Complaint Policy.
  8. Grade appeal policy - See the Grading Appeals section of the catalog directly above.

All student complaints must first be addressed internally. If the internal resources have been exhausted and the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved, the student may file a complaint with the regulatory agency in the state that he or she is receiving instruction and/or the institution’s accrediting agency. Contact information for these agencies is below:

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Office of General Counsel
P.O. Box 12788
Austin, Texas 78711-2788

President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Commission on Colleges
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097

Preparing for Graduation


  • Students will receive an email with a link to the Application for Graduation. This form will allow the student to communicate their expected date of graduation to the Registrar’s Office.
  • During the semester before graduation, students should review their DegreeWorks audit and visit with their academic advisor about the schedule for their last semester.
  • Students should submit all transcripts for transfer work before their last semester.
  • Students who do not complete graduation requirements in the semester in which they intended to graduate must declare a new graduation date with the Registrar’s Office.
  • Students with incomplete grades will not be allowed to participate in the commencement ceremony.
  • All holds on a student’s account must be removed before the student may purchase academic regalia, participate in commencement, or receive their diploma.
  • Students may only participate in one commencement ceremony for each level of degree earned.
  • Participation in the commencement ceremony does not confirm that a degree has been earned. The degree will only be awarded after all degree requirements have been completed.

Comprehensive Examination and Thesis/Dissertation Defense Requirements

In addition to regular course examinations, most programs require students to pass a comprehensive examination over their major field. The comprehensive exam should be arranged through the department and successfully completed four to six weeks before commencement. See specific program information for more details. The graduate student should consult his or her program director for specific program examination requirements and schedules, noting that summer schedules can make scheduling times difficult. See specific program information for more details.

Graduate students who write a thesis or dissertation will be required to defend their work in an oral examination. The thesis or dissertation should be successfully defended at least six weeks before commencement (some programs have specific examination dates, so the student should consult his/her department). The graduating student should consult his/her chair and committee for specific defense schedules, noting that summer schedules can make scheduling times difficult.

Degree Posting

When all requirements for the degree have been met, including submission of the final copy of the thesis or dissertation to the ACU Digital Commons, the degree will be posted, and a transcript showing the degree may be requested.