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Policies and Procedures

For a list of commonly used student forms and procedures, for both current and future WVU students, please visit the WVU Forms and Procedures page.

For more information on withdrawing from a course, please visit the WVU Registrar's Office website.

Requesting and Resolving Incomplete Grades

Instructions for STUDENTS to Request and Resolve an Incomplete (I)

Requesting an Incomplete

  1. Be sure to thoroughly review university policy before requesting an Incomplete Grade: (Policy and procedure is the same for graduate and undergraduate students)
  2. Please note that you, the student, must initiate the request for an Incomplete, and this can only occur after the completion of the 13th week of the term and prior to the last day of the final examination period
  3. You must have been attending class and completing assignments through the 13th week of the term, and must be earning a passing grade for the course when the I is requested
  4. A specific unforeseen non-academic incident must occur during the last three weeks of the semester that prevents you from completing the final course assignment(s) or final examination (e.g., documented injury or illness, call up to active military duty, death of an immediate family member)
  5. Download the Request for an Incomplete form at:
  6. Complete the student section of the form, sign by typing your name on the signature line, and send it to the course instructor using your MIX email account.
  7. Upon receipt, the instructor will fill in the remainder of the form and forward it to the relevant CEHS Department Chair, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, for approval.
  8. After review the completed and signed form, or a memo denying the request, will be emailed to the student and filed in the CEHS Dean’s office.
  9. Please note that processing a Request for an Incomplete form may extend beyond the end of the term. In that case, you will be assigned the grade you earned at the end of the term, and the instructor will update as necessary.

Resolving an Incomplete

Work with your instructor to complete all requirements to resolve the Incomplete. All activities and assignments needed to satisfy the contract as stated in the Request for an Incomplete form must be submitted by the student, and graded by the instructor, prior to the end of the Fall or Spring term that immediately follows the term in which the I grade was assigned or the grade will change to an IF. An Incomplete grade not changed by the end of the next regular term (fall and spring semesters) will be replaced with a grade of IF, and the class must be retaken to earn credit and/or satisfy degree requirements.

Graduate Course Revalidation

Graduate course work used to meet master's degree requirements must be satisfactorily completed within a period of eight years immediately preceding the conferring of the degree. The rationale for this limit is to ensure that students earning a master's degree have current knowledge (no more than eight years old) in their field. Courses completed in the same term as degree conferral (fall, spring, summer) eight years previously are considered to fall within the eight-year limit (for example, a course completed in fall 2008 would fall within the limit for fall 2016 degree conferral). A course completed more than eight years prior to the term of degree conferral must be revalidated if it is to be used toward meeting degree requirements. Revalidation can be accomplished through the following procedure:

  • The current instructor of the course determines the method used to revalidate the course. The student may, for example, be required to complete specific activities (such as repeating all or some of the course or completing a set of readings). The instructor then assesses the student’s knowledge of course material (through such means as a written or oral examination, a paper, a project, or some other assessment) and determines if the student’s knowledge is adequate to justify revalidation of the course.
  • The instructor submits a description of the revalidation method and results of the assessment to the college or school dean or designee.
  • The college or school dean or designee submits a letter describing the revalidation process and supporting the revalidation to the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs.
  • The Associate Provost informs the Office of the Registrar that the course has been revalidated.

Generally, the process and procedures for students to revalidate a CEHS graduate course are left to the discretion of the faculty member(s) that teach the course. Students should minimally be expected to complete a current written examination (e.g., final course examination) or major course project (e.g., literature review or extended paper), such as that which is typically assigned in the course, to demonstrate up-to-date knowledge of the course content. Students’ professional experiences (e.g., classroom or clinical work) are not a suitable substitute for academic work.

Time to Degree Completion for Doctoral Students

Doctoral students admitted to any degree program within the College of Education and Human Services are allowed a maximum period of 10 years (20 semesters, not including summer terms) – from date of admission to successful defense of the dissertation – to earn the degree. Students may have up to five years (10 semesters, not including summer terms) to successfully complete the dissertation, post-comprehensive examinations. Exceptions to this policy will be determined on a case-by-case basis where necessary (e.g., student leave of absence due to illness).

According to the Graduate Catalog:

Doctoral candidates are allowed no more than five years in which to complete the remaining requirements of their program after being admitted to doctoral candidacy.

Thesis and Dissertation Committees

Composition and Number of Members for Thesis and/or Dissertation Committees

Doctoral dissertation committees consist of no fewer than four members. At least one member of the committee must be from a department/program other than the one in which the student is seeking a degree.

CEHS departments may elect to require no fewer than 5 members for dissertation committees .

The majority of the members of any graduate thesis or dissertation committee must be regular members of the graduate faculty, including the chair of the committee. Co-chairs of committees are allowed, but at least one of the co-chairs must be a regular member of the graduate faculty. No more than one committee member may be a nonmember of the graduate faculty.

NOTE: Here, “majority of the members” means 3 persons.

The student cannot be considered as having satisfactorily passed their defense if there is more than one unfavorable vote among members of the committee. Results of each defense must be reported to the college or school dean or designee within twenty-four hours. If the defense is not passed, a repeat of the defense may not be scheduled without approval by the college or school dean or designee.

Request for Doctoral Program Extension


Acceptance into a graduate program of study and enrollment in graduate courses does not in itself confer doctoral candidacy. Candidacy occurs after the student has satisfactorily passed a comprehensive or qualifying examination, which occurs after coursework has been completed. Once candidacy begins, the doctoral student (EdD or PhD) begins a 5-year time period in which the dissertation is to be proposed, conducted, and defended before the student graduates. The 5-year time frame extends through the end of the semester in which the student had moved to candidacy 5 years previously. At least one credit hour must be completed for each fall and spring semester during candidacy; however, when working intensively with faculty, three credits of research should be taken. Periodically the CEHS Advising Office will send letters to doctoral students and the committee chairperson reminding them of the 5-year time limit and the semester by which they must complete the degree program.

This document conforms to the WVU Graduate Catalog, as well as previous years' catalogs dating back to at least 2000. Catalogs since that time frame have been verified to include the 5-year rule.

Extension Requirements

Extensions of the 5-year candidacy time frame are not automatic and require justification that such an extension is warranted. Only one extension is permitted under extraordinary circumstances, and in these cases WVU requires that the qualifying exam (sometimes known as comprehensive exam, candidacy or competency exam) be retaken to ensure the student’s knowledge in his/her field of study is current. In some cases, other evidence may be reviewed to ensure the validity of the student’s knowledge.

Extension Procedures

The following steps should be taken in pursuing an extension:

  1. The student should consult with his/her Chair to discuss the situation and reasons for the extension request.
  2. The Chair and committee should determine if there is sufficient justification for an extension and, if so, determine how the student’s knowledge will be assessed to determine whether the student’s knowledge is current in the field. Generally the competency exam is to be retaken; however, other evidence showing that the student’s knowledge in the subject matter is current may be considered. In some cases, courses may need to be retaken or other requirements fulfilled. A re-taking of the exam should precede any request for an extension.
  3. Once the student has demonstrated current competence in the field of study, a formal request for an extension can be assembled by the student and submitted to the student’s doctoral chair and committee members. The student should include the following details in the written request: (a) a statement on why circumstances justify the extension and a summary as to the work completed; (b) evidence that the student’s knowledge in the field of study is current; and (c) a specific and realistic timeline for completion of each task that will lead to successful completion of the dissertation.
  4. If the student’s Chair and committee members believe the request is justified, evidence must be provided that the committee endorses the request for an extension. The request should then be submitted to the student’s Department Chair.
  5. With the Department Chair’s endorsement, documentation from (3) and (4) are then submitted to the CEHS Associate Dean for Academic Affairs who will review the request and supporting documentation to determine if the College will support the request. If so, the Associate Dean will write a statement of support and submit it along with the other supporting documentation to the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs who provides final approval for the extension.
  6. If the request for an extension is approved at all levels, the student will be required to adhere to the timeline completion date that was proposed or the extension is withdrawn and the student is dismissed from the program.
  7. Notification of the approved extension is then submitted to the Chair of the student’s doctoral committee, the student’s Department Chair, and the CEHS Advising Office for data recording.

Graduate Student Leave of Absence Policy

Graduate students enrolled in CEHS degree programs of study who wish to take a leave of absence from their studies for two or more consecutive semesters must apply for a leave of absence to remain in good standing. Doctoral students admitted to candidacy who wish to take a leave of absence for more than one semester must apply for and be granted a leave of absence to maintain their candidacy.

According to the Graduate Catalog:

Graduate students in good standing who wish to be away from their academic endeavors at WVU for one or more semesters but intend to return at a later date may request a leave of absence. Students should consult with their program or school/college concerning the required procedure to request a leave of absence. Some programs (such as some master’s programs or part-time programs) may not require students to request a leave of absence in order to enroll sporadically and remain in good standing. Doctoral students admitted to candidacy who wish to not enroll for one or more semesters must be granted a leave of absence in order to maintain their candidacy. Leaves of absence are not required for summer terms unless otherwise specified by a student’s program.

Minimally, requests for leaves of absence must be submitted in writing to a student’s program director prior to the beginning of the semester for which the leave is desired. The program director (or an appropriate faculty committee or other administrator) determines whether or not to grant the leave of absence, the length of time granted, and any conditions the student must meet to return to the program following the leave of absence (including a date by which the student must inform the program that he or she plans to return). The student is informed in writing of the outcome of their request, and a copy of the outcome is retained in the student’s records.