Graduate Academic Policies - University of Houston
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Graduate Academic Policies

Becoming familiar with the academic policies of the University of Houston and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) is vital to your success as a graduate student. In addition, familiarize yourself with the UH Graduate Catalog, in particular the NSM section of the catalog.

Important Resources

Important Academic Guidelines for NSM Students

  1. All NSM master’s and doctoral students must maintain continuous enrollment and register each fall and spring semester in at least 3 credit hours. If you need to take a semester off for a personal, health, or work-related reason, you need to file a petition for a leave of absence with the college. Students are not granted more than 3 semesters of leave of absence in their whole graduate career. Enrollment in the summer is not required, unless you are graduating.
  2. Graduate students are not allowed to register for undergraduate classes.
  3. Master’s students pursuing a thesis and doctoral students should enroll in Master Thesis (6X99 or 7X99) or Doctoral Dissertation (8X99) courses only in the semester in which they intend to defend and finalize their degree. The only exception is for Master’s programs that require enrollment in 6X99 the semester prior. If you do not graduate in the intended semester, you will receive a grade of S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) for such course(s), and you should enroll again in such course(s) in the following semester. If you are taking research hours in semesters prior to the graduating semester, you must enroll in Special Problems or Master Research (6X98 or 7X98) if you are a Master’s student, or Doctoral Research (8X98) if you are a Ph.D. student. A chart summarizing these guidelines can be found here.
  4. You must be enrolled in the semester in which you intend to graduate. You must apply for graduation from your student account. If you are receiving a certificate along with your degree, you need to apply for graduation in both the degree plan and certificate plan. If you do not graduate in the semester for which you applied, you must file an application for graduation again in your graduating semester.
  5. There is a time limit for obtaining your degree: 5 years for a master’s degree and 10 years for a Ph.D. degree. If you have passed this time and have not yet graduated, you must file a petition for extension of the time limit and attach a justification for your request to the petition.
  6. Doctoral students must have taken their comprehensive or qualifying exams and advance to candidacy within 3 academic years of their first enrollment in the PhD program. Failure to do so will constitute failure to make progress on the degree and may be ground for dismissal from the doctoral program.
  7. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Legislature have determined that the doctoral degree can be completed with less than 100 credit hours at the doctoral level. This corresponds to about 5 years as a full-time student. If you exceed 100 credit hours at the doctoral level, you may be charged a premium tuition which is about 4 times the in-state graduate tuition. A petition requesting an extension of this deadline may be filed.
  8. You need a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA in order to receive a master’s or doctoral degree. You need a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA in your certificate classes in order to obtain the certificate.
  9. If you accumulate 12 or more hours with grades of C+ or lower or U grades, you will be dropped from your graduate program and will be ineligible to enroll in graduate courses at UH. You will receive notification from the college when you have accumulated 6 hours of low grades, and you will need to meet with your graduate faculty advisor to draft a deficiency plan that must be filed with the college.
  10. If you believe that a wrong grade was reported for a course that you took, you have until the end of the following long semester (fall or spring) to ask for a recalculation or reevaluation. The instructor must initiate a change of grade. Grade changes are not automatically approved. If you obtained an Incomplete (I) grade for a course, it will automatically turn into an F after one academic year. Therefore, you have one year to perform the necessary work to resolve the incomplete and have your instructor change your grade. You should not register for the course again in the following semester(s).
  11. Students earning an M.S. degree with thesis and doctoral students must have a thesis or dissertation committee composition on file with the college no later than the semester prior to graduation. There are very specific guidelines regarding the composition of the committee, which can be found in the graduate catalog.
  12. Starting in the 3 rd academic year of the doctoral program, doctoral students must meet yearly with a faculty committee to assess their progress in the doctoral program. The faculty committee may be the student’s dissertation committee or another ad-hoc committee, as specified by the individual departments. An oral presentation and/or written report may or may not be required. Students should check with their staff or faculty graduate advisor for specific policies within their department. The Departments will send a yearly report to the College to ensure that the requirement has been met.
  13. Specific guidelines must be followed in formatting your thesis or dissertation and in submitting it to the college. Familiarize yourself with the NSM thesis and dissertation instructions and be aware of the deadline for submission of the thesis or dissertation by the beginning of the semester in which you intend to graduate.
  14. To remain in good standing and to be eligible for a tuition waiver, scholarship, research assistantship, or teaching assistantship, you must have at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA in all the graduate courses you have on your UH graduate transcript. In addition, you must be enrolled full time (9 hours) to hold a teaching, instructional, or research assistantship in the fall or spring semester.

Talk to your department about these regulations and the requirements for your degree. Each degree program has a graduate faculty advisor and a graduate staff advisor who can help you. The departmental graduate faculty advisor is not the same as your thesis/dissertation/research advisor. Contact information for these individuals can be found on your department’s website or the NSM website.