USF System Regulations

The University of South Florida System regulations provide information, services, and tools for locating, commenting on, challenging, promoting, and evaluating all USF System regulations.  Regional campuses and separately accredited institutions may have unique characteristics.  Students, faculty, and staff must check with their individual campuses and apply system-wide regulations in conjunction and consistent with the specific characteristics and guidelines applicable to those campuses.  Regulations are required for matters subject to the Florida Board of Governors regulation development procedure.

USF System Policies

All policies in the USF System are promulgated through the process established in USF System Policy 0-001: Issuance of Policies.

The USF System is currently comprised of three institutions separately accredited by SACS (USF Tampa, USF Sarasota-Manatee, and USF St. Petersburg). Each of the separately accredited institutions may initiate policy consistent with USF System policies, established laws, regulations and governance requirements. Each policy issued in the USF System must follow the established format.

In this section...


Academic Dismissal

Students may be academically dismissed from their graduate degree program for a variety of reasons.  Once processed, the student’s status will be changed from Graduate Degree Seeking to Non-Degree Seeking. A change to Non-Degree Seeking status could adversely impact financial aid.  Dismissal cannot be retroactive.  The effective date will be entered into the student’s record by the USF System Office of the Registrar as the First Business Day after the end of the Semester, except in cases of academic dismissal due to academic dishonesty or disruption of academic process.  Some of the reasons for academic dismissal include:

  • Failure to successfully satisfy requirements to meet Conditional Admission by the deadline established by the program.
  • Receiving an “FF” grade
  • Failure to maintain “good standing”
  • Failure to make satisfactory progress

To be readmitted, the student will need to reapply for admission, meeting the admission criteria in place at the time.  Graduate students who are assigned an “FF” grade will be academically dismissed from the University and will not be eligible to apply to a graduate program at any USF System Institution.


Change of Graduate Degree Program Request

A Change of Graduate Program Request will NOT be considered for graduate students in their first semester of study.  Only a continuing graduate student enrolled for study in a particular program who wishes to change to another program at the same or lower level may complete the Change of Program Request Application.   It is up to the discretion of the student’s new program to determine if a Change of Program is appropriate and will be granted. Students may obtain the Change of Program Request Application on the USF Sarasota-Manatee website. This form must be signed both by the current program and the new program, after which it must be submitted to the college for approval.  If approved by the college, the change of program form is then sent to Records and Registration for processing.  NOTE:  Some programs may require another application to be submitted because the Change of Program Request Form does not contain sufficient information for them to make a decision. Students should check with the College before completing any paperwork.


Credit Transfer

Students may, with the approval of their graduate degree program, transfer credits from any regionally accredited institution into their graduate degree program, as long as the majority of the credits are earned at the institution granting the degree. Credits obtained from USF System Institutions will be calculated into the GPA at USF Sarasota-Manatee and will be noted on the transcript as the grade earned. Credits from other regionally accredited universities are not calculated into the GPA at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

  • Only credits with a grade of B or better may be transferred.
  • Credit for coursework expires seven (7) years after receiving the credit.
  • There is no time limitation for courses from a completed master’s degree or professional degree applied toward a doctoral degree.
  • The graduate degree program / department will be responsible for evaluating, approving, and initiating the transfer as soon as possible at the time of admission.

Note – Students taking courses at USF System Institutions other than their home USF institution should seek the approval of their graduate program director prior to taking the courses to ensure that the courses are eligible for transfer.

Transfer of Credit Table

To Graduate Certificates

To Masters or Ed.S. Degree

Graduate Courses taken as an undergraduate but not applied to completed undergraduate degrees (undergraduate courses may be accepted if in compliance with graduate minimum hours policy) Discretion of the Graduate Degree Program, if taken at USF System. Up to one course if not taken at a USF System Institution. Discretion of the Program if taken at USF. Up to 12 credits if not taken at USF System institution.
Graduate Courses applied to undergraduate degrees None None (Discretion of the Program for approved Accelerated Degree Programs)
Non-degree-Seeking Status Up to one graduate course Up to 12 graduate hours*
Certificate Coursework (Graduate Degree-Seeking Students) Up to one graduate course (1 course may be applied to up to 2 certificates) Up to 12 graduate hours*
Uncompleted Master’s or Ed.S. Degree Discretion of the Graduate Degree Program, if taken at a USF System Institution. For transfers from non-USF Institutions, up to 49% of required credits may be transferred in at the discretion on the Graduate Degree of Certificate Program.
Completed Master’s or Ed.S.  Degree Specific course requirements in common across both degree programs may be waived with the substitution of other approved coursework at the discretion of the program.
Uncompleted Doctoral or completed Professional Degree Discretion of the Program Specific course requirements in common across both degree programs may be waived with the substitution of other approved coursework at the discretion of the program.
Completed Doctoral Degree Courses from a completed doctoral Degree may not be transferred to a Graduate Certificate or a Master’s Program. For USF and non-USF System specific course requirements in common across both degree programs may be waived with the substitution of other approved coursework at the discretion of the program.

*a maximum of twelve (12) credits can be transferred to a degree regardless of the source(s)

**Programs that wish to transfer credit from a completed doctoral program to a professional program must submit the proposal to the Graduate School for approval.

Academic Standards and Grades

In Good Standing

To be considered a student in good standing, graduate students must:

  • Maintain an overall minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in all courses taken as a graduate student, and
  • Maintain an overall minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in all courses taken in each of the student’s degree-seeking programs.

No grade of C- or below will be accepted toward a graduate degree. Students must meet the requirements to be in good standing to graduate.  All “I” and “M” grades must be cleared for graduation to be certified.  Students who fail to maintain good standing may be placed on probation or academically dismissed.

Course Availability

USF System Regulation USF3.017: Deletion of Courses from Catalogs and Common Course Designation and Numbering System  

USF Sarasota-Manatee does not commit itself to offer all the courses, programs, and majors listed in this catalog unless there is sufficient demand to justify them. Some courses may be offered only in alternate semesters or years, or even less frequently if there is little demand.

Course Descriptions

For a listing of the most current USF System approved course descriptions refer to the Course Inventory Database.

Comprehensive Examination

Prior to clearance for the degree, candidates must perform satisfactorily on a comprehensive examination or an alternative method designated by the academic unit to measure student competency in the major area. Students must be enrolled for a minimum of two (2) hours of graduate credit during the semester when the comprehensive examination is attempted. If the exam is attempted between semesters, the student must be enrolled for a minimum of two (2) hours of graduate credit in the semester before or following the exam.

Cross-Listing 4000/6000 Courses

When courses are cross listed it is expected that the 4000 and 6000 courses will have distinct syllabi demonstrating different depth and breadth of the subject matter as reflected in the course requirements.  The courses presuppose different audiences, and the intention is to offer them at distinct levels.

Degree Requirements

USF System Regulation USF3.009: Graduate Degree Requirements

Graduate students must meet all of the requirements of USFSM graduate degree requirements, as specified in the USFSM Graduate Catalogs, as well as any College or Program degree requirements. Students must be in good standing to graduate. College and Program degree requirements are approved by USFSM Academic Program’s Committee.  Each Catalog is published and in effect for the academic term(s) noted on the title page.


A student may drop a course(s) during the drop/add periods (first five days of classes) in order for the course(s) not to appear on any permanent academic records. No tuition or fees will be assessed for course(s) dropped within that period. Courses may not be dropped after the last day of classes except in cases of University Administrative error.

Dual Degree Programs

A student may wish to pursue two (2) degrees simultaneously. Upon approval by the appropriate College Dean(s) and Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, a prescribed number of courses (generally no more than nine (9) hours of core or basic courses) required for one degree may be applied to another degree that requires the same courses, without repetition or alternative courses. Contact the College for procedures for applying for a Dual Degree program.

Enrollment during Semester of Graduation

Students must be enrolled for a minimum of two (2) graduate hours during the semester of graduation.

Enrollment Continuous

All graduate degree-seeking students must be continuously enrolled.  Continuous enrollment is defined as completing, with grades assigned, a minimum of six (6) hours of graduate credit every three (3) continuous semesters. Colleges and programs may have additional requirements. Students on an approved leave of absence are not subject to the enrollment requirement for the time approved for the leave.  See also the Time Limitation Policy.

Enrollment for Graduate Teaching and Research Assistants

Graduate Teaching and Research Assistants should be full-time students.  Exceptions must be approved by the College Dean and the Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs.

Full-Time Graduate Student Definition

Graduate Students taking nine (9) or more hours toward their degree in the fall or spring semester, or taking six (6) or more hours in the summer semester, will be classified as Full-Time students for academic purposes. For financial aid requirements, contact the Office of Financial Aid.


Continuing Registration Grades (Z)

The “Z” grade shall be used to indicate continuing registration in multi-semester internship or thesis/dissertation courses where the final grade to be assigned will indicate the complete sequence of courses or satisfactory completion of the thesis/dissertation. Upon satisfactory completion of a multi-semester internship the final grade assigned will be an “S.”

Note: Graduation will not be certified until all courses have been satisfactorily completed. No grade changes will be processed after the student has graduated except in the case of university error.  Procedures requiring petitions are processed through the college Dean’s office.


Grade Point Average (GPA)

The GPA is computed by dividing the total number of quality points by the total number of graded (A-F) hours completed. The total quality points are figured by multiplying the number of credits assigned to each course by the quality point value of the grade given.  The GPA is truncated to two decimals (3.48) and is not rounded up.

Credit hours for courses with grades of  I, IU, M, MU, N, S, U, Q and grades which are preceded by T (Transfer) are subtracted from the total hours attempted before the GPA is calculated.  Graduate students are not eligible for grade forgiveness.  All grades earned, regardless of course level, will be posted on the transcript.  If a student retakes a course, both grades will be used in the determination of the GPA.  Courses taken at USF as non-degree-seeking are not computed in the GPA unless the courses are transferred in and applied to the degree requirements.  The program and the college must approve such actions.

Grades for transfer credits accepted toward the degree program will not be counted in the GPA unless the coursework in question was taken as a non-degree-seeking student at a USF System Institution and meets the requirements stated above (see Transfer of Credit section).


Incomplete (I)

Definition:  An Incomplete grade “I” is exceptional and granted at the instructor’s discretion only when students are unable to complete course requirements due to illness or other circumstances beyond their control.  This applies to all gradable courses, including pass/fail (S/U).

Students may only be eligible for an “I” when:

  • majority of the student’s work for a course has been completed before the end of the semester
  • the work that has been completed must be qualitatively satisfactory
  • the student has requested consideration for an “I” grade as soon as possible but no later than the last day of finals week.

The student must request consideration for an Incomplete grade and obtain an “I” Grade Contract from the instructor of record.  Even though the student may meet the eligibility requirements for this grade, the course instructor retains the right to make the final decision on granting a student’s request for an Incomplete. The course instructor and student must complete and sign the “I” Grade Contract Form that describes the work to be completed, the date it is due, and the grade the student would earn factoring in a zero for all incomplete assignments. The due date can be negotiated and extended by student/instructor as long as it does not exceed one semester from the original date grades were due for that course.

The instructor must file a copy of the “I” Grade Contract in the college that offered the course by the date grades are due.  The instructor must not require students to either re-register for the course or audit the course in order to complete the “I” grade.  Students may register to audit the course, with the instructor’s approval, but cannot re-take the course for credit until the I grade is cleared.

An “I” grade not cleared within the next academic semester (including summer semester) will revert to the grade noted on the contract. “I” grades are not computed in the GPA, but the grade noted on the contract will be computed in the GPA, retroactive to the semester the course was taken, if the contract is not fulfilled by the specified date.  When the final grade is assigned, if applicable, the student will be placed on academic probation or academically dismissed (refer to Automated Academic Probation Procedures for information).   Students cannot be admitted to doctoral candidacy or certified for graduation with an “I” grade.


Current Semester

  • student has a “B” in the course, not including the grade for the missing assignment, therefore is eligible for an “I”
  • student’s grade, including a zero for the missed work, would be a “D”
  • student and instructor complete the “I” Grade Contract, assigning an “ID” (Incomplete +”D”  grade)

Deadline Agreed Upon in Contract (e.g. two weeks)*

If the student completes the work as agreed upon in the Contract by the noted deadline

  • instructor submits a change of grade
  • student earns final grade comprised of all completed coursework

If the student does not complete the work as agreed upon in the Contract by the noted deadline

  • “I” automatically drops off and the grade of “D” remains.
  • GPA is recalculated for the current semester and retroactively recalculated for the semester in which the “I” was granted.

*Although the instructor establishes the deadline for completion of the work, the deadline may only extend through the end of the subsequent semester.

Missing (M)

An “M” grade is automatically assigned as a default grade when the instructor does not submit a grade for a student. Unless a change of grade is submitted, the “M” grade will remain on the transcript and will not be computed in the student’s GPA.



Plus/Minus Grading

Effective fall semester 2000, graduate and undergraduate grades are assigned quality points in the Grade Point Average (GPA) grading system. The +/- designation must be included in the syllabus provided at the beginning of the course.  The use of the +/- grading system is at the discretion of the instructor. The syllabus policy is available in the office of Academic Affairs.

Letter grade = number of grade points

A+ 4.00
A Excellent Performance 4.00
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B Good Performance 3.00
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C Average Performance 2.00
C- 1.67
D+ 1.33
D Poor Performance 1.00
D- 0.67
F 0.00

Other Grades

E Course repeated, not included in GPA
FF Failure/academic dishonesty
I Incomplete
IF Incomplete grade changed to Failure
IU Incomplete grade changed to Unsatisfactory
M No grade submitted by instructor
N Audit
R Repeated Course
S Satisfactory
U Unsatisfactory
W Withdrawal from course without penalty
WC Withdrawal for extenuating circumstances
Z Indicates continuing registration

*Incomplete grade policy change effective fall 08.  IF grades earned and posted prior to fall 2008 do calculate in the GPA; IF grades earned as of fall 2008 forward do not calculate in the GPA Refer to Incomplete Grade Policy for more information.


Satisfactory (S)/ Unsatisfactory (U)

Graduate students may not take courses in the major on an S/U (satisfactory / unsatisfactory) basis unless courses are specifically designated S/U in the Catalog. Students may take courses outside of the major on a S/U basis with prior approval of the course professor, major professor or advisor, and the Dean of the College in which the student is seeking a degree. The student may apply a maximum of six (6) hours of such credit (excluding those courses for which S/U is designated in the Catalog) toward a master’s degree.  Directed Research, Thesis, and Dissertation courses are designated as variable credit and are graded on an S/U basis only. Before a student begins work under Directed Research, a written agreement must be completed between the student and the professor concerned, setting forth in detail the requirements of the course.

Graduation Information

Graduate students may not participate in commencement exercises until all requirements for the degree sought have been fulfilled. 



Application for Degree and Graduation

To graduate, a student must submit the Master’s Degree Application online in their Oasis account. This application must be submitted in the term of expected graduation by the deadline noted in the academic calendar. If a student applies for graduation and is not approved, a new Application for Degree must be submitted by the deadline in a new term.  In order for the degree statement to appear on a student’s academic record, the student must file the aforementioned application whether or not participation in the commencement ceremony is desired.

Inquiries concerning approval or denial of graduation should be made to the appropriate college.  It is the student’s responsibility to clear all “I” (Incomplete) and “M” (Missing) grades in all courses and to provide official transcripts of all transferred coursework needed for graduation at least three (3) weeks prior to the end of the term in which the student expects to graduate.

Certification Letters

Students in need of verification of the degree prior to receiving their diploma may request a Letter of Certification. This letter specifies that the student has finished all of the requirements for the degree and the date the degree will be conferred on. The letter must include the student’s identification number, name of degree program and official name of the degree. The College Dean (or designee) must sign the Letter of Certification.

Institutional Residency

The majority of credits toward a graduate degree must be earned through instruction offered by the institution (e.g. USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg, USF Sarasota-Manatee) granting the degree.   For information about the minimum number of credit hours required for the degree refer to the degree requirements in the program listing and the Transfer of Credit Policy.


Leaves of Absence (LOA)

Leaves of absence may be granted to students under exceptional and unavoidable circumstances.  Students requesting a LOA must specify the reasons for the leave, as well as the duration. Requested LOA may be approved for up to two (2) years. Students requiring less than three (3) consecutive terms of absence do not need an approved LOA if they meet the continuous enrollment requirement.

Students with an approved LOA must be enrolled in the first semester after the leave expires.  To request a LOA, the student must complete the Leave of Absence Request form.  The LOA must be approved by the Professor, the College Dean and Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and is noted in the student’s record.  If the LOA is granted, the time absent does not count against the student’s time limit to obtain the degree.

Students returning from an approved LOA must reactivate their status by contacting the Graduate Admission Office for procedures.


Major and Co-Major Professor

The Major Professor serves as the student’s advisor and mentor. Students should confer with the college to confirm the internal process and timeline for the selection and appointment of the Major Professor.  The student must identify a major professor and receive that person’s agreement to serve as major professor. The selection of the Major Professor must be approved and appointed by the college dean as soon as possible, but no later than the time the student has completed 50% of the program. Students must have a major professor in order to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. If a major professor cannot be identified or in the event a major professor is unable or unwilling to continue serving on the student’s committee, the student is responsible for finding another major professor.  Students who are unable to find a replacement major professor should confer with the college dean for available options (including converting to a non-thesis program if available.) If no other options exist the student may be requested to voluntarily withdraw from the program or may be honorably withdrawn in good academic standing.  The student and major professor should plan a program of study which, when completed, will satisfy the degree requirements specified. A copy of this program, signed by the student and professor, must be maintained in the student’s college file.

Major Professors must meet the following requirements:

  • Be graduate faculty, as defined by the University.  Faculty who do not meet this definition may serve as Co-Major Professor
  • Be engaged in current and sustained scholarly, creative, or research activities and  have met college (or equivalent) requirements
  • Have been approved by the college (or equivalent) to serve as a Major Professor or Co-Major Professor.

The membership of graduate faculty will be based upon criteria developed within the appropriate program and approved at the college level.  These criteria must be forwarded to the Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

In the event a Major Professor leaves the University (i.e. for an appointment at another university, due to retirement, etc.) and the Major Professor is willing to continue serving on the student’s committee, the Major Professor then becomes a Co-Major Professor on the committee and another faculty is appointed as the other Co-Major Professor.  It is important that one of the Co-Major Professors be accessible on the university campus for the student to make satisfactory progress on the thesis.  In the event a Major Professor is on temporary leave (e.g. sabbatical, research, etc.); the Major Professor shall coordinate with the college dean to facilitate the needs of the student.  In some instances a student may choose to have two professors serve as Major Professor.  In this situation the faculty members are approved as “Co-Major Professors” and jointly serve in that role.  Consequently both faculty must sign approval on paperwork pertaining to the student’s processing (i.e. committee form, change of committee form, etc.)

Appointment of a (Co)-Major Professor(s) may be rescinded by the college dean, with the approval of the appropriate college (or equivalent) faculty committee (separate from student advisory committee.)


Mandatory Attendance at First Class Meeting

USF System Policy Number 10-006: Registration Changes for Courses by Students and Instructors (Drop/Adds, Withdrawals, Deletions and Auditing)

USF System Regulation – Registration – 4.0101

All students are required to attend class the first day a class meets, for both online and on-campus courses.  Students unable to attend must contact the instructor prior to the first day to ensure they are not dropped from the course. This policy is not applicable to courses in the following categories: Educational Outreach, FEEDS Program, Community Experiential Learning (CEL), Cooperative Education Training, and courses that do not have regularly scheduled meeting days/times (such as, directed reading/research or study, individual research, thesis, dissertation, internship, practica, etc.). Students are responsible for dropping undesired courses in these categories by the 5th day of classes to avoid fee liability and academic penalty.





Minimum Hours

A minimum of thirty (30) graduate hours (5000 level and up) is required for a master’s degree, at least sixteen (16) hours of which must be at the 6000 level.

At least twenty (20) hours must be in formal, regularly scheduled course work (i.e. not directed research, independent study, internships, etc.), at least ten (10) of which must be at the 6000 level.

Undergraduate courses may not be used to satisfy the minimum thirty (30) hours in master’s course requirements but may be taken to meet specific prerequisites.  All graduate and undergraduate courses taken as a graduate student count in the overall GPA, whether or not they count toward the minimum hours for the degree.

Graduate students may not enroll for more than eighteen (18) hours in any semester without written permission from the College Dean.

Off-Campus Courses and Programs

Graduate courses and programs are offered at locations other than the Tampa, Sarasota, and St. Petersburg campuses. Information on course enrollment procedures for off-campus courses and programs may be obtained from the College in which the courses or programs are offered.



Any student who is not in good standing at the end of a semester shall be considered on probation as of the following semester.  The college may also place students on probation for other reasons as designated by the program.  Notification of probation shall be made to the student in writing by the college, with a copy to the College Dean.  At the end of each probationary semester, the department shall recommend, in writing, to the College Dean one of the following:

  1. Removal of probation
  2. Continued probation; OR
  3. Dismissal from the degree program.

Students with a GPA below 3.00 for two consecutive semesters will be prevented from registering for courses without the permission of the College Dean.  The College Dean will notify the Regional Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs in cases of academic dismissal.  To be readmitted, the student will need to reapply for admission, meeting the admission criteria in place at the time.  For information contact your college dean’s office.


Program Degree Requirements

In order to graduate, students must meet all requirements specified in the USFSM Catalog of their choice, except as noted below.  As the University is dynamic, changes and updates to the catalog are anticipated.   In contract to program requirements, which are tied to a specific catalog, all students must comply with University policies and procedures that come into effect each catalog year.

  • Students cannot choose a USFSM catalog published prior to admission (or readmission) or during an academic year in which they did not complete at least two terms. If a student is dropped from the system and must be reinstated, the student’s choice of catalog is limited to the USFSM catalog in effect at the time of readmission or any one catalog published during their continuous re-enrollment.
  • If state law or certification requirements change, the student must comply with the most current standard or criteria.
  • If the College makes fundamental changes to the program that necessitates changes in the degree requirements of enrolled students, the needs of those students will be explicitly addressed in the proposal for change and scrutinized by the Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs.
  • USF System policies and procedures not related to degree requirements such as academic grievance procedures, student conduct code and other procedural processes and definitions may be updated each year and the student will be held to the most current catalog and procedures available.
  • USFSM does not commit itself to offer all the courses, programs, and majors listed in this catalog. If the student cannot meet all of the graduation requirements specified in the catalog of choice as a result of decisions and changes made by the University, appropriate substitutions will be determined by the program to ensure that the student is not penalized.

Program of Study

It is recommended that the college establish a program of study for the student at the time of admission into the graduate program, outlining the requirements for the degree sought.  In the event state mandates, accreditation requirements, etc., make changes to the degree requirements necessary, it is recommended that the program provide an addendum to the program of study outlining what is required for degree completion.


Student Responsibilities

USFSM’s colleges and programs have establish certain academic requirements that must be met before a degree is granted. These requirements concern such things as curricula and courses, majors and minors, and academic residence. Faculty and graduate program directors are available to help the student understand and arrange to meet these requirements, but the student is responsible for fulfilling them.  At the end of a student’s course of study, if all requirements for graduation have not been satisfied, the degree will not be granted. For this reason, it is important for students to acquaint themselves with all regulations and to remain currently informed throughout their college careers. Courses, programs, and requirements described in the USFSM catalog may be suspended, deleted, restricted, supplemented, or changed in any other manner at any time at the sole discretion of the University and the USF Board of Trustees.

It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that he/she has met all degree requirements as specified in the Degree Requirements section of this publication, as well as any College and Program requirements for the degree.




If a thesis is required, it must conform to the guidelines of the USF System.

Refer to the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Resource Center for complete information about requirements, procedures, and deadlines.

Refer to the enrollment requirements in the Academic Policies section in the Catalog.


Instructions with regards to formatting can be found at the following website.

Directed Research

Directed Research hours may satisfy up to 50% of the thesis hour requirement.

Manuscript Processing Fee

USF System Regulation USF4.0107: Fees, Fines and Penalties,

Students participating in the thesis process are required to pay a processing fee.  More information is available on the Thesis and Dissertation website.

Exchange of Thesis for Non-Thesis Credit

If a student changes from thesis to non-thesis during a semester and is currently enrolled in thesis credit, the current thesis credits may be exchanged without academic penalty if a Graduate School Petition is filed with the Graduate School no later than the last day to withdraw without Academic Penalty. If a student enrolled in a thesis required program has taken thesis credits but elects to change to non-thesis track or program, the accumulated thesis credits may not be exchanged or converted to another non-structured credit. The thesis hours will remain on the transcript and will retain the “Z” grade.

Thesis Defense

Policies and procedures for the thesis defense are handled within the College and Program.  Contact the College and Program for requirements.

Thesis Final Submission Guidelines

Information on requirements for submission of the finished and approved manuscript copies is available online at the (ETD) Resource Center website. Students who fail to submit the final copy of a thesis by the posted submission deadline will be considered for graduation in the following semester and must therefore apply for graduation by the posted deadline, enroll in a minimum of two (2) thesis hours for that subsequent semester, and meet the submission requirements as posted on the (ETD) Resource Center website. Only after the Graduate School has approved the manuscript can the student be certified for the degree.

Mandatory Electronic Submission

Students are required to submit the thesis in an electronic format (ETD).  Requirements and procedures are available at the (ETD) Resource Center website.

Submission to Pro-Quest

All theses will be submitted to ProQuest for microfilming and archiving, effective Fall 2010.

Changes after Publication

Once a thesis is approved and accepted by the Graduate School for publication, it cannot be changed.

Release of Thesis Publications

The University recognizes the benefits from collaboration with sponsors on research projects but also recognizes the possibility of conflicts of interest in the disclosure of the results of the collaborations. While the sponsor’s economic interests in the restriction of disclosure should be considered, the University has a primary mission to extend knowledge and disseminate it to the public and the broader academic community.  The University’s “Statement of Policy Regarding Inventions and Works” acknowledges the possible need for delays in publication of sponsored research to protect the sponsor’s interests, but it provides no definite guidelines for the restrictions of publication beyond the statement: “Disclosure delays mutually acceptable to the Inventor, the Vice President for Research, and the sponsor, if any, are authorized in order to allow patent applications to be filled prior to publication, thereby preserving patent rights…”[4]

To protect the University’s primary goal from un-due compromise, the University has adopted the following guidelines:

  1. The recommendations of sponsors, regarding publication of research results should be considered advisory rather than mandatory.
  1. In support of academic discourse and the mission to promote and share academic works, Theses will be released for worldwide access once submitted to and approved by the USF System Graduate School.  In the event that a patent or copyright application provides reason to delay the release of the Thesis, a petition to request a one year delay may be submitted to the Graduate School for consideration.  Such requests must be received by the format check of the thesis.
  1. Students should not be delayed in the final defense of their theses by agreements involving publication delays.

Duty to Disclose New Inventions and Works

USF System Policy 0-300: Inventions and Works and USF System Regulation USF12.003: Inventions and Works

For information about the requirements of this policy contact the  USF System Division of Patents and Licensing at (813) 974-0994.

Thesis Change of Grade

In the semester in which the final manuscript has been received, reviewed, and certified for permanent filing in the University Library, the Graduate School submits the change of grade from “Z” to “S” for the last registration of thesis courses to the USF System Office of the Registrar when all grades are due at the end of the semester.

[1] Deviations from the available  format are acceptable if approved in advance by the Supervisory Committee and Graduate School

[2] Include either References or a Bibliography, as specified by your style guide

[3] Include either References or a Bibliography, as specified by your style guide

[4] April Burke, “University Policies on Conflict of Interest and Delay of Publications,” Report of the Clearinghouse on University-Industry Relations, Association of American Universities, February, 1985.


Thesis Committee

Thesis Committee

Students working toward a thesis degree will have the benefit of a committee of members of the graduate faculty. The committee will approve the course of study for the student and plan for research, supervise the research and any comprehensive qualifying exams, and read and approve the thesis for content and format.

The committee will consist of the major professor and at least two other members or co-major professors and at least one other member of the department or area of interest in which the degree is sought. (Colleges and Programs may require additional committee members and specify characteristics.)

Member Definition

All graduate faculty, as defined by the University and the College, and approved by their college, as qualified to be a member of and/or supervise a committee. Persons desiring to serve on a Graduate committee who are not defined as Graduate Faculty (i.e. visiting faculty, professionals, etc.) by the University and the College must submit a curriculum vitae and be approved by the College, and, as needed, the Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for each committee.

Committee members must meet the following requirements:

  • Be graduate or affiliate graduate faculty, as defined by the University
  • Have the background and expertise that contributes to the success of the student.

In addition to the requirements specified in the Graduate Faculty definition, committee membership will be based upon criteria developed within the appropriate program or department and approved at the college level.  These criteria must be forwarded to the Dean of the College.

Once a committee has been determined, a Supervisory Committee Form needs to be completed by the student and submitted to the Committee Members for original signatures. Check with the College for instructions and forms.  The original appointment form and two (2) copies should be submitted to the College Dean’s office for approval. A copy of the approved form should be kept in the student’s file. An approved and current Committee Form must be on file in the college before graduation may be certified. Committee forms need to be processed as early in the program as possible, but no later than the semester prior to graduation. (May institute additional requirements for membership on Supervisory Committees.)

Changes to Committee

Changes to a Supervisory Committee must be submitted on a Change of Committee Form.   Check with the College for instructions and forms.  Original signatures of faculty being added to the Committee, along with the approval signature of the (Co-) Major Professor(s), must be on the form. Faxed signatures are acceptable.  Faculty who are removed from the Committee are not required to sign the form, provided that the (Co-) Major Professor(s) has signed.  In such instances the signature of the (Co-)Major Professor(s) indicate(s) approval of the change, as well as acknowledgement and approval of the change by the removed member.  Any non-faculty being added to a committee must submit a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for college approval. Change of Committee Forms should be submitted for approval as soon as the change takes place. Changes to a Committee are official only once approved and filed by the program and college.


Time Limit Extensions

In the event that a student nears the end of the time limitation as specified below, but the student needs more time to complete the degree, the student may submit a request for an extension using the Time Limit Extension Request Form. The requests must include the following:

  • the reasons for the delay in completion,
  • the anticipated time needed for completion,
  • and endorsements from the graduate faculty advisor, College Dean or designee,
  • a detailed plan of study and timeline for the remaining requirements for the degree

Note – for the time limit extension procedures, if the time limit extension will cause courses taken or transferred into the program to be older than seven (7) years, then a request for course concurrency may be required or the courses may be invalidated toward the degree requirements, per the time limit policy.

If approved, the time limit extension also applies to courses applied toward the degree.  However, programs may require additional or repeat coursework as part of the condition of the time limit extension. Students who exceed the time limitations may have their registration placed on hold until a request for extension has been approved.  Only one time limit extension request is permitted.  Students who are temporarily unable to continue the program should submit a Leave of Absence Request, which extends the time limit for the duration of the approved leave (see the section on Leaves of Absence in the Enrollment Requirements section.)

Time Limitations

Master’s degrees must be completed within five (5) years from the student’s date of admission for graduate study.  Courses taken prior to admission to the USFSM graduate program, for example as non-degree seeking or from other institutions that were transferred in, can be no older than seven years at the time of graduation.  Master’s degrees (including dual degree programs) that require coursework in excess of 50 credit hours may be granted a longer statute of limitations.

Veterans Administration

Students receiving Veterans’ Administration benefits should confirm their enrollment requirements with the Office of Veterans’ Services or Veterans’ Coordinator.


Voluntary Withdrawal from the Program

Students may voluntarily withdraw from their graduate degree program.  A Voluntary Withdrawal cannot be retroactive.  The effective date of the withdrawal will be entered into the student’s record by the USF System Office of the Registrar as the first business day after the end of the semester.  Students who wish to withdraw must submit a Voluntary Withdrawal Form.  Once processed, the student’s status will be changed from Graduate Degree Seeking to Non-Degree Seeking. A change to Non-Degree Seeking status could adversely impact financial aid. Questions regarding this should be directed to the Financial Aid Department at (941) 359-4622. The student will remain financially and academically responsible for any course(s) for which they have registered. The student may request to drop or delete courses they are registered for by submitting a Graduate Withdrawal Request Form.



A student may withdraw from a course(s) between the second and tenth week of the semester (except for summer sessions – see the Summer Schedule of Classes for dates and courses with alternative calendars), however, tuition and fees will be assessed for any course(s) withdrawn by the student after the first week. The student’s academic record will reflect a “W” grade for any course(s) withdrawal between the second and tenth week of the semester. Under specific conditions, consideration for refund of tuition and fees may be requested if a Fee Adjustment Request form accompanied by verifiable supporting documentation is submitted to the Office of the Registrar at USF Tampa within six (6) months from the end of the semester to which any refund would be applicable. Students who withdraw may not continue to attend classes.

Effective Fall 2016, all students will be limited to two (2) withdrawals from graduate courses while enrolled as degree-seeking or a non-degree seeking at USF.  Requests for withdrawals from graduate level courses are submitted via the Withdrawal Request form.  Only in extenuating circumstances will approval be granted for more than two graduate course withdrawals. Appeals for additional graduate course withdrawals due to extenuating circumstances must be submitted via the Graduate Petition Form.

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