1.6 Course Policies

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1.6.1 Graduate courses

Courses that bear graduate credit (500- or 600-level at ISU) are used to meet graduate program of study (POS) requirements.

Taken as an ISU undergraduate student

If you completed a bachelor’s degree at ISU and took graduate courses as an undergraduate, you may use up to 9 credits of that graduate coursework toward your graduate POS requirements if you earned grades of B or higher. A course counted toward your undergraduate degree by the home institution cannot be transferred. Only courses taken for graduate credit separate from undergraduate work can be transferred. If you wish to count ISU graduate credits taken as an undergraduate, you must include them when you submit the DPS and other POS documentation. Those credits will be certified for use in your POS by the Graduation Office when you submit the Graduate College POSC Form in your AccessPlus account.

Taken as an ISU nondegree graduate student

If you are admitted to ISU and took graduate courses as a nondegree seeking graduate student, you may use up to 9 credits of that graduate coursework toward meeting your graduate POS requirements. If you wish to use any of these credits, you will include them on the DPS and submit them on the Graduate College POSC Form in your AccessPlus account.

1.6.2 Undergraduate courses taken as an ISU graduate student

Advanced 300- and 400-level undergraduate courses from outside your major and outside the English Department may be used to meet graduate degree requirements with permission from your POS committee members.

  • No 100- or 200-level classes may be used, but 300- and 400-level classes at Iowa State (not undergraduate classes from other institutions) will be eligible.
  • With approval from the POS committee, graduate students will be permitted to use undergraduate courses from outside their majors; however, it is our department policy that no ENGL designator course at the 300-400 level (including those cross-listed with ENGL courses) can be used to meet POS requirements.
  • Up to three courses at the 400-level will be permitted, or a POS may include one 300-level course and two 400-level courses.

1.6.3 Grading

The minimum grade acceptable for courses to be used on the POSC is a C (transfer credits must be a minimum of a B).

P/NP (pass/not pass) courses may not be used on the POSC (except for those earned in Spring 2020 due to COVID-19).

Students cannot graduate with F’s or I’s (incompletes) on their records unless the POS committee determines there are extenuating circumstances, petitions the Graduate College for approval to allow the student to graduate with these on their record, and the request is approved by the Graduate College Dean.

1.6.4 Dual-listed courses

The Department of English permits you to take up to 6 credit hours of dual-listed courses toward your program of study. These courses permit undergraduate and graduate students to be in the same class but receive credit under two different course numbers, and graduate students must fulfill additional requirements. Dual-listed courses used in the POS must (1) be taken as a graduate, not an undergraduate, student with extra work completed for graduate credit, and (2) be taught by a member of the Graduate College graduate faculty.

1.6.5 Expired courses

Courses that you wish to use on the POSC form to meet degree requirements must follow Graduate College policy regarding the use of expired courses. The age of a course is defined as the time between when credits were earned and when the student graduates. A course is expired when its age is greater than the Graduate College time limit for the master’s or doctoral program, and the time-to-degree expectation remains at seven years for both levels.

Students must complete the online Expired Course Petition along with the POSC form or a modification to the POSC form. Courses must be ISU courses 300-level or above, or those courses documented as being graduate-level courses from other appropriately accredited institutions and approved for transfer.

The following guidelines will be used by the POS committee, DOGE(s), and the Graduate College for the number and age limits of expired credits allowed on the POSC form based on the expected year of graduation indicated by the student:

  • Master’s limits (MA and MFA):
    • 6.0 credits 8-10 years old
    • 0.0 credits 11+ years old
  • M.F.A. limits:
    • no limit 8-10 years old (no Expired Course Petition required)
    • 14.0 credits 11-16 years old
    • 10.0 credits 17 years old
  • Ph.D. limits:
    • no limit 8-10 years old (no Expired Course Petition required)
    • 24.0 credits 11-16 years old
    • 12.0 credits 17 years old

The Expired Course Petition should include the following:

  • a justification for why the courses are still relevant,
  • an assurance that the student has kept current with the information covered in the courses, and
  • an explanation of how the student will be evaluated on overage material. Evaluation could include a written examination (a preliminary, qualifying, or comprehensive examination), evidence of satisfactory performance in course(s) for which the overage courses are prerequisites, or the completion of an audit in one or more current courses in the areas encompassed by the overage course. The object should be to determine whether the material learned in those courses is still timely and adequate. The evaluation method should be specified by the committee at the time the POSC form is submitted.

If a student does not graduate by the term indicated on the POSC, the approved use of expired courses is void and a new updated Expired Course Petition must be submitted as well as an updated POSC Form with the graduate date changed. Students and faculty may want to plan in advance for the possibility that additional coursework may be required due to delays in graduation.

1.6.6 Transfer credits

You may transfer credits from another university and your transcripts will be evaluated to determine the number of transferable graduate credits. The initial evaluation will be made by your assigned program adviser or major professor in consultation with other teaching members of the English Department graduate faculty. Final review of requested transfer credits will be completed by the DOGE upon submission of the required Transfer Credit Petition form and accompanying paperwork (ISU English Department courses taken prior to entry into your current graduate program do not need to be included but will count towards the allowable number of transfer credits). The course(s) are then added to your POSC form in AccessPlus as transfer credits approved by the department that will require final approval by the Graduate College when you actually submit for approval the completed POSC form.

Transcript-related policies, all mandated by the university, apply to the transfer of credits:

  • Courses must have a grade of B or better. A pass/fail course cannot be transferred unless you can provide a letter from your professor indicating the grade that would have been awarded (must be B or higher).
  • Courses must be completed before the term in which the graduate student graduates from ISU and an official transcript provided for review and final approval by the Graduate College.
  • A course counted toward your undergraduate degree by the home institution cannot be transferred. Only courses taken for graduate credit separate from undergraduate work can be transferred. It is your responsibility to provide verification by letter from that institution that those graduate courses were not used to satisfy undergraduate requirements for a degree.
  • Courses must be acceptable as approved expired courses according to expired courses policies (See Expired courses section above)
  • MA students must complete a minimum of 22 graduate credits at Iowa State University, regardless of how many credits are transferred.
  • MFA students must complete a minimum of 22 graduate credits at Iowa State University, regardless of how many credits are transferred. Students may transfer up to 24 credits into the MFA POS, but the actual number of transfer credits approved will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Previous ISU degree coursework can count, but there must be a minimum of 22 non-overlapping credits per ISU degree.
  • PhD students must complete a minimum of 36 graduate credits at Iowa State University. Students may transfer up to 36 credits, but the actual number of transfer credits approved will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Previous ISU degree coursework can count, but there must be a minimum of 22 non-overlapping credits per ISU degree.

ISU sets limits on transfer credits because, as the degree-granting institution, it needs to be able to ensure the integrity of its degrees, and too much credit granted from credits taken elsewhere compromises the ability to ensure that integrity. The English Department, likewise, wants to protect the integrity of our degree programs, and that is why course transfer is handled on a case-by-case basis. This process allows us to assess the applicability of courses to individual degree programs and may not permit you to transfer as may credits as the university policy allows. To ensure programmatic consistency in the application of transfer credits, the DOGE has consulted with faculty in the various programs to develop transfer guidelines. Although you may discuss an appeal with your assigned program adviser or major professor if you believe you should be allowed more transfer credits, an appeal is not likely to advance beyond that discussion.

If you wish to transfer credits, you need to submit the following to the Graduate Program Staff Assistant for approval by the DOGE:

  • Transfer Credit Petition with courses listed for which you are requesting transfer approval
  • Transfer Course Evaluation Form(s) (one for each course) with faculty support and signatures. Provide 1) justification for having the course included in your POS, 2) description of course content (e.g. major readings, assignments, and exams), and 3) syllabus and appropriate pages from the catalog copy of the outside institution(s)
  • Transcript (copy of official or unofficial) showing grade received in each course

If you attended a foreign university and wish to transfer credits from that institution, you must translate into English the entirety of any non-English-language syllabus for a requested transfer course. Syllabi translations must be submitted to the Graduate Program Staff Assistant along with the rest of the required transfer credit paperwork described in the previous section. Translations will then be reviewed for accuracy before the credits themselves are reviewed for transfer.

1.6.7 Waivers/Substitutions in the POS

You need a POS waiver/substitution approved when your prior experience allows you to take a different or more advanced course as a substitute for a required course in the POS. You will need to submit a POS Waiver/Substitution Petition form which includes a clear justification for this change, consideration and support/signature from the faculty member who regularly teaches the ISU Engl Dept course being replaced (not required if a POS required course that is outside the department), signed by your assigned program adviser or major professor. This completed petition must be submitted to the Graduate Program Staff Assistant, 227 Ross Hall, for consideration and approval by the Director of Graduate Education. Prior approval is suggested to avoid delays in meeting degree requirements that can result in delayed graduation.

Note that receiving a POS waiver/substitution for a particular course does not change the number of required POS credits. You will be required to take additional coursework to replace the credits associated with the petition if applicable.

Approvals for POS waivers/substitutions must be obtained before or along with the Degree Planning Sheet.

1.6.8 Special Topics or Independent Study (English 590)

The Engl 590 course provides a way to study important material that is not otherwise available to you in the graduate curriculum. Such courses involve special conditions and require special arrangements between you and an instructor. The Director of Graduate Education will not approve Engl 590 proposals that do not meet the special conditions listed on the Request for Engl 590 form and guidelines. The number of Engl 590s allowed in any program of study is restricted.

To qualify for Engl 590 courses, you must have completed 9 credit hours of study in graduate-level courses (either at Iowa State or elsewhere) and you must have no “Incomplete” grades (other than in Engl 599 or 699).

To request approval to take Engl 590, you must complete and submit a Request for Engl 590 form and guidelines to the Graduate Program Staff Assistant for consideration by the DOGE by the first day of classes of the academic term in which the Engl 590 is to be taken (or by May 1 for the summer semester). It is to your advantage to submit the form the semester before you wish to take the Engl 590 in case you need to consider other options.

NOTE: In order for English Department graduate students to request use of Engl 590 on the POS, you must check the appropriate box on the Request for Engl 590 form and answer question #7 on how you will use it in your POS. A student whose Request for Engl 590 form was approved—with no request for use of the 590 on the POS—may later request use of the 590 on the POS by submitting a POS Wavier/Substitution form to the Graduate Program Staff Assistant for consideration by the DOGE.

  • MA students are permitted 3 credit hours of Engl 590 in their POS.
  • MFA students are permitted 3 credit hours of Engl 590 in their POS.
  • PhD students are permitted 6 credit hours of Engl 590 in their POS.

Registration reference numbers may be obtained from the Graduate Program Staff Assistant if the Request for Engl 590 form is approved. Permission must be obtained in advance as a POS waiver/substitution for any English 590 to be included on the POSC Form to meet POS requirements.

1.6.9 Research or Creative Component credits (Engl 699 or Engl 599)

Engl 699 is the course students enroll in for the purpose of writing the thesis or dissertation. There is a presumption that these credits will be part of a coherent research agenda leading to the thesis or dissertation.

Engl 599 is the course students in the three M.A. degree programs (English, RCPC, TESL/AL) may choose to enroll in for the purpose of writing a creative component instead of a thesis or dissertation.

  • All MA students must complete 3 hours of research credit in either Engl 699 (if writing a thesis) or Engl 599 (if writing a creative component). You may take more than 3 credit hours of Engl 699 (not an option for Engl 599) (e.g., to meet assistantship requirements), but only 3 credit hours will count toward your MA degree. (See Thesis and Creative Component options.)
  • All MFA students must complete 6 hours of research credit in Engl 699. You may take more than 6 credit hours of Engl 699 (e.g., to meet assistantship requirements), but only 6 credit hours will count toward your MFA degree.
  • All PhD students must complete 12-18 hours of research credit in Engl 699 according to their respective degree requirements (18 ALT; 12 RPC). You may take more than the required number of credit hours of Engl 699, but only the minimum number required will count toward your PhD degree.

Engl 599 and 699 credits may be taken only if students have submitted the Graduate College Program of Study and Committee Form (POSC) officially selecting their major professor and forming their POS committee.

Registration reference numbers for Engl 699 or 599 may be obtained from the Graduate Program Staff Assistant (englgrad@iastate.edu) only after the POSC Form is approved by your POS Committee, DOGE, and the Graduate College.