Academic Policies

A.  Grades

Grades in The Graduate School are as follows:

  • A (exceptional, 4.0 grade point) is the highest grade.
  • B (good, 3.0 grade point) and C (satisfactory, 2.0 grade point) are the remaining passing grades.
  • F (failing) is unsatisfactory.
  • I (incomplete) indicates that some element of the student’s work is missing for an acceptable reason at the time grades are reported.

A student must complete all coursework within a given semester to receive credit for the course; an Incomplete (I) grade indicates that some required coursework is lacking. Under extraordinary circumstances, a student may make prior arrangements with the professor to submit some coursework by a specific due date after the end of the course semester. Such an arrangement needs to be in place by the last class session; in such cases, the student typically signs a contract confirming the new due date for the coursework.  The professor then assigns a temporary Incomplete grade that resolves into a regular grade once the coursework is completed and graded.  However, if the Incomplete (I) is not changed to another letter grade within a calendar year, it becomes permanent on the transcript. For more details on grades, see The Graduate School's Student Handbook.  

B.  Academic Status

Students must complete the GLS core course and one other course with a minimum grade of B (3.0) in each course in order to continue in the program.  Students must also demonstrate appropriate English-language speaking, writing and research skills, as determined by faculty evaluations during the first two LS courses.  

The Graduate School will place any student on academic probation who, during any semester:  a) fails to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average ;  b) fails to successfully pass two-thirds of the courses attempted (for any reason, including Withdrawals and Incompletes); or  c) receives a failing grade. Part-time students who take an incomplete in any term will be placed on academic probation until a letter grade higher than a C is posted.  Two successive semesters of academic probation can lead to the student's withdrawal from The Graduate School.  For more information on this, see The Graduate School Bulletin.

C. Time to Degree

A Master’s degree at Duke University must be completed within four calendar years of registration for full-time students (6-9 courses per year) and within six calendar years of registration for part-time students (5 or fewer courses per year).

D. Time Away From Studies

Circumstances may arise that necessitate taking a semester away from graduate studies. There are two options to accommodate this:

Continuation registration

For an absence of only one or two semesters, we recommend that students register for Continuation, thereby fulfilling the university requirement for continuous registration.

  • While registered for Continuation, students retain all the privileges of enrolled students: access to faculty, use of the library and other Duke facilities, valid student ID, access to GLS events and academic support services, all mailings from the program and the university.

  • While there is no limit to the number of Continuation semesters students may take, this status does not extend the six-year completion deadline.

Leave of absence

A leave of absence for a period of time no longer than one calendar year may be granted for medical necessity, temporary relocation from the area, or other acceptable reasons.  Review The Graduate School's Student Handbook, and consult with the GLS director to consider options before deciding on a leave of absence.

  • If a formal leave proves to be the best alternative, submit a Leave of Absence Request Form to the Graduate School prior to the beginning of the semester for which the leave is requested.  

  • To be reinstated in The Graduate School, notify the Academic Associate Dean of the Graduate School in writing of your intention to return one month prior to the start of classes.

E. Missing Classes

Students are expected to attend all seminar sessions.  However, circumstances may necessitate the occasional absence. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the professor in advance if a class will be missed.

  • All absences require that the student notify the professor.
  • More than one absence requires the permission of the professor.
  • More than two absences in the summer semester or three absences in the spring and fall semesters may jeopardize a student's ability to receive credit for the course. In such instances, consult with the GLS director as well as with the professor.

F.  Auditing Courses

Upon occasion, students may find it useful to audit, rather than enroll in a course for credit. Auditing allows students to benefit from the course without fulfilling all requirements necessary for credit. Audit students are participating members of the class, however, and are expected to attend all classes and complete reading assignments. 

Master’s degree candidates enrolled full-time may audit graduate and undergraduate courses without charge during the fall and spring semesters if this is acceptable to the faculty teaching these courses. Students should obtain faculty permission prior to registering to audit the class. Part-time students who audit a course are charged a fee of $535.  There is a fee associated with auditing courses during the summer session.

Students who wish to take courses on an audit basis can only be enrolled by the Office of Continuing Studies

G. Retroactive Credit for Graduate Courses taken at Duke University Prior to Beginning a MALS Degree

For information on this, see The Graduate School Bulletin

H. Transfer Credit Completed at Another Institution 

No transfer credits can be applied toward the MALS degree.

I. Inter-Institutional Registration

Duke University has an agreement allowing students to take courses for Duke credit at the following schools:

For information on this opportunity, see The Graduate School Handbook, and the Duke Registrar.  

J.  Withdrawal From a Course

The best time to drop a class is during the semester's Drop/Add period.  After that a student may withdraw from a course, but will still have to pay some amount of tuition.  Withdrawal should be done only rarely and after serious discussions between teacher and student.  Graduate School regulations specify that, in order for a master's student to avoid academic probation, at least 2/3 of the credits attempted in any given semester must be completed with a satisfactory grade (a grade higher than F, or a grade of CR for a credit/noncredit course). Two consecutive semesters on academic probation will normally result in the student's academic withdrawal from the university. 

  • During the fall and spring semesters, drop courses through DukeHub. After the Drop/Add deadline, students must contact the GLS office to change registration.
  • During the summer, withdrawal cannot be done through DukeHub. Contact the GLS office before the second course meeting to change registration.
  • Consult the academic calendar for the exact Drop/Add deadlines for the fall and spring semesters.
  • Tuition will be charged for courses not dropped by the deadlines.

K. Withdrawal From the Graduate School

To withdraw from GLS and, by extension, The Graduate School, students must notify the director of Graduate Liberal Studies and the Dean of the Graduate School in writing prior to the date of the expected withdrawal and no later than the published last day of classes for that semester or summer session.  See The Graduate School Bulletin for details.

L.  Dismissal From the Program

In order to remain in good standing, students are expected to abide by high standards of academic integrity, meet academic requirements, and honor their financial obligations. Failure to meet any of these requirements may result in dismissal from the university. The university states that it “reserves the right, and matriculation by the student is a concession to this right, to request the withdrawal of any student whose academic performance at any time is not satisfactory to the university.”