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.

Students must complete the GLS core course and one other Liberal Studies (LS) 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.  Students taking an undergraduate course must achieve a minimum grade of B (3.0) or the course will not count towards the Liberal Studies degree.  

Students must also maintain a 3.0 GPA while in The Graduate School.  Students who fail to do so may be placed on probation or withdrawn from The Graduate School.  A student who receives a grade of F will be automatically placed on academic probation and may be withdrawn from The Graduate School.

An Incomplete (I) grade indicates that some required coursework is lacking.  The due date for completion and submission of incomplete course work is at the discretion of the course professor.  However, if the Incomplete (I) is not changed to another letter grade within a calendar year, it becomes permanent on the transcript.  See The Graduate School policy on grades.  

B.  Missing Classes

Although attendance at all sessions of a graduate class is strongly recommended, 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.


C.  Auditing GLS Classes

Upon occasion, GLS 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.

Auditing is permitted with the consent of the instructor and on a space-available basis. Priority in any course is given to students taking the course for credit. Students interested in auditing an LS seminar must contact the GLS office.


D. Time to Degree

A Master’s degree at Duke University must be completed within six calendar years of registration.


E. 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 appropriate material on the Graduate School website, 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.


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

For information on this, see The Graduate School policy on transfer of credits.


G. Transfer Credit Completed at Another Institution 

No transfer credits can be applied toward the MALS degree.


H. 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 policy, and the Registrar procedure.  


I.  Withdrawal From a Course

Students may withdraw from a course without penalty by the Drop/Add deadline in fall and spring or before the second class meeting in the summer semester.

  • During the fall and spring semesters, drop courses through ACES. After the Drop/Add deadline, students must contact the GLS office to change registration.
  • During the summer, withdrawal cannot be done through ACES. 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.


J. 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. 


K.  Dismissal From the Program

In order to remain in good standing, students are expected to abide by high standards of academic integrity, to meet academic requirements, and to 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.”