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2012-2013 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Office of Graduate Studies

Office of Graduate Studies

Dean: Potteiger
Associate Dean: Stevenson


The mission of the Office of Graduate Studies is to define and support excellence in graduate education and the scholarly and research activities associated with it; to articulate a vision of excellence in our actions and policies that affect students, faculty members, and curriculum; and to advocate for graduate education and graduate students within the university in terms of resources, services, and other activities that support graduate student endeavors and goals.

Graduate Degree Programs Offered at Grand Valley

Refer to the Graduate Information section of this catalog for a listing of all graduate degrees.


The Office of Graduate Studies is located in the Richard M. DeVos Center on the Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus. The Pew Campus is home base for most of Grand Valley State Universitys graduate degree programs. Many graduate programs and courses are offered in Grand Rapids so that they are more accessible to adult learners living or working throughout the Grand Rapids metropolitan area. Additionally, many graduate programs offer classes in outlying communities throughout Northern, Central, and Southern Michigan.

The dean of Graduate Studies works on behalf of all graduate students to ensure that Grand Valleys graduate programs are of the highest quality, that faculty teaching graduate courses are well-qualified to teach at the graduate level, and that university policies and procedures are applied appropriately to graduate students. The dean of Graduate Studies and staff members work closely with the provost, the Graduate Council, the Office of Admissions, academic deans, department chairs, the Graduate Program Directors Advisory Group, the Division of Continuing Education, the registrar, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Student Financial Aid to advocate on behalf of graduate students and to provide leadership and vision for graduate education at Grand Valley.

Currently enrolled graduate students or persons interested in graduate studies at Grand Valley are welcome to visit the Office of Graduate Studies in the Richard M. DeVos Center for assistance, advice, or to provide feedback on any aspect of their graduate education. The phone number is (616) 331-7105. For general questions about the admission process for graduate students at Grand Valley, students should contact the associate director for Graduate Admissions at (616) 331-2025. For questions about a specific graduate degree program, contact the graduate program director for that program. Contact information for graduate program directors may be found on the Graduate Admissions website.

Graduate Council

The Office of Graduate Studies provides administrative support to the Graduate Council, which is part of university faculty governance. The Graduate Council is responsible for oversight of university policies relating to graduate education, and the review and approval of graduate curriculum. The Graduate Councils voting membership is made up of elected faculty representatives from each college and the university library, and two graduate students who are elected by the Graduate Students Association (GSA). The GSA is a recognized student organization, eligible to receive funds from the Office of Student Life. More on GSA can be found in the Student Life organizations section of this catalog.


Graduate Deans Citations for Academic Excellence
The dean of Graduate Studies presents awards to outstanding graduate students to be recognized for their academic achievement. Nominations for the awards are submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies by the graduate program director in the students area of study. Awards are presented twice per year at the Graduate Student Celebration, held at the end of fall semester for students who graduated the previous spring/summer and in the fall semester, and in April for students graduating at the end of the winter semester. Awardees receive a certificate and an honors cord, which can be worn at the commencement ceremony. The Graduate Deans Citations for Academic Excellence also include recognition for service to the community, service to the university, and outstanding masters thesis or research project, outstanding dissertation, and outstanding publication. The recipient of the award for outstanding masters thesis may be eligible to submit their thesis to the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools for consideration and for a regional distinguished thesis award. The graduate dean also presents an Award for Excellence in Promoting Diversity and Inclusion to Grand Valley.

Graduate Assistantships

The Office of Graduate Studies is responsible for the overall administration of the universitys graduate assistantship (GA) program and policies. Assistantships provide graduate students with part-time, paid work experiences in their field of study and allow them to expand and apply the knowledge and skills they learn in the classroom in a work setting. Graduate assistants typically work either 10 or 20 hours per week, depending on the terms of their appointment. Under the GA program, faculty and university staff members benefit as well, in that they receive assistance with special projects and assignments that require the advanced skills that graduate students possess. Students receive tuition support as well as a stipend, which may help them lower the overall cost of attending graduate school.

Students interested in a graduate assistantship should first discuss their interest with their academic advisor or graduate director within their program as students often find assistantships within their programs. However, other academic and nonacademic units may have positions available as well. While the Office of Graduate Studies administers the policies and makes the final determination as to the students eligibility for an assistantship appointment, the advertisement of positions and the selection process are performed by the hiring department. More information on graduate assistantships may be found in the Costs and Financial Aid and Graduate Information sections of the catalog.

Graduate Student Services

Requests for Exception to Graduate Policy
The dean of Graduate Studies is responsible for the review and final approval or denial of Petitions for Exception to graduate student policies. The students academic advisor, graduate program director, or dean of the college where the program resides, must support all exceptions in order for the dean of Graduate Studies to approve them. The student must complete the appropriate Petition for Exception form as provided on the Office of Graduate Studies webpage. All materials must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies either via email or as a hard copy.

Petition for Exception to Twelve-credit Hour Limit: Grand Valley policy allows graduate students to take a maximum of 12 graduate credit hours without being admitted to a specific graduate program. Once the student gains admission to a graduate program any credit hours beyond the limit must be granted an exception to the policy in order to be counted toward the degree. The student seeking this exception should contact their academic advisor to initiate the Petition for Exception.

Petition for Exception to Eight-year Time Limit to Degree Completion: All courses to be counted for a graduate degree at Grand Valley must be completed within eight years. This time limit is a way of ensuring the students validity and currency of knowledge at the time of graduation. The student will be required to either repeat the course or take an approved substitute, if unable to demonstrate currency of knowledge. The start date for the eight-year time limit begins with the first course taken toward the degree planned program.

Petition for Exception to Graduate Student Policies: Students seeking to appeal other graduate academic policies must complete the appropriate Petition for Exception form as provided on the Office of Graduate Studies webpage. The student's academic advisor, graduate program director, or dean of the college where the program resides, must support all exceptions for the dean of Graduate Studies to approve them.

Credit Overload: Full-time graduate students register for nine to 15 credit hours per semester. Permission from the dean of appropriate academic college is required for more than 15 hours per semester.

Petition to Return: Following a voluntary absence of two or more consecutive semesters, a graduate student must complete a Petition to Return form. Graduate students are reminded that following a voluntary absence of 24 consecutive months they must follow the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog requirements in effect at the time of their return to Grand Valley. Such students should meet with their program advisor to revise their study plan.

Graduate students who wish to return to Grand Valley following an academic dismissal must submit a written appeal to the dean of the appropriate division. Graduate students who wish to change to a different program within Grand Valley must complete the application process for that program. No additional application fee is required, and the applicant need not supply duplicate copies of official transcripts already on file.

Graduate Student Association

The Office of Graduate Studies actively supports the Graduate Student Association (GSA), the university-wide student organization for graduate students at Grand Valley. This includes co-hosting many events, promoting the events, and providing support for the annual National Graduate and Professional Students Recognition Week. GSA appoints two graduate students to serve as voting members of the Graduate Council, a university governance body that reviews and approves graduate courses and programs, and develops and approves graduate-level academic policies.

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