Apr 13, 2024  
2022-23 Graduate Bulletin 
2022-23 Graduate Bulletin ARCHIVED

Graduate Admission

Types of Admission

Admission to Graduate Studies is under the control of the dean of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, to whom application for admission must be made and to whom all correspondence should be addressed on the subject.

Three types of admission exist:

  1. Clear admission under which the student is eligible to work toward a graduate degree
  2. Probationary admission under which the student is eligible to work toward a graduate degree but with the provision that the student earns a B average on coursework the first 12 semester credit hours of study or the number of hours set by the graduate advisor (Probationary students who do not meet that objective will be placed on academic suspension.)
  3. Post-baccalaureate admission under which the student already holding a bachelor’s or master’s degree is eligible to take graduate courses but may apply only a limited number of these courses toward a graduate degree

Graduate applications for admission are available online at goapplytexas.org. Official transcripts conferring the bachelor’s degree from the college/university attended must be sent to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Official transcripts showing additional undergraduate or graduate work received after the initial bachelor’s degree must also be submitted to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Stephen F. Austin State University will accept credit or recognize degrees only from institutions accredited by one of the regionally accrediting bodies.

For many programs, additional documents are required, such as examinations, then an applicant must present general test scores either on the Graduate Record Examination or, in the case of business study, the Graduate Management Admission Test. To determine which programs require a GRE or GMAT test, see the Table of Programs and Degrees  in this bulletin.

An applicant for admission to graduate study must either:

  • be in the final year of undergraduate work
  • hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • or have completed 110 or more semester hours of undergraduate work here and be approved for graduate study as an overlap student (see Overlap Program elsewhere in this bulletin). An applicant admitted into an academic program located in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies must enroll within one year of admission. Thereafter, the applicant must reapply for admission.

The application process will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Admission and Scholarship Policies for Graduate and Professional Programs, which was adopted by the 77th Session of the Texas Legislature, and which amends Chapter 51 of the Texas Education Code.

Admission Criteria

In general, a student may be granted clear or probationary admission. All students seeking admission to a graduate program should consult criteria directly with the graduate program advisor of the department in which they wish to study for specific admission requirements. Each department has the authority to set admission standards higher than the general criteria set by the university. Departmental criteria thus outweigh university criteria.

Clear Admission

Clear admission to a degree program is generally granted when an applicant has an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Admission requirements for the MBA and MPA (accounting) programs are listed in the Rusche College of Business  section of this bulletin.

For clear admission requirements to the MFA, MS (forestry), MA (psychology), MSW, EdD and PhD programs, see the respective program descriptions elsewhere in this bulletin. In all cases, an applicant must be recommended for admission to a graduate degree program by the major department. No applicant will be granted clear admission until all required documents are received by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

Probationary Admission

An applicant may be considered for probationary admission by having an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.30 to 2.49 on a 4.0 scale and consent of the program advisor. The departmental graduate program advisor may require test scores and/or a combination of other factors, such as professional experience, to meet the requirements for probationary admission. An applicant must be recommended for admission to a graduate degree program by the major academic department.

A student granted probationary admission must earn a B average on coursework the first 12 semester credit hours of study (or the number of hours set by the graduate advisor). Probationary students who do not meet that objective will be placed on academic suspension.

Probationary admitted students are not eligible for federal or state financial aid.

Complete and satisfactory credentials must be received by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies and reviewed by the department prior to the beginning of the following semester of work. If this does not occur, the person will not be permitted to continue as a degree-seeking student.

Post-Baccalaureate Admission

A student already holding a baccalaureate or graduate degree may be admitted to graduate study on post-baccalaureate status. On this status, a student may take courses for the purpose of qualifying for a graduate degree program, professional development or personal enrichment. There are restrictions and limitations on the application of post-baccalaureate hours toward a graduate degree. Upon gaining admission to a degree program and with the approval of the graduate advisor, the department chair and the dean, the post-baccalaureate student may apply a maximum of six credit hours earned with grades of B or better to a thesis program or 12 credit hours earned with grades of B or better to a non-thesis program. The exception is that all hours earned in an SFA certificate program can be considered for transfer into a graduate degree program.

To be admitted to post-baccalaureate study, the applicant must present proof of holding at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. A GRE score is not required but may be required if the student decides to later apply for regular admission.

Post-baccalaureate admission is not available for graduate study in the Rusche College of Business  nor is there financial aid.

Overlap Program Admission

The Overlap Program permits qualified undergraduate students at SFA to pursue a limited amount of graduate study concurrently with undergraduate study. A maximum of 12 credit hours of graduate work is allowed. Graduate courses taken in the program, however, are not applicable toward the baccalaureate degree. Unless enrolled in the MPAC (accounting) program, an Overlap Program student is ineligible for a graduate assistantship until the completion of the baccalaureate degree. An MPAC (accounting) student with 12 or fewer hours remaining on the undergraduate degree plan who has been admitted to graduate study is eligible for an assistantship. To be eligible for the Overlap Program, a student must be enrolled at SFA and must have achieved at least 95 semester hours of undergraduate credit. A student with fewer than 110 hours of undergraduate credit must present a 3.0 GPA both overall and in the major field. A student with 110 hours or more of undergraduate credit, however, may be admitted to the Overlap Program by presenting a 2.5 GPA overall and a 2.8 GPA in the major field. Any student admitted to the Overlap Program must reapply for full graduate admission when the undergraduate degree is completed.

To be admitted to the Overlap Program, a student should:

  1. apply to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at goapplytexas.org
  2. complete an Overlap Application
  3. obtain the recommendation of the graduate program advisor in the major department
  4. obtain the recommendation of the appropriate academic dean
  5. and obtain the recommendation of the dean of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

Application Fees

The application fee for all U.S. and international graduate students is $50. The fee is submitted with the application materials.


An applicant may appeal an admission decision to thee Office of Research and Graduate Studies. The appeal should be made in writing and routed through the dean of Research and Graduate Studies.

Admission Examinations

Some graduate degree programs at SFA require the student to take the general test of the Graduate Record Examination or the Graduate Management Admission Test.

Each applicant is individually responsible for making arrangements for taking the general test of the GRE or the GMAT and for having the scores sent to the Graduate Office, P.O. Box 13024, SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962.


The general test of the GRE is an objective and written essay examination requiring three to four hours and yielding three scores - verbal factor (vocabulary and reading comprehension); quantitative factor (logical mathematical reasoning); and analytical writing.

All of the GRE tests, of which the general test is merely one, are prepared and scored by the Educational Testing Service, P.O. Box 6000, Princeton, N.J., 08541-6000.

Computer-Based Testing - The GRE General Test is available through the Computer-Based Testing program of the Educational Testing Service. There are CBT test centers located throughout the United States, U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and Canada. The CBT program also is being offered outside the United States. Stephen F. Austin State University is a designated CBT site.

The applicant may register for the GRE by calling the CBT test center directly (at SFA, the number is (936) 468-3958), or the GRE registration number, 1-800-473-4373, to schedule an examination date. Under the CBT program, the examinee can view the scores of the verbal and quantitative sections immediately. Paper score reports are available to the examinee and designated score recipients approximately 15 days (about two weeks) after the test date.

Information about the GRE and registration instructions are available from the Educational Testing Service. For general inquiries, the Educational Testing Service can be contacted by phone at 1-609-771-7670, by fax at 1-610-290-8975, by email (gre@ets.org) or online at gre.org.


The GMAT measures general verbal, mathematical and analytical writing skills. The verbal and mathematical sections make use of objective questions, and analytical writing is tested by written essays on two topics. The exam requires approximately four hours and is available at Computer-Based Testing Centers throughout the United States, U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and Canada. Each testing center is available year-round, and exams are scheduled by appointment (at SFA, the telephone number is (936) 468-3958). To schedule an appointment at other locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, call 1-800-717-4628. Although exams can sometimes be scheduled on short notice, examinees are encouraged to register as early as possible to ensure that the desired date is available.

Study guides are available from many sources, including most bookstores and the Educational Testing Service, which administers the GMAT exam. For general inquiries about the GMAT, contact by phone at 1-952-681-3680, by fax at 1-952-681-3681, by e-mail (gmat@ets.org) or online at MBA.com.

Test Takers with Disabilities

Non-standard testing accommodations are available for test takers with disabilities. Procedures for requesting special accommodation is described online at gre.org.

International Student Admission

International graduate student applicants are evaluated on the quality, content and level of previous academic work and must meet the same requirements for admission to a graduate degree program as a student from the United States. An international applicant must be admitted to a degree program or be a part of an exchange or special program recognized by SFA. Initial applications (International Graduate) and a nonrefundable $50 application fee must be submitted electronically at goapplytexas.org. An applicant must then provide all transcripts/credential evaluations, required test scores, and any supplemental documents to determine admission status. An Application Guide detailing all requirements for each graduate program can be acquired from the Office of International Programs upon request. 

Any materials not submitted electronically should be sent to International Admissions, P.O. Box 6152, SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962.

English Proficiency Requirement - Applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit evidence to demonstrate competency in the English language sufficient to function successfully in graduate work. They may do so by submitting results from the TOEFL or the IELTS. Test score requirements may vary by graduate program (see Application Guide information above). Some students may qualify for a waiver from English proficiency testing. A student who claims a waiver of English testing takes the responsibility of being able to perform at an academic level appropriate for their studies.

Credential Evaluation - International and domestic applicants whose degree is from a foreign college or university will be required to submit certified English translations of all transcripts. A credential evaluation from a recognized company also must be provided for any transcripts from non-U.S. colleges or universities.

Student Visa Requirements and Process - International students must satisfy all applicable requirements of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A student who requires an F-1 student visa to attend classes in the U.S. must submit proof of financial support prior to the issuance of an acceptance letter and I-20 (for F-1 student visa applicants). The estimated cost for an academic year of nine months with a nine-hour academic load each semester is $24,995. This amount includes out-of-state tuition, fees, room and board, required student health insurance, books, and supplies. This estimate may be significantly reduced for those qualifying for various scholarship or assistantship programs offered by or through SFA. Students with an F-1 visa are eligible to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week; they are not eligible to work off campus.

Upon issuance of the I-20 and after completing the applications and paying the FMJ (I-901) SEVIS fee and DS-160 fee to make an appointment for a visa interview, the student should present the I-20, the letter of admission and financial documents at the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate to apply for the appropriate F-1 student visa. All of these documents will be needed upon arrival in the United States when clearing customs/immigration at the border or airport. New students are required to attend International Student Orientation at the beginning of each semester. Provisions are made for transportation to SFA from Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston upon arrival in Texas.

Transfer of Credit

Under certain circumstances, a graduate student may transfer from six to 12 semester hours of graduate coursework taken at other regionally accredited institutions. The student pursuing a master’s degree with thesis may transfer a maximum of six semester hours; a student pursuing a master’s degree without thesis may transfer a maximum of 12 semester hours in a 36 semester-credit-hour program. At least one-third of all graduate coursework must be conducted at SFA. Coursework used to satisfy requirements for a previous master’s degree (at SFA or elsewhere) may not be used to satisfy requirements for a second master’s degree at SFA. All hours earned in an SFA certificate program can be considered for transfer into a graduate degree program.

To transfer any credit from other institutions, however, the student must submit an official transcript of the courses to be considered and have the approval of the appropriate academic department and academic dean. The work must have been taken not earlier than six years prior to the student’s first graduate enrollment at SFA. Moreover, if the student fails to complete work on the graduate degree at SFA before the expiration of the six years, the transfer credit will not be applicable toward a degree here.

Any course accepted by transfer will carry credit but not grade-point value. Moreover, to transfer credit, the student must have earned a grade of B or better on the course.

Procedure After Admission

Following admission to a graduate degree program, a student must confer with the graduate advisor in the major department and, if applicable, the minor department to obtain advice about the courses to take. As soon as possible and preferably during the first semester or summer session of enrollment, a student should have a degree plan made by the graduate advisor in the major department and, if applicable, the minor department. In the case of a minor, a representative of the minor department must be included on the student’s advisory committee. Some departments require an Admission to Candidacy.

Admission to Candidacy

Some programs use a process called “Admission to Candidacy” as a trial period and a method to determine whether the student has deficiencies that need to be made up prior to full admission into the program. This process is determined by the department and may include diagnostics examination, additional documentation, a degree plan, thesis proposal, etc. Check with your department to determine if they use a candidacy process and ask for a copy of the written procedure.

Thereafter, at stipulated stages, a student must:

  1. complete all requirements of the degree plan
  2. apply for a degree
  3. and take a comprehensive examination administered by the major department and, if applicable, the minor department.

Thesis Preparation and Enrollment

The initial step in establishing an advisory committee is to select a thesis director. With the advice and approval of this director, a thesis topic should be selected as soon as possible. Following completion of these steps, the balance of the committee can be formed, a thesis proposal completed, and registering for the thesis courses can be done. Following the initial enrollment in a thesis course and until the thesis is defended, a student must continue to register each fall, spring and summer semester during which the university’s resources (faculty, library, laboratories, etc.) are being utilized.

For a detailed description of each step in the process of completing and publishing a thesis, see our home page.

Qualifying for Degrees, Diplomas and Transcripts

Completion of all degree requirements listed in the appropriate Graduate Bulletin and within the time limitation specified qualifies a student for graduation. To graduate at a designated time, however, the student must apply for the degree with the registrar’s office and pay all graduation fees. Following that, the commencement exercises and the completion of all the requirements, the degree and diploma will be conferred upon the student.

A student who has a reasonable possibility of completing degree requirements may apply for the degree and attend commencement exercises. The commencement program lists “candidates” for degrees. The appearance of a student’s name on the commencement program and the fact that the student attends the commencement exercises, however, is no guarantee that the degree and diploma will be conferred. To receive both degree and diploma, the student must satisfy all degree requirements within the specified time limits.

A student who applies for a degree and pays the graduation fee for a given commencement but who fails to meet degree requirements must reapply for graduation and pay graduation fees again. Final official transcripts are issued only upon completion of all degree requirements. Students must make an official request for this transcript.

No transcript carrying graduate course credit will be issued to a student who has failed to be admitted to Research and Graduate Studies.

Course Numbering System

The course numbering system at SFA is assigned an alphabetic prefix and a four-digit number. The first of these numeric digits identifies the academic level of the course. First-year courses are designated by a 1, second-year courses are designated by a 2, third-year courses are designated by a 3, fourth-year courses are designated by a 4, graduate-level courses are designated by a 5, and doctoral-level courses are designated by a 6. Prior to fall 2010, certain 400-level courses may be approved for graduate-level credit. These courses will appear on the graduate transcript. Some 1000- to 4000-level courses may appear on the graduate transcript with zero attempted and earned hours.


Grade Description Grade (Quality) Points
A Excellent 4 points per semester hour
B Good 3 points per semester hour
C Average 2 points per semester hour
D Below Average 1 point per semester hour
F Failed 0 points per semester hour
QF Quit Failing 0 points per semester hour
WF Withdrew Failing 0 points per semester hour
DC Dropped: No Grade No GPA hours or points
K Study Abroad Grade Posted No GPA hours or points
KH Student Abroad Grade Pending No GPA hours or points
P Passing No GPA hours or points
R Developmental Grade Class No GPA hours or points
T Transfer Class Grade No GPA hours or points
W Withdrew: No Grade No GPA hours or points
W6 Dropped: No Grade, counts for 6-drop No GPA hours or points
WH Incomplete No GPA hours or points
WP Withdrew Passing No GPA hours or points

At the discretion of the instructor of record and with the approval of the academic unit head, a grade of WH will be assigned only if the student cannot complete the coursework because of unavoidable circumstances. A grade of D, however, makes the course ineligible for application toward the graduate degree.

A grade of QF is assigned only when the student quits attending classes without officially dropping the course. In the case of the awarding of a WH grade, the work must be completed within a calendar year or the grade automatically becomes an F. Exceptions to that regulation are thesis research and writing courses (ENGL 5389 , ENGL 5190 ) in which the work is permanently awarded a WH grade until the thesis is completed. A student may not receive a grade of WH upon dropping a course.

To graduate, a student may not discard any courses in the major or the minor in order to improve the GPA.

All courses, except those repeated in the major and minor, are computed in the GPA. No course with a grade below C can be used to satisfy degree requirements. A student may repeat a maximum of six semester hours of work to raise the GPA. In the case of these repeated courses, the most recent grade will be used in the computation of GPA, according to university Policy 5.5, Course Grades.

Electives may be taken outside the major and minor, and only those selected to complete the degree will be counted in the degree GPA.

Limitation of Time

With the exception of the EdD, PhD, MSW and MFA, all work on a master’s degree should be completed within six years of the time the student first enrolls in graduate courses, whether the courses are taken here or elsewhere. In the case of the student who serves on active duty with the armed forces of the United States between the dates of matriculation and graduation, the six-year limitation will be extended one year for each year of active duty up to a maximum extension of four years. Time limits for the EdD, PhD and MFA are specified under the respective program descriptions elsewhere in this bulletin.

Final Comprehensive Examination

Each degree program has a culminating requirement, normally completed during the student’s final semester or summer session of work. In most programs, the requirement will be a comprehensive examination over the major field and, if applicable, the minor field. Other programs specify a final requirement, such as a thesis defense, passing a national test or completing a capstone course. When a student enrolls in a program, the program’s graduate advisor or department chair will provide a written description of the culminating requirement and of how to qualify for and pass (or reattempt) it. The student should be registered during the semester or summer session in which he or she satisfies the culminating requirement. In programs with a comprehensive examination, the examining committee will consist of graduate faculty members appointed by the relevant department, and if the student has a minor of 12 or more hours in another department, the major department must offer the minor department the option to participate in the examination.

The deadline for reporting the results of a student’s comprehensive examination or other culminating requirement is shown on the Office of Research and Graduate Studies website. A student who fails to satisfy the culminating requirement within the time frame will not be awarded the degree. A student who fails to satisfy the culminating requirement on the first try will be allowed a second try. Failure to pass the second time will mean termination from the program.

Withdrawal from the University

A student who withdraws from a course after the date stipulated in the calendar elsewhere in this bulletin will receive a grade of WP, if passing, or WF, if failing. No student may drop a course after the terminal date stipulated in the calendar elsewhere in this bulletin. A student who ceases to attend classes without officially withdrawing from the courses or the university is subject to being awarded grades of F or QF in such courses. Application for withdrawal from a course or from the university must be initiated by the student with the Office of the Registrar. (Policy 6.10, Course Add/Drop)

Any student who withdraws from or otherwise leaves the university without clearing her/his financial record, i.e., without having returned borrowed books and equipment, paid any outstanding university traffic fines and settled other financial matters with the university, will be subject to the following sanctions until such time that the record is cleared:

  • The student will not be permitted to re-enroll.
  • The student will not be eligible to receive a transcript of academic work completed.

Student Course Loads

A full load for a graduate student, including international students, during a semester is nine semester hours, and the maximum load is 15 semester hours with the exception of the MSW program. A full load during the summer session is nine semester hours. A student in a thesis or dissertation program must register for thesis/dissertation each semester during which the resources of the university (faculty, library, labs, etc.) are utilized. Credit for master’s degree thesis research and writing courses, however, is awarded only one time. Credit for doctoral dissertation research and writing courses is variable. While nine semester credit hour enrollment in the fall or spring is a full load, SFA considers a student with a graduate assistantship to be full time when enrolled for at least six semester credit hours of graduate courses in a fall or spring semester or three semester credit hours during the summer. A graduate assistant who falls below this minimum requirement for a semester or summer will not be eligible for an assistantship the following semester.

A graduate assistant who receives additional funding through scholarships, veteran’s benefits, financial aid or other sources, especially from the federal government or the state of Texas, may be required to take nine hours in order to receive the additional benefits. A student eligible for additional benefits should consult the source of the additional benefits to determine the number of hours she/he must be enrolled to receive the benefits.

Except for the EdD, PhD and MFA programs, graduate assistantships are usually limited to four semesters.

Probation, Suspension and Readmission

To remain in good standing in Research and Graduate Studies and to graduate, a student must maintain a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (B average). During any semester or summer session that the GPA falls below a B, the student with clear admission to graduate study will be placed on academic probation; the student with probationary admission will be placed on academic suspension. A student placed on academic probation and failing to restore an overall 3.0 (B) average the following semester or summer sessions will be placed on academic suspension. A student placed on academic suspension is denied the continuation of an academic program and the privilege of registering for coursework. This suspension period is for one semester or one summer session, whichever follows the period after which the suspension occurred.  To be reinstated to a degree program, the student must be recommended by the appropriate academic department and approved by the academic dean and the dean of Research and Graduate Studies.

Adding and Dropping Courses

Deadlines for adding or dropping courses and for all other registration procedures are shown by semester or summer session and are found online here.

Auditing Courses

Students may audit regular academic courses offered on campus on a space-available basis and with permission of the instructor. Only graduate students may audit graduate classes. Auditing gives the student the right to attend class but not to engage in discussion, take examinations or receive credit. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to audit an individual study course. Audited courses are not shown on the transcript. Tuition and fees for auditing courses are the same as those paid by regularly enrolled students. The deadline for registering for an audit course is before census date of the appropriate part of term.

Students’ Resident Status

The university is guided by state law in determining the resident status of students. Sections 54.001-54.209 of the Texas Education Code provide, in part, as follows:

In essence, the student who has not resided in Texas for 12 months immediately preceding the student’s registration into the university will be classified as non-resident. A non-resident teaching assistant employed at least half-time in a position which relates to her or his degree program shall be entitled to pay the tuition and fees of a resident student. A non-resident student holding a competitive scholarship of at least $1,000 for the academic year awarded by a scholarship committee of SFA is entitled to pay the tuition and fees of a resident student.

Rules and regulations governing the residency classification of a student shall be available in the Office of Admissions, and any student who is uncertain of status should obtain such rules and regulations and seek a determination of status through that office. Individual determinations can be affected by: death or divorce of parents, custody of minor by court order, active military duty of student or student’s parents.

Registering under the proper residency classification is the responsibility of the student. If there is any question of her/his right to classification as a resident of Texas, it is her/his obligation to raise the question with the Office of Admissions prior to registration.

*Exemptions and waivers for residency status may be subject to the acts of the Texas State Legislation.


All students must show adequate levels of:

  1. Immunity, acquired naturally or by immunization against the following diseases:
    • Tetanus/Diphtheria - the last of the three initial injections or a booster must have been within the past 10 years
    • Poliomyelitis
    • Measles - Prior to registration, all new students born on or after Jan. 1, 1957, must show proof of two doses of measles vaccine administered on or after their first birthday and at least 30 days apart or serologic confirmation of immunity to measles.
    • Rubella - Prior to admission, all new students must show proof of rubella vaccine administered on or after their first birthday or serologic confirmation of rubella immunity.
    • Mumps - Prior to admission, all new students born on or after Jan. 1, 1957, must show proof of mumps vaccine on or after their first birthday or serologic confirmation of mumps immunity.
  2. Freedom from infectious tuberculosis as evidenced by a negative tuberculin skin test (PPD) within three months prior to matriculation or a physician’s statement documenting a negative chest X-ray.
  3. Evidence of these, such as a statement from a physician or copies of high school or college immunization records, must be provided to the University Health Services Clinic.

Meningitis Vaccination

State law requires all entering or re-entering students to provide evidence of vaccination against bacterial meningitis or the appropriate documentation for exemption. A student is exempt if she/he is 22 years old or older by the first day of the semester in which she/he intends to enroll or if she/he is enrolled in online or distance-education courses only.