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Grand Valley State University    
2010-2011 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Sep 19, 2019
2010-2011 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Office of Graduate Studies

Office of Graduate Studies

Click on a link to be taken to the entry below.

Dean: Potteiger; Associate Dean: Stevenson


The mission of the Office of Graduate Studies is to promote and support excellence in graduate education and the research and scholarly activities associated with it; to be an advocate for graduate students and graduate programs within the university. 

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 University’s 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.

Graduate Studies

Mission: The Dean of the Office of Graduate Studies works on behalf of all graduate students to ensure that Grand Valley State University’s 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 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 State University 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: telephone (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 Council’s 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 and Professional Students Association. The Graduate and Professional Students Association (GPSA) is a recognized student organization, eligible to receive funds from the Office of Student Life. More on GPSA can be found in the Student Life organizations section of this catalog.


Graduate Dean’s 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 student’s 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. Besides awards for academic achievement, the Graduate Dean’s Citations for Academic Excellence also include recognition for service to the community, service to the university, and for outstanding master’s thesis, outstanding final project, and outstanding publication. The recipient of the award for outstanding master’s thesis may be eligible to submit their thesis to the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools for consideration and for a regional distinguished thesis award.

Graduate Assistantships

The Office of Graduate Studies is responsible for the overall administration of the university’s graduate assistantship (GA) 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 Graduate Assistantship program, faculty and university staff 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 non-academic 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 student’s 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 following information should be included in the Petition for Exception: how many hours in excess of the 12 credit limit the student has completed, the factors that prevented the student from being admitted to the program in a timely way, if the courses are within the eight-year limit or five-year transfer limit, if the student is currently enrolled in classes, the student’s academic performance, if the courses re required to complete the degree, if the student is admitted to the program as of the submission of the petition. All materials must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies either via email or in a letter.

Graduate students should note that the “clock” for their degree begins with the first course taken toward the degree.

Petition for Exception: Twelve-credit hour limit on courses completed prior to admission to a program: GVSU 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.

Eight-Year Time Limit to Degree Completion: All courses to be counted for a master’s degree at GVSU must be completed within eight years. This time limit is a way of ensuring the student’s 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.

Five-Year Time Limit on Transfer Courses: Transfer credits from another institution that are more than five years old will severely limit the time available to complete the GVSU courses required for a master’s degree. All transfer courses from other universities must be evaluated by the Registrar’s office to determine if they are graduate level courses and that the student earned a grade of B or better.

Credit Overload: Full-time graduate students register for 9 to 12 credit hours per semester. Permission from the Dean of appropriate studies is required for more than 15 hours per semester.

Petition to Return: Following a voluntary absence of two or more consecutive semesters or sessions, a graduate student must complete a Petition to Return form. This form serves to update the student’s demographic record. 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 Organizations

The Dean of Graduate Studies actively supports the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), 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. GPSA 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.