Graduate Course Transfer Policy

Date: September 1, 2014
Programs: All SPH Degree Programs (PhD, MPH, MS SHE)
Responsible Office: Academic Affairs/Student Services

1. Purpose: Clarify policy and procedures relevant to the substitution and waiver of required courses within approved SPH curricula, and the transfer of external-WVU courses in fulfillment of SPH students’ plan of study.

2. Policy: All requests for course substation, waiver and transfer must be submitted by the student to their faculty advisor or department chair on or before the WVU Last Day of Class (see official WVU Academic Calendar) during the student’s semester of matriculation.

  • Requests submitted after the Last Day of Class will not be accepted.
  • The student’s request must be acted on (approved/disapproved) within the timelines specified herein.

3. Background and Terminology:

  • Background
    • A curriculum is an approved set of required and elective courses, and other learning experiences, that upon successful completion culminate in the awarding of an academic or professional degree.
      • Curricula are not static, they change of over time. However, the curriculum that is approved upon a student’s matriculation is the curriculum that defines their course of study in pursuit of the degree.
      • There will be occasions when a course specified by the student’s curriculum may not be available, or when the student may have already acquired the knowledge/content of a specific course.
    • For these and other reasons, it is important that faculty, staff and students have a clear understanding of the differences between course substitution, waiver and transfer, and the policies relevant to each.
  • Terminology
    • Substitution. A required course may be substituted with another course that is determined to be sufficiently equivalent in content and learning outcomes and/or competencies, and of equal semester hour credit.
      • The substitute course may be a WVU course or non-WVU course (see Transfer criteria below).
      • An approved substitution means the curricular requirement has been fulfilled, and there is no expectation for the student to take another course and/or credit hours.
      • Course substitutions are typically for courses previously taken, but may also be approved for courses in the future when the required course will not be scheduled within the student’s plan of study timeframe (within reason).
      • For future substitutions due to unavailability by scheduling, the criterion regarding submission of request to substitute within the matriculation semester does not apply.
    • Waiver. A required course may be waived when the student can demonstrate s/he has achieved the learning outcomes and/or competencies, and/or or has existing sufficient knowledge of the course content and thus raises the question “why take the course?”
      • Course waivers are, and should be, rare events. The following is a typical example:
        • A lawyer is admitted as a MPH student and the curriculum includes a required course on “health law.”
        • The student feels s/he has sufficient knowledge of the content and requests the required “health law” course be waived.
        • The waiver is approved and the student does not have to take the “health law” course.
        • But, the only the content has been waived, and not the semester credit hours.
      • Course waivers ONLY waive course content and thus when approved, the student will have to take another course to make up the equivalent number of credit hours.
    • Transfer. A course transfer refers to the acceptance of course credit earned at another university (not WVU) within the acceptable time limits of the WVU SPH degree program.
      • Courses may be transferred as course substitutions or as electives.
      • The maximum number of hours that may be transferred to a WVU degree program is 12 hours.
      • Use of WVU course credit earned as part of a previous or concurrent degree program (other than approved dual degree programs) is also limited to 12 hours.
    • Dual Use of WVU SPH MPH Courses by SPH PhD Students. WVU SPH MPH graduates may choose to pursue a PhD degree in the SPH. When this occurs, there are often courses that overlap their MPH and PhD curricula. The following clarify the dual utilization of these courses.
      • At WVU, doctoral curricula are not viewed as an “accumulation of credit hours.”
      • In the SPH, many of the graduate courses co-exist in MPH and PhD curricula.
        • In some cases, the course is the exact same for both curricula.
        • In other cases, the MPH course has been assigned a 600-number while the PhD course has been assigned a 700-number.
          • The course title and description are the same while there may be additional expectations for doctoral students.
          • The 600 and 700 courses may be taught at the same time, by the same faculty; or they may be taught at different times with same or by different faculty.
        • In all cases, the knowledge base is essentially the same, and there would be little reason to acquire the same knowledge base again.
      • If a WVU MPH graduate has successfully taken a course that meets the description at paragraph 3.iv.2 above and is enrolled in a SPH PhD program:
        • The student has met the PhD curriculum course (knowledge base) requirement.
        • The student is not required to take additional hours or other courses to replace the course.
      • WVU policies regarding a maximum sharing of 12 hours from one graduate degree to another do not apply in this case, as the courses (even if more than 12 hours) represent the acquisition of the same knowledge base.
        • his applies for the fulfillment of require and elective PhD curricular requirements.
        • In the case of fulfilling elective credit, the MPH course serving as an elective should be relevant to the PhD academic major.

4. Procedures:

  • Use the Course Substitution/Waiver and Transfer Request Form (course transfers may require an additional WVU/HSC form).
  • Fill out the form and submit to your faculty advisor on or before the official WVU Last Day of Class during your first semester (semester of matriculation).
    • Requests after the Last Day of Class will not be approved.
    • Students are strongly encouraged not to wait until the Last Day of Class; submit your request as early as possible for a prompt decision.
  • If requesting more than one course substitution/waiver/transfer, use 1 form for each request.
  • Make sure your faculty advisor annotates the date s/he receives your request; keep a copy of the signed/dated request for your personal record.
  • If your faculty advisor requests any additional documentation/evidence, ask what the deadline is for providing the documentation/evidence, and be sure you provide the additional documentation/evidence on time.
  • These procedures are not required for MPH/PhD courses that meet the “dual utilization” definition provided above in paragraph 3.iv.2.

5. Timelines:

  • Student requests for course substitution/waiver/transfer must be submitted to and received by their faculty advisor before the end of their semester of matriculation (on or before WVU last date of classes for the semester).
    • If faculty advisor is not available, it may be submitted to the department chair, and/or left with the department’s administrative assistant.
    • The date of receipt by the advisor, chair and/or administrative assistant should be entered on the form.
  • Upon receipt of the student’s request, the faculty advisor must submit their review of the request and recommendation to the Department Chair (or other faculty to whom this responsibility has been delegated) within two (2) weeks of the date the request was submitted by the student.
  • Upon receipt of the faculty advisor’s review/recommendation, the Department Chair (or other faculty to whom this responsibility has been delegated) must render a decision whether to approve or disapprove (with comments clarifying decision to disapprove) within two (2) weeks of the date the faculty advisor’s review/recommendation was received.
  • A copy of the request and final decision must be provided to the Office of Academic Affairs/Student Services within two (2) weeks of the Chair’s decision.

6. Appeals:

  • A student wishing to appeal the Chair’s decision must submit a written appeal to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs within two (2) weeks of receipt of the Chair’s decision.
  • The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs must review the student’s appeal and render a final judgment within four (4) weeks of receipt of the student’s formal appeal. The final judgment must specify the rationale for the final decision.
  • The Associate Dean will inform all parties of the appeal decision within one (1) week of the appeal decision.

7. Academic Calendar Breaks:

  • Breaks such as fall and spring break, winter holiday, etc., do not count for any of the weeks specified in the above timelines. For example, if the student submits a request the week prior to the spring break, the week of spring break does not count in the determination of meeting the timeline.
  • Summer semester is not considered an academic break even when the curriculum is not offered during the summer semester, and thus summer weeks do count toward the above specified timelines.

8. Exceptions to Policy/Procedures: Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.