Degree Requirements

M.B.A. Degree

The M.B.A. degree is designed as a 30- to 42-credit hour program depending upon the student’s entrance qualifications.  Refer to the School of Business description.

M.A., M.S., or M.S.Ed. Degree

Major Field
Formal Course Work18
Thesis (where required or optional)3-6
Additional Course Work to total (depending on departmental requirements)30-36
Total Credits51-60

A maximum of nine credit hours will be allowed for workshops or institutes in a degree program.

Formal Course Work

All 18 credit hours must be taken in the major field, in courses numbered in the 500-800 range.


Students who submit a thesis in partial fulfillment of the master’s degree must prepare it in conformity with the regulations approved by the Graduate Council.  Theses must be developed under the direction of a full member of the graduate faculty.

Registration for the master’s thesis needs to be made only once for that term in which it is planned to start work.  Only when a thesis is officially accepted will credit for this course be allowed.

The title of the thesis and outline must be approved by the major professor and then presented to the dean of graduate studies for final approval by the date noted in the graduate calendar (approximately six months prior to the anticipated date of degree completion).

The student should obtain from the program director or School of Graduate Studies a Guide to Thesis Preparation that contains further instructions and forms.

Additional Course Work

Additional course work must also be taken in the major field, in courses numbered in the 500-700 range, with the following exceptions: In some programs (see your program director), a maximum of six credit hours may be taken in other courses-either courses numbered in the 500-700 range outside the major field, or one course (3-4 credit hours) numbered in the 400-499 range.  Allowance of graduate credit for a course in the 400-499 range (which must be part of the six credit hours mentioned above), is subject to the following conditions:

  1. Approval is given by the program director.
  2. The student must agree to do work of a higher order and broader scope than is required of an undergraduate student in the same class.
  3. The student must secure a letter of permission from the instructor, with approval by the program director and dean of graduate studies.  Presentation of this letter shall indicate acceptance of responsibility for the instructor’s assigning the additional work, but the student must take the initiative in arranging such work.


Academic residence is defined as enrollment in and regular attendance at some courses of graduate instruction at St. Bonaventure University.  The minimum period of residence for a master’s degree is two semesters of the regular academic year.  Students who attend during the regular academic year and also during the summer session may count any two summer sessions as one semester of residence. Five summer sessions are required to fulfill the minimum time requirement for summer-only students.  If St. Bonaventure University has accepted the transfer of six graduate credits earned in another graduate school, the time spent by the student in earning these credits elsewhere will be accepted in lieu of one summer session of residence at St. Bonaventure University.

Time to Degree

All course work which is to be credited toward the master’s degree must have been enrolled in and completed within six calendar years prior to the date on which the degree is to be awarded. When recommended by the student’s program director and approved by the dean of graduate studies, as many as six credit hours of course work, including transfer courses, completed between 6 and 10 years prior to the degree date may be validated by appropriate assessment.  Course work more than 10 years old will not be permitted for degree credit.

Transfer of Credit

The following guidelines apply to the transfer of credit to an SBU graduate program

  1. Requests to transfer credit into a St. Bonaventure University graduate program should be made directly to the program director — who will determine transferability of credit.  The program director will notify the student of the credit transfer decision.
  2. No more than six (6) credit hours may be transferred into an SBU graduate or certificate program.  Some academic departments are more restrictive with regard to credit transfer.  This information will be shown in the program specific portions of the catalog.
  3. Transfer credit will not be granted for courses in which a grade lower than a B was earned. Similarly, no credit will be granted for courses showing a grade of Pass or Satisfactory.  Courses taught as graduate-undergraduate offerings will normally not transfer.
  4. Descriptions of the classes for which credit is sought should accompany a credit transfer request.  The program director may request additional information (e.g. syllabus).
  5. Students anticipating taking courses at another college for transfer back to SBU should first review the transferability of these classes with their SBU program director.  If approved, the student must ensure that an official transcript for that work is sent to the SBU registrar.
  6. All coursework, including transfer credit, must satisfy the time-to-degree requirement, as outlined in the Degree Requirements part of this catalog.
  7. Coursework more than 10 years old will not be accepted for transfer credit.

Academic Load

A maximum academic load of 15 credits may be taken during the fall or spring semester. Graduate assistants are permitted to carry a maximum course load of 9 credits.  During any summer session, six credits are considered maximum. Any exceptions to the maximum load limits stated must be approved by the dean of graduate studies.

Comprehensive Examinations

All students who take comprehensive examinations must be enrolled in regular status. Every degree candidate enrolled in a thesis program must take and pass both a written and oral comprehensive examination in the major field.  Every degree candidate in a non-thesis program must take and pass a written comprehensive examination in the major field.  The degree candidate in a non-thesis option may or may not be required to take and pass an oral comprehensive depending upon the requirement specified by the major department.  

Written Comprehensive Exam

Ordinarily, this examination may be taken, at the earliest, within the last term in which the student will complete formal course work requirements for the degree.  However, some departments have set other requirements for the timing of the written comprehensive examination.  When this is so, it is noted in the departmental description in this catalog.  The student’s major professor will set the date, time and place of the exam.

A student who desires to take the written comprehensive examination in a particular term must notify his or her major professor no later than 30 days before the end of the term.  Any failure to comply with this regulation renders the student liable to forfeit the right to take the examination in the term in question.  Upon receipt of a request to take the examination, and before setting the examination, the major professor shall check the student’s record as recorded in the Registrar’s office.  To facilitate this check, the Registrar’s office will supply, if requested, the major professor a condensed statement of the student’s record.

The examination will cover the student’s entire major field.

The major professor is responsible for promptly reporting the results achieved in the examination to the Registrar’s office.  This report must be filed no later than three days prior to the date of Commencement.

If a student fails the written comprehensive examination, he or she may apply directly to the department concerned for re-examination.  No student may take more than one re-examination.

Oral Comprehensive Examination

This examination may be taken only when the following conditions have been satisfied:

  1. all formal course requirements have been completed or are within 21 days of completion.
  2. the thesis, if required, has been approved by the major professor.
  3. the copies of the thesis with the reader’s reports have been returned to the major professor.

The regulation and procedures of arranging for and setting the time of the Oral Comprehensive Examination are the same as those for the Written Comprehensive Examinations as described above.

This examination will be conducted by an Examining Committee consisting of the student’s major professor, who serves as chair of the committee, the candidate’s instructors in both the major and the minor fields, and such other members of the graduate faculty as may be invited by the chair to serve on the committee.  The following are ex officio members of all Oral Examining Committees and as such have the right, whether or not it is exercised, to serve on these Committees:

  • the president of the University,
  • the academic vice president,
  • the dean of that school of the department giving the examination, and
  • the dean of graduate studies. 

Any member of the graduate faculty may attend an Oral Comprehensive Examination but, unless a member of the committee, may not participate in the examination and evaluation of the candidate.

The oral examination is customarily based upon the thesis and supporting areas but it may be extended to cover the entire scope of the candidate’s program of work.

Supervision of Program

The general requirements and limitations stated in the foregoing sections apply to all programs for the M.A., M.S., M.S.Ed., or M.B.A. degree in every department of the University.  They have been established by the Graduate Council of St. Bonaventure and neither the dean of a school nor the program director of a department has authority to waive any of these requirements. Waivers of these requirements must be recommended by the dean of graduate studies and approved by the vice president for academic affairs.

Within these limits, the program director of the student’s major department, assisted and advised by the student’s major professor, has jurisdiction over the student’s program.  This means that the program director has the duty, responsibility, and authority for advising and instructing the student in all such matters as:

  1. determination of the nature and extent of any deficiencies in the undergraduate preparation and prescription of such additional undergraduate work as may in his or her estimation be required to make up such deficiencies
  2. selection of the minor field if required
  3. election of specified courses to be included in the student’s program
  4. sequences of courses
  5. substitution of courses

Accordingly, the graduate student is required to consult the program director of his major department (not the School of Graduate Studies) on all such matters.

Grading System

Letter Grades: Grades, which are represented by letters, are given point values as indicated:

Grade Comment Credit
A Distinguished Course Work 4.0 quality points per credit
A- Very Good Course Work 3.7 quality points per credit
B+ Good Course Work 3.3 quality points per credit
B Adequate Course Work 3.0 quality points per credit
C Below Standard. No more than two Cs can be counted for degree credit. A C grade implies that the quality of the work is below the average expected of graduate students. 2.0 quality points per credit
F Failure 0.0 quality points per credit
I Incomplete
IP In-Progress
P Passing
W Withdraw
AU Audit

The credit hours for courses in which P, W, I, or IP are awarded are not considered in calculating either the semester or the cumulative index; hours in courses awarded F will be included in hours attempted and will be used in calculating the semester index and the cumulative index.  A W may not be given within three weeks before the last scheduled class of the semester or within two weeks before the last scheduled class of the summer session.  Once a W is recorded, the grade can be changed only by retaking the course.

A grade of incomplete may be assigned to allow a student to complete course requirements in cases where significant and unexpected circumstances beyond student control occur in the course that prevents completion by the end of the semester/session.  Therefore, the work to be completed to remove an incomplete grade may not be new, additional, or extra credit work, but must be the regular course requirements expected of all students in the course.  A final grade must be submitted no later than the third week prior to the termination of the subsequent academic semester.  Failure to complete the required work within this time limit will result in a grade of F being recorded on the transcript, unless the instructor requests a grade of W. Once an F is recorded, the grade can be changed only by retaking the course.

An IP grade may be carried for no longer than 2 academic years (4 semesters) and a final grade must be submitted no later than the third week prior to termination of the fourth academic semester following the semester in which the IP was assigned; the instructor, with the approval of the program director and dean, may assign an earlier deadline.  If the work is not completed and a final grade submitted by the deadline, the IP grade will automatically become a grade of F unless the instructor or Program Director requests grade of W.

The grade of P or F may be assigned to workshop or institute courses rather than a letter grade. In addition, the grade may be assigned to Independent Study courses with the approval of the Instructor and the department chair/program director.  The P/F option must be specified within the first two weeks of the course.  No more than six credit hours with a grade of P may be applied towards the master’s degree.

Academic Scholarship

While it is necessary to indicate minimum quantitative standards for graduate degrees and these have been stated, the mere accumulation of graduate credits is not of itself sufficient to earn a graduate degree at St. Bonaventure University.  The quality of the work is of paramount importance and is the decisive consideration in establishing eligibility for a graduate degree.

The minimum cumulative average that qualifies for a degree is 3.00 (B average). In addition, when a student receives an F or a second C, his or her overall performance will be evaluated by the major department to determine whether he or she should be allowed to continue in the program.  The acquisition of another grade less than B will result in termination of a student’s program.

A course may be repeated only once.  Written appeals to this policy may be made to the dean of the student’s program.  Repeating a course is also likely to have implications for financial aid and candidates must contact the financial aid office for details.

It is the responsibility of the Graduate Dean to ensure that all students in graduate programs are in good academic standing.  The following procedures are to be followed:  

Note:  This information will be provided at the end of each academic session (i.e. 5-weeks, 7-weeks, and end of each semester).

  1. Within 48 hours following the deadline for submission of final grades, the registrar will provide each program director a list of students who have earned a grade of C, I or F or who have a cumulative GPA below 3.0.
    1. The report from the registrar will include grade data from previous semester, so as to inform program directors if students who have received a second grade of C or below.
  2. Within one week of the receipt of that information the program director must communicate in writing with every student who has received a grade of C or lower (including I grades), advising the student of the institution’s policy* effectively warning the student about academic standing.
    1. This communication can be sent in email from the program director with copies to the graduate dean, the student’s academic adviser, the dean of the major program and the Records Office.
  3. If the student has received a grade of F or a second C, it is the program director’s responsibility to consult with program faculty to determine whether the student can continue in the program. This consultation is to take place within one week of receipt of information from the Registrar.
    1. If the decision is to allow the student to continue in the program, the program director will communicate that decision in writing to the student within 24 hours with an appropriate message about remediation and warning about the requirement for a 3.0 GPA.  
    2. This communication can be sent in email from the program director with copies to the graduate dean, the student’s academic adviser, the dean of the major program and the Records Office.
    3. If the department decides to dismiss the student, the program director must notify the graduate dean within 24 hours and a letter of termination (with copy by email) will be sent from the graduate dean within 24 hours with copies to the program director, the student’s academic adviser, the dean of the major program and the Records Office.


Announcement of Intention to Graduate

All candidates who expect to complete their work and receive a graduate degree at a scheduled Commencement must announce this intention to the Registrar’s Office by the date designated in the academic calendar.

Time at Which Degrees May be Conferred

Graduate degrees will be conferred three times a year, after fall, spring, and summer sessions. May graduates not attending Commencement, and December and August graduates should make arrangements with the Registrar’s Office for forwarding their diplomas.  

Participation at Commencement

Graduate degree candidates who have three or fewer credit hours of course work remaining at the date of the exercise may participate.  Signed participation agreement forms must be submitted to the Registrar’s office by the date specified by the Record’s Office.

Academic Garb

Except for members of the clergy and religious orders, candidates for graduate degrees are required to wear academic garb while participating in the Commencement exercises. The academic garb is available for sale through the bookstore one week prior to Commencement.