School of Professional Studies

Academic Policies

Provisional Status

Students whose academic records do not fulfill admission criteria, but whose professional record and admissions interview suggest potential for successful completion of the program, may be admitted on a provisional basis. Formal admission will be considered after completion of at least three graduate courses. To be admitted, the student must achieve a grade of at least a B in the three courses. Provisional students receiving a grade of B- or below course will not be recommended for admission.

Transfer Credits

At the discretion of the Director of Graduate Programs, applicants to School of Professional Studies graduate degree programs may file a petition to transfer selected previous course work toward fulfillment of program requirements. Professional training may be submitted for consideration for course equivalency. However, this will be approved only with proper documentation that must include a curriculum, a certification of completion and an evaluation or grade of the work by the training organization. Courses and course equivalents that have been taken toward the completion of another graduate degree can be transferred into the Clark/School of Professional Studies masters' degree programs at the discretion of the director of graduate programs.

[NOTE: all School of Professional Studies graduate courses are credited for 1 unit, which equals four semester hours. Transfers approved for courses of less than four hours will be transferred as partial units.]

Course Waivers

Waivers may be granted for foundation courses if competency in the academic area can be demonstrated by prior academic work. Also, mastery of skill areas through extensive professional experience can be used to waive some foundation course requirements. If a waiver is granted, an elective may replace the foundation requirement. The waiver does not reduce the total number of courses required for graduation.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

Full Admission to School of Professional Studies Graduate Programs:

Exam scores of 577+ (iBT 90+) on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or its equivalent are required for admission. This requirement can be satisfied in a number of ways.

  • The International TOEFL Examination (either computer-based or written)
  • A Clark University Institutional TOEFL exam administered every semester by the American Language and Culture Institute
  • Students whose first degree was from a U.S. university or any other English-speaking country need not submit an examination score
  • We also accept the equivalent score from either of the two prominent European tests of English: Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 65+ (no band below 6.5)
  • The TOEFL Equivalent examination developed for our branch campus in Israel and administered in Israel, Poland and the U.S.

Students who take courses at branch campuses outside the U.S. will be able to take courses in their native language prior to meeting the English language requirement).

Provisional Admission to School of Professional Studies Graduate Programs:

Students who score 550-577 on the TOEFL examination (iBT 79-89), IELTS 6.5 (no band below 6)) or its equivalent, will be admitted to School of Professional Studies as a "Provisional" student. Students will be allowed to enroll in graduate classes and will have one year to bring their TOEFL score to 577. After obtaining the required TOEFL score, their status will be changed to "Full Admission" graduate student.

Conditional Admission to School of Professional Studies Graduate Programs:

Students who score 530-547 on the TOEFL examination (iBT 71-78; IELTS 6 (no band below 5.5)) or its equivalent, will be admitted to School of Professional Studies as a "Conditional" student. Students will take courses only in the ALCI (American Language and Culture Institute) program until they achieve a TOEFL score of 550 or above. After obtaining the required TOEFL or equivalent score, the status will be changed to either "Provisional" of "Full Admission" depending on their TOEFL or equivalent score.


Exemptions (M.S.I.T. only)

The M.S.I.T. degree program provides an exemption for the Management Information Systems and Technology course when a student can show a similar completed undergraduate or graduate M.I.S. course or through work experience that demonstrates foundation skills in management information systems. Approval must be given by the program director. An exemption reduces the total number of courses needed for graduation. Exemptions are not offered for other courses in the curriculum.

Internship and Internship Seminar

An Internship is strongly recommended, though not required, for students with less than three years experience (waivers available from program directors). It is purposefully structured to enable students to:

  • Bridge theoretical models and practical applications
  • Apply concepts learned in courses
  • Bring real-world experiences back to the academic classroom for reflection and evaluation
  • Gain exposure to the career path for which they are preparing
  • Encounter the normal flow of communication in a professional organization
  • Build proficiencies that can be leveraged for later employment
  • Develop the appropriate work habits, attitudes, and ethics required of a professional manager

Interns will be placed in carefully selected, mutually-agreed-upon sites where they will engage the full range of duties assigned to entry-level employees. More menial tasks will be balanced with challenging responsibilities that will contribute to their professional growth. Interns will report to a designated on-site supervisor who will provide guidance and feedback on performance. The on-site supervisor will interface with the internship professor and participate in the evaluation process.

Interns are expected to make a serious commitment to:

  • Work at least 20 hours per week for a period of at least 14 weeks. These 20 hours must be scheduled in blocks of no less than four hours each.
  • Attend a regular seminar to integrate workplace realities with theory and research.
  • Keep an internship journal that will be reviewed regularly by the Internship Academic Coordinator.


The letter grades used in performance evaluation are as follows: A Outstanding (4.0); B Good—performing at a graduate level (3.0); C Marginal Pass (2.0) (The symbols + or - attached to letter grades increase or decrease the grade respectively by 0.3. There is no C- grade); F is failing (0); IN Incomplete (an incomplete is given at the discretion of the instructor when circumstances beyond the control of the student prevent him or her from meeting specific out-of-class requirements after the last day to withdraw). Only the instructor of the course may assign an incomplete. W is a Withdraw ( indicates that the student withdrew from the course;withdrawal requests must be submitted in writing). The academic record for each student is reviewed every semester. Good standing indicates that a student's cumulative grade point average is at least 3.0 (B). While the grade of C earned in a course is a passing grade, a cumulative average of 3.0 (B) is required for graduation. A cumulative grade point average below 3.0 is considered inadequate academic performance. Students are placed on academic probation when their GPA is below 3.0 after completing four or more units. Students who remain on academic probation after two semesters may be dismissed from the School of Professional Studies graduate programs. An F grade in any course may constitute grounds for dismissal from the program. An F received as a consequence of a violation of academic integrity will result in expulsion from the University.

A Pass/No Record grade option may be elected: P (pass) signifies performance at a B- or above level. Although the P appears on the official transcript, good standing is still determined by the letter grade submitted by the faculty member.


Directed and Independent Studies

A directed study is a course taken during a semester but outside the normal class schedule. There are two types of individual study classes. The directed readings (MSPC/MPA/MSIT3990) is an existing course with an approved syllabus. This is approved only for exceptional circumstances such as an irresolvable schedule conflict or graduation requirements that cannot be met any other way. The preference is for a student to study the subject as part of a regularly scheduled class. Alternatively, a student seeking an independent study (MSPC/MPA/MSIT3950) must demonstrate: 1) that it will explore a body of knowledge or area of theory and practice receiving little or no treatment in any existing course, and 2) that this course is integral to the student's career goals.

  • The student must register prior to the beginning of the semester or summer session in which he or she wishes to take the directed or independent study. The registration requires the approval of the Program Director or the Director of Graduate Programs.
  • Upon approval by the Program Director or the Director of Graduate Programs, the instructor assigned to work with the directed or independent study will be the regular classroom instructor of that course or a person otherwise designated by the Program Director or the Director of Graduate Programs.
  • A directed readings or an independent study are both considered part of the student's normal course load.
  • The content and requirements for a directed readings or an independent study are similar to those prescribed for the regular course.
  • To register, the student must complete the directed readings/independent study form in the School of Professional Studies office, have it signed by the teacher and either the Program Director of Director of Graduate Programs. It must have a syllabus/plan of study attached to it.

Courses Permitted in Other Graduate Departments

Graduate students are permitted to select from courses offered in all School of Professional Studies graduate programs and selected courses offered by the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) Program/Graduate School of Management. Contact the Director of Graduate Programs for further details.

Accelerated Degree Programs

Accelerated Bachelor/M.S.P.C or M.P.A. Degree Programs. Clark University full-time day undergraduates may combine their bachelor's degree with either the M.S.P.C. or M.P.A. degree at an accelerated pace by beginning the graduate degree program during their senior year and finishing it within a fifth year of study. Those who qualify may do this tuition free.

Detailed information about requirements and the application process.

Thesis Option

Completion Requirements

A few M.S.P.C. students elect to pursue a thesis rather than a capstone. M.S.P.C. students selecting the thesis option must:

  • Meet with the Graduate Programs staff to discuss plans, topics and procedures. They are an important resource throughout the thesis process.
  • Arrange with their faculty advisor to provide a Thesis Colloquium (MSPC3998), a course taken at the beginning of thesis work. Thesis Colloquium is not offered as a regular course.
  • Register for Thesis (MSPC3999) the semester in which the degree will be completed.
  • Fulfill Active Student Residency Requirements as detailed in the section "Preparing to Graduate" below.
  • Submit the completed thesis manuscript to School of Professional Studies no later than March 15 as detailed in the section "Preparing to Graduate" below.


Thesis Guidelines

Thesis Committee:

The first step in completing the thesis requirement is to select a committee of three readers. In most cases, a student works with the first reader, who is the major Thesis Advisor through the first and second drafts of the project. The second and third readers join the first in reviewing subsequent drafts. The Thesis Committee then approves the final draft. The Dean of School of Professional Studies and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, acting on behalf of the University's Graduate Board must approve the Thesis Committee, consisting of at least a first, second, and third reader.

Thesis/Project Proposal:

Before registering for the Thesis, the student develops a formal project proposal in consultation with the major advisor ("first reader"). The proposal should indicate focus, as well as significant preliminary research and thought. A description of the work to be undertaken, methods to be employed, and rationale for the endeavor should be included. Once the major Thesis Advisor has approved the proposal, the student then submits it to the Director of Graduate Programs.

Thesis Format:

Every thesis must meet University format criteria. Information on thesis format and submission procedures is available through the Office of Graduate Studies and Research (located on the second floor of the Geography Building). Students are urged to make an appointment with the University Thesis and Dissertation Format Advisor in the very earliest stages of thesis preparation. Rules for the final form in which the thesis must be submitted are stringent. A handbook, Format for Theses and Dissertations, is available from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

Oral Defense:

Students must defend the thesis or project in a final oral examination. The first reader/major Thesis Advisor will, in consultation with the student, recommend the most appropriate format. If the first reader and the committee choose to examine the candidate in areas related to his/her thesis, they will communicate this orally and in writing while thesis research/writing is under way. A statement of agreed-upon parameters for the oral defense must be forwarded to the Director of Graduate Programs. General guidelines for orals are available through the School of Professional Studies Graduate Programs office. The student should request these guidelines at the time of filing for candidacy or registering for the Thesis.

Preparing to Graduate: Those who have selected to write a thesis


Upon completing the course work, the student must file an application for candidacy with the School of Professional Studies office. Students planning to graduate in May of the coming year should verify their status with the Graduate Programs staff prior to the final semester. For M.S.P.C. students choosing the thesis option, filing for candidacy should be done at the same time as registration for the thesis. Students choosing the thesis option should register for MSPC3999. Then they are allowed a maximum of three years from filing for candidacy to complete their final project or thesis.

Active Student Residency Requirements for Thesis Students

Once all their course work is completed and they have registered for the Thesis course, students have a full calendar year before being considered "non-resident," and, therefore, inactive. A non-resident fee must be paid each semester to maintain active (also called "resident") status. If fees are unpaid, students will be dropped from the degree program. Non-resident students completing thesis requirements are limited to two years of student deferment status on their college loans.

Degree Completion Time Limits

All program requirements must be completed within seven years of formal admission. Any student compelled to extend their tenure must file a petition. The Assistant Dean reviews petitions and forwards recommendations to the Dean of School of Professional Studies.

Deadlines for Submitting Theses

Theses are due to School of Professional Studies Graduate Programs by March 15 to ensure adequate time to schedule an oral defense. Theses are due to the University Format Advisor by April 15 for May graduation. Diploma fees must be paid when the thesis is submitted. Students who have completed all requirements will receive additional graduation information by mail during the spring semester.