GSH APPENDIX G - Graduate Bridge Program for Under-Prepared Students, Administered by the Graduate School

Graduate Bridge Program Overview - G.1

The Graduate Bridge Program (GBP) is a graduate-admission designation, for up to one full consecutive academic year (SU-AU- SP, in any order) allowing under-prepared students, and others in special circumstances, to have graduate standing before entering a program and a full load of prerequisite and/or degree-applicable coursework. 

Graduate Bridge Program Rationale - G.2

Some individuals and graduate programs would benefit from a bridge graduate program that would support graduate students who may be appropriate recruits for the program, but need additional time, mentoring, coursework, adaptation, or a lower course load to have a successful transition into a full-time graduate program at The Ohio State University. This program would also provide flexibility in acceptance dates and graduate enrollment prior to the student’s transition into a targeted graduate program. 

These students would be mentored as bridge students by their graduate programs as potential recruits. The programs would design the student’s bridge experience to mature the student’s talent to excel in their programs. The GBP would serve as a conduit for a supportive, flexible, environment for the student’s professional development. The students eligible for this program face challenges in the current graduate admission process that can impede them from fulfilling their educational and, in some cases, professional goals. The GBP would create opportunities for such individuals without impacting the rigors of graduate education at Ohio State, thus providing a professional development opportunity and fostering better opportunities for life-long learning and contributions for these students. 

Eligibility for Graduate Bridge Program - G.3

The GBP benefits students who do not qualify for regular or conditional admission and require a pathway, or bridge, to access a graduate education. Such students who benefit from a bridge year are described below. (These categories are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive):

  • Exploring: Those with qualifications and interests in multiple fields and/or who have not been able to make application decisions in time to meet the Graduate School’s program deadlines.
  • Re-Calibrating: Those developing specialized interests late in their under-graduate careers, especially those who want to enter programs with extensive pre-requisites that do not offer rolling admission.
  • Life-Long Learning: Those returning to study who are years away from their last degree and thus may have neither academic records that fully reflect current abilities and interests nor referees who can speak convincingly to the necessary audience in the graduate-academic setting.
  • New Evidence of Academic Ability/Personal Growth: Those with an undergraduate cGPA well below 3.0 but with later evidence to demonstrate the potential to meet the academic challenges of graduate school through relevant life experiences (e.g., work experience relevant to the graduate degree program, certifications, and/or other competency-building training).

These categories of students may benefit from a term of up to one year of mentored graduate experience to nurture and develop their talent but may not be fully served as non-degree students due to a desire for graduate status to enhance their career development.

Graduate programs and prospective students should be aware that students with a cGPA well below 3.0 (e.g., less than 2.7) in their last degree earned relevant to the graduate degree of acceptance, as well as poor performance in any subsequently completed graduate coursework, may be targeted by the Graduate School for GBP participation.

Difference from Non-Degree and Conditional Designations - G.4

Non-Degree. Individuals with an accredited undergraduate degree may currently take graduate courses as non-degree students; however, they have no standing within the Graduate School and, should they subsequently be accepted into a graduate program, could only receive credit for 10 hours towards their eventual degree. The GBP would grant admission into the Graduate School and accrue more degree-readying hours and advance the career development of students.

Conditional Admission. This designation requires that a particular degree program petition the Graduate School to waive a requirement or requirements. The student must be able to transition to a regular student on a timeline and obtain the 3.0 average GPA for all graduate work on schedule. Conditional admits who are unsuccessful count against the success-rate numbers of a program, thus there is little incentive for graduate committees to extend chances to prospective students with unconventional profiles. Yet, such prospects might not only be deserving of the opportunity but in position to make unexpected contributions. The GBP could provide such students the chance to prove their readiness for advanced graduate work and to generate faculty relationships without risk to a program’s reputation or metrics for standings.

Graduate Bridge Program Mechanism - G.5

The GBP provides a direct admission to the Graduate School for a maximum of one complete academic year (e.g., summer term, autumn semester, and spring semester, enrolled consecutively, but the sequence may vary given specific program and/or student needs). Conditions of acceptance into the GBP include:

Letters. Graduate programs (i.e., Graduate Studies Chair, Department Chair, or Associate Dean of Graduate Studies) should provide the Graduate School with copies of two letters: (1) a letter petitioning for the student’s participation in the GBP and intent to accept the student if the student maintains a GPA of 3.0 in the GBP and meets all other requirements for the program, and (2) a letter of commitment to mentor the student, which requires signatures from the program advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee Chair. A template letter of commitment can be found on the Graduate School website.

Application. Students do not typically apply for admission into the GBP. Instead, programs opt into the GBP when they have identified a student to enroll. The Graduate School may also admit newly accepted students for GBP participation. Prior to acceptance into the GBP, a Graduate Faculty Member of a graduate program identifies a student and agrees to mentor the student such that a letter of commitment is submitted at the time of application and prior to acceptance. This mentor would be expected to meet with the student and guide course load and selection and make recommendations for tutoring if desired. A template letter of commitment can be found on the Graduate School website. The Letter of Commitment submitted with the application will require a signature of the program advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee Chair and must be uploaded with the application. Graduate programs nominating accepted students for GBP participation should also include an explanation as to why they believe the individual may be a successful Ohio State graduate student in their petition to the Graduate School.

Enrollment. GBP students enroll into the Graduate School. While in the GBP, participating students adhere to, and abide by, the terms of a completed mentorship letter. The Graduate School recommends that these students enroll in summer term (when schedules permit) for a limited S/U course selection, then enroll for autumn for three to four credits of didactic course load (four credits recommended for participation in the GBP) and possible additional S/U credits, then graduate spring semester for a fuller course load, as deemed appropriate. The Graduate School does not generally recommend that GBP students enroll in a full didactic course load (i.e., 12+ graduate credit hours) in any semester or summer term. This approach will help the student adapt to the rigors of graduate education at Ohio State and their potential program with the best opportunity to achieve course grades that would permit success in a graduate program with the goal of achieving the necessary graduate GPA of 3.0 for continuation in the graduate program. Students accepted into a graduate certificate program are encouraged to enroll in 3 credits of didactic coursework during the first semester/term of the GBP, then transition back to the certificate of acceptance the following semester/term (provided all GBP completion requirements have been met).

Completion. Graduate programs are responsible for determining if, and when, a student has met all requirements necessary for GBP completion (e.g., GPA, terms of the mentorship letter, subject-matter proficiency, etc.). Students who achieve a 3.0 minimum GPA after one, two, or three semesters/terms would subsequently be enrolled as a regular graduate student in the mentoring graduate program to which they were originally accepted, or apply to other graduate programs at the end of the term. Graduate programs should notify the Graduate School of the student’s need to transition to regular admission. Alternatively, students may, by the end of the final GBP semester or term, file a Completion of Graduate Program form on GRADFORMS, signed by the Graduate Studies Committee Chair, to receive the Bridge Certificate.

Students enrolled in the GBP that want to transfer to another graduate program and continue in the GBP, must have a letter on file at the Graduate School signed by the new advisor and Graduate Studies Committee Chair to replace their application letter.

Students that have completed at least two terms of the GBP, have a 3.0 GPA in the GBP, completed a minimum of 12 credit hours, and are in good standing with the Graduate School, would be eligible to receive a Graduate Bridge Certificate designation on their transcript. For students that receive the Bridge Certificate, up to ½ or a minimum of 6 credit hours, could be applied to their continuation in their graduate program.

For students that do not meet the criteria for the Graduate Bridge Certificate or elect to not receive the Bridge Certificate, then credits that meet the requirements of the graduate program in which they enroll would be applied to their graduate program. Students in the GBP with a graduate GPA less than 3.0 may be conditionally accepted into the graduate program, but this is not guaranteed by the GBP commitment.

Graduate Bridge Program Outcomes - G.6

Graduate Bridge Program students may successfully roll into a graduate program at Ohio State or transfer to another institution. Graduate Bridge Program students that successfully complete two semesters or more of the Graduate Bridge Program may be eligible for a Bridge certificate credential notation on Graduate transcripts.

Students in the Graduate Bridge Program are not likely to be eligible for financial aid or graduate associate appointments. Students in the Graduate School Bridge Program are also not eligible for Graduate School Fellowships.

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