GSH Section 8 - Special Graduate Programs

Enhancement of Graduate Degrees - 8.0

Graduate degrees can be customized with low-credit hour minors, specializations, dual and combined degrees, and certificates.

Current graduate students can discuss with their graduate faculty advisor and Graduate Studies Committee about enhancement options for their graduate degree and how it aligns with their research and career interests and degree completion timeline.

The academic standing and standards stated in Section 5 apply to all students pursuing any enhancement option.

Combined Programs - 8.1

Students in combined programs are enrolled concurrently in the Graduate School and in a professional or undergraduate college or school. The purpose of combined programs is to give outstanding students an opportunity to pursue, simultaneously, two degrees in different colleges or schools by reducing the amount of time required to complete both sets of degree requirements.

The following Professional Programs report to the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) and not to the Graduate School. Dual degrees involving two professional degrees also do not report to the Graduate School. However, the following professional programs also offer combined programs (e.g., MS or PhD) with the Graduate School:

The following undergraduate colleges and schools offer combined programs recognized by the Graduate School:

Admission. Students enrolled in combined programs are admitted by the Graduate School, the Graduate Studies Committee, and the professional or undergraduate college or school. The Office of Graduate and Professional Admissions receives application material, determines when the application is complete, calculates the official grade point average (GPA), and notifies the applicant of the admission decision. Please note that students may only pursue a combined degree in a program that has been officially recognized as “combined” by both the University and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Interested parties should contact the Graduate School to determine if a combined program has received official recognition.

Criteria. To be admitted as a graduate student in a combined program, the applicant must submit documentation that demonstrates satisfactory fulfillment of the following admission criteria:

  • Completion of a minimum of 90 undergraduate credit hours, for those enrolling in an undergraduate/graduate combined program.
  • A minimum of 3.5 cGPA in all previous undergraduate work for those enrolling in an undergraduate/graduate combined program (including credit hours from other institutions).
  • An earned baccalaureate or its equivalent or completion of the first year of a professional program for those enrolling in a professional/graduate combined program.
  • A minimum of 3.5 cGPA in all previous undergraduate work for those enrolling in a professional/graduate combined program who hold a completed bachelor’s degree and have not completed one year in the professional program. Students who have completed one year in their professional program must be in good academic standing, admitted to the Graduate School without conditions, and approved by the professional college dean, director, or chair.
  • Prerequisite training that will enable the student to pursue the graduate degree program selected.
  • Students may not be admitted to the undergraduate/graduate or the professional/graduate combined program in conditional or graduate non-degree status.

Credentials. Applicants must submit the same credentials required of other Graduate School applicants.

Procedures. Applicants must consult the appropriate professional or undergraduate college or school about admission requirements and procedures for its combined program students. In addition to the appropriate admissions applications, the student must also submit a Combined Degree Program form in GRADFORMS. The form must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester or term of the combined program. Additional information regarding these procedures may be found on the Graduate School website.

Advisor. At the time of admission, a Graduate Faculty member is appointed to advise the student as their primary advisor (Section 12.1). This graduate advisor may be the same as the professional or undergraduate advisor. The Graduate Studies Committee and the student’s graduate advisor are responsible for monitoring progress toward the graduate degree.

Course Load. The number of credit hours a student in a combined program attempts each semester or term is determined by the student and the advisor(s) and must be consistent with the course loads described in Section 3 and by the professional or undergraduate college or school.

Course Credit. Students must list the courses being double-counted toward the undergraduate/professional and graduate degrees on the Combined Degree Program form in GRADFORMS. A maximum of 9 credit hours can overlap between the undergraduate and graduate degrees. Once the form is submitted, it will be routed to both programs for approval before the Graduate School conducts the final review to ensure all combined program requirements have been met. Section 4.0 outlines the criteria for hours to count as graduate credit.

Cumulative Grade-point Averages. Students enrolled in combined programs have two cGPAs, one including all credit counted toward the graduate degree and one including all credit counted toward the professional or undergraduate degree.

Master’s and Doctoral Degree Requirements. A student pursuing a combined program must submit the Application to Graduate on GRADFORMS to the Graduate School no later than the third Friday of the autumn or spring semester (or third Friday of summer term) in which graduation is expected. All master’s and doctoral degree requirements apply to students enrolled in combined programs. 

Graduate Appointments. Students enrolled in professional/graduate combined programs may hold GA appointments (Section 9) or Fellowships and Traineeships (Section 10) provided all eligibility criteria are met. Students enrolled in a bachelor’s/master’s combined program may hold GA appointments that do not involve teaching of other students provided all other eligibility criteria are met.

Withdrawal. Students who are denied further registration in or who withdraw from the graduate portion of their combined program may either retain their graduate credit in the Graduate School should they reenroll at a later time or transfer that graduate credit earned to the other degree program, subject to the rules of the other college or school.

Other Considerations. Students enrolled in a combined undergraduate and graduate program who have yet to complete their baccalaureate program will be assessed undergraduate tuition. Once a student completes their undergraduate degree requirements, graduate tuition will be assessed for the remainder of the post-baccalaureate graduate program. This change in tuition structure will not impact eligibility to hold a graduate associate appointment, provided the student meets all other eligibility requirements. These procedures ensure compliance with the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) requirements to assess undergraduate tuition for students enrolled in a combined undergraduate/graduate program until the baccalaureate degree is completed.

Dual Degree Programs - 8.2

A dual degree program is defined as a graduate student’s pursuit of any two graduate degrees concurrently, with the exception of two PhD programs. A dual degree program can be the concurrent pursuit of a master’s degree and any other graduate degree (master’s, PhD, or a professional doctorate) or a PhD and a professional doctorate. The dual program does not apply to students pursuing a master’s and a PhD in the same graduate program. Students cannot pursue two PhD programs concurrently at Ohio State.

Program of Study. The student and advisor(s) in each graduate degree program plan an integrated course of study to satisfy the requirements of both degree programs. The Application for Dual Degree Program Plan must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School via GRADFORMS at least one semester or term prior to the semester or term in which one or both degrees are awarded. Per the dual degree being pursued, students must also abide by all other rules and requirements for doctoral degree programs (Section 7) and/or master’s programs (Section 6). All master’s and doctoral exams must remain unique to their respective program degree requirements and cannot be used as substitutes for the second program.

Credit Hours. Students must satisfy the credit hour requirements for each degree program. A minimum of 50 percent of the hours counted toward the credit hour requirement for each degree must be unique to that degree and cannot be used for dual credit. The Graduate Studies Committee of either program may establish a minimum higher than 50 percent. Dual degree students who also pursue a certificate program (Section 8.3) cannot count any of the credits used for completing the certificate as dual credit toward either major degree program and must comply with the 50 percent unique credit policy for each degree. Dual degree students who are pursuing a master’s degree and a PhD degree simultaneously and who have a previous master’s degree that is being counted for 30 hours toward the PhD cannot utilize any dual credits between another master’s and the PhD. In this case the Dual Degree Program Plan will be submitted by the student to reflect the appropriate number of credits needed for the completion of each degree, but there can be no overlap of credits between the two programs. The dual credit section of the Dual Degree Program Plan will be blank. Students interested in counting earned PhD credit toward a second master’s degree should inquire with the Graduate School as to its relevance to the dual degree program.

Tuition and Fees. When a tuition difference exists between the two degree programs, students in the dual degree programs will be charged the higher tuition rate for all enrolled courses in a given semester. Students who are on a graduate fellowship cannot be enrolled as a dual degree student while in the fellowship period.

Graduate Certificates - 8.3

Certificate programs provide students an opportunity to demonstrate competence in a coherent curriculum or area of specialization. Certificates often supplement previous advanced degrees or further professional preparation. Certificates may also serve as an entry point to additional advanced graduate study. Graduate certificates can be free-standing programs; students are directly admitted into these certificate programs. Students may also be simultaneously enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program.

Program of Study. Graduate certificates are administered by a Graduate Studies Committee. Students must select a program of study and are encouraged to contact the certificate program prior to application. Information regarding specific requirements for each certificate is available from the Graduate Studies Committee responsible for the certificate program. A complete list of current certificate programs is available on the Graduate School website. Students must meet the minimum admissions standards of the Graduate School. Please note that students pursuing a professional (i.e., category 5b) certificate while also enrolled in a graduate degree or graduate certificate program (i.e., categories 3a or 3b) must maintain the Graduate School’s minimum GPA requirement and make adequate progress toward degree/certificate completion.

Credit Hours. Graduate certificate programs must consist of at least 12 credit hours. Students must achieve a cumulative graduate GPA of at least a 3.0 to be considered for the awarding of a certificate. Only grades of “A” through “C-,” as well as “S,” may be counted toward the completion of the certificate program. Up to 100 percent of relevant credit hours required for the certificate may count towards a degree, upon approval by the degree program. Students may not transfer graduate credits earned at another institution to a graduate certificate program.

Application for Certificate Completion. A student pursuing a graduate certificate program must submit the Application for Certificate Completion to the Graduate School no later than the third Friday of the autumn or spring semester (or third Friday of summer term) in which completion from the student’s certificate program is expected.

Graduate Minors and Graduate Interdisciplinary Specializations - 8.4

The Graduate Minor and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization (GIS) are two options that facilitate the access of graduate students to interdisciplinary study and provide formal recognition of such study on the student’s transcript. In addition, these options recognize and benefit faculty interested in developing interdisciplinary courses/clusters as part of the Graduate School’s effort to support interdisciplinary scholarship. Individual students may not create their own minors and interdisciplinary specializations. These are offered instead by graduate programs or groups of graduate programs. Detailed information, including criteria, procedures for development, and operating procedures for Graduate Minors and Graduate Interdisciplinary Specializations are available from the graduate programs involved or the Graduate School.

Program of Study. All academic aspects of the Graduate Minor and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization (e.g., program of study, examination requirements) are subject to approval by the graduate programs that offer the minor and interdisciplinary specialization.

Graduate Minors. A graduate minor involves one program outside a student’s major graduate program. A graduate minor requires a minimum of 10 hours of graduate-level course work in at least three courses. Twenty hours of graduate level courses is the maximum allowance for graduate minors. The student must receive a grade of “B” or better or “S” in each course comprising the graduate minor. The completed graduate minor will appear on the student’s transcript after the student has completed the transcript designation form available through GRADFORMS.

Graduate Interdisciplinary Specializations. A GIS involves two or more graduate programs outside the student’s major graduate program. A GIS requires a minimum of 10 hours of graduate-level course work in at least three courses. Twenty hours of graduate-level courses is the maximum allowance for a GIS. Nine hours taken for the GIS must be completed outside of the student’s home program in at least three courses. The student must receive a grade of “B” or better or “S” in each course comprising the GIS. The completed GIS will appear on the student’s transcript after the student has completed the transcript designation form available through GRADFORMS.

Areas of Specialization and Program Tracks - 8.5

A graduate specialization represents a significant, widely recognized division of an overall field of study that is broader than an individual faculty member’s area of interest or an individual student’s thesis or dissertation topic. A graduate program track is a specific series of courses and/or other curricular requirements that may be selected by students who wish to develop depth in a particular discipline area.

Both areas of graduate specialization and program tracks must be within the student's graduate program. Specializations that lie outside the student's program are designated as graduate minors or GIS.

Program of Study. Graduate specializations are approved by the Graduate School for the student’s graduate degree program. The student, together with their advisor, may select an approved specialization and forward a request for approval to the local Graduate Studies Committee. If the committee approves the student’s request, the committee forwards the request, together with notice of approval, to the Graduate School.

Upon the student’s graduation, the Graduate School posts the graduate specialization in the student’s permanent record so that it appears on the student’s Ohio State transcript with the student’s graduate program.

Unlike graduate specializations and minors, program tracks are not formally approved by the Graduate School and are not designated on the student’s transcript. The completion of a program track is administered at the program level. Approval by the Graduate School of new program tracks or substantial changes to program tracks is required only when the changes constitute at least 50% of the existing graduate program.

Customized Programs - 8.6

Individual graduate programs may be developed on a case-by-case basis by the local unit in consultation with the Graduate School and in accordance with the guidelines and procedures for review and approval of new graduate degree programs.

Proposals for new graduate minors, GIS and specializations need to follow the Graduate School guidelines for the process of approval. 

International Cooperative Degree Programs - 8.7

The purpose of an international cooperative degree program is to give outstanding international students an opportunity to pursue, simultaneously, two degrees in different international universities by reducing the amount of time required to complete both sets of degree requirements. The opportunity to gain an international experience in graduate education provides a means of access to new information and perspectives, innovative concepts and methods, emerging research technologies and unique populations and environments not typically available at a single institution and country.

The international cooperative graduate degrees are implemented after an approved international cooperative graduate degree agreement (ICGDA) exists between Ohio State and an international partner institution. In this arrangement, a part of the undergraduate or graduate degree requirements are met by the students enrolled at the partner institution, following which the students enroll for and complete the requirements of the graduate program at Ohio State. International cooperative degrees can be formalized for any existing combined or dual degree programs at Ohio State in accordance with the guidelines outlined in the specific programs and in the ICGDAs. 

All international cooperative graduate degrees proposed under the approved ICGDA will need to undergo program review at the Graduate School and must align with Ohio State rules and protocols. The extent of required review will be determined as follows:

  1. Cooperative degree programs that make use of existing graduate programs at Ohio State will require review of administrative arrangements, potential impact on enrollment and availability and adequacy of the faculty and facilities available for the proposed program. 
  2. Cooperative programs that propose a significant (>50%) revision to an existing degree will need to undergo review by the associated college, the Graduate School and the Council on Academic Affairs (CAA).
  3. Newly designed degree programs will need review at the state level via the Chancellor’s Council on Graduate Studies (CCGS) in the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE).


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