Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and Portland State University (PSU) School of Public Health

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Graduate Student Policies and Procedures

 

School of Public Health graduate students follow policy guidelines and procedures outlined by both OHSU and PSU.  

Advising

Each graduate student is paired with a faculty advisor.  Faculty advisors help students identify academic and career goals, recommend elective courses and professional experiences that support those goals, and assist students with navigating their programs of study. 

MPH, MS, and Certificate Students

Students should meet with their faculty advisor within the first term of enrollment to develop an overall program of study and identify opportunities to support their professional development. 

Students maximize the benefits of advising by:

  • Contacting their faculty advisor at least once per quarter (electronically or in person);
  • Regularly monitoring both university email addresses for programmatic or institutional notices and important communication about progression through the program; and
  • Immediately informing their faculty advisor of changes in registration status or problems that could affect progress to degree.

Students who which to change faculty advisors may do so by finding another SPH faculty member willing to assume the advisor role, then submitting a Change of Advisor form to sphregistration@ohsu.edu.

Doctoral Students

Doctoral students work closely with their faculty advisors throughout their studies. While faculty advisors are not required to serve on their students’ comprehensive examination or dissertation committees, the advisor often will be a member of either or both committees, and may be the chair.

The assigned faculty advisor:

  • Reviews the student’s “Program Planner” at program entry, and works with the student throughout their program to ensure they complete all required courses, as well as electives relevant to their proposed dissertation research. 
  • Meets with the student regularly to provide overall mentoring, including help with goal-setting and review of educational, research, service and professional activities.
  • Mentors the student on research activities throughout their course of study and aids the student in establishment of a dissertation committee and selection of a chair.
  • Notifies the student of relevant School of Public Health, community-based, and national professional development events and services, and advocates for student participation.
  • Provides timely support and guidance to advisees when students are in academic or personal difficulty.

Every effort is made to assign a faculty advisor whose expertise matches the student’s stated research interests, however, a student wishing to change advisors may do so upon identification of an alternative faculty member who agrees to assume the role.  Students should discuss the desire to change advisors with their program director as soon as the need arises, so that the program director can help facilitate the process, then submit a Change of Advisor form to sphregistration@ohsu.edu.

Academic Standing

Good Standing: Students are expected to be in good academic standing throughout their studies. Good standing in graduate studies is defined as maintaining a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.

Academic Warning: Academic Warning serves as an intervention opportunity for students not meeting academic expectations, at risk of falling out of good standing, or in danger of dismissal for academic reasons other than unsatisfactory GPA. Students receiving an academic warning will work with their program director and faculty advisor to identify appropriate supports and develop an action plan to address areas of concern.

Academic Probation: A graduate student whose cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 (based on completion of 9 or more credits following admission) will be placed on academic probation. Students may also be placed on academic probation for academic policy or conduct violations. Students placed on probation will receive written notification stating the reason(s) for probation and the conditions that must be met for its removal. 

Removal of Academic Probation: Academic Probation will be removed as soon as the terms stated in the student’s academic probation notification letter are met.  In general, students placed on academic probation due to low GPA must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher within the next 9 letter-graded credits after beginning academic probation status.  The terms for removal of academic probation for students placed on probation for other reasons will vary. 

Academic Dismissal

A graduate student meeting any of the following criteria may be academically dismissed from the School:

  • Failure to meet the terms for removal of academic probation within the timeframe stated in the student’s academic probation notification.
  • Placement on academic probation a second time, for any reason.
  • Earning a grade lower than a “B-“ on the second attempt of a core- or program-required course.
  • Earning a grade of WNP (withdrew, not passing) on the second attempt of a core- or program-required course.
  • Having a cumulative GPA that makes it mathematically impossible to reach the minimum 3.0 GPA requirement.
  • Failure to meet other requirements for degree program completion.
  • Violations of policy and/or engagement in proscribed conduct. 

In addition,

  • Students in MPH programs may be dismissed upon failure to pass the CPH Exam after two attempts.
  • Students in the MPH Biostatistics and MS Biostatistics programs may be dismissed upon failure to pass the biostatistics comprehensive exam after two attempts.
  • Students in doctoral programs may be dismissed for any of the following reasons:
  • Failure to make satisfactory progress toward the PhD degree, as described in “Time Limits”.
  • Failure to provide evidence of continued progress on the dissertation once the proposal is approved.
  • Failing the comprehensive examination twice.
  • Failing the dissertation proposal defense twice.
  • Failing the dissertation defense.

For more information about the dismissal and appeals process see OHSU Policy 02-30-050 (for students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU), or PSU Policy on Academic Standing (for students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU).  

Academic Dishonesty

Students are expected to complete their own coursework at all times. In most cases, plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will result in the grade of zero for the work involved and may result in the grade of “F” for the course and/or referral to SPH administration.

Codes of Conduct

OHSU and PSU each have student codes of conduct describing expected standards of behavior and behavior that may be subject to disciplinary action. School of Public Health graduate students are expected to adhere to the policies of both codes. They can be found here (OHSU) and here (PSU).

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Consult this page for institutional policies regarding human subjects research.

Educational Records Privacy

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. It applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records, including the right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days of making such request; the right to request amendment to education records the student believes are inaccurate; the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent; and the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by a university or college to comply with FERPA requirements. FERPA authorizes the universities to make public disclosure, upon request, of student directory information. Students may request non-disclosure of directory information. To make such a request;

Minimum Course Grade Requirements

School of Public Health graduate students must

  • Earn a grade of “B-“ or higher in all core-required and program-required courses;
  • Complete all elective credits with no grade lower than a “C,” and no more than two grades lower than a “B-.“

Core- or program-required courses for which a student does not earn the minimum required grade must be repeated. When repeating a course, the student must re-register for the course, and will be charged the associated tuition and fees. Please note that a core or program-required course may be repeated only once, and that withdrawal grades of WNP (withdrew, not passing) count as attempted credit for the purposes of this policy. A student who does not meet the minimum grade requirement on the second attempt of a core or program-required course will be referred to the Dean’s Office for appropriate academic action, including possible dismissal from the School.

Recognition of Prior Earned Credit (Transfer/Application of Credit)

Transfer of Credit Earned at Other Institutions

Graduate students may transfer up to 1/3 of the required number of credits for the degree or certificate, from courses taken at another institution. Only the credit for the course is transferrable; transfer coursework does count toward a student’s grade point average. 

All transfer credits will be converted and applied as quarter-system credits, as applicable, and all requests must meet the following requirements:

  • Coursework must be graduate level, and must be at the same degree level (ie; master’s, doctoral) as the student’s current degree program.
  • Credit must have been earned at an institution that is formally accredited (or recognized, for foreign institutions) by an appropriate agency.
  • Must be graded A-F, not Pass/No Pass or similar grading method.
  • Earned minimum letter grade of “B“.
  • Credits must not have been used for an awarded degree or certificate at any institution.
  • Must be no older than seven years at the time of SPH admission, for students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU.
  • Must be no older than seven years at the time of degree conferral, for students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU.

Transfer Credit Procedure:

Students are encouraged to request consideration of transfer credit as early as possible after admission.  

  • Students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU follow transfer of credit procedures established by PSU’s Office of Graduate Studies.
  • Students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU complete the Transfer of Credit form. The form must be reviewed and signed by the student’s program director, approved by the SPH Associate Dean, and then sent to the OHSU Registrar for final verification. A syllabus for each course for which transfer is requested must accompany the form. Ideally, the syllabus should be from the same term and year the course was taken; where this is not available, a syllabus from the institution that accurately reflects the course content for the term and year in which the student took the course will be accepted. Students should provide a cover memo offering any supporting explanation of course equivalence.

Application of Prior Earned Credit from OHSU or PSU

Graduate students may apply up to 12 graduate-level credits of SPH curricula taken at OHSU or PSU prior to their admission toward their graduate degree or certificate.  

Note: for students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU, only the credit for courses taken at PSU is applicable; applied PSU coursework does not factor into the student’s grade point average.  Likewise, for students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU, only the credit for courses taken at OHSU is applicable; applied OHSU coursework does not factor into the student’s grade point average.

Application of Credit Procedure:

  • Students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU follow procedures established by PSU’s Office of Graduate Studies.
  • Students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU complete the Application of Credit form. This form must be reviewed and signed by the student’s Program director, then sent to the OHSU Registrar for final verification. Syllabi are not required. 

Course Waiver Policy

Waiver of a core or required course may be requested based on the student having obtained substantively similar knowledge and skills through means other than formal coursework. Course waiver requests are reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the student’s program director. Waiver of a specific course waives only the requirement to complete the course, but does not waive or reduce the credits that would otherwise be required. Credits associated with a waived course must be earned through additional elective coursework.  

Incomplete Coursework

The grade of ‘I’ (Incomplete) is assigned when a student’s work is of passing quality and the following criteria are met:  

  • Satisfactory course completion/participation: The student must have successfully completed the majority of the course work at the time the Incomplete is requested, with a minimum grade of a B- up to that point.  
  • Reasonable justification for request: Incompletes are granted for unanticipated events beyond the control of the student (e.g., serious illnesses, emergencies), and approval is not automatic.  Reasons for assigning the Incomplete must be acceptable to the course instructor.
  • Written agreement: A written agreement must be signed by both the instructor and student. The document will specify a) the remaining work to be completed, b) the highest grade to be awarded upon submission of remaining items, and c) the date by which the missing work is due, in accordance with the deadlines for completion (below). The student is responsible for filing the Incomplete Agreement with the Dean’s Office by submitting it, with all required signatures, to SPHregistration@ohsu.edu.  

In addition: 

  • The incomplete grade may not be used to create the opportunity for special or additional work in order to raise the grade.
  • Instructors may not allow students to “sit in” on an entire future course in order to resolve an incomplete. If the student needs to retake the entire course, they will be given the grade presently earned, and must register formally for the class when retaking it. Tuition and fees will apply.
  • Upon satisfactory completion of the incomplete work, the instructor will assign a final grade. The final grade will appear on the student’s transcript alongside the original Incomplete (ex.: I/A-).
  • Failure to resolve the incomplete by the agreed-upon deadline will result in assignment of a letter grade of F.

Deadlines for Completion

The deadlines for resolution of an incomplete vary according to where a student registers.  Students who register through OHSU must resolve the incomplete by the end of the following term. An instructor may set a shorter timeframe. Requests for an extension to the one-term timeframe must be approved by the student’s program director and the course instructor.  

Students who register through PSU must resolve the incomplete within one calendar year.  Assignment of an incomplete grade is at the discretion of the course instructor, and the instructor may set a shorter timeframe.  Requests for an extension must be submitted to the program director, and must also be reviewed by the PSU Graduate Council. 

Course Approvals (Electives)

Each program has a list of pre-approved, recommended electives that are aligned with the most common career goals for students in that program.  However, students may request to take other graduate-level courses. Such requests require advisor approval to ensure consistency with program requirements and relevance to the student’s academic and career goals. Contact sphregistration@ohsu.edu for guidance on documenting elective approval.

Reading & Conference, Reading & Research, and Independent Study

Courses titled Reading & Conference, Reading and Research, and Independent Study are designed to meet students’ specific learning needs when the content is not addressed in an available course.  These courses are intended only to meet elective credit requirements, and can be graded P/NP or A-F as pre-determined by the instructor and the student in the syllabus developed to guide the experience. 

R&C/R&R/IS courses may not take the place of a core course, and may only take the place of a program- required course in rare, extenuating circumstances.  Substitution of R&C/R&R/IS for a required course requires written justification by the student and the faculty advisor, and approval of the program director and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and must be taken as a graded (A-F) course.  Failure to plan an appropriate program of study is not considered an extenuating circumstance.   

The workload for a R&C/R&R/IS course must be appropriate to the number of credits received (i.e., 1 hours of “direct learning class with the instructor” plus approximately 2 hours of out-of-class time per week per credit of R&C/R&R/IS), and the class must address program-specific learning competencies, with competency demonstrations and documentation.  The student and faculty member work collaboratively to develop a syllabus, including course description, assignments, readings and learning activities, and must include measurable assessments of learning objectives and program competencies, such as research reports, project reports, and/or data analyses.  

International Travel and Coursework

International placements earning academic credit will be addressed and authorized on a case-by-case basis. All materials and applications must be submitted at least one full term (two terms are recommended) in advance of departure for the planned placement.  Students considering an international placement should meet with their Faculty advisor and Practice Experience faculty or coordinator well in advance to go over necessary paperwork and procedures. Processes begun after that point may not receive necessary approvals in time.

Students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU must submit the following: 

Students must also schedule and complete a Pre-Travel Consultation Appointment at JBT Health & Wellness and have met the Student Health Travel requirements regarding immunizations. 

OHSU Global provides education and travel preparation for students who wish to complete a portion of their graduate degree abroad. School of Public Health students are encouraged to complete an overseas pre-travel training course prior to travel. To register for pre- travel training coursework, SPH students should contact OHSU Global at ohsuglobal@ohsu.edu.

Students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU should consult PSU’s Education Abroad Office for resources and requirements related to international travel.

Continuous Enrollment

Students must be registered for credit each regular academic term (fall, winter, spring) until graduation, except for periods in which they have filed an approved leave of absence. Registering for a minimum of one credit per term during the regular academic year constitutes continuous enrollment. Registration during the summer term is not required to meet the School’s or universities’ continuous enrollment requirements, but may be required by the student’s academic program. 

Unregistered students without an approved leave of absence will lose access to OHSU network services, and may be administratively withdrawn from the School.

Leave of Absence

Students should request leave of absence (LOA) when they need to interrupt their studies to accommodate educational goals or extenuating circumstances.  Leaves of absence should also be discussed with the student’s faculty advisor, to ensure the advisor is aware of the student’s plans. Leave will be granted for all students called to active duty in the US military.  Medical leaves of absence will also be granted, with a medical affidavit. 

Students who register through PSU follow PSU Leave of Absence policies and processes.  The Graduate Leave of Absence Request form can be found here.  It must be submitted to PSU’s Office of Graduate Studies no later than the Friday of the second week of the term for which the leave of absence should take effect.

Students who register through OHSU follow the OHSU Voluntary Leave of Absence & Withdrawal policy and procedure. (02-70-030). The Withdrawal or Leave of Absence Form is available on the OHSU Registrar’s website. It must be submitted to the OHSU Registrar’s Office no later than the Friday of the second week of the term for which leave is requested. A student may request leave for a maximum of one year (four consecutive quarters). Extensions beyond a year require a student to submit a new request, and approval is not guaranteed. Students who wish to initiate a leave of absence during a term in-progress should first contact their program director.

Students whose LOA request and return is due to a medical condition or for US military service should review the difference in procedures outlined in OHSU’s Voluntary Leave of Absence & Withdrawal Procedure document.

Student Responsibilities

  • Students are responsible for understanding the implications of a leave of absence for financial aid, health insurance, and progress toward the degree. 
  • International students are responsible for consulting either OHSU’s Office of International Affairs (for OHSU registering students) or PSU’s Office of International Affairs (for PSU registering students) to understand the visa implications of interrupting studies.
  • Students are responsible for notifying the SPH should plans change. The School may administratively withdraw a student from a program if a student does not return by the date stated on the leave of absence form.

Withdrawal Policy

Withdrawal from a course, term in-progress, or from the SPH entirely, is usually initiated by the student. Students who wish to withdraw from a course should be aware of add, drop, and withdraw processes and deadlines established by the OHSU Registrar’s Office (for students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU), or PSU’s Registrar’s Office (for students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU).

Students who wish to withdraw from a term in-progress should first meet with their faculty advisor for guidance. The student should also notify his/her Program director, in writing. The student should then notify the Graduate Registration Specialist of his/her desire to withdraw by emailing sphregistration@ohsu.edu.  

Students wishing to withdraw entirely from the School should also meet with their faculty advisor, and then contact the Graduate Registration Specialist for guidance through the process. 

Administrative withdrawals are initiated by the student’s program, the School, or the university, and can occur as a result of disciplinary action, when a previously enrolled student does not return from a leave of absence, or fails to meet the requirements for continuous enrollment. 

Students who withdraw from the program voluntarily or by administrative withdrawal must apply for readmission in order to resume their studies. 

Time Limits

School of Public Health graduate students must complete their degree requirements within specified timeframes. A leave of absence does not automatically extend these timelines.

Graduate Certificates: Students in graduate certificate programs must complete their degree requirements within four years of matriculation.

Masters Programs: Students in master’s level programs (MPH, MS) whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU must complete their degree requirements within six years of matriculation.  Students in master’s level programs whose enrollment services are managed by PSU must complete their degree requirements such that no coursework applied to the degree is older than seven years at the time the degree is awarded. 

Doctoral Programs: Doctoral students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU must complete their degree requirements within seven years of matriculation. Doctoral students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU follow time limits set forth in the PSU Bulletin and posted to PSU’s Office of Graduate Studies website here.

Satisfactory Progress toward Degree (PhD Programs Only)

Doctoral students must demonstrate satisfactory progress toward completion of the PhD degree by meeting timelines for completion of intermediate program milestones.

For doctoral students who register through OHSU, requirements for satisfactory progress toward the degree are met as follows:

  • Required coursework must be completed in 3 academic years.
  • Comprehensive examination must be passed by end of 3rd academic year.
  • Time to proposal defense is no more than 2 years from completion of the comprehensive examination.
  • Time to dissertation defense total is by the end of year 7 in the program.

A leave of absence does not automatically extend the program timeline.  Students may request an extension in time limits, which must be approved by the program director and the associate dean of academic affairs.

Doctoral students who register through PSU follow time limits set forth in the PSU Bulletin and posted to PSU’s Office of Graduate Studies website here.

Student Complaint Procedure

The School of Public Health encourages conflict resolution directly between the parties involved, and supports the use of informal mechanisms whenever possible. In general, a student with a complaint or disagreement about an issue should first discuss it with the person or persons immediately involved, attempting to resolve the issue in a polite and professional manner. Recognizing that there may be instances where the student does not feel comfortable speaking directly to the party involved, or if such discussion does not resolve the issue, the student may ask their faculty advisor or program director to intercede. The faculty advisor or program director will meet with all involved parties and attempt to reach resolution. 

If informal methods of resolving the issue prove unsuccessful, the student may appeal the issue to the SPH Associate Dean for Student Affairs by submitting a written summary explaining the complaint. 

For more information, see the institutional student complaint policies: here (OHSU) and here (PSU).

Degree and Certificate Conferral

Degrees and certificates are reviewed and conferred every term, upon successful completion of all academic requirements and after all obligations toOHSU, PSU, and the SPH have been fulfilled. Students should review their degree audit with their faculty advisor. While the faculty advisor can provide academic guidance, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to ensure that they have met all degree or certificate requirements (including course, GPA, credit, and program-specific requirements).

Students enrolled in dual degree programs will have their School of Public Health degrees conferred upon completion of the requirements for both programs. 

Application for Degree

Students must apply to graduate in order to receive their degree or certificate.

  • Students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU must apply to graduate through SIS one term prior to completing all degree requirements, and pay the OHSU graduation fee. Students graduating from more than one SPH degree or certificate, must submit an Application for Dual Degree Form one term prior to completing all degree requirements, and pay the OHSU graduation fee.  More information and detailed instructions are on the Registrar’s website here.
  • Students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU must apply to graduate through Banweb by the first Friday of the anticipated term of graduation, and pay the PSU graduation fee.  Students graduating from multiple degrees in one term must apply for each one separately. More information and detailed instructions are on the Office of Graduate Studies website here.

Graduation Ceremonies

Convocation, hooding, and commencement ceremonies are held in early (OHSU) and mid (PSU) June. Graduate students who have applied for a degree during the fall, winter, or spring of the current academic year, or for the summer term immediately following, may participate in the events. The SPH Graduation &  Ceremonies page contains past ceremony details, as well as information on ordering regalia, ceremony photography, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Diplomas

Diplomas are mailed to the graduate after the degree has been posted to the student’s official academic transcript. Diploma distribution occurs through the university Registrar’s Offices.

Ordering Transcripts

Official transcripts are available through the Registrar’s Offices:

  • PSU Transcript Request – for students whose enrollment services are managed by PSU.
  • OHSU Transcript Request—for students whose enrollment services are managed by OHSU.