Satisfactory Academic Progress & Federal Financial Aid

The Graduate School of Journalism has a pass/fail system of grading for its Journalism degree programs. Those in the Ph.D. program in Communications receive letter grades. The grade requirements to graduate for each program are described below.

In most courses, students receive written evaluations of their semester’s work from the instructors.

At any time during the course of study, professors and the deans may discuss a student’s progress and performance. If they determine that a student is not performing in a given class at a passable level, the student may be given a written warning or placed on probation for that class by the Dean of Students Office.

The warning or probation remains in effect until the professor of that class determines that the performance of the student has improved.

In most M.S. classes, the instructor has the right to designate up to two students as receiving “honors in class” because of their exemplary performance. This is not a grade and will not appear on a student’s transcript. M.S. students are notified of the designation by the professor who awarded it via the written evaluation. The designation is used by the faculty in determining which students are graduated with honors from the Graduate School of Journalism.

In addition, federal regulations mandate that the Columbia University Office of Student Financial Services maintain its own Standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress to measure students’ progress toward degree completion using both qualitative and quantitative methods in accordance. To be eligible for financial aid, students must meet or exceed these standards. Failure to maintain these standards may result in suspension of a student’s financial aid eligibility. For the Journalism School these standards are identical to the standards for a student enrolled in the same degree program at the Journalism School who is not receiving Title IV assistance.

Master of Science

To graduate, Master of Science students must attempt all 37 of the required points and must pass 33 of them. They may attempt up to 43 points to meet this measure. Students must pass all four core courses to graduate: Reporting, Master’s Project, and two Seminar & Production courses. Students who fail the Reporting class may not remain enrolled at the Journalism School unless they are granted special permission by the Dean of Student Affairs to retake the course the next semester it is offered. Students may not register for additional classes until Reporting has been passed. Written Word must be taken before any spring semester Seminar & Production classes may be taken. The maximum time frame (separate from leaves of absence) is three semesters for full­time students and seven semesters for part­time students to allow students to retake a single failed class that put them over the four point maximum for failed classes. A student who fails any two courses, or the same course twice, will be dismissed. Student Financial Services is required to use a quantitative cumulative financial aid grade point average to determine financial aid eligibility. All P grades are assigned a 4.0 and all F grades a 0. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 financial aid grade point average to remain eligible for aid. PLEASE NOTE: This is not an official academic grade point average. It will not appear on your transcript and cannot be used for employment or future education purposes.

Master of Science in Data Journalism

 

To graduate, Master of Science in Data Journalism students must attempt all 46 of the required points and must pass 43 of them. They may attempt up to 49 points to meet this measure. Students must pass all five core courses to graduate: Reporting I, Reporting II, Master’s Project, and two Seminar & Production courses. Students who fail the Reporting I or Reporting II class may not remain enrolled at the Journalism School unless they are granted special permission by the Dean of Student Affairs to retake the course the next semester it is offered. Students may not register for fall classes until Reporting I has been passed and cannot register for spring courses until Reporting II has been passed. The maximum time frame (separate from leaves of absence) is four semesters to allow students to retake a single failed class that put them over the three-point maximum for failed classes. A student who fails any two courses, or the same course twice, will be dismissed. Student Financial Services is required to use a quantitative cumulative financial aid grade point average to determine financial aid eligibility. All P grades are assigned a 4.0 and all F grades a 0. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 financial aid grade point average to remain eligible for aid. PLEASE NOTE: This is not an official academic grade point average. It will not appear on your transcript and cannot be used for employment or future education purposes.

 

 

 

Master of Arts

To graduate, Master of Arts students must pass all 36 points of required coursework. They may attempt 42. Students who fail the Seminar in Discipline class may not remain enrolled at the Journalism School unless they are granted special permission by the Dean of Student Affairs to retake the course the next semester it is offered. Students may not register for additional classes until Seminar in Discipline has been passed. The maximum time frame (separate from leaves of absence) is three semesters to allow students to retake a single failed class. Student Financial Services is required to use a quantitative cumulative financial aid grade point average to determine financial aid eligibility. All P grades are assigned a 4.0 and all F grades a 0. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 financial aid grade point average to remain eligible for aid. PLEASE NOTE: This is not an official academic grade point average. It will not appear on your transcript and cannot be used for employment or future education purposes.

Dual degrees with SIPA/Business School/Law School

Students in these dual degree programs spend one academic year in residency at the Journalism School. During that year, they have the identical requirements and are held to the identical standards as those students enrolled in the single Master of Science degree described above.

Dual degree in Journalism/Computer Science with School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

To graduate from this blended dual degree program, students must pass 64 points of academic work. Thirty­seven of those points are taken at the Journalism School and 27 are taken at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Students are in residency for the first three semesters at the Journalism School and for the final semester at SEAS. Students must pass all four core journalism courses to graduate: Reporting, Master’s Project, Computer Science Journalism Seminar and one Seminar & Production course. Students who fail the Reporting class may not remain enrolled unless they are granted special permission by the Dean of Student Affairs at the Journalism School to retake the course the next semester it is offered. Students may not register for additional classes until Reporting has been passed. Students will receive P/F grades for their journalism course work and letter grades for their computer science course work. Student Financial Services is required to use a quantitative cumulative financial aid grade point average to determine financial aid eligibility. While in residency at the Journalism School, all P grades are assigned a 4.0 and all F grades a 0. Letter grades will be assigned the numeric value used at SEAS. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative financial aid grade point average to remain eligible for financial aid. Please note: For the semesters at the Journalism School, this is not an official academic grade point average. It will not appear on your transcript and cannot be used for employment or future education purposes.

Knight Bagehot Certificate in Economics and Business Journalism

To receive the certificate in this single academic year program, Knight Bagehot must pass at least 11 points in fall semester; Student must pass at least 30 points in total. This program covers all tuition expenses and provides a living stipend. It is not Title IV Financial Aid eligible.

Ph.D. in Communications

The Journalism School considers progress toward the Ph.D. degree to be minimally satisfactory when progress is made at a rate that will allow a student to complete the degree within 18 consecutive terms of full­time study. Exceptions may be made only under extraordinary circumstances and upon petition to the program chair and the program director.

 

  Minimum Points that must be attempted Points Required to Graduate Maximum Points that can be attempted Maximum time frame
M.S. Full Time 37 33 43 3 semesters
M.S. Part Time 37 33 43 7 semesters
M.A. 36 36 42 3 semesters
Dual Degrees with SIPA/Law/Business School  37 (Journalism Portion) 33 (Journalism Portion) 43 (Journalism Portion)

3 semesters (Journalism Portion)

Knight-Bagehot Certificate 30 30 36 2 semesters
Dual Degree in Journalism/ Computer Science 64 64 70 5 semesters
Ph. D. in Communications 84 84 90 18 semesters

 

Effect/Treatment of atypical courses/situations

The Graduate School of Journalism includes all courses attempted at Graduate School of Journalism in the quantitative measurement to determine successful satisfactory academic progress. This also includes courses taken via a Consortium Agreement (Ph.D. students only). Earned hours include all courses which a passing grade was received All withdrawn courses (UW) and failed courses (F) are counted as unearned hours in the calculation. Repeated courses are counted in the attempted hours and are taken into consideration for the maximum allowed hours for completion toward the degree. Only courses in which an F was received can be repeated in the journalism degree programs; a maximum of six points can be attempted a second time. In the Ph.D. program, only a required course that was failed can be repeated.

Incompletes

Courses with incomplete grades are included as cumulative attempted credits. However, these courses cannot be used as credits earned toward the degree since successful completion is the criterion for positive credit accumulation. Incomplete grades in Reporting for Master of Science students and Seminar in Discipline for Master of Arts students must be resolved before the next term. Incompletes for Spring term must be completed before graduation. Incompletes are not held against students in determining satisfactory academic progress generally. If the student fails to meet the appropriate standard for financial aid eligibility credit accumulation due to the lack of successful completion grades for these courses, the recording of successful completion grades within a term, which brings the accumulated credit level to the appropriate standard, will restore eligibility for the term and subsequent terms within the academic year.

Withdrawals/Leaves of Absence

Withdrawals as part of the change of program period will not be included as cumulative attempted credits. Withdrawals that are recorded on a student’s permanent record will be included as cumulative attempted credits and will have an adverse effect on a student’s capability to meet the appropriate standard. NOTE: Retroactive “non­-punitive” administrative withdrawal activity may result in the requirement for the student to repay any assistance received as a result of the student’s enrollment at the time of receipt of the student assistance funds.

Course Repetitions

No course at the Journalism School can be repeated unless it was failed. Repeated courses are counted in the attempted hours and are taken into consideration for the maximum allowed hours for completion toward the degree. Only courses in which an F was received can be repeated in the journalism degree programs; a maximum of six points can be attempted a second time. In the Ph.D. program, only a required course that was failed can be repeated.

Advance Standing

There is no advance standing in the Journalism degree programs.

For the Ph.D. program, Students who enter with an advanced degree from another institution or a different department or school at Columbia may receive either 15 or 30 points of advanced standing (i.e. one or two semesters' worth) if the previous degree is judged to be the academic equivalent of the Columbia M.A. and to be such that it advances the student toward the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees. Usually the program accepts work for advanced standing when (1) it has contributed directly and substantially to the fulfillment of the requirements for the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees and (2) it meets departmental standards. Courses deemed "professional" rather than academic, including most courses in the skills and techniques of journalism, are not acceptable toward a doctoral degree. Final decisions about advanced standing are made by the doctoral subcommittee after the student has completed one semester at Columbia. Students who are granted only one semester of advanced standing must complete the remaining requirements for the Columbia M.A. Calculation of time to degree and satisfactory academic progress are reckoned in proportion to the number of transfer credits and amount of advanced standing in addition to credits earned during the time that a student is registered in GSAS. Transfer credits and awards of advanced standing are not calculated in the graduate GPA.

Transfer of Credits

No transfers of credit are permitted in the Journalism degree programs.

For the Ph.D. program, Students who enter with an advanced degree from another institution or a different department or school at Columbia may receive either 15 or 30 points of advanced standing (i.e. one or two semesters' worth) if the previous degree is judged to be the academic equivalent of the Columbia M.A. and to be such that it advances the student toward the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees. Usually the program accepts work for advanced standing when (1) it has contributed directly and substantially to the fulfillment of the requirements for the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees and (2) it meets departmental standards. Courses deemed "professional" rather than academic, including most courses in the skills and techniques of journalism, are not acceptable toward a doctoral degree. Final decisions about advanced standing are made by the doctoral subcommittee after the student has completed one semester at Columbia. Students who are granted only one semester of advanced standing must complete the remaining requirements for the Columbia M.A. Calculation of time to degree and satisfactory academic progress are reckoned in proportion to the number of transfer credits and amount of advanced standing in addition to credits earned during the time that a student is registered in GSAS. Transfer credits and awards of advanced standing are not calculated in the graduate GPA.

Changes in Program of Study

No program changes are allowed at the Graduate School of Journalism.

Readmission

The structure of our degree programs makes it difficult to take a leave of less than a year. Each course type is offered only in a particular semester and in a number of cases fall classes must be taken in advance of spring classes. Financial aid decisions are based on the cumulative financial aid GPA at the time the person withdrew.

When a student becomes ineligible for financial aid due to failure to meet Financial Aid SAP standards, an opportunity is given to appeal for further financial aid consideration.

EVALUATION

Academic progress is evaluated at the end of semester. Those who fail to meet the financial aid SAP requirements will be placed either on financial aid warning or have their financial aid eligibility suspended. If they successfully appeal an unsatisfactory financial SAP finding, they will be placed on financial aid probation. Definitions below.

Financial Aid Eligibility Status Definitions

Financial Aid Warning

Dean of Students Office will assign this status to students who are failing financial aid SAP at the end of each term and were making financial aid SAP in the prior term. The Dean of Students Office will reinstate eligibility for one term without an appeal.

Financial Aid Probation

Dean of Students Office will assign this status to students who are failing financial aid SAP and who successfully appeal the financial aid review. Eligibility for aid may be reinstated for one term.

SUSPENSION

Students who fail to meet financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress standards for more than a single semester will be placed on financial aid suspension and will no longer be eligible to receive financial aid.

APPEAL PROCESS

Students who have their financial aid suspended may submit a written appeal to the Dean of Students Office with a detailed explanation along with documentation, verifying the circumstance that led to the inability to meet the Standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress. Examples of acceptable explanations include:

  • death of a relative
  • injury or illness of the student
  • other special circumstances (such as difficult transition to UI, family issues, legal troubles, work or budget problems, etc.)

Students must also describe what has changed to make them now able to meet SAP standards. For Ph.D. students, an Academic Plan must also be provided.

RESTORING ELIGIBILITY

Ph.D. students whose appeals are granted will receive federal financial aid but will be expected to adhere to the Academic Plan as well as maintaining SAP standards. Journalism students will be expected to return to and maintain financial aid SAP standards.

A student whose appeal has been denied or who has lost eligibility by not meeting the standard without appeal may regain eligibility by leaving the institution for at least one year. Upon re­-admittance, the student will receive assistance for the terms in the academic year of re­-admittance and will be subject to SAP evaluation of eligibility at the end of each term.

Students who choose to remain enrolled at the School without the receipt of Title IV funding may request a review of their academic records after any term in which they are enrolled without such benefits to determine whether the appropriate standards for the degree program(s) in which the students are enrolled have been met. If the standards are met, eligibility is regained for subsequent terms in the academic year.

Students who choose to remain enrolled at the School without the receipt of Title IV funding or institutional aid are responsible for all debts owed to the University, including any fees or tuition that may have been incurred during the review process.

NOTIFICATIONS

The Dean of Students Office will review all students’ academic records annually after the spring semester or payment period. Students who are not making satisfactory academic progress towards their degree will immediately lose eligibility for future Title IV aid. Students will be notified of their ineligible status via electronic mail (e­-mail).

Note: If a student has a grade change or correction to their academic record subsequent to the review process, he/she should notify the Dean of Students Office in writing to request a re­-evaluation of their academic progress.