Classification of Students

Regular Standing

Students who intend to obtain a Master’s degree and who have met all admission requirements are granted regular standing in the Graduate Studies in Religion. Only those students who have regular standing may become candidates for the Master’s degree.

Provisional Standing

This classification is used for degree-seeking students who have their B.A. degree, but enter the program with academic deficiencies: They may lack some of the prerequisite undergraduate courses, their entering GPA is deficient, or their B.A. degree is from a non-regionally accredited institution.

M.T.S  and M.A.L.S. students accepted with provisional standing must complete the first 12 units of graduate level courses with grades of “B” (MALS) and “B-” (MTS) or above before receiving further consideration for regular standing in the Graduate Studies in Religion. Students who qualify to move from provisional to regular standing should contact the Religion Studies Student Success Coordinator.


Students who have earned a B.A. degree but who do not plan to earn the Master’s degree may be granted special standing in the Graduate Studies in Religion. Students-at-Large may apply to the Graduate Admission Office for provisional standing in the degree program of their choice by completing the Student –at-Large application. However, the University and the Office of Graduate Studies in Religion are not obligated to accept a student with special standing into regular degree standing.

Students who are currently in the senior year of their undergraduate studies and within 18 units of completing their Bachelor’s degree program (including the VU general education religion requirements) may be granted Student-at-Large admission. Such students may enroll simultaneously in undergraduate and graduate coursework while completing the requirements for the Bachelor’s degree. When the Bachelor’s degree is complete, students may apply for full admission into the Graduate Program. A maximum of sixteen (16) credit hours of graduate coursework may be applied toward the Master’s degree requirements.

Students whose applications are in the process of approval may be allowed to matriculate temporarily as Students-at-Large. A maximum of two (2) courses taken in this way may be applied to the requirements of an academic degree.

An application form is available from the Graduate Admission Office for students applying for student-at-large standing.


Auditor standing is the classification for students who attend classes for personal enrichment rather than for academic credit, with no obligations to participate actively in the work. Audit courses do not earn units of credit. All students who audit any course will complete the audit form available in the Graduate Admission Office. Students who take audit courses exclusively and who are not enrolled in the degree program, will complete the application form. Audit students are welcome in any available course.

•      Audited course are recorded on the student’s transcript.

•      Auditing Fee – The fee for auditing courses is one-half the rate of regular tuition.

International Students

International students are required to complete the admissions process for acceptance by the University and submit a Certification of Finances form to confirm sufficient financial resources to cover tuition and related expenses (fees, books, living expenses, and return fare home). Also, one year tuition, health insurance and fees must be deposited with the University before a Certificate of Eligibility (for non-immigrants “F-1” Student Status — form I-20) is issued. International students must maintain nine (9) graduate level credits of non-repeatable courses each semester and renew the I-20 forms annually for any travel outside of the United States.

In rare cases, international students may have difficulty obtaining documentation for their previous academic work. These students may be admitted to the program with the understanding that they cannot advance to candidacy until the proper documentation is either obtained or formally waived by action of the admissions committee.

All students need to be fluent in English to follow course lectures and complete their written assignments. The Graduate Admission Office might require documentation for fluency in English. Such tests as TOEFL and/or TSE might be required for international students whose first language is not English. A minimum score of 550 is normally expected on the written version and a minimum score of 79 is normally expected for the internet based version. A (slightly) lower score may be accepted if accompanied by documentation of a successful evaluation from an English as a Second Language program (ESL) here in the United States. Students who have not mastered English but are granted admission may need to enroll in English and composition classes and employ (at prevailing rates) an editor to assist in the completion of their written work.

Scheduling Courses

Many graduate students are adult learners who work full time. Therefore, Office of Graduate Studies in Religion makes every attempt to schedule courses at times that will facilitate progress in the degree program. Most graduate courses are scheduled one evening per week, in 4 hour blocks for 8 weeks plus one Saturday for 8 hours. The Semester schedule allows for two modules of 8 week sessions (two courses). Other courses are scheduled for several weekends during a given semester. In most cases, students should be able to carry a full load, and still limit travel time to and from class. The faculty and staff can help evaluate individual students’ ability to handle a full-time course load.

The typical academic year is structured as follows:

Fall Semester — is generally scheduled from the last week of August through the second week of December. Full-time status is a minimum of six (6) units.

Spring Semester — is generally scheduled from mid-January to early May. Full-time status is a minimum of six (6) units.

Summer Semester — Summer sessions are generally scheduled from mid-May through mid-July and are divided into two modules of eight-week sessions which make earning six (6) units during the Summer semester possible.