Oct 14, 2019  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Admissions Policies

General Criteria and Standards

Grade Point Average (GPA)

The minimum standard for full admission to the Graduate School is a "B" average, or 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, in a program of study resulting in the award of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university or an equivalent degree from a comparable foreign institution. In addition, the student's undergraduate program must reflect successful completion of the prerequisites for graduate study in the chosen field. Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended must be submitted to the Graduate School as part of the application packet.

Students unable to meet the minimum standards may still be admitted to graduate study by demonstrating outstanding performance on one or more of the graduate aptitude tests or by providing letters of recommendation from competent judges of the applicant's performance as a student or in a professional capacity. To remain in good standing, minimum grade requirements must be met.

Standards for admission to a doctoral program are generally higher than those for admission to a master's program. The terms of this admission are based on specific recommendations made by the applicant's department in conjunction with the Graduate School.

Standardized Tests

In many programs, UMBC requires the submission of scores earned on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Aptitude test (verbal, quantitative and analytical writing scores) for admission to graduate programs. Some programs also may require applicants to submit scores earned on the GRE Advanced (subject-specific) test or other standardized tests. Consult the program description in this catalog to determine which examination is required for admission. GRE scores are used as part of the data on which admission decisions are based, but they are seldom the sole criterion for admission. The GRE requirement occasionally is waived for petitioning applicants, for example, mid-career students whose undergraduate experience is not recent or is distinct from the graduate field of interest. For more information on these standardized tests, contact: Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, 1-866-473-4373 (citizens of United States and Canada) or 1-609-771-7670 (other countries) or visit the Web site at www.gre.org.

Note: The GRE code number for UMBC is 5835. Examination scores should be sent directly to the Graduate School. The GRE must have been taken within five years of matriculation to be valid.

Language Requirements

All applicants are expected to read, speak, write and understand the English language fluently upon entering a graduate program. Applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). International applicants with a post-secondary degree from a U.S. institution will not be required to take the TOEFL. The minimum acceptable TOEFL score established by the university for admission into all programs is 550 for the paper-based test and 213 for the computer- based test; some programs require a higher score. TOEFL information and applications are available from TOEFL, Educational Testing Service (www.ets.org/toef) at 1-877- 863-3546 (citizens of the United States and Canada) or 1-609-771-7100 (other countries).

Note: Applicants must request that an official copy of the TOEFL test scores be sent directly to the UMBC Graduate School by ETS. The TOEFL must have been taken within two years of matriculation to be valid.

In addition to the TOEFL score, UMBC is now accepting IELTS scores. The minimum score required on the IELTS is 6.5.

Applicants receiving a teaching assistantship (TA) will be required to attend a TA workshop, and international students will take a test in spoken English upon arrival at UMBC. If performance on the English test is not satisfactory, students will be required during the first semester to take a reduced number of courses offered by their programs and to take instead up to 10 hours per week of non-credit instruction in spoken English. Students will be charged for this instruction.

Program-Specific Requirements

In addition to official transcripts, test scores and three letters of recommendation as evidence of academic potential, some programs require additional evidence of ability to succeed in the respective graduate program. These assessment tools may include a portfolio, an interview or other assessment means. Applicants are encouraged to review the program descriptions in this catalog and on the program's Web site for complete requirements.

Categories of Admission

Applicants may be offered admission to the Graduate School in any of the following categories:

Degree-Seeking Students

Full Graduate Status

Students admitted to full graduate status must have submitted official documents indicating a completed baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution (or an equivalent foreign educational institution) and be fully qualified in the judgment of the individual program and the Graduate School.
Degree students must be continually enrolled throughout their pursuit of the degree; failure to register for a course, research credit or leave of absence every fall and spring semester will interrupt the student's registration eligibility. To become eligible to register again, the student must request re-entry into the program and permission to register. This request must be made in writing to the Graduate School.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Students

Applicants are admitted to post-baccalaureate certificate programs as either degree or certificate-only students. They typically desire an added credential to enhance employment or career advancement opportunities. A student may be enrolled concurrently in a certificate and a degree program, and the certificate and degree programs do not need to be offered by the same department. Admissions criteria are determined by each graduate program offering a certificate. Applicants should complete the certificate application form if they are interested in obtaining only a certificate and not a degree. The degree-seeking form should be completed (with both the desired certificate and program indicated) if the applicant is interested in both the certificate and degree. Applicants for admission to certificate status must satisfy one of the following criteria:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with an overall "B" (3.0) average; or
  2. Hold a master's or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution; or
  3. Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution and have at least four years of successful post-baccalaureate work or professional experience.

Post-baccalaureate certificates at UMBC have been approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) and are offered under the auspices of several academic departments. The chapter on post-baccalaureate certificates lists the current certificate programs, most of which consist of four courses. Many students admitted to a certificate program use it as a stepping stone to applying to a degree program. The number of credits that may be applied toward a master's degree is determined by the graduate program.

Certificate students must be continually enrolled; failure to register for at least one course in every academic-year semester (both fall and spring) will interrupt the student's registration eligibility. To become eligible to register again, the student must request re-entry and permission to register. This request must be made in writing to the Graduate School.

Students enrolled in MHEC-approved post-baccalaureate certificate programs are eligible for financial aid if they are enrolled at least half-time and are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A 3.0 GPA must be maintained; failure to do so may result in probation or dismissal from the Graduate School.

Non-Degree Students

The non-degree status is designed for students seeking admission for the purpose of enhancing their knowledge by completing one or more graduate courses. It is not intended to be used as a qualifying program for full degree status at UMBC. While consideration may be given at a later date to the application of credits earned toward a degree program while in a non-degree status, there is no assurance that such requests will be granted. If such a request is granted, however, no more than six credit hours may be transferred to a graduate degree program.

Applicants for admission to non-degree status must satisfy one of the following criteria:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with an overall "B" (3.0) average; or
  2. Hold a master's or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution; or
  3. Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution and have at least four years of successful post-baccalaureate work or professional experience.

Examples of applicants who may seek non-degree status are:

  • Persons who hold an advanced degree who wish to take graduate courses for personal or professional enrichment in their field or in another area of specialization related to their field
  • Teachers and other professionals who wish to participate in summer (or other) institutes that include courses offering graduate credit
  • Visiting students in good standing as graduate students at another institution
  • University of Maryland employees who hold a bachelor's degree and wish to gain greater knowledge in the area of competence in which they are employed

Non-degree students are not eligible for financial aid, fellowships or appointments as graduate teaching or research assistants, nor are they eligible for student health insurance. Other services, such as parking and library privileges, are the same as those accorded to other graduate students.

Students who register as undergraduate special students to take 400-level and higher courses do not receive graduate credit for these courses, and these courses are not applicable toward a graduate degree. Teachers in Maryland school systems may, however, take the 400-level and higher courses that were taken as an undergraduate special student, however, to satisfy certification requirements.

A non-degree student may be considered active for up to five years from the semester of first enrollment; however, failure to register for at least one course in consecutive academic-year semesters (fall and spring) will interrupt the student's registration eligibility. To become eligible to register again, the student must request re-entry and permission to register. This request must be made in writing to the Graduate School.

Returning Graduate Alumni

Alumni of the Graduate School who wish to enroll as either non-degree students or in one of the post-baccalaureate certificate programs should complete a non-degree or certificate application. A returning student who has been gone from UMBC for less than five years does not need to pay an application fee.

Graduates of UMBC's doctoral programs who wish to take additional coursework should refer to the Ph.D. Plus section in the Enrollment and Registration Policies chapter.

Summer and In-Service Institutes
Applications for admission to summer and in-service institutes should be made directly to the director of that particular institute. For institutes that require graduate-level courses, students admitted to the institute will be admitted to the Graduate School as non-degree students according to the procedures discussed in this section.
Visiting Students

Students enrolled as degree-seeking candidates at other graduate schools who wish to enroll for a single semester at UMBC, and who intend thereafter to return to the graduate school in which they are enrolled, may be admitted with a non-degree graduate status as visiting students. In addition to the application materials described below, visiting students must provide written certification from their respective graduate dean that they are in good academic standing. This certification must accompany the application form.

Other Admission Programs:

60+ Program (Golden ID):  

The Golden ID program permits Maryland residents 60 years of age and older to take graduate courses at little cost. The applicant must be at least 60 years old by the date of registration and retired or working no more than 20 hours a week to qualify for Golden ID status that semester. Qualified individuals may apply as degree-seeking, post-baccalaureate certificate or non-degree- seeking students. To apply, follow the same instructions for degree, certificate and non-degree applicants. The applicant must note on the application form that the Golden ID status is being requested. Golden ID students will be responsible for paying some fees; tuition is waived.

English Language Institute and Conditional Admission:

English Language Program
On an individual basis, UMBC may be able to accommodate applicants who's TOEFL scores fall below the minimum requirements. If a student is otherwise admissible, conditional admission, requiring completion of some English as a second language courses through the English Language Institute (ELI), may be offered. Applicants with TOEFL scores below 80 on the Internet based, 213 on the computer based, and 550 on the paper based test will be eligible for consideration as a conditionally admitted graduate school student.

Conditional Admission
Students with conditional admission to the graduate school will be required to enroll at the English Language Institute (ELI) during their first semester at UMBC in order to meet the language requirements necessary for them to be successful in their graduate program. Students will be placed in appropriate classes based on a placement test given upon arrival. Upon successful completion of ELI level 5 courses (ELI 051, 052, 053, and 054), students will begin taking graduate courses while completing ELI level 6 courses. After successful completion of ELI Level 6 courses (061/071 and 063/073), students will enroll as full time graduate students, and the TOEFL score will not be required.

International Applicants:  

It can take many weeks to complete the processing and assessment of an application from another country and at least two months (sometimes longer) for student visa processing. International applicants, therefore, are encouraged to pay strict attention to application deadline dates and to submit all required documents as early as possible. International student applications are reviewed by graduate admissions for comparability with U.S. credentials, and some applicants may be requested to have a credentials evaluation performed by an outside agency.

In addition to meeting the general requirements outlined under General Criteria and Standards, international applicants must subscribe to the admission and immigration guidelines that follow. Beginning September 1, 2013, the UMBC Graduate School will accept official WES ICAP Course-by-Course evaluations as fulfillment of the requirement for official transcripts in the admissions process. The WES ICAP Course-by-Course evaluation includes copies of the official transcripts and degree certificates that have been verified by WES, and it includes a course-by-course evaluation. The evaluation must be sent directly from WES to the UMBC Graduate School in order to be considered official.

At minimum, applicants must hold a degree that is equivalent or comparable to a four-year United States bachelor's degree, and they must have a cumulative grade point average equivalent to a "B" or the first or high second division or comparable class ranking to be considered for admission.

Provisional graduate status and non-degree status are not normally available to international students. Non-U.S. citizens residing in the United States who hold permanent residency status, meet the required language proficiency and possess appropriate academic preparation may be considered for non-degree status.

Transcripts/Mark Sheets
Applicants must provide an official English language transcript and an official native language transcript or mark sheets from each post-secondary institution attended. Each set of documents must list subjects studied, grades or marks received and rank in class or division.

Language Requirements
See the Language Requirements section on page 10 (above) for information about language proficiency required of students whose native language is not English.

Immigration Documents
International students should enter the United States in the appropriate immigration status. For graduate students, this is almost always F-1. Students should receive an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility from the UMBC International Education Services (IES) office. This form will be used to request the F-1 visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. A student planning to attend UMBC should not use another school's I-20 to enter the United States.

It is difficult to change from B1/B2 visitor status to F-1 student status. Moreover, registering for a full course of study in a degree program is considered a violation of status for those in B1/B2 status. Therefore, international students are advised not to enter the United States in B1/B2 status. If you are uncertain whether you will study in the United States, you should tell the consular officer when you apply for the visa that you are a prospective student and ask that your visa is marked appropriately. F-1 students already studying in the United States who wish to transfer to UMBC must follow proper F-1 transfer procedures. Contact the IES office at ies@umbc.edu for more information.
It is possible to bring members of your immediate family (spouse and/or children) to join you during your studies. They should apply for F-2 dependent visas. Those in F-2 status are not allowed to work or pursue post-secondary degrees. For information on how to bring your family members, please write to ies@umbc.edu.

Financial Resources
International applicants must certify that they have sufficient funds (exclusive of travel expenses) for university tuition, fees, books, supplies and living expenses. No student will be issued the appropriate immigration documents without proof of adequate financial resources. Students in F-1 or J-1 status cannot expect to work off-campus to supplement their financial ability, as work authorization is quite limited.
For those with assistantships, a full assistantship will be sufficient evidence required for the I-20. Partial assistantships will need to be supplemented by other sources of funding. Please note that all students in F-1 and J-1 status, except those awarded graduate assistantships, will be billed automatically for UMBC's international student health insurance plan.

Documents acceptable for certifying financial support include:

  • Notarized letters from sponsors indicating their willingness to support you, accompanied by their original bank documents verifying that sufficient funds are available
  • Official notification of grant, loan or scholarship indicating name and address of the awarding institution, amount of funds, extent of expenses covered and length of time the award will last
  • Original current bank statements in your name verifying that sufficient personal funds are available

Please note that bank statements should be no more than three months old. It is best to send such statements AFTER you have been admitted to be sure they are current. If you defer your admission to a later semester, fresh documents will be required before immigration papers can be reissued. Questions regarding financial eligibility should be directed to the IES office at ies@umbc.edu.

Health Insurance Requirement
See the University Health Services section in the Student Services chapter for information about health insurance requirements for international students.

Financial Aid
A limited number of teaching assistantships (TAs) and research assistantships (RAs) are available in most graduate departments. Departments should be contacted directly for information on how to apply and the chances of receiving an assistantship. See the Financial Information chapter for more information.

Reporting Upon Arrival
It is very important that all new students report to the IES office as soon as possible after arrival. This office will assist with various immigration matters, such as informing the immigration officials that you have arrived and registering you in the SEVIS system. Failure to do so could be considered a violation of status and lead to the premature end of your studies.