Academic Policies + Procedures

Academic Regulations


Graduate studies programs operate on a twelve-month basis, from July 1 to June 30. The year is divided into two six-month semesters. The fall semester is from July 1 to December 31; the spring semester is from January 1 to June 30. Successful registration includes submitting a course schedule approved by the student's home department, payment of semester tuition, and the dental school registrar registering the student. Each semester registration must be completed as scheduled. Students enrolled in fall and spring semesters may arrange to pay bills for tuition and fees in two installments. At least half of the total bill must be paid at registration; the remainder must be paid per University policy. Fees may be charged for late registration or late payment. Students who fail to be registered within 30 days after the published dates will be considered withdrawn from the program. In the School of Dental Medicine, students who are not registered are not considered students of record, lose the protection of the University in matters of liability, and therefore, may not treat patients. They can no longer attend class or receive grades and will have to reestablish their matriculation formally. In any circumstance, all lost course and/or clinical time will be added to the end of the program’s original completion date.

Under unusual circumstances, special arrangements for registration may be made with the permission of the department chair and the associate dean for graduate studies. Social security numbers are used for all records and documents and must be provided at the time of registration. International students will be issued a number for this purpose if they have not obtained a social security number before registration. New students and new residents who are not registered as specified and who fail to provide satisfactory reasons for the delay in advance will forfeit their right to admission. Vacancies that arise from such circumstances are filled from a list of alternate candidates at the department's discretion.


The responsibility for assigning grades rests exclusively with the course director, who must announce the general grading method at the beginning of the course. Course grades are reported to the School of Dental Medicine registrar at the end of the course or when a final grade has been determined, if before the scheduled completion time for the course. Incomplete or conditional grades can be changed only by the course director as described in the University Registrar section of this bulletin.  Grading in the School of Dental Medicine Graduate Programs is A, B, C, or F, pass/no pass, and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.

Transfer Credit

Transfer of credit from another university is limited to six semester hours of graduate-level courses. Such transfer requires approval from the student’s advisor, the department chair, and the Office of Graduate Studies. Courses must have been taken within five years before or after matriculation in the graduate program at Case Western Reserve University. Only those with grades of “B” or better are transferable. No credit for a thesis may be transferred from another university.

Graduate credit is not awarded for 100- or 200-level courses or their equivalents.

Thesis Advisory Committee

Each master’s degree candidate is advised to consult with their Program Director as to when and how to form a thesis committee. The Graduate department chair, in consultation with the Program Director, chooses a faculty member to serve as the primary thesis advisor.  The primary thesis advisor will help identify other faculty members (at least two) to serve as secondary advisors and as members of the thesis committee. At least two thesis committee members must be from the department in which the student is enrolled, and one must be from another department. Additional membership is not restricted and may include persons outside the University who have qualifications acceptable to the department chair. Members of the thesis committee continue in their capacity until the student graduates or leaves the study program. The thesis committee will be responsible for guiding the student in the development of a thesis protocol. Once a protocol is acceptable, the thesis committee members advise the student on the conduct of the research and writing of the thesis document. Ultimately, the committee members will evaluate the student’s oral defense and final thesis document.

Research Project

For master’s degree programs, each student must carry out an original and meaningful research project acceptable to the department chair and the advisory committee. A written thesis, similarly acceptable, must be prepared and must conform to the standard format determined by the Office of Graduate Studies of the School of Dental Medicine. The thesis must be submitted before the prescribed deadline. An oral examination (defense) of the thesis is required. The student’s advisory committee administers this examination before a standard date set by the Office of Graduate Studies of the School of Dental Medicine. The Advisor and all committee members must be present for the defense. A unanimous agreement of the committee is required to pass the thesis examination. A student must be registered for thesis credit or continuing graduate work during the semester in which the thesis examination is conducted. The thesis defense is ordinarily open to all members of the University faculty, student body, and guests.

Extra Courses

Individual students enrolled in an advanced education program, whether or not a master’s degree is involved, may be required to take courses beyond the general requirements set forth by the department to complete the program. In such instances, the student must be notified in writing by the department chair, with a copy filed in the Office of Graduate Studies of the School of Dental Medicine.

Time Limits

Each student is expected to maintain continuous registration, and all requirements must be completed within five consecutive calendar years immediately following matriculation as an advanced education student, including approved periods of leave of absence. A student who fails to complete the requirements within five years must be formally readmitted with full standing to continue the study, subject to terms of readmission, future time limits, and revised requirements for the degree award. Prior status in the program is no guarantee of readmission and should not be assumed.

Leave of Absence

A student may request a leave of absence for personal reasons or health reasons when anticipated, or the actual absence is over three weeks. A written request for a leave of absence must include the reason for the request and the length of time requested. A leave of absence cannot exceed one calendar year. It must be submitted to the program director and the associate dean of graduate studies of the School of Dental Medicine. The program director will forward the request with their response to the Committee on Graduate Studies. In order to be eligible for such requests, the student must be currently enrolled and in regular attendance prior to the time or circumstances that necessitated the request. At the expiration of the leave, the student must resume registration unless formally granted an extension. A leave of absence does not extend the maximum time permitted for the completion of degree requirements. A student who fails to obtain an approved leave or who fails to resume registration at the time expected may be separated from the program. During the period of leave, it is expected that the student will not avail themselves of the teaching and research resources of the School of Dental Medicine or the University. At the end of an approved leave, the program director reviews reentry into the program in concert with the Committee on Graduate Studies and may not be at the same level attained when the leave was granted. Programs with a high patient case component may require that the clinical portion of the program be repeated in its entirety. Finally, the committee also reserves the right to place a student on leave of absence where it has been determined that the circumstances warrant, even in the absence of a formal request.

Maintenance of Good Standing

A minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.75 is required for good standing in a graduate program for all courses taken for graduate credit (excluding those graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory or Pass/No Pass).

The associate dean for graduate studies reviews student performance and may recommend a course of action to the Committee on Graduate Studies. The committee may require remedial work, place a student on academic review or probation, set conditions for continuation in the student’s course of study or program, and may require withdrawal for failure to meet the academic standards set by the department or school. A student who receives a grade deemed unsatisfactory in any course is placed on probation and must remove themselves from probation within a time period specified by the committee. It is expected that removal from probation will ordinarily require repetition of the course with an acceptable grade or the successful completion of work deemed equivalent by the student’s advisory committee and the departmental chair.

In this regard, a student may be separated from the University for any one of the following reasons:

  1. Failure to correct probationary status within the specified time period.
  2. Failure to achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.50 or above upon completion of 12 semester hours or a grade point average of 2.75 or higher upon completion of 21 semester hours of graduate study.
  3. Failure to complete all requirements for the master’s degree within five consecutive calendar years from the term of matriculation, unless granted an extension of a maximum of one year upon recommendation of the advisor and chair and approved by the associate dean for graduate studies.

In calculating the grade point average, all courses for which quality points are given are counted, including courses required to be repeated. In addition, on the recommendation of the student’s department, and with due process, the School of Dental Medicine may suspend or separate a student from the university for failure to maintain appropriate standards of conduct and integrity in discharging their responsibilities. Academic failure, moral delinquency, gross misconduct, or failure to meet the specific conditions of probation or academic review is sufficient reason for requiring withdrawal from the school.


The minimum requirements for the master’s degree in the School of Dental Medicine are 36 semester hours of coursework, including six or more semester hours of thesis/equivalent registration, and the submission of an acceptable thesis. Individual departments may require additional semester hours of specific coursework and/or thesis. Not less than 24 semester hours may be at the 500 level or higher.

A candidate for a Master of Science in Dentistry degree must make an application for the degree to the Office of Graduate Studies of the School of Dental Medicine no later than three months before the commencement at which the degree is expected.

The awarding of the degree is dependent upon the satisfactory completion of all requirements, and the recommendations of the department chair, Committee on Graduate Studies, and faculty of the School of Dental Medicine. The student must complete all requirements for both the master’s degree and certificate to receive either.

Degrees will not be awarded to candidates with delinquent financial accounts that include, but are not limited to, tuition payments, fees, and library fines.

Delayed Graduation

A candidate who has successfully defended their thesis but who fails to meet the deadline for thesis submission for graduation in one semester will be permitted to receive their degree at the next scheduled graduation, without further registration or payment of tuition if the completed thesis is submitted within fourteen days of the date originally scheduled for graduation. If all requirements are not met within this grace period, the candidate must register for the subsequent semester.