Admission Policies for Graduate Programs

Criteria for Full Admission

All graduate applicants receive a holistic application review by the admissions committee in the program for which the application is received. Committees base their decision on the student’s potential for attaining a graduate degree at Western. Applicants are evaluated according to criteria established by the specific graduate program. Evidence to demonstrate eligibility for acceptance may include previous academic achievement, rigor of academic history as shown by undergraduate grade-point average (recommended 3.0 on a 4.0 scale), graduate grade-point average (minimum 3.0 on a 4.0 scale), letters of recommendation, leadership potential, diversity of experience, supporting materials, and the depth of engagement in related professional activities. Details, including application deadlines, are listed on each program’s website: Link to Graduate Programs page.

Criteria for International Admission

All international applicants seeking admission into a graduate program must follow the published guidelines for admission to their target program. Link to International Graduate Applicants page. Evidence to prove eligibility for acceptance includes official undergraduate and/or graduate college transcripts (translated into English by approved agency), a credential evaluation, and other supporting documentation as determined by the specific program. International students must demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting official TOEFL or IELTS results. Minimum scores on the TOEFL paper tests must demonstrate equivalency to the TOEFL iBT (internet based test). Minimum required iBT scores are: 20 for each of the four sub-tests (Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing), for a minimum total of 80. Minimum scores on the IELTS are: 6 for each of the four sub-tests (Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing), for a minimum total of 6.5 overall. Applicants from countries where English is the SOLE OFFICIAL language of instruction (Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada-except Quebec, England, The Gambia, Ghana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago, Uganda, and Wales) are typically not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS results. For more information on TOEFL, please visit; and for IELTS, visit: Applicants must demonstrate by a letter of financial support and bank affidavit (English translation) that a total sum in U.S. currency adequate to cover the first year of study is available.

Criteria for Provisional Admission

An applicant who does not meet the requirements for full admission as a graduate student may be considered for provisional admission upon the recommendation of the respective program director and approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Applications are evaluated according to criteria established by the specific graduate program. Requirements for admitting students provisionally, as well as tracking their progress and consequences for not maintaining adequate progress, are available on the website and in the catalog section for each program. A provisionally admitted student will have a maximum of one calendar year to complete any pre-requisite academic coursework. Each graduate program may set additional timeline requirements. Link to Graduate Programs page.

Deferred Matriculation

A student who is admitted into a graduate program may defer matriculation for a twelve-month period from the start of the academic year of original admission. A student is allowed one such deferral, after which the student will have to reapply to the program. In order to hold a place in a graduate program for which a student has been accepted, the student must pay the non-refundable deposit as required by the specific program, which will be held by Western as a matriculation fee for one year. In the event that the student does not matriculate, this fee will not be refunded. If the student chooses to matriculate within one year of the original application, the original acceptance decision will stand except in extraordinary circumstances, such as criminal activity or academic dishonesty. A deferred student must submit any new transcripted coursework that has been completed within the deferral year before gaining full admittance into the program. Any exceptions to the deferred matriculation policy must be approved by the respective program director and Dean of Graduate Studies.   

Non-Degree Seeking Students

A qualified student may take 600-level graduate coursework as a non-degree seeking student without being fully and officially admitted to a degree granting graduate program. A non-degree seeking student must hold a conferred bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, or gain written permission from the specific graduate program director, and approval from the Dean of Graduate Studies before taking any courses. An approved student must register for graduate courses through the Office of Graduate Studies. Enrollment in 600-level courses does not constitute or imply admission into a degree granting graduate program. To be formally accepted into a graduate program, the candidate must meet the program admission requirements and complete the full graduate program admissions process. It is not possible to take 600 level coursework for no credit or to audit the class for lower tuition rate. Non-degree students may take any number of credits, subject to approval by the specific program director, but, if subsequently admitted to a degree or certificate program, may only use up nine credits towards their graduate degree in that program.

Transfer Credits

Western offers graduate level certificate programs and professional development coursework which may not be transferred into a program resulting in a degree. Courses in these programs are numbered at the 500-level.

A maximum of nine 600-level credits earned at Western as a non-degree seeking student may be applied toward a graduate degree at Western upon approval by the graduate program director and Dean of Graduate Studies. Each course must be completed with a grade of a B or above to apply toward graduate degree requirements.

A maximum of nine 600-level credits taken at Western as part of a master’s degree program may be used to meet the academic requirements for a second master’s degree in a related discipline with the approval of the graduate program director. This limit does not apply to courses completed for a Master of Arts in Creative Writing that are later applied toward the academic requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

Coursework completed more than five years prior to being admitted into the graduate program shall be evaluated by the graduate program director as to current relevance and applicability to the degree requirements.

Graduate credits taken from other accredited institutions may be transferred to the respective Western graduate studies program upon approval from the graduate program director and Dean of Graduate Studies. Transfer credits must be listed and approved by the student’s academic advisor, approved by graduate program director and then submitted to the Office of the Registrar. Official transcripts showing successful completion of these credits each at a minimum of 3.0 GPA or equivalent, must be submitted to Western before the graduate degree will be conferred. 

Graduate credits transferred must meet the following criteria:

  • Earned at a regionally-accredited institution;
  • Numbered at the graduate level and accepted as part of a graduate degree program at the sending institution;
  • Earned at a minimum of 3.0 GPA or equivalent, as defined by the sending institution’s official transcript;
  • Earned within the past five years unless a department specifies otherwise;
  • May not exceed nine credits.