“Choose Between a Master's, Ph.D. in Engineering” – US News & World Report
“When to pursue — or forget about — a PhD” – Devex
Below you will find graduate policies and procedures listed in alphabetical order. For more information on any of these policies or if you have any questions, please contact the Graduate Programs Office, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Statement of Purpose
Academic integrity is vital to any university community for many reasons. Students receive credit for doing assignments because they are to learn from those assignments, and the vast majority do so honestly. A student who submits work that is not his/her own, or who cheats on a test or plagiarizes a paper is not learning, is receiving credit dishonestly and is, in effect, stealing from other students. As a consequence, it is crucial that students do their own work. A student who uses someone else’s work or ideas without crediting that source, or whom otherwise performs dishonestly in a course, is plagiarizing or cheating. Such dishonesty threatens the integrity not only of the individual student, but of the university community as a whole.
Academic integrity lies at the heart of the values expressed in Villanova University's mission statement and inspired by the spirit of Saint Augustine. When one comes to Villanova, one joins an academic community founded on the search for knowledge in an atmosphere of cooperation and trust. The intellectual health of the community depends on this trust and draws nourishment from the integrity and mutual respect of each of its members.
The information in this document applies to both on-campus (that is, in-class) students as well as distance education (or on-line) students.
The University Academic Integrity policy forms the basis for this document and can be found here.
Code of Academic Integrity
The following are rules and examples regarding academic dishonesty. Since academic dishonesty takes place whenever anyone undermines the academic integrity of the institution or attempts to gain an unfair advantage over others, this list is not and cannot be exhaustive. Academic integrity is not simply a matter of conforming to certain rules; it must be understood in terms of the broader academic purposes of a Villanova education.
While taking a closed-book and closed-note test or examination, students shall rely on their own mastery of the subject and not attempt to receive help in any way not explicitly approved by the instructor. For example, students shall not use notes, study aids, or another’s work. Such cheating includes trying to give or obtain information about a test when the instructor states that it is to be confidential. It also includes trying to take someone else’s exam, or trying to have someone else take one’s own exam.
Students shall not falsify, invent, or use in a deliberately misleading way information, data, or citations in any assignments. This includes making up or changing data or results, or relying on someone else’s results. It also includes citing sources that one has not actually used or consulted.
3. Assisting in or contributing to academic dishonesty
Students shall not help or attempt to help others to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
This includes situations in which one student copies from or uses another student's work. In such situations, both students are likely to be penalized equally severely. Students are responsible for ensuring that their work is not used improperly by others. This does not include team projects where students are told by their instructor to work together.
Students shall not rely on or use someone else’s words, ideas, data, or arguments without clearly acknowledging the source and extent of the reliance or use. The most common way to acknowledge this reliance or indebtedness is to use footnotes, references, or other documentation. It is the student’s responsibility to show clearly when and where they are relying on others, partly because others may want to learn from the same sources from which the original writer learned. Since this indebtedness takes a variety of forms, some definitions and examples of plagiarism follow:
a. Using someone else’s words without acknowledgement. If you use someone else’s words, not only must you indicate the source, but you must also put them within quotation marks or use some other appropriate means of identifying the words, and mathematical equations, whether or not they have been formally published.
b. Using someone else’s ideas, data, or argument without acknowledgement, even if the words are your own. If you use someone else’s examples, train of thought or experimental results, you must acknowledge that use. Paraphrasing, summarizing, or rearranging someone else’s words, ideas, or results does not alter your indebtedness.
c. Acknowledging someone else in a way that will lead a reader to think your indebtedness is less than it actually was. For example, if you take a whole paragraph worth of ideas from a source, and include as your final sentence a quotation from the source, you must indicate that your indebtedness includes more than just the quotation. If you simply put a page number after the quotation, you will lead the reader to think that only the quotation comes from the source. Instead, make clear that you have used more than the quotation.
The examples above constitute plagiarism regardless of the source. The words or ideas of a roommate, an encyclopedia, or notes from another class, require acknowledgment just as much as the words or ideas of a scholarly book. Introductions and notes to books also require acknowledgment.
The examples above constitute plagiarism even in cases where the student uses material accidentally or unintentionally. A paper can be plagiarized even if you have forgotten that you used a certain source, or even if you have included material accidentally without remembering that it was taken from some other source. One of the most common problems is that students write a draft of a paper without proper documentation, intending to go back later to "put in the references." In some cases, students accidentally hand such papers in instead of the footnoted version, or they forget to put in some of the footnotes in their final draft. The fact that the wrong draft was submitted is not a defense against an accusation of plagiarism. Students are held accountable for the work that they actually submit, rather than the work that they intended to submit. Furthermore, students are responsible for proper documentation of drafts of papers, if those drafts are submitted to the professor. In general, students are responsible for taking careful notes on sources, and for keeping track of their sources throughout the various states of the writing process. Notes must clearly identify the information you have obtained and where you acquired it, so that later you can acknowledge your indebtedness accurately. Do not look at a source without having something handy with which to take such notes.
You need not provide footnotes for items that are considered common knowledge. What constitutes common knowledge, however, varies from academic field to academic field, so you should consult with your instructor. In general, the harder it would be for someone to find the fact you have mentioned, the more you need to footnote it.
5. Multiple submissions of work
Students shall not submit academic work for a class which has been done for another class without the prior approval of the instructor.
In any assignment, an instructor is justified in expecting that a certain kind of learning will be taking place. Submitting something done previously may preclude this learning. Consequently, if a student hands in work done elsewhere without receiving his/her instructor’s approval, he/she is violating academic integrity and will face penalties.
6. Unsanctioned collaboration
When doing out-of-class projects, tests, homework, or other assignments, students must work individually unless collaboration has been expressly permitted by the instructor. Students who do collaborate without express permission of their instructor must inform the instructor of the nature of their collaboration. If the collaboration is unacceptable, the instructor will determine the appropriate consequences (which may include treating the situation as an academic integrity violation.)
7. Taking un-earned credit
Taking credit for work in a team project even when the student has made little or no contribution to the work of the team misrepresents the truth and violates the academic integrity code.
8. Other forms of dishonesty
Behaving honestly in an academic setting includes more than just being honest in one’s academic assignments; students are expected to be honest in all dealings with the University. Certain kinds of dishonesty, though often associated with academic work, are of a different category than those listed above. These kinds of dishonesty include (but are not limited to) the following:
a. Misrepresenting oneself or one’s circumstances to an instructor (for example, in requesting a makeup exam or due date for an assignment, or in explaining an absence).
b. Forging part of, or signatures on, official documents (including both University documents, such as drop-add slips or excused absence slips, and relevant outside documents, such as doctor’s notes).
d. Stealing or damaging library books.
e. Unlawfully copying computer software.
These serious offenses will be handled by the University’s disciplinary procedures.
1. University Penalty
Students who violate the code of Academic Integrity are referred to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research for a University penalty. There are two kinds of penalty. A full academic integrity violation is a Class I violation. Typically a student with two Class I violations will be expelled from the school. In some cases, the Dean may choose to treat a violation of the Academic Integrity Code as a Class II violation. Class II violations are usually appropriate for less serious cases, or in cases where there are mitigating circumstances. Typically, a student may receive only one Class II violation; all subsequent violations are treated as Class I violations.
Students who have committed an academic integrity violation will be expected to complete an educational program, supervised by the student's college Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, or his/her designee, to help the student come to a fuller understanding of academic integrity. Students who fail to complete the educational program to the satisfaction of the Dean, and within the timelines specified by the Dean, will have a hold placed on their transcript until the program has been completed.
Students who wish to dispute an academic integrity penalty may take their case to the Board of Academic Integrity which is described on the web page
2. Individual Course Penalty
The academic penalty will also be applied and this will be determined by the student's instructor. A student who violates the academic integrity code with a Class I violation in a course will receive an F for the course. Students may appeal their grade through the normal University procedure for resolving grade disputes.
The Office of the Provost and Falvey Library have collaborated to create the Academic Integrity Gateway (http://library.villanova.edu/help/academicintegrity/), a web site with information about academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism. All new graduate students are required to visit the Gateway, read and understand the Villanova University Academic Integrity Code and Policy and associated writings on “Academic Integrity, Avoiding Plagiarism, and Writing College Papers,” and complete the five interactive quizzes. This is normally less than a one-hour activity. Students may return at any time to use the web site as resource for writing papers. Students not completing this activity will be subject to an account hold at the Registrar’s Office, which will prevent future class registration.
Nature of Confidential Records. All personally identifiable information related to particular students used to make decisions about students or for transmittal to others outside the University other than public records as defined above is considered confidential information. This information includes, but is not necessarily limited to: academic evaluations; general counseling and advising records; disciplinary records; financial aid records; letters of recommendation; medical or health records; clinical counseling and psychiatric records; transcripts, test scores, and other academic records; and cooperative work records.
Disclosure of Confidential Information to the Student-Right of Review. A currently or previously enrolled student has the right to inspect and review official records, files, and data directly related to the student as a student. Access will be provided in the presence of a staff member. This right does not extend to applicants, those denied admission, or those admitted who do not enroll. Where such information involves other students, the student is entitled to inspect or to be informed of that portion of the information which pertains to himself or herself only. Requests under FERPA of 1974 have been accepted since January 1, 1975, and are responded to within 45 days. Only in rare situations will the response period ever approach this limit. Offices may require that requests for access be submitted in writing, and may ask for, but not require, the reason for the request.
Definition of Official Records. For purposes of this section, the terms "official records, files, and data" include materials on students pertaining to their status as students held by any unit or department of the University which is intended for University use or is to be available to parties outside the University. It does not include:
Right to Explanation. A student is entitled, upon reasonable request, to an explanation of any information contained in official records directly related to the student. The student has the opportunity for a hearing to challenge the content of such records to ensure that they are not inaccurate or misleading, or otherwise in violation of privacy or other rights; to correct or delete any such inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate data; or to insert into the records a written explanation.
The substantive judgment of a faculty member about a student's work (grades or other evaluations of work assigned) is not within the scope of such hearings. A student may challenge the factual and objective elements of the content of students' records but not the qualitative and subjective elements of grading.
Hearing Procedure. The procedure to be followed should a student object to items included in his or her personal records is:
Waiver of Access. Students may be invited but not required to waive their right of access to confidential letters of recommendation for admission, honors or awards or career planning and placement. Students will suffer no prejudice in admission, financial aid, or other University services by reason of not executing the waiver. If the waiver is signed, the applicant may request a list of all persons making confidential recommendations or statements.
Disclosure of Confidential Information to Third Parties. Third parties do not have access to personally identifiable records or information pertaining to students as students without the written consent of the student specifying the records to be released and to whom the records are to be released. Excepted from this restriction are:
Courses designated 7000 to 7999 are graduate courses to which qualified undergraduate students are admitted for undergraduate credit with the permission of the Department Chairperson. Courses designated 8000 to 9999 are normally intended for graduate students only.
Villanova University, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, permits its students to inspect their records whenever appropriate, and to challenge specific parts of them when they feel it is necessary to do so.
Grades are recorded at the end of each semester or summer session. The student receives his grades on the University NOVASIS website. Any inaccuracy must be reported by mail to the Registrar immediately.
The work of the student is graded according to the following scale:
IP In Progress
WX Approved Withdrawal
Students are not required to repeat courses in which the grade of F has been received, unless the courses are specifically required by the program in which they are enrolled, the decision resting with the chairperson of their major department.
An N (incomplete) grade indicates the instructor is not prepared to give a definite grade for the course in view of the student's not having completed all the assigned work. The N grade automatically becomes an F if the work is not completed and submitted to the instructor. For the fall semester, students must submit all work by the last Friday in January. For the spring semester, all work must be submitted by the last Friday in June. Faculty members, in turn, submit grade changes within two weeks of these dates to the Registrar. Change of grades to C+ or higher cannot be made without the approval of the professor, the department head, and the Dean of the Engineering College.
Grades are part of the student's permanent record. Grade changes other than conversion of N grades can be made only with special permission from the Dean's Office.
In graduate study, the student is expected to do more than pass the required courses. In addition, students must maintain a specific average. This average, known as the grade point average, derived from the grades and credit hours of the courses taken, is computed by multiplying the number of credits for each course the student has attempted by the authorized quality points for the grades received and dividing the total quality points by the total credit hours attempted. The grade A merits 4 quality points; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.33; B = 3; B- = 2.67; C+ = 2.33; C = 2; F = 0; N = 0.
The student is required to maintain a grade point average of at least 3.00 and cannot be approved for the comprehensive examination or graduation unless this average has been maintained.
Full Time: Minimum credit load for full-time status is 6 credits for fall or spring semester. Students may also be considered full-time if their credit load in a semester falls below this minimum but they meet any of the following conditions:
Part Time: 3 credits
Inactive: A graduate student is deemed inactive if (s)he not enrolled in a graduate course four consecutive fall and spring semesters (summers not counted).
Students who expect to be graduated have the responsibility of applying for graduation to their department chairperson no later than two months before the end of the semester in which they expect to complete their programs.
There is no language requirement in any of the graduate programs of the College of Engineering. However, foreign students are required to submit their scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in their application for admission. A score of at least 550 is required.
Normally all graduate degree requirements must be completed within a seven year time period. This time period is counted from the student's first registration to the date of completing the degree at Villanova University.
A student whose G.P.A. falls below the required minimum of 3.0 is placed on probation. A student on probation who fails to improve his academic performance may be withdrawn from the program by the Dean of Engineering upon recommendation by the department chairperson.
Information concerning the following items about individual students is public:
The foregoing public information may be released or published without the student's consent. However, students who do not wish such information to be released or made public, may inform the appropriate office in writing at the time the information is originally sought from students.
Candidates for the Master's degree must complete the courses prescribed by the chairperson of their department. Depending on the program, 30 to 45 semester hours credit with a quality point average of at least 3.00 is required for the degree.
In those cases where a thesis is required or elected, the student is expected to do as a minimum the equivalent of six semester hours of work toward the thesis. The thesis is almost always prepared under the supervision of a faculty member of the major department who is prepared to undertake the supervision of the student's research. Students will need to have frequent conferences with their thesis advisor and, therefore, should not expect to receive supervision by mail. Research may be initiated by the student at a time approved by the department, but not until after the thesis topic forms have been approved by the department. Some departments may require a scholarly report in lieu of or in addition to a thesis. Consult departmental sections for details.
Transfer credits toward graduate engineering degrees will, in general, be granted for appropriate academic work completed with a grade of "B" or better (or equivalent) at an accredited university and the requested transfer credit(s) were not used to fulfill any previous degree requirements. A maximum of six graduate credits may be transferred toward graduate degree requirements and normally these credits must have been earned within the seven year period in which a student is expected to complete the degree. Transfer credits are not included in the calculation of the grade point average.
Engineering student requests for authorized withdrawal from a course will be automatically approved by the Dean of Engineering until the date given in the academic calendar. After that date the student must present a valid reason for the request, such as serious personal or medical problems. The Dean of Engineering will decide whether or not to grant these requests based on the information supplied by the student, recommendations from the faculty member teaching the course and the chairperson of the department in which the student is majoring. The Dean will inform the student of his decision and the reason for it.
Graduate students in engineering who withdraw voluntarily from the program for any reason should notify the Dean of Engineering of this fact in writing, email Dr. Jerry Jones. Graduate students who are withdrawn and wish to resume their studies in engineering must request approval for their readmission to the program in writing from the Dean of Engineering.