Policies & Procedures

The Graduate School's policies and procedures serve as a resource for both graduate students and their advisors. These policies contain information on official policies and procedures relating to admissions, registration, grading, student records, degree requirements and academic integrity.

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Admissions

Admissions Integrity

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When an instance of a suspected or alleged admissions integrity breach by a student arises, it shall be resolved according to the procedures set forth herein.

Introduction to Admissions Integrity

According to the UB Student Rights and Responsibilities Code, Article 12, Item 45: "Falsifying University Credentials," the following is noted:

Students found to have knowingly falsified application information may be subject to suspension from the university, expulsion from the university, dismissal from an academic program or other administrative penalties.

Falsified application information may include but is not limited to: making inaccurate statements on the application, withholding information requested on the application, giving false information or submitting fraudulent or falsified documents in support of a graduate admissions application.

When falsification of application information is suspected, the Office of International Admissions (OIA), the Office of Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS) or the academic unit may bring forward allegations of a breach of graduate admissions integrity standards to the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE).

Admissions Integrity Informal Procedures

Step 1: If the OIA, GEMS or the academic unit believes the student committed an act in violation of admissions integrity standards, OIA, GEMS, or the chair or director of graduate study in the academic unit shall provide a written statement of notification to that effect to the VPGE within 20 academic days after discovery of the alleged incident. In the case where the OIA or GEMS provide a written statement of notification, a copy of such notification will be sent to the academic unit.

Step 2: The Graduate School will temporarily assign the student a "GRD" service indicator and will inform the academic unit of this action. The "GRD" service indicator can only be removed by resolution of the pending case.

Step 3: In a case involving a suspected admissions integrity breach on the part of a domestic applicant, GEMS will notify the student of the specific allegation and will request a written explanation. In a case involving a suspected breach on the part of an international applicant, OIA will notify the student of the specific allegation and will request a written explanation. The academic unit shall receive copies of this communication.

Step 4: If the explanation is deemed reasonable by either OIA or GEMS and adequately addresses the concern, the case will be considered resolved and the service indicator will be removed. The academic unit will be informed of this resolution and of the removal of the student's service indicator.

Every effort shall be made by OIA or GEMS to resolve such cases through the informal procedures outlined above. However, if the explanation provided by the student is deemed unreasonable, inadequate or inconclusive, formal proceedings shall be invoked in accordance with the following formal procedures.

Admissions Integrity Formal Procedures

Step 1: The OIA, GEMS or the academic unit will submit a written request to the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education to initiate formal proceedings.

Step 2: The Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education will officially notify the student (via certified return-receipt mail) of the allegation of admissions dishonesty and the initiation of these formal proceedings.

Step 3: If not already in place, the Graduate School will temporarily assign the student a "GRD" service indicator. The "GRD" service indicator can only be removed by resolution of the pending case.

Step 4: The Vice Provost for Graduate Education will convene an Admissions Integrity Committee to consider the case. The committee will consist of at least three representatives. In all cases the VPGE will select at least one representative from GEMS, the academic unit and the Office of Judicial Affairs. In cases where international admissions integrity is in question, the OIA must also have representation on the committee.

The committee shall convene a hearing within 20 academic days from the date the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education received written notification from the academic unit or the OIA requesting the initiation of these formal proceedings.
The Admissions Integrity Committee shall give the student at least 72 hours prior notice of date, time and place of the hearing. Prior to the hearing, the student shall provide the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education with a written statement including evidence to support his/her position.

Step 5: At the hearing, the Admissions Integrity Committee shall provide the student sufficient opportunity to present his/her position. The student shall have the right to be present and have one advisor present at the hearing. (In no case shall the advisor be an attorney, unless he or she is a member of the UB faculty not acting in a legal capacity.) These hearings are conducted in confidence. The technical and formal rules of evidence applicable in a court of law are not controlling and the Admissions Integrity Hearing may receive and consider all relevant material and reliable evidence that will contribute to an informed result. The chair of the committee may exclude irrelevant or unduly repetitious evidence.

Step 6: Once the hearing has adjourned, the committee will review all applicable evidence and submit a written statement of recommendations and reasons for recommendations to the VPGE. The written statement of recommendations shall be submitted to the VPGE within 10 academic days after the final meeting of the committee.


Recommendations may include:

  • a) Dismissal of case: Insufficient evidence shall be grounds for dismissal of a case. No file shall be kept.
  • b) Not responsible for breaching admissions integrity standards: No sanctions shall be imposed and no file shall be kept.
  • c) Responsible for breaching admissions integrity standards/sanctions imposed: If a majority of the Admissions Integrity Committee is convinced that the student committed a violation, the committee has the right to recommend to the VPGE one or more of the following sanctions:
    • I) Admonition: An oral statement to the student that he or she has violated a university standard of integrity.
    • II) Warning: Written notice to the student that subsequent repetition of the wrongful conduct may be cause for more severe sanctions including dismissal from a graduate program, suspension from the university, expulsion from the university, or other appropriate sanctions.
    • III) Dismissal from the graduate program to which the student was admitted: Without written comment on the transcript.
    • IV) Dismissal from the graduate program to which the student was admitted: With written comment on the transcript.
    • V) Suspension from the university: With written comment on the transcript. (Note: only the university president or his/her designee may suspend a student from the university.)
    • VI) Expulsion from the university: With written comment on the transcript. (Note: only the university president or his/her designee may expel a student from the university.)
    • VII) Other sanctions as appropriate to each individual situation.

Step 7: Upon thorough consideration of the committee's findings and recommendations, if the VPGE finds the student is responsible for breaching admissions integrity standards, he/she shall create and maintain, in the Office of the VPGE, a file on the matter consisting of all written communications, all written evidence and audiotape or other records of the hearing, and the letter communicating the VPGE's decision in the matter. If the VPGE finds the student is not responsible for breaching admissions integrity standards, he/she shall expunge the student's record regarding this matter.

Step 8: The final decision and sanction(s) to be imposed shall be submitted in writing from the VPGE to the student within 20 academic days of receiving the Admissions Integrity Committee's statement of recommendations in the matter. The decision of the vice provost for graduate education is final.

Academic unit is defined as either a university department or a graduate program where there exists no departmental affiliation.

Admissions Procedures

Prospective students who wish to pursue graduate study apply directly to a department or graduate program for admission. The individual schools, departments and programs establish their own requirements for admission. In all cases, a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited or recognized undergraduate institution is required. Application materials should be requested from the individual school, department or program in which the student wishes to undertake graduate study. A non-refundable application fee, payable in U.S. funds, is required of all applicants for graduate admission.

Application Fee Waivers and Deferrals

In general, waivers of graduate application fees are not granted. Categorical exceptions are made only for those applicants who provide sufficient documentation of their participation as an undergraduate student in an EOP, HEOP or SEEK program, or as an undergraduate participant in the CSTEP, MARC, PREP, RISE, LSAMP or McNair Scholars programs on any campus, or as an applicant through Project 1000.

An appeal for a deferral (not a waiver) of the application fee can be made by applicants who provide documentation of their receipt of a GRE Fee Waiver. In all other cases, a deferral (not a waiver) will be considered by the Office of Graduate Enrollment Management Services only for cases of extreme financial hardship and then only with clear documentation from an appropriate official at an institution of higher education certifying the financial need. Please note that self-declaration of need by an applicant or mere eligibility for student financial aid (loans) is not adequate justification. For more information, applicants should consult the department in which they are applying to graduate study.

Combined Degree Programs

Combined degree programs offer UB students the opportunity to pursue multiple degree objectives at an accelerated pace and are designed for students who have demonstrated exceptional promise. Combined degree programs pair the curricula of two degree programs from two different levels (e.g., bachelor’s and master’s), resulting in a condensed format where students may complete the combined degree in less time (and often less cost) than is normally required to complete the two degree programs separately. By reducing some courses within the undergraduate major (normally taken near the end of the undergraduate degree) and substituting equivalent graduate-level courses customarily taken during the initial stages of a graduate degree, students are able to shorten the time needed to gain competence in all required curricular content of both degree programs. When completed, students’ records will indicate two degrees individually awarded as part of a combined degree program.

Combined degrees have a two-tier tuition structure. Over the course of a combined degree program, the student is charged the tuition rate each semester that corresponds to the appropriate program rate for that semester. While the student is completing the undergraduate portion, tuition is charged at the undergraduate rate. When the student is admitted at the graduate level, tuition charges change to the appropriate graduate or professional rate. For example, a student pursuing the combined BS/MBA in business administration program is typically required to complete three years of undergraduate coursework and two years of graduate coursework. Thus, the student is classified as undergraduate and is billed at the undergraduate rate for three years. Thereafter, through acceptance to the MBA component in UB’s graduate admissions application system (GrAdMIT), the student matriculates to the graduate level and the student’s bill reflects the appropriate graduate tuition rate until the student completes the combined degree program.

Domestic undergraduate students pursuing combined degree programs may be eligible for New York State sponsored grants and scholarships and federal financial aid, which is comprised of Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Perkins Loans while completing the undergraduate portion of their program. However, once admitted to the graduate portion of their program and charged graduate tuition, domestic students may no longer be eligible for one or more of these awards. Instead, domestic graduate students are eligible to apply for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans as well as a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. For more information regarding student aid and how to apply, please visit UB’s Financial Aid website.

Any student who receives a UB-sponsored undergraduate award (such as an Acker, Provost or Presidential scholarship) and who later pursues a combined degree program, will continue to remain eligible for their undergraduate award through its normal duration (typically four years total) even after matriculating into the graduate portion of their combined degree program. The award amount will continue to be at the undergraduate level.

Any student choosing to leave the combined degree program prior to its completion will have his/her bill altered in the following manner. A student pursuing the undergraduate portion of the combined program when s/he chooses not to pursue the combined degree program will continue with undergraduate coursework and will be billed accordingly. However, such a student is no longer permitted to pursue a graduate program until s/he completes the baccalaureate degree in full and is admitted formally to a regular graduate degree program. A student pursuing the graduate portion of the combined degree program when s/he chooses to abandon that combined program of study will continue to be charged at the graduate rate until formally re-matriculated into the undergraduate career for the following semester.

The minimum undergraduate residency requirement for the undergraduate portion of any combined degree program is 18 credit hours. The minimum graduate residency requirement for the graduate portion of any combined degree program varies by program. However, in no case is the graduate residency requirement for any combined degree program ever less than 24 credit hours.

In certain circumstances, a combined degree program may not qualify the student for professional licensure if such licensure requires the completion of a full (non-abbreviated) undergraduate degree program. Students in licensure-eligible programs should discuss these requirements with an advisor to confirm any such limitations.

Minimum Undergraduate GPA for Admission to Master's and PhD Programs

The minimum cumulative undergraduate grade-point-average (GPA) for admission to master's and PhD programs is 3.0. Departments interested in admitting any applicants with a cumulative undergraduate GPA below 3.0 must petition the Office of Graduate Enrollment Management Services and provide necessary documentation (transcripts, standardized test scores, etc.) supporting their case.

Non-Degree Graduate Student Attendance

Students who hold a bachelor's degree are permitted to register for graduate coursework as non-degree students for a maximum of 12 credit hours. Information concerning this opportunity may be obtained from the individual department. Once registration reaches 12 hours, a service indicator will be placed on the student's academic record by the Graduate School prohibiting further registration until the student matriculates into a graduate degree program.

Returning Student Semester Record Activation and Associated Fee

Academic departments may file a semester record activation request for graduate students who were previously admitted into an academic program through GrAdMIT and had a break in attendance of no more than five years and had neglected to secure an approved leave of absence from the Graduate School. Once reviewed and approved by the vice provost for graduate education, a new semester record will be created with exactly the same academic career, program and plan as recorded for the last semester in which the student attended UB. At the time of semester record activation, the student will be assessed a non-refundable record activation fee (currently $350).

It is the prerogative of the academic department to decide whether or not to process/endorse a former student’s request for semester record activation and return to graduate study as described in the previous paragraph. The department also determines how much of the previously completed work may be applied toward the graduate degree program, within established Graduate School guidelines.

Any graduate student who has had an enrollment lapse of more than five years must reapply through the graduate program’s regular application process.

Standardized Test Requirement for PhD Level

Submission of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or other appropriate standardized national exam (e.g., Miller Analogies Test [MAT]) is required for admission to all PhD programs at UB, within five years of application to a UB doctoral level program. However, there is no specified minimum test score for admission consideration or actual admission. Departments interested in admitting PhD applicants without a GRE or other approved standardized test score must petition the Office of Graduate Enrollment Management Services and provide necessary documentation (transcripts, essays, recommendation letters, etc.) supporting their case.

Summer Session Attendance

Currently enrolled UB graduate students need only to register in order to attend summer sessions. Students enrolled in graduate programs at other universities or students who have completed a baccalaureate degree may register as non-degree students for the summer session. Non-degree students must first secure the approval of the appropriate department or faculty member for each graduate level course to be taken.

International Student Admissions

Academic Standards for International Applicants

In order to be compliant with federal regulations pertaining to the admission and enrollment of international students, the Office of International Admissions (OIA) must review all international applicants the department wishes to accept. OIA checks and verifies all academic documents, test scores and financial documentation, as well as the offer letter from the department. After reviewing submitted dossiers, OIA enters a decision in GrAdMIT ("Accept Provisional" or "Accept Final"). This action triggers an automatic email confirmation of acceptance to the student from the dean of the Graduate School.

Canadian Citizens With Native American Status

Students who are Canadian citizens with Native American status do not need immigration documents and may be eligible to pay in-state tuition rates if they meet certain domicile requirements. However Canadian Native American status does not change a student's citizenship nor the manner UB is required to enter that student into university computer systems. Admission records indicate these students as Canadian citizens. Because the Office of International Admissions is not authorized to show a non-U.S. citizen as having in-state status, the student needs to contact the Student Response Center to take the next steps for approval of in-state residency status. Details about in-state tuition, domicile requirements for New York State residency and deadlines can be found on the UB Student Accounts website.

Conditional Admission With TOEFL iBT Scores

Graduate students with TOEFL scores below the standard cut-off scores may be admitted to UB under the following condition: The student must enroll in and successfully complete one of two full-time intensive English programs in the UB English Language Institute (ELI), depending on score received, as detailed below:

  • Students accepted to a fall semester with an iBT score of 75 - 78 must complete a six-week summer ELI program at UB.
  • Students accepted to a spring semester with an iBT score of 70 - 78 must complete a 15-week fall semester ELI program at UB.

Conditional admission cannot be granted retroactively. University admission cannot be offered if the TOEFL score is below the minimum scores indicated above. Upon successfully completing the required ELI program, the student is free to begin the academic program of study with no further English as a Second Language (ESL) requirements (with the exception of international teaching, research and graduate assistants, who may be required to register for ESL 512). "Successful completion" is defined as passing the ELI program (with an overall grade of C or higher) and meeting the ELI minimum attendance policy or having the endorsement of ELI teachers and the director of the ESL Program.

In addition, new SEVIS regulations (2016) no longer permit a "combined" I-20 issued for both the ELI language study and the degree program study. Students admitted with conditional admission will be issued an I-20 for the ELI study only. Upon successfully completing the ELI study, a "continuing" I-20 will be issued for the degree study.

English Language Institute (ELI)

International applicants who desire or need to improve their English language proficiency may do so through the university's English Language Institute, which offers Intensive English Programs during the fall, spring and summer semesters. For further information, contact the English Language Institute, 320 Baldy Hall, North Campus, 716-645-2077.

English Language Proficiency

All international applicants (unless exempted) must demonstrate proficiency in the English language. International students may demonstrate proficiency by submitting official test scores from either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System), PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English - Academic), CPE (Cambridge English Proficiency Exam) or the CAE (Cambridge English Advanced Exam).

English Language Proficiency Waivers

The following categories of students are automatically exempt from the English language proficiency requirement.

  1. Students who are citizens of, and who claim to be native speakers of English and who were educated in the English medium from Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
  2. Citizens of Singapore who completed their education in an English medium environment and who obtained a grade of D or better on the Singapore O-level examination.
  3. Non-matriculated students attending UB under reciprocal exchange agreements with international institutions of higher education.
  4. Students who were enrolled at UB and are moving from one degree-level to another or one program to another with a break in their studies up to one calendar year at the time the application file is reviewed by the Office of International Admissions. For example, if a student graduated from UB on June 1, 2011 and applies for admission to a UB graduate program in fall 2012 and as long as the file is reviewed and approved by International Admissions before June 1, 2012, the English language proficiency requirement will be automatically waived.
  5. International students transferring from another U.S. institution to UB, with a break in their studies up to one calendar year at the time the application file is reviewed by the Office of International Admissions, who would have met UB's minimum requirements and who had a valid TOEFL/IELTS at the time they commenced study at the other institution. Departments must submit a photocopy of the applicant's TOEFL/IELTS score result that was used for admission at the other U.S. institution. Institutional TOEFL score reports are not valid at UB and cannot be used for admission purposes.

Financial Documentation

All international applicants must document their ability to meet all educational and personal expenses for the duration of their programs. Applicants will receive more detailed information regarding this requirement with their application. Funds must be documented with liquid assets in the form of bank statements, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, stocks, etc. Documentation must be original and dated within one year of the date the student will enroll at UB.

International applicants are eligible for departmental assistantships and some Graduate School fellowships. International students are not eligible for any New York State or federal scholarships or loans. No other financial assistance is available for international students.

A Certificate of Visa Eligibility may only be issued after the applicant has satisfied both the English proficiency and financial requirements and after department recommendation for admission is made and academic documentation reviewed by the Office of International Admissions.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The required minimum IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score is 6.5 overall with no individual sub-score below 6.0. The IELTS score must be dated within two years of the time the application is reviewed by International Admissions in GrAdMIT. Scores must be sent directly to UB by the testing agency. Conditional admission is not permitted based on low IELTS scores.

International Student Admissions Procedures

The University at Buffalo welcomes applications from qualified international students. Application information regarding specific programs may be obtained by contacting the academic department in which enrollment is desired. Applicants presenting international educational credentials must possess a university degree that is recognized as equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree prior to beginning graduate study. International applicants must meet the following requirements imposed by university policy and by U.S. Immigration Service regulations.

International Teaching, Research and Graduate Assistants

In addition to the English language proficiency requirement (demonstrated with a valid TOEFL or IELTS score), all international students who have been awarded graduate, research or teaching assistantships (including Presidential fellowships) must take the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) test upon arrival on campus. Registration for classes is only possible after taking the SPEAK test. International graduate students in certain programs are also required to take the SPEAK test as a policy of the program, regardless of whether or not they receive an assistantship. Applicants who take and submit a score of at least 55 from a Test of Spoken English (TSE) are exempt from the SPEAK test.

The SPEAK test is given at the beginning of each fall and spring semester during International Student Orientation. Students required to take the SPEAK test at that time must pick up a SPEAK Test Admission Form at the International Student Orientation site or at the English Language Institute, 320 Baldy Hall, North Campus. The SPEAK test can also be administered by appointment during the semester to students who are applying for assistantships. Individual students are allowed to take a SPEAK test a maximum of two times during a semester.

SPEAK Test

The SPEAK test is used for all international students who have been offered assistantships as well as for departments that currently require the SPEAK test as part of their own admission process. The speaking section of the TOEFL iBT cannot be used to replace the SPEAK test.

Teaching Responsibilities for International Graduate Students

International students expected to have teaching duties and who achieve a score of 55 or 60 on the SPEAK (from a total of 60 scored in five-point increments) are automatically certified to teach lecture, seminar, recitation and lab classes. Those students with a score of 50 are given opportunity to demonstrate their communication skills by means of a teaching demonstration before representatives from the ELI Program and their own department, in order to determine eligibility to teach. A teaching demonstration is only at the request of the student's department and can be requested even for a student with a SPEAK score below 50, if the department feels that the test results do not completely reflect the student's true abilities.

Students whose scores are below 55 on the SPEAK test are advised or even required to take Communication Skills for International Teaching Assistants (ESL 512) before being allowed to take on any teaching duties, regardless of the TOEFL score used for admission purposes. This is a graduate-level training course, offered each fall and spring, that provides instruction and practice in oral communication skills and fundamental teaching techniques. Participants in this course prepare a series of microteaching presentations, which are videotaped. The students and instructor review these presentations. Upon completion of this course, teaching assistants take the SPEAK test again and are re-evaluated to determine competence for assuming teaching responsibilities.

Students expected to have teaching responsibilities, but whose SPEAK scores are 35 or less are advised to take Advanced Spoken English (ESL 411/412) as a precursor to ESL 512. The English Language Institute also offers a pronunciation course in the evening, to assist students who desire to reduce their accent. It is recommended that these students be assigned reduced duties and responsibilities until they have satisfactorily completed ESL 512.

Students who cannot pass ESL 512 within two semesters (fall and spring) after entering the university will not be permitted to teach or supervise undergraduate students. The English Language Institute communicates such failures to the academic department and works with them to help the student. Directors of graduate study should work with international students to integrate them into the department and encourage them to speak the English language during the time they are registered for ESL 512.

TOEFL Exam on Arrival/Deferral

Departments can petition the Graduate School for a TOEFL deferral. A granted deferral results in the student being examined upon arrival at UB. Examine-on-arrival means the student sits for an institutional paper-and-pencil TOEFL test offered through UB's English Language Institute (ELI). Examine-on-arrival tests are offered on specific dates/times during the International Student Orientation prior to each semester. When a student is granted a TOEFL deferral, the department's acceptance letter must clearly state:

  • Examine-on-arrival is being offered.
  • A specific minimum score must be met in order to matriculate into the degree program (see cut-off scores below).
  • Not meeting the minimum score requirement means the student cannot begin matriculated study and must enroll in UB English Language Institute classes (and no degree/academic subjects may be taken without permission from the director of the English as a Second Language [ESL] Programs, the director of ELI and the chair or director of graduate studies of the academic unit).
  • Costs for the ELI programs are in addition to the regular university costs and are borne by the student.

Based on the deferred examine-on-arrival TOEFL score, students may or may not be permitted to begin their academic program of study depending on the "arrival score" they earn.

Students who achieve an examine-on-arrival TOEFL score of at least 550 are exempt from further English language course requirements (with the exception of foreign teaching, research and graduate assistants, who may be required to register for ESL 512).

Students who achieve an examine-on-arrival TOEFL score between 537 and 547 may matriculate into their graduate program; these students will be required to register for one ESL course during their first semester of academic study and no more than a total of four courses, including supervised teaching and ESL courses, until they complete their ESL course requirement.

Students who achieve an examine-on-arrival TOEFL score between 523 and 533 may matriculate into their graduate program; these students will be required to register for two ESL courses during their first semester of academic study and no more than a total of four courses, including supervised teaching and ESL courses, until they complete their ESL course requirement.

Students who score below 523 may not matriculate into their graduate program. These students must enroll in an intensive language ELI program. Students required to complete an intensive English program may not register for any academic courses while they are enrolled in the Intensive English Program.

TOEFL Minimum Requirements

Although departments may require higher scores, the university's official minimum score for the TOEFL is 79 for the internet-based test (iBT) or 550 for the paper-based test (PBT). UB does not currently require minimum cut-off scores for the four individual subsections. However graduate admission committees are advised to examine and consider section scores as they are relevant to the linguistic needs and expectations of their departments. Although there is no required minimum section score, most accepted students are expected to achieve the following section scores:

Reading: 19/30
Listening: 15/30
Speaking: 19/30
Writing: 19/30

TOEFL scores must be dated within two years of the time the application is reviewed by International Admissions in GrAdMIT. Scores must be sent directly to UB by the testing agency.