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Graduate Program Director Guide

The New Class of Graduate Students

Faculty are an important resource to attract potential graduate students, as they are one of the primary reason students choose a program. All academic units have individuals or teams in charge of marketing their graduate programs. Ideally, GPDs should work with their marketing groups to be aware of and appropriately involved in recruitment of new students. Recruitment involves:

  • analyzing data to understand which students are interested in your program and where they come from,
  • advertising your program with focus on appropriate targeted audiences,
  • hosting events to meet with prospective students,
  • maintaining a database of prospective students' contact information and developing a line of communication with them.
  • using data to monitor your progress of attracting prospective students.
  • providing encouragement and incentives for those students to apply, then pay a deposit, and finally show up for the program.

In the case of graduate programs, customer relation management systems, or CRMs, help to recruit and admit graduate students to our programs. These electronic, web-enabled tools allow students to apply to specific programs. They also have features that facilitate strategic communications with students and graduate program promotion to prospective students.

As of Summer 2014, all academic units are using either Ellucian Recruiter or Hobson's to manage and process admissions of graduate students.

Unlike our undergraduate admissions, where one office is tasked with selecting and admitting incoming students, graduate admissions is relegated to the different academic units or teaching units responsible for the programs. As a result, various AU graduate programs have different requirements, deadlines, and committee compositions. However, there are some basic university wide requirements.

For any admission to any American University graduate program, an applicant needs either:
1.   a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by one of the six United States regional accreditation agencies or
2.   a degree equivalent to a four-year U.S. baccalaureate degree from an international institution with a similar level of accreditation or recognition by its home country.

Applicants must provide proof of their undergraduate (or equivalent) degree with an official certified transcript. If an applicant cannot provide their official transcript by the time an admissions decision needs to be made, the applicant can be given a conditional admission –see the admissions types listed below. However, even if an official transcript cannot be provided, the degree receipt should be verified by contacting the baccalaureate institution before admitting the applicant.

An applicant may be admitted without reference to a baccalaureate record if he or she earned at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA in a master's degree program completed at a regionally accredited institution or earned at least a 3.50 cumulative GPA for the last 12 credit hours of a master's or doctoral degree program still in progress.

Applicants whose native or first language is not English must demonstrate proof of language proficiency by submitting satisfactory results from one of the following:

  • An English proficiency test:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) - Score 100 or higher (600 on the paper-based test);
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) - Score 7.0 or higher;
    • the Pearson Test of English-Academic (PTE-Academic) - Band 2 or higher;
    • Successful evaluation on the Kansas Test administered by the ISSS office at AU.
  • Successful completion of the highest level of course work in an approved intensive English-language program recognized by AU.
  • An earned bachelor's degree from an accredited or approved institution where the medium of instruction is in English.

The undergraduate (or equivalent) degree and proof of language proficiency are only baseline requirements by the university. Academic units have the authority to include additional or more restrictive conditions for their programs. Many programs have additional requirements including tests (e.g. GRE), minimal GPA, letters of recommendation, or submission of additional materials (e.g. a writing sample). For a listing of all requirements for all graduate programs, see Talk to your associate dean if you wish to modify the requirements for admissions to your program.

Admissions committees and procedures vary across campus. Some units have firm deadlines while others have rolling deadlines. Some have few committee members while others use the entire teaching unit to make admission decisions. Some admissions are more centrally controlled within the academic unit while others are more decentralized to the teaching units. Check with your previous GPD, department chair, or associate dean to learn about past or current admissions committee procedures. Feel free to speak with other GPDs about their admissions systems to learn if their procedures could help your program.

Types of admission
Full Admission –Used when an application is complete and the applicant has been approved by the admissions committee. If the applicant converts to a student, they are eligible to graduate once all degree requirements are met.

Conditional Admission –Used when application is missing a very limited number of items. However, the applicant has demonstrated potential from the documents that have been submitted and there is a reasonable explanation for why the application is incomplete. For example, an applicant might have difficulties obtaining an official transcript from an international university in a timely fashion. In this case, the applicant can be admitted conditionally. This means the student can initially register for classes, but is given a limited amount (typically no more than one semester) to complete their application. If the student doesn't complete their application in the given amount of time, they will be dismissed from the university. If the student does complete their application, they are fully admitted.

Provisional Admission –Used when an applicant shows promise but does not meet minimal academic conditions for admission. For example, a program might require a minimal GPA of 3.0 from their undergraduate institution, but a compelling applicant might have a 2.95 GPA. In these cases, the student can be admitted provisionally. The student may register for classes and complete nine credits. If the student does not receive a GPA of 3.0 for the first nine credits attempted, they will be dismissed. Graduate programs may add additional academic requirements. If the student meets all requirements, they are fully admitted.

Tracking and analyzing admissions data
Because the admission process is primarily electronic, it is easier to follow track prospective students within your academic unit, teaching unit, and degree program. One important source of this information is your admissions program (Hobson's or Recruiter). This should give you detailed information about the status of admissions for your program, including who still needs to be reviewed, who is admitted, and who has accepted.

For more information about the university at large, the Business Intelligence (BI) tool has updated data about graduate admissions. To use BI, you need to email and file a request for access. Do mention that you are a graduate program director in your email as access to BI is not given to all faculty. You will then need to schedule a training before gaining access. After you are trained, you will be able to look at current and past admissions data for the entire University.