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Justification of Old Coursework


In February 2006, the Commission on Graduate Studies & Policies approved changes for replacing the revalidation concept with justification for the inclusion of "old" coursework (i.e., > 5 years old) at the time of submission of the Plan of Study (POS). These changes are effective Spring 2006: 

  • The POS should consist of graduate coursework not older than 5 years at the time of POS filing. 
  • In some cases, graduate coursework older than 5 years may be included on the POS. 
  • Justification for inclusion of such coursework should be provided by the advisor, with the support of the student's advisory committee, at the time of POS submission.
  • Justification should consist of an explanation of how the student will achieve currency in the subject matter of the old coursework during the time in degree. Examples of how this may be achieved include:
    • taking related courses in the same subject area
    • work experience that requires currency in the subject area
    • reading original literature in the area as needed for the thesis/dissertation
    • other strategies deemed appropriate by the advisory committee

Once the Plan of Study is approved, no further justification is required for active graduate students. If a student becomes "inactive" (i.e., is on a Leave of Absence or does not register for a calendar year or more), the student must apply for readmission to the degree program. If readmission is recommended by the department/program, the Plan of Study must be reviewed to determine if the POS is still appropriate for the degree and all old coursework must be justified.

Some examples of methods of justifying old coursework:

The method of justification needs to be explained, i.e., how the Advisory Committee will ensure that the student is current in the subject matter for courses more than 5 years old that are included on the POS. The explanations for achieving currency vary with individual students and with subject matter fields. The Advisory Committee's strategies for inclusion of old coursework and insuring currency should be consistent with the graduate program goals for its graduates. Examples of student-specific justification strategies are:

  • the student is working in the field (currency is provided by professional activities),
  • related, advanced-level courses on the plan of study provide subject matter currency,
  • the thesis/dissertation research requires currency in the field through work with current literature,
  • the student will be tested on subject matter currency during the preliminary exam,
  • other individual justification possibilities exist, for example, one committee had an employer attest to the current language skills of a student in an international relations program.

The method(s) for justification of old coursework should be entered in the Comments section of the electronic POS form. The POS and Course Justification Request should be filed by the time the student completes 15 Credit hours of coursework. Once the POS is approved, it will be considered current until the end of the degree as long as the student remains in active status.