2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 
    Apr 19, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Information

Click on a link to be taken to the entry below.

Educational Resources 

Masland Library

The Masland Library provides materials and services to students, faculty, and staff of Cairn University. Materials include more than 200,000 volumes of books, reference works, and periodicals. In addition, the library holds other media, houses special collections, as well as rare books and archival materials, and provides access to more than 400,000 eBooks. Two computer labs, an up-to-date teacher education curriculum lab, and three conference/group study rooms are available for use by students.

Five professional librarians and other library staff are available for reference consultation, bibliographic instruction, and other assistance. A valid University ID card provides access to the library. The library catalog and online electronic databases can be accessed through the library website (library.cairn.edu), which also contains important information regarding library policies, hours, and staff.

Campus Store

Cairn University has partnered with ecampus.com Virtual Bookstore as its textbook fulfillment solution with options to rent (new or used) or purchase (new or used) which can be found at cairn.edu/store. Store personnel will assist in placing online orders as needed. Other school supplies and University merchandise can be purchased on location in the Mason Activity Center or online.

Academic Resource Center

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) seeks to provide academic support to all students and equal access to curriculum and facilities to all ADA-qualified students.

Academic Support

Support services are available free of charge to all students desiring assistance. The ARC offers a variety of services related to different academic needs. These include strategies for organization, time management, study skills, as well as subject specific tutoring, the Writing Lab, and the Math Lab. Students can use a specific service or can work with the ARC staff to create a personalized plan for success. The ARC also has resources on the Cairn website for students to access on their own at cairn.edu/arc.

Disability Services

Students who have been diagnosed with a disability, or have had an IEP, 504 plan, or accommodations for any type of disability previously, may be eligible for accommodations. Examples of a disability may include: visual impairments; mobility impairments; hearing impairments; mental health impairments; health conditions/chronic illness; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; learning disorders; traumatic brain injury; and temporary conditions such as concussions, injury, or pregnancy. The ARC seeks to provide equal access to University curriculum and facilities. Students interested in receiving ADA accommodations must meet with the Director of the ARC, as well as complete and submit an Application for Accommodations along with documentation and any other required forms.

Academic Policies

Academic Load

Students in all graduate programs are classified as full-time when enrolled for six (6) credit hours or more during an academic semester, except for the Master of Divinity program which requires nine (9) credit hours for full-time status. Students are classified as part-time when enrolled for less than a full-time load. Students are classified as half-time when enrolled in three to five (3-5) credit hours (5-8 credit hours for the MDiv program) during an academic semester.

Academic Advising/Course Scheduling

Academic advisors are available to assist students in course planning. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to ensure that all course and program requirements are satisfactorily met. It is recommended that a student contact, by phone or in person, his/her advisor at least once each semester to check on his/her academic progress.

Class Attendance

Regular class attendance is essential for satisfactory academic performance, whether the class is online or on site. Certain online activities have been designated as equivalencies for face-to-face contact hours and are used to determine attendance. Students are responsible for class content and experiences - vital components of course work. Faculty evaluate each student’s record of attendance in determining the student’s final grade. Each student is expected to attend and be a participating member of each class session. In the event an absence is unavoidable, it is the student’s responsibility to acquire what was missed in class. The University requires attendance at a minimum of 70 percent of class sessions, whether for credit or audit. Students who do not attend 70 percent of class sessions will receive a failing grade for the course. Professors are free to set attendance requirements higher than the 70 percent established by the University. Class attendance requirements are stated in the course syllabus.


Cairn University follows the 4.0 grade point system and requires a 2.5 cumulative grade point average for graduation (3.0 for Counseling, Educational Leadership and Administration, and teacher certification programs).

Grade Interpretation Grade points
per semester credit
A Outstanding 4.00
A-   3.67
B+ Above Average 3.33
B   3.00
B-   2.67
C+ Average 2.33
C   2.00
C-   1.67
D+  Below Average 1.33
D   1.00
D-   0.67
F Failing 0
I Incomplete  
CR Credit Granted  
NC No Credit  
W Withdrew  
S Satisfactory (in non-credit courses)  
U Unsatisfactory (in non-credit courses)  
AU Audit  
IA Audit - Insufficient Attendance  
NR No Grade Reported  

Professors may change a permanent grade, for errors only, in a course in which they have taught within six months of the grade entry deadline. No letter grades will be changed after six months.

Incomplete Grades

An incomplete grade (I) is given in unusual circumstances only. An Incomplete Grade Contract must be completed by the faculty member and signed by the student with an agreed-upon deadline date. A maximum of twelve (12) weeks may be allowed for completion of course requirements. An I grade is automatically changed to an F if a new grade is not submitted by the deadline date. Removal of an I or NR (No Grade Reported) is the responsibility of the student. No student may graduate with an I or NR in any course.

Repeating Courses

A course a student has failed may be repeated twice. A course a student has passed but received a grade below C (2.00) may be repeated once. When a course is repeated, only the highest grade earned will be used to calculate the student’s GPA.

Withdrawal From Course

Students may withdraw from a course during the first two-thirds of the course with approval from the faculty member and program chair. Forms are available from the Registrar’s Office. Registration adjustments during the first two weeks of a semester are handled via the add/drop process. Following this period, the charge for processing the course withdrawal is $10.00. The course from which a student withdraws will be graded with a W. Any student who stops attending class without submitting the proper paperwork within the official deadline will receive an F. It is recommended that students meet with their academic advisor prior to course withdrawal.

Withdrawal From University

Students are considered “students on record” until they complete official withdrawal procedures or are notified that they have withdrawn themselves by default. All pertinent school regulations are binding until official withdrawal procedures have been completed or notification has been received from the University of withdrawal by default. The preferred procedure is to complete the University Withdrawal form, which includes an interview with the Program Chair, and submit it to the Business Services Office. However, an oral statement of intent to withdraw from the University made to the Registrar’s Office will also be considered official.

A refund will not be given (see Refund Policy) until the official withdrawal procedures are completed.

Upon official withdrawal from the University, the student’s academic record will show W grades for all courses in progress. Failure to complete the necessary withdrawal procedures results in a final grade of F for all courses in progress. It is recommended that students contact their academic advisor prior to University withdrawal.

Residency Requirements

To protect the integrity of Cairn degrees, each degree program has established a residency requirement, which specifies the number of credits that must be taken at the University. Master’s degree programs of fewer than 60 credits will accept up to six graduate credits in transfer. This is in addition to any advance standing that may be granted for Bible or theology courses. The remainder of the courses must be taken in residence. An exception to this policy is the Master of Theology program. Since the ThM requires an MDiv (90 credits) for admission, the residency requirement for it is a minimum of 50% of the courses in the program.

Master’s degree programs of 60 or more credits will accept up to 30 credits in transfer. This includes any combination of graduate transfer credits and advance standing. The remainder of the courses must be taken in residence.

Program Time Limits

Students have eight (8) years from the start date of the first term of attendance to complete all graduation requirements. Requests for extensions due to extraordinary circumstances can be submitted to the dean of the student’s school.

Academic Standing

Good Academic Standing

A student is considered to be in good academic standing when his or her cumulative grade point average is 2.50 or above (3.00 for Counseling and all School of Education programs).

Probation Status

Students having a cumulative grade point average below 2.50 (3.00 for Counseling and all School of Education programs) are subject to academic dismissal. However, the dean of the school for the student’s program may allow the student to continue and place the student on academic probation for the following semester. Probationary students are limited to two courses (no more than six credits) for the semester during which they are on probation. In order to be removed from probation, students must earn a grade point average of 3.00 or above in the semester during which they are on probation and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.50 or higher (3.00 or higher for Counseling and all School of Education programs).

Academic Dismissal

Students whose cumulative grade point average is below the academic minimum at the end of a semester will be subject to academic dismissal and will be notified if dismissal action is taken. The dean of the school in which the student is enrolled may elect to allow a student to continue and place the student on academic probation.

The minimum requirements are as follows:


Minimum GPA

MA in Religion
MS in Counseling
MS in Education
MS in Educational Leadership and Administration
MS in Nonprofit Leadership
MS in Organizational Leadership
MS in Special Education
Teacher Certifications (Principal, Special Ed, TESOL)


If extenuating circumstances are present, the student may appeal an academic dismissal decision in writing to the dean of the respective school within two weeks of receipt of the dismissal letter.

Transfer Credits

Transfer credit will be awarded for university-level work successfully completed at a CHEA-recognized accredited postsecondary institution when appropriate to the student’s degree program. University-level work successfully completed at a non-accredited postsecondary institution and appropriate to the student’s degree program will be evaluated on an individual basis. The following procedures will be used in evaluating and transcripting transfer credit:

  • The registrar has the responsibility of determining transfer credit.
  • Only courses in which a “C” (2.00) or above has been earned will be evaluated for transfer credit.
  • In evaluating work taken at a postsecondary institution for transfer credit, the following factors will be considered:
    • The content of the course and how well it matches with the content of a course in Cairn’s curriculum. The registrar should consult with the dean of the school in which the course is offered when specific information on course content is needed.
    • The characteristics of the institution or agency which awarded the credit (i.e., accredited/non-accredited; domestic/foreign; collegiate, non-collegiate).
    • The characteristics of the credit reported on the transcript (i.e., level/basis of credit).
    • The appropriateness of the credit to the student’s degree program.
    • Credits will be computed from a “quarter hour” system to credit hours by multiplying by 0.67.
  • Transfer credits will be applied to a student’s permanent record after the student has enrolled and official transcripts have been received.
  • Cairn course number, title, and hours for which transfer credit is granted will appear on the student’s permanent record, not grades or grade points earned.
  • Courses as noted in the University catalog as being required in residence are not covered by this policy.
  • If a student desires to appeal a decision of the registrar, appeal should be made in writing to the provost, not to the faculty or a committee of the faculty.

Transfer Credits After Matriculation

Current students may take a course at another institution to meet a graduation requirement at Cairn. However, they must obtain approval prior to enrolling in the course. Prior approval is obtained by submitting a completed Planned Transfer Credit form to the Registrar’s Office.

All transfer credit, including planned transfer credit and credit for prior learning, must be completed prior to the semester in which a student will graduate. In addition, official transcripts of this transfer credit and/or other required paperwork must be received by the Registrar’s Office prior to the graduation application deadline for that semester.

Graduation Requirements

The University confers degrees on students who have fulfilled the following conditions:

  1. Completion of one of the graduate programs offered by the University with a grade point average of 2.50 or above. The Counseling and all School of Education programs require a grade point average of 3.00 or above.
  2. Approved Christian character as evidenced by stability, maturity, and cooperation.
  3. Approval of the faculty and Board of Trustees.
  4. Submission of a completed application for graduation.

Academic Integrity

At Cairn University, a high value is placed on academic integrity. Faculty members are expected to maintain this integrity personally and insist on it in the academic performance of their students. Academic integrity is violated in a number of ways, but some illustrations include: cheating on examinations and quizzes, fabricating or altering data used in an assignment, facilitating academic dishonesty, multiple submissions of the same work, and disregarding other rules of academic integrity established by a faculty member.

Students who violate standards of academic integrity do not fulfill the character prerequisite for graduation from the University. Dishonest academic practices will therefore be tracked, and Student Life will maintain a central record of occurrences of academic dishonesty.  Repeated offenses will result in increasingly severe consequences.  Students with three academic integrity violations may be subject to disciplinary dismissal from the University.

If an act of academic dishonesty is determined to have occurred, one or more of the following sanctions below will be imposed by the reporting faculty member, depending on the severity of the offense.  The decision of the faculty member will be communicated in writing to the student and reported to the Office of Student Life, which is responsible for maintaining student conduct records. The incident will result in an official disciplinary record for the student(s).

  • Warning
  • Requiring student to redo assignment, retake exam, etc.
  • An “F” on the assignment or exam
  • Reduction of course grade
  • Failure for entire course
  • Combination of any of the above sanctions.

Multiple or additional offenses (in the same or other courses) will bring, in addition to the above academic consequences, disciplinary action by Student Life.  Further, students with third offenses may be subject to disciplinary dismissal from the University.  A violation of the Academic Integrity policy discovered after the conferral of a degree is grounds for withdrawal (rescinding) of the degree.  Any dispute arising out of charges of academic dishonesty should be resolved through the process set forth in the “Academic Grievance Procedures.”

Academic Grievances

Appeal Process

If a conflict occurs between a student and faculty member, the two parties should make every effort at resolution. If the conflict cannot be resolved, the student may make a written appeal to the chair of the program/dean of the school in which the faculty member serves. In case of a disagreement related to a specific course, the appeal should be made to the chair of the program/dean of the school in which the course is offered. The appeal process may proceed to the dean of the appropriate school and finally to the provost, who will make the final determination in such conflicts. In this process, an appeal to the next level must be submitted within two weeks of the written outcome of the previous level of appeal. All appeals must be in writing and include a brief statement of the problem and previous steps to resolve it. All administrative decisions will be sent to the student in writing.

Student Education Records

The student’s academic records are maintained in the Registrar’s Office. Included are GRE scores, college transcripts from transferring institutions, and Cairn academic records. Application to the University, recommendations, correspondence, and other admissions documents are kept in a file located in the Admissions Office prior to and during enrollment.

Notification of Rights Under FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the University official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
  3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception that permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Upon request, the University may disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
    The University considers some information to be directory information, which may be disclosed to others without student permission. This includes items such as name, address, telephone number, email address, dates of enrollment, classification, degree(s) received, awards, honors, program of study, previous institutions attended, date and place of birth, participation in activities, height and weight of members of athletic teams, and photographic image of the student. However, if a student does not want this information released, he or she must fill out the Request to Withhold Directory Information form. This form must be filled out each year by October 15 in order for the University to withhold this information.
  4. The right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education (Family Policy Compliance Office, US Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202-5920) concerning alleged failures of Cairn University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.