May 27, 2024  
2012-2013 CU Denver Catalog 
2012-2013 CU Denver Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Information for Graduate Students


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Welcome to the Graduate School on the Denver Campus. Almost half of our students on the Denver Campus are enrolled in graduate programs. We have a higher ratio of graduate to undergraduate students than most other universities in the country. This special emphasis on graduate education provides a strong culture of graduate studies on the campus and has engendered a number of innovative programs and teaching methods, such as dual master’s degrees or classes that are entirely online. Graduate programs on the Denver Campus also benefit from CU Denver’s immediate proximity to the city, which provides rich opportunities for internships and employment, collaborations between the university and the city and a wealth of real world problems that can test and elaborate ideas gained in the classroom.

A list of all graduate programs is available in the Academic Programs section of the CU Denver website.

The Denver Campus Graduate School offers 51 master’s programs and 10 PhD programs. In addition, schools and colleges offer other master’s programs that are independently accredited and are not housed in the Graduate School. For students in those programs, most of your needs will be met by the department in which your program resides. Information about these graduate programs is available under the specific school or college in this catalog. However some programs, those having a diamond designation, are programs within the Graduate School and follow the rules outlined in this section. 

The colleges and schools offering graduate opportunities on the Denver Campus include:

College of Architecture and Planning
College of Arts & Media
Business School
School of Education & Human Development
College of Engineering and Applied Science
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
School of Public Affairs

Individual graduate programs are described within the school/college sections of the catalog.

Graduate School


Dean: Barry D. Shur, PhD
Administrative Assistant: Carie Carroll
Online Applications Manager: Krystal Allen
Graduate Coordinator: Jill Hutchison
Office: 1380 Lawrence Street, Suite 1251
Telephone: 303-315-2183
Fax: 303-315-5829

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 173364, Campus Box 163, Denver, CO 80217

Graduate education is a critical component of the mission of the University of Colorado Denver. The Graduate School is one of several schools within the university and its mission is to facilitate and enhance the educational experiences and opportunities for all graduate students and to encourage excellence in research, creative and scholarly work. 

In accordance with its mission, the Graduate School leadership and the graduate faculty, plan, develop, approve, evaluate and administer graduate programs (PhD and master’s degree programs). The Graduate School also ensures that graduate programs comply with the standards of excellence and sound academic administration established by the rules and policies of the Graduate School and adopted by the University Board of Regents and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. In particular, the Graduate School is charged with maintaining high standards and quality of both the graduate programs and the faculty of the Graduate School. Other functions of the Graduate School include:

a) Fostering multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and innovative programs and promoting collaboration that creates unique opportunities for student learning, research and discovery;
b) Formulating and maintaining uniform standards for academic excellence in graduate-level courses and research experiences offered for credit;
c) Promoting a supportive environment for the graduate student community;
d) Providing a voice for graduate education in the planning processes of the university; and
e) Publishing a current Graduate School Student Handbook on the Graduate School website.

Graduate School Rules 11-12 

Requirements for Admission

Note that the following are minimum requirements. College and school regulations, if more stringent, take precedence over the minimum guidelines as set forth by the Graduate School.

Regular Degree Students

Students are admitted by the Graduate School as regular degree students provided they meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a baccalaureate or master’s degree from an accredited college or university or demonstrate completion of work equivalent to the baccalaureate or master’s degree given at CU Denver. Applicants whose credentials include studies or course work at an institution outside the U.S. must include a validated English translation and an evaluation of the transcript by a professional accrediting service (such as World Education Services).
  • Usually have an undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 or better (“A” is equal to 4.0) and/or a 3.00 or better GPA in a completed or partially completed (at least 1/3) master’s degree program. Applications from individuals who attended a college or university that does not issue grades or a GPA will be evaluated by the Graduate School on a case-by-case basis.
  • Have adequate preparation to enter graduate study in the chosen program as demonstrated by their performance in the GRE or an appropriate substitute, or an earned MS/MA or PhD from a school in the U.S.A., or completion of at least 12 credit hours of transferable graduate-level course work. Although the Graduate School recommends that applicants take the GRE or other standardized test, it is not a requirement for admission as a regular degree student if one of the other two indicators of preparedness is present. Some graduate programs, however, may require that all applicants take the GRE or an equivalent.
  • Meet any additional requirements (such as particular undergraduate course work) for admission as established by the program.

International students must meet ALL of these requirements and also must provide:

  • Documentation in English (or a certified English translation) of the completion of a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or the equivalent at the time of matriculation as evaluated by the International Admissions Office.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam and must score above 525 (paper) or 192 (computer) or 71 (Internet based) on the TOEFL or 6.0 on the IETLS. Schools or colleges or individual graduate programs may require higher standards on these tests.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English are not required to take the TOEFL test if they have completed a baccalaureate or graduate-level degree program at an English-speaking college or university or have completed at least two semesters at a college or university in the United States as a full-time student and obtained a “B” average (3.0 GPA) or higher.
  • Financial and other documents required by the International Scholars and Students Office to process immigration documents.
  • A certified English translation of all records and references not in English.

Additional requirements and documentation may also be required.

Provisional Degree Students

A graduate program that wishes to admit an applicant who does not meet the criteria for admission as a regular degree student can petition the Graduate School to admit the applicant as either a regular or provisional degree student. The petition must include a letter from the graduate program director to the dean that outlines the rationale to support such an admission. If the student is to be admitted as a provisional student, then the petition must include a description of the conditions that the student must meet in order to become a regular degree student. The admission of the applicant as a provisional degree student requires the approval of the dean. 

Based on the requirements of the graduate program and the recommendations of the graduate program director, the dean will determine and advise the program director and the student of the conditions that the student must satisfy to be transferred from provisional to regular status. The dean, in consultation with the program director, will also determine the time period (one or two semesters for full-time students and a maximum of four semesters for part time students) in which these conditions be met.

Provisional students are subject to the same standards of performance required of regular degree students, plus any other requirements imposed by program faculty as conditions of admission. At the end of the specified probationary period, the dean, in consultation with the program director will review the performance of the provisional student. The student must either have satisfied the requirements for conversion and be admitted to regular degree status or be dismissed from the graduate program to which they were provisionally admitted. The Graduate School will notify both the program director and the student whether the provisional student has satisfied the requirements and that their status has been transferred to that of a regular student, or has failed to meet the requirements and has been dismissed.

Application Procedures

Applicants seeking admission to CU Denver’s graduate programs should apply directly to the appropriate department rather than the Graduate School or the Office of Admissions. See specific departments/programs for more information. Read all application instructions carefully before completing the online application. Online applications are submitted electronically to the department. Supplementary application materials (if applicable) should be mailed to the department to which you are applying. Make sure to clearly mark the materials indicating your full name, social security number, the department in which you are applying and contents of the supplementary material. In addition, sufficient postage must be included if the materials are to be returned to the applicant. If applying to more than one department, you must submit a complete application and separate fee to each department. Students will receive offers of admission or rejection from the graduate department.

An applicant for admission must present:

  • Parts I and II of the Denver Campus Graduate School application form, including the tuition classification form, which may be obtained from the departmental program coordinator.
  • Two official transcripts for all academic work in colleges and universities completed to date.
  • Three letters of reference. Have the nominators include the applicant’s name and social security number in their letters of reference.
  • A nonrefundable application fee (check or money order) of $50 for domestic students or $75 for international students. No application will be processed until this fee is paid.
  • Any other material required specifically by the program faculty. This may include scores from the GRE or other examination. Check with program coordinators in the departments for additional information that may be required.

Again, the student must check with the program to determine the deadline for submitting the application and application fee to the program of interest.

When a prospective degree student applies for admission, the chairperson or a student admissions committee of the department will decide whether the applicant shall be admitted and make that decision known to the Office of Admissions.

Students who wish to apply for a graduate student award (e.g., fellowship, scholarship, assistantship) should contact their department before the application deadline for information, since deadlines are usually earlier for aid requests than for admission.

Readmission/Changing Programs

Former and current students who wish to be re-admitted or change from one degree program to another must meet the requirements of the new degree program and provide all items required of students applying to the Graduate School on the Downtown Campus for the first time. These applicants, however, may petition the program to which they were initially admitted to secure a release of transcripts and letters of recommendation supplied at the time of their initial application.


Students transferring from another University of Colorado campus to the Denver Campus must apply and be accepted by the program on this campus.

A student who has completed a master’s program at CU Denver must resubmit parts I and II of the graduate application for acceptance into the doctoral program.

Nondegree Students

A student who wishes to take graduate courses, but is not interested in earning a specific advanced degree, may apply as a nondegree student. Contact the Office of Admissions at 303-556-2704 for further information. Nondegree students will be allowed to register only on the campus to which they have been admitted.

Nondegree students who later desire to pursue a graduate degree program at this university are encouraged to submit the complete graduate application and supporting credentials to their department as soon as possible. Note that the GPA for courses taken as a nondegree student is calculated separately and is not incorporated in the official graduate GPA.

New Student Orientation

An orientation program for new students is held at the beginning of the fall semester, during the week prior to the first day of classes. The orientation program provides information to new students about activities and services available on the Denver Campus. Information on the expectations, opportunities, registration process, parking and securing ID cards is also provided. Academic advising sessions are held before registration for the term. Students should contact their schools and colleges for additional information on advising, as well as special orientation sessions that may be scheduled for their programs.


On the regular registration days of each semester, students who have been admitted to a graduate program are required to follow appropriate registration procedures.

Students should register for classes the semester they are accepted as graduate students. If unable to attend that semester, they must notify the Office of Admissions in addition to the department that has accepted them.


A graduate student who desires to withdraw from the university must apply to the dean of his/her school or college for permission to withdraw in good standing. A student who discontinues attendance in a course without official withdrawal will be marked as having failed the course. After the 10th week of the class, the student must have the associate dean’s signature to drop a course.

Assistantships and Fellowships


Graduate Student Teaching Appointments

Many departments employ graduate students as part-time instructors or teaching assistants. The instructorship is reserved for those advanced graduate students already possessing appropriate degrees who may be independently responsible for the conduct of a section or course. Contact the department for further information.

Research Assistantships

Research activities provide opportunities for graduate students to obtain part-time work as research assistants in many departments. Such funds are from external grants obtained by faculty members. Contact the department for further information.

Additional information about registration and financial aid are available in separate sections of this catalog. For information about tuition and fees, please visit the Bursar’s office website.

Requirements for Advanced Degrees


Graduate Student Handbooks

Each graduate program is expected to provide students with a handbook—electronic, paper or both—indicating in some detail the curricular requirements, the expectations for satisfactory progress toward the degree completion, a timeline for the steps needed to meet these expectations and other features unique to each program, such as the composition and formation of student committees to guide and review the student’s progress.

GPA Requirements and Quality of Graduate Work

A student is expected to maintain at least an overall 3.0 GPA in all work attempted while enrolled in a graduate program and to make satisfactory progress toward a degree in other respects as determined by his or her department.

For all graduate degrees, a grade below C is unsatisfactory and will not be counted toward the minimum requirements for these degrees.

Credit by Transfer

A limited amount of high-quality resident graduate work done in a recognized graduate school elsewhere within the time allowed may be accepted, provided it is recommended by the department concerned and approved by the school or college dean. The maximum amount of work that may be transferred to this university is 12 semester hours or 40 percent of the number of credits required for the master’s degree, whichever is higher, and 30 hours for PhD degrees.

Courses taken as pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory will not be transferred. In addition, a grade of B- or above must be earned for a course to be transferred. Courses taken some time ago will need to be validated by the program director.

Use of English

A student who is noticeably deficient in the use of standard English in all oral and written work may not obtain an advanced degree from the University of Colorado. Ability to use the language with precision and distinction should be cultivated as an attainment of major importance.

The university reserves the right to test English proficiency for nonnative speakers of English to confirm and validate sufficiency for credit-bearing course work and degree programs.

Each department will judge the qualifications of its advanced students in the use of English. Reports, examinations and speech will be considered in estimating the candidate’s proficiency.

Graduate Appeals

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules , which can also be accessed online.

Master’s Degree


A student regularly admitted to a graduate program and later accepted as a candidate for the master of arts, master of science or other master’s degrees will be recommended for the degree only after certain requirements have been met.

The requirements stated below are minimum requirements; additional conditions may be set by the individual programs.

Students planning to graduate should ascertain current deadlines with their graduate programs. It is the graduate student’s and the department’s responsibility to see that all requirements and deadlines are met (e.g., changing of IW grades, notification of final examinations, etc.).

Departments or program committees may have deadlines that must be met by the graduate students in that department or program. It is the student’s responsibility to ascertain and meet these requirements.

Minimum Requirements

The minimum requirement is 30 (semester) credits. While it is expected that most of this course work will be at the graduate (5000 and above) level, some graduate programs may allow particular undergraduate courses that are outside the discipline of their program to count toward the graduate degree. The proportion of undergraduate credit hours cannot exceed 20% of the course requirement of the graduate program and must be approved by the program director on a case-by-case basis. Undergraduate courses within the same discipline as the graduate program cannot be credited toward a graduate degree. If the program has a thesis option, the thesis must count for 3-6 credits. Independent study course work cannot exceed 25 percent (7.5 credits) of the 30 credits of course work required for the master’s degree.

Admission to Candidacy

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules , which can also be accessed online.

Master’s Thesis Credit

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules , which can also be accessed online.

Thesis Requirements

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules , which can also be accessed online.

Time Limit

Master’s degree students have five years from the date of the start of course work to complete all degree requirements.

Doctor of Philosophy


The doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree is the highest academic degree conferred by the university. To state the requirements for the degree in terms of semester hours would be misleading, because the degree is not conferred merely upon the satisfactory completion of a course of study, however faithfully pursued.

Students who receive this degree must demonstrate that they are proficient in some broad subject of learning and that they can critically evaluate work in this field. Furthermore, they must have shown the ability to work independently in their chosen field and must have made an original contribution of significance to the advancement of knowledge. The technical requirements stated below are minimal requirements for all candidates for the degree; additional conditions set by the departments or schools will be found in the announcements. Any department may make additional regulations consistent with these general rules.

Minimum Course Dissertation Requirements

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules  (PDF).


Each PhD program will require at least comprehensive and final examinations. Notice of all examinations must be filed with the dean of the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to administration.

Comprehensive Examination

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules  (PDF).

Continuous Registration Requirements for Doctoral Candidates

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules  (PDF).

Dissertation Requirements

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules  (PDF).

Final Examination/Defense

Details may be found in the Graduate School Rules  (PDF).

Time Limit

Doctoral degree students have eight years from the date of start of the doctoral program.

Graduate Faculty


The graduate programs at the Denver Campus Graduate School are delivered by faculty who are especially qualified by education and experience for graduate teaching and scholarship.

The university and college/school qualifications are published in the “Graduate Faculty” section of the Graduate School Rules. These rules distinguish between regular faculty, who are typically full-time members of the CU Denver faculty, and special faculty who may not be full-time, but who have special skills that enhance a college/school’s graduate course offerings. Faculty who meet these qualifications are admitted to membership in the graduate faculty of CU Denver. These are the only faculty members permitted to teach graduate courses or to serve on thesis, dissertation or graduate student committees at either campus of CU Denver.

Research Opportunities


CU Denver is strongly committed to discovering new knowledge and novel creative expressions through the research and creative efforts of its faculty. Such activities not only advance knowledge and enhance the quality of life, but strengthen teaching by grounding instruction in scholarship and professional practice. These activities constitute an important component of CU Denver’s service to the community at large. Externally funded projects are a major priority at the Denver Campus.

Research projects, training and public service programs encompass both traditional and nontraditional fields of study, focusing on issues important at all levels—city, state, national and international. The benefits to campus are substantial. Externally funded activities

  • assist in sustaining scholarly discourse and creative work
  • enable faculty members to engage in the advancement of knowledge,
  • provide the foundation for solving pressing practical problems of vital concern to society
  • enhance the educational opportunities of students both at undergraduate and graduate levels

In addition, a great deal of research at the university is conducted without substantial external support. This research also yields important insights that are conveyed to a national audience through faculty publications, presentations, exhibits, performances and professional activities. Many members of the faculty are leaders within the national scholarly community. All these pursuits bring recognition to the university, establish the credibility of its faculty and enhance the value of the degree it confers.

The active engagement of graduate students in these scholarly and creative activities is the center piece of a vibrant program in graduate education. The mentorship of graduate students by the graduate faculty is a major objective of the educational process. In addition, the consolidation of the Denver Campus with the Anschutz Medical Campus is opening new opportunities for collaborative, interdisciplinary work.