Graduate Academics

Graduate programs are directed and supervised by the Graduate Council which is the legislative body responsible for all graduate academic policies and curricula. Actions voted by the University Board, Faculty, or the Graduate Council at any time shall have equal force to or, if necessary, shall supersede statements published in this Bulletin.

Degrees Offered

The University offers courses of study leading to the following graduate degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Counseling
  • Master of Education
  • Graduate Certificate in U.S. History

Grading System

Grade Symbol Grade Points
A 4.0
A– 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B– 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C– 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
D– .07
F 0.0
P Pass*
NP No Pass
I Incomplete
W Withdraw
AU Audit
IP In Progress
NC No Credit
NR Not reported by instructor
CR Credit by examination*

*P and CR represent grades of C or better

Incomplete Grades (Graduate)

An incomplete grade of I indicates the student was unable to complete class work because of illness or other unavoidable circumstances. When an I is received, the work necessary to complete the class must be finished within nine weeks after the end of the semester. If the makeup work is of such a nature that it may require additional time, the student must seek approval of the instructor and request permission from the Graduate Council. Forms for the request are available with the Registrar

In Progress Grades

A temporary grade of In Progress (IP) may be awarded for courses that are designed to be completed over more than one semester, as indicated in the University Bulletin. The student must complete the remaining required work no later than the end of the following semester (including summer). At that time, a final grade must be reported by the instructor. If a final grade is not reported, the IP grade will be administratively changed to a grade of "F" or "NP".

Grade Changes

A grade may be changed only by the instructor responsible for the class. Changes in a grade are made by submitting a change of grade to the Registrar on a form available on the University's website. A student who feels that an improper grade has been received must notify the faculty member immediately upon receipt of the grade. All grades are final three months after they are posted.

Study Load

A full-time, graduate course load is 9 credits per semester. Loads in excess of 12 credits per semester require the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Students may not take more than 15 credits during a regular semester or 9 credits during any combination of sessions offered during a single summer.

Transfer of Credit

Graduate courses taken at another regionally accredited institution, less than ten calendar years prior to the expected graduation year, may be transferred from that institution and applied toward the masters degree at Southwestern provided:

  1. The grade earned in each course accepted for transfer is at least B (3.00).

  2. The courses are comparable to required courses for a graduate degree at Southwestern.

  3. The credits to be transferred do not exceed nine semester hours.

Grades earned in transfer courses are included in the computation of the grade-point average. Such courses are identified and approved by the Registrar during the first semester of the student's residence. An official transcript listing transfer courses must be on file in the Office Records.

Academic Semesters

The academic year is divided into semesters:

  1. Fall Semester
  2. Spring Semester
  3. Summer Semester

The academic calendar shows important dates and deadlines for each semester.


Registration is available to all students using the web portal. Official registration dates are published in the academic calendar of the Bulletin. Registration is not finalized until all procedures required by the University are completed and financial arrangements finished. Students who do not receive financial clearance by the end of the first week of classes will have their class registration cancelled. Faculty advisors are available to assist students with registration and in planning an academic schedule. The chair of a department is considered the program director for students taking graduate programs offered by the department unless otherwise noted. Other faculty may be assigned as advisors by the department chair. Advisor and advisee assignments are maintained by the Office of Records and displayed on the web portal. With the assistance of a faculty advisor it is important that a student become familiar with all degree requirements and understand the responsibility for completing them.

Registration without Official Transcripts

Students accepted on the basis of an unofficial transcript will be allowed to register for classes for one semester. Official transcripts must be on file for a student to register for continuing semesters.

Late Registration

Students may be allowed to register after the first week of the semester for justifiable reasons. They will be charged a late fee of $200 and must obtain the permission of each instructor involved.

Changes in Registration

Changes in registration may be made according to the following procedures. Classes may be added during the first week of each semester with the approval of the instructor and the student’s academic advisor. Students citing unusual circumstances may add a class during the second week of classes with special permission of the instructor. Students may withdraw from individual classes by submitting a change in registration form to the Registrar signed by the student’s academic advisor.

Withdrawal from the University

To officially withdraw from the University, a student must obtain a withdrawal form from the Registrar. The withdrawal form must be signed by a Student Finance Advisor and one of the following University personnel: the Vice President for Academic Administration, Vice President for Student Services, or Director of Counseling and Testing. The form must be returned to the Registrar after all signatures are obtained and the withdrawal will be effective as of the date returned. Refunds will be made according to University policy. If a student follows this procedure, a W will be recorded for each class for the semester of the withdrawal. Otherwise, the instructors of the student's classes will submit grades which will be recorded on the permanent record.

Students who officially withdraw will not be permitted to charge for expenses on campus or live in the residence halls after their official withdrawal date.


Students are responsible for meeting the attendance policies stated in graduate course syllabi and outlines.


A student in residence is someone who is regularly and continuously enrolled for classes at the University. A student breaks residence by not registering for classes for two or more semesters.

Graduate Graduation Procedures

A graduating student will fulfill all degree requirements published in the Bulletin. The student may complete the degree requirements published in the Bulletin at the time of admission or any Bulletin issued during continuous enrollment. All requirements for graduation must be fulfilled as published in the current Bulletin.

A graduation contract must be completed and filed in the Office of Records three semesters before the student expects to graduate. Ordering deadlines for gowns and diplomas require that each student finalize all arrangements for graduation one semester prior to a graduation ceremony.

Any transfer work must be completed and the official transcript of this work must be in the Office of Records by March 1 for May graduates, July 15 for August graduates, and November 15 for December graduates.

The student must satisfactorily meet all financial obligations to the University, including payment of graduation dues, in order to obtain a diploma or transcript showing graduation. The amount of dues is determined by the senior class with the approval of the president. If graduation dues were paid as a previous graduate, only half of the dues will be required for the next degree.

All graduates are expected to participate in the commencement exercises unless given permission by the Vice President for Academic Administration to graduate in absentia.

Graduate Degree Requirements

The master's degree requires a minimum of 36 credits.

  1. The student's graduate program must include course work numbered 500 and above except where a course of study, specifically outlined in the Bulletin, makes provision for an adjustment to the required number of credits numbered 500 and above.

  2. The student must submit evidence of competence and understanding in applying the body of knowledge in his/her field of study. A student will fulfill this requirement in a method determined by the Department.

  3. Students must complete their program within 5 years of initial enrollment in a credit-bearing class.  Requests for an extension will be submitted in writing to the Dean of Graduate Studies.  The form can be found on the Records website.

Graduate Standards of Scholarship

  • Candidates for graduate degrees must fulfill satisfactorily the schedule of studies outlined in the program selected. A minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.00 (4.00 system) is required.

  • No grade of D or F may count toward a degree.

  • If a student receives an unsatisfactory grade the course may be repeated once. The highest grade will be used in computing the grade-point average.

  • Credit by examination is not accepted toward a graduate degree but may be used to remove deficiencies.

  • Candidates for graduate degrees must successfully pass comprehensive examinations or an acceptable alternative for a particular program as approved by the Graduate Council.

Graduate Standards of Progression

Satisfactory progression toward the graduate degree requires that students meet a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 by the time they have completed 12 graduate hours and maintain this minimum. The cumulative GPA includes graduate work taken as a Non-Degree student. Students who fail to maintain the minimum GPA are placed on Academic Probation and remain in that status until the cumulative GPA is raised to 3.00. Students on probation cannot register for the capstone course or take the comprehensive examinations. A probationary student with a semester GPA less than 3.00 will be suspended for at least one semester before becoming eligible to apply for readmission. Readmission, if granted, will be to probationary status. Failure to attain a semester GPA higher than 3.00 will result in dismissal from the graduate program.

Academic Integrity

Southwestern Adventist University was founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in order to educate its students academically and spiritually for Christian service. The ethical training of students is as important as their academic competence. Academic integrity rests on honesty, the first principle of the Christian life. Students must be honest in their dealings inside and outside the classroom.

Students must maintain a high ethical standard in their academic work. When a student turns in work for credit in the classroom, that work must be the student's own. Students have access to some forms of authorized assistance. Authorized assistance may come in the form of tutoring by official university tutors, help from the professor, or the legitimate use of outside sources which are cited according to standard form. Other forms of outside assistance are unauthorized, for example, having another person complete all or part of an assignment, taking material from the Internet or other sources without citing it, or bringing unauthorized materials into an examination. Unauthorized help, in these and other forms, constitutes academic dishonesty.

General Responsibilities of Students

  1. Students must produce their work independently, except when the professor has assigned the work as a group project.
  2. Students must not represent work as their own which is not their own.
  3. Students must not aid others in academic dishonesty.

Examples of Violations

What follows are examples of academic dishonesty which will jeopardize a student's standing in the classroom and at the University. This is a representative list only, not an exhaustive one.

  1. Misusing Sources of Information (Plagiarism). When using outside sources in a paper, students must cite the source plainly in the text of the paper and on a references page, using the style which their professor requests. Failure to cite sources properly may result in failure on the paper or in the class. Students must cite the source when quoting, when paraphrasing, or even when using an idea which is unique to that source. If a student fails to do so, he or she may be subject to failure in the class. Fabricating a quotation, a paraphrase, or any part of a bibliographic reference also constitutes academic dishonesty. Students may not turn in written work as their own which was produced wholly or partly by others. If a student will receive credit for the work, the student must have, in fact, done the work. Students may not turn in material taken from the Internet as their own work, whether the material was taken from a free website or a pay service. Repeated acts of plagiarism may result in expulsion from the University.
  2. Multiple Submissions. Students may not submit papers or assignments for credit that have already been submitted or are in the process of being submitted for another course.
  3. Misrepresenting One's Work. Work that is assigned to the student must be done by the student. Homework assignments in any subject area must be the work of the student getting the credit and must not reflect unauthorized help from others.
  4. Using Unauthorized Materials During an Examination. Unless the professor indicates otherwise, students should assume that the use of notes, textbooks, the Internet, databases, calculators, or any other outside sources of help during an examination, will constitute academic dishonesty.
  5. Exchanging Information During an Examination. Students may not share information with each other in any form or by any means during an examination. Talking or signaling in any manner during an examination may result in failure on the examination. Obtaining information from another student's paper by any means during an examination is a violation of academic integrity.
  6. Tampering with Computers. Students may not access faculty computers by any means in order to obtain advance copies of tests or quizzes, alter grades on an online grade book, or for any other purpose.
  7. Forging a Signature. Students may not sign anyone's name but their own on any advisement form, registration form, exceptions form, or any other document for any purpose whatsoever.
  8. Aiding Others in Academic Dishonesty. Students who enable others to misrepresent their work are also guilty of academic dishonesty and may be penalized as if they had misrepresented their own work. No student may do the class work for which another student will get credit, except in those cases when the professor has assigned work to be done in a group.


Procedure to be Followed in Cases of Academic Dishonesty

Professors have discretion in the classroom when academic integrity has been violated. The class syllabus should contain a statement on how violations of academic integrity will be treated. A first case of academic dishonesty may be handled by the professor, but will be reported to the Vice-President for Academic Administration using the University's "Academic Integrity" form. A second offense may be handled by the Vice-President for Academic Administration in conjunction with the professor. Students may appeal a decision made by either the professor or the Vice-President for Academic Administration by following the student academic appeals process as outlined in this bulletin under "Student Rights' and Appeals Policies."

Student Rights & Appeals Policies

Student Academic Appeals Process

A student who feels that he or she has been treated unfairly or unjustly by a faculty member of the university with regard to an academic process has the right to appeal according to approved procedure. Specific grounds for an appeal include one or more of the following occurrences:

(1) that a computational/recording, or other technical error has been made but has not been acknowledged by the instructor;

(2) that the grade has been assigned in an arbitrary, capricious, or vindictive manner, or in a manner intended to inappropriately manipulate or control the student;

(3) that the assigned grade does not reflect the grading criteria in the course syllabus; or

(4) that published department policies have not been followed.

Formal Appeals Procedure

If the problem is not resolved with the decision of the Vice President for Academic Administration, the student may file a formal grievance. A formal grievance is a serious matter and should be done with careful consideration.

Within two (2) days of the Vice President for Academic Administration's decision, the student must request in writing to the Vice President for Academic Administration a formal hearing before the Grievance Committee, an ad hoc subcommittee of the Academic Policies Committee. The Grievance Committee will meet within three (3) days of the request to hear the student's case and will issue a decision which will constitute final action by the University. This completes STEP III on the Appeals Review Form.

Withdrawal of Grievance

At any time during the grievance procedure, the student may withdraw the complaint. Additionally, missing a deadline or failure by the student to appear for any scheduled hearing without prior notification or evidence of extenuating circumstances, shall constitute final action by the University.

Matters not Grievable

University policies, regulations or procedures adopted by the University and/or the Board of Trustees are not subject to the grievance process. Students may request discussion and recommend changes to such policies, but this dialogue is advisory and not grievable.

Student Records - Southwestern Adventist University Rights (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) provides ways in which the University may share information with parents without the student's consent. For example:

  1. The University will disclose education records to parents, upon request, if the student is a dependent for income tax purposes.
  2. The University will disclose education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their son or daughter.
  3. The University will inform parents if the student who is under age 21 has violated any law or its policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.
  4. A University official will generally share with a parent information that is based on that official's personal knowledge or observation of the student.

The University will disclose to an alleged victim of any crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense the final results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against the alleged perpetrator of that crime, regardless of whether the institution concluded a violation was committed. The University may disclose to anyone -not just the victim -the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, if it determines that the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense, and with respect to the allegation made against him or her, the student has committed a violation of the University's rules or policies.

Faculty of Graduate Studies

Teaching Faculty

R. Mark Aldridge, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, 2002

B.S., Southwestern Adventist University, 1992; M.A., Andrews University, 1995; Ph.D., Andrews University, 2005

Donna Berkner, Ed.D.
Professor of Education, 2012

B.S., Southwestern Adventist University, 1992; M.Ed., Tarleton State University, 1996; Ed.D., University of Phoenix, 2012

Renard K. Doneskey, Ph.D.
Professor of English, 1999

B.A., Southwestern Adventist College, 1981; M.A., Andrews University, 1983; Ph.D., University of California, 1987

Michael G. England, Ed.D.
Professor of Education, 1996

B.S., Andrews University, 1977; M.A., Western Carolina University, 1980; M.Ed., Walla Walla College, 1986; Ed.D., Andrews University, 1997

Lynette Frantzen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology, 2015

B.A., Walla Walla University, 1997; M.A., Western New Mexico University; Ph.D., Capella University, 2012

R. Steven Jones, Ph.D.
Professor of History, 1997

B.A., Northern Oklahoma State University, 1988; M.A., Oklahoma State University, 1990; Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, 1997

Marcel Sargeant, Ph.D.
Professor of Education, 2002

B.S., University of Guyana, 1987; M.A., Andrews University, 1995; Ph.D., Andrews University, 2003

Cheryl The, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Education, 2010

B.S., Pacific Union College, 1983; M.A., Pacific Union College, 1987; Texas Woman's University, 2018

Adjunct Faculty


Carol Campbell, Ph.D.
Jeremy Carter, Psy.D.
Ken Jones, Psy.D.
Jimmy Kijai, Ph.D.

History, Social Science

Chloe Northrop, Ph.D.


Officers of Administration

Kenneth Shaw, Ed.D., President

Donna Berkner, Ed.D., Interim Vice President for Academic Administration, Accreditation Liaison, Graduate Dean

Joel Wallace, C.P.A., Vice President for Financial Administration

Administrative Services

  • Enga Almeida, B.S., Vice President for Enrollment
  • Keith Beucler, M.S., Network Administrator/Director of Security
  • Tina Bottsford, B.S., Director for Enrollment
  • Kip Bowser, B.S., Director of Client Services
  • Stephanie Campos, B. B.A., Financial Aid Counselor
  • Rahneeka Hazelton, M.A., Director of Admissions
  • Alison Hill, M.A., Assistant Director, Records
  • Connie Jenkins, A.S., Assistant to the Registrar
  • Jason Kowarsch, M.A., Registrar, Director of Records
  • Russ Laughlin, M.Div., Vice President for Spiritual Development
  • Charles Lewis, B.A., Director of Information Technology Services
  • Karina Lima, B.S., Cashier
  • David Mendoza, B.S., Senior Software Engineer
  • Manuel Molina, B.A., Student Account Advisor
  • Renata Ocampo, M.A., Director, Center for Academic Success and Advising
  • Jerry Potter, M.B.A., Assistant Student Accounts Director
  • Genelle Rogers, B.B.A., Human Resources Director
  • Marcel Sargeant, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Academic Administration, Institutional Research and Distance Education
  • James The, M.Ed., Vice President for Student Services
  • Cristina Thomsen, M.A., M.S., Librarian
  • Duane Valencia, M.B.A., Assistant Vice President for Student Financial Services
  • Greg Wicklund, C.P.A., Assistant Vice President for Financial Administration
  • Edna Yanez-Perez, M.B.A., Accountant
  • Tony Zbaraschuk, M.A., M.L.S., Assistant Librarian
  • Josafat Zemleduch, B.A., Associate Financial Aid Director

Campus Services

  • Dale Hainey, Director for Physical Plant
  • Juan Carlos Enriquez, B.S., Director for Custodial Services/transportation
  • William Iverson, B.S., Dean of Men
  • Lillianne Lopez, M.S., School Counselor/Disability Services Director
  • Rafael Romo, Supervisor, Grounds
  • Sualua Tupolo, Executive Chef/Director for Food Service
  • Janelle Williams, M.Ed., Dean of Women
  • Marcela Wall, M.S.A., Director, Bookstore