At least one-third of credits toward a graduate or a post-baccalaureate professional degree are earned through instruction offered by the institution awarding the degree.  (See Commission policy “Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards: Policy and Procedures.”) (Institutional credits for a graduate degree)

Compliance Judgment

X     In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


Francis Marion University offers both master’s and specialist degrees. In May of 2017, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approved Francis Marion to offer doctorate degrees; however, the University currently does not offer any programs at the doctoral level [1]. Francis Marion ensures that the majority of credit hours for post-baccalaureate work is earned at the University. Evidence of this is seen in both the rules for transfer and transient credits and in the minimum credit hours for each graduate program, all of which is listed in the annually published university catalog.

Graduate Coursework

Francis Marion has been offering graduate coursework since 1974, and today about 10 % of the total student body is enrolled in graduate programs. Graduate degree programs are offered in Business, Education, Nursing, Physician Assistant studies, and Psychology. Each of these programs is accredited by specialized accrediting agencies within each discipline. Francis Marion has eight graduate programs leading to the master’s degree and one leading to a Specialist Degree. The institution currently offers no doctoral professional degrees.

The majority of credits for any graduate degree at Francis Marion, namely the (1) Master of Business Administration (MBA), (2) Master of Education (MEd) Instructional Accommodation, (3) (MEd) Learning Disabilities, (4)  Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Learning Disabilities, (5) Master of Science in Nursing (MSN/FNP) Family Nurse Practitioner, (6) (MSN/NE) Nurse Educator, (7) Master of Science (MS PAS) Physician Assistant Studies, (8) (MS) Applied Psychology, and (9) Specialist in School Psychology (SSP) are earned at the University.  As specified in the Catalog 2016-2017: “a maximum of six semester hours may be transferred from a regionally accredited institution.”  As for transfer into our Graduate Education Programs, it further stipulates that “only courses completed at an NCATE/CAEP-accredited institution will be considered for transfer credit by the School of Education” [2].

Of those six allowable transfer credits into a Francis Marion Graduate Program, no “grades lower than B” will be transferred, and, “No credit will be transferred for correspondence courses or coursers taught on a pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading scale” [3]. In the case of Education Professional Development Courses (EDPD courses), they “cannot be applied toward the M.Ed. or M.A.T. programs” [4].

The above mandate of allowing/accepting only six hours of transfer credit into an Francis Marion graduate program is also applied to those Francis Marion students desiring to take courses as a transient student at some other institution and then transfer those credits back to Francis Marion [5]. If accepted, those six hours will always be less than the majority needed to graduate from the program, as all of our graduate programs have 30+ graduate credit hour requirements. The minimum amount of credit hours needed for completion of the respective graduate degrees are listed in Catalog 2016-2017 [6] and provided in Table 1 below.


FMU Graduate Degree Requirements
ProgramRequired Hours
Graduate Business Program (M.B.A.) [7]
Graduate Education Program (M.Ed. Instructional Accommodation) [8]
Graduate Education Program (M.Ed. Learning Disabilities) [9]
Graduate Education Program (M.A.T. Learning Disabilities) [10]
Graduate Nursing Program (M.S.N. Family Nurse Practitioner) [11]
Graduate Nursing Program (M.S.N. Nurse Educator) [12]
Graduate Physician Assistant Program (M.S. Physician Assistant Studies) [13]
Graduate Psychology Program (M.S. Applied Psychology) [14]
Graduate Psychology Program (S.S.P.) [15]

Table 1. Graduate Degree Requirements

As the table displays, it is evident that the maximum of six accepted transfer courses would not make up the majority of credits needed for the degree. For additional evidence, see the degree requirement checklists from a sampling of education [1617] and psychology graduate programs [1819]. Furthermore, credit hours earned at Francis Marion are shown on graduate student transcripts, which provides supplementary evidence that the majority of credits towards a graduate or post-baccalaureate professional degree are earned at this university [20].


  1. CHE Approval of Doctorate Degree
  2. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Transfer Credit, p. 176
  3. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Transfer Credit, p. 176
  4. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Transfer Credit, p. 176
  5. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Transient Credit, p. 176
  6. Catalog 2016-2017, Graduate Academic Programs, p. 171-199
  7. Catalog 2016-2017, MBA Program, p. 178
  8. Catalog 2016-2017, M.Ed. Instructional Accommodation, p. 181
  9. Catalog 2016-2017, M.Ed. Learning Disabilities, p. 181
  10. Catalog 2016-2017, M.Ed. Learning Disabilities, p. 181
  11. Catalog 2016-2017, Family Nurse Practitioner, p. 187
  12. Catalog 2016-2017, M.S.N Nurse Educator, p. 188
  13. Catalog 2016-2017, M.S. Physician Assistant Studies, p. 190-191
  14. Catalog 2016-2017, M.S. Applied Psychology, p. 195
  15. Catalog 2016-2017, S.S.P., p. 195
  16. M.Ed.: Instructional Accommodation Requirements
  17. M.A.T.: Learning Disabilities Requirements
  18. M.S. Applied Psychology Clinical/Counseling Psychology Option Requirements
  19. M.S. Applied Psychology/SSP – School Psychology Option Requirements
  20. Redacted Graduate Transcript