Graduate School - Admission

Admissions Requirements    

ACU is committed to providing equal educational opportunities for students without regard to race, color, sex, creed, handicap or national origin. Graduate assistantships and other forms of financial aid help to realize this goal. As a private educational institution, however, ACU reserves the right to deny admission to any applicant whose academic preparation, character or personal conduct is determined to be inconsistent with the purposes and objectives of the university.

The purpose of the admission process is to identify applicants who are likely to succeed academically in the Graduate School and at the same time contribute positively to the campus community. To admit students who cannot, or will not, persist until they have accomplished their academic goals is an expensive mistake for both the university and the students.

Admission Criteria
In making admission decisions, the Graduate School works cooperatively with the various departmental admission committees.

To be admitted unconditionally to an ACU graduate program, a student must:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university;
  2. Earn a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or a GPA of 3.25 in last 60 hours of undergraduate course work;
  3. Submit two letters of recommendation that indicate support of readiness for graduate study;
  4. Submit a writing sample that shows writing ability consistent with the expectations of graduate work (see program requirements for details); and
  5. Satisfy program prerequisites and standardized test measure (GRE, GMAT, MAT), if applicable. See program requirements for details.

Individual graduate programs may also have higher standards or additional requirements for admission to their programs. Some programs have higher demand for admission, or are limited in the number of students who can be accepted each semester, so are more selective in admission criteria.

Departmental admission committees make holistic judgments based on their evaluation of an applicant’s ability and readiness for graduate work. Occasionally the department may recommend conditional admission for an applicant who does not meet all the admission criteria.

Conditional Admission   
Students who do not meet all the above standards will be considered for conditional admission. To be admitted conditionally, the applicant must demonstrate readiness and capability for graduate work by some combination of undergraduate or graduate coursework, standardized test scores, professional experience, writing ability and/or academic reference letters. For conditional admission, graduate admission committees will make a holistic judgment on the applicant’s potential for success in the graduate program, and for contributing to the mission of the program. Generally students admitted conditionally must maintain a 3.0 average in the first 9-12 hours of coursework, and may be asked to complete leveling (undergraduate) coursework, or to retake a standardized examination.

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Special Graduate Non-degree Admission   
A student can also enter classes as a special graduate, or non-degree student, a situation normally reserved for those who want to take a few classes without any particular program commitment. The process includes submitting a special graduate application along with a fee and an official undergraduate transcript. Then, each student selects the appropriate courses and is registered for classes by the Graduate School.

Non-degree students must fulfill the same quality standards in class as fully-admitted students. Also, some courses require admission to a program before a student is allowed to take a course.

A non-degree student can take no more than 15 graduate hours without being admitted to a degree program. However, there is no guarantee that the hours taken will fulfill degree requirements. Therefore, it is extremely important to seek admission and follow a degree plan within a program.

Admission to a Certificate Program
ACU offers graduate certificate programs in:

          • Conflict Resolution
          • Gerontology
          • Missions
          • Social Services Administration

Some students complete these certificate programs in conjunction with a master’s degree program. If a student is not matriculated in a master’s degree program, he or she must apply for the certificate program. If the student decides to apply any part of the certificate toward a graduate degree, he must apply and be admitted into that degree program.

Application Fee
The application fee is non-refundable. No action can be taken on an application until the fee has been received. The fee is waived for McNair Scholars. No other waiver of this fee will be considered for domestic or international applicants.

Application Date
Unless otherwise specified by a department, applications are accepted year round. Thus, many programs have rolling admissions based on space available. However, because of competition for financial aid, scholarships and assistantships, as well as limited enrollment, the early applicants have better chances for admission as well as financial aid. Thus, it is strongly suggested that applicants submit application material by March for fall enrollment and October for spring enrollment.

Accuracy of Material
All application material submitted must be accurate. Any erroneous, misleading or incomplete information may be grounds for termination.

Official Acceptance
While academic departments and others play a major role in the evaluation of all applicants, official acceptance letters come from the ACU Graduate School. An acceptance letter does not constitute a contract between ACU and an applicant for admission.

Delayed Admission
Students who receive an official letter of acceptance will be informed that the acceptance is available only for the semester or term indicated. Students who wish to change their entry date must petition the Graduate School in writing before the designated deadline. Students taking any graduate or undergraduate coursework between the date of acceptance and the date of first course enrollment at ACU must submit official transcripts for that work before beginning their program at ACU. Students will be governed by the catalog in effect when they actually begin coursework at ACU. The time limit for completing the degree will begin with the first enrollment in the graduate program.

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Admission Process   

Required Materials
Ordinarily to be admitted unconditionally to an ACU graduate program, a student must submit:

  1. Application and non-refundable application fee.
  2. An official transcript(s) in English (or translated to English) of all previous college work (official means an original with the seal that comes directly from the issuing institution to ACU). The transcript must indicate a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Admissions are made on the assumptions that applicants will have the bachelor’s degree by the time of  matriculation, and if not, the Graduate School admission is void.
  3. Official test scores come directly from the testing institutions, if required by program.
        a.  The GRE is scored by Educational Testing Services:
              800-537-3160 inside the U.S. or Canada, 609-771-7243 outside the U.S. 
              or Canada. Check with Sylvan Learning Centers for testing dates.
         b.  GMAT information is available at 800-GMAT-NOW.
         c.  If English is not the applicant’s first language, TOEFL is scored by Educational
             Testing Services. Information is available at 609-951-1100.
  4. Letters of recommendation from two individuals with knowledge of applicant’s readiness for graduate study.
  5. Writing sample according to program guidelines.
  6. Additional materials may be required by some departments such as additional correspondence, personal interviews or special tests. Please see specific graduate degree program requirements.

Missing any one of these required elements may delay the admission decision.

Upon admission and prior to enrollment, a student must submit health forms indicating immunization record and a tuberculosis test within the last year.

Admission for International Students   

International students applying for admission to the Graduate School must meet the same admission requirements as other students as outlined above.

However, additional requirements also apply:

  1. Official TOEFL score minimum 213 on the computer version or 550 on the paper version is required of all applicants from non-English speaking countries (official means it must be sent directly from the testing institution to ACU; see No. 3 of the “Required Materials” section for phone numbers).
  2. Financial admission and I-20. After academic admission comes financial admission. International applicants must satisfy all academic admission requirements before a Form I-20 can be issued and before they leave their home countries. Particularly, official academic transcripts of his or her college or university courses must show evidence of completion of a bachelor’s degree.
    a.  Provide an affidavit of support or a statement from the bank of financial
         responsibility for a minimum of $28,613.
    b.  A deposit is required for students who wish to live in a residence hall.
    c.  When the academic and financial admission is complete, then the I-20 will be

It costs approximately $28,613 to live in Abilene and to attend ACU for one full year. Unfortunately, the university usually cannot offer financial assistance to international students. However, there are many campus job opportunities. In any case, the student must be able to bear financial responsibility.

Once international students arrive on campus, they are encouraged to meet with their advisors for program details (see other parts of this catalog) and to meet with the international student program advisor. International students are encouraged to join the International Student Association on campus and experience fellowship and fun with up to 300 students and faculty. Welcoming international students is a special part of that process.

Admission to Institute of Intensive English   
The Institute of Intensive English is not a graduate program, but is a program that several international post-bachelor’s degree students take. Students with a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 425 (or a computer-based score of 113) may apply to the Institute of Intensive English (IIE) to study English and become more proficient in speaking, reading and writing. Sometimes called English as a Second Language (ESL), the Institute is not graduate school. However, if a student reaches a TOEFL of 550 or above, he or she would be permitted to apply for admission to Graduate School under the same guidelines for admission as stated above.

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