Graduate School - Admission

Admissions Requirements    

ACU is committed to providing equal educational opportunities for students without regard to race, color, sex, creed, handicap, genetic information or national origin.  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.  Consequently, the admission process typically evaluates a combination of academic readiness and graduate capability. The admissions criteria are listed below but may include additional departmental reviews such as undergraduate coursework, standardized test scores, professional experience, writing samples, reference letters, or interviews.

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

The minimum Graduate School admission requirements are:

   1. Complete an application and application fee (see online link to admission);    
   2. An official transcript(s) in English (or translated to English) of all previous colleges attended. The transcript must indicate an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally   
       accredited college or university or equivalent;    
   3. A cumulative undergraduate approximate B average or above in the area of focus or related area and evidence of an overall productive GPA;    
   4. Departmental requirements as stated for each department. 

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.

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Application Types

Standard admissions for students who may be fully admitted without  further conditions.

If a student requires leveling work, the student may be admitted provisionally.

Occasionally, the department may recommend probational admission for an applicant who does not meet all the admission criteria.  For probational admission, graduate admission committees will make a holistic judgment on the applicant’s potential for success and contributing to the program mission.  Generally, students admitted probationally must maintain a 3.0 average in the first 9 hours of coursework, and may be asked to retake a standardized examination, or produce evidence of academic readiness.

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. Deadlines vary by program, but successful applicants are often early to secure their placement and facilitate their eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, and graduate assistantships.  For many programs, it is strongly suggested to submit application material by March for fall enrollment and October for spring enrollment.  Again, the earlier applicants may enhance their opportunity for financial considerations.

Accuracy of Material
All application material submitted must be accurate. Any erroneous, misleading or incomplete information may be grounds for rejection of application or if admitted, withdrawal from the university.

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 shows admission status, but your program director and faculty indicate the plan of study and completion of the degree alongside the Graduate Policies for continuation and degree completion indicated in the catalog.

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.

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 or special permission 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.

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

  • Biblical Studies
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Gerontology
  • Heritage Development
  • Leadership of Digital Learning
  • School Superintendent
  • 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.

Admission Process   

Required Materials
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.  The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is scored by Educational
              Testing Services and may be required of students from non-English speaking countries. Information is available at 609-951-1100.
        d. IELTS (International English Language Testing System) information is available at
  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 or IELTS score is required of all applicants from non-English speaking countries (official means it must be sent directly from the testing institution to ACU); minimum scores are 213 on the computer version, 550 on the paper version, 80 on the Internet based version or 6.0 on the IELTS.
  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 equivalent to U.S. degrees.
    a.  Provide an affidavit of support or a statement from the bank of financial responsibility,
    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 issued.

It costs approximately $32,138 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-bachelors 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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