M.S. Counseling: Academic Policies
The University is first and foremost an academic community. Students and faculty together engage in the discovery, analysis, application, development, and transmission of knowledge as it pertains to the psychological sciences. In order for this honorable pursuit to progress successfully, a firm commitment to academic integrity is required from all members of the intellectual community.
Academic integrity entails a respect and reverence for knowledge as a human good and for the whole academic process, by which that knowledge is pursued and transmitted. Specifically, it entails honesty in all one’s academic dealings. Students at Divine Mercy University therefore shall not engage in or tolerate acts of academic dishonesty. These acts include, but are not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, collusion, falsifying academic records, and any act or attempt to commit an act designed to give unfair academic advantage to the student (such as, but not limited to, submission of essentially the same written assignment for two courses without the prior permission of the instructor, providing false or misleading information in an effort to receive a postponement or an extension on a test, quiz, or other assignment).
Students shall acknowledge in appropriate fashion the contributions of others to their work where such acknowledgment is due. The submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student’s own and that the work has been completed in accordance with the standards of his or her course or assigned project. At the beginning of each course, it is the responsibility of the instructor to provide students with a statement clarifying the application of the University academic integrity policy to his or her course.
In cases where a violation of academic integrity has been verified, the faculty member has the responsibility for determining the academic consequences, which may include assigning a failing grade for the assignment, exam, or course, or non-acceptance of the thesis or dissertation. The faculty member also may recommend a formal review of the violation by the Academic Dean, at which time the responsibility for determining the academic consequences will pass to the Academic Dean. Consequences can include probation from the University for a designated period of time, and in extreme cases, permanent dismissal from the University.
Students accused of a violation of academic integrity have the right to appeal the accusation and/or the imposed penalty. All such appeals are handled through the student grievance process administered through the Office of the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.
Besides the teaching, research, and service common to all institutes of higher education, Divine Mercy University, as a Catholic institution, brings to the educational endeavor the inspiration and light of the Christian faith. Catholic insights, ideals and truths inform its scholarly and pedagogical activities in accordance with the proper nature and autonomy of these activities. Each faculty member is guaranteed academic freedom in this regard to pursue his or her respective discipline in accordance with the principles and proper methods of each discipline, and insofar as it is consistent with the common good of the University and its mission, and the normative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
Academic Advising and Mentoring
The University strives to build an academic community that supports personal and scholarly development. Academic, personal, and scholarly advising and mentorship by both faculty and staff occur at various levels within the educational process at the University. Academic advising, relative to curriculum, is conducted by the respective directors of the various academic programs. Mentorship is an on-going process and occurs through formal and informal interactions with faculty, staff, and peers, who strive to provide a nurturing and supportive educational experience.
Faculty Availability and Accessibility
The University is deeply concerned about each student’s individual progress within its programs. Timely instructor input, feedback, and guidance benefits the student’s decision making and facilitates academic progress. To ensure adequate availability and accessibility of instructors, the University requires faculty members offering a course to hold a minimum of two office hours per week for each course taught. An instructor’s office hours will be distributed at the first class meeting and any changes to the office hours will be announced in class meetings.
To ensure equitable and effective use of both the student and instructor’s time, students are required to make an appointment when they would like to utilize an instructor’s office hours. Each instructor will inform the students during the first class meeting what process he or she wishes to maintain in scheduling appointments for office hours.
To ensure that grades are awarded with justice and on a uniform basis, all members of the faculty are required to make clear to their students at the beginning of each course the principles which they will employ in determining final grades. A clear statement of grading principles offered by the instructor is the student’s strict right and the instructor’s serious duty. The University allows instructors to define numerically what each grade requires as well as assign finer distinctions such as A-, B+, etc. However, any course in which a student receives a grade below C must be re-taken. On official transcripts, grade points will be reflected as follows:
|NC (No Credit Earned)||None|
|IP (In Process)||None|
|WP (Withdrawal Passing)||None|
|WF (Withdrawal Failing)||None|
When a student has been assigned an Incomplete the student must complete all outstanding course requirements within three months following the end of the semester of registration for the course. Failure to complete all course requirements will result in the instructor awarding a grade based upon work completed. Students who receive financial aid and who carry a grade of Incomplete into a subsequent semester risk loss of financial aid for that semester. Carrying an Incomplete course grade reduces the student’s overall grade point average and lowers his/her credit hours attempted-to-completed ratio – either or both of which factors can create a failure to meet the financial aid requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress
Academic Good Standing
To remain in good academic standing, students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. A 3.0 grade point average is required to graduate. Cumulative grade point criteria do not apply until the student has completed six or more credits. The status of the student will be reviewed at the end of each semester by the Registrar who will refer students not meeting the required 3.0 GPA average to the Academic Dean and the program director, which may lead to the development of a plan for remediation.
In the event of failure to meet the above standard for good academic standing, a student will be placed on academic probation. Students placed on academic probation for two consecutive semesters will be subject to academic dismissal. Students affected by this policy may request exceptions to the policy by presenting a written description of their extenuating circumstances and their plan for re-establishment of good academic standing to the Academic Dean. Generally, the Academic Dean will consult with the appropriate program director and Department Chair prior to granting any exceptions. The student will be advised in writing of the Academic Dean’s decision, which will be final.
Student Code of Conduct
The University Student Code of Conduct embraces the model training policy statement adopted by the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and holds that:It is important for students and trainees to understand and appreciate that academic competence is defined and evaluated comprehensively. Specifically, in addition to performance in coursework, seminars, scholarship, comprehensive examinations, and related program requirements, other aspects of professional development and functioning (e.g. cognitive, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, technical and ethical) will also be evaluated. Such comprehensive evaluation is necessary in order to appraise the entire range of academic performance, development and functioning of their student-trainees (Adapted from CCTC/APA, 2004).For specific offenses please see the Student Code of Conduct distributed to students each fall semester. Students are required to sign that they have received and read the Code of Conduct.
It is the policy of Divine Mercy University that no student should be subject to unsolicited, unwelcome, abusive, or offensive conduct of either a verbal or physical nature. Harassment refers to behavior that is not welcome, is personally offensive, interferes with efficiency or creates uneasiness. Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to: repeated offensive sexual flirtations, advances or propositions; continued or repeated verbal abuse of a racial nature; graphic, degrading, or demeaning ethnic comments about an individual or about his/her appearance; the display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; or any other offensive or abusive verbal comments or physical contact. Further, students will not be subjected to third party harassment, which is defined as behavior that is personally offensive to an observing party. Students engaging in any act that harasses or discriminates against another person because of age, race, color, national or ethnic origin, gender, religion, marital status, or the presence of a disability, shall not be tolerated. Such conduct is specifically prohibited. Appropriate action will be taken by the Academic Dean.
Final examinations are scheduled at the end of the regular term. In case of serious illness or emergency, arrangements may be made with the instructor to take an exam at another time. Postponement of a final examination beyond the last day of the semester or of the summer session requires the issuance of an Incomplete grade designation.
Students are expected to write all papers in a manner consistent with the expectations of the academic psychology community. Therefore, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (2009), should be utilized in all course requirements for term papers, as well as other professional writing. The student may access the Manual and associated resources in the library or see the following websites for assistance:
Course Evaluation by Students
Near the end of each semester, students are expected to complete an evaluation of each course. All evaluations are confidential and privacy is maintained. Student honesty in evaluation of the courses is critical, since the results contribute to improving class design and presentation. Instructors do not have access to the course evaluation results until after final grades are submitted.
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the University is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to any student who has a disability. Any student who has a documented disability must provide supporting documentation to the Enrollment Services Office at the beginning of the first semester. Once documentation is complete, the student should inform the instructor directly during the first week of classes about accommodations made for particular class/classes.
Student Freedom of Expression
The free expression of student opinion is an important part of education in a democratic society. Student’s verbal and written expression of opinion at the University is to be encouraged so long as it does not substantially disrupt the operation of the school. Students are, however, expressly prohibited from the use of vulgar and/or offensive terms, images, or behaviors.
Distribution of Materials
Publications or other material written by students may be distributed on the University’s premises in accordance with procedures developed by the Academic Dean, which may be found in the Student Handbook. Such procedures may impose limits on the time, place, and manner of distribution including prior authorization for the distribution or circulation of printed material or the posting of such material at the University, subject also to building lease restrictions. Students responsible for the distribution of material which leads to a substantial disruption of the University, interferes with its operations or contradicts the mission of the school, may be subject to disciplinary action. Non-students or non-employees of the University shall not distribute materials on the University grounds.
Student publications produced as part of the University curriculum or with the support of the student body are intended to serve both as vehicles for instruction and student communication. As such, they should reflect respect for the Vision and the Mission of the University.
Official and unofficial academic transcripts are issued by the Office of Enrollment Services to the student or directly to their designated third party. With a completed and signed Transcript Request Form (available in the Office of Enrollment Services or on the University Website), students may request a hard copy of their academic transcript. Academic transcripts cannot be transmitted electronically.
The University maintains student records necessary for the educational guidance and/or welfare of students, for the orderly and efficient operation of the University, and as required by law. All information related to individual students will be treated in a confidential and professional manner. Student records are the property of the University but will be made available to appropriate parties in accordance with state and federal law. The University disseminates student information in accordance with applicable state and federal laws and the University’s own established procedures. DMU follows FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99), which protects the privacy of student education records.
Permanent Academic Record Dispute Process
All grades recorded become a permanent part of the student’s academic history. A student who believes a final grade has been miscalculated should ask the instructor to review the matter. If a grade change is warranted, the instructor should report this to the Office of Enrollment Services. If the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s response, the student may submit a written request to the Academic Dean. The Academic Dean or his/her designee will then meet with the student and instructor, and will attempt to resolve the dispute about the grade. Failing such a resolution, the instructor’s grade will stand. No grade change will be accepted after 30 days from the end of the semester unless authorized by the Academic Dean. However, request for a grade change that will affect eligibility for graduation or academic honors or dismissal from the University must be made prior to these events respectively.
Students may repeat certain courses in order to improve their grade. In such cases where a course is retaken both grades will be reported on their transcript, but the higher of the two will be used for the purpose of calculating the grade point average.
Remediation and Dismissal from Program
Graduation with a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling requires more than passing grades and scholarly ability. Students must reach adequate levels of competency in counseling skills such as interviewing, client intake, assessment, treatment planning and intervention/psychotherapy. Students must possess the ability to exercise good clinical judgment, ethical reasoning, respect for diversity and professionalism. It is the solemn responsibility of DMU to serve as a gatekeeper for the profession and to ensure that students who are unable to meet these standards are dismissed from the program.
The remediation process begins with the identification of a clinical skill and/or an academic deficiency by a clinical supervisor and/or clinical course instructor and/or clinical training director. The identification of the deficiency is followed up by a meeting between the clinical supervisor/course instructor together with the clinical training director who meet to clarify the deficiency and consider necessary criteria for remediation. Following this protocol, a meeting is held to obtain student input and to finalize a formal remediation plan which is then signed by all parties. Once all the steps in the remediation plan are completed, the clinical training director drafts a remediation completion document which is signed by the student and the clinical training director. The signing of this document officially marks the successful completion of remediation for the skill deficiency identified. The remediation plan will outline distinct objectives with timelines for reaching each targeted deficiency.
In matters of serious gravity (e.g., severe ethical violations) or in the event that the student repeatedly fails remediation and/or does not complete the outlined objectives as agreed, they may be deemed “at risk.” A student determined to be “at risk” and fails to meet the remediation plan requirements in the designated time is eligible for termination from the program. In such cases, the Directors of Training and Internship and clinical faculty members will deliberate and vote on whether or not to terminate the student from the program or alternatively to develop an additional plan for remediation. An affirmative vote to terminate by a simple majority of the current clinical faculty members will result in the student being terminated from the program. The student will be notified in writing of the decision.
In the case of a student who is not deemed to be “at risk,” but who is placed on a remediation plan, and fails to successfully complete the requirements of their remediation plan in the designated time frame,
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may after the deliberation of the director of clinical training and the clinical faculty be designated “at risk.” In such cases the student will be formally notified of such status. The Directors of Training and Internship and the clinical faculty will then revise the pre-existing remediation plan noting the requirements which remain unmet and establishing a new time frame for completion. If the student remains unable to meet the requirements of the revised remediation plan in the designated time frame, the Directors of Training and Internship and clinical faculty members will deliberate and vote on whether or not to terminate the student from the program or alternatively to develop an additional plan for remediation. An affirmative vote to terminate by a simple majority of the current clinical faculty members will result in the student being dropped from the program. The student will be notified in writing of the decision.
In cases where an affirmative vote to terminate a student from the program is made, the student may appeal the decision to the academic dean. Such appeal must be made within 30 days following notification by the department of their termination from the program. The academic dean will consider the appeal and render his/her decision within 30 days of receipt of the student’s request for appeal. The academic dean’s decision will be final.
Student Grievance Due Process Policy
It is the policy of the University to utilize due process in handling student grievances. It is also the policy of the University to utilize due process in disciplinary actions taken against students. See due process policies below.
In a Christian academic environment, every effort should be made to sustain a relationship of charity and cooperation between all members of the community. Occasionally, however, a student may have a grievance with a member of the faculty, staff, or fellow student/peer. The student with the grievance should endeavor first to meet with the other party to discuss the difficulty in an attempt to resolve the issue. If the student does not feel at ease approaching the individual, or is not satisfied with the results of such a meeting, he or she should consult the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs who will provide guidance as to what additional steps, if any, should be taken. If resolution is not reached at this informal level, the student may then wish to file a formal grievance. At any point in the process described herein, the student filing a grievance will always have the option to withdraw the grievance. The Institute has established the following Grievance Resolution Procedure for students to use for all aspects of their experience with academic, student, and other support services of the University.
In the grievance resolution process, every reasonable effort will be made to protect the privacy of all parties. All records pertaining to the investigation and to the disposition of the grievance shall be maintained in sealed files in conformity with state and federal privacy requirements. Records of individuals involved or alleged to be involved in a grievance will be made available to officials of the University who have a need to know, and otherwise only in accordance with applicable state and federal laws and only to the extent required by law.
Resolution Procedures for Student Grievance with Faculty Member or Student/Peer
Student grievances directed to a member(s) of the faculty or student body (referred to herein as “the respondent”) will be handled as follows:
- Filing a Grievance: The complainant shall file a written grievance with the Academic Dean. The complainant shall record with specificity the circumstances of his/her grievance.
- Fact-Finding Committee: The Academic Dean will appoint a Fact-Finding Committee consisting of three faculty members. A Chair of the committee will be designated by the Academic Dean. If a conflict of interest or other valid reason prevents a committee member from serving, the Academic Dean shall select an alternate. The Academic Dean shall make every effort to ensure that a fair, impartial, and representative committee hears the matter.
- Notification: The Academic Dean shall give the respondent written notification that a grievance has been filed, as well as a copy of the grievance. The respondent may file a written response with the Fact-Finding Committee Chair. The Academic Dean shall provide a copy of the response to the complainant.
- Investigation: The following standards for investigation will be observed:
- in conducting the investigation, the committee shall receive and review the grievance, the response, and other pertinent statements or documents;
- the complainant and respondent shall be given the opportunity to respond to one another’s statements, and individually to present witnesses or concerned parties in conformity to the evidence presented; and,
- the committee will interview witnesses and concerned parties individually and in conformity with privacy requirements, as it deems necessary.
- Fact-Finding Report: When, in the judgment of the Committee, the positions of the complainant and respondent have been equitably heard, the Committee shall submit a written Fact-Finding Report to the Academic Dean. The Fact-Finding Report shall contain the following:
- a statement of the issues under review;
- the positions of the parties;
- a finding of the results of the investigation;
- conclusion as to whether there is probable cause to believe that the grievance is valid; and,
- recommendations for action(s) to be taken.
The total time period for the investigation, from the filing of a written grievance to submission of the Fact-Finding Report to the Academic Dean shall not exceed ninety (90) calendar days.
The Chair of the Fact-Finding Committee will maintain all records of the grievance, including its conclusions and recommendations. These records shall be transferred to the Office of the Academic Dean at the time of disposition of the grievance. The records shall be maintained in conformity with state and federal privacy and disclosure requirements, policies and procedures.
Disposition of the Grievance and Disciplinary Action
The Academic Dean will make the decision about action to be taken. The factual conclusions contained in the Fact-Finding Report shall be binding upon the Academic Dean for the purpose of this determination.
The Academic Dean will discuss the decision with the Chair of the Fact-Finding Committee, prior to taking action, if the action to be taken is different than that recommended by the Committee.
The Academic Dean will immediately notify the complainant and the respondent in writing of the disposition of the grievance once the decision has been made.
The decision of the Academic Dean will be made within ten (10) working days of the receipt of the Fact-Finding Report. The decision may be appealed in writing by either the complainant or the respondent to the President of the University; the appeal must be made no later than fifteen (15) working days from the date of the Academic Dean’s notification of the decision.
If the complainant is a student and the student has not received a satisfactory resolution after exhausting all available grievance procedures established by the institution, the student may contact the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) as a last resort in the grievance process, using this link: https://www.schev.edu/students/studentcomplaintprocess.asp.
Student Grievance Resolution Procedures Involving Staff
The same procedures as described for student grievances directed to faculty will be followed in the case of a student grievance directed to a staff member, with the following two exceptions:
- a) the Vice President for Finance and Administration will serve in place of the Academic Dean; and,
- b) the Fact-Finding Committee will be appointed from either staff or faculty of the University.
The University strictly prohibits retaliation against a member of the University community who files a grievance, against whom a grievance is filed, or who otherwise is a participant in the grievance resolution procedure. Such retaliatory conduct includes, but is not limited to, decreasing an employee’s pay, reducing a student’s grade, or downgrading a person’s performance evaluation.
In order to qualify for graduation, all coursework and curriculum requirements must be completed and all degree requirements met within the degree time-limit and by the official graduation date. It is the responsibility of each student to successfully fulfill all of their degree requirements, as detailed in each respective program section of the catalog published at the time of their enrollment in the degree which they seek.
In addition to the academic requirements, it is necessary for students to be cleared of all library obligations and to present a satisfactory clearance of financial accounts prior to graduation. Students who have not made satisfactory financial arrangements will not have access to any student services, including transcripts, diploma verifications, transfer credits, or enrollment in courses or for another program.
The University confers degrees upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the authority of the Board of Directors, three times a year: August, December, and May. Students whose degrees are conferred in August or December are encouraged to participate in the following annual May Commencement. Degree conferral and Commencement dates are posted in the Academic Calendar. The Graduation Fee covers all aspects of the degree completion process and will be applied to all student accounts of degree candidates, regardless of participation in the Commencement ceremony.
Students who are eligible for graduation (degree candidates) must submit an Application to Graduate form to the Registrar at the time of registration for their final semester to obtain a final degree audit and receive the approval of their respective program director. Materials related to the Commencement exercises, including orders of invitations and regalia, will be distributed approximately 90 days prior to the degree conferral date.
Notification of Policy Changes to Students
As policies evolve, students will be informed by the appropriate administrator and the School of Counseling will disseminate these policies to students through their DMU email account, the COUN 500 Advisement course, and appropriate handbook, catalog, etc.