Graduate Student Handbook


Welcome to Abilene Christian University!

Welcome to Abilene Christian University!

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We are excited you have chosen to continue your education with us in Graduate Programs at Abilene Christian University. Each of our programs is designed for excellence in its field and to fulfill the university’s mission of educating students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. In each program, you will find leaders in their disciplines who embrace using their knowledge and gifts in paths of service and hope to become mentors and friends during your time here.

Each year, within your department and across the university, there are abundant offerings designed to help you grow personally and professionally. I encourage you to engage in these opportunities as much as you can. Connecting with the Graduate Students’ Association is an excellent first step in finding avenues for community, resources available to graduate students and hearing news about opportunities outside of your program. We are proud of the way faith and learning are woven together in our community, and I would encourage you to seek out small group chapels or Bible studies that nourish your spirit during your time here.

This handbook contains a summary of information regarding the Office of Graduate Programs’ procedures and a link to the Graduate Programs’ section of the ACU Catalog concerning policies. The handbook will assist you as you progress through your graduate academic career at ACU. It is meant to answer many of your questions and provide an overview of pertinent information. Please contact our office at any time for further assistance.

As you pursue your academic goals, I hope you find the process itself to be rewarding. I am glad you are here.

Bill Carroll


Grace and peace,

Dr. Bill Carroll
Assistant Provost for Residential Graduate Programs

Find us on campus

Office of Graduate Programs
Hardin Administration Building | Room 203
ACU Box 29140

Contact us

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Bill Carroll | Assistant Provost for Graduate programs

Michelle Valencia | Graduate Records Specialist

Jamie Bearden | Director of Admissions & Student Services

Taylor Parrish | Graduate Thesis Coordinator

Caroline Lea Banger | Graduate Marketing Coordinator

President | Dr. Phil Shubert
Vice President for Advancement | Dan Macaluso
Provost (Chief Academic Officer) | Dr. Robert Rhodes
Vice Provost | Dr. Susan Lewis

Dean of Library & Information Resources | James Wiser

Director of International & Intercultural Education | Stephen Shewmaker

Registrar | Dr. Eric Gumm

College of Arts & Sciences
DeanDr. Greg Straughn

 Dr. Lynette Sharp Penya
Graduate Program Director | Dr. Dorothy C. Andreas

Chair Mikee Delony
Graduate Program Director | Dr. Todd Womble

Chair | Dr. Richard Beck
Graduate Program Director | Dr. Cherisse Flanagan

College of Biblical Studies
|  Dr. Ken Cukrowski

Graduate School of Theology
| Dr. Carson Reed
Associate Dean
| Dr. Wes Crawford
MDiv | Dr. Kelli Gibson
DMin |  Dr. Carson Reed
MTSOT | Dr. Mark Hamilton
MTSNT | Dr. Richard Wright
MTSMAC | Dr. Wes Crawford
MTSHEC |  Dr. Jeff Childers
MAGS/MDVM | Dr. Chris Flanders
MACM | Dr. Tera Harmon

Marriage & Family Therapy
Chair & Graduate Program Director
| Dr. Lisa Merchant

College of Business Administration
| Dr. Brad Crisp

Graduate Program Director | Dr. David Perkins

College of Education & Human Services
| Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

Communication Sciences & Disorders
| Dr. Lynette Austin
MS-SLP Program Director, Abilene Division | Dr. Denise Barnett
MS-SLP Program Director, Dallas Division | Dr. Brenda Bender
Graduate Program Director (accreditation) | Dr. Jennifer Binkley

Department of Teacher Education
Chair | Dr. Dana Pemberton
Graduate Program Director | Dr. Andrew Huddleston

School of Social Work
Director of the School of Social Work | Dr. Rachel Slaymaker
Graduate Program Director | Dr. Kay Jang
Advisor | Kari White

Liberal Arts
Graduate Program Director | Dr. Joe Cardot

Occupational Therapy
Chair & MSOT; OTD Program Director
Dr. Kari Williams

Athletic Training
Graduate Program Director | Dr. Ramonica Scott

Strength, Conditioning, and Human Performance
Graduate Program Director | Lucas Lancaster

MyACU Portal

myACU ( is the online portal to student information such as email, registration, transcripts, billing, announcements, Canvas (LMS) course information and much more. Every enrolled student is provided an email account. These accounts are created automatically when a student is admitted.

Follow these steps to find your username and password (PIN) to log in to myACU:

  1. Visit and enter your ACU ID/banner number and date of birth.
  2. Click on Get Email Username. View your username, password and email address.

Visit Log in using your username and password.

Problems or questions? If you have technology problems, contact IT Support Center at or 325-674-5555. For more information, visit

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Check In

Each semester, all students are required to check in to verify their attendance at ACU. This process occurs electronically through the myACU student portal during the first week of classes.

Students who fail to check in will be treated as non-attendees and administratively withdrawn for the semester to avoid incurring financial charges*. A student who is administratively withdrawn is dropped from all classes and financial aid.

Students who successfully complete the check in process are agreeing to the schedule for which they are registered. Thus, students who check in but never attend a particular class on their schedule will not be eligible for a refund for that course because of non-attendance.

*Please note: Students enrolled in thesis hours or continuation hours will remain in those hours regardless of whether they check in through the myACU portal due to the unique nature of those courses.

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Student Services

The official university academic calendar is published by the Registrar’s Office. Consult the calendar for important dates, such as fee payment, registration dates, exam schedules, university holidays and special events.

Access various tools to assist your graduate journey on the Current Student Page. You can find more information on career services, the course catalog, housing and more. You can also find information on the following:

Graduate education at ACU is distinctive in its attention to individual spiritual development and the Christian perspective as it relates to specific disciplines. Opportunities to worship in community with academic colleagues are part of this experience. Graduate students are not required to attend but are encouraged to participate. Times and locations will be announced in the monthly Graduate Connection emails.

The Brown Library features the Learning Commons with group study areas and easy access to Starbucks, IT Support Center and research librarians. Graduate students enjoy:

  • 35-day loan period for books
  • Free interlibrary loan (ILL) for materials in libraries all over the U.S. Fill out an ILL form at the circulation desk or request online from the FirstSearch database (see list on library home page.)
  • Courier service delivers books from other Abilene libraries and Howard Payne University by online request in ALCON.
  • IT Services – Check out wireless network laptop computers for use within the library.

Registrar’s Office
The Registrar’s Office maintains the integrity of academic records, including the enforcement of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and coordinates and enforces university policies and procedures campus wide. The Registrar’s Office is responsible for the management and publication of course offerings, the ACU Catalog, course schedules, graduation and production of student transcripts. The Registrar’s Office is located on the second floor of the Hardin Administration Building.

Writing & Speaking Centers
The ACU Writing Center (WC) provides free writing support to all ACU students. Trained consultants work one-on‐one with students. The WC also offers monthly seminars specifically targeted to graduate students and has tutors who work exclusively with graduate students by appointment. The WC is located next to Starbucks in Brown library.

The ACU Speaking Center is equipped with experienced tutors who will help you become a more confident and effective speaker. From topic selection to writing to delivery, they can assist you in any part of the speech creation process. This free service is located on the top floor of Brown library.

The ACU ID card is used for numerous campus services. To obtain your ID card, visit Wildcat Central in the McGlothlin Campus Center. Student ID cards are used to access meal plans, Campus Cash, Bean Bucks, the Student Rec and Wellness Center, athletic event admission, check cashing authorizations, checkout privileges at all Abilene libraries and other purposes. The card is valid from the first enrollment through graduation. Visit the page for complete ID card information.

The ACU Gear Shop is located in the McGlothlin Campus Center, the heart of ACU’s Abilene campus. All course textbooks are available in store or online. Textbooks and academic materials may be charged to your ACU student account. The Gear Shop is also your source for official ACU gear and gift items.

The Office of Career Development and Academic Advising provides a variety of career development services to help students make educational/career decisions. They also facilitate connections between students and faculty, staff and campus resources. Visit Brown Library, Room 261 for more information.

ACU provides public access computer services for students across campus. The library provides a lab and wireless network laptops for use there. Each academic building and residence hall has computer labs. Check each lab for hours of availability.

The World-Famous Bean, located in the McGlothlin Campus Center, provides a comfortable community atmosphere with a variety of food choices every day. A variety of meal plans are available for residential and commuter students.

If you’re not interested in a meal plan, you can instead pay for individual meals as you enter the Bean:

Breakfast  $5.73
Lunch    $7.82
Dinner $9.12
Sunday Brunch   $6.50

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, known generally as FERPA, is the federal law that protects students’ records, privacy review and disclosure rights. The law guarantees these rights for current and former ACU students.

Educational records are considered confidential. Under most circumstances, records will not be released without a student’s written consent. However, directory information may be released to third parties without the student’s consent, unless the student files a written request to restrict directory information access. Contact the Registrar’s Office regarding FERPA restrictions and disclosure options. To add someone to your FERPA release record, please complete this form.

Office of International Students and Visiting Scholars (OISVS) provides information and support services to our international community. OISVS is located on the first floor of the Hardin Administration Building.

Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) serves all students in making cross‐cultural connections and adjustment to campus life at ACU. The OMA office is located in the basement of the McGlothlin Campus Center.

Medical and Counseling Care Center offers physical and mental health services as well as a pharmacy to students, faculty and staff. Located near the Student Rec and Wellness Center, the Counseling Center is staffed by professional psychologists and mental health counselors to provide confidential services for students. The center and clinic are open Monday through Friday and operate on an appointment basis. Visit the MACCC website or call 325-674-2625 for more information.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) provides support for faculty and student research and grants. To ensure ethical research, the university has an Institutional Review Board (IRB) policy. The IRB has oversight of research where human participants are involved. It approves or disapproves research proposals, and it may require modifications of protocols to protect the rights, dignity and well-being of human research participants.

Students who use human subjects during the course of their study (surveys, interviews, etc.) must gain IRB approval prior to beginning the study. For questions concerning human subjects protocols, contact the Executive Director of Research, Dr. Qi Hang, in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at 325-674‐2885. To determine the level of approval needed for human research, visit the ORSP website.

Everyone who parks on the ACU campus must display a valid parking permit. Parking forms are available in Wildcat Central or the ACU Police Department. Campus traffic information may be obtained from the Police Department located at 1634 Campus Court. More about campus parking regulations.

ACU ALERT is an emergency notification system that allows Abilene Christian University to send urgent and emergency information quickly by email and text message. By enrolling in ACU ALERT, subscribers will be able to receive urgent information from university officials.

ACU ALERT is a free service to all ACU students, faculty and staff. To enroll, log in to the ACU ALERT user registration page with your email username and password. Complete the subsequent form. You can provide two cell phone numbers and one email address to receive the alerts.

All current ACU students who are enrolled in at least 6 hours of academic classes are eligible for a free SRWC membership. However, all students must complete a SRWC Membership & Waiver Form before they are given access to the SRWC. Contact the SRWC Front Desk at 325-674-6600 or visit the SRWC website for more information. More information regarding intramural sports.

Wildcat Central provides student services to residential undergraduate and graduate students. Online and in the office, you will find information about registration, meal plans, ID cards, parking permits and other campus services in one convenient location. Located in the Campus Center, Wildcat Central is open 8:30‐5:00 daily to assist with your needs, provide information and distribute forms.

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Graduate Academic Policies

ACU Catalog is the official source regarding all graduate policies, procedures, and degree and certificate program requirements for the published academic year. It is the student’s responsibility to know and comply with the regulations and requirements contained in the catalog.

Graduate program directors are helpful in preparing degree plans and assisting students in their degree progress. This assistance, however, does not alter the primary responsibility of the student to adhere to policies published in the catalog.


The following course load policy applies to residential programs. For graduate students, a full-time load is defined as 6 or more credit hours in a long semester, and a half-time load is defined as 3 hours during a long semester.For students who are enrolled in their last semester of coursework, a full-time load is defined as 3 or more credit hours. Students in the Specialist in School Psychology program will be considered to be enrolled full-time for the purposes of federal student aid in the last year (fall and spring) of their program while they are enrolled in PSYC 695, which is listed as a three-hour course.


ACU uses a three-digit course numbering system. Courses numbered 500-700 are graduate-level courses. At the master’s level, at least half of all graduate credit must be in 600-700 level courses. Courses numbered 700 or above in the Graduate School of Theology may be taken by doctoral students only.


The student is responsible for class registration each semester and should consult with his or her program director before registration. In some cases, the program director may complete the registration on behalf of the student. Please note that students will not register themselves for thesis courses but will instead be registered by the Thesis Coordinator. Registration is completed online through the “Banner” tab on the myACU homepage. Whether registering via Banner or the department, students are responsible for accurate registration.

How to register through myACU:

  • Meet with your program director or advisor to receive your advising release code (6-digit number).
  • Log in to
  • Select the Banner tab (top left side).
  • Select Student and Financial Aid.
  • Select Registration.
  • Select Term.
  • Select Add or Drop Classes.
  • Enter your advising release code (6-digit code from graduate program director).
  • Enter course reference number (CRN) or conduct Class Search.
  • Submit changes.

For registration assistance, contact your program director or advisor.

The number of credit hours required for various degrees ranges from 30 to 72. All ACU master’s degrees require a minimum of 30 semester hours. The doctorate requires a minimum of 30 hours beyond the master’s degree.

Degree audits are conducted utilizing DegreeWorks according to the catalog in effect at the time of enrollment. If problems arise, students are urged to confer with their program director.

A student must make a written request for an exception to any graduate policy. Exceptions might include: taking additional hours in a given semester or summer term, transferring more than the maximum number of hours from another institution or extending the maximum time to complete a graduate degree.

Petition forms are available in the Registrar’s Office. The student should state the request and provide any necessary supporting material. The form must first be submitted for approval to the graduate program director, and then will be forwarded to the assistant provost for Graduate Programs for evaluation and consideration.

The university has a procedure for dispute resolution. The order of resolution is to begin at the initial level of the dispute, with the professor in question or with the program director. If the issue is not resolved, the student may then dispute the issue with the department chair. The student, however, may appeal the department chair’s decision to the college dean, then to the assistant provost for Graduate Programs, and finally to the provost whose decision is final.

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A degree candidate must submit an Intent to Graduate to the Registrar’s Office prior to the beginning of final semester.

Any student who does not complete graduation requirements during the semester for which he or she has filed must reapply for a later graduation date. Degrees are posted on the student’s transcript for the term in which all requirements have been completed. Diplomas are mailed to students after the degree is posted (approximately two months after commencement).

In addition to regular course examinations, some programs require students to pass a comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam (dates by department) should be arranged through the department at least six weeks before graduation. Students are responsible for making sure they complete all of their departmental examination requirements and schedule the exam on or before the published deadline to prevent delays in his or her degree being awarded.

Graduate students who write a thesis must defend the thesis in an oral examination. The thesis defense should be arranged with the thesis committee at least six weeks before graduation. The graduate student should consult his or her graduate program director for specific departmental defense requirements and schedules, noting that summer schedules can be difficult scheduling times. More information about important dates.

Prior to the defense, the student should obtain a Thesis Defense Report form to be signed at the defense. It should then be submitted to the Office of Graduate Programs as quickly as possible after the defense, but no later than five weeks before graduation.

For additional information on the thesis process and requirements, please see the ACU Thesis Guide or visit Contact the graduate thesis coordinator with questions.

Check with Wildcat Central to clear or make arrangements for any outstanding balance before graduation.

When all requirements for the degree have been met, including the final copy of the thesis uploaded to the Digital Commons, etc., the degree will be posted and a transcript showing the degree may be requested. Diplomas are printed as soon as degrees are posted following each graduation date and should be mailed within two months. It is imperative that students leave a correct forwarding address.

At the time of degree posting, if any requirement has not been met, the student’s degree conferral will automatically be deferred to the next cycle (May, August or December). The student will need to notify the Registrar’s Office when requirements have been completed.
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