Western Kentucky University

College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

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Policy on Alternate Admissions to Graduate Study

Approved 11/04/03; 4/5/11; CEBS Curriculum Committee

Consistent with the mission of Western Kentucky University to “provide students with rigorous academic programs,” it is expected that applicants for alternate admission to graduate study in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences will demonstrate that they are qualified to pursue graduate study in rigorous academic programs. Accordingly, applicants who do not meet University or program admission criteria will be required to provide evidence of extenuating circumstances that justify granting exceptions to those criteria.

An applicant for alternate admission to graduate study in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences must submit a professional portfolio “consisting of the record of vocational attainment and recognition; a statement of goals indicating commitment to pursue graduate education; letters of support from instructors, co-workers, or work supervisors; scholarly papers and/or projects; and any other supportive materials” (2010-2011 Graduate Catalog, p. 14).

The portfolio should provide specific evidence that the applicant’s standing with respect to University or program admission requirements does not provide an accurate reflection of the applicant’s aptitude for success in a graduate program, and the documentation should clearly address the applicant’s area(s) of deficiencies.  Such evidence could include:

  • reference letters from instructors who can provide specific examples of the applicant’s intellectual and academic ability and skills;
  • explanation and documentation of extenuating circumstances that may have contributed to the applicant’s inability to qualify for admission through the standard procedure (e.g., factors that may have contributed to the low GPA or GRE scores);
  • documentation of professional accomplishments that suggest that the applicant may have overcome earlier impediments to success in a graduate program;
  • information that might explain a low GPA, low GRE scores, and/or a discrepancy between GRE scores and GPA;
  • completion of courses or experiences that provided remediation for skills deficits; and/or
  • other supporting evidence specifically related to the program to which the applicant is applying.

The portfolio will be reviewed by a committee of graduate faculty in the program to which the applicant seeks admission. The committee’s recommendation can be to admit the applicant unconditionally, to admit the applicant on a conditional basis (with the conditions for full admission clearly indicated), or to deny admission. A favorable recommendation must be approved by the department head and is then forwarded to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs, who will submit the application and recommendation to the Alternate Admission Subcommittee of the CEBS Curriculum Committee for its review and recommendation.

It should be noted that any of the three recommendations (unconditional admission, conditional admission, denial of admission) is possible; completion of the Alternate Admissions Process leads only to consideration, not approval, of the application.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I am denied admission because of low GRE, GAP, or Analytical Writing scores, what are my options?

Applicants who are denied admission because of low GRE scores, low GAP score (GRE-V plus GRE-Q, multiplied by GPA), and/or low Analytical Writing score have essentially two options: to prepare (study) for the GRE and re-take it, and then re-apply; or to apply for alternate admissions. As a rule, applicants for alternate admission in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences are expected to have taken the GRE at least once after being denied admission. 

Why am I expected to re-take the GRE after being denied admission?

It has been the faculty’s experience that some potential graduate students fail to invest appropriate effort in preparing for the GRE. Instead of availing themselves of the many resources available to those who want to maximize their performance on the GRE, they take the GRE after minimal or no preparation.  Therefore, the faculty expect to see evidence that applicants have taken seriously the need to invest effort in preparation for the exam; investing this effort may be considered one indication of applicants’ determination to invest effort in graduate studies, should they be admitted.

What strategy should I follow in preparing to re-take the GRE?

Applicants should be aware that continuing to re-take the GRE without engaging in remediation efforts is not likely to be a successful strategy. Applicants who lack the skills that are presumed to underlie successful performance on the GRE should investigate options for skill development, such as enrolling in appropriate math or English courses, completing a GRE preparation course, or participating in appropriate professional development experiences that may result in skill improvements. For advice about skill remediation strategies or GRE prep courses, applicants should consult a faculty advisor for the program to which they are seeking admission.

Who may apply for admission under the alternate procedure?

Any individual may apply for admission to a CEBS graduate program under the alternate procedure.

How long will the alternate admissions application process take?

Because the review process involves several steps, it may take as much as two months, longer if the application is received during the summer or near semester breaks. 

On what factors will the decision be based?

As described above, the relevant factors are those that support a belief that admission criteria should be waived because of extenuating circumstances that may have prevented the applicant from meeting established admissions criteria. 

From whom should I request letters of recommendation?

Greater weight will be given to letters of recommendation from instructors, especially graduate faculty members, who can provide specific examples of an applicant’s academic skills and aptitudes that would contribute to success in graduate courses. Less helpful are letters from colleagues or co-workers whose knowledge of the applicant is limited to his or her motivation, personal qualities, or success in present work roles.

Whom shall I contact if I have questions about this policy?

Questions may be directed to the head of the department to which the applicant wishes to be admitted, or to Dr. Janet Applin, 270 745-4014, janet.applin@wku.edu.

 Last Modified 9/9/13