School of Public Health - Graduate Student Handbook (Policies and Procedures)

This student handbook will provide an overview of procedures, policies and useful information not only for new students but returning students as well.We are confident that during your time here your relationship with the UAB School of Public Health will provide a conduit for your career goals and that we will benefit from the experiences that you bring to us. We wish you much success as you embark on your new career journey. Our primary goal is to prepare each graduate with the skills and competencies needed to go out into the community, the State, and beyond to lead innovation in public health and improve the health of the citizens of Alabama and the world.

Please feel free to stop by The Office of Student and Academic Services, located in Suite 130, or call (205) 934-4993 if you have questions or concerns.

Information in this booklet is subject to change especially as it pertains to deadline dates, tuition/fees and policies. 
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New Student Orientation

  • New Student Orientation
    The New Student Orientation is designed to welcome and acquaint incoming students with the school. The orientation process has two components: a required on-line process and a one day on-campus process. During on campus orientation, which takes place in August each year, students will have the opportunity to meet and greet faculty, current students, and administrators. More specifically, students will have the opportunity to become more familiar with the campus, meet with an academic advisor to finalize their schedules and learn about the vibrant academic life at the university.

Biological Basis Competency Exam

  • Incoming MPH students are required to show evidence of previous biological/biomedical sciences coursework at the time of admission.
    This requirement may be met by showing proof of a previously earned Medical, Dental, Nursing or Dietetics degree (registered or registration eligible dieticians only), extensive and substantial education in biological or biomedical courses (grades of "B" or better) or by taking the School of Public Health Biological Basis of Public Health Exam and earning a grade of 70% or better.
    Admission letters indicate whether a student has met the competency requirement. If an exam waiver is NOT indicated in the admission letter, plans should be made to take the exam at one of the scheduled exam sessions during orientation. The exam may be taken a total of three times prior to the last day to add & drop classes for the semester.

Ryals Building Access - One Card

  • After 7:00 pm, the Ryals Building may be entered through the east entrance only using the UAB One Card (double doors facing the Webb Building). Card key access to all other entrances will be suspended until 7:00 AM each morning. To obtain building access, stop by the Office of Student and Academic Services, Room 130 Ryals Building and pick up an application. As long as you are an active student, your access card to Ryals Building will remain functional.

Establishing Alabama Residency

  • All students registering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who do not establish that they are “resident students” shall pay non-resident student tuition. For tuition purposes, U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are not residents of Alabama may be able to establish Alabama residency to be effective in one year. This process is not automatic.
    Two Methods of Requesting Residency Reclassification
  1. Academic Common Market- Residents of every Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) state may participate in the SREB Academic Common Market, an agreement that enables students to pursue unique majors offered at public institutions in the other SREB states while paying in-state tuition. If the public institutions in your home state do not offer degree programs in your field of study, it may be possible to arrange a waiver of out-of-state tuition to attend a cooperating public institution of higher education in another participating state. For detailed information and contact information about your state’s Academic Common Market representative go to the SREB website at http://www.sreb.org.
  2. Alabama Residency Reclassification - In determining residency classification for tuition purposes, the primary issue is one of intent. If a person is in Alabama primarily for the purpose of obtaining an education, that person shall be considered a “non-resident” student. A student seeking residency reclassification has the burden of overcoming the presumption of non-resident student status by demonstrating more substantial non-school related connections to the state than with any other state and the intent to remain here indefinitely. Students who wish to apply for “residency reclassification” and have the required documentation of intent and length of residence should complete the Alabama Residency Application and provide the appropriate documentary evidence. For more information please visit: www.uab.edu/students/paying-for-college/in-state-residency.

MPH Field Placements/Internships

  • Field Placements/Internships play an important role in preparing students to assume leadership positions in the field of public health. As a student in the MPH program, you are required to complete three credit hours of a field placements/internships experience. The internship is a field experience which bridges professional academic preparation and public health practice. Knowledge and skills learned in coursework are applied in an agency setting under the supervision and guidance of an experienced public health specialist. Students should start preparing for their field placements/internships at least 3 months ahead of the date they plan to begin their experience. Go to the field placements/internships website to learn more.

Scholarships

  • Scholarship applications are due February 1 for returning full time masters students. Incoming Fall semester do not fill out a scholarship application. All incoming Fall semester students with at least a 3.0 GPA, who are US citizens or permanent residents, and that submit an application for admission by January 1 will be considered for scholarships. International students are eligible for scholarships during their second year of enrollment, meaning they should apply for scholarships the spring prior to their second year. (Ex: An international student admitted Fall 2017 would complete the current student scholarship application Spring 2017 for scholarships that will be available beginning Fall 2018). Further details about scholarships and their criteria are available on the scholarship website.

Immunization Policy

  • UAB requires that first-time entering students, international students and scholars, and students in health-related schools provide proof of immunization against certain diseases. Because of the nature of their work, students engaged in health professional training programs could have a higher risk of contracting certain diseases.
  • UAB students must satisfy requirements, including immunization requirements, in order to be medically cleared for enrollment. The purpose of the medical clearance process is to ensure a safe and healthy environment on the UAB campus. Medical clearance requirements vary by school and student type. These requirements must be met to avoid having a registration hold placed on your student account. Visit the student health website for more information.

Enrollment/Registration

  • Students in the School of Public Health must be continuously enrolled each term until the completion of their degree unless approved for a leave of absence. Failure to remain consecutively enrolled may result in dismissal from the program requiring a readmission application. If re-admitted, the student will be subjected to the catalog requirements existing at the time of readmission. 
    All registration is conducted online through BlazerNet, the University’s official portal which provides centralized access to information and services that students, faculty, and staff need on a daily basis. BlazerNet will provide you with up-to-date information about UAB news and events to access to class registration, financial aid, grading and much more.
    To register, go to www.uab.edu/blazernet.
  • If you experience registration holds, please contact your department program coordinator. The class schedules are available online only and can be viewed by logging into the UAB BlazerNet Portal.
  • The following course prefixes are assigned to courses offered by the School of Public Health:
    • BST - Biostatistics
    • ENH - Environmental Health Sciences
    • EPI - Epidemiology
    • GHS- Global Health Sciences
    • HB - Health Behavior
    • HCO - Health Care Organization and Policy
    • PUH – General Public Health

Withdrawal from Courses

  • Graduate students are expected to complete courses for which they have registered unless unusual circumstances require withdrawal. The procedures for withdrawal are specified in the UAB Class Schedule.
    • Mere cessation of class attendance does not constitute withdrawal, either academically or for tuition charges. A withdrawal form must be completed and submitted by the date specified by graduate school (typically mid-point within the semester)  
    • A grade of F will be assigned to any student who has not officially withdrawn from a course.
    • Withdrawal from a graduate course will show as a grade of "W" on the transcript. Withdrawal is not possible after the specified time on the academic calendar. A processing fee is charged for schedule changes.

Academic Performance

  • Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 (B average) and overall satisfactory performance on pass/no pass courses to be considered in good academic standing. Satisfactory performance on pass/no pass courses is defined as the earning of at least as many P grades as NP grades combined.

Request for Academic Appeal

  • There is a process by which a student can request an exception to the policy for Registration/Add Course(s), Deadline to Drop, Withdrawal, and Payment Deadline. These requests should have extreme extenuating circumstances and should be the exception rather than the rule. Completion of an Academic Appeal Form is necessary to begin this process. This process is a request not an absolute.

Time Limitations for Degree Completion and Satisfactory Progress

  • The School of Public Health allows a maximum of five years from initial matriculation to complete an MPH, MSPH or MS degree and a maximum of seven years from initial matriculation to complete a DrPH or PhD degree. International students are required to complete their degree in seven (7) semesters. Credits older than five years cannot be counted toward a master’s degree; credits older than seven years cannot be counted toward a doctoral degree. In general, retention in the school is contingent on the faculty’s belief that a student is likely to complete the program in a timely manner. A student must complete the degree requirements within specified time limits or otherwise exhibit satisfactory progress in their academic program to avoid the risk of being dismissed from the program. The request for an extension should include a plan and timeline for completion. Such requests require the approval of the student’s dissertation committee and graduate program director and must be presented in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School for consideration and approval. All such requests must be accompanied by a written and signed Completion Plan. Instructions for preparing a Completion Plan may be downloaded from the Graduate School.

Academic Probation

  • Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to remain in good academic standing. A student who has been in good academic standing, however, at the end of a semester fails to meet the criteria to continue in good academic standing, will be placed on probation. Such a student must re-establish good academic standing within the next two semesters of graduate study undertaken. Students who do not accomplish this level of performance will be academically dismissed from the School of Public Health. In addition, research course work earning more credit hours of NP than P, regardless of grade point average, will be placed on academic probation. NOTE: During a probationary period, students should not receive “I” or “N” grades. Also, a student’s academic advisor can petition the Academic Dean for an extension of the probationary period.

Re-admission after Academic Withdrawal

  • Students dismissed for failing to meet scholastic or other degree requirements are considered withdrawn for academic reasons and will be considered for re-admission only with a written recommendation from the faculty responsible for the program. A written statement from the student’s advisor and department chair justifying a readmission decision should support the student’s written petition for readmission. The statement should clearly set forth conditions that the student must meet in order to establish good academic standing and complete the degree requirements within the required time limits for the degree.

Grading Policies

  • Grading in the School of Public Health is based on a 4.0 scale. The grade of A is used to indicate superior performance; B, for adequate performance; C, for minimally adequate performance. Performance below C is recorded as an F and negatively affects the student’s total quality point rating. Some classes are designated as pass/no pass courses, for which a grade of P (passing) signifies satisfactory work and the grade of NP (not passing) indicates unsatisfactory work. Temporary notations used by the school are N for no grade reported, I for incomplete. The N denotes late or no submission of a grade by the instructor.

Policy for Requesting an Incomplete Grade

  • If unforeseen circumstances affect a student’s ability to complete their course requirements in a given, the student may request from the course instructor a “temporary” grade notation of I (Incomplete) prior to the end of the term. The course instructor has the discretion to consider the request. If the Incomplete grade request is approved, the instructor and student must discuss and agree upon a plan and a schedule for completing the course requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate this discussion and assure completion of course requirements. A Request for Incomplete Grade Form must be completed, signed by the appropriate persons and submitted to the Office of Student and Academic Services. If a “permanent” grade is not reported by the end of the following term, a grade of F will be automatically assigned to replace the I or N. A grade extension may be petitioned to the Academic Dean by written request from the course instructor.

Course Repeat Policy

  • Public Health courses may be repeated using the following guidelines:
    • 1. Only a course with a grade of C or F is eligible for repeat.
    • 2. A course can be repeated only once at UAB.
    • 3. A course taken at UAB earning a grade of C or F that is repeated at UAB will have the credit and GPA of the first course removed and will have the credit and GPA of the second course retained. The UAB transcript will indicate both courses.
    • 4. A course taken at another university, that a student requests be transferred to replace the credit of a C or F graded course at UAB, must have a B or better grade and follow all transfer of credit guidelines. In addition, the GPA will be retained but the credit of the first course dropped and both the credit and GPA retained for the second course. The UAB transcript will show both courses.

 

Cumulative Credits and Grade Point Average (GPA)
Semester Hours Earned

The student’s “semester hours earned” are increased by:

  1. Earning a grade of C or better in a course for which the student was registered on a regular (letter grade) basis, or
  2. Earning a P grade in a course taken on a pass/no pass basis

Semester Hours Attempted
The student’s “semester hours attempted” are increased by:

  1. Earning a grade of A, B, C or F in a course which the student was registered on a regular (letter grade) bases, or
  2. Earning a NP grade in a course taken on a pass/no pass basis.

Quality Points

  • Four quality points are awarded for each semester hour for which the student receives a grade of A, three quality points are awarded for each semester hour in which a B is earned, and two quality points are awarded for each semester hour in which a C is earned. No quality points are earned for F or P grades.

Grade Point Average

  • The grade point average (GPA) is determined by dividing the total quality points awarded by the semester hours attempted. The transcript will show cumulative GPA’s for students who have completed previous graduate work at UAB and those students who are enrolled in dual programs; however to determine the students current academic status the GPA for each program will be calculated separately by each program.

Grade Appeal Policy

The only legitimate basis for appealing a grade assigned for School of Public Health courses are:

  • A belief that an error was made in the determination of the grade; or
  • A belief that a grade was arrived at unfairly or on the basis of inconsistent application among students of the stated evaluation standards.

Should a student believe that either of these circumstances applied and that an appeal is warranted, the following procedures are to be followed:

  • 1. Clarification should be sought from the course instructor in an attempt to resolve the disagreement without further appeal.
  • 2. If the matter cannot be resolved in consultation with the course instructor, the student may submit a written appeal to the Academic Dean requesting consideration of the appeal. Appeals must be submitted within four weeks after the end of the semester when the disputed grade was received. This request should include a description of the basis for the appeal and the failed attempt to resolve it with the instructor. Upon receipt of such a request, the Academic Dean will bear the responsibility to solicit information relevant to the situation from the student and the course instructor, and on the basis of that information to make a determination for or against the appeal. If in the judgment of the Academic Dean there is a legitimate basis for the appeal, the chair of the course instructor’s department will ensure that the assigned grade is appropriately changed.
  • 3. If the Academic Dean determines that there is an insufficient basis for a grade change and rules against the appeal, the student may submit a final written appeal to the Academic Dean requesting him or her to convene a panel of three faculty and one student to consider the appeal and make a recommendation to him or her on its disposition. Similarly, if the Academic Dean rules for the appeal, the instructor may appeal the decision by going through the same process. Based on the recommendation of the panel, the Dean will issue a decision. This decision will be final.
  • 4. Appeals of grades in courses taken outside the School of Public Health will be handled according to the policies and procedures of the schools within which the courses reside. Final disposition of grade appeals for courses in Graduate School programs resides with the Dean of the Graduate School.

School of Public Health Academic Grievance Policy (Procedures followed according to the UAB’s Student Grievances Policy)

  • Student complaints on academic matters are the responsibility of the department and school involved. Normally, such complaints can be resolved quickly through discussion with the involved faculty. In rare situations where such resolution does not occur, the student should contact the chair of the appropriate department to file a formal grievance. The student’s grievance should be submitted in writing and accompanied by any documentation at the earliest possible time. Consideration will not be given to any grievance submitted later than the end of the term immediately following the term in which the matter in question arose. The department should acknowledge the date the grievance is received and notify the student about when an answer may be expected. It is the responsibility of the department chair to provide an answer to the student within 10 working days. If the matter cannot be settled within the department, the student has 10 working days from the day of the department’s response to appeal to the associate dean of the SOPH. The Academic Dean should acknowledge receipt of the student’s appeal and inform the student of the course of action within 10 working days. At the Academic Dean’s discretion, an advisory panel may be appointed to study the disagreement and make a recommendation to the dean. However, it is the responsibility and prerogative of the associate dean to make, in a timely manner, a decision on any academic disputes which have not been resolved at lower levels. The decision of the Academic Dean is final on academic matters.

Transfer of Credit

  • This policy pertains to transfer of credit from other universities, course work taken in other graduate degree programs or course work taken at the UAB School of Public Health as a non-degree seeking student. Previously earned graduate credit (up to 12 semester hours) that has not been applied toward another degree is eligible to transfer into the student’s current degree program if the following criteria are met:
    • An official transcript showing the course work must be on file.
    • Course content information must be provided to determine comparability.
    • The course(s) must be at the graduate level.
    • The course(s) must not have been used to complete another degree.
    • No grades below “B” will be acceptable. All transfers of credit requests must be initiated by the student and require completion of a Request for Transfer of Graduate Credit Form. Transfer of credit, including non-degree credit, cannot take place until one term of course work toward a degree has been completed and/or until probationary status has been removed. Once the transfer of credit has been accepted, it will be included in the grade point average (GPA) calculation in the student’s current program.

Request for Course Substitution

  • The substitution of a “Core”, “Track” or “Elective” course can be requested by the student. The Course Substitution Form must be completed and submitted along with a copy of the course syllabus or course description. The following rules apply for course substitutions:
    • Documentation verifying that the course was not used to complete a previous degree (copy of transcript);
    • Verification that the course is graduate level.
  • If a course substitution is requested for a course taken at another university, a Transfer of Credit will be processed and if accepted will be included in the grade point average (GPA) calculation in the student’s current program.

Request for Course Waiver

  • A course waiver indicates that a course was completed, most likely as part of another degree, but it is felt by the student in consultation with his/her advisor that the student has sufficient knowledge in a particular area and is not required to complete a course that would be redundant. In the case of “core” courses, the core instructor must determine if the student can waive the course. A Course Waiver Form must be submitted with a copy of the course syllabus or course description. Receiving a waiver of a required class does not remove the obligation to earn sufficient credit hours as required for the degree. The deficit in credit hours due to course waiver must be made up by determining course options in consultation with the advisor.

Inter-departmental Change of Status

  • If a matriculated student wishes to transfer into a different department within the School of School of Public Health, they may complete an Interdepartmental Change of Status Form which must be approved and signed by the appropriate persons. New students may request a transfer only after the completion of one term in the department for which the student was admitted. All applicable changes must be indicated on the form and the requested signatures must be included on the form before submitting to the Office of Student and Academic Services for processing. A copy of the student’s file will be forwarded to the department for which the student is requesting a transfer for review. The student and the department will receive notification of the decision.

Intra-departmental Change of Status

  • If a matriculated student wishes to transfer into a new degree, track or change advisors within the same department, the Intradepartmental Change of Status Form must be approved, completed and signed by the appropriate persons. All applicable changes should be indicated on the form and all required departmental signatures should be obtained before returning the form to the Office of Student and Academic Services for processing. The student and the department will receive notification of the decision. Students requesting a change of advisor should complete the Change of Advisor Request Form.

Continuous Enrollment and Leave of Absence

  • All students are expected to remain continuously enrolled throughout his or her course of study unless personal or financial circumstances necessitate a leave of absence. A leave of absence request may be submitted for one semester at a time. If an extension is needed, you must complete a new leave request form. Leave of absence requests will not be approved beyond one semester unless an emergency or extenuating circumstance can be proven. If a leave of absence is approved, it is still the student’s responsibility to complete his or her degree requirements in the time period allotted (maximum of 5 years for masters’ students and a maximum of seven years for doctoral students.) International students are required to complete their degree in seven (7) semesters including annual vacations.
  • Note: the Leave of Absence Request is not official until the form has been received, approved and processed in the Office of Student and Academic Services. Under no circumstances shall students enroll in course work of any kind at UAB or engage in any work toward completion of a degree while on active leave of absence. This would include sitting for comprehensive examinations, being examined for admission to candidacy and defending dissertations.
  • Students enrolled in courses in the School of Public Health or other schools and/or departments on campus or are otherwise engaged in degree-related work, will be considered NOT on a leave and must be enrolled for a minimum of three (3) credit hours applicable to their degree. Records of students who do not obtain written approval for a Leave of Absence and who fail to enroll in courses for one year will be archived by the university student system and the student will be automatically administratively withdrawn from the school. Conversely, students who do not return from an approved leave of absence will be administratively withdrawn. 
  • Whether or not a leave of absence is taken, the school allows a maximum of five years from initial matriculation to complete the MPH, MSPH and MS degrees and a maximum of seven years from initial matriculation to complete the DrPH and PhD degrees. NOTE: International students must complete a leave of absence form in the School of Public Health as well as any required documents in the International Scholars and Students Office when taking their “vacation”.

Administrative Withdrawal

  • Students who would be administratively withdrawn from the School of Public Health fall into the following categories:
  • Students who voluntarily withdraw
  • Students who do not request a leave of absence
  • Students who do not enroll for a one year period and whose records are archived
  • Students who do not return from an approved leave of absence by the designated and approved date.

Administrative Withdrawal

Students who would be administratively withdrawn from the School of Public Health fall into the following categories:
Students who voluntarily withdraw

  • Students who do not request a leave of absence
  • Students who do not enroll for a one year period and whose records are archived
  • Students who do not return from an approved leave of absence by the designated and approved date.

Readmission after Administrative Withdrawal

  • Students may be considered for re-admission into the program to which they were previously admitted in the School of Public Health if it was within the last five (5) years; they were administratively withdrawn, or were accepted within the past year but did not matriculate, and did not request a deferral of matriculation.
  • Note: Students who have attended another university in the interim must provide an official transcript from that school. The Application for Readmission Form must be completed, following all instructions and returned to the Office of Student and Academic Services before re-admission will be considered. If re-admitted, students will be required to meet the degree requirements of the current catalog at the time of re-admission. Credits older than five (5) years cannot be counted toward a master’s degree and credit older than seven (7) years cannot be counted toward a doctoral degree.

Pursuing Two Degrees Concurrently

  • It is against school policy to pursue two-degree programs at the same time unless the programs are approved coordinated/dual programs. Students who wish to pursue a degree other than that for which they were admitted in the School of Public Health must withdraw from the School of Public Health. Students found to be pursuing a second degree without having followed the withdrawal procedure, will be automatically withdrawn from the School of Public Health. Once withdrawn, students may reapply to the School of Public Health but must follow the degree requirements of the catalog in force at the time of readmission.

Public Health School Competencies

Upon graduation, all MPH and DRPH graduates should be s are grounded in foundational public health knowledge. Visit the website with both school-wide and departmental competencies

Download student handbook.