Jul 15, 2024  
2016-2017 Course Catalog 
2016-2017 Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Degree Requirements

Bachelor’s Degree

Graduate Degree  


Bachelor’s Degree

To complete a baccalaureate degree at the University of Saint Joseph, a student must have met these requirements:

  1. Completion of a minimum of 120 semester hours of course work contingent upon requirement of major (the equivalent of four years of full-time study). These hours can include a combination of courses at the University of Saint Joseph or within the Consortium.
  2. A minimum GPA of 2.00 (a C average in all work completed). Some majors or programs may require a higher GPA.
  3. The residency requirement of earning 45 credits from the University of Saint Joseph. The last 24 credits counted toward a degree must be taken at the University of Saint Joseph. Internships or study undertaken at Consortium institutions are considered part of the residency requirement.
  4. Completion of a comprehensive examination
  5. General Education requirements
  6. Critical Writing and Reasoning Portfolio requirements

See Program for Adult Learners  for degree requirements in that program

Critical Writing and Reasoning Portfolio

The USJ Critical Writing & Reasoning Portfolio Program is a nationally recognized program designed to ensure that students graduate with a proficiency in writing and critical thinking. Students submit examples of their strongest writing, which is then assessed by faculty. Along with a portfolio score, faculty readers provide each student with a synopsis of the strengths and weaknesses of the portfolio so that the student understands how to improve the writing. The feedback provides specific information as well as begins a conversation with the student, rather than simply to provide a numerical score. The program is unique among colleges and universities.

The process begins in sophomore year, when students are automatically enrolled in the Blackboard platform according to number of credits or projected graduation date. The same process applies to transfer students. 

Starting in the 2016 spring semester, all portfolios are evaluated using the TARGET critical thinking rubric (available in the USJ bookstore, but also used by many faculty across campus). Each student must earn a B- average on the critical thinking portion (understanding, evaluation, complexity, logic) and score of “sufficient” on the lower-order elements (organization, style, correctness, documentation) on two papers to pass the portfolio requirement. When students earn those scores on two papers, they pass the requirement and no longer have to submit work.

Students have multiple opportunities to revise their work according to faculty feedback. Students may resubmit, or submit new work after each evaluation. Students earning a B+ receive an award of Distinction, and students earning an A receive the rare President’s Award for Critical Thinking and Writing, and an official note on their academic transcript.

Portfolios are read between September and May. The portfolio is a graduation requirement. Students who have not passed the requirement prior to the May Commencement may not participate in Commencement ceremonies.

For more information, check https://my.usj.edu/ics/IWR/Portfolio.jnz and download the Writing Portfolio Quick Reference Guide.

Second Bachelor’s Degree

Students from regionally accredited institutions who would like to complete a second bachelor’s degree must meet these conditions:

  • Departmental requirements for a major
  • A minimum of 30 credits beyond the first bachelor’s degree
  • A comprehensive examination
  • A minimum of a 2.00 GPA at all times. Some majors or programs may require a higher GPA at all times.

Second degree students are not eligible for academic honors at graduation.

GPA to Graduate

In addition to any department requirements, all undergraduate students must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 (2.80 for Nursing) or better to graduate.

Application for a Degree

An undergraduate student must complete a degree application, degree audit, critical reasoning and writing portfolio, and then pay the graduation fee for the University to assess eligibility for graduation. Applications, audits, and fees should be submitted together to the degree auditor in the Office of the Registrar by the deadline indicated in the Registrar’s section of MyUSJ. Writing portfolio information will be submitted by the Center for Academic Excellence. Degree applications and audits can be found on MyUSJ.


A student must complete the requirements for a certificate program of study with a minimum Grade Point Average of 2.67 and file an application for certificate completion through the Office of the Registrar by the deadline dates posted on MyUSJ.

Time to Degree

Requirements for the degree should be completed within six years from the date of matriculation. The appropriate department chair may grant an extension for completion of the degree.

Graduation with Honors

Degrees with honors are awarded on the basis of cumulative GPA alone with no other evaluative process. These academic honors are awarded:

Summa cum laude: 3.90 and above
Magna cum laude: 3.80 and above
Cum laude: 3.70 and above


Degrees are granted three times in the academic year: December, May and August. One Commencement ceremony occurs in May, allowing all degree and certificate recipients to participate:

  • An undergraduate student who has already completed the Writing Portfolio requirement and who will, according to the Degree Audit process, complete remaining degree requirements by the end of a summer session in August (including, course, credit hour and all other undergraduate requirements) may apply for August graduation and participate in the preceding May Commencement ceremony. The student’s name will be listed in the Commencement program alphabetically by academic program and called in normal rotation at Commencement.
  • Writing portfolios are read between September and May. Students who have not submitted their papers for the writing portfolio requirement by the submission date established by the Center for Academic Excellence will normally not be eligible for May or August degree conferral. Students who have not passed the writing portfolio prior to the May Commencement may not participate in the May Commencement ceremonies or graduate in May.