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How to Complete Your Academic Program by Its Deadline

By Loren Germann-McClain
Senior Academic Advisor II

and Emily Ludeman
Team Manager, School of STEM

Does this adage ring true for you? “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.”

The pressure of an approaching deadline can be highly motivating. What student hasn’t crammed late at night for a test or written an entire paper at the last minute?

Writing a paper or another smaller assignment at the last minute is possible, but it might not yield the best results. And when it comes to meeting the deadline for certificate or degree completion, long term-planning and consistent progress is essential.

Take a moment right now to check your program’s deadline, which can be found at the top of the Academic Plan page in your ecampus. That date begins with the start date of the first course in your program. Your academic program deadline officially begins when you make it past the first week of your very first course, which is called your initial enrollment date.

Our Academic Programs Have Set Deadlines for Completion

At the University, we are deeply committed to helping you reach the goal of graduation. We also know your life is full and requires flexibility.

To align with higher education and accreditation standards, our academic programs have a set amount of time for completion:

  • Certificates have a three-year deadline
  • The bachelor of nursing degree has a five-year deadline
  • Associate and master’s degrees have seven-year deadlines
  • Bachelor’s degrees have 10-year deadlines

The imposed time limit encourages student persistence and aligns with higher education standards. Program deadlines help hold you accountable for your academic process, but we also understand that life happens and sometimes there just isn’t enough time to finish your program by its assigned deadline. Don’t worry, Academic Advising is here to help!

At traditional brick-and-mortar universities, academic programs must be completed in four years or less. However, our extended program deadlines are intended to provide you with adequate time to devote time to your studies, but also attend to the responsibilities of your career and family life.

Related link: Keeping Your Motivation in Online Classes During the Holidays

It’s Best to Understand the Ins and Outs of Your Academic Program Requirements

Understanding the ins and outs of your academic program requirements can help you maintain momentum as you work through your program. Academic Advising is also here to remind you if your program deadline is drawing near.

Whether your academic program deadline is fast approaching or not, deciding on a realistic course pace each year is helpful. For example, successful completion of 12 courses per year would allow for completion of a bachelor’s degree in under four years.

When there are only six months left in your academic program, an online registration block is entered into your student ecampus to further emphasize the connection with your Academic Advisor. Our team can assist with manual registration for your remaining classes and verify that your status will be active through the conferral process. It’s also a time when the Senior Academic Advisor can assist with a deadline extension if you need one.

If you would like to review the maximum time allowed for extensions based on your program level, please check out the Program Deadline Overview resource in the Success Center. Your academic program deadline may be extended up to 25% of the initial program length.

Within a year of the program deadline is also the time when our Academic Advisors can assess the pros and cons of entering the current catalog version of your degree. Entering the current catalog can reset your program deadline and grade point average GPA, and it can also initiate a new credit evaluation.

Our program deadlines allow a generous amount of time for completing your classes, but if the degree requirements have changed since your initial enrollment, you could incur a loss of academic credits. Our goal as Academic Advisors is to assist you with the option that best suits your schedule, allows for academic success and lays out a clear path to graduation.

The date at the top of your academic plan is meant to encourage your progress and make sure you are mindful of long-term registration planning. Your completion plan is the most significant element to program deadline planning.

You know your schedule best. Consider what kind of registration pace is sustainable and allows for academic success. For instance, you could pursue two courses in the spring, then pursue another course in the fall to better fit your schedule.

Related link: 5 Essential Tips for Your First College Class

Academic Advising Is Here to Help You

Consistent progress will only help you. As your program deadline approaches, your Academic Advisors are here to help with anything from double-checking prerequisites and course availability to confirming you’re on track for conferral with an active status.

Academic Advising is here to support your academic goals and provide you with clear guidance on the best option for your circumstances. We want to help you finish the plan you put in place when you started and watch you reach your goal of graduation! Please reach out when you have questions or concerns, as we’re always happy to help you.  

About the Authors

Loren Germann-McClain is in her third year as a Senior Academic Advisor II. Loren holds an M.A. in English – Rhetoric and Composition from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, as well as an M.A. in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University.

Emily Hinton is a Team Manager in her 11th year with STEM Advising and has worked directly with students for six years. Emily completed a bachelor of arts in political science at Longwood University, a master of public administration in environmental policy from American Public University, and a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration – Policy, Planning, and Leadership at William & Mary.

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