Alternative Methods of Earning Credit

Course by Contract

Students who have been accepted to a graduate degree program and are in good standing may request to take a course by contract by contacting the department offering the course. The instructor must be a member of the university’s graduate faculty, and the course must be among those already approved by the university.  Courses may be taken by contract only if they are not offered in the regular schedule during the semester involved.

Under this option, a graduate faculty member provides the student with a course outline, bibliography, and a statement of responsibilities and dates by which these are to be met. The number of student-instructor conferences, the type of evaluation, and the culminating activity is determined by the faculty member and the student prior to registration for the course. These requirements must be filed with the department chair. Before initiating a graduate course by contract, the student must register for the course using the Individual Graduate Study Application form. This form must be signed by the instructor, the department chair, and the school dean by the Individual Study Application deadline.

Course Challenge

A course challenge may be used to request university credit for a Buffalo State course when the course objectives and student learning outcomes have been previously met. Each department determines whether credit for a successful course challenge may be applied to the major.

The following rules apply:

  1. A student must be matriculated to challenge a course.
  2. Department determines challenge method, which may include but is not limited to examination, portfolio, performance, or presentation.
  3. No credit will be awarded when the challenged course duplicates a course for which credit has already been earned (except in a specific case of repeatable course), a course for which a grade has already been earned, or a course in which a student is currently enrolled.
  4. Credit earned will be recorded as credit (CR) only rather than as a grade.
  5. A student may not receive more than 6 graduate credits through course challenge.
  6. The grade grievance policy can be invoked by a student who wishes to appeal an unsuccessful course challenge.

Cross Registration

SUNY Cross-Registration Agreement is for active matriculated graduate level students who wish to cross-register at another SUNY campus. Cross-Registration is available in fall and spring semesters and on a limited basis in summer and J-term. Transcripts are forwarded automatically to Buffalo State at the end of the semester. Courses are recorded as credits earned (credit hours count toward program completion and final grades count in cumulative GPA). Students participating in cross-registration at another SUNY college or university are charged tuition and fees by Buffalo State. Cross-registration eligibility is determined by a SUNY application.

Detailed information about cross-registration can be on the Registrar's website.

Independent Study (XXX 590)

Independent study provides an opportunity for a student to pursue a topic that may be covered only briefly or not at all in a regular course offering. Independent study is never a substitute for a regular course.

Independent study may be offered by any member of the university’s graduate faculty. All independent study is listed by the appropriate content area prefix and the number 590 (e.g., CRJ 590). A maximum of 6 credit hours of independent study may be included in a master’s degree program.

Students must register for graduate-level independent study by completing the Individual Graduate Study Application. The application must include a written paragraph describing the proposed course, including the purpose, objectives, method of instruction (e.g., readings, individual consultations with instructor, etc.), and method of evaluation (e.g., research paper, examination, etc.). The application must be signed by the instructor, the department chair, and the school dean by the Individual Study Application deadline.

Internship (XXX 688)

An internship is a credit-bearing or non-credit bearing applied learning experience where a student receives structured workplace activities that align with the major or area of interest.  The minimum required GPA for a graduate student to register for an internship course is 3.00.

Special Topics (XXX 587/687)

Special topics provide the opportunity for in-depth study and examination of rapidly and significantly changing disciplinary issues, topics, or practices, and may be used to accommodate requests of external agencies or the specialized resources of visiting faculty members.  A maximum of 6 credit hours of special topics may be included in a master’s degree program.

Workshops (XXX 594), Conferences (XXX 596), and Microcourses (XXX 598)

Workshops, conferences, and microcourses are graduate courses offered—at variable times and places—on particular themes outside the usual schedule of classes. These courses also carry variable credit. Special topics emphasize an in-depth examination of rapidly and significantly changing disciplinary issues, topics, or practices. Workshops emphasize process and implementation of theory, and they involve participants in the accomplishment of individualized objectives on a specific theme. Conferences emphasize a unique, one-time experience on a given theme. Microcourses offer intensive instruction with a specific, limited objective. A maximum of 6 credit hours of workshops, conferences, and microcourses may be included in a master’s degree program.