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Office of General Counsel Policies & Guidelines

Admissions : A-015

Policy/Guideline Area

Academic Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

Community Colleges


The following guidelines are intended to facilitate the implementation of TBR Policy 2:03:00:00 (Admissions).


  1. Undergraduate Degree Admission
    1. Minimum High School Unit Requirements
      1. Approved List of High School Courses. Only specific and approved high school courses may be applied to meeting the minimum unit requirements for admission. Because high school curricula may change from time to time, the TBR staff will periodically, after consultation with the State Department of Education, disseminate the current list to each institution. Institutions may propose for consideration high school courses they consider to have been inappropriately omitted.
      2. Issues of Interpretation. To ensure consistency of interpretation and practice, institutions should inform the TBR academic staff of questions raised relative to specific high school courses and the appropriateness of any inclusion or exclusion.
    2. Removal of Admissions Deficiencies
      1. Institutions will develop procedures whereby students admitted without minimum high school unit requirements fulfilled may remove those admissions deficiencies in a timely manner. Minimally, such procedures must ensure that:
        1. Students are notified of how to remove deficiencies.
        2. Students may remove deficiencies in social studies, history, visual/performing arts, science, and geometry/advanced mathematics by completing the appropriate blocks of subject categories in the TBR Forty-One Semester Hour General Education Curriculum.  Courses taken to remove deficiencies in the affected subjects also apply toward fulfillment of general education requirements.
        3. Students who have deficiencies in English or Algebra are subject to applicable provisions governing Developmental Studies.  These provisions are identified in Guideline A-100.
        4. Students may remove deficiencies of one or two units of a single foreign language through completion of an approved semester course in a single foreign language for each unit deficiency as specified by the collegiate institution or by providing documentation of satisfactory completion of the foreign language of the foreign language requirement through an approved examination or equivalent course work at another institution. In university or community college programs that include foreign language as a required component, the deficiency(ies) may be removed through successful completion of the prescribed curriculum. Otherwise, coursed used to complete deficiencies in foreign language may be designated as electives and apply toward degree requirements or, in certain coursed of study with restricted ranges of electives, will become add-on hours. Community college students who plan to transfer to Tennessee Board of Regents universities are encouraged to remove deficiencies prior to matriculation.
        5. Students whose primary language is not English will be deemed to have satisfied the minimum unit requirements in foreign language if they demonstrate proficiency in English through achieving satisfactory scores on the TOFEL Examination or other recognized instrument as designated by the collegiate institution.
  2. Graduate Degree Admission
    1. Institutions should establish requirements for all categories of graduate admission and determine the means by which students move from one category to another.
      1. International students should only be admitted to admission categories in compliance with federal regulations.
    2. Graduate administrative units may establish either fixed or rolling date admissions based on institutional or specific program needs.
      1. Whereas applicants have until April 15 to accept offers of financial assistance per the CGS Resolution Regarding Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistants, institutions must notify students of both admission and financial support decisions.
    3. Materials for Admission
      1. Undergraduate Degree
        1. Individual institutions may opt to accept applicants to graduate studies with an awarded traditional four year undergraduate degree or three year undergraduate degrees awarded in keeping with the Bologna Process.   
      2. Transcripts
        1. For evaluation purposes only, institutions may accept unofficial copies of the applicant’s transcript(s) faxed from the undergraduate institution. Admission decisions made based on unofficial transcripts should be considered as provisional or tentative pending receipt of     official copies of the transcript(s) within a specified time frame. 
      3. Standardized Examination Scores
        1. Standardized tests should be considered with a holistic evaluation not as a cut-off score to determine admission. 
        2. Individual institutions may determine in the case of multiple test administrations for a single test, the mechanism by which the institution will approach the interpretation of score and use it consistently with all applicants.
        3. Standardized tests are not necessarily equivalent and therefore comparison of scores across tests should only occur if the testing guidelines provide equivalency scales.
      4. Proof of English Competency
        1. International transcripts that are not in English should have a certified literal, not interpretive, English translation and the institutions should have a mechanism by which the degree equivalency, grading system, and the quality of instruction are evaluated.
        2. Institutions offering courses in English for international student may modify academic loads to allow for concurrent language training thus allowing the institution to consider applicants with lower range score on English language proficiency.
      5. Other Required Application Materials
        1. In order to understand the applicant’s background and capabilities to pursue a graduate degree, additional materials may be required including a personal statement, writing samples, resume, portfolio or examples of student work. Interviews or auditions may also be required.
    4. Admission of Undergraduate Students to Graduate Courses
      1. Institutions may grant permission to undergraduate students with exceptional academic backgrounds to take not more than 15 hours of graduate coursework as part of their undergraduate experience. The institution may determine if graduate hours taken while an undergraduate will count toward graduate credit upon graduation.
    5. Admission of Transfer Graduate Students
      1. In keeping with best practices in graduate education, the number of hours permitted as transfer credits should be limited. Courses where a grade lover than a B was earned should not be transferred. Materials required for the evaluation of equivalency and the procedure as to how and when this will occur should be clearly established.
      2. For masters programs, a limited number of hours ranging from 6 to 12 semester credit hours may be considered for evaluation for courses equivalency. For doctoral programs, an average of six semester credit hours is generally acceptable with a petition for course equivalency. The doctoral transfer student should be required to take at minimum, a comprehensive examination to candidacy at the new institution. International students seeming to transfer credit from joint or dual degree programs may transfer additional hours on a course-by-course basis at the discretion of the academic program.
      3. Graduate coursework completed at another institution should not be accepted for transfer credit if it does not fall within the time-to-degree requirements or less than at the new institution.
    6. Admission of Non-Degree Students to Graduate Programs
      1. Academic programs may restrict non-degree student matriculation in graduate programs or specific courses.
    7. Continuous Enrollment and Residency
      1. Academic units may make the determination to require fulltime, continuous enrollment or longer residency periods in excess institutional requirements.



T.C.A. § 49-8-203


Presidents Meeting of November 1990; Presidents Meeting, November 8, 2006; Presidents Meeting, May 16, 2007; Presidents meeting, August 19, 2008; Presidents Meeting February 2, 2016.

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