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Section III: Graduate Nursing Policies & Requirements

Academic Advising

At the time of admission, each M.S., Post Graduate Certificate and DNP student is assigned to the Assistant Director of Nursing Student Services, Graduate Nursing for academic guidance.

The Ph.D. student is assigned to a major advisor who will serve as the faculty advisor to the student following the admission interview. The academic adviser will also collaborate and assist the student throughout the program.

The M.S. Option B (project) or C (coursework only) student does not select a major adviser but is guided for advising purposes by the assistant director of nursing student services, graduate nursing (academic adviser) and the the M.S. specialization coordinator.

The M.S. Option A (thesis) student selects a qualified faculty member to serve as the thesis adviser. The DNP student selects a qualified faculty member to serve as the student's DNP project chair. The faculty selected must have graduate faculty status according to program guidelines.

Students are expected to contact their academic advisor at least once per semester. Students have the right to petition the Graduate Admissions and Scholastic Standards Committee in writing to change their academic advisor.

It is the responsibility of the academic advisor to:

  • advise the student concerning the selection of course work;
  • assist in planning and submitting the program of study;
  • provide counsel in other matters pertinent to successful completion of graduate study;
  • monitor the progress of the student and report as needed to the Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing;
  • advise the student with regard to t he selection of committee members;
  • assist the student to submit the Graduate School request for appointment of committee members including the graduate faculty representative;

For M.S. option A (thesis), DNP students and Ph.D. students only:

  • the thesis committee chair, the DNP project chair(s) or the Ph.D. dissertation chair will be the person who will chair the final oral examination.

Committee Chair/Project Chair/Dissertation Chair Selection Schedule:


Program Option

Selection Timeline

Masters *Option A (thesis) OnlyNurse Administrator Nurse Educator FNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Enrollment in N670
Doctor of Nursing Practice (Bachelor's to DNP) Family Nurse Practitioner Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Enrollment in N850
Doctor of Nursing Practice (Master's to DNP) All options Enrollment in N850
Ph.D. All options First semester of coursework

Advising: Scholarly Project Guidelines

Graduate students in the College of Nursing may complete a scholarly project (thesis, M.S. project, DNP project or dissertation) depending on the graduate nursing program, degree option or specialization.

Refer to specific program handbook under which the student is admitted.

Changes in Specialization

M.S. in Nursing Students

When students are admitted to the M.S. Degree in Nursing program, they are admitted to one specialization. Students wishing to change specializations must submit the Student Request for Change of Program or Specialization form (Appendix A) to the College of Nursing associate dean for academic programs. Changes in specialization are considered for the Nurse Educator, Nurse Administrator, Clinical Nurse Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Contact your academic advisor for assistance prior to the submission of the form.

If a current M.S. in Nursing student requests to change to the Nurse Practitioner option, the student will be required to complete a new Graduate Nursing program application (via NursingCAS) and complete the interview process.

Requests to change to a nurse practitioner option are only considered during the annual application cycle. If approved, a change of plan of study form must also be completed.

DNP Students

When students are admitted to the DNP Degree program, they are admitted to one specialization. A change in specialization requires the student to submit the Student Request for Change of Program or Specialization form (Appendix A) to the College of Nursing associate dean for academic programs. Contact your academic advisor for assistance prior to the submission of the form.

If approved, a Change of Plan of Study form must also be completed.

Ph.D. Students: Not applicable

NOTE: Students who desire to change degree programs are required to complete a new application to that program.

Clinical Information

Clinical Setting Selection

  1. Faculty members select student practicum sites and preceptors based on feasibility of achieving specified learning outcomes.
  2. Student input into selection of a clinical area or facility may be solicited for some courses.
  3. In order to obtain specific clinical experiences to meet course objectives, students may be required to travel to clinical settings in a variety of geographic settings. Students should be aware of the possibility of direct and indirect expenses associated with such travel.
  4. In order to maximize learning outcomes, students may be required to travel to distant or out-of-state clinical sites.

Student refusal to accept a clinical site may result in the student’s inability to complete the clinical hours requirement – which may delay and/or impede progress in the program plan of study.

The planning process for student clinical placement begins upon acceptance to the SDSU graduate nursing program. Student's continued employment (even as PRN staff) eases the process of preceptor placement. Keeping this in mind will be helpful as you make decisions regarding employment while continuing your education.

Specific Requirements for students during Experiences in Facilities

  1. Professional apparel
    Professional apparel that meets agency guidelines is expected. Conservative and professional dress clothing and a lab coat are the norm. No jeans or shorts or running shoes or bare midriff or low-cut clothing are allowed then representing SDSU in an agency as a student.
  2. Agency policies / student interaction
    The student will work within the policies of the agency and maintain a constructive relationship with the agency.
  3. Student health information
    The student is required to supply health information to facilities as requested, including but not limited to that required by Veteran's Administration and Indian Health Service facilities.
  4. Student Identification
    1. ALL students (for ALL programs) will be required to have the following:
      1. MyJacks ID card
      2. Student Photo ID badge (First name and program name)
        1. The pin will have a blue background with white letters and the following designation:
          1. First Name, (Last Initial), RN
          2. SDSU Graduate Student
    2. Family Nurse Practitioner students will also be required to have the following:
      1. SDSU College of Nursing – FNP Student Photo ID Badge

When in clinical areas, Family Nurse Practitioner students must wear the photo ID badge which will identify them as South Dakota State University FNP graduate nursing students.

The ID cards are obtained from Card Services (online). The Graduate Nursing office will mail both badges to students. The initial cards are provided at no charge; replacements costs are the responsibility of the student.

The graduate student's name pin is worn only when the student is participating in or involved in experiences related to the graduate student role.

Student Personal Expenses

The student is responsible for all personal expenses related to clinical experiences. This includes, but is not limited to, transportation, hotel lodging, meals, etc.

Additional Student Charges for Faculty Site Visits

Selected courses will require a faculty member visit to the student’s practicum site.

  • Students whose practicum site(s) are within the state of South Dakota or <200 miles from Brookings, Rapid City or Sioux Falls will not be required to pay additional charges.
  • Students whose practicum site(s) are outside the state of South Dakota or > 200 miles from Brookings, Rapid City or Sioux Falls will be required to pay for faculty travel to the site(s) for 1 – 3 visits per semester including:
    • airfare or mileage (or both if a rental car is required)
    • motel for the number of nights required
    • rental car fees
    • the student may also choose to travel to Brookings or Sioux Falls to do the “site visit” and pay their own travel expenses to their home campus.

Should a student fail a site visit thus requiring additional follow-up visit(s) by faculty, the student will be responsible for all associated travel expenses for the repeat visit(s).

Compliance Requirements

All undergraduate, Master's, Post Graduate Certificate, Ph.D. and DNP students are required to submit SDSU College of Nursing compliance documents. Documents must be submitted by the stated deadlines for each program.

Non-compliance with document submission (by stated deadlines) will result in the following:

  • a registration hold will be placed on future course registration until the student is in compliance,
  • the student will not be allowed to participate in clinical experiences until in compliance and
  • each absence will be considered unexcused.

To better serve our students, the SDSU College of Nursing partners with CastleBranch (formerly to manage the students' health compliance documents. The management system allows students to meet the requirements of the agencies where they fulfill the clinical requirements of their course work with ease by uploading required documents from their own personal computer or device.

What does this partnership mean for students?

  • Secure upload of immunization records and other compliance documents
  • Electronic access to your documents 24/7 while in the program, and continuing long after graduation
  • Email reminders for those requirements not yet completed or with approaching renewal deadlines
  • Easy and comprehensive way to complete background checks and drug screening

Once admitted to your Nursing program, you will be given a package code and instructions to order your Certified Profile through CastleBranch.

Do not send compliance documentation to the College of Nursing. All compliance records must be uploaded into your online Certified Profile. Records can also be faxed or sent via mail to your Certified Profile. If you need assistance, please call CastleBranch at 888-914-7279.

The Graduate Compliance Requirements are program specific (see below):

Student Responsibility to Report Offenses

Students in the Graduate Nursing program are required to report offenses, including but not limited to those listed below, to the assistant director of nursing student services within 48 hours of the offense.

Failure to report may result in disciplinary action and affect student status in the program.

  • Convictions, guilty plea, no contest plea or receipt of a suspended imposition of sentence for a felony or other criminal offense (excluding minor traffic violations).
  • Pending criminal prosecution against you which could constitute a felony.
  • Treatment (post admission and for duration of nursing program) for abuse/misuse of any alcohol or chemical substance to the extent that your ability to practice as a nurse would be impaired.
  • Physical, emotional or mental condition that has endangered the health and/or safety of persons entrusted in your care.

Course Expiration

(Advanced: Pathophysiology, Physical Assessment, Pharmacology for non-certified APRN students)

Graduate Nursing Policy #G4380

Guidelines for the expiration of coursework in the “3P” courses (Pathophysiology, Pharmacology and Physical Assessment) for Graduate Nursing Students who are not currently certified as an APRN.

Students must have current knowledge and skills to be competent in these areas. Students may not enroll in a practicum course if the length of time for each of the three courses listed above exceeds 5 years. Additionally, in accordance with the Consensus Model, each of these three courses must contain a lifespan component.

  1. Students who are admitted to the Graduate Nursing Program of study will have a plan of study on file which demonstrates the appropriate timeline for each of these three courses.
  2. Students who transfer in coursework from another institution will provide evidence of a Family or Lifespan component for each of the “3P” courses. In addition, the coursework needs to be completed no later than 5 years from the enrollment in the 1st practicum course.
  3. Students who choose to unenroll from the plan of study will be notified of this policy.
  4. If a student exceeds the 5-year statute of limitations for any of the “3P” courses, the student will need to repeat the course which has expired prior to enrolling in a practicum course.

Dress Code Guidelines

Practicum/Clinical/Lab Attire

  • Men’s and women’s pants should be no shorter than ankle length and they should not touch the ground. Leggings should not be worn as pants.
  • If skirts/dresses/tunics are worn, they must be no shorter than just above the knee.
  • No wearing of clothing items that are transparent, midriffs, low cut tops, tank tops/camisoles and no exposed undergarments with the exception of men’s white crew neck t-shirt. No clothing with graphic designs or any clothing that may be considered disrespectful.
  • Closed toes shoes and stockings must be worn. Sandals and high heel shoes are not acceptable.
  • Lab coats and name/picture badges must be worn.
  • Clothing or jewelry that may dangle or hang low, such as bulky scarves or cardigans with wide collars, bangle bracelets or long necklaces is not allowed.
  • Hair should be worn above the collar and off the face or pulled back into a ponytail in clinical situations that warrant this such as while performing or observing sterile procedures.
  • Engagement and wedding rings may be worn, however, may need to be removed when safety or infection control is a concern. There is a limit of one ring worn per hand.
  • Clean-shaven or a neatly trimmed beard or mustache is acceptable.
  • Fingernails should be clean, short, neatly trimmed, and unpolished. The definition of "short" is that when you look from the palm side of the hand you should not see the fingernail.
  • All body and facial piercing jewelry should be removed when in clinical or lab.
  • If removal of pierced jewelry is not an option and the reason is justified, the jewelry will need to be covered. Ear piercing is the exception to this rule. Small stud earrings may be worn with a limit of two per ear. No dangling or hoop earrings.
  • Tattoos should be covered as much as possible.
  • Clinical site policies supersede College of Nursing policies if more stringent.


Nursing Delivery and Program Fees

While enrolled in graduate study within the College of Nursing, the student is required to pay a special  Board of Regents approved graduate nursing delivery fee and a nursing program fee per credit  registered. The fee is used for a variety of expenses in delivering the graduate courses, e.g., faculty travel to clinical sites within 75 miles of campus, faculty travel to classes in Sioux Falls, special supplies, independent study materials, and special lab equipment. The fee is evaluated annually and will change  depending upon the costs of the program. This fee is paid in addition to other regular University fees.

Grades and Degree/Progression Requirements

Students must meet SDSU Graduate School Admission, Progression and Graduate Standards, and are responsible for meeting admission criteria and prerequisite courses required for progression in the Graduate Nursing program.


Per the Graduate School catalog (Grades), no credit is given toward a graduate degree for any grade below ‘C’ in 500, 600, 700 or 800 level courses.

A student must earn a B or higher in each graduate nursing course to progress in the graduate nursing program. There is no rounding of grades in graduate nursing courses. If a C or lower is earned, the course must be repeated. SDSU Graduate Nursing Grading Policy #G4230.

Grading Scale

  • A = 91 to 100
  • B = 81 to <91
  • C = 71 to <81
  • D = 61 to <71
  • F = <61

To pass a clinical course, a student must earn a grade of ‘B’ or higher in both the didactic and the clinical portion. If a ‘C’ or lower is earned in a required course, the course must be repeated in order to progress in the plan of study.

Per BOR Policy 2:8:3D: Repeated Courses: All courses taken appear on the student’s academic record, but when a course is repeated, only the most recent grade is calculated into the cumulative GPA. This policy applies to both the undergraduate and graduate coursework.

Relative to the number of repeats allowed:

  1. A student may enroll in a graduate course (for which credit it granted only once) no more than two times without permission of the Dean of the Graduate School.
  2. A student will be allowed unlimited enrollments in a graduate course for which credit toward graduation may be received more than once. An institution may limit the number of credit hours for courses that may be taken more than once that apply toward the requirements for a major.

The student will be required to complete the Request for Program Readmission and/or Course Re-Enrollment form. The academic advisor will assist the student to complete/submit the form. 

A student who fails a course due to unsafe practice in a clinical experience will not be eligible for readmission to the nursing practicum courses unless evidence is submitted that the unsafe behaviors have been corrected.

Academic Progression

The criteria and processes for progression towards a program or degree completion is found in Graduate Nursing Policy #G4280: Graduate Student Academic Progression. The Graduate Nursing policy on Academic Progression is two-fold in that it includes both the over-arching Graduate School policy and Graduate Nursing specific components as identified below:

Graduate School Policy

The SDSU Graduate Nursing Program adheres to the Graduate School Academic Performance and Progression.

Graduate Nursing Program Policy

The Graduate Nursing Program requires the following additional criteria for progression:

  1. Students are required to successfully complete each course in their respective Program Plan of Study. Successful completion is defined as completing the required course with a grade of ‘B’ or higher.
  2. Students who do not successfully complete the required course(s) will be required to repeat the course(s) in order to progress in the program.
  3. A student may enroll in a required graduate course (for which credit is granted only once) no more than two (2) times without permission of the Dean of the Graduate School (per Graduate School policy). Withdrawal from a course(s) is counted towards the number of enrollments in the course(s). Repeated course enrollment is based on space availability in the course.
  4. All students who interrupt continuous registration (excluding summer semester) which will effect progression in the program are required to complete and submit the following documents for review and consideration by the Graduate Nursing Department (Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing, Graduate Admissions Committee Chair, Assistant Director, Nursing Student Services):
    1. Graduate Nursing Program Application for Program Readmission (located in D2L NUR 114) In addition, students who have failed to successfully complete a required course or courses, will be required to complete the following:
    2. Graduate Nursing Program Student Academic Plan for Success * (located in D2L, NUR 114) *this will be completed in collaboration with the academic advisor
  5. All undergraduate and graduate nursing students are expected to adhere to the tenets and principles of the current edition of the Code of Ethics for Nurses from the American Nurses Association. The Code of Ethics for Nurses communicates a standard of professional behavior expected throughout the total program and in each individual nursing course. Therefore, in addition to dismissal fro academic failure, the faculty and administration of the Department of Undergraduate Nursing and the Department of Graduate Nursing reserve the right to dismiss any student enrolled in  either the undergraduate or graduate program for unethical, dishonest, illegal or other conduct that is inconsistent with the Code of Ethics for Nurses.

Requests are reviewed each semester and decisions made based on space availability and academic performance.

All undergraduate and graduate nursing students are expected to adhere to the tenets and principles of  the current edition of the Code of Ethics for Nurses from the American Nurses Association. The Code of Ethics for Nurses communicates a standard of professional behavior expected throughout the total  program and in each individual nursing course. Therefore, in addition to dismissal for academic failure,  the faculty and administration of the Departments of Undergraduate Nursing and of Graduate Nursing reserve the right to dismiss any student enrolled in either the undergraduate or graduate program for unethical, dishonest, illegal or other conduct that is inconsistent with the Code of Ethics for Nurses.

Students as Research Participants

Policy #C1970

All research projects that include recruiting students as study participants shall be approved by the College of Nursing (CON) Research Committee and the University Institutional Review Board (IRB). The Research Committee meets monthly during the 9- month academic year. Project proposals that include students as study participants must be submitted to the Research Committee Chair at least 2 weeks prior to the next scheduled monthly meeting to be included in the agenda for review.

  1. The principal investigator (PI) will submit the research proposal to the CON Research Committee ideally before submitting the proposal to the IRB. The proposal must include background, methods (sample, design, statistical analysis and timeline), instruments, recruitment materials and informed consent documents.
  2. The CON Research Committee will review the proposal for student research activity burden for approval.
    1. Student participation in research is voluntary, and no course credit or waiving on any course assignments in exchange for study participation is permitted.
  3. The Research Committee Chair will provide written notice of approval, decline to approve with rationale, or pending approval with request for additional information, within 1 week after the scheduled committee meeting in which the proposal was discussed.
  4. SDSU IRB. Information about conducting research with human participants can be found on the SDSU Research and Economic Development Website.

Pre-Requisite Courses

  1. An approved statistics course (completed within 5 years of admission to the program) is prerequisite to NURS 626: Research Methods for Advanced Practice Nursing.
  2. NURS 615: Advanced Practice Nursing: Introduction to Roles and Issues is prerequisite or concurrent to all nursing courses.
  3. NURS 623: Pathophysiology Applied to Advanced Practice Nursing, if required in the chosen specialization, is prerequisite to NURS 631: Advanced Assessment Across the Lifespan.
  4. NURS 631: Advanced Assessment Across the Lifespan, if required in the chosen specialization, must be completed prior to any practicum course.
  5. PHA 645: Pharmacotherapeutics Across the Lifespan: Application to Advanced Practice, if required in the chosen specialization, must be completed prior to any practicum course.


Graduate Nursing Policy #G4390

Transcripts are not required for the Graduate Nursing Program unless the previously enrolled student has completed coursework at non-SDSU institutions prior to reapplying for admission. The material will be reviewed by the Graduate Nursing Admissions and Scholastic Standards Committee and a readmission decision to the College of Nursing Graduate Program will be made on a space available basis. Previous coursework must be current or updated following Graduate School Policies and updated specific program compliance requirements will be required for students inactive for 12 months or greater. If a previously enrolled student has an enrollment lapse of 12 months or greater, a new application must be completed and submitted to both the SDSU Graduate School and the Graduate Nursing Program (via NursingCAS).

Specialization Coordinators

The SDSU graduate nursing program provides for specialization coordinators for graduate nursing students. These coordinators function as the primary contact person for students regarding selected program or program specialization specific questions. M.S. program coordinators include the M.S. nurse educator coordinator, M.S. clinical nurse leader coordinator and M.S. nurse administrator coordinator. The Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Coordinator serves as a link for both M.S. and DNP APRN students. A Ph.D. program coordinator is in place to supplement Ph.D. student engagement. Postgraduate certificate and/or post-master’s students are connected accordingly with their chosen specialization.

Coordinator information is posted in D2L, NURS 114.

Student Behavior in a Course

Classroom / Lab

If a student’s behavior in a course is considered to be unsafe or disruptive by the faculty member, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to inform the student of the unsafe or disruptive behavior as soon as possible and provide guidance and direction for improvement. Should a student’s behavior continue to be unsafe or disruptive, the faculty member has the right to remove the student from the course. The student must be informed of why she or he is being removed and must be presented with a written learning contract within two working days.

The written learning contract must include:

  1. a description of the unsafe behavior;
  2. the criteria that must be met for return to the classroom / lab area;
  3. the date by which the criteria must be met;
  4. the consequences of not meeting the criteria or the date.

The written learning contract is signed by the faculty member and the student and a copy is forwarded to  the Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing. The student is accountable for the terms of the contract.

Unsafe or Unacceptable Behavior during Clinical Courses

If a student’s behavior is considered to be unsafe in the clinical setting, it is the responsibility of the faculty to talk with the student about the behavior and to provide guidance and direction for improvement. The guidance may include a Learning Contract.

The following are examples of unsafe or unacceptable performance. However, this is not an inclusive list, and the final determination of unsafe behavior is based on the faculty member’s professional judgment:

  • Inability to complete care within the established time frame
  • Inappropriate or untimely communication
  • Evidence of behaviors that reflect an impaired state
  • Evidence of inadequate preparation for clinical activities 
  • Incorrect or inadequate assessment/intervention
  • Failure to follow dress code guidelines
  • Dishonesty

In consideration of faculty guidance, should a student’s behavior continue to be unsafe in a clinical course and the student has chosen not to drop the course, the faculty member can choose to remove the student from the clinical area. The faculty should advise the student a failing grade will be given, but the student has ultimate responsibility to drop the course.


Nursing Policy #C4340

Students are responsible for their own transportation to class, labs and practicums. Unique assignments that involve group arrangements and motor pool vehicles may be negotiated with the faculty member of record. Travel time does not count as practicum time.

Graduate students in selected courses of the DNP program, Family Nurse Practitioner specialization, will require faculty member visits to the student’s practicum site. For sites distant from the student’s home campus, the student will be responsible for faculty travel expenses.

Use of Equipment by Graduate Students

Some of the equipment in the College of Nursing is available for check out by DNP students. It is the student’s responsibility to check out the equipment properly, take reasonable care of it, and return the equipment in the allotted time. The student is responsible for the condition of the equipment while the equipment is checked out in their name. A deposit for using this equipment is required and is returned to the student when the equipment is returned in good condition.

Use of an External Editor (by Students) in Scholarly Writing

An external editor is defined as anyone with no (a) no official instructional capacity in a course taken by the student, or (b) responsibility for supervision of a program-specific student writing requirement whose services are solicited and used by the student for the purpose of providing feedback intended to improve scholarly writing.


  1. Students who use an external editor assume sole responsibility for their own academic work.
  2. These expectations and guidelines apply to all scholarly work during graduate study including coursework, the capstone project and paper, thesis or dissertation.
  3. For courses taken at the SDSU College of Nursing, use of an external editor must be disclosed to the course professor.
  4. Use of an external editor is prohibited for the PhD student comprehensive written exam, without exception.


If a graduate nursing student employs the assistance of an external editor, the following guidelines apply:

What the editor MAY address

What the editor MAY NOT address

Converting passives and impersonal usages into active voice Changing the text of the work to clarify and/or develop substance, ideas or arguments
Ensuring consistency of tenses, page numbers, headers and footers Correcting information within the work
Improving the position of tables and figures, and addressing associated grammar, spelling and punctuation of text within tables and figures Providing or supplying references
Correcting spelling and punctuation, shortening long sentences, editing long paragraphs, ensuring proper grammar and syntax Reducing the length of the work so that it falls within a specified length or word limit
Formatting according to APA Changing the ideas and arguments put forward within the work

4/25/18: Approved by Ph.D. Teaching Team  5/08/18: Approved by Graduate Faculty Committee

Use of Social Media

The College of Nursing recognizes that social medial websites such as, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are important means of communication and learning. However, students who use these web sites and applications must be aware of the critical importance of who has access to these sites. Additionally, students must recognize that posting certain information may be illegal.

Students should review the South Dakota State University Social Media Policy prior to utilizing these sites and applications. Students are also encouraged to review the American Nurses Association Social Media Fact Sheet and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing white paper on the use of social media.

Visitors and Auditors in Class

It is a violation of state and university policy for anyone, including children and infants, to attend courses without being registered for credit, audit, or as visitors. There are legal liabilities associated with unauthorized individuals attending class. Faculty members may grant special permission in certain limited circumstances which have been negotiated in advance of the class.

Students from on and off campus may register as auditors. They must apply for admission, register and pay the regular tuition and fees. A transcript will be generated showing that they have audited the course (graded AUP or AUF).

Registration as an auditor is enrollment for informational instruction only. Regular attendance at class or classes is customary without other participation and without credit. The cost to audit a course is the established BOR approved tuition and fee rate. Registration for audit may be limited by space or permission of the instructor.

Courses audited by graduate or undergraduate students will be recorded on the academic transcript. A transcript notation of AU will be given in each course audited. Audited courses are counted as part of the 19-hour rule for overloads. Audit courses are not counted in calculating undergraduate or graduate full-time student status or for the purposes of financial aid.

Audit courses cannot be used as a basis for testing out of a course for a letter grade or as prerequisites.