The Incomplete “I”:

Sure, you thought this was going to be about the strangeness of the ego and the I, but instead it’s just a post about the “I” grade-placeholder some of you sometimes get. Let me explain here all about the “I.”

An “I” is something that a professor might give to a student temporarily in place of a final grade. The “I” signals “incomplete” and is not therefore a real grade of any credit or GPA significance.

It can only be given in cases where a student has met all attendance requirements and completed most of the other course requirements, but for some reason was unable to complete some of the written work by the final semester deadline. Typically in graduate English an “I” might be given to a student who completed most all course work successfully and on time except for the final term paper. In these cases the student may contact the professor and politely request a temporary “I.” Even in such situations, a professor does not have to grant the temporary “I” and rather often gives a real final course grade (A through F) based upon the student’s semester of work. It is not a student’s right to be granted an “I.” The granting of an “I” should be a special and rare event as it causes issues which extend beyond the semester and into future semesters. Students should never presume that an “I” will be granted and should aim to complete all work during the semester so as to avoid the issue of the “I” even being raised.

In the rare cases where an “I” is granted the student must complete the missing work which led to the “I” and submit that work to the professor as soon as is possible. As a general rule the work should be completed and submitted before the start of the next semester. The ultimate time limit for turning a graduate level “I” into a real grade is 12 months. But again, consider that if you’ve left unfinished work until the 11th month you’re now having to research and write on topics which you were studying almost a year ago, and you’re now asking your professor to consider work related to a course from almost a year ago. Again, in the rare event that you do need an “I” and are granted one by your professor, please be diligent and remedy it prior to the start of the next semester.

If the incomplete “I” is not remedied within the twelve month limit it cannot be turned into a real grade. In that case it remains a permanent “I” on the transcript and the student receives no credit for the course.

It is the student’s responsibility to be wary of the time limit for remedying an “I,” to submit all missing work to the professor within that time limit, and to maintain a record of the timely submission of such.

If you have any further questions about this, feel free to contact me at

Wondering how you actually apply for graduation, and when?

Mercy College confers degrees three times a year: in May, which is the traditional time to receive the degree and is for those completing the program in the spring; in August, for those who are completing the degree over the summer; and in February, for those completing the degree in the fall. There is no advantage or disadvantage to receiving a degree at any of the three times, it’s all the same and is simply based on when in a calendar year you complete the requirements for the degree. In order to be eligible for degree conferral at any of the three times you must submit your degree conferral application on time. Information on all of these degree conferral dates and procedures can be found here on the Mercy website.

If you’re planning to miss the fall semester, you must enroll in ENGL 899 Maintenance of Matriculation:

Just a note that students, if necessary, are allowed to skip a total of two semesters during the course of earning the MA degree. You must maintain matriculation, though, for each semester missed by enrolling in ENGL 899 and paying the fee of, I believe, $100 to remain active in the system and eligible to proceed to the degree upon returning to the program. If you stop attending and don’t maintain matriculation, and if you intend to return at some point for your degree, then a number of bad things can happen. Most likely the Registrar would simply deactivate your account and you would no longer be a student at the College. So please, if you plan to skip this or any semester, make sure you maintain matriculation by enrolling in ENGL 899. Thanks, -CL

Just a Reminder: Fall 2014 Semester begins on Wednesday, September 3rd.

As the title above states, please just take note of when the fall 2014 semester begins: Wednesday, September 3rd. Most online professors will open their first course unit on that Wednesday. As this is distance learning you don’t all have to check in on that first day, of course, since most professors run their units on a weekly schedule. You should check in as early as possible that week, though, to make sure you’re clear on everything for each course.

Be sure to read all of the syllabus information for each of your courses. Make sure you’re clear on when each next unit opens, and what is required of you for each unit. Each professor will run her or his course a little differently, and have different methods and requirements, even different unit-opening days (e.g., I tend to open mine on each next Thursday, while others might open theirs on each next Wednesday). Just take the time to read all of the information available to you in each course and make sure you’re 100% clear on what is required of you, and when, at the start of the semester.

For those of you who plan for fall 2014 to be the final semester in the program, take special note of the next blog post below.

For Students Planning to take the 599 (formerly 516) Thesis course this Fall:

To all M.A. grad students who plan to take the 516/599 this fall, which is to say for all students for whom the fall 2014 semester will be your last, please note: before the start of your final semester you must request from me and successfully complete the Comprehensive Exam requirement. Quite simply you just email me at requesting the exam. I email it to you and you then have ten days in which to administer it to yourself and email me back your responses. Also, with about two or three weeks to go before the semester begins, now is the time to finalize your thesis mentor selection and your thesis paper topic. Read the section here on enrolling for the Thesis Seminar for more information. Please let me know at if you have any further questions about the exam or the seminar enrollment after reading through the related posts on this website. Thanks all, and I hope you’re all getting ready and excited for another semester of exploring some great literature and yourselves.