3.4.3 Admissions Standards

The institution publishes admissions policies consistent with its mission.

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

Prairie View A&M University's mission, in concert with five core values, helps guide its admissions policies. In keeping with the University mission of "preparing undergraduates in a range of careers," providing "advanced education through the master's degree," and "expanding its advanced educational offerings to include multiple doctoral programs" [1], Prairie View A&M maintains and publishes appropriate admissions procedures for undergraduate and graduate students, including policies for transfer students, international students, and special cases, as well as college-specific requirements and joint program agreements with community colleges. Additionally, because the state legislature amended the Texas Education Code in 1984 to declare Prairie View A&M University a "statewide special-purpose institution" [2], its mission includes "serving a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population." Therefore first among its core values is a commitment to "unserved and underserved populations residing primarily among the economically and socially bypassed in the society" [3] and corresponding admissions policies to offer the opportunity of a college education to such students.

Freshman Admission
For admissions purposes, freshmen are defined as those who graduated from high school, who are nearing completion of high school, who have earned a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), or have satisfactorily completed fewer than 15 transferable semester credit hours. Applicants must complete the ApplyTexas Common Application [4] and submit official transcripts (or GED certificate) and scores for either the ACT or SAT-I test. To better serve its constituencies, freshmen can be admitted to Prairie View A&M University in four primary categories, with additional requirements for those seeking matriculation in the College of Engineering.

Four Types of General Freshman Admission
Honors Admission requires completion of certain high school credits, exemplary GPA and test scores, and passing of all state exit exams. For Automatic Unconditional Admission, Chapter 51.803 of the Texas Education Code (TEC) [5] dictates that students who graduate in the top 10% of their high school class in the two years prior to application for admission will be accepted automatically to any public college or university in the state. Unconditional Freshman Admission requires a minimum GPA and SAT / ACT scores. Homeschooled students are considered for admission if they present the minimum ACT or SAT scores. Prairie View A&M also offers Conditional Admission to those who meet unconditional GPA standards but have lower scores on college board exams. In order to be released to regular admission, conditional admits are given one year to complete 24 semester credit hours with a minimum GPA; alternatively, those who complete all three parts of the TSI (Texas Success Initiative) may be considered for regular admission [6].

Freshman admissions standards have remained competitive and comparable to those of peer institutions such as Jackson State University in Mississippi and Morgan State University in Maryland [7] [8]. The certified number of first-time freshmen at Prairie View A&M increased approximately 20% between Fall 2005 and Fall 2008, after a 26% decrease between 2004 and 2005, when higher standards for conditional admission went into effect with the goal of increasing graduation rates. The effects of the change have been positive; the persistence rate for freshman students requiring remediation grew from 61% in 2004 to 73% in 2005, reaching a high of 89.5% in 2007 [9]. By Fall 2009 and Fall 2011 respectively, the four- and six-year graduation rate of students who entered in 2005 under the new admissions criteria should be known.

Admissions Appeals
Students who complete a college bridge program like ACCESS, who have exceptional scores (above the Texas means) on national examinations, or who have been honored for academics or performances can appeal a denied admission in writing to the Admissions and Academic Standards Committee thirty days after the admission deadline [6].

Freshman Admission to the College of Engineering
Because the programs in the College of Engineering are rigorous, to be admitted directly to the College of Engineering in engineering, computer science, or technology, students must meet all University requirements plus more stringent requirements for high school GPA and test scores; have a class rank in the top 25%; and show completion of or exemption from the Texas Success Initiative (TSI). The College also has conditional admission requiring the same GPA and college board scores as for unconditional University admission and class rank in the top 50 or 60% depending on the student's desired major. Students can petition for full admission to the College of Engineering by completing 30 semester hours of course work, satisfying the TSI, and demonstrating readiness for college math [10].

Undergraduate Transfer Admissions
Students who have earned fewer than 15 semester credit hours are considered under freshman admissions standards. Students who bring 15 or more credit hours must be in good academic standing at their previous institution and present a minimum cumulative GPA; no college board scores are required.

Transfer students with 30 or more hours of course work who wish to enter the College of Engineering must have a minimum cumulative GPA in all math, science, and engineering courses; those who do not meet the criteria are considered on an individual basis for conditional admission [6].

Prairie View A&M remains a popular transfer choice for students from schools including Houston Community College and the University of Houston [11]. The number of transfer students coming to Prairie View A&M University with at least 30 completed semester hours of credit has risen almost 70% between Fall 2000 and Fall 2008 [12].

Admission to the College of Business and Joint Admissions
All freshmen are admitted as Pre-Business majors. Students must complete at least 45 semester credit hours on their respective degree plan, earn a minimum GPA, and complete nine courses with a grade of "C" or better. Applications for admission are accepted twice each year [13]. Peer institutions like Norfolk State University also have higher admissions standards for their business programs [14].

Since Fall 2008, the College of Business also has held Joint Admissions (JA) Program Agreement with Lone Star College for students majoring in Management, Management Information Systems, and Finance. Prairie View A&M faculty offer advanced classes at the Cy-Fair campus in Northwest Houston. A minimum GPA and earned credit hours are required for admission, and under the agreement, students have the added incentive of transferring 72 credit hours rather than the usual 66 [15].

Admission to the College of Nursing
Like students in the College of Business, freshmen enter Prairie View A&M University as Pre-Nursing majors. Students must complete a pre-nursing standardized test; the pre-nursing curriculum with emphasis on sciences; a physical examination and immunization series; CPR certification; a criminal background check and negative drug screening; and acquisition of liability insurance coverage in order to apply for admissions into upper-division Clinical Studies [16].

Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) who seek admission to the LVN-BSN must graduate from an accredited two-year program with a minimum GPA; present current LVN licensure or an application-in-progress; complete prescribed coursework with a minimum GPA; present documentation of LVN employment; pass a background check and drug screening; and provide two letters of recommendation [17].

These requirements are crucial for maintaining the high standards in the College of Nursing. Between 2000 and 2007, the number of BSN degrees awarded by Prairie View A&M increased 46%, helping address the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's "Closing the Gaps" plan to increase the number of Texans prepared to enter the health professions [18].

Undergraduate Special Admissions
Prairie View A&M University offers special admissions to provide academic enrichment for talented high school students, to assist transient students, and to help non-traditional students start over in support of the institution mission "to respond to the needs and aspirations of individuals, families, organizations, agencies, schools, and communities--both rural and urban" [1].

Concurrent Enrollment for High School Students
 High school seniors who meet the unconditional admissions standards for cumulative GPA and college board scores and who also have passed all sections of the THEA exam are eligible to take a maximum of two courses per semester at the university [6].

Transient Student Admissions
Students who are enrolled officially at another university can take courses for a brief time, usually a semester, under transient status. An affidavit acknowledging intention to return to the home institution must be signed [19]. By virtue of this program, in 2005-2006 Prairie View A&M University was able to offer spaces to 77 Hurricane Katrina evacuees to help them avoid a lapse in their education [20].

Academic Fresh Start Admission  
Texas residents can forfeit course grades and credit received ten or more years before their desired matriculation term, under Section 51.931 of the Texas Education Code. Fresh Start admission requires that students meet one of the other admissions categories, and students must satisfy the TSI requirement [21].

Special Admissions
Students who do not meet the minimum GPA standards for the other three categories of graduate admissions can present strong recommendations to be admitted as special students. They may take 12 semester hours in two consecutive academic terms and then apply admission to full degree status can occur. Special student status also applies to those graduate students who fail to maintain the minimum program GPA.

Graduate Admissions
Students can enroll in Prairie View A&M University's graduate programs by meeting one of three regular admissions standards or through special standards described below.

Graduate Acceptance
To enter a Master's program, students must present a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and official GRE or GMAT scores.  Transfer graduate students are held to the same admissions standards [22].

Several departments maintain specific requirements for admission to their M.A. or M.S. degree programs, in terms of undergraduate courses taken [23], grades in relevant undergraduate courses [24], multiple letters of recommendation [25], an application essay [26], or work experience in the field [27].

Colleges and departments also determine qualifications for admission to the Ph.D. programs. For example, the Department of Electrical Engineering asks for related B.S. and M.S. degrees, high GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement [28]. Students interested in the Ph.D. in Juvenile Justice are admitted based on required elements, preferences, enhancing elements, and an interview [29].

Post-Baccalaureate (Non-Degree/Transient) Acceptance
Students who hold bachelor's degrees with a minimum GPA of 2.45 can be admitted as Non-Degree/Transient students. Application for full degree status requires recommendations from the program and approval from the Coordinator of Graduate Programs.

Provisional Acceptance
Students who do not meet the non-degree admissions GPA requirements can enroll in up to 12 semester credit hours of course work. With a minimum GPA in that work, students can be referred for full or non-degree graduate status. Official GRE or GMAT scores are required during the first semester of enrollment.

Second Master's Degree
For students who have earned one master's degree from Prairie View A&M University already, the Graduate Dean must approve admission to a second program in a different field of study.


International Student Admissions and Transfer Admissions
All international applicants must meet University admissions standards and also provide an affidavit of financial support and supporting documentation as required by the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement [30]; a score of 500 (undergraduate) or 550 (graduate) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or minimum SAT / ACT scores for foreign nationals who graduated from a high school in the United States; confirmation of immigration status; and all transcripts of secondary and post-secondary course work.

F-1 international students who transfer to Prairie View A&M from another U.S. institution must meet University transfer admissions requirements and complete additional paperwork [31]. An International Student Advisor assists with F-1 status, I-20s, SEVIS, visas, transfers, and other immigration compliance issues.

All admissions policies are available in the University Catalogs, available in print and online for download, on the Webpage for the Office of the Registrar, and on college and departmental Webpages. Whether a student is seeking admission to a traditional, online, or distance learning program, the same policies apply. The new online support center, PVLive, also has sections for undergraduate and graduate admissions and addresses common questions [32].

Supporting Documentation and Links

Comprehensive Standards 3.4.3

© 2009 Prairie View A&M University