May 22, 2024  
2024-25 University Catalog 
2024-25 University Catalog

College for Healthy Communities

Contact ATSU-College for Healthy Communities

Facility, Equipment, & Materials


State Licensing

Program Accreditation

Certification and Licensure

Student Tuition Recovery Fund Information

Student Housing

Fair Practices

Transferability of Credits

ATSU-CHC Policies


Dear Students,

Welcome to the ATSU College for Healthy Communities (CHC), located on the scenic central coast of California in Santa Maria. As your Dean, it is my privilege to greet you at the commencement of your educational journey. As the newest College at ATSU, the CHC houses the Central Coast Physician Assistant (CCPA) program, which educates culturally-humble, diverse physician assistants (PAs) to serve the primary care needs of medically underserved communities. Our mission, to prepare a healthcare workforce that mirrors the diversity of the populations we serve, is vital for advancing health equity and improving patient care in underrepresented communities. Our college is deeply committed to this mission, recognizing that the path toward health equity requires a deep understanding of cultural competency and a dedication to serving all populations effectively.

At the heart of our institution is a steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion. We believe that a diverse healthcare workforce is crucial in addressing the complex health needs of our society. As you embark on your educational journey with us, you will be prepared not just as healthcare professionals, but as culturally competent caregivers who can meet the needs of underrepresented and underserved patients. Through innovative curricula and hands-on training, you will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to make a significant impact on individual lives and communities.

As you begin your academic journey, know that your education here will empower you to make meaningful contributions to health care. You are now part of a community that values inclusivity, respect, and the pursuit of knowledge to serve better. I am excited about the perspectives and energies you bring to our campus, and I look forward to seeing how your talents and aspirations will shape our shared mission. Welcome to a place where your professional growth is intertwined with the commitment to serve and uplift communities in need.

Eric L. Sauers, PhD, ‘97
Dean and Professor, College for Healthy Communities

Contact ATSU-College for Healthy Communities

A.T. Still University - College for Healthy Communities
1075 E. Betteravia Rd. Ste. 201
Santa Maria, CA 93454

Eric Sauers, PhD, ‘97
Dean and Professor

Natali Ortiz
Executive Assistant to the Dean

Jennifer Harrington, DMS, PA-C, DFAAPA
ATSU-CCPA Program Director/Chair

Tina R. Kibodeaux
Program Manager, ATSU-CCPA

Facility, Equipment, and Materials

The ATSU-College for Healthy Communities is located in Santa Maria, California. The second floor of the new Central Coast Credit Union building, located at 1075 E. Betteravia Rd., Suite 201, Santa Maria, CA 93454, serves as the initial location for the program and has been recently built out to accommodate the needs of students, faculty and staff, including all classroom spaces for the program. 

The 27,000 sq ft facility has furniture, fixtures and equipment providing an attractive and safe environment for student learning. The entire facility is both spacious and state of the art with large meeting spaces and clinical simulation areas designed to provide an atmosphere of cooperative learning in a comfortable environment.

The ATSU facility includes the following:

  • Secure Entrance Lobby
  • Administrative Offices and Workspace
  • Academic Support Services Workspace
  • Large Learning Theater (6,000 sq ft) with Audio and Video Equipment
  • Multipurpose Lactation Room
  • 10 Clinical Simulation Rooms with Exam Tables and Equipment
  • Clinical Supplies Storage Room
  • Learning Resource Center (aka Library)
  • Task Training Area with Large Tables
  • Faculty Work Area (4,000 sq ft)
  • 4 Conference Rooms
  • Faculty Break Area
  • Student Lounge Area (2,500 sq ft)
  • Large Outdoor Patio 

The entire facility is served by a secure, high speed wireless network system that connects students, faculty and staff directly to the University network and online resources including a large resource of library holdings. From the on-campus Learning Resource Center, or from anywhere in the world, students have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access to ATSU’s library resources via their ATSU issued network login credentials. Library learning resources are available at


As a prospective student, you are encouraged to review this catalog prior to signing an enrollment agreement. You are also encouraged to review the School Performance Fact Sheet, which must be provided to you prior to signing an enrollment agreement.

State Licensing

ATSU-College for Healthy Communities is a private institution approved to operate by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Approval to operate means ATSU-College for Healthy Communities complies with state standards as set forth in the CEC and 5, CCR.

The Office of Student Assistance and Relief is available to support prospective students, current students, or past students of private postsecondary educational institutions in making informed decisions, understanding their rights, and navigating available services and relief options. The office may be reached by calling 888.37.758, option #5, or by visiting


ATSU-CHC follows the University policies and procedures regarding student complaints and grievances outlined in the University Student Handbook and University Catalog, and University Policy #90-210. Grievance policies may be found in the ATSU Policies section.

A student or any member of the public may file a complaint about this institution with the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education by calling 888.370.7589 or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the bureau’s website

Any questions a student may have regarding this catalog that have not been satisfactorily answered by the institution may be directed to the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education at 1747 N. Market Blvd. Ste 225 Sacramento, CA 95834,, 888.370.7589, 916.574.8900, or by fax 916.574.8900.

Program Accreditation

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the A.T. Still University of Health Sciences Central Coast Physician Assistant Program sponsored by A.T. Still University of Health Sciences.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

Certification and Licensure

The written examination for certification as a physician assistant is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Successful completion requires that the applicant achieve the passing score established by the NCCPA for that examination. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that certification of their examination score is received by the Physician Assistant Board (PAB). The NCCPA phone number 678.417.8100 and their website address is The PAB phone number is 916.561.8780 and their website is

An individual is required to have a license in order to practice or represent themselves as a Physician Assistant in the State of California. A license is granted by the California Physician Assistant Board (PAB) in the Department of Consumer Affairs. A complete description of and an application for licensure is available on the PAB website Fees are required to apply.

Applicants must provide proof of graduation from an accredited PA program and successful completion of the certification examination (NCCPA Pance or PANRE). Additionally, applicants must provide fingerprints, complete a criminal background check and be free of mental illness or disorder that would have an ongoing impact on their functions as a physician assistant.

Student Tuition Recovery Fund Information

The State of California established the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) to relieve or mitigate economic loss suffered by a student in an educational program at a qualifying institution, who is or was a California resident while enrolled, or was enrolled in a residency program, if the student enrolled in the institution, prepaid tuition, and suffered an economic loss. Unless relieved of the obligation to do so, you must pay the state-imposed assessment for the STRF, or it must be paid on your behalf, if you are a student in an educational program, who is a California resident, or are enrolled in a residency program, and prepay all or part of your tuition.

You are not eligible for protection from the STRF and you are not required to pay the STRF assessment, if you are not a California resident, or are not enrolled in a residency program.

It is important that you keep copies of your enrollment agreement, financial aid documents, receipts, or any other information that documents the amount paid to the school. Questions regarding the STRF may be directed to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, 1747 N. Market Blvd, Suite 225, Sacramento, CA 95834, 916.431.6959 or 888.370.7589.

To be eligible for STRF, you must be a California resident or are enrolled in a residency program, prepaid tuition, paid or deemed to have paid the STRF assessment, and suffered an economic loss as a result of any of the following:

  1. The institution, a location of the institution, or an educational program offered by the institution was closed or discontinued, and you did not choose to participate in a teach-out plan approved by the Bureau or did not complete a chosen teach-out plan approved by the Bureau.
  2. You were enrolled at an institution or a location of the institution within the 120-day period before the closure of the institution or location of the institution, or were enrolled in an educational program within the 120-day period before the program was discontinued.
  3. You were enrolled at an institution or a location of the institution more than 120-days before the closure of the institution or location of the institution, in an educational program offered by the institution as to which the Bureau determined there was a significant decline in the quality or value of the program more than 120-days before closure.
  4. The institution has been ordered to pay a refund by the Bureau but has failed to do so.
  5. The institution has failed to pay or reimburse loan proceeds under a federal student loan program as required by law, or has failed to pay or reimburse proceeds received by the institution in excess of tuition and other costs.
  6. You have been awarded restitution, a refund, or other monetary award by an arbitrator or court, based on a violation of this chapter by an institution or representative of an institution, but have been unable to collect the award from the institution.
  7. You sought legal counsel that resulted in the cancellation of one or more of your student loans and have an invoice for services rendered and evidence of the cancellation of the student loan or loans. 

To qualify for STRF reimbursement, the application must be received within four (4) years from the date of the action or event that made the student eligible for recovery from STRF.

A student whose loan is revived by a loan holder or debt collector after a period of non-collection may, at any time, file a written application for recovery from STRF for the debt that would have otherwise been eligible for recovery. If it has been more than four (4) years since the action or event that made the student eligible, the student must have filed a written application for recovery within the original four (4) year period, unless the period has been extended by another act of law.

However, no claim can be paid to any student without a social security number or a taxpayer identification number.

Student Housing

Students are expected to find housing independently in Santa Maria, CA and its neighboring communities for the first year. Students are also expected to secure housing independently for their clinical placement(s) during the second year. The average rent for Santa Maria, CA is $2,000 per month.

ATSU-CHC does not provide student housing/dormitories and has no responsibility to find or assist students in finding housing.

Fair Practices

ATSU-CHC students have equal access to facilities and campus resources. ATSU-CHC is committed to equality of opportunity and does not discriminate against applicants, students, or employees based on race, religion, color, creed, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability. All policies concerning discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are found in the ATSU University Student Handbook

Transferability of Credits

The transferability of credits you earn at A.T. Still University is at the complete discretion of an institution to which you may seek to transfer. Acceptance of the degree you earn is also at the complete discretion of the institution to which you may seek to transfer. If the credits or degree that you earn at this institution is not accepted at the institution to which you seek to transfer, you may be required to repeat some or all of your coursework at that institution. For this reason, you should make certain that your attendance at this institution will meet your educational goals. This may include contacting an institution to which you may seek to transfer after attending ATSU to determine if your credits or degree will transfer.

For more information, please visit the Transferability of ATSU Credits  section in ATSU Policies.

ATSU-CHC College Policies

The following policies or guidelines apply to all programs at ATSU-CHC.

Statement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion encompass an authentic understanding and appreciation of difference and, at their core, are based upon the value each human being brings to our society and each person’s access and opportunities to contribute to our University’s cultural proficiency. 

Minimal Technical Standards for Admission and Matriculation 

A.T. Still University of Health Sciences is committed to equal access for all qualified applicants and students. Minimal Technical Standards for Matriculation (the “Standards”) state expectations of ATSU students. The Standards provide sufficient information to allow the candidate to make an informed decision for application. Minimal Technical Standards for Matriculation are a guide to accommodation of students with disabilities. Academic adjustments can be made for disabilities in some instances, but a student must be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. Applicants and current students who have questions regarding the technical standards, or who believe they may need to request academic adjustment(s) in order to meet the standards, are encouraged to contact
Learning Resources & Accommodation Services. Procedures to apply for academic adjustments are found at the conclusion of this policy. 

The holder of a health sciences professional degree must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. In order to carry out the activities described below, candidates for a degree in Physician Assistant Studies must be able to consistently, quickly, and accurately integrate, analyze, and synthesize data. 

A candidate for a Doctoral or Master of Science degree at ATSU-CHC must possess abilities and skills in seven identified categories, including observation; communication; motor; sensory; strength, mobility and endurance; intellectual, (conceptual, integrative, and quantitative); and behavioral and social. These abilities and skills are defined as follows: 

Observation: Candidates and students must have sufficient uncorrected or corrected visual acuity, depth perception, and color perception to be able to observe demonstrations, experiments, and laboratory exercises in the basic and clinical sciences. They must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance of 20 feet and up close. Vision must be sufficient to utilize clinical instrumentation; identify dissected nerves and landmarks on anatomical structures such as the tympanic membrane; observe motion; and evaluate posture, locomotion and movement in a clinical setting. Adequate visual capabilities are necessary for proper evaluation and treatment integration, including the assessment of symmetry, range of motion, and tissue texture changes. 

Communication: Candidates and students must possess formal and conversational speech and language skills in English. They must be able to write, read and comprehend classroom lecture and assessment materials, technical reports, diagnostic and treatment reports and professional correspondence in English. They must be able to speak, hear (with or without the use of amplification and/or other assistive technology), and observe patients in order to elicit information; examine and treat patients; describe changes in mood, activity, and posture; and perceive nonverbal communication. They must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. They must be able to communicate effectively in oral and written form with all members of the healthcare team. 

Motor: Candidates and students must have sufficient motor functions to execute movements required to perform laboratory exercises and provide clinical care. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine motor movements and equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision. 

Sensory: Candidates and students must have functional use of sensory skills such as tactile discrimination and proprioception for classroom, laboratory and clinical experiences. Functional use of hearing and vision are also required and are described in sections above. 

Strength, mobility and endurance: Candidates and students must have sufficient upright posture, balance, flexibility, mobility, strength and cardiovascular endurance for standing, sitting, lifting moderate weight and participating in classroom, laboratory and clinical experiences. 

Intellectual (conceptual, integrative, and quantitative): Candidates and students must be able to engage in activities of discovery, measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of health professionals, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates and students should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures. 

Behavioral and social: Candidates and students must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all academic requirements and responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. Candidates and students must be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Candidates and students must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, respect for differences, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admission and educational processes. 

Additional Information 

Please see the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies  section for program-specific minimal technical standards. 

Records and communications regarding disabilities and academic adjustments with the Director of Learning Resources & Accommodation Services have no bearing on the application process. You may contact the director at Learning Resources & Accommodation Services, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, 800 W. Jefferson Street, Kirksville, MO 63501,, or by phone at 660.626.2774. 

Applying for Academic Adjustments 

The institution remains open to possibilities of human potential and achievement, providing support for students with disabilities. The Vice President for Student Affairs is responsible for the administration of and compliance with the Technical Standards and Academic Adjustments Policy (ATSU Policy #20-110) through the Director of Learning Resources & Accommodation Services. Please see the University Student Handbook for information on how to apply for academic adjustments, or email

Minimum Technology Specifications 

Please review the minimum technology specifications for students accepted to ATSU-CHC programs. 

Assessment of Immunity, Screening, and Certification 

The ATSU-CHC requires all residential students to provide documented proof of completion of all required immunizations, immunity, screenings and certifications, and maintain compliance with the requirements in this section for the duration of enrollment in the program. 

Students are responsible for all costs associated with being in compliance with these requirements, and providing proof of maintained compliance prior to an expiration or due date. Students are not allowed to participate in required or elective educational learning activities, either on campus or off, while out of compliance. Failure to comply with the health requirements defined below is considered unprofessional conduct and may impact course standing, and clinical experience participation.

ATSU-CHC follows Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for vaccination and immunization. Assessment for immunity to disease will require documentation of the following:


  • COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are strongly recommended for all students.
  • Please note that many of ATSU-CHC’s external clinical partners require students to be vaccinated prior to training in their facilities and exemptions may not be accepted. Clinical external rotation sites may require additional testing for their site and will be at the expense of the student. Consequently, unvaccinated students may be delayed in completing or unable to successfully complete program requirements.

Hepatitis B

  • Documentation of two (2) dose series of Heplisav-B or three (3) dose series of Engerix-B, Recombivax or Twinrix Hepatitis B vaccine. Series must be started prior to matriculation and completed per prescribed timeline. 
  • OR documentation of POSITIVE immunity to Hepatitis B (Hep B Surface Antibody titer). If you receive a negative result after the primary series, you must complete a secondary Hepatitis B series followed by a repeat titer 1-2 months after the completed secondary series. If you have a negative result after the secondary series, additional testing including Hep B Surface Antigen must be performed. Please refer back to your Healthcare Provider and contact the Program Chair.


  • Due annually based on seasonal vaccine availability and due date will be set by ATSU-CHC. 
  • Documentation of seasonal Influenza vaccination.

Measles Mumps and Rubella – MMR

  • Documentation of two (2) doses of MMR vaccine. The doses must be started prior to matriculation and completed per prescribed timeline. 
  • OR documentation of POSITIVE immunity to each of Measles, Mumps and Rubella (IgG antibodies) in the last 3 years. If you receive a negative result, you must receive 2 doses of the MMR vaccine separated by 28 days.
  • Repeat titer is not required. 

Tetanus Diphtheria and Pertussis - Tdap

  • Documentation of one (1) adult dose of Tdap vaccine within ten (10) years of matriculation. 
  • DPT (infant dose) or Td vaccinations do not fulfill this requirement.

Varicella – Chicken Pox

  • Documentation of two (2) doses of varicella vaccine. 
    • The doses must be started prior to matriculation and completed per prescribed timeline. 
  • OR documentation of POSITIVE immunity to Varicella (IgG antibodies). 
    • If you receive a negative result you must complete 2 doses of the varicella vaccine 4-8 weeks apart.
    • Repeat titer not required.
  • History of this disease does NOT fulfill this requirement.


Annual screening must have documentation for ONE of the following: 

  • A negative 2-step PPD skin test.
  • A negative 1-step PPD skin test if annual TB screening has been maintained within the past 12 months (provide two years of consecutive screening). 
  • A negative 1-step PPD with a completed TB assessment form if annual screening has NOT been maintained within the last 12-months.
  • A NEGATIVE QuantiFERON TB Gold or T- Spot blood test within twelve months of matriculation. 
  • A negative chest radiograph AND medical clearance from your personal healthcare provider if student has/had:
    • A history of positive PPD skin test. 
    • A positive QuantiFeron TB G blood test.
    • OR documentation of treatment for LTBI treatment or TB disease.

Immunization Exemptions

Students may seek a request for exemption from preventive health requirements for medical or religious reasons. Documentation to backup the request may be required.

ATSU-CHC cannot guarantee placement in clinical rotations if an exemption is granted. Consequently, students receiving an exemption from preventive health requirements may take longer to complete the curriculum and graduate, or the student may not be able to complete the curriculum and graduate.

Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification

Knowledge and ability to perform CPR will require documentation of the following:

  • Documentation of unexpired Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers Adult & Child AED certification issued by American Heart Association (AHA), American Red Cross, or the Health & Safety Institute.
    • No other credential issuers will be accepted.
    • Valid certification must include in-person skills testing; online-only certifications will not be accepted.

Required Modules 

HIPAA Training 

ATSU-CHC requires that all students complete Health Information Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) training. ATSU-CHC provides a detailed review of HIPAA and focuses on the patient privacy and data security issues that will have the most impact on the practice of healthcare workers. HIPAA education provides a definition and discussion of current and forthcoming HIPAA initiatives regarding patient privacy and data security, a review of reforms that have been identified for implementation and the information to help healthcare workers comply with new guidelines. Training is offered online by ATSU and must be completed prior to any clinical education. 

Bloodborne Pathogens Training 

Universal precautions and blood borne pathogens training will be provided to ATSU-CHC students. Universal precautions and blood borne pathogens training must be updated annually and whenever necessary to reflect new or modified tasks and procedures which affect occupational exposure and reflect changes in technology that eliminate or reduce exposure. Universal precautions and blood borne pathogens training must be completed and documented prior to entering any clinical education. 

Student Risk Management Form

The Student Risk Management Record supplied electronically must be completed and signed by your personal healthcare provider (MD, DO, PA or NP). In addition to the Student Risk Management form, students must upload individual medical records as proof of each requirement to the respective areas. 

Compliance with Health Requirements

  • Students are required to maintain compliance with the ATSU-CHC Assessment for Immunity, Screening & Certification.
    • Students are required to submit the Student Risk Management Record prior to matriculation (provided to students electronically to complete).
    • Students are required to maintain continued compliance with immunity and certification rules.
  • Students are responsible for obtaining and maintaining any clinical experience site-specific immunization or certification requirements. These documents shall be delivered to the clinical site in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to maintain compliance throughout the duration of the clinical experience.
  • Students are responsible for the costs for maintaining continued compliance with all immunization and CPR requirements.

Injuries and Accidents 


Any student who sustains an injury or bloodborne pathogen exposure while on their clinical experience must notify their site preceptor as soon as possible. Student Incident Process OFF CAMPUS guidelines for treatment and reporting are available from the Executive Assistant to the Dean. See CHC Procedure Needlestick & Bloodborne Pathogen for additional information. 


Any student who sustains an injury or bloodborne pathogen exposure while on ATSU campus must notify
their instructor and ATSU security as soon as possible. Student Incident Process ON CAMPUS guidelines for treatment and reporting are available from the Executive Assistant to the Dean. See CHC Procedure Needlestick & Bloodborne Pathogen for additional information.

Liability Insurance Coverage

ATSU maintains a liability insurance policy for students in the clinical setting. When applicable, the program will provide clinical sites/preceptors with a certificate of coverage.


ATSU-CHC adheres to the University Grading Scale  which is outlined in the ATSU Policy section of this catalog. 

Incomplete Grades

ATSU-CHC adheres to the Incomplete Grade Policy  which is outlined in the ATSU Policy section of this catalog. 

Appealing a Grade 

Students who wish to file an academic appeal concerning a course grade should visit the Academic Appeals  policy located within the ATSU Policies section of the Catalog.

Auditing a Course 

The following information pertains to currently enrolled ATSU-CHC students. 

Requests to audit a course should go to the program director or chair of the department under which the course is offered and to the program director or chair of the student’s department, if different. All requests must be approved in writing. 

Students may be allowed to sit in class and may participate only on a space available basis. 

Students who audit a course are expected to attend classes on a regular basis. Satisfactory completion of a course for audit will be determined by the instructor and will be recorded on the student’s transcript as an AU (audit) or other appropriate indicator. No letter grade will be awarded for an audited course. 

An audited course may not be changed to a course for credit or vice versa. 

Questions concerning the audit policy should be directed to the student’s program director or department chair. 

Academic Warning 

Students demonstrating unacceptable performance in any unit of study during any phase of their program may be notified of such performance by the instructor of the course, program director or department chair as soon as it becomes evident. The student may be notified verbally or in writing that continued poor academic performance could lead to academic probation and dismissal. The instructor will also discuss the resources available to students for academic assistance. 

Academic Probation 

The quality of an educational program can be measured by the academic performance of its students. With regard to academic performance, standards are set to ensure that the integrity of the program and institution are maintained. Consistent with academic norms and in the exercise of professional judgment, each ATSU-CHC department shall determine and shall provide to students (1) the standards of academic performance and (2) the standards of progression. 

A student who fails to meet the department’s standards of academic performance will be placed on academic probation and shall be notified of such, in writing, by the relevant department chair. Such notice shall identify the academic standards which the student has failed to meet and will advise the student that continued failure to meet such standards may result in delay in graduation or dismissal. Copies of any academic probation notice shall be sent to the Dean and Enrollment Services. 

Academic Dismissal 

Any student who does not meet the department’s standards for progression will receive a written notice of dismissal from the department chair. Decisions regarding dismissal are made on an individual basis consistent with academic norms and in the exercise of professional judgment after considering all pertinent circumstances. The department chair’s decision will be based on a recommendation from the department faculty, the student’s academic record, department standards of progression and information from the student and other individuals as appropriate. The department chair will notify the student and Dean of the decision, which notice shall describe the significant facts and reasons for dismissal. The student has the right to appeal the decision as outlined in the appeal process. 

Dismissal Appeal Process 

Dismissal by a department may be appealed, in writing, to the Dean no later than seven calendar days following receipt of notification of the department chair’s decision of dismissal. Such notice of appeal from the student shall include a statement of reasons why dismissal is inappropriate. The Dean shall review the notice of dismissal, notice of appeal, significant facts and reasons for dismissal in light of the department’s standards of progression, academic norms and professional judgment. The Dean may meet in person with the student if indicated and shall notify the department chair and student of the decision no later than seven calendar days following receipt of the student’s appeal. Such notice shall describe the basis for the decision. 

The highest level of appeal within the school is the Dean or Dean’s designee. Students who wish to appeal a Dean’s decision regarding promotion or dismissal should review the Academic Appeals Policy: Promotion and/or Dismissal Decisions 

Degree Completion 

Students are expected to complete their degree within the program’s standard plan of study. In circumstances where additional time is needed, and with approval of the appropriate chair, students will have a maximum degree completion timeline of five (5) years for a master’s program and seven (7) years for a doctoral program from the time of initial enrollment. Failure to complete a degree program within the specified period will lead to a loss of some or the entire student’s previously earned course credits, or dismissal from the program. 

Placement Services

ATSU-College for Healthy Communities does not offer formal placement services.

Academic Integrity and Dishonesty

The Code of Academic Conduct  is outlined in detail in the ATSU Policies section of this catalog.

The Code of Behavioral Standards is outlined in detail in the University Student Handbook. Students are expected to be familiar with this code. Additionally, the University Student Handbook outlines the procedure for reporting and investigating violations of the codes.

Plagiarism and AI Policy

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the presentation of work from another person, entity, or source as if it were one’s original work. Also, turning in previously submitted work, in part or in whole, is considered self-plagiarism. Plagiarism violates the University’s Code of Academic Conduct found in the University Catalog and carries serious penalties at ATSU-CHC. Proper and complete citation and reference, by AMA style guidelines, is required of all student work.

Specific examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • Cutting and pasting or re-entering information from another’s work into a document without correct citation or attribution.
  • Information is attributed to a source other than the original.
  • Material authored by someone else is submitted as original work.
  • Material created by another source or entity such as ChatGPT, Bard, or other AI content generating technology is submitted as original work.
  • Self-plagiarism, which is unacceptable. All previously prepared work, in part or in whole, may not be resubmitted, including work from a course that is being retaken.
    • In instances where it may be appropriate to include prior work, the student must obtain permission from the instructor to include the prior work.
  • Information is properly cited but the paraphrasing is not substantively different from the source.
  • Citations, and or references, are insufficient or missing or insufficient to demonstrate the origin of the material presented.
Plagiarism Sanctions

All assignments submitted for a grade are subject to review by staff, faculty and/or software for plagiarism. The consequences of plagiarism vary based on whether the incident is a first, second, or third occurrence. Incidents are cumulative during enrollment in ATSU-CHC programs.

First occurrence

A first instance of plagiarism is generally believed to result from a lack of familiarity and inexperience using AMA guidelines and is perceived as a misuse of sources.

The sanctions for a first offense generally are, but not limited to:

  • A grade of zero on the assignment.
  • Required completion of the University Writing Center’s Proper Use of Sources tutorial. 
    • Students who choose not to participate in the tutorial or fail to complete the tutorial will receive a grade of zero on the assignment.
  • Resubmission of the assignment for a reduced grade.
    • The program chair may allow the student to revise the assignment within 7 business days of notification for a grade up to 80% of the possible points.
Second occurrence

A second occurrence of plagiarism is a more serious academic offense and is not attributed to naiveté, ignorance of guidelines, or a misunderstanding of what constitutes acceptable graduate scholarship at ATSU.

The sanction for a second plagiarism offense is, but is not limited, to:

  • A grade of zero on the assignment.
  • A grade of F in the course.
Third occurrence

A third occurrence of plagiarism is seen as a student’s chronic inability or refusal to produce an acceptable graduate-level of scholarship and is viewed as the student’s refusal to follow this policy.

The sanction for a third plagiarism offense is, but is not limited, to:

  • A grade of zero on the assignment.
  • A grade of F in the course.
  • Dismissal from the program.
Appeal process

Please refer to the appeal process outlined in the current Academic Appeals  section of the University Catalog.

Position Statement on the Use of AI Tools

For clarification and guidance on the use of ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools in our graduate education programs, ATSU-CHC has developed the following position statement:

  • AI tools (e.g. ChatGPT, Bard, Claude) may be used to facilitate the student learning experience and enhance overall productivity when used appropriately and ethically. ATSU-CHC recognizes there are potential benefits for students in their academic and professional endeavors. AI tools can offer valuable insights and assistance in research, brainstorming content, problem-solving, or any other academic pursuit.
  • Generative AI also inevitably has some drawbacks. The overuse of or reliance on AI tools can potentially dilute students’ critical thinking skills and hinder their creativity. The automation provided by AI tools can lead to surface-level engagement with academic content, which may prioritize assignment completion over deep learning. Concerns also arise in terms of authentic authorship of student work and the true source of content, thus raising concerns about misuse of sources and plagiarism. Additionally, there is a risk of spreading misinformation and biased content through AI. Generative content is not necessarily accurate content, so students should assess and review all outputs of AI with a critical eye.

There are both expressed benefits of AI usage and important concerns about its threat to academic integrity in academia. Within ATSU-CHC, students are expected to adhere to the following principles:

  1. Transparent and Ethical Usage: When AI use is allowed by the instructor, students are encouraged to use AI tools transparently and ethically. Any use of AI-generated content should be acknowledged and properly cited just like any other external source. This applies to any final work submitted for grading or credit, including written assignments, discussion posts, presentations, and projects.
    1. Note: Individual faculty instructors may set their policies regulating the use of generative AI tools in their courses, including allowing or disallowing various uses of such tools. Faculty will communicate such policies to students. Students who are unsure of policies regarding generative AI tools are encouraged to ask their faculty instructors for clarification.
  2. Exploration and Critical Thinking: While AI tools offer support, students are urged to approach their learning with curiosity, critical thinking, and independent exploration. AI should serve as a supplement to intellectual growth rather than a replacement for genuine engagement with the subject matter. Students are expected to be able to explain the written work submitted, including AI-generated portions. Faculty reserve the right to request students to verbally discuss their written work with the faculty if there is concern the written content does not demonstrate appropriate analysis and integration of the material.
  3. Content Accuracy and Responsibility: While AI tools are valuable in assisting with content organization or brainstorming, students remain responsible for the accuracy, credibility, and authenticity of the content they produce. This includes validating information, fact-checking, and ensuring references and citations are precise and appropriate (How to Cite ChatGPT - AMA).
  4. Originality Assurance: All work submitted for grading is presumed to be the original work of the student unless explicitly cited and identified as AI-generated or sourced from other external references. If any uncertainty arises regarding adherence to the guidelines above, students are encouraged to engage in proactive communication with their professors before submitting their work. Students are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of content produced, including references and citations.
  5. Guarding Against Academic Dishonesty and Protecting Academic Integrity: Improper attribution or unauthorized use of AI-generated content is a form of academic dishonesty and is subject to the ATSU-CHC Plagiarism Policy and/or the University Code of Academic Conduct. Plagiarism or the misuse or misrepresentation of sources, in any form, is strictly prohibited. Students are expected to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity in all their work.
  6. Continuous Dialogue: ATSU-CHC faculty and administration encourage an open dialogue between students, professors, and administrators regarding the use of AI tools. Questions, concerns, and discussions about the ethical implications and best practices of AI integration are welcomed.

Note: This position statement will be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as technology evolves.