Academic Regulations


Successful education at the college level depends, to a large extent, on regular attendance at classes and laboratories. The College of Arts & Sciences has no fixed rules for "cuts" or "excused absences" but leaves the number of absences of any kind a student may have and still expect to pass a course to the judgment of each department or instructor. Each instructor should give reasonable consideration to unavoidable absences and to the feasibility of making up missed work. The student is expected to explain the reasons for such absences to instructors and to discuss the possibility of completing missed assignments with instructors.

Units and Grades

The grading system used by the College of Arts & Sciences assumes that evaluation is useful to effective learning and that grades provide an indicator of accomplishment to the student, advisors and the College Office, graduate and professional schools, and employers to whom the student chooses to submit their grades. Grades are symbols of achievement in a particular endeavor and should not be confused with achievement itself or with personal worth.

Grades are important, particularly for students with pre-professional interests, but the student whose concern for grades is primary may lose sight of the total educational process.

Grade Points per Unit
A+ 4.0
A 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
D- 0.7
F 0.0
CR Credit awarded, work not given finer evaluation
NCR No credit awarded due to unsatisfactory work
I Course work incomplete
W Withdrawal
R Repeat
L Successful audit
Z Unsuccessful audit
S Satisfactory thesis work
U Unsatisfactory thesis work

In the rare event that an instructor is unable to submit a grade by the grade deadline, an N, signifying that the grade has not yet been submitted, may temporarily appear as a transcript notation on the student's record. Grades that are not posted by the last day of classes of the following semester will result in these temporary notations being automatically changed to a grade of F (or, in the case of a course taken as Pass/Fail, to a grade of NCR).

Grades cannot be changed after the conferral of a student's degree.

Grades earned in physical education courses are not included when calculating the student's grade point average.

Auditing a Course

In any semester, a full-time student may register for one course as an auditor, which entitles the student to all of the privileges of a regularly enrolled member of the class; however, courses taken for audit do not earn credits and thus do not count toward the degree. Consult the instructor regarding the requirements of a successful audit, as unsatisfactory performance results in a grade of Z. A successful audit results in a grade of L.

Grade Appeals

If a student believes a grade they have received — whether referring to a single assignment or to the course grade as a whole — is inappropriate, arbitrary, or assigned for nonacademic reasons, they have the right to discuss any grade(s) with their instructor and to request a change of grade(s). (Students wanting to discuss the possibility of appealing their grades are welcome to do so with their advisor or the Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Faculty-Student Mediator, who can inform students about possible options for approaching the appeal but who can neither consider the merit of the appeal nor make any decisions with regard to the appeal.)

Grade appeals should be filed as soon as possible after the grade is assigned and must be addressed in a timely manner. Grade appeals are not allowed after one semester has passed since the grade has been awarded. Grade appeals in the term prior to the student’s graduation must be raised immediately and addressed on a truncated timeline from what is outlined below in order for the appeal to be addressed prior to the conferral of a degree. If a grade appeal is submitted after a student has graduated, it will not be reviewed, as no grade changes will be made to the academic record following conferral of a degree. In addition, grades that are a result of sanctions for a violation of Academic Integrity (as determined by the Academic Integrity Committee) are not eligible for appeal through the following process.

The below steps outline the grade appeal process:

  • The student must first request the grade change from the instructor. The request should be in writing and outline the reasons the grade change is being requested. The instructor must respond to the student in writing with detailed justification for the grade given within two weeks of the student’s request.
  • If the student is not satisfied by the instructor’s justification for the grade, they may appeal the grade in writing to the appropriate department chair or program director (based on the home department or program of the course and not on the student’s program of enrollment) within one week of the instructor’s response. The appropriate chair or director will review the appeal and provide a written response to the student within three weeks.
  • An undergraduate student’s last opportunity for appeal is to the Vice Dean of Undergraduate Education. If a student wants to pursue a grade appeal at this level, the appeal must be in writing and be submitted within one week of the written response from the chair. The Vice Dean of Undergraduate Education must respond within four weeks of the student’s appeal, and the response must be in writing.
  • If a student believes that the grade is the result of identity-based discrimination, they should make a report through the Bias Report and Support System.

Incomplete Grades

A student may be eligible for a grade of Incomplete if they experience medical or acute personal challenges that make the satisfactory completion of course work difficult or unlikely. The student may request a grade of Incomplete (I) from one or more instructors and must take the following steps with each instructor:

  1. The student should meet with the instructor before the final examination or due date for the final paper/project to request the Incomplete. 
  2. If the instructor grants the Incomplete, the student and instructor should agree on the scope of the work remaining to complete the course and a date when it will be submitted. This date should be prior to the end of the next semester. The instructor should confirm with the student, in writing, the details of the work with respective deadlines.

Whether or not to grant an Incomplete is at the instructor’s discretion. When determining whether to do so, the instructor should consider whether the student has consistently attended and engaged with the course (for example, whether the student has submitted all assignments except the final assignments/assessments) and made satisfactory progress in the course. Incompletes should not be granted unless the student has completed at least two-thirds of the assignments/assessments for the course.

If sufficient work has not been completed, the grade of Incomplete will not be feasible. In such situations, the instructor will submit whatever final grade the student has earned. The student may repeat the course at a later time if they choose. (For information about repeating a course, see below.)

If an Incomplete is granted, the work should be completed in the time frame agreed upon with the instructor. This time frame should not extend past the last day of classes of the following semester.

  • Spring semester Incomplete grade: Deadline for resolution of Incomplete grade is the last day of classes in the summer semester
  • Summer semester Incomplete grade: Deadline for resolution of Incomplete grade is the last day of classes in the fall semester
  • Fall semester Incomplete grade: Deadline for resolution of Incomplete grade is the last day of classes in the spring semester

Failure to submit completed work within the relevant time frame will result in the grade of Incomplete being automatically changed to a grade of F (or, in the case of a course being taken as Pass/Fail, to a grade of NCR).

Further, students cannot have a grade of Incomplete on their transcripts when their degrees are conferred. Thus, students who are expecting to graduate at the end of the semester in which the course being considered for an Incomplete was taken should not request or be granted a grade of Incomplete.

Any student who does have an Incomplete on their transcript at the time of certification and degree conferral will have the Incomplete changed to a grade of F (or, in the case of a course being taken as Pass/Fail, to a grade of NCR).

Grades cannot be changed after the conferral of a student's degree.

Note: If an Incomplete is granted, students cannot be added to the Canvas shell of a subsequent offering of the course in order to complete the previous enrollment. Instead, at the instructor’s request, the student can be given access to the original course shell, and the instructor can reopen assignments within that course shell. All work for an Incomplete should occur within the original course’s Canvas course shell or outside of Canvas entirely.

By action of the faculty of the College of Arts & Sciences and the ArtSci Council, the College limits the number of accrued grades of Incomplete (I). The policy is intended to protect the student from building an overwhelming burden of unfulfilled course work. The regulation reads as follows: "Students who accrue three or more Incompletes will not be permitted to enroll for any subsequent semester until the number is reduced to two or fewer." Should students have too many Incompletes, they will be declared ineligible for subsequent semesters until they have complied with the regulation. Compliance is normally achieved by the posting of grades online, but it also may be achieved by the professor(s) confirming to the College Office that the student has turned in all requisite assignments for the relevant class(es).

Pass/Fail Option

To encourage students to enroll in courses they might not otherwise take, the faculty has established the Pass/Fail option under which a student may register for courses and receive a grade of credit (CR) or no credit (NCR). During any semester, a full-time student may enroll in one course under the Pass/Fail option. A maximum of 24 units earned under this option may be applied toward the AB degree. Each semester, students must designate, at the time of registration, which course is to be taken under the Pass/Fail option. No change into or out of the option may be made after the dates designated in the dates and deadlines calendar, which is published online in the Course Listings each semester.

No more than 12 of the 24 units allowed for the credit/no credit option may be applied to area distribution requirements.

It is the student's responsibility to discuss what constitutes a successful pass/credit in a particular course with the faculty member. Although the pass mark is generally a C-, instructors have the discretion to set the pass mark higher in their individual courses.

The first-year writing course, the writing-intensive course, the applied numeracy course, and courses in the major and minor are excluded from the Pass/Fail option. Pre-professional and prospective graduate students should also seriously consider the strong probability that professional schools may seek more definite grades than CR in courses that are required or strongly recommended for admission to professional or graduate study.

A few courses, particularly designated by departments, may require enrollment on a Pass/Fail basis. When courses are designated as Pass/Fail, students are permitted to elect an additional course to be taken as Pass/Fail but should carefully consider the consequences of that choice.

Reading Days and Final Examination Period

When registering for classes at Washington University, students commit to all course requirements, including the examination procedures chosen and announced by the course instructor. When selecting courses, students are advised to take note of all final exam information. Students anticipating conflicts in their final examination schedule should seek to resolve them with the relevant instructors before enrolling. Students should not register for courses that result in three or more final examinations on one day. If a student does so, the instructors are not obligated to offer an alternative exam.

Final exam days and times are subject to change. The most current final exam schedule information can be found on the Course Listings website.

Minimum and Maximum Course Loads

The average course load necessary to fulfill the required 120 units for the bachelor's degree in a timely fashion is 15 units — typically five courses — each semester. Except for students approved for a reduced course load through Disability Resources, students must attempt a minimum of 12 units to be considered full-time. Students may not enroll for more than 21 units without permission and an additional per-unit tuition charge. Any enrollment between 12 and 18 units is considered typical.

Courses that require more preparation and class time than average — for example, foreign languages, mathematics and science — may carry 4 or 5 units of credit. When enrolled in these and other demanding courses, students should consider taking fewer than 15 units of academic work in that particular semester and balancing such intensive semesters with a modestly increased number of units in subsequent semesters.

Repeating a Course

Students whose performance in a course has not met their expectations are permitted to retake the course, receive a second grade, and have the letter R (denoting the retake) placed next to the grade for the first enrollment. All registrations will show on the transcript; however, only the grade and units of the final enrollment will be used to calculate the GPA.

Note: This procedure should be reserved for serious cases, such as a grade of D or lower in a course required for the major.

Regulations: Although courses initially taken as Pass/Fail may be retaken for a letter grade, courses initially taken for a letter grade must be retaken for a letter grade. Credit earned in the original enrollment will not be revoked should a failing grade be earned in the second or subsequent enrollments. Except in the case of a retake of an unsuccessful audit, the retake policy will not be invoked if the grade option for the original enrollment was audit.

Academic Progress

Students are expected to maintain the highest level of scholarship during their time at Washington University. At a minimum, students must meet the standards set by the faculty and those mandated by the U.S. Department of Education. (Additional information about Satisfactory Academic Progress [SAP] is available from Student Financial Services.) Based on these standards, the College of Arts & Sciences requires that students complete a minimum of 12 units per semester with a minimum 2.0 semester GPA.

To determine if these standards are being met, all student records are examined by the Committee on Academic Progress at the close of each semester. At that time, each student's semester GPA is computed as the total grade points earned during the semester divided by the total letter-graded units attempted. At the same time, the cumulative GPA is computed as the quotient of the cumulative total of grade points divided by the cumulative total of letter-graded units attempted. The computations are made on the basis of the grade-point scale indicated in the Units and Grades section above. Courses taken on a Pass/Fail basis are not included in these calculations. Each student's semester and cumulative GPAs are then reviewed, along with other criteria, to determine if a student will move from good academic standing to academic concern, academic notice or academic time away status or to an improved status when the student's grades begin to recover. The College will work with students who are placed on academic concern, academic notice or academic time away status to develop a plan for achieving SAP within a set period of semesters.

Academic Concern

Academic concern is an early alert to the student and their advisors that additional support may be needed to maintain academic progress. Academic concern status may be applied the first time a student meets one of the following criteria: 

  • Student received a D or an F in a course
  • Student successfully completed fewer than 12 units with a semester GPA or cumulative GPA  between 2.0 and 2.5
  • Student has a semester GPA or cumulative GPA above 2.0 with two Incompletes
  • Student earned lower than a C- in College Writing
  • Student had two or more grades of Incomplete for the term, regardless of current completion status

In order to be eligible to return to good academic standing, a student on academic concern must address the academic issues identified by the Committee on Academic Progress. Students who fail to adequately address those issues may be moved to academic notice or academic time away status.

Academic Notice

Academic notice represents significant difficulties regarding a student’s academic progress. In the event that a student is placed on academic notice, the student will be expected to participate in an academic success program the following semester (e.g., progress counseling, student success course, mentoring). The student must complete an academic agreement to map out how improvement will be achieved. Failure to attend class or complete work in a timely manner may result in termination of enrollment for that semester.

Academic notice status may be applied when a student meets one of the following criteria for more than one term or meets multiple criteria in one term:

  • Student received Ds or Fs in more than one course
  • Student has two unresolved Incompletes
  • Student has a semester or cumulative GPA of less than 2.0 and earned fewer than 12 units
  • Student did not earn the minimum required grade in any major-related courses
  • While on academic concern, student received more than one final grade of D, F or I
  • While on academic concern, student did not meet the requirements to return to good academic standing in the current term

In order to be eligible to return to good academic standing, a student on academic notice must address the academic difficulties identified by the Committee on Academic Progress. Students who fail to adequately address those difficulties may be moved to academic time away status.

Academic Time Away

Academic time away requires that a student take a break from course work. This break allows the student time to address matters that have significantly impeded their academic progress. Academic time away may be applied when the student meets one of the following criteria:

  • Student received Ds, Fs and/or Is in the majority of their courses
  • While on academic notice, student received more than two final grades of D, F or I
  • After having been on academic notice in the current or previous term(s), student did not meet the requirements to return to good academic standing in the current term
  • Student has three or more unresolved Incomplete grades (see the Incomplete Grades section above)

Students may return to the College of Arts & Sciences from academic time away only when they demonstrate, under the conditions set for each individual case, a capacity to work productively at the level required by the college curriculum.

Leaves of Absence

Undergraduates in good standing at the completion of a term are eligible to take a leave of absence (LOA) by completing an LOA request. Students on LOA are assured reinstatement for the next two years. Before returning, students are asked to notify the College Office and submit a Reinstatement Form at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the appropriate term. Students should consult with the College Office for the specific date for the appropriate term. The forms for requesting an LOA and reinstatement are available on the College's Policies & Procedures webpage.

A student wishing to take a medical leave of absence (MLOA) must have a recommendation from the Habif Health and Wellness Center and a completed MLOA request submitted to the appropriate dean in the College Office. A student wishing to return from an MLOA must have a recommendation from the Habif Health and Wellness Center and a completed MLOA reinstatement request submitted to the appropriate dean in the College Office. Upon reviewing the recommendations from the Habif Health and Wellness Center and the student's file, the dean in the College Office will decide whether to grant the request for the MLOA and/or re-enrollment. The required forms for an MLOA and reinstatement after an MLOA are available through the Habif Health and Wellness Center.

Transfer Credit

With preapproval, courses from accredited colleges and universities can be transferred to Washington University and will count toward the student's 120 units required for the Bachelor of Arts degree; such courses may also serve as prerequisites to advanced courses and may count, with prior departmental approval, toward a student's major or minor. Transfer credits do not, however, substitute in Integrations or count toward other Arts & Sciences distribution requirements. No transfer credit will be accepted for courses taken while a student is suspended from Washington University for violations of the University Student Judicial Code or Academic Integrity Policy.

For further information pertaining to transfer credit, matriculating first-year students should visit the Pre-Matriculation Credit section in this Bulletin; transfer students should visit the Transfer Students section in this Bulletin.

Military Training

Army and Air Force ROTC programs are available at Washington University.

ROTC courses numbered I25 MILS 3010, MILS 3020, MILS 4010 and MILS 4020 and AFROTC courses numbered I02 MAIR 3010, MAIR 3020, MAIR 4010 and MAIR 4020 will be granted full credit toward the AB degree for a total of 12 units. The courses do not count toward the 90 minimum Arts & Sciences units required for the Bachelor of Arts degree and are categorized in the 30 maximum units that students may earn in courses taken from the McKelvey School of Engineering, the Olin Business School, the Sam Fox School, or the School of Continuing & Professional Studies. These courses are letter graded and count toward the GPA, as do courses from the School of Continuing & Professional Studies and the professional schools listed above.

ROTC courses numbered I25 MILS 1010, MILS 1020, MILS 2010 and MILS 2020 and AFROTC courses numbered I02 MAIR 1010, MAIR 1020, MAIR 2010 and MAIR 2020 will be granted 1 credit each for the Physical Training component, as is commensurate with performance courses currently receiving credit toward the Bachelor of Arts degree, including courses listed under L28 Physical Education. Such courses do not count toward the GPA.

School of Continuing & Professional Studies Courses

Students in the College of Arts & Sciences may enroll in course work offered by the School of Continuing & Professional Studies as long as the enrollments do not exceed one course per semester and a maximum total of 24 units. School of Continuing & Professional Studies courses are subject to the degree requirement that stipulates that only 30 units from any of the other schools of the university may be applied to the Bachelor of Arts degree. School of Continuing & Professional Studies courses do not fulfill distribution requirements and may only count for a major or minor with approval from the relevant department. Students in the College of Arts & Sciences do not receive credit for online courses offered by the School of Continuing & Professional Studies.

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