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 to the judgment of each department or instructor the number of absences of any kind a student may have and still expect to pass a course. The faculty expects each instructor to give reasonable consideration to unavoidable absences and to the feasibility of making up missed work. The student is expected to explain to instructors the reasons for such absences and to discuss the possibility of completing missed assignments.

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, to advisors and the College Office, to graduate and professional schools, and to employers to whom the student chooses to submit them. Grades are symbols of achievement in a particular endeavor and should not be confused either 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
N No grade submitted
S Satisfactory thesis work
U Unsatisfactory thesis work

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.

Incomplete Grades

If a student experiences medical or personal challenges that make the satisfactory completion of course work difficult or unlikely, they may request a grade of Incomplete (I) from one or more instructors. In such a situation, the student should take the following steps:

  1. Meet with the instructor before the final examination or due date for the final paper to discuss the request.
  2. If the instructor consents, agree on the work remaining to complete the course and on a date when it will be submitted.

If these steps are not followed, the instructor is under no obligation to award a grade of I. Failure to submit completed work by the last day of classes of the next full semester will result in the I grade being changed automatically to a grade of F (or, in the case of a course being taken credit/no credit, to a grade of NCR). For spring semester courses, this will be the last day of summer classes, typically mid-August.

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 credit/no credit 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 credit/no credit option. A maximum of 24 units earned under this option may be applied toward the AB degree. Students must designate which course is to be taken under the credit/no credit option each semester at the time of registration. 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 with the faculty member what constitutes a successful pass/credit in a particular course. 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 credit/no credit option. Pre-professional and prospective graduate students should also consider seriously 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 credit/no credit basis. When so required, students are permitted to elect an additional course to be taken credit/no credit but should consider carefully 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 — in 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 17 units is considered typical.

Courses in the college 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 a particular semester and then 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 in a course required for the major.

Regulations: Although courses initially taken credit/no credit (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 any of the enrollments is 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, as well as 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 at the close of each semester by the Committee on Academic Progress. At this 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 warning, probation or time away status. The College will work with students who are placed on warning, probation or time away status to develop a plan for achieving SAP within a set period of semesters.

Academic Warning

Academic warning is an early alert to the student and their advisors that additional support may be needed to maintain academic progress. Academic warning 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 warning must address the academic concerns identified by the Committee on Academic Progress. Students who fail to adequately address those concerns may be moved to academic probation or academic time away status.

Academic Probation

Academic probation represents significant concern regarding a student’s academic progress. In the event that a student is placed on academic probation, 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 probation 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 warning, student received more than one final grade of D, F or I
  • While on warning, student does 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 probation must address the academic concerns identified by the Committee on Academic Progress.  Students who fail to adequately address those concerns 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 allows the student time to address matters that have significantly impeded their academic progress. This status 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 probation, student received more than two final grades of D, F or I
  • After having been on academic probation in the current or previous term(s), student does 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 from academic time away to the College of Arts & Sciences 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. 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 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 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 Habif Health and Wellness Center and the student's file, the dean in the College Office will decide whether or not to grant the request for the MLOA and/or for re-enrollment. The required forms for an MLOA and reinstatement after an MLOA are available through 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 a 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. They 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 301C, MILS 302C, MILS 401C and MILS 402C and AFROTC courses numbered I02 MAIR 301, MAIR 302, MAIR 401 and MAIR 402 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 but will instead be categorized in the 30 maximum units that students may earn in courses taken from Olin Business School, the McKelvey School of Engineering, University College, or the Sam Fox School. These courses are letter graded and will count toward the GPA, as do courses from University College and the professional schools listed above.

ROTC courses numbered I25 MILS 101C, MILS 102C, MILS 201C and MILS 202C and AFROTC courses numbered I02 MAIR 101, MAIR 102, MAIR 201 and MAIR 202 will be granted 1 credit each for the Physical Training component, as commensurate with performance courses currently receiving credit toward the Bachelor of Arts degree, including courses listed under L28 Physical Education. Such courses will not count toward the GPA.

University College Courses

Students in the College of Arts & Sciences may enroll in course work offered by University College as long as they do not exceed one course per semester and a maximum total of 24 units. University College courses are subject to the degree requirement that stipulates only 30 units from any of the other schools of the university may be applied to the Bachelor of Arts degree. University College courses do not fulfill distribution requirements and can 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 University College.