Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
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Academics

Academic Policies

Credits for the A.B. degree

Credit for work at Wheaton. The unit of credit is the semester course. One course credit (the equivalent of four semester hours of credit) is awarded upon the completion of a semester course, and up to two credits for a yearlong course. Fractional credit may be awarded for courses that involve less than a semester's work and these fractional credits may also be divided across two semesters. These regulations govern the earning of course credits:

  1. At least 16 of the 32 credits must be earned in courses taken at Wheaton ("in residence"); normally these must include the last eight credits (the "senior residency requirement"). Students may, ordinarily at the time of their matriculation and before the end of their first year, seek transfer and/or advanced placement credit for work or examinations completed before enrolling at Wheaton, and all students may earn transfer credit for appropriate work completed at other accredited institutions. Students planning to complete the degree requirements in fewer than eight semesters, or wishing to waive one or both semesters of the senior residency requirement, should petition the Committee on Academic Standing before they have completed 20 course credits.
  2. The normal semester load is four course credits (16 semester hours). A full-time student must enroll in at least seven credits for any two consecutive semesters to maintain good academic standing. Students seeking to enroll in fewer than four credits or more than 5.5 credits must have the permission of the Committee on Academic Standing. Part-time status (fewer than three credits a semester) is only granted upon successful petition to the Committee on Academic Standing.
  3. It is recommended that no more than 6 credits among the first 16 (normally in the first two years) be completed in any one department, ensuring that most of the work in the major will be completed in the final two years.
  4. At least sixteen course credits of work must be outside the field of the major.
  5. Both semesters of a yearlong course must be completed before final credit and a grade are earned.

Alternative sources of credit. Credit toward the A.B. may be earned in ways other than through Wheaton courses. Transfer students may apply up to 16 credits toward the Wheaton degree from courses earned at other institutions before enrolling at Wheaton. These courses may be applied toward fulfillment of the Wheaton Foundations requirement and major requirements, as appropriate; however, neither the Connections requirement nor the three Divisional requirements (Social Science, Arts and Humanities, Natural Science) may be met by any credits earned outside of Wheaton College. Normally, transfer credits will be evaluated before the transfer student begins work at Wheaton.

Wheaton students may also earn credit at other institutions that can be applied toward graduation requirements. Students completing summer school or January courses or who enroll at other institutions while on a leave of absence from Wheaton normally submit an "Application for Transfer Credit" to the Office of the Registrar before beginning course work elsewhere. Transfer credits must be approved by the chairperson of the Wheaton department into which the credit shall be transferred. Students must earn grades of C or better for courses to transfer successfully to Wheaton College, though transfer grades do not appear on the Wheaton transcript and are not computed in the Wheaton G.P.A.

The college also grants academic credit for scores earned on College Entrance Examination Board (C.E.E.B.) Advanced Placement examinations and other examinations such as the General Certificate of Education (British University A-Levels), the French Baccalaureate and the International Baccalaureate, as approved by the associate dean of studies. The amount of credit and any conditions on recording it will be determined on the basis of departmental evaluation of the examination and the student's score. The college will grant advanced placement credit for college-level work completed before matriculation only when that work has been reviewed and credit recommended by the appropriate department, subject to the approval of the associate dean of studies. College courses taken during secondary school and used for graduation requirements are not eligible for transfer. Application for credit based on placement exams or college-level work is ordinarily made at the time of matriculation and completed by the end of the student's first year. A limit of eight course credits is placed on credits earned in this way.

Graduation Requirements

  1. A student must present 32 course credits for graduation.
  2. A student must attain an average of 2.00 (C) for all credits earned at Wheaton to maintain good academic standing and to qualify for graduation.
  3. Among the 32 course credits presented for graduation, each student must include courses that fulfill the general requirements of the Wheaton Curriculum.
  4. Each student must include among the 32 course credits presented for graduation courses that complete requirements for a major field of concentration. These are outlined in general here, but each major has its own specific requirements, which are detailed under departmental sections. Students are expected to declare their majors by no later than the end of the fourth semester by submitting a declaration form, signed by the appropriate major advisor, to the Office of the Registrar.
    • The major consists of a minimum of nine courses (more in some departments), at least three of which must be at the 300 level or above. Some majors require more than three advanced-level courses.
    • At least half the courses in the major must be completed at Wheaton, and at least 6 course credits in the major must be among the last 16 earned (that is, normally completed in the final two years).
    • A student must maintain an average of 2.00 (C) across all courses taken in the major. Courses in the major cannot be completed under the pass/fail grading option.

Honors

Outstanding students may attain a variety of academic honors at Wheaton. Students with semester averages of 3.25 (through the Class of 2011), 3.50 (effective with the class entering the fall of 2008) or better may be named to the Dean’s List. Others with outstanding achievements in particular areas may earn departmental prizes at Honors Convocation at the close of the academic year.

Students may become candidates for honors in their fields of concentration at the invitation of their major departments or advisors at the end of their junior year. Candidates for honors complete at least two semesters of special or independent work beyond the usual departmental requirements and an oral examination on that work. Most students will fulfill this requirement with two semesters of senior thesis (Individual Research 500) in their senior year. Candidates must also have an average of B+ (3.33) in all courses in the major and an overall average of B (3.0). Independent majors who meet the requirements for honors will be designated Wheaton Scholars.

Students may be granted the degree with Latin honors (cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude) on the basis of their overall academic record. High-ranking juniors and seniors may be elected to the Wheaton College chapter (Kappa of Massachusetts) of Phi Beta Kappa. Selected departments also nominate students to major honor societies within the discipline. Criteria vary by department.

Academic Standards

Grading. Letter grades are awarded in courses on a four-point scale as follows:

A = 4.00

B = 3.00

C = 2.00

D = 1.00

F = 0

Plus and minus grades are proportioned fractionally (e.g., B+ = 3.33, C- = 1.67). Wheaton awards grades of A+ as a commendation, but these grades award no more than 4.00 points.

In yearlong courses, a temporary grade is awarded at the end of the first semester and is replaced by a full-credit grade (most often two credits) at the end of the year. Students must complete both semesters of a yearlong course to earn a permanent grade and all credits.

Pass/D/F. Students admitted in Fall 2003 and later may complete three courses under the Pass/D/F option. This permits students to enroll in courses they might not otherwise take, with a minimal risk to their academic standing. Instructors are not informed that students have selected this option and will submit normal letter grades, which are then converted to P by the Office of the Registrar if the course is completed with a grade of C or better. This grade is not computed in the G.P.A. Any grade below C is recorded as submitted by the instructor and computed in the G.P.A.

Students may select this option at any time up to two weeks after final registration by properly informing the Office of the Registrar. Students should not expect to be able to use this option after that deadline in order to deal with academic difficulties in a course. The decision to use this grading option must be made on the basis of a student’s self-assessment of interests and abilities before the deadline, not on the basis of poor performance after the deadline.

Wheaton students may not elect the Pass/D/F option for courses used to fulfill the Foundations, Connections, or Divisional requirements of the Wheaton Curriculum, or courses for majors and minors.

Incomplete courses. Students who, for reasons beyond their control, find that they are unable to complete course work as scheduled may ask for an Incomplete by meeting with one of the deans in academic advising. Students are expected to provide documentation of the circumstances necessitating this Incomplete and the request must be supported by the instructor. Incompletes are recorded with the symbol "I" and must be removed within a specified time, normally before the end of the following semester. Incompletes cannot be granted by individual instructors. The notation “NG” is used only when an instructor has been unable to award a final grade; it must be replaced by a letter grade or Incomplete before the beginning of the next semester. Failure to resolve "NG" grades or overdue Incomplete grades will result in the grade being converted to "F" by the close of the following semester.

Occasionally, students may seek to drop or withdraw from a course for which they have registered. Students may do so up to the deadline simply by consulting their advisor and submitting a Drop form in the Office of the Registrar, as long as this does not leave them with fewer than four credits of course work (a normal course load). Students seeking to adjust their schedule below a normal course load or seeking to withdraw from a course after the deadline must petition the Committee on Academic Standing to do so and are urged to meet with one of the deans in the advising center to review the circumstances of their request before submitting it to the committee. When such requests are granted, the course will normally appear on the student’s transcript with the notation "WD." A student who wishes to withdraw from a course after the deadline without permission will receive a "WF" or "Withdrawal with Failure," computed in the G.P.A. as a failing grade.

Audit. Students may elect to audit a course (register for it without doing the work that would earn academic credit) with the permission of the instructor. Students seeking to audit a course must submit a Course Override form, signed by the instructor, to the Office of the Registrar by the audit deadline. Students may not switch a course from credit status to audit status after this deadline. The grade “AU” designates successful completion of a course as an auditor and is assigned only when the student has met the requirements of the instructor for attendance and participation as an auditor throughout the semester.

Good standing and normal progress. To remain in good standing, a student must maintain at least a 2.00 (C) semester and cumulative average, maintain at least a 2.00 (C) average in courses in their major, and maintain normal progress toward the degree. Normal progress requires that a student fall no more than two credits behind his or her class standing. Class standing is defined as follows:

Sophomore standing—8 course credits

Junior standing—16 course credits

Senior standing—24 course credits

Failure to meet any of these criteria could result in a range of institutional actions, from placing the student on academic probation through suspension for one year or academic dismissal. A student on academic probation who fails to regain normal good standing after one semester may be subject to suspension or dismissal by the Committee on Academic Standing. If a student demonstrates exceptionally poor academic performance, the college may suspend that student immediately, rather than first placing the student on academic probation. First-time probationary students are considered in conditional good standing and remain eligible for financial aid. (For students receiving federal financial aid, please refer to the Student Aid section for more specific information on the relationship between good academic standing and the aid award.)

Mid-semester evaluations. In their first year, students will be evaluated in each course at the mid-semester point; any first-year student whose work is unsatisfactory (below C level) at that time will receive a course warning, which obliges the student to meet with his or her instructor immediately. Warnings are not a part of a student’s permanent record, but provide an opportunity for students to remedy academic deficiencies at a point when positive results are still possible. Upper-class students may also receive warnings, although instructors are not required to submit warnings for these students. A student whose work is sufficiently poor as to make passing the course improbable may be prohibited by the instructor from completing the final examination and failed in the course before the end of the semester.

Students who have been excessively absent may also receive a mid-semester excessive absence notification. A student receiving such a notice should meet immediately with the instructor to determine the impact of those absences on their grade and the probability of successful completion of the course, and to resolve any registration errors.

Students may also receive mid-semester commendations, identifying that the work they have completed, to date, is of exceptional quality. Students receiving commendations are urged to meet with their instructors and advisors to discuss further work in this area.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  The college complies with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA precludes the college from sharing grades or other confidential information with anyone other than the student without the student’s consent. In particular, unless a student has signed a Release of Information form, parents will not be notified of their son's or daughter's grades. This can prove a challenge for parents accustomed to receiving report cards or notices from their son's or daughter's school. Students may complete a release through the Office of the Registrar to authorize the college to mail copies of grade reports to the individuals designated.

Similarly, if a parent wishes to have a conversation with an academic dean, instructor, faculty advisor or mentor, the student must sign a Release of Information form. Forms are available in the Office of the Registrar and the Advising Center.

Course Completion Requirements

Course registration. Continuing students register for courses online using our web-based system known as WINDOW (Wheaton Information Delivered over the Web). In order to maintain the faculty/student advising partnership, every student must meet with their faculty advisor to obtain a new registration PIN in each advising period preceding course selection week. Students away from the campus at these times will be contacted by the Office of the Registrar and may follow different procedures for course registration. Students not registered or improperly registered may not receive credit for their work.

Students may change course registrations without penalty or fee within the first seven days of instruction each semester.  Specific deadlines for adding courses, dropping courses, and choosing the pass/grade/fail grading option are published in the college academic calendar.

Complete instructions for using the system, processing exceptions and possible late fees as well as the academic calendar can be found on the Office of the Registrar's Web site: wheatoncollege.edu/Admin/Registrar/Registration.html

Integrity of academic work. All work submitted for evaluation in a course must be completed in accordance with the standards of academic integrity in the college’s Honor Code. All dependence on the ideas or language of others in a student’s written work must be properly acknowledged and documented; students should consult their instructors whenever they are unsure of their responsibilities toward the Honor Code. The code also means that a student may not give or receive aid in completing laboratory assignments, computer programs or other work assigned in courses. The Honor Code also precludes a student from submitting the same assignment in two or more classes.

Examinations and quizzes are normally unproctored—completed without faculty present. Students are on their honor to refrain from giving or receiving aid during an exam or quiz, and are obliged by the Honor Code to report any allegations of academic dishonesty, either to the College Hearing Board chair or the dean of students’ office. Regulations governing the administering of final examinations are available in the Office of the Registrar and distributed each semester to all students taking final examinations.

Students are required to acknowledge in writing the integrity of all work submitted and all exams or quizzes completed.

Class attendance.
Students are expected to attend classes regularly and are responsible for all work conducted or assigned in classes they miss. Individual instructors may set individualized attendance policies and enforce them. In certain classes, it may not be possible to pass the course once a student exceeds the number of allowed absences, no matter how valid the reasons for the absences. Accommodations for students who have missed classes, examinations or quizzes, labs, or deadlines for written work will be made only at the discretion of the instructor, who may require the student to have medical or other external confirmation that the accommodation is justified by circumstances beyond the student’s control.

In addition, according to Massachusetts state law, any student whose religious beliefs prevent class attendance or participation in any examination, study or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such requirement. The student will also receive an opportunity to make up any examination, study or work requirement that may have been missed because of such absence on a particular day; however, such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon the school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making this opportunity available. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student who takes advantage of the provisions of this section.

Completing course work. All course assignments except for final examinations or work in lieu of final exams must be completed by the last day of classes each semester. All final examinations or work in lieu of exams must be completed by the end of the examination period. No regular course work may be submitted after the last day of classes. Failure to meet these deadlines may, under special circumstances outlined above, be accommodated by granting the grade of "I" (or Incomplete). All Incompletes must be approved by one of the academic deans and require documentation of the circumstances necessitating the Incomplete.

Final exams. Students normally complete their final exams during the week following the last week of classes. Faculty may substitute a final research paper or some other project in lieu of an examination.

Final examinations may be pre-scheduled or self-scheduled, as determined by the instructor. Pre-scheduled exams are offered by the instructor during the final examination time associated with that class, as published by the Office of the Registrar each semester. Once a student’s registration in a class is final, he or she should identify any pre-scheduled final exam times prior to making any end-of-semester travel arrangements. Alternatively, final examinations may be self-scheduled, allowing students to select the date and time during exam week in which they wish to take that course final. Please note: The college cannot reschedule exams to accommodate family plans or holiday travel. The exam schedule is available at the beginning of each semester. Incompletes (I) may be granted only when circumstances are confirmed to be beyond the student’s control; students must receive permission from an associate dean in academic advising and work out a contract with the instructor for the completion of all work before the end of the next semester. Failure to complete work by that date shall result in instructions to the faculty member to submit a final grade, with zero points awarded for the work still outstanding or the award of a grade of “F.”

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