Since the College requires that students be exposed to areas of knowledge and ways of thinking which may be new to them and which may radically change their ideas about their eventual majors, and since it is important that this diversified experience be gained early, the faculty strongly recommends that first-year students take no more than one course in any department in either semester of the first year. For the same reasons, sophomores are strongly encouraged to take no more than two courses simultaneously in any one department.
The responsibility for knowing and meeting the applicable degree requirements as well as the academic regulations of the College rests with each student. If there are any questions regarding these regulations, they should be raised with the student’s academic advisor or dean.
Registration and Course Load Policies
Detailed information concerning registration is issued by the Registrar’s Office each semester. Registration deadlines for courses offered at Haverford and Bryn Mawr are the same. However, there are different registration deadlines and procedures for courses offered at Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania.
Students normally register for four course credits per semester, but since exceptions to this general rule exist, they may arrange their programs with some flexibility. With consent of their advisors, students may enroll or pre-enroll for five credits in a given semester, or more than five credits with the approval of both their advisor and their dean.
If a student wishes to carry fewer than four credits in a semester and does not have sufficient extra credits by the end of that semester to be on schedule to graduate in the maximum of four years (eight semesters) of study, he or she must seek approval from his or her dean. In order to maintain campus housing privileges, students must enroll for a minimum of three credits in any given semester regardless of whether they are on or ahead of schedule to graduate in the maximum of four years of study.
Students permitted a credit overload or an underload during any given semester must pay full tuition, regardless of the number of credits taken.
Students are expected to achieve the following in order to make satisfactory progress toward the degree and be advanced to the next grade level:
- end of first year: 8.0 course credits
- end of sophomore year: 16.0 course credits
- end of junior year: 24.0 course credits, full senior standing
- end of senior year: 32.0 course credits and fulfillment of all other requirements for the degree.
A student carrying at least four course credits in a semester may elect to take up to one course credit Pass/Fail. The grade entered on the transcript for a course taken Pass/Fail will be a "P," if passed; “0.0,” if failed; or a "W," if withdrawn. The student and the student’s advisor will receive an official grade report showing the numerical grade in the course.
The Pass/Fail option exists to encourage students to take intellectual risks and to explore new and challenging areas of study without an overriding concern that such a move may have a deleterious effect on her/his GPA.
To take a course Pass/Fail, a student must inform the Registrar, using a form obtainable from the Registrar’s Office, by the end of the third week of classes for quarter courses and by the end of the sixth week of classes for full-semester courses. The student must obtain approval from his/her advisor. When the instructor of the course is the student’s advisor, the student must obtain approval from his/her dean.
All courses taken Pass/Fail may be converted to a numerical grade if a student chooses to uncover the numerical grade on her/his transcript. Any course for which a numerical grade is recorded—even if initially taken Pass/Fall—may count towards the fulfillment of requirements in a student’s major, minor, or concentration; the quantitative requirement; distribution requirement; and the language requirement.
For more information on the Pass/Fail rule, please consult the Academic Regulations Guidebook.
Independent Study Courses
Many departments offer independent study courses to encourage independent work by qualified students. These courses provide opportunities to investigate topics not covered in formal courses, do extensive reading on a subject, do fieldwork, or engage in library research. Students wishing to undertake independent study must secure permission for the project from their advisor and from a faculty member willing to supervise the work prior to registering for the course. Members of the faculty are under no obligation to supervise independent study courses. Such courses done without faculty supervision will not be given college credit. The course requirements for independent study are determined jointly by the instructor and the student. Students may register for up to one credit of independent study per term.
Academic Regulations Guidebook
For more information on Academic Regulations and Special Academic Programs, please consult the full Guidebook (pdf).