Academic Regulations

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, the student should raise them with his/her advisor or dean.

  • First-Year Program

    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 eventual specialization, 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 normally will not be permitted to take more than two courses simultaneously in any one department. The Committee on Student Standing and Programs exercises general supervision over unusual combinations of courses.

  • Registration Procedures and Policies

    The registrar issues detailed information concerning registration each year, which is also published in the annual course guide. All deadlines for registration are the same at Haverford and Bryn Mawr. The dates are different at Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Course Load and Credit

    Students normally register for four course credits per semester, but since exceptions to this 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 their dean. Students may also register for as few as two credits, provided they are making normal progress toward completion of the 32 course credits in four years required for graduation. The latter condition may be met either by having accumulated extra credits or by evidencing, to the Committee on Student Standing and Programs, an ability to make up a deficit in the future.

    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 for the four-year graduation limit, he or she must seek approval of his or her dean, who acts for the committee in such matters. A student dissatisfied with the dean’s decision may have the case reviewed by the full committee. 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 be making 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.

    Should a student fail to achieve any of the above, he/she will not be advanced to the next grade level but will, instead, be referred to the Committee on Student Standing and Programs for action regarding the student’s continuing status at the College.

  • Pass/Fail Option

    A student carrying at least four course-credits 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, 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 it 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. Course requirements are determined jointly by the instructor and the student. Written evaluation of the work performed may be submitted to the registrar in place of a numerical grade.

    Students may register for only one credit of independent study per term. These courses are normally of half-credit value unless specified for a full credit by the instructor. To undertake more than one credit of such work, students must secure permission, in advance, from the Committee on Student Standing and Programs.

    Students may not undertake independent study work in subjects being taught in regular courses. Those wishing to explore more thoroughly a subject covered in an existing course are urged not to undertake an independent study course, but rather to consider the course intensification option.

    For more information on Academic Regulations, please see the Academic Regulations Guidebook.

Academic Regulations Guidebook

For more information on Academic Regulations and Special Academic Programs, please consult the full Guidebook (pdf).

Download the Guidebook