Mercyhurst University recently announced changes to its academic calendar that are designed to enhance choices and opportunities for its students, particularly in the area of experiential learning, long the cornerstone of a Mercyhurst education.
Historically, Mercyhurst’s calendar has featured three 10-week terms during the September-May academic year. The new 4-1-4 configuration, slated to replace the trimester in fall 2013, includes two 14-week terms separated by a January term. The month-long J-Term provides for intensely focused internships, study abroad opportunities, research initiatives and more concentrated classes where students can learn in depth a particular problem, question, issue or technical skill.
"One of the most important aspects of transitioning from a college to a university is positioning ourselves in the highly competitive educational marketplace,” notes Mercyhurst President Dr. Tom Gamble. “This more conventional calendar helps us promote ourselves as a university that offers a great combination of classic liberal arts and hands-on, engaged learning."
The academic calendar change is a faculty initiative that resulted from extensive collaboration with and input from faculty, staff and students. The new calendar, approved by University Council, Faculty Senate and Mercyhurst Student Government, was officially authorized by the university’s Board of Trustees at its spring meeting on May 5, 2012.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How many classes am I required to take during a full-time semester?
A: Full-time students must take between 12 and 18 credits per semester, which is flat-rate billing.
Q: How many credits do I need to graduate?
A: Beginning with the Academic Year 2013-2014. incoming students and students who have left the institution for more than one year and who re-apply to the university will be required to complete 121 credits. Current ACTIVE students will be held to the 120 credit requirement.
Q: What is a J-term?
A: J-term (January term) is one month of classes taken Monday through Friday at specified times. All students must take two J-terms, with the exception of current Sophomore and Juniors (students have the option of taking all four years of J-terms, but are only required to take two).
Q: Do adult students have to take the J-term?
A: Adult students are not required to take a J-term during their matriculation. They may be required, however, to attend one or more J-terms if their major department has a course offering that would unavailable at any other time.
Q: Do transfer students have to take the J-term?
A: Transfer students will be required to take at least one J-term during their matriculation. They may be required to take more than one if it is due to a major course offering that would unavailable at any other time.
Q: How are J-terms billed?
A: Students who register for a J-term must also register for Spring term courses, otherwise they will be considered less than part-time and not eligible for financial aid. J-term charges are combined with the Spring term bill, and will be charged flat-rate billing.
Q: If I am a current student, how do I know I will graduate on time with the new semester change?
A: Current students must meet with their Academic Advisor prior to Fall semester 2013 to ensure they are meeting graduation requirements for their degree program. Academic Advisors will assist students to map out the proper courses so there is not a disruption in graduating on time.
Q: How many credits do I need to take if I want to use financial aid?
A: Part-time students must take six credits per semester in order to be eligible to receive Federal student aid; full-time students must take between 12 and 18 credits per semester (not including J-term, see above) for Federal student aid eligibility. Students must be registered full-time to receive Mercyhurst University institutional grants and scholarships.
Q: If I am registered for J-term only and will not be registered for Spring semester, how does that affect my bill and financial aid?
A: You will receive a bill in December for 3 credits and any applicable fees, meals, or housing. The bill is due in January. There is no financial aid or institutional scholarships or grants available for J-term. Therefore, you would be responsible for direct payment. Certain Alternative Loans may be available which you could apply for directly. Most Alternative Loans require a cosigner.
Q: Will the Senior Exemption Policy be available in 2013-14 and beyond?
A: No, there will be no Senior Exemption Policy available in the 2013-14 year or beyond. Undergraduate students must be registered at least 12 hours in any semester to receive Mercyhurst scholarships and grants. Federal and state financial aid may be prorated based on their individual policies. Federal Direct Loans are available to those registered at least half-time (6 credit hours). Alternative Education Loans are available as well, and some lenders allow them for 3 credit hours or for past due balances.
Q: What if my total registered credits exceed 18 credit hours between J-term and Spring semester?
A: Your J-term credits will be billed with your Spring semester. If your total J-term plus Spring semester credits exceed 18 hours, you will receive an added credit charge for each credit over 18. Often times it is referred to as a "credit overload". Special permission is required by Michele Wheaton, Assistant Vice President for Academic Services, to register for more than 18 combined credit hours.
Q: If I register for a summer course in 2013, will I be billed at the current tuition and fee rate, or the new 2013-14 rate?
A: Summer is considered a "header" and is included as the beginning of the new fiscal year. Therefore, 2013-14 tuition and fee rates will apply.
Q: Is there any financial aid available for the summer?
A: Yes, Federal Direct Loans may be available for those registered at least 3 credit hours for the summer. Three credits constitute half-time enrollment for the summer period only. In some cases where the student is graduating at the end of the summer or the following fall semester, Pell and PHEAA grants may be available (if you qualify). A FAFSA form for he upcoming year is required to be on file. For summer 2013, the 2013-14 FAFSA must be on file.
Q: Will I be billed for my room and board during the J-term?
A: There is not a separate bill for room and board during the J-term; room and board is billed strictly for full academic year as a split between the Fall and Spring semesters.
Q: Who do I talk to if I have questions?
A: You may contact Michele Wheaton at (814) 824-2068.