Academic Policies & Procedures

Registration

The registration process at Mercyhurst University begins with a conference between students and their advisors. The official registration period for each new term usually begins in the last month of the previous term. Students who register after the official registration period are subject to a late penalty fee. No student will be registered without the advisor's online registration approval or signature; nor will any registrations be accepted after the official ending of the registration period without approval of the Office of Academic Affairs.

Full-time student status

Mercyhurst University considers a full-time student to be one who carries at least 24 credit hours per academic year and who carries a minimum of eight credit hours in any regular term. Students who receive financial aid or government sponsored loans should consult with the Financial Aid Office before registering for fewer than eight credits in any term.

Part-time student status

A part-time student is one who is officially registered at the university but carries fewer than 24 hours during the normal academic year or who carries fewer than eight credit hours in any regular term. A part-time matriculated student is charged at a per-credit rate, plus additional fees as determined by the vice president of finance.

Special students

Non-matriculated students are permitted to attend classes if they have been approved by the Office of Academic Affairs. The usual policy is to permit a maximum of 12 credits to be taken before a student must make application for admission. The credits are then transferred to the matriculated status. The student is charged at a per-credit rate, plus additional fees as determined by the vice president of finance.

Course audits

Mercyhurst students who audit a course do so without working for, or expecting to receive, formal college credit. Students may audit undergraduate courses; however, laboratory courses may not be taken as audit. A student may not change the audit course to credit (or a credit course to audit) after the drop/add period. Audit will be recorded on student transcripts as AU, which carries neither credit nor quality points. Permission of the instructor is required in order to register for the course.

Schedule changes

Students may change their schedules during the first week of a new term. All schedule changes must have the signed approval of the student's faculty advisor.

Class attendance policy

Every instructor will define, within the first week of the course, all factors on which the course grade is based. If classroom attendance is to be considered in calculating the course grade, students must be notified of this ahead of time, and a statement to this effect should be included on the course syllabus. Freshmen are required to attend class, and every faculty member, therefore, should indicate on the course syllabus the nature of the penalty for nonattendance.

Course examination policies

The academic calendar of the university provides for mid-term and final examination periods in each term. Faculty members are expected to provide for initial evaluation of student progress and to notify the Academic Support Office of those students whose progress is unsatisfactory (below 2.0) by the time stipulated on the calendar. All faculty are expected to give final examinations on the officially designated examination days. Any deviation from the official schedule must be approved by the department chair and the vice president of academic affairs. Faculty members may not give exams early or waive the final exam without the express consent of the department chair and the vice president of academic affairs, and then only under unusual circumstances. Faculty who consistently violate this policy may be considered in breach of their contract and will be subject to dismissal.

Course withdrawal

Students who withdraw from a course after the first week, but before the end of the seventh week of each term will receive a W (no grade, no penalty) for the course. There will be no withdrawal after the end of the seventh week. Students seeking waiver of the rule because of a confining illness or a serious emergency must file a letter with the Office of Academic Affairs explaining the special circumstances. Before students withdraw from or drop a course in any term, they should check with the Office of Student Financial Services to insure that there will be no loss in financial aid resulting from the change of registration.

Course overload

Students who maintain an academic average of B or higher for three consecutive terms are permitted to take an additional course in the succeeding term. Other students may take such an overload only with the permission of their faculty advisor and the vice president of academic affairs.

Incomplete grades

The incomplete grade (I) is a temporary grade indicating that work in the course was acceptable, though a significant or critical part of it was not completed due to illness or other serious circumstances beyond the student's control. It is the student's responsibility to verify these conditions. The I grade may not be used to extend time for course work or for the convenience of student or faculty member. Incomplete coursework must be submitted to the instructor no later than 30 days after the end of the term in which the I is given. If not completed, the I grade is changed to a grade of F. Students who are working on special projects that carry into other terms or on theses should not register for credit until the term when completion appears likely. While on the transcript, I grades will carry no penalty.

Change of grade

Grades received in a course are not changed except for special cases where teacher error is apparent. Grade change requests based on simple reevaluation of the teacher's original judgment are not allowed. Grade changes must be initiated within 45 days after the close of the term in which the grade was earned, with the exception of the spring term. Changes in the spring term must be initiated within 45 days after fall term has begun. No grade changes may be made without the approval of the Office of Academic Affairs.

Academic honesty

Students are expected to contribute actively to the development of an atmosphere of academic integrity. Mercyhurst University assumes, therefore, that students will not resort to plagiarism or any other form of academic dishonesty. Students found guilty of willful academic dishonesty may be subject to a broad range of sanctions. At the discretion of their instructor, they may be required to redo the plagiarized assignment, or they may receive an automatic F for the exam/assignment and/or course. Students found to be in collaboration with other students involved in willful academic dishonesty are also subject to disciplinary action.

With reference to class assignments: Academic integrity is an extremely important virtue in students and it is to be maintained in class assignments. Students should follow the directions given by faculty members about assignments. Assignments should be read in full, in the language assigned. Students are expected to do their own work; students are not permitted to submit work partially or totally done by another student or documents downloaded from the Internet. Use of computer-assisted translation on assignments to be submitted in a language other than English is likewise prohibited. Group work is permitted only when a collaborative effort is assigned; only those who actually worked on the assignment should have their names on the submission.

With reference to citations in formal writing: Students are expected to uphold generally recognized standards of citation in order to avoid plagiarism. Though individual instructors may alter the expectations somewhat, general principles include: the necessity to provide citations for any direct quotation, the need to provide citations for any paraphrased material, the need to credit theories or concepts to their authors through citation, and the need to provide full and accurate citations.

With reference to library conduct: Reading and audio-visual materials provided for the enrichment of the college community should be treated with respect by all students. Willful destruction of library materials, including but not limited to books, periodicals, manuscripts, CDs, videos and records constitutes academic misconduct.

With reference to taking exams: Any action that misrepresents the extent to which a student has mastered material assessed on an exam constitutes academic dishonesty or cheating. Cheating includes, but is not limited to the following types of activities: copying from another student's test or assignment or allowing another student to copy from your test or assignment; collaborating during a test with any person without explicit faculty permission; stealing, buying or otherwise improperly obtaining all or part of a test before the exam; taking a test for someone else or allowing someone else to take a test for you; altering responses after an assignment or test was graded, then reporting that there has been a scoring mistake; and marking two answers on a test, so that the choice is unclear in hopes that the teacher will assume a correct response was intended.

Security violations and misuse of computer resources

Mercyhurst University reserves the right to take serious action against any student who willfully releases restricted computer information; misuses the college's computer resources and/or violates the code of conduct for use of information technology. Such action may include (but is not limited to) the cancellation of computer privileges, immediate dismissal from work positions if applicable, academic suspension or dismissal (to be determined by the Office of Academic Affairs), and/or criminal prosecution.

Institutional Review Board

Research involving human participants must be conducted in compliance with federal guidelines. Students engaged in such research must receive approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Independent study

Independent study courses are reserved for students who have achieved a minimum of 70 credits, who have had substantial experience, a cumulative GPA of 2.5 in the chosen area of study, and who wish to pursue a specialized topic not offered in the regular program. Students enrolled in independent study courses must meet with the sponsoring faculty member at least one hour weekly during the term. Students who wish to study independently must first secure the approval of the department directors, their advisors, and faculty sponsors. A formal plan of study must then be filed with the Office of Academic Affairs for final approval. Independent study courses are taken only on a pass-fail basis unless the course is a major or minor requirement. Special applications for enrolling in Independent Study courses are available in the Office of Academic Affairs. Students cannot register for independent study until their applications have been approved.

Tutorial study

Tutorial study is available only to students who have completed a minimum of 60 credits and cannot enroll in the regularly scheduled course. Tutorial courses are different from Independent Study courses in that they are a part of the regular program and require no more special knowledge than that expected of students enrolled in a regular term course. Students who enroll in a tutorial course must meet the same requirements as those enrolled in the regular course, except that they must meet with the instructor two hours weekly during the term. Because there are fewer contact hours with the instructor, students whose grade point average is below 2.5 are not permitted to enroll in tutorial courses. Permission to enroll in tutorial courses is reserved for students who are completing a program or who are meeting other requirements. It is expected that tutorial courses will not be taken simply as a matter of student convenience or preference. Under most circumstances a student may only enroll in two such courses during their forty-course period. Exceptions are allowed at the discretion of the Office of Academic Affairs. Students who wish to enroll in a tutorial must seek the written permission of the department chair, the faculty advisor, and the tutor. Tutorial courses are graded on a pass-fail basis unless the course is a major or minor requirement. Special applications for tutorial study are available in the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Academic Affairs must approve the application. The approved application must be on file in the registrar's office before a student will be permitted to register for tutorial study.

Class standing

Class standing is dissociated from graduation requirements. For purposes related to academic study, a student with 0-29 credits is considered a freshman; 30-59 credits is a sophomore; 60-89 credits is a junior; and 90 or more credits is a senior.

Application for graduation

Students must complete a minimum of 120 credits in 100-level or above, non-laboratory courses to meet the graduation requirements of Mercyhurst University. Application to the Registrar for graduation must be made before February 1 of the senior year. Application forms must carry the signature of the department chair indicating which major requirements should be successfully completed before the end of spring term. Students who do not complete their program before the end of spring term, but who could do so by the end of the fall term following the graduation ceremony in May by taking no more than six credits, may participate in the graduation ceremonies. They will not receive a signed diploma. Students who have completed their program except for student teaching may also participate in the graduation ceremonies. Any change in a student's graduation status must be reported to the registrar's office by April 15.

Majors and double majors

In addition to the breadth of learning that occurs in Mercyhurst's core curriculum, students are expected to choose one area of study that meets their intellectual interests and career needs. This is the student's major, a specific field of study with its particular scope, content, and methods. Selecting a major indicates discipline; this presumes a command of the intellectual history of the discipline, knowledge of contemporary issues and problems in that discipline, and the repertoire of methods and approaches needed for creative contributions to that discipline.

In virtue of the intellectual demands both of the core curriculum and the major program of study, Mercyhurst does not recommend that students "double-major." This stipulated, Mercyhurst recognizes that occasionally some students wish to major in two departments. Such an academic program is extremely challenging, since the student is expected to take signification additional coursework while meeting the rigorous academic standards of two departments.

The requirements for a double-major are:

  • Approval/signatures of appropriate department chair(s) and school dean(s)
  • Approval/signature of the vice president of academic affairs
  • Students working toward a double-major are expected to develop expertise in two distinct areas of study, each of which has its own intellectual history, unique content, and methods of inquiry. Students will be expected to meet all major requirements for each department. Normally, double majors will be in non-cognate fields.
  • However, some students may choose to double-major in closely related fields. In this case, students will be required to take ten courses in each field, with the possibility of two courses over lapping. (Double-majors with more than ten courses in each major may have a higher number of overlapping courses.) In some cases, this minimum course requirement for each major will mean that students will have to take departmental courses or independent studies in addition to the listed requirements in one or the other discipline in order to establish the uniqueness of each intellectual discipline and to assure the intellectual integrity of major and double-major.

Minors

Students often find that a minor area of specialization adds considerably to their educational program. While choosing a minor is not required, Mercyhurst recommends that at most only one minor be selected in addition to the major. The primary rationale for this policy recommendation is time. An undergraduate student is not expected to learn everything, but to develop patterns of study, which will assure lifelong learning.

Contract major/minor

Students who wish to develop a major or minor program not currently listed in the college catalog may elect to put together an individualized contract major or minor. With the help and advice of at least two full-time faculty members, a student can choose offerings from several disciplines which meet a unique set of objectives or prepare him or her for a specialized job or career. Such a major or minor must not duplicate all, or even a substantial portion of, an existing program. The final decision about the major or minor rests with the Office of Academic Affairs. Student eligibility and requirements are listed in the course catalog.

Acceptance of credits from other institutions

Students transferring to Mercyhurst are required to identify all accredited and unaccredited post-secondary institutions they have attended, and ensure that transcripts from each institution are sent directly to the admissions office. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action. This information affects financial aid decisions as well as academic assessment. For such students, an admissions decision will be made, in part, on the student's previous performance. Mercyhurst will review courses in which the student has earned a C or better from accredited institutions and identify placement in the student's course of study at Mercyhurst. All courses considered for meeting requirements in the major will be reviewed by the department chair within the student's first term of study. No more than 75 credits total can be transferred, and no more 50% of a student's major course requirements. Mercyhurst University, upon the careful review by an academic officer and/or department chair, will accept no more than 15 credits from study at any proprietary technical/business school or other non-accredited school if the student has been awarded a two-year certificate or associate degree. Courses in which the student has earned less than a "B" will not be considered. In all cases, accepted transfer courses will carry an award of credits, but neither a grade, nor quality points will be awarded.

Acceptance of credits for online courses

Credits may be accepted for an online course if it meets all requirements of the current transfer credit policy and procedures, and was taken through an accredited institution that has a physical campus offering traditional, on-campus, in person courses.

Transfer credit for current Mercyhurst students

For students enrolled at Mercyhurst, written permission must be obtained before taking courses at another accredited institution for transfer back to Mercyhurst. Full approval including the submission of the off-campus course approval form to the registrar must occur prior to enrolling in a course. Juniors and seniors (those having already earned 60 or more credits) are not permitted to take lower level courses at two year institutions. Continuing students are not permitted to take more than eight courses at another institution.

Voluntary withdrawal from the university

Students who wish to withdraw officially from the university must complete the cease enrollment form (available in the academic support office) and also obtain the necessary signed approvals.

Students who officially withdraw before the close of the term will receive course grades based on the course withdrawal policy of the university. Students who have officially withdrawn and are in good academic standing may apply to the Office of Admissions for readmission during the next regularly scheduled term or session. If the student wishes to take off only one or two terms, the possibility of a stop-out should be explored with a counselor in the academic support office.

Exceptions to regulations/missed deadlines

Students who seek exceptions to the academic regulations must file a letter with the Office of Academic Affairs explaining the special circumstances which might permit waiver of the rules. Students who miss deadlines (drop/add, pass/fail, withdrawal, incomplete, etc.) and ask for an exception are required to obtain the written permission of the Office of Academic Affairs. These records will be kept on file and will become part of the record for future decisions on requests for exceptions. Exceptions to the regulations for serious reasons and waivers on deadlines will only be granted where valid documentation is provided.

Events

Civil War photo exhibit
Photographs of the American Civil War

Dates: Jun 12-Aug 3, 2014

Location: Cummings Gallery

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