ACADEMIC POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
The registration process at Mercyhurst University begins with a conference between students and their advisors. The official registration period for each new semester usually begins in the second half of the previous semester. 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 for 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 twelve credit hours in any regular semester. Students who receive financial aid or government sponsored loans should consult with the Financial Aid Office before registering for fewer than twelve credits in any semester.
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 twelve credit hours in any regular semester. A part-time matriculated student is charged at a per-credit rate, plus additional fees as determined by the Vice President of Finance.
Non-matriculated students are permitted to attend classes if they have been approved by the Office for 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.
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.
Students may change their schedules during the first week of a new semester. 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 semester. 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 for 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.
Students who withdraw from a course after the first week, but before the end of the twelfth 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 twelfth week. Students seeking waiver of the rule because of a confining illness or a serious emergency must file a letter with the Office for Academic Affairs explaining the special circumstances. Before students withdraw from or drop a course in any semester, 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.
Students who maintain an academic average of B or higher for two consecutive semesters are permitted to take an additional course in the succeeding semester. Other students may take such an overload only with the permission of their faculty advisor and the Vice President of Academic Affairs.
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 semester in which the Incomplete grade 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 semesters or on theses should not register for credit until the semester 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 semester in which the grade was earned. No grade changes may be made without the approval of the Office for Academic Affairs.
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 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 semester. 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 for 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 for Academic Affairs. Students cannot register for independent study until their applications have been approved.
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 semester 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 semester. 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 for 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 for Academic Affairs and the Office for 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 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 121 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 in the first semester of the senior year. Applications are filed online and will be reviewed by the Registrar and the department chair (where necessary) indicating to confirm that requirements should be successfully completed before the end of spring semester. Students who do not complete their program before the end of spring term, but who could do so by the end of the fall semester following the graduation ceremony in May by taking no more than twelve 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 REACH 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.
Mercyhurst recognizes that some students wish to enhance their educational experience by obtaining majors in two departments. Such an academic program is challenging, since the student is expected to take signification additional coursework while meeting the rigorous academic standards of two departments.
Specific requirements for those wishing to obtain a double-major are:
- Approval/signatures of appropriate Department Chair(s) and College Dean(s)
- The expectation- 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.
- Some students may choose to double-major in closely related fields. In this case, students will be required to take eight uniquely distinct courses in each major- In some cases, this minimum course requirement for each major might 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.
Students often find that a minor area of specialization adds considerably to their educational program. While choosing a minor is not required, Mercyhurst encourages students to examine the possibility of a minor in addition to the major. If students choose to minor in a field that is closely related to their major and/or additional minor, each minor would be required to consist of four uniquely distinct courses.
Students who wish to develop a major or minor program not currently listed in the University 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.
Contract majors will typically be titles as a Multi-Disciplinary major with two concentration areas. All contract majors will be Bachelor of Arts degrees. The final decision about the major or minor rests with the Office of the Provost. 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 Office of Admissions. 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 80 credits can be applied to the student's overall requirements either transferred, earned through Prior Learning Assessment, or a combination of the two- and no more 50% of a student's major course requirements can be earned in the same way.
Mercyhurst University, upon careful review by Office for Academic Affairs and/or department chair, will accept a maximum of 15 credits from non-regionally accredited post-secondary institutions which are accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and legally authorized to grant specialized associate degrees or higher. Coursework will be evaluated for transfrer credit, only if the content of the coursework is in reasonable conformity to the Mercyhrust University curriculum and when a grade of "B" or higher has been earned. In all cases, accepted transfer courses will carry an award of credits, but neither a grade, nor quality points will be awarded.
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 Office of Academic Support).
Students who officially withdraw before the close of the semester 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 for Admissions for readmission during the next regularly scheduled semester or session.
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 for 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.