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College-wide Policies

Academic Policies

Responsible office
Responsible party
Last revision
September 2017
Approved by
Faculty Executive Committee
Approval date
July 2014
Effective date
July 2014
Last review
October 2016
Additional references


All financial and administrative policies involving community members across campus are within the scope of this policy. If there is variance between departmental expectations and the common approach described through college policy, the college will look to the campus community to support the spirit and the objectives of college policy.


Term Check-In

Although most students have selected their courses prior to the beginning of the fall and spring terms, all students (new, continuing, transfers and readmits) must officially check-in at the beginning of each term — Blocks 1 and 5.  This process validates the student’s arrival on campus, intent to participate in courses for the semester and to fulfill all financial obligations. Failure to do so may result in courses being dropped. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the registrar’s office if he or she will not attend for the term.


First-year students select their FYE (First Year Experience) courses for blocks 1 and 2 for Fall Starts in the summer, or 5 and 6 for Winter Starts in December, previous to the beginning of the semester. During New Student Orientation Week, students meet with their academic advisers to review their choices. Then, during Block 2, first-year students select courses for blocks 3 and 4. Spring semester preregistration for blocks 5-8 will occur in late November.

In late March, five weeks are set aside for pre-registration (course enrollment) for the upcoming fall semester. During this period, students meet with their advisers to plan their academic programs for the next year. Also at this time they may discuss a choice of major and review their academic progress. Students must declare a major before registration for the junior year.

Students are responsible for entering their pre-registration (course enrollment) online using their SSB, Self Service Banner, account, before the end of the pre-registration period. Each student is allocated 40 points to bid on four courses per semester.  These points will determine who is enrolled in courses and who is placed on the waiting lists. Students will be put on the waiting list for a course when their point distribution fails to get them into the selected course. Students are responsible for completing all necessary listed prerequisites for any course; failure to do so may result in an automatic drop from the course by the registrar’s office or the instructor. Failure to adhere to prerequisites may jeopardize the student’s ability to perform at the level expected in the class.

Course Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend courses regularly and are responsible for course work whether present or not. The college believes in giving students as much freedom as is consistent with their academic progress. However, excessive absence, excluding illness or emergency, may result in a special probation or dismissal from the course with no credit.

The policy of Colorado College is to require attendance in scheduled classes in the week of all-college holidays and block breaks. Faculty members will explain any specific applications of this policy, such as grade penalties for unauthorized absences, at the beginning of each block. Since grades for graduating seniors are due by 2 p.m. Wednesday, the last day of Block 8, seniors are expected to attend all classes through the end of Block 8.

Course Changes

Students are permitted to add a course in progress during the first two days of a block with the signature of the professor. They may drop a course through 5 p.m. Tuesday of the second week. The half-block may be dropped by Thursday at 5 p.m. Students should be aware, however, that adding a course after the first two days of the block will be difficult or impossible, so that credit for the block will be lost if the course is dropped after the first two days. Students may add or drop courses to be taken in future blocks at any time prior to the beginning of those courses without the instructors’ signatures. Exceptions to the procedure must be authorized by a dean and affected professors. Students may not drop a course if involved in an Honor Council investigation.

Dropping a course without authorization automatically results in a grade of No Credit.

One of the primary goals of the Block Plan is to provide a framework within which students may devote all of their formal academic efforts to one course. Thus, it is not possible to register for more than one principal course during a block. However, students may also enroll in a maximum of three adjunct courses and a maximum of .5 unit of extended-format courses per semester. Students may also take a maximum of .5 unit during the January half-block. Unapproved overloads result in a loss of credit.

During the first or sophomore year, students are urged to consult with the department in which they wish to major to determine an appropriate schedule. To allow students ample time to pursue a sound course of study in their major, they must declare the major before registration for their junior year. However, they may change their major at any time.

Waiting Lists

A student is permitted to be on one waiting list for each block. When an opening is available in a course, the student first on the waiting list is automatically added when a space becomes available. Notification will be sent to the student’s Colorado College e-mail address. If a student is enrolled in another course the same block, this course is automatically dropped. Students who are allowed into class from the waiting list by the professor on the first day of class must officially add the course by turning in an add form to the registrar’s office. Students who fail to officially add the course lose the option of taking the course on the Pass/Fail option and must take the course for a letter grade.


Instructors decide the number and nature of examinations given in a course. Students usually will be given notice in advance of examinations, but unannounced quizzes and other criteria such as class discussions may help determine a student’s grade for the course.

Under the Block Plan, there are no final examination periods. Final exams, if given, will be held during the block(s) in which the course is offered. Instructors will decide on the method of evaluating student performance.

Students who are unable to take a scheduled examination as a result of illness or for other acceptable reasons may be given a make-up examination or may receive an “Incomplete” if there are unfinished requirements at the end of the course.

All examinations are to be given under the honor system. Briefly, this system means that teachers are to remove themselves from classrooms during tests, except for necessary announcements. The Honor Council may make exceptions to this rule. The professor shall designate the time allowed for each examination. There shall be no limitation as to where examinations shall be taken except as specified by the professor. The honor system shall apply to all written or oral examinations, to all reports, term papers, theses, and all other work done for credit. 

Independent Study

A student may initiate independent study to pursue in-depth certain aspects of a subject previously studied or to investigate an area of academic interest not covered in a regular course. The following guidelines should be observed:

  • Courses should have specific prior expectations established, clear to both the faculty supervisor and student.
  • Courses should have as a prerequisite sufficient prior course work in the area of the project to give the student a good basis for working independently, i.e., they should involve advanced, not introductory work.
  • Independent study should normally be for juniors or seniors who are likely to have sufficient academic maturity to succeed in it.
  • Courses should require the equivalent student workload of a regular course carrying the same credit.
  • Courses should be planned well ahead of time.
  • Courses should have the approval of the department or interdisciplinary program chair.
  • Consent of instructor is required.

Retaking Courses

Students may repeat a course in which they did not receive a passing grade. Such repetition may be required if a student received a “D+” or lower grade in a course in the major field, or a prerequisite requirement. Students may retake a course in which they received a passing grade. However, credit will be awarded only once, and both grades will be calculated into the appropriate GPAs.

Credit and Grades

The unit represents the academic work of a single block of three-and-one-half weeks. There are eight blocks in the academic year, and under normal circumstances a student can earn eight units of credit per year and 32 units in four years. Each unit is equal to four semester hours or six quarter hours. Adjunct courses provide .25 unit credit each, and extended-format courses provide up to .5 unit per semester. The January half-block allows students to earn .5 unit of credit.

Any first-year student who enrolls for fewer than eight blocks, and any other student who enrolls for fewer than seven blocks, must have the prior approval of the registrar’s office within the first two weeks of the semester of reduced enrollment.

The college provides a two-track system for all students. In a given course, students may choose to be graded by either the designation of A, A–, B+, B, B–, C+, C, C–, D+, D, and No Credit (G Track) or the optional system S/CR/NC (P Track). S = A through C–; CR = D+ or D; NC = No Credit; WF = Administrative Fail. For purposes of computing the grade point average, the following schedule will be used: A = 4.0; A– = 3.7; B+ = 3.3; B = 3.0; B– = 2.7; C+ = 2.3; C = 2.0; C– = 1.7; D+ = 1.3; D = 1.0; NC = 0.0; and WF = 0.0.

P Track passing grades are not calculated in the GPA; however, a grade of NC under either grade track option is calculated in the GPA. D+ and D grades under both G and P Track options do not fulfill all college requirements (critical perspectives, college-level language, writing proficiency, departmental major, minor, or prerequisites).  They will count toward fulfillment of the 32 unit requirement. There are no restrictions placed on the number of courses a student may choose under each option. However, students are expected to choose the option by which they wish to be graded at the time they register for courses. No change in the grading option is permitted after the fourth day of class without extenuating circumstances. Students who do not choose a grading track for a course are automatically assigned to the G track by the registrar’s office. A student may, with permission of the course professor, audit (Z Track) a course. No credit toward graduation will be awarded, but the audit, if completed successfully, will be recorded on the student’s transcript.

The college believes its grading system options offer a desirable versatility because they provide a commonly understood set of grades for consideration beyond the campus while preserving a simpler option for students who wish to be free of certain kinds of grading pressures. This “optional system” encourages students to take courses they might otherwise avoid out of fear of poor grades, and in general makes students much less “grade conscious.” On the other hand, the college avoids the risk that some of its students could be disadvantaged by the grading policy in the competition for jobs or graduate and professional school admissions.

In the interest of a more uniform grading policy that accords with our commitment to high academic standards, the college endorses the following revised statement of the meaning of grades at Colorado College:

A – Excellent work that reflects superior understanding and insight, creativity, or skill.

B – Good work that reflects a high level of understanding and insight, creativity, or skill.

C – Adequate work that indicates readiness to continue study in the field.

D – Marginal work, only minimally adequate, raising serious question about readiness -to continue in the field.

S – Work that falls in the range of A to C–.

CR – Work equivalent to a D+ or D.

NC – Failing work, clearly inadequate, and unworthy of credit.

WF - A grade of WF indicates that a student failed to withdraw officially from the course after the drop deadline, or abandonment of academic responsibilities.

No Credit Grades

If a student does not complete the work of a course and has no satisfactory excuse, the instructor must determine the student’s grade, which may be a No Credit. Unlike an Incomplete, failing grades cannot be made up and thereby changed to a passing grade simply by turning in a missing paper or taking a missed examination.

Grades of “NC” and “WF” are failing marks and will be calculated into the students GPA.

Grade Changes

At the end of each course, faculty submit final grades to the registrar. The judgment made by the faculty member when a grade is submitted to the registrar must be viewed as conclusive. Therefore, a request for a change in a final grade will ordinarily not be approved.

There are, however, rare instances in which fairness might justify a final grade change. This might be the case, for example, when there is demonstrable evidence of a mathematical error in the calculation of a grade, or where there has been an egregious error in grading by the instructor, such as the failure to read and take into account an entire exam or paper or a significant portion of one. Normally, grade appeals should be resolved between the student and faculty involved. A mere change of mind will not justify a change of a final grade.

The registrar’s office will allow grade changes in these rare cases. However, grades are to be considered final and will not be subject to change for any reason after a 12 month period from the end of the course. Also, grade changes are not permitted after the award of a degree. The 12 month period does not apply to graduating students.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

College students’ records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It restricts institutions from releasing grades and other educational records without a student’s written permission. Notification of FERPA rights is included in the student Check-In process at the beginning of each term.  Students may view their grades online through the student self-service system after grades have been submitted and recorded by the registrar’s office. Since the system is student-controlled, students are encouraged to share grade information with their parents. Students can also request official transcripts from the registrar’s office which includes complete course, grade, and GPA information.

Please click here for more information about FERPA.

Advanced Standing Credit

Colorado College encourages prospective students to take the most rigorous courses available at their secondary schools. When considering applications for admission, the Admission Committee takes special note of students who pursue such courses of study. The college also recognizes challenging course work by giving credit in some instances for Advanced Placement work (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) work, college courses, and certain foreign secondary degrees. No credit is awarded for CLEP tests or for life experience.

Approximately one-third of each entering class at Colorado College is awarded advanced standing credit. This credit can be used to satisfy general education requirements where appropriate (Advanced standing credit will not be allowed to fulfill Critical Perspectives requirements), to satisfy major requirements where the department allows, and to accelerate graduation. However, accelerated graduation is not mandatory; students are eligible to remain enrolled and receive financial aid for four full-time academic years. The college will award up to eight units (sophomore standing) in transfer credit to students whose scores meet the appropriate criteria. Note that the registrar’s office will not award double credit for the same subject earned through different programs (e.g., AP American Literature and IB American Literature), nor will it award double credit if a student takes a Colorado College course in the same subject matter. The registrar’s office will consider requests for credit after a student is admitted and has sent in the deposit.

Transfer Credit

Colorado College accepts transfer credit for previous work done by a student. The following guidelines are used in the transfer and awarding of academic credit from an accredited institution or approved program:

  • To earn credit at Colorado College, all transfer credit must come from a regionally accredited, degree-granting college or university (including community colleges) or a program preapproved by the office of international and off-campus programs for off-campus study and exchanges.
  • Students who have completed work at other colleges and who wish to have this work credited toward a CC degree must have official transcripts from those colleges sent directly to the registrar at Colorado College. Course descriptions/syllabi for each course may also be requested.
  • Students who wish to complete a semester abroad or study away as domestic exchange students must receive approval from the office of international and off-campus programs, department chairs or program directors, and the registrar’s office for all course work prior to enrolling.
  • A letter grade of ‘C–’ or higher is required to earn transfer credit. ‘D+’ and below will not earn transfer credit at Colorado College. Courses for which a Pass or Satisfactory was earned at another college will earn credit at Colorado College ONLY if the college can provide verification that the student passed with a letter grade of “C–“ or higher.
  • Courses must be substantially similar to Colorado College courses, and cannot duplicate, overlap, or regress from previous work.
  • One Colorado College unit is equivalent to 4 semester hours, or 6 quarter hours.
  • Grades do not transfer to Colorado College and are not calculated into the Colorado College GPA (grade point average).
  • For college study during secondary school, please see additional requirements listed under Advanced Placement credit.
  • Courses taken in disciplines offered at Colorado College are evaluated by the registrar in consultation with department chairs or program directors. The department chair or program director is the final authority on credit earned in his/her discipline.

Credit can be awarded for liberal arts courses taken in disciplines not offered by CC upon review by the registrar. If approved, these courses will be awarded general elective credit.

Dean’s List, Distinction, and Honors

A student will be placed on the Dean’s List if she or he attains a grade point average for the academic year of 3.75 or higher and no NC’s or Incompletes at the time the list is calculated (June 30 of every academic year). To qualify for the Dean’s List, a student must complete seven units, excluding adjuncts, in the academic year (six for graduating seniors), all seven of which (or, in the case of seniors, six) must be taken for a letter grade. Only credits completed at Colorado College or within an affiliated study abroad program will be used in determining eligibility.

Students with NCs or Incompletes who, because of extenuating circumstances, could not be considered for the Dean's List, may petition the Dean's Office for reconsideration. Please write a brief letter explaining and documenting the extenuating circumstances that prevented initial consideration for the Dean's List. Please submit your petition for review by the Vice Provost.

Certain departments in the college grant a special award of distinction at graduation to majors who have done especially outstanding work in their major field and who also have superior records in all their college work. The departments may offer special courses of independent work for students admitted to these programs.

The bachelor’s degree with honors — cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude — may be conferred upon those students who receive the recommendation of the Committee on Instruction. The degree summa cum laude is conferred only by a special vote of the faculty after individual consideration of each case.

Honors at graduation will be determined on the basis of grade point average computed from the last 22 units taken under the “G” grade track at Colorado College, including credit earned in ACM programs and the college’s affiliated programs. Any transfer student who completes a minimum of 18 units for graduation at Colorado College, and at least 16 units on the “G” track option, will be automatically considered for honors. Courses taken for less than .5 unit credit shall be excluded from the 22. The Committee on Instruction may consider individually the cases of students with fewer than the required units at Colorado College. The registrar’s office will notify departments about students who have the required grade point average to be considered for honors, but who would not automatically be considered using the above criteria, and these students will be considered if recommended by a minimum of three faculty members. The Committee on Instruction will recommend to the faculty students who should be awarded their degree summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude. The total number recommended by the Committee on Instruction will normally be equal to approximately 20 percent of the graduating class. Faculty approval is not required except for the granting of the degree summa cum laude. 

Phi Beta Kappa: Standards for Election

Colorado College is home to the Beta of Colorado Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, America’s oldest honor society (1776). The chapter, chartered in 1904, consists of about 40 faculty and staff members elected at their undergraduate colleges and universities. The chapter inducts about 10 percent of each graduating class into lifetime membership, based on the students’ excellence in the liberal arts. Grades are the first indicator of this excellence, followed by a questionnaire asking the whole faculty to rate students. To be eligible, students also must meet the Society’s distribution requirements, particularly in the areas of language study and quantitative reasoning. Seniors are encouraged to make sure their transcripts are in order at midyear, and any student interested in membership should be aware that, in doubtful cases the chapter examines transcripts to assure that the Society’s standards are met. For more information, consult the Beta of Colorado website.

Incomplete and Excused Grades

If a student is unable, for a satisfactory reason such as illness, to complete the work in a given course, he or she will receive either a grade of “Incomplete” or “Excused” for that course. Incomplete grades must be made up by the beginning of the fourth block following the block in which the incomplete was recorded, unless the instructor sets a shorter time limit for completion of the prescribed work. If an incomplete is not made up within the prescribed time, the registrar’s office will automatically convert it to a grade of No Credit. In no case can an incomplete grade extend longer than one year after the block in which the course was taken.

After the second Tuesday of the course, students who want to drop a course must petition for a grade of Excused with a registrar. Normally, a grade of Excused will not be approved unless the student is passing and there are extenuating circumstances, such as illness or injury, that have affected the student’s progress in the course. The student must state a specific reason for requesting an Excused, and the instructor’s recommendation must be recorded. The registrar’s office will make the final decision.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Thirty-two units are required for graduation. Students should be aware that illness or grades of No Credit might prevent completion of one or more units during their four-year academic career. If necessary, the student can make up these losses by taking courses in the Summer Session or by taking adjunct courses (.25 unit each), extended-format courses (.5 unit per semester), or the January half-block (.5 unit) to reach the minimum requirement of 32 units. Students who receive financial aid must make satisfactory academic progress. Eligibility for Colorado College financial aid extends for eight semesters or through a semester in which 32 units are completed, whichever comes first. All credits earned and accepted by the registrar’s office are used to determine financial aid eligibility. Advanced Placement (AP) credits, International Baccalaureate (IB) credits, credits for half-blocks and extended-format courses, and adjunct credits are not used when determining the 32-unit (8 semester) institutional financial aid limit. For academic purposes of this policy, Colorado College does not consider Summer Session a full academic semester. For Federal Financial Aid review purposes, Summer Session is considered as a full academic semester. To compare Colorado College’s academic guidelines and financial aid academic progress policies, please consult with the Office of Financial Aid at Colorado College.

Each full-time student is allowed five years (10 semesters) to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree and receive federal financial aid. It should be noted that students have 48 attempted units of eligibility for federal funds. Eight semesters is the limit for college funds.

Full-Time Semester  Recommended Minimum # Units Recommended Minimum Cumulative GPA
1 2 units 1.7
2 6 units  1.7
3 9 units 2.0
4 12 units  2.0
5 15 units  2.0
6 19 units  2.0
7 23 units 2.0
8 26 units 2.0
9 29 units  2.0
10 32 units  2.0

Warning and Suspension

In Blocks 4 and 8 each year, the Dean’s Advisory Committee meets to review students’ academic records. The Dean’s Advisory Committee uses the following guidelines when reviewing academic progress:

First- and second-year students are encouraged to earn at least six units of credit during each of their first two years. Third- and fourth-year students are encouraged to earn at least seven units taken in any two consecutive semesters (spring and fall, fall and spring).

Normally, students complete a degree program within four years. However, the college recognizes that individual circumstances may warrant exceptions. The above guidelines will not apply to students who take less than normal academic loads for reasons such as illness, personal problems, or other pre-approved reasons. These students should obtain a written waiver from the Vice Provost.

Students failing to meet the requirements of satisfactory progress toward the degree may be liable for the following:

Academic Warning

  • Academic warning informs students that they are not progressing toward completion of their degree in a satisfactory manner.
  • Students who do not meet the minimum grade point average (GPA) for the semester or pass the minimum number of units (see chart above) in a semester may be placed on Academic Warning.
  • Students who earn one or more NC (No Credit/Failing) grades in a semester may be placed on Academic Warning as well.

Academic Probation

  • Students on Academic Warning who do not meet the minimum GPA or units earned for the following semester or who receive a No Credit in one or more courses may be placed on Academic Probation for the next semester.
  • While on Academic Probation, students must achieve a 2.0 GPA for the semester and pass four classes with a C– or better with no grade of Incomplete (I) in any of the four classes. The latter must be achieved for the student to be removed from academic probation.
  • Students on Academic Probation will be required to schedule an appointment and meet with their academic advisor each term to discuss degree progress and course scheduling.

Academic Suspension

  • Students on Academic Probation who do not meet the minimum GPA or units earned for the following semester or who receive a No Credit in one or more courses may be placed on Academic Suspension for the next academic year.
  • Academic Suspension is entered on a student’s transcript as a part of the academic record.
  • Suspended students meet with the Vice Provost to arrange for approval to take course work at another college/university during their suspension. The Vice Provost also will define the conditions for determining their readiness to return.
  • While on Suspension, students approved to take course work:
    • Must earn a 2.75 cumulative GPA in all transferable course work.
    • Should consult their academic advisor to discuss appropriate course work.
    • Should use the time off to directly address and resolve the factors that contributed to the academic performance difficulties.
  • After a one-year absence from the college, a suspended student may apply to the Vice Provost for reinstatement. 
  • Students will not be considered for reinstatement unless they have demonstrated significant improvement in academic performance at the college/university level and/or considerable and positive change in personal circumstances.     

Academic Dismissal

  • A student is subject to Academic Dismissal from the college whenever his or her academic performance is so low as to make the completion of a Colorado College degree unlikely.

Leave of Absence

Veterans’ Readmission Policy

Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, a student who is called to active duty in the United States Armed Forces or the National Guard or Reserve for a period of more than 30 days is entitled to reenroll in the same program, with the same enrollment status, number of credits, and academic standing as when he or she was last in attendance at Colorado College.

Readmission is allowed provided the student meets the following requirements:

  • The cumulative length of the student’s absences from the college because of service on active duty does not exceed five years (which period may be extended in certain cases, as provided by statute);
  • The student notifies the college upon completion of service that he or she intends to reenroll at the college; and
  • The student has not been discharged from the Armed Forces with a dishonorable discharge. 

Withdrawal from the College

All students who decide to interrupt their education at Colorado College and who do not qualify for a leave of absence, or who wish to transfer to another institution, are expected to withdraw formally from the college. A notice of formal withdrawal is available in the dean of students office. To withdraw from the college for the spring semester, a student must submit a formal notice of withdrawal by November 1 of the preceding year or forfeit the general obligation deposit. To withdraw from the college for the fall semester, a student must submit an intention to withdraw by March 1 of the preceding academic year or forfeit the general obligation deposit.

Students who withdraw to transfer to another institution and later wish to reapply to Colorado College must do so through the admission office as transfer candidates. Those students who withdraw for other reasons, such as time off to travel or simply to take a break from the educational environment, have the option of reapplying to Colorado College by writing directly to the vice president for student life or the dean of students. This option remains open for two semesters (one academic year) following withdrawal. The deadlines for reapplying through the dean of students for a given semester are November 1 for reinstatement in the spring semester and March 1 for reinstatement in the fall semester. After a lapsed time of two semesters or longer, students in this category who still wish to reapply to Colorado College must do so through the admission office. Students who withdraw formally from the college do not have the option of preregistering in the spring.