Academic Regulations

  1. Matriculation
  2. Studying, Grades, and Credits
  3. Transfer Credit
  4. Academic Standards
  5. Honor System
  6. Student Records


I. Course Load, Registration Status, and Progress to Degree

The BLA academic year consists of three terms (Fall, Spring, and Summer), and students in the BLA program are expected to be enrolled full-time across all three terms unless an exception is approved by a member of the BLA academic administrative staff. Full-time status is equivalent to two courses/8 credits per term. Anticipated time to degree is five years.

II. Course Withdrawal Policies and Procedures

Because students in the BLA program will not have regular access to Georgetown electronic systems, a request to withdraw from a course must be communicated to a member of the BLA academic administrative staff, ordinarily via paper form. If a student does not complete a course for which the student is registered and from which the student has not officially been withdrawn, a failure will be recorded for that course. The BLA academic administrative staff may also elect to have students withdrawn from a course when circumstances related to their incarceration prevent them from attending class for an extended period of time or fulfilling their academic obligations. As in main campus programs, courses dropped through the add/drop period will not be recorded on the transcript; thereafter, courses are considered withdrawn, indicated by a mark of “W” on the transcript. The deadline to withdraw from a course will be the last day of classes each semester.

III. Leave of Absence Policy

As in main campus programs, BLA students in good standing may, ordinarily on formal written request, be granted a leave of absence. Prior to approval, students will be required to meet with a member of the BLA academic administrative staff to discuss the reasons for the leave, the goals for the time away from the program, and tentative plans for return. The BLA academic administrative staff may also elect to place students on a leave of absence in the event that circumstances related to their incarceration prevent them from fulfilling their academic obligations for an extended period of time.

IV. Withdrawal from the Program

As on the main campus, a withdrawal from the program and the University will usually be granted, ordinarily upon written request, to any student in good academic standing and not subject to disciplinary action. Prior to approval, the BLA academic administrative staff will make every effort to meet with the student to discuss the reasons for withdrawal and options for continued pursuit of academic goals, including potential transfer to another institution.

V. Degree Conferral

The University confers degrees three times a year: in May, August, and December. Ordinarily, degrees will be conferred at the completion of the fifth year of full-time study, in August, but degrees can be conferred in December or May for students who finish off sequence.

A commencement celebration will be held annually, recognizing all students who have completed the degree in the previous twelve months.

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Studying, Grades, and Credits

I. Studying

The section on studying for main campus undergraduate programs articulates the expectation that “Students should expect to study at least 30 hours per week outside of class (i.e., at least six hours per three credit course).” The BLA program carries the same expectation: students in the program will spend at least 30 hours outside of class time each week studying, preparing for class, and participating in the co-curricular life of the academic community.

II. Grades and Grade Point Average

The BLA program will adhere to regular University policy on grades and employ the standard scale for calculation of Grade Point Average (GPA).

III. Pass/Fail Policy

Students in the BLA program may elect to take one elective course each semester on a pass/fail basis in their fourth and fifth years of study, up to a maximum of six courses.

The procedure for selecting the pass/fail grade option is as follows:

  • Students choose an elective course to be graded on a pass/fail basis during the add/drop period by submitting a pass/fail course request to a member of the BLA administrative staff. The instructor receives notification after the pass/fail request has been approved and processed.
  • The pass/fail option is restricted to free electives and must be exercised only for courses within the normal course load for a given semester. A department, for valid reasons, may designate certain of its courses as unavailable to the pass/fail option. Language classes at the language-learning level and studio art courses may not be taken pass/fail.
  • Pass/fail courses will be marked S (Satisfactory), equivalent to letter grades of C or better, or U (Unsatisfactory), equivalent to letter grades below C. Neither the S nor the U will affect the student’s QPI, but only courses marked as “S” receive credit.
  • Once a student has elected to take a course on a pass/fail basis, it is not possible, under any circumstances, to record a letter grade for that course.
  • The last day to request the pass/fail option is the last day to add a course for that semester.

IV. Incompletes

Students are expected to complete all work in a course by the deadline(s) determined by the instructor, and no later than the end of the final exam period. In the event that a student is unable to meet the standard deadlines due to illness, an emergency, or unforeseen circumstances at the end of the term, the student may request a provisional grade of N (“incomplete”). All requests for N grades must be approved by both the instructor of record for the course and a member of the BLA academic administrative staff. No provisional grade except N may be given, and absent approval from both the instructor and the BLA academic administrative staff, the student will be assigned an administrative failure or a letter grade (A through F) on the basis of all work completed by the regular deadline.

When an N grade is granted, the course must be completed by the new deadlines agreed upon by the student, instructor, and the BLA academic administrative staff, and the final grade submitted by the instructor no later than (1) March 30 for the fall semester; (2) September 30 for the spring semester; or (3) November 30 for the summer sessions. If the student has not completed the outstanding work by the new deadline(s), faculty will be required to submit a letter grade (A through F) on the basis of all work completed previously.

V. Grade Reports

Because students in the BLA program will not have access to MyAccess, the BLA academic administrative staff will provide paper copies of grade reports after all grades for the previous semester have been recorded and posted. Students may also request unofficial or official transcripts through a member of the BLA academic administrative staff. The University will not issue a transcript that reflects less than the complete student record.

VI. Grade Changes

When a professor determines that a grade change is justified (e.g., due to an error in recording or calculation), the professor will submit a grade change request, including the reasons for such a change, to the BLA academic administrative staff for approval.

As a matter of equity, professors cannot change final grades on the basis of additional work from an individual student after grades have been submitted. This includes but is not limited to revision of papers, retakes of tests, or submission of supplemental work. Professors who are asked to reassess work by individual students should be prepared to reassess work of all other students in the class.

The BLA academic administrative staff is responsible for ensuring that grade changes are not processed later than one semester after a course has been offered. A grade for a fall semester course may be changed by the professor until the end of the spring semester; a spring semester course until the end of September; a summer course until the end of November.

VII. Grade Appeals

When a student thinks that a given course grade is not justified, the student must first discuss the grade on an informal basis with the professor of the course and/or a member of the BLA academic administrative staff. After having discussed the grade with the faculty member or a member of the academic administrative staff, the student may consider a formal appeal of the grade.

Grounds for appeal: An error in grading procedures or inequity in the application of policies stated in the course syllabus are grounds for an appeal. A disagreement with the professional judgment of the professor should not be the basis of an appeal or any resulting change of grade. The appeal process involves a thorough review, which could result in the decision that the grade was too low, or, if such an error or inequity was found to have benefitted the student, that the grade was too high.

Initiating an appeal: If the student believes that there is reason for an appeal of the professor’s assigned grade, the student may make a formal written appeal to the BLA academic administrative staff. In the appeal letter, the student must state the grounds for the appeal and document any claims of grading error or inequities in as much detail as possible. The BLA academic administrative staff must then notify the faculty member of the appeal and provide a copy of the formal request. Such an appeal must be filed within the first thirty calendar days of the semester after that in which the grade was assigned.

Informal resolution of the appeal. The BLA academic administrative staff may try to resolve the appeal informally, but has no authority to change the grade assigned by the faculty member.

Resolution by faculty committee: If the BLA academic administrative staff is not able to resolve the appeal informally, then a committee of three impartial faculty members will review the complaint and decide the issue. After hearing from the faculty member and the student (or determining that they are unavailable), and taking whatever other steps it deems necessary, the appeals committee shall decide whether to sustain the original grade, raise it, or lower it. The committee’s decision is final.

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Transfer Credit

As in main campus programs, students are eligible to transfer up to 60 credits earned at a previous institution to the BLA degree. A minimum grade of “C” (or equivalent) is required in order for a course to be transferred. Courses will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they fulfill specific core or major requirements in the BLA program; as in main campus College programs, at least half of the coursework for the student’s major must be done in residence in the BLA program.

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Academic Standards

The following standards for successful academic progress are meant to mirror very closely those articulated by the College for its main campus undergraduate programs (new window). The BLA faculty and staff believe very deeply in the potential, intellectual and otherwise, of all students admitted to the program, and are committed to working with students to develop that potential. Students admitted to the BLA program are in turn expected, upon initiation into this intellectual community, to commit themselves to these high standards of academic performance and integrity, standards that establish the conditions for personal and intellectual formation. Failure to meet these standards may result in temporary or permanent separation from the BLA program.

A group of BLA faculty and academic administrative staff, known as the BLA Council on Studies, will meet at the conclusion of each semester to review the progress of each student in the BLA program. When a student’s performance falls short of the standards of the community, the Council will consider that student’s circumstances carefully, decide on the necessary course of action, and discuss this decision with the student. The Council may decide on one of three courses of action: probation/mandatory academic recovery plan, suspension, or dismissal.

Probation/Mandatory Academic Recovery Plan: If a student receives a failing grade in a single course or incurs a cumulative grade point average below 2.0, the student will be placed on academic probation and required to meet with a member of the BLA administrative staff to work collaboratively on an academic recovery plan. The purpose of the academic recovery plan is to identify both reasons for academic struggles and potential solutions that will allow for improved performance and a return to good academic standing, including additional tutoring or academic support services.

As on the main campus, students on probation are expected to pass all courses and earn a grade point average of at least 2.0 in the semester following imposition of probationary status. The BLA Council on Studies reserves the right to impose additional, higher standards for performance while on probation. Any student who fails to meet these conditions is eligible to be suspended or dismissed at the end of the following semester.

Note: Probationary status does not appear on the academic transcript.

Suspension or Dismissal: Students may be suspended (for one, two, or three semesters) or permanently dismissed from the program as a result of unsatisfactory academic performance. Students who fail a course while on probation or two courses in a single semester are eligible for suspension, and those who accumulate a total of three failures while enrolled in the BLA program are eligible to be dismissed. In addition, students may be suspended or dismissed if their cumulative grade point averages fall below the following levels at the end of the academic year:

  • First-year students: 1.0
  • Second-year students: 1.33
  • Third- and fourth-year students: 1.67

Please note: academic suspensions and dismissals are noted on transcripts.

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Honor System

While not governed by the same Honor Council as undergraduates in main campus programs, students in the BLA program are nevertheless required to sign and affirm the same Honor Pledge and uphold the same Standards of Conduct as main campus undergraduates. A parallel BLA Honor Council, with policies and procedures that mirror very closely those outlined in the main campus Honor System Procedure, will govern the academic life of the BLA intellectual community.

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Student Records

The BLA program will comply with and conform to all of the relevant policies outlined in the Bulletin section on Student Records, with the one exception that student requests for (unofficial or official) transcripts will be made to a member of the BLA administrative staff, who can provide an unofficial copy and/or submit a request for an official copy to the University Registrar on their behalf.

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