Academic Policies and Procedures

Academic Calendar

The academic year is divided into two semesters. The first begins in late August and ends before the Christmas holidays; the second begins in mid-January and ends in May. There is a one-week mid-semester break in the fall and spring, a short Thanksgiving and Easter recess, and a vacation of approximately a month between semesters. See Academic Calendar

Summer Sessions

Saint Mary’s College offers on-campus and online sessions beginning on the Monday after graduation for students who wish to continue their education during the summer. Summer sessions are also open to visiting, non-matriculating students from other colleges and universities. The course offerings include Sophia Program requirements, major requirements, and electives. Students take courses at a reduced tuition rate and generally may enroll in a maximum of three courses in the summer with no more than two courses at the same time. Summer travel programs are also available. Learn more

Academic Load

A student must carry at least 12 hours of credit per semester to be considered a full-time student. Part-time students carry fewer than 12 semester hours of credit. Sixteen hours per semester is an average load, 18 hours is the usual maximum. A student may carry more than 18 hours only with the approval of the Office of Academic Advising & Registrar. She will be charged for each semester hour over the maximum load. If a student is admitted conditionally or placed on academic probation, her course load may be restricted but will not fall below 12 hours of credit.


A course may be added through the portal until the end of the first week of the semester (ends Sunday at 11:59 p.m.). Course additions may continue through the end of the seventh day of the semester (Tuesday at 5 p.m.) with instructor permission through the use of an Add/Drop form available in the Academic Advising/Registrar’s Office (162 Le Mans Hall). A course may be dropped without penalty during the first five weeks of the semester. (See also: Withdrawal from a Course.)

Assignment of Credit

Saint Mary’s College operates under a semester credit hour system and defines credit hours based on the Carnegie unit. Each semester hour of credit represents 50 minutes per week of lecture or recitation (15 weeks) and 2 to 3 hours of time spent in independent preparation (readings, papers, etc.). The length of a laboratory or clinical period depends upon the requirement of the course. Normally, one semester hour of credit is awarded for satisfactory work in one hour of class work per week for a semester. One semester hour of credit is awarded for satisfactory work in two or three hours of laboratory work per week for a semester.

The assignment of credit policy applies equally to courses offered for less than 15 weeks, such as summer session courses. Such courses contain an equal or greater number of hours of direct instruction and independent preparation as the same course offered in the standard 15-week semester.

The assignment of credit policy applies equally to courses delivered through all modes of instruction including hybrid and online courses. A course taught online must first be reviewed and approved by the Teaching Learning Technology Roundtable. An online course is approved only once it has been determined that the course covers the same content and achieves the same outcomes as the same course taught on-campus.


A student is expected to attend every meeting of a class for which she is registered. The responsibility for attendance rests with the student. Excused absences may be granted to students who must miss class(es) for serious and documentable reasons of personal health, family concerns (emergency or important event in student’s family), or participation in varsity athletics or other officially recognized activities. Students are permitted to return to class and make up the work missed to the best of their ability after consultation with the instructor. However, every absence carries the penalty of the loss of instruction given during absence which may result in a lower grade for the course; in the case of a prolonged absence, it may be necessary to withdraw from one or more courses. Limited excused absences for personal health or family concerns are approved and monitored by the Office of Academic Advising & Registrar.

Auditing a Course

Students must be enrolled in a class before arranging to audit. Once an audit is processed it cannot be reversed. Credit will not be granted for the audited course and the grade of “V” is not calculated in the GPA. All part-time students will be charged full tuition for each course audited. Full-time students may audit free of charge even if course load exceeds 18 hours.

Classification of Students

A student meeting the requirements for admission and desiring to study for a degree is classified as follows:

Year Semester Hours of Credit
first year student 0–28.99 semester hours of credit
sophomore 29–60.99 semester hours of credit
junior 61–92.99 semester hours of credit
senior 93 or more semester hours of credit

A student who is not seeking a degree is classified as non-degree seeking regardless of semester hours earned.

Continuation in College

Academic Good Standing

The standard for continuance (good standing) in the College is a 1.80 cumulative GPA for students completing the first semester of the first year; 1.90 cumulative GPA for students completing the second semester of the first year; and 2.00 cumulative GPA thereafter.

Academic Probation

The record of a student whose GPA falls below these figures is reported to the Academic Standards Committee at the end of each semester. If in the opinion of this committee, the record offers little or no promise of successful completion of work for a degree, the student is subject to dismissal. Otherwise, she is placed on academic probation for one semester. Students on academic probation are not allowed to participate in major co-curricular activities, may not hold a major student leadership position, nor participate in varsity athletics. The notation “academic probation” appears on the student’s permanent record.

Academic Dismissal

A student is subject to dismissal under the following circumstances: academic probation for two consecutive semesters or for three non-consecutive semesters, first academic probation with little or no promise of academic success, or unsuccessful in two majors.

Dismissal will be recorded as part of the student’s permanent record. If a student is dismissed for poor scholarship, she may reapply after one year, provided she can present evidence of potential academic success to assist the Academic Standards Committee in making this decision.


A student has the right to appeal a dismissal. A student may appeal a dismissal if she has new information of substantive nature that was not taken into consideration at the time of her dismissal. Her written appeal must include this new information and a plan for future success. She should send her appeal to the chair of the Academic Standards Committee within five business days of receipt of the decision. The Dean of Faculty, along with two other members of the Academic Standards Committee, will hear the appeal. Their decision is final.

Course Numbering

Course offerings are numbered according to levels, from introductory to advanced. Lower-division courses are numbered from 100 to 299; upper-division from 300 to 499. All courses are semester long unless noted otherwise in the course descriptions or schedule of classes. Courses with an “RM” suffix are taught on the Rome campus; courses with a “W” suffix indicate a writing proficiency course.

Credit by Examination

Saint Mary’s College accepts credit by examination (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, SAT II Subject Test, and College Level Examination Program) toward the 128 hours required for a degree. See the Academic Guide for First Year Students for more information. In extraordinary circumstances, the College reserves the right to award credit though a Departmental Exam when approved by Academic Affairs Council.

A student who is placed in MATH 133 Theory and Application of Calculus or in MATH 132 Calculus II and earns a grade of C or higher will receive retroactive credit for MATH 131 Calculus I if she does not already have credit for MATH 131 Calculus I.

Declaration of Major and Minor

By the end of the sophomore year, students must petition an academic department for acceptance into a major program. The Office of Academic Advising & Registrar sends each sophomore a Major Petition form with instructions for completion. Students should then meet with department chairs and advisors about possible major programs. First-Year students may not formally petition a department for acceptance into a major program; however, they may take prerequisite and/or introductory courses in the major in the first year. To declare a minor, a student must complete the Minor Petition form from the Office of Academic Advising & Registrar. (See also: Guidelines for Optional Minors)

The Interdisciplinary Self-Designed Major (ISDM) allows a student to combine two or more disciplines in a way that meaningfully and creatively addresses an interdisciplinary question, problem, or theme, and/or prepares a student for further study or a career in an interdisciplinary field. This program has two pathways.

The Advanced Pathway is intended for students initially declaring a major in this unique program of study. Students following this pathway should complete the formal proposal process during the sophomore year. Students studying abroad during the sophomore year are encouraged to begin the pathway early. A student must be in good academic standing at the college prior to application to the Advanced Pathway.

The Individualized Pathway is aimed at students wishing to explore a self-designed option later in their college career (i.e., students changing an already declared major). Students should complete the formal proposal process and have their program of study approved at least two semesters before anticipated graduation.

Both pathways within the major have the same credit/course requirements, as outlined below. Inquiries regarding procedures, timelines, and other details for either pathway should be directed to the Director of the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies, Dr. Cassie Majetic.

Credit/Course Requirements for all ISDM pathways (minimum 10 courses and 29 credits)

  • Four 100-200 level introductory courses from at least two disciplines (3-4 credits each, 12-16 credits total)
  • At least four 300-400 level courses, distributed across focal areas of study (3-4 credits each, 12-16 credits total)
  • One 300- or 400-level course that prepares the student for her comprehensive project (2-4 credits)
    • Examples include, but are NOT limited to:
      • A methods course in the sciences, social sciences, or humanities
      • An upper division course in the arts that develops key techniques or skills
      • An upper division course in a professional program emphasizing key approaches in a field of study.
  • One senior seminar or independent study (400-level) for completion of the senior comp (2-4 credits) chosen from:
    • One of the two focal areas of study OR
    • Another area of study that comes closest to meeting student needs

Note: No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a second major and/or minor program. No more than three LO1 courses from the Sophia Program may be double counted with the proposed program of study. In keeping with college policy, no more than 6 hours of independent study may be taken within the program of study, with no more than 9 hours total counting toward the total 128 hours needed for a degree. This total excludes an independent study used for completion of the senior comprehensive. For internships, generally no more than 6 hours may be applied toward the fulfillment of major requirements or toward the 128 hours required for a degree. In keeping with college policy, at least one half of the major course work must be completed on Saint Mary's campus.

Study Abroad Student

A student on a study abroad program has an extension until October 1 of her junior year to submit an SDM proposal if she has already declared another major by the end of her sophomore year. If the SDM is her only major, her proposal is still due by mid-semester of the spring of her sophomore year even if she is abroad.


Saint Mary’s College is committed to providing a supportive, community environment for students with disabilities. We assist students who self-identify as persons with a disability and determine their eligibility for services. Any student wishing to pursue accommodations must initiate contact by emailing the Disabilities Resource Office by appointment.

We encourage students to contact the Office within the first two weeks of each semester to ensure the timely implementation of accommodations. Through an interactive process of dialogue and documentation review, we will consider reasonable accommodations for equal access purposes. Academic accommodations are assigned on a case-by-case basis by the Director and Associate Director only. Faculty are not authorized to grant accommodations and those receiving requests will refer students back to the Disabilities Resource Office. The student will sign a release of information allowing the Disabilities Resource Office to inform her professors of the approved accommodations each semester, and must make a follow-up appointment to meet with each professor to discuss the implementation of the accommodations.

We comply with the applicable provisions of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADAAA as amended) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. As defined by these Acts, an “individual with a disability” is any person who:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
  2. has a record of impairment,
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment.

Documentation should be provided by an appropriately-credentialed professional and should be sent to the Disability Resource Office. The specific content of the documentation will vary with the nature of the student’s disability, but in all cases, it should include a diagnosis, justification, recommendations, and a clear rationale for the recommendations. In adequate or incomplete information may involve follow-up contact for clarification by the Disablilities Resource Office.Documentation may include:

  1.  A full and current psychological-educational/diagnostic report based preferably on adult norms and supplied by a qualified professional in the respective field. This comprehensive report with scores and test data provides the richest information and is most helpful in determining requested accommodations. It is the preferred type of documentation to support the requests of a student with a learning disability, the diagnosis of which must be clearly stated.
  2. IEP/504 plans which should include a Summary of Performance and teacher observations. This should reflect an individual’s education and accommodation history, and the diagnosis by a relevant qualified professional should be clearly stated. Descriptions of functional limitations and impact are necessary. This kind of documentation may or may not be sufficient.
  3. Accommodation letters and documents from a previously-attended secondary institution for transfer students. Verification should include the dates when the accommodations were used by the student.
  4. Healthcare professionals in the field relevant to a mental health diagnosis may submit a letter which provides information on the diagnosis, severity of the disorder, length and medication involved in the prescribed treatment, and recommended accommodations which may assist the student in minimizing impact in the academic setting (Copies of a physician’s prescriptions for ADD or ADHD medications will not suffice).

Distance Education/Online Courses

Saint Mary’s offers many online courses during its summer session. Students are not permitted to take online courses during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year.


Final examinations are generally held in all courses at the end of each semester. Students may request a change of a scheduled examination through the Office of Academic Advising & Registrar for the following reasons:

  • serious illness of the student.
  • emergency or important event in the student’s immediate family.
  • three exams scheduled in one day or three consecutive exam periods within 24 hours.
  • students on varsity teams who qualify for tournaments which conflict with exam dates.

Governmental Requirements for Some Professions

Some professions (e.g. nursing, teaching, social work, speech therapy, accounting, etc.) require specific requirements for licensure and/or hiring (e.g. acceptable criminal background check, sex offender check, drug and alcohol testing, citizenship or permanent resident status documentation, valid immigration status for non-US citizens, valid social security number, etc.). Such requirements may also apply to required clinical and fieldwork, or other out-of-class room experience necessary to complete degree requirements in the majors related to these professions. These requirements are determined by laws and regulations at both the state and federal levels and are subject to change. Saint Mary’s College strongly urges all admitted and current students to research and understand the appropriate requirements for their intended course of study and profession. Compliance with these requirements is the responsibility of the student and the graduate. You should become informed and continue to monitor such requirements as laws and other legal requirements are subject to change.

Northern Indiana Consortium for Education (N.I.C.E.)

All full-time, undergraduate students may take courses not available at their home insti­tu­tion through the Northern Indiana Consortium for Education at the following local colleges/universities:

  • Bethel College,
  • Goshen College,
  • Holy Cross College,
  • Indiana University South Bend, and
  • Ivy Tech Community College.

Students may be admit­ted to approved classes on a space-available basis only during the fall or spring semesters.

Notre Dame Co-Exchange Program

Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame maintain a cooperative program permitting undergraduate students to take courses at the neighboring institution during the fall and spring semesters. The co-exchange program is intended to enrich a student’s choice of electives. Students who are enrolled in at least 12 credits at Saint Mary's College and are in a degree program may participate in co-exchange classes. Students in their senior year are normally limited to two Notre Dame courses per semester and juniors and sophomores to one course per semester, assuming space is available. First-year students do not participate in co-exchange courses, except in unusual circumstances, and only with the approval from the Office of Academic Advising & Registrar. In addition to attending classes the two institutions share many activities in the area of academics as well as social events, choral groups and music ensembles, student organizations (including a daily newspaper and the Notre Dame marching band), and community service projects.

Privacy of Education Records (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of education records for all students at Saint Mary’s College. Education records are considered confidential and may not be released to third parties (including parents) without the written consent of the student except in specific circumstances. 

PRISM for Parents

We understand that many students wish to share information with their parents and family members, so we have created a method which allows you to provide third party access to this information. Students have the ability to authorize another person, such as a parent or guardian, to view specific types of personal information within PRISM for Parents. Individuals granted access will have the ability to view personal information such as financial aid awards, student account information, descriptions of holds on records, grades, unofficial transcripts, and class schedules. For more information regarding this service and the steps you need to follow to gain access through PRISM for Parents, visit PRISM for Parents or contact the Office of the Registrar.

Proctored Exams for Online Courses

Note: Students are responsible for fees that any of the options below may incur.

In-person Proctoring

Exams are given online through Blackboard. A proctor must be arranged in advance. A student needs to present or email a potential proctor a letter detailing proctoring duties as provided by the course instructor. The course instructor needs an email from the proctor from their official (e.g. employer-provided) email address briefly explaining who they are and how they know the student.

  • Find your own proctor meeting the requirements below:
    • not a family member
    • not a close friend
    • in a position of authority, for example:
      • professor
      • teacher
      • librarian
      • police officer
      • coach
      • clergy (priest, pastor, nun, rabbi, etc. of a generally recognized faith)
      • military officer (not your direct superior)
      • manager (not your direct supervisor)
      • some other trustworthy individual with no conflict of interest.
  • Find a test center through National College Testing Association
    This website contains information on participants both inside and outside the United States:, including test center location, service availability students from other institutions, hours of operation, testing fees, etc.

Online Proctoring


Students must register for courses each semester; credit will not be awarded to a student who is not officially registered. Continuing students preregister for fall courses at the designated time in the spring semester, and preregister for spring courses at the designated time in the fall semester. Students who have not declared a major by the junior year will not be allowed to preregister for the spring semester until the Major Petition is on file in the Office of Academic Advising & Registrar.

Repeated Course

Students may, at their option, repeat any course. If a course is repeated, both grades appear on the permanent record and both are used in calculating the cumulative GPA (if both courses are taken at Saint Mary’s). Credit hours earned are awarded only once.