Academic Policies

Principle of Academic Integrity

The faculty of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, recognizing the responsibility of the individual student for his or her own education, assumes honesty and integrity in all academic work at the Colleges. This assumption is the foundation of all intellectual efforts and lies at the heart of this community. In matriculating at the Colleges, each student accepts the responsibility to carry out all academic work with complete honesty and integrity and supports the application of this principle to others. Categories covered by this principle include, but are not limited to, the following:

Examinations: Giving or receiving assistance during an examination or quiz violates this principle.
Papers: The adoption or reproduction of ideas, words, or statements of another person as one's own, without due acknowledgment, is considered plagiarism and violates this principle.
Library Use: Failure to sign for materials taken from the library and similar abuses of library privileges infringe upon the rights of other students to fair and equal access and violate this principle.
Reports and Laboratory Exercises: Giving or receiving unauthorized assistance and the fabrication of data or research results violate this principle.
Computer Use: Any deliberate attempt to prevent other users access to computer services, deprive them of resources, or degrade system performance violates this principle. The use of programs or files of another computer user or the use of another person's account number or password without permission also violates this principle.

Academic dishonesty is determined in every case by the evidence presented and not by intent. Questions of intent and circumstances under which an infraction occurred may be considered in determining a penalty.

General Academic Regulations

  1. Advanced Placement: Admitted students who have achieved a score of four or five on an advanced placement test receive course credit toward graduation to a maximum of seven course units. In most programs, advanced placement examinations covering a semester's work receive one course credit; examinations covering a full year's work are given two course credits. Advanced placement scores of four or five are also considered for advanced placement by the appropriate department or program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

  2. Course Load: The normal course load is four full credit courses per semester. Exceptions to this rule can be considered by submitting a petition to the Committee on Standards. Withdrawals from courses (see below) do not diminish the minimum requirement for the degree. A reduction in the course load carries no reduction in tuition; students taking six or more courses pay extra tuition.

  3. Full-Credit Requirement: A minimum of 30 of the required 32 courses presented in satisfaction of the Colleges' graduation requirement must be in full-credit courses.

  4. Incompletes: The incomplete, or "I," is a temporary grade indicating that a student has been granted permission by the instructor or the dean to complete work for a course after the end of the semester without penalty. A request for an incomplete must be supported with a credible account of the student's problem and with documents (a note from a physician, for example) wherever appropriate. An instructor may grant an incomplete for any part of the semester's work except the final examination; only a dean can excuse a student from a final examination. All outstanding work must be completed by the sixth week of the following semester (second week of the Fall semester for Spring semester incompletes), or the "I" becomes a grade of "F." An extension in time to complete the work may be granted if a petition is submitted to the appropriate dean's office on or before the deadline. An accepted petition is an agreement between the student and faculty member that the work will be completed and graded by a specific time, and allows the grade to be changed from "I" to the grade earned. Any student who takes more than two incompletes over three consecutive semesters is reviewed by the Committee on Standards.

  5. Course Withdrawals: There are two kinds of course withdrawals. The voluntary course withdrawal (see "a" below) is available to students twice in their career. The first course withdrawal may be used during the first two years and the second during the second two years, and at the discretion of the student.

    The authorized course withdrawal (see second bullet below) is available to students only under exceptional circumstances beyond their control. Changes of grade once submitted are described in point 7 below:

    Before the end of the 11th week of a semester, a student may petition his or her dean for withdrawal from one course during his or her first two years, and another course during his or her second two years. The appropriate Voluntary Course Withdrawal Form must be filed (including all required signatures) by the student at the dean's office by noon on Friday of the 11th week of the semester. Approved voluntary withdrawals are communicated immediately to the student's adviser and instructor.

    With the exception of the one unchallenged voluntary withdrawal described above, withdrawal from any course after the first five days of class and prior to the due date for the semester's grades is granted only for serious and compelling reasons beyond the student's control. A student seeking to withdraw under such circumstances must petition the Committee on Standards. The Committee makes its recommendation to the dean in consultation with the student’s dean and others it deems appropriate. Medical or other appropriate documentation is normally required. Approved withdrawals are communicated immediately to the student's adviser and instructor.

    Withdrawals under this policy carry no penalty, but do not diminish the minimum requirement for the degree. A reduction in course load carries no reduction in tuition.

  6. Unauthorized Withdrawals: A student who withdraws from a course without official permission receives the grade of "F" on his or her permanent transcript.

  7. Grades: Students’ transcripts include a record of each course taken at the Colleges. Students may choose between a letter grade and a “CR/DCR/NC” grading option in many of the courses taken. This choice is indicated at the time of registration for the course but may be changed with the signed approval of the adviser at any point prior to the end of the 11th week of the semester. The appropriate Change of Grading Option Form must be filed by the student at the registrar’s office by the end of the 11th week of the semester.

    For the purpose of calculating grade point averages, the following designates the numerical values of various grades: A+= 4.3; 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; D- = .7; F=0.

    Courses taken “CR/DCR/NC” are not calculated in the GPA. For the purpose of review, a grade of CR indicates course work was C- or better. A grade of DCR indicates course work sufficient for credit for the degree, but lower than a C-. A grade of NC indicates work lower than a D- and is not sufficient for credit towards the degree. No more than four grades above F but below C- (D+, D, D-, or DCR) may be counted toward the 32 semester equivalent courses toward the degree.

  8. Grade Changes: No student is permitted to submit any academic work, examination, or revision of previously submitted work with the intent of affecting a grade change after a final grade has been entered by the instructor with the Registrar's Office. An instructor may change a grade only when a computational error exists. Such changes must be submitted to the Dean's Office for approval.

  9. Academic Deficiency: Students are expected to make normal progress toward the degree. A student whose cumulative grade point average (GPA) falls below 2.0 (C) at any point is reviewed.

    Academic Probation is the likely outcome of a first review when a student's cumulative grade point average is lower than 2.0 (C). Students placed on academic probation are expected to be in good standing (2.0 GPA) within two semesters.

    Continued Academic Probation is the likely outcome of a review when a student previously on academic probation has been successful in removing part of the deficiency but not the entire deficiency. Students on continued academic probation are expected to be in good standing (2.0 GPA) by the end of their next semester.

    Required Withdrawal - Academic is the likely result of a review when a student earns less than a 2.0 term average while on academic probation or continued academic probation. A student may also be required to withdraw when he or she fails to gain good standing (2.0 GPA) after being on continued academic probation, or if he or she has earned less than 1.0 for the semester, regardless of the student's cumulative average.

    A student who fails a First-Year Seminar for a second time is reviewed by the Committee on Standards, with the likely outcome that the student is permanently separated from the Colleges.

    A student who has been required to withdraw or has been suspended may not make progress toward the degree.

  10. Permanent Separation: This is the result of a second required withdrawal.

  11. Leaves of Absence: Leaves of absence may be granted for personal growth or to participate in academic programs not sponsored by Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Approval of the student's dean is required. The Colleges are not obliged to accept toward the degree coursework for which prior tentative approval had not been procured.

  12. Senior Standing: All students must have passed at least 23 courses to enter their senior year.

  13. Residency Restrictions: All requirements for the degree must be met by the end of the 10th semester in residence.

  14. Transfer Credits:

    • Hobart and William Smith Colleges do not transfer credit for courses sponsored by colleges or universities if they are taught by a high school instructor.
    • Hobart and William Smith Colleges do not transfer credit from college courses that have been used to meet requirements for high school graduation.
    • Students must complete a course with a grade of 'C' or higher for it to be eligible for transfer credit. Course credits may be transferred but grades for those classes are never entered on a Hobart and William Smith transcript and are not calculated into a student's GPA. Grades of transferred courses therefore have no impact on the student's GPA at the Colleges.
    • Only courses of three or more credit hours are eligible for transfer credit.
    • Courses must be taken at an accredited institution and must be considered by the faculty at Hobart & William Smith to be in the liberal arts.
    • Distance learning courses are not accepted for transfer.
    • The final decision for applying approved transfer credit toward a major or minor rests with the appropriate department or program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
    • For students transferring from another college or university, the maximum number of transfer credits is 16 courses.
    • For students whose first college is Hobart and William Smith, up to four college courses can be transferred. Combined A.P. and transfer credits cannot exceed seven.
    • Final decision concerning transfer of credit rests with the dean of the student's college.
  15. Commencement Exercises: Commencement exercises are held annually at the end of Spring semester. Students are recommended for a degree upon completion of requirements pertaining to their class. A student who has no more than two courses outstanding toward degree requirements may petition his or her dean in order to participate in Commencement exercises. If a student completes requirements prior to October 1, the student is considered a member of his or her graduating class.

  16. Transfer Students: The requirements for the degree described above apply also to transfer students. One year of the residency requirement may be waived, provided the transfer student is capable of presenting the faculty with two years of acceptable coursework from another accredited institution of higher learning.

  17. Repeatable Courses: Courses may be designated "repeatable" if they are fundamentally creative and/or experiential in nature, such that student performance is cumulative or held to a progressively higher standard of expectation across successive registrations and/or the content of student experience is substantially different with each offering of the course. Repeatable courses are identified as such in this Catalogue, subject to any published limit which may be established by the sponsoring department. Additionally, students may elect Independent Study (450) without limit. Each registration of such courses carries full credit and is calculated independently in a student’s grade point average.

  18. Special Topic Courses: Courses designated as "Special Topics" registrations may vary in content by semester or by instructor. Each unique offering is considered an independent course and ordinarily carries a title extension indicating the topic in a given term. Each carries full credit and is calculated independently in a student’s grade point average.

  19. Course Repeat (does not apply to "repeatable courses"): Students may only repeat courses in which they have earned a grade below a C-, unless the course is designated "repeatable." The deans do not approve any exceptions. Both grades are recorded on the student's permanent transcript. If a course is repeated, the highest grade will be calculated in the GPA. Courses repeated at other institutions and transferred to the Colleges are not included in the grade point average. Repeated courses count only once toward the 32 required courses for graduation.

Credit by Proficiency Examination

The Colleges participate in the college-level credit-by-examination program of the College Entrance Examination Board and in the College Proficiency Examination program, sponsored by the New York State Education Department in cooperation with colleges and universities throughout the state. These programs of examinations enable individuals to demonstrate college-level competencies attained outside formal classroom instruction. Detailed information about both programs can be obtained by writing to: College Proficiency Examination Program, State Education Department, Albany, NY 12224.

The Colleges allow credit whenever such examinations cover material given in the various courses leading to a degree, provided that the approval of the appropriate dean and department has been obtained and a grade of C or better is earned. Normally, such credit is granted only to students who meet the entrance requirements and who matriculate, or have previously matriculated, in a program of study in residence leading to a degree. A student may normally earn two course credits through proficiency examinations, although additional credit (up to a total of seven courses) may be granted to a student applying for admission with advanced standing. Further information may be obtained from the dean of each college or, in the case of an entering student, from the director of admissions.


All students are encouraged to register on days and times specified by the Registrar and published in the Registration Handbook and Schedule of Courses. However, class or scheduled laboratory time may not be used for the purposes of registration. No registration is accepted after the fifth day of classes, and students who have not registered are asked to leave campus. A fee is charged for late registration. Students who fail to meet their financial obligations to the Colleges may be denied registration or deregistered from classes. (See "General Payment Schedule" in Admissions, Expenses, Financial Aid.)

All students are required to consult with their faculty advisers prior to registration. If a student registers for a course without meeting all prerequisites and without written approval of the adviser, his or her enrollment in the course may be canceled at any time by the instructor offering the course. Students declare their course selections via the Web-registration system or by submitting a registration form signed by their faculty adviser. Students are required to register for four full credit courses per semester. Any exceptions must be approved by the Committee on Standards and the Dean of the College in advance.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges reserve the right to cancel any course without prior notice should minimum enrollment not be reached, or staffing situations necessitate it.

Dropping and Adding Courses

Students may drop and add a course during the first five days of class via the Web-registration system. Students seeking to drop or add beyond this period require the approval of their adviser, dean, instructor, and the Committee on Standards, as described by the Colleges' Authorized Withdrawal Policy.

Registrations and student class schedules are finalized at the end of the five-day drop/add period. Students are accountable for all courses for which they are enrolled from that point on, and those courses are reflected on the permanent academic transcript. If a student has attended a course in which he or she was not properly registered, no credit or grade is recorded.

If a student stops attending a course but fails to drop or withdraw properly, a grade of "F" may be assigned by the instructor of the course and recorded on the permanent academic transcript.



Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.