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Academic Policies

The Academic Year

The academic year at Bard College at Simon’s Rock consists of two 14.5-week semesters, preceded in the fall by a week-long Writing and Thinking Workshop for newly admitted students. Each fall a list of important dates and deadlines in the academic year is published by the Office of Academic Affairs. Students are responsible for meeting these deadlines when implementing changes in their course schedules.

Academic Advising

Each student has an academic advisor who is responsible for working with the student to design an academic program compatible with the student’s interests, abilities, and goals and that will fulfill the College’s program requirements. New students are assigned advisors and are required to meet with them weekly. A student may change advisors at any time by making arrangements to switch with their new advisor and then completing a Change of Advisor form, available at the Registrar’s Office. At the time of Moderation into the Upper College, students may want to consider selecting a different academic advisor to guide their work in the Upper College.

Course Numbering

Courses at Simon’s Rock are offered through four divisions: Arts; Languages and Literature; Science, Mathematics, and Computing; and Social Studies. Some courses are interdivisional. 100-level courses are introductory course that develop basic skills appropriate to the subject matter. They also help the student make the transition to more advanced work. 200-level courses are intermediate-level courses that build on the skills achieved in l00-level courses and work in greater depth in a subject area. 300- and 400-level courses assume the student’s ability to work in depth and with increasing independence on more complex or advanced materials in a subject area. They include advanced topics, advanced seminars, tutorials, and independent projects. Preference is generally given to Upper College students when enrolling into advanced courses.

Course Load

Most courses meet for three hours per week. Courses at the 100- and 200-levels typically earn three credits; courses at the 300- and 400-levels earn four credits. Laboratory courses, accelerated beginning language classes, and 100- and 200-level general education seminars may also earn four credits. The credits assigned to each course are noted in the course descriptions.

All Simon’s Rock students who are working toward a degree are expected to be full-time, whether they live on or off campus. The minimum credit load to maintain full-time status is 12 credits per semester; the normal credit load to be on track to earn an AA in two years and a BA in four years is 15–16 credits per semester; the maximum credit load, without surcharge and permission from the Dean of Academic Affairs, is 18 credits per semester.

The normal course load for Lower College students is five courses per semester. The normal course load for Upper College students is four courses per semester, one of which may be a Tutorial, Independent Project, Extended Campus Project, or Senior Thesis. Any junior or senior whose GPA falls below 2.5 may not register for a Tutorial, Independent Project, or Extended Campus Project.

Exceptions to these credit and course limits must be approved by the Dean of Academic Affairs. Students who are given permission to exceed the maximum number of credits will be allowed to register for the additional course(s) only after all students have completed their registration. There is an additional per-credit fee for these additional credits. Students who withdraw or are suspended from a course for nonattendance, thereby reducing their course load to fewer than 12 credits, risk jeopardizing their ability to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress, eligibility for financial aid, college scholarships, or both, and may be suspended from the College. Petitions to carry more than 18 or fewer than 12 credits are available in the Office of Academic Affairs.

Credit Hour

Simon’s Rock assumes that students in full-semester introductory (100-level) or intermediate (200-level) classes will spend an average of 2.25 hours preparing for each contact hour, for a total of just over 140 hours of study for a three-credit class. Classes with a laboratory component are worth four credits because of the extra 3 hours of lab each week and the related work outside of class. Advanced classes are worth four credits because the work outside of class is more extensive; students are expected to spend 3.25 hours in preparation for each contact hour. Modular (half semester) classes are also assigned two credits as they move at a slightly faster pace than full-semester classes, and students are expected to spend 3.25 hours in preparation for each contact hour. Some courses (e.g., music lessons) are worth one credit, as students are expected to spend no fewer than 2.25 hours in preparation for their hourly lessons, but are ungraded as no other work or writing is expected for these courses.

Students taking a normal full-time course load of 15 credits should be prepared to spend no fewer than 48 hours engaged in academic study (including in-class time and preparation for classes) each week. Students taking more credits should be prepared to spend more time engaged in academic study; e.g., taking 18 credits requires no fewer than 60 hours each of academic study.

Course Changes

Students who wish to change, add, or drop courses must do so through the Registrar’s Office within the deadlines listed on the academic calendar published by the Office of Academic Affairs. Such changes are formally approved only when students have completed the necessary forms and obtained the required signatures of instructors and advisors.

Courses may be added only during the first two weeks of the semester, with consent of the instructor and the student’s academic advisor.

Courses dropped by the end of the fourth week of the semester will not appear on the student’s academic record. A student may withdraw from a course with a grade of W between the fifth and eleventh weeks of the semester. (First-semester students may drop courses through the withdrawal deadline of the semester.) After that time, a student may not withdraw from a course and will receive a grade. A student who attends a course without formally registering for it will not be awarded credit for the course; a student who ceases to attend a class without completing a drop or withdrawal form before the published deadlines will receive a final grade of F for that course (this includes classes from which the student has been suspended for excessive absences; see the policy on Suspension from Class for Excessive Absences).

Grading System

Students receive written evaluations (“comments”) of their performance at midterm and again following the completion of courses. Letter grades are also assigned as an abbreviated indication of overall performance. Together, the grade and comment sheets make up the student ’s academic record. Final semester grades are recorded on the student’s official transcript in one of two ways: Letter grades or Pass/Fail grades. Letter grades represent the following levels of academic achievement:

A = performance with distinction
B = good performance
C = satisfactory performance
D = minimally passing performance
F = failure; no credit

A plus (+) attached to a letter grade indicates a higher achievement at the level of that letter grade; a minus (-) indicates a lower achievement at the level of that letter grade. Grades of A+ and D- are not used on academic records.

A grade of Pass (P) indicates acceptable performance; a grade of Fail (F) indicates unacceptable performance and is calculated in a student’s GPA as 0 points. Pass/Fail grades are awarded when the instructor wishes to distinguish only two different levels of accomplishment in a course or when an eligible student elects the Pass/Fail option.

Pass/Fail option: A student taking at least 14 credits of course work in a given semester may elect to take one course on a Pass/Fail basis. This option is designed to encourage students to explore courses outside previously defined areas of competence and is not available for required courses in the core curriculum or in the BA concentrations. The option exists even if some of the student’s other courses are already designated by the instructor as Pass/Fail courses.

With consent of the instructor, a student in a Pass/Fail course may elect to receive a letter grade. The deadline for both options is the end of the fourth week of the semester. The student must fill out the applicable form and submit it to the Registrar.

Audit option: A student may register to enroll in a class for no credit with the instructor’s permission. Instructors will determine the conditions for a successful course audit.

The Senior Thesis is graded High Honors (HH), Honors (H), Pass (P), No Credit (NC), or Fail (F). The grades of High Honors, Honors, and No Credit are used exclusively for theses and are not calculated into the GPA.

Academic and Class Standing

To determine whether or not a student is in good academic standing, a semester GPA and cumulative GPA are computed for each student at the end of each semester. Letter grades are assigned the following GPA equivalents: A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, and F=0. A plus (+) adds 0.3 and a minus (-) subtracts 0.3. For Pass/Fail courses, a pass grades and the credits they represent are not included in the GPA; fail grades are the same as Fs and are treated as such in the GPA.

To be in good academic standing at the end of a semester, a student must earn at least 12 credits and have both a semester and a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Class standing is based on the total number of credits earned toward the degree:

First-year student     29 or fewer credits
Sophomore 30–59 credits
Junior 60–89 credits
Senior more than 90 credits

Satisfactory Academic Progress

To maintain eligibility for financial aid, students must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) in accordance with federal, state, and Simon’s Rock guidelines. Satisfactory academic progress means that students must annually achieve at least a C (2.0) grade point average and accumulate credits toward a degree according to the following schedule:

              Academic years completed 1 2 3 4
             Credits successfully completed   24  48  72  96

Failure to meet the standards of satisfactory progress at the conclusion of any academic year will result in ineligibility for further financial aid. There is a maximum time frame of six years or 180 earned credits for students pursuing their BA degree. Time beyond that is not financial aid eligible. Students in pursuit of an AA degree are eligible for financial aid for a maximum time frame of three years, or 90 earned credits.

Once financial aid eligibility is suspended, it cannot be renewed until the student has regained satisfactory progress as defined above. Students who wish to appeal their suspension from satisfactory academic progress must submit a detailed letter explaining the circumstances surrounding the loss of credits or low GPA to the Financial Aid Office. All such appeals will be reviewed by the Dean of Academic Affairs in consultation with the Director of Financial Aid and the Dean of Students. Students are notified of the appeal result in writing.

Academic Probation and Suspension

A student who is not in good academic standing at the end of a semester will either be placed on academic probation for the following semester or suspended from the College.

The conditions under which a student who is not in good academic standing may continue at the College are determined by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in consultation with the Dean of Academic Affairs, the Dean of Students, and the student’s advisor. These conditions, which vary depending on the nature of the student’s difficulties, are formally recorded in a letter to the student from the Dean of Academic Affairs.

A student who achieves a semester GPA and cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher is automatically removed from academic probation at the end of the semester. If at the end of the probation semester a student has failed to achieve good academic standing, the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs confers with the Dean of Academic Affairs, the Dean of Students, and, when appropriate, the student’s instructors and advisor to determine whether the student may continue at Simon’s Rock and, if so, under what conditions. A student who does not fulfill the conditions of probation, fails to earn a GPA of at least 1.5 in any given semester, fails to earn a GPA of at least 2.0 for two consecutive semesters, or after four or more semesters at Simon’s Rock does not achieve good academic standing in at least half the semesters is subject to suspension.

Suspended students, or students who have withdrawn, wishing to be considered for readmission are expected to involve themselves in activities that enhance study skills, self-discipline, and ability to work within a structured academic setting before applying to return to the College. Suspended students who are readmitted to the College following the period of their suspension are not eligible to receive financial aid from the College until good academic standing has been reattained.

The Dean’s List

The Dean’s List recognizes academic excellence. Students taking 14 or more graded credits in a given semester who earn either a semester GPA of 3.5 or a semester GPA of 3.3 with no grade below a B are named to the Dean’s List. Thesis-carrying seniors may be named to the Dean’s List with 12 graded credits (apart from the thesis) and a semester GPA of 3.5.

Graduation with Honors

A student earning the AA degree with a GPA of at least 3.5 graduates with distinction. Honors are awarded to BA degree candidates as follows:

  • For cum laude, a student must earn a GPA of at least 3.3 and a thesis grade of Pass.
  • For magna cum laude, a student must earn a GPA of at least 3.5 and a thesis grade of Honors.
  • For summa cum laude, a student must earn a GPA of at least 3.7 and a thesis grade of High Honors.

Academic honors are bestowed based upon grades received prior to commencement.

Incomplete Grades

A student who falls behind in a class may request a grade of Incomplete (INC) from the instructor. A grade of Incomplete is not awarded automatically; rather, it is given at the instructor’s discretion. A student must request an Incomplete and submit the appropriate form to the Registrar’s Office by the last day of classes.

A student may request only one Incomplete per term except for medical reasons, and approval for more than one Incomplete per semester must be given by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in consultation with the Office of Health Services.

In granting an Incomplete, the instructor sets a deadline by which all work must be submitted, usually one month from the last day of the semester, but no later than the Friday before the beginning of the following semester. The instructor then submits a revised grade to the Registrar. If no revised grade is received, the I becomes a final grade of F.

Grade Changes

Faculty members may indicate in final comments that they are willing to change a student’s grade in a course based on the submission of additional work. Faculty members may set a deadline for the submission of this work no later than the Friday before the beginning of the following semester. Students may not submit additional work for a course after the beginning of the following semester.

Repeated Courses

A student who earns a course grade of C- or lower may repeat the course at Simon’s Rock. The new grade becomes the grade of record, and the grade used in calculating GPA, although an indication that the course was repeated is retained (no additional or new credits are earned). Grades associated with transfer credits (credits received at other academic institutions) cannot replace a Simon’s Rock grade.

Transfer Credits

Students wishing to receive transfer credit at Simon’s Rock for coursework at other accredited institutions and programs should seek pre-approval for this work by completing the Transfer Credits Worksheet available from the Office of Academic Affairs prior to enrolling in such programs. Juniors who plan to study elsewhere during the academic year must file a form requesting leave with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Only liberal arts and sciences courses in which the student has earned a grade of C or better will be considered for transfer. A total of 10 transfer credits may be applied toward the AA degree; up to 60 credits may be applied toward the BA degree. Grades awarded by other institutions for courses accepted for transfer are not used in calculating a student’s GPA at Simon’s Rock.

Online Courses: Because the College places great value on faculty-student and student-to-student discussion in a liberal arts education, no more than 6 total online credits may be applied to the Simon’s Rock AA and BA degree (combined across both degrees) and no online course will be considered as an advanced course (i.e., 300- or 400-level). Of the College’s AA degree requirements, only mathematics may be met by an online course, and must receive pre-approval. No online course credits will transfer if earned during a semester when the student is enrolled full-time at Simon’s Rock or in residence at another college or university.

Official transcripts from other institutions must be sent to the Registrar at Simon’s Rock. The Registrar evaluates the acceptability of the courses and determines the number of allowable credits. Students may also be required to provide a course description and syllabus. Final approval of transfer credit rests with the Dean of Academic Affairs.

A course approved for transfer credit may be used to satisfy a degree or concentration requirement only if the course is judged to be similar in content and scope to those used to satisfy the relevant requirement at Simon’s Rock (the Registrar in consultation with the relevant faculty members, makes this judgment). In order for a transfer course to be approved as meeting one of the school’s requirements, the student must follow the instructions on the Transfer Credit Worksheet prior to taking the course.

For the policy on transfer credits applied to College concentration requirements, see the guideline on Leave to Study Away, below.

Advanced Standing

Advanced standing for College Board Advanced Placement courses may be given at the discretion of the faculty in the appropriate discipline; a score of 5 is generally required for advanced standing. Bard College at Simon’s Rock does not grant credits for AP courses or exams.

High School Equivalence

Since most students enter Simon’s Rock before completing high school, they do not normally have high school diplomas. Some high schools will award a diploma after a student has successfully completed one year of college study. Students who want to obtain the diploma should check with their former high school. Alternatively, a certificate of high school equivalence may be obtained by passing the General Educational Development (GED) examination, which is available to Simon’s Rock students through Berkshire Community College. A high school diploma is generally of significance only to those students who do not earn at least the Associate of Arts degree.

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend all classes. An absence from class is an irrevocably lost part of the course for both the individual and the group. Generally, an instructor’s evaluation of a student’s work depends partly on class participation. Classes immediately before and after vacations are as important as any other classes in the term. Students are expected to attend them and to limit their vacations to the days prescribed in the College calendar. Students who miss more than one week of a class may be suspended from that class.

Simon’s Rock recognizes that the student body includes adherents of various faiths, and that observance of religious holidays is an important part of religious practice. Students may obtain excused absences for such observance by informing their professors of their absences at least two weeks ahead of time and making arrangements to complete any work missed (see Statute on Absence Due to Religious Beliefs below).

Absences for observance of religious holidays are not counted toward the maximum allowed absences; however, students are expected to inform faculty of these absences no less than two weeks in advance. If illness or emergency necessitates missing one or more classes, including entailing a Leave of Absence (see below), the student should consult with the professor about how to make up the work missed.

Statute on Absences Due to Religious Beliefs

Pursuant to the requirements of the law set forth in Chapter 151c, Section 2B of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a copy of this section is printed here in full.

Any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational educational or vocational training institution, who is unable, because of his/her religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study, or work requirement which he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his/her availing himself/herself of the provisions of this section.

Suspension from Class Due to Excessive Absences

If a student is suspended from class for exceeding the permissible number of absences, the student, academic advisor, resident director, and the parents or guardians will receive notification from the Office of Academic Affairs. The student may apply to the instructor for readmission. If the request is granted, a Reinstatement Form signed by the instructor and stating the conditions for returning to class must be filed with the Office of Academic Affairs within one week of the class suspension.

If the instructor or student decides against reinstatement, the student may drop or withdraw from the course by submitting the appropriate form to the Registrar before the deadline unless that results in a course load below 12 credits. Suspensions after the drop and withdrawal deadlines result in an F for the course. If a suspension results in a course load below 12 credits, students must apply to go under the minimum credit load in the Office of Academic Affairs. If permission is not granted, students will be compelled to withdraw from the College.

Leave of Absence

In the event of a serious illness or other severe problem that necessitates missing several consecutive classes, the student may request a formal Leave of Absence from health services or from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dean of Academic Affairs or Dean of Students. If a student is absent from more than a total of two weeks of class sessions for any reason, completion of the course requirements is often not possible. In such cases, certification from the professor is required that the student has already done sufficient work in the course for it to reasonably be completed by the end of the semester. If the professor or the student judges that a class cannot be successfully completed, a student who has been granted a leave of absence usually will be allowed to withdraw from that class and will receive a W on the transcript. Students are expected to make up work missed during a leave of absence.

Leave to Study Away

Juniors who wish to spend a semester abroad or at another post-secondary institution or program must receive prior approval to assure that their programs of study are appropriate and that credits earned away will transfer. They must complete a Leave to Study Away application and submit it to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Final approval rests with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.

Students may apply courses taken at other institutions (e.g., as part of a Leave to Study Away) toward their BA concentration requirements. However, to be awarded a BA in a Simon’s Rock concentration, at least 50% of the credits required for the concentration must be completed at Simon’s Rock. Planning for courses that will be taken elsewhere and their relevance toward particular concentration(s) should be done in advance and in consultation with the student’s moderation committee and the faculty in the relevant concentration. Ultimately, the evaluation of whether courses taken elsewhere fulfill the Simon’s Rock concentration and program of study requirements is made by the academic advisor and the faculty in the relevant concentration.

Academic Honesty

Honesty and integrity in the performance of all academic assignments are expected of all students at Simon’s Rock. Plagiarism, giving or receiving assistance on any examination or quiz, and falsifying data are serious forms of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty in any form will not be tolerated.

A student who submits, without acknowledgment, work that is not his or her own has committed plagiarism. An example of plagiarism is the submission of a paper that is wholly or partially taken from the Internet. Plagiarism occurs even when a single sentence or phrase is copied without attribution. Information about the proper use and acknowledgment of source material is available in the library and from the faculty. Special care should be taken when engaging in research on the Internet, as there are a vast number of sources that are designed to assist students in academic dishonesty, or that are otherwise unsuitable for academic pursuits. The library has resources available to aid students in finding appropriate materials through Internet research. It is the student’s responsibility to consult with the faculty member involved whenever there is a question about the appropriate way to handle the use of source material. An approved style manual should be consulted to avoid unintentional plagiarism.

Any act of academic dishonesty will have serious consequences, regardless of whether it is intentional or unintentional. A student who has committed academic dishonesty will meet with the instructor, advisor, and the Dean of Academic Affairs. A first offense will result in at least a grade of F on the assignment or exam in question and may result in a semester grade of F for the course, and parents or guardians will be notified. Any subsequent offense will become part of the student’s record and will result in a hearing with the Standards and Procedures Committee to determine further consequences. These consequences may include academic probation, revocation of scholarship, and suspension from the College. A student who wishes to contest a judgment of academic dishonesty by the Standards and Procedures Committee may make an appeal in writing to the Appeals Committee within 48 hours of the decision.

The Standards and Procedures Committee

The Standards and Procedures Committee, chaired by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and staffed by members of the faculty, staff, students, and administration, reviews petitions for exceptions to the academic policies of Simon’s Rock based on unusual circumstances. Petitions should be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Bard College at Simon’s Rock complies with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This act assures students attending postsecondary educational institutions that they have the right to inspect and review certain of their educational records, and, by following the guidelines provided by the College, to correct inaccurate or misleading data through informal or formal hearings. The act protects students’ rights to privacy by limiting transfer of these records without their consent, except in specific circumstances. Students also have the right to file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Office, Department of Health and Human Services, 330 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20201.

College policy on the maintenance of student records is available on request from the Registrar.

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