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Academic Policies & Guidelines

The Smith College Course Catalog is the official reference for degree requirements; academic policies and regulations; major, minor and concentration requirements; and individual course descriptions. Students are encouraged to become thoroughly familiar with the information in the Academic Rules and Procedures section of the catalog, which provides detailed information on degree requirements, academic credit, academic standing and satisfactory progress, and leaves, withdrawal and readmission.

Academic Honor System

In 1944 the students of Smith College voted to establish the Academic Honor System in the belief that each member of the Smith community has an obligation to uphold the academic standards of the college. The basic premise on which the code is based is that the learning process is a product of individual effort and commitment accompanied by moral and intellectual integrity. The Academic Honor Code is the institutional expression of these beliefs. The code requires that each individual be honest and respect and respond to the demands of living responsibly in an academic community.

Read more about the Academic Honor Code as it applies to examinations and class work in the Smith College Handbook.


Commencement Participation Policy

A student who finishes the senior year with no more than an eight credit shortage may participate in Commencement (i.e., she must have at least 120 earned credits on their record) if they have petitioned and been granted permission by the Administrative Board. Approved students are allowed to participate in all Commencement events and their names appear in the program, but they receive a blank diploma at graduation. Such students whose records are certified by the registrar as complete by the end of the summer following commencement will be granted the degree as of August 31 and the diploma mailed at that time. The names of students who do not complete their requirements in the summer following commencement will be resubmitted in the year in which they do complete and the diploma issued in that subsequent year.

Students who have not earned at least 120 credits toward the degree will not be permitted to participate in Commencement events on any basis and will not be listed in the program, irrespective of their class year upon matriculation at Smith College. 

Communication Policy

Smith College has developed its technology infrastructure to enhance teaching and learning, and to enable efficient business practices. All students, faculty and staff are assigned an official Smith College email address, and official college communications are sent to this email address. The Smith official email address for each student is listed in the online campus directory. Students are responsible for receiving, reading, complying with and responding to official email communications from the college, along with other forms of campus communications (campus mail, eDigest, etc.).

Faculty may assume that a student's official college email is a valid mechanism for communicating with a student and thus use email for communicating with students registered in their classes. This policy ensures that all students are informed of course requirements communicated to them by email from their course instructors. Students must submit coursework according to the acceptable guidelines established by their instructors.

Students should also be aware of the electronic mail policy established by Institutional Technology Services (ITS).

Forwarding to an Alternate Email Address

The college provides several means by which a student may access their official Smith email account. Optionally, a student may forward their email from the official Smith email address to another email address of her choice. A student who chooses to forward email to another email address does so at their own risk. Smith College is not responsible for email forwarded to any other email address. A student's failure to receive or read in a timely manner official communications sent to the student's official email address does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the official communication. Students should contact ITS for assistance in forwarding email.

Certification of Completion of Requirements

As a requirement of graduation, all seniors must complete a Certification of Completion of Requirements form and submit it in person to the Registrar’s Office. Seniors will be emailed the link to the Certification of Completion of Requirement form and along with further instructions at the beginning of their senior year. Separate forms are required to demonstrate that the senior will satisfy the requirements of each major, minor, and concentration. The form is to be completed with and signed by your adviser(s).

If you are no longer pursuing a second major or minor, please complete a change of major/minor form and submit that to the registrar’s office as soon as possible.

The certification form is a requirement for graduation. If you make a change to your current registration that involves courses required for the major(s)/minor, recertification may be necessary.

Course Program/Minimum Semester Course Load

The normal course program (course load) for traditional students is 16 credits per semester over eight semesters of enrollment. Traditional students may not drop below a 12 credit program, which is the minimum allowed in any semester. Students may not use their free drop if it results in dropping below the minimum 12-credit program. Seniors are expected to enroll in the minimum 12-credit program whether or not the credits are needed for graduation.

Ada Comstock Scholars can enroll in a minimum of 8 credits each semester but must be enrolled in 12 credits if they are in campus housing.

Enrollment in Five College courses: Traditional students are required to take at least half their credits (8 credits) on campus; Adas are required to take half of their total credits on Smith campus. Traditional students enrolled in a reduced course program are still required to take at least 8 credits on campus.

A student who fails to remain registered in 12 credits will be required to withdraw the following semester. Students who wish to return the semester following dropping below 12 credits, must petition the Administrative Board.

A student may carry no more than 24 credits per semester, unless approved by the Administrative Board. A student studying on a Smith Programs Abroad (Florence, Geneva, Hamburg, or Paris) may earn no more than 40 credits for the academic year.

Courses Outside the Major/64-Credit Rule (Bachelor of Arts)

A student’s program requires a minimum of 36 credits in a department or interdepartmental major. For the bachelor of arts degree, one-half of a student’s total program, or at least 64 credits, must be taken outside the department or program of the major. Any course (including prerequisites) which is explicitly listed in the catalog as required for, or counting toward, fulfilling the requirements of the major shall be considered to be inside the major for the purposes of this rule. Normally cross-listed and dual-prefix courses are also considered to be inside the major.

The sole exception to the 64–credit rule is that in the case of a major requiring study of two foreign languages taught within a single department or program, no fewer than 56 credits shall be taken outside the department or program of the major.

Degree Restrictions

  • A limited number of performance credits may be counted toward the degree:
    • Exercise and Sport Studies (ESS): maximum of 4 credits
    • Music (MUS): maximum of 24 credits
    • Dance (DAN): maximum of 12 credits for non-dance majors, 20 credits for dance majors
    Courses completed beyond these limits are listed on the transcript but are not counted towards the degree.
  • A maximum of 16 credits of optional Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grades may be counted toward the degree.
  • A maximum of 16 credits of special studies may be counted toward the degree.
  • A maximum of 12 approved summer school credits and a maximum of 12 approved interterm credits at Smith or elsewhere may be applied to the degree, with an overall maximum of 32 credits of combined summer, interterm, AP and other pre–matriculation credits.

Language Credit

Policies concerning credit for introductory language courses are published in the catalog at the beginning of each language department's course listings. If students are completing introductory language courses through the Five College Interchange, the credit policy of the comparable department at Smith apply. If there is no comparable language taught at Smith, students may receive credit for the first semester only, but Latin Honors distribution credit is only awarded upon completion of the full year.

Students registered for the Five College Supervised Independent Language Program are advised that credit for level I courses is not awarded until completion of levels II or higher. Foreign language Latin Honors distribution is not awarded until completion of level IV or higher.

Repeating Courses

Normally courses may not be repeated for credit. In courses where the content varies from year to year exceptions to this rule may be made by the instructor and the chair of the department. A student who has failed a course may repeat it with the original grade remaining on the record. The second grade is also recorded. A student who wants to repeat a course they have not failed may do so for no credit. The second grade is recorded but does not count in the grade point average. Students intending to repeat a course for credit must file a signed Waiver of Restrictions form with the registrar's office.

Residency Requirement

Candidates for the degree must complete at least four semesters of academic work and a minimum of 64 credits in academic residence at Smith College in Northampton; two of these semesters must be completed during the junior or senior year. A student on a Smith Programs Abroad (Florence, Geneva, Hamburg, or Paris), the Jean Picker Semester-in-Washington Program or the Internship Program at the Smithsonian Institution is not in academic residence in Northampton. Coursework completed through the Five College Interchange while in residency at Smith counts toward this requirement.

A transfer student or Ada Comstock scholar who enters with 64 credits must spend the junior and senior year on campus in Northampton and may neither accelerate nor participate on Smith or non-Smith programs, either in the U.S. or abroad.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grading Option

A student may elect the satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) grading option in a course with the permission of the instructor. Students must earn a grade of C- or better to be awarded a satisfactory grade and earn credit for the course. S/U grades are not calculated in the grade point average. Students may declare the S/U grading option or change it through the end of the ninth week of classes (for full semester courses) by submitting a Change of Grading Option Form with the appropriate signatures.

Within the 128 credits required for the degree, a maximum of 16 credits (Smith or Five College courses) may be taken for the S/U grading option, regardless of how many graded credits students are enrolled in per semester. An Ada Comstock Scholar or a transfer student may elect the S/U grading option for 4 credits out of every 32 that they take at Smith College. Courses that have mandatory (instructor-designated) S/U grading do not count towards these limits.

Students enrolled in a year-long course designated with a "Y" in the course number may declare separate grading options each semester. Year-long courses designated with a "D" in the course number must be taken with the same grading option both semesters.

Instructors who do not allow the S/U grading option in their courses should contact the registrar's office. All instructors are required to keep and submit final letter grades. Grades will be converted appropriately by the registrar's office.

Special Studies/Advanced Studies

A special studies is a course you design with a member of the Smith or Five College faculty* and is open by instructor permission to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

*Five College special studies also require submission of a Five College request on BannerWeb.

Registration requires the approval of the instructor and department chair. Submit an approved Special/Advanced Studies form to the registrar's office by the end of the add/drop period.

Registration

A special studies form must be completed online and printed for signatures before submitting to the registrar's office. Hand written forms are not accepted.

Credit Rules

Each department has different options for the number of credits available for a special studies. Credits should be determined in consultation with the instructor based on work to be completed. The number of credits in a special studies cannot be changed once it has begun. You may earn up to 16 special studies credits during your time at Smith.

Grading Option

You may use the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option for a special studies if the instructor approves. The S/U option may be declared on the special studies form or with the change of grading option form before the S/U deadline.

The Writing Requirement

As a requirement for graduation, all Smith students must satisfactorily complete at least one writing intensive (WI) course.

Each WI course provides an introductory experience in college-level thinking and writing, and helps build a solid foundation for writing assigned in later courses in which writing is assigned but not always taught. WI courses devote a significant amount of class time to teaching students to write with precision, clarity, economy and some degree of elegance. That is to say,

  • to articulate a thesis or central argument, or to create a description or report, with an orderly sequence of ideas, apt transitions, and a purpose clear to the intended audience;
  • to support an argument and to enrich an explanation with evidence;
  • when appropriate, to identify and to evaluate suitable primary and secondary sources for scholarly work, demonstrating awareness of library catalogues and databases and of the values and limitations of Internet resources;
  • to incorporate the work of others (by quotation, summary or paraphrase) concisely, effectively and with attention to the models of citation of the various disciplines and with respect for academic integrity;
  • to compose paragraphs that are unified and coherent;
  • to edit work until it is orderly, clear and free of violations of the conventions of standard written English (grammar, usage, punctuation, diction, syntax).

Courses approved by the Smith faculty to satisfy this requirement are identified as {WI} in the Smith Catalog and the schedule of classes. Students can access information on all {WI} courses offered in a given term through the Catalog Course Search. Offerings vary each semester, so students should consult the schedule or catalog, and speak with their advisers to make sure that they meet this requirement.

Each first-year student is required, during their first or second semester at Smith, to complete with a grade of C- or higher at least one writing-intensive course. Based on their level of proficiency, students will be directed toward appropriate intensive writing courses. All First-Year Seminars (FYS) are classified as WI courses.

Ada Comstock Scholars and transfer students are also required to complete at least one WI course, with a grade of C- or higher, during their first two semesters at Smith. The WI requirement can be satisfied before matriculation based on transcript reviews by the registrar, in conjunction with the writing committee. For a course to qualify as WI, it must have focused on the teaching of academic writing, devoted substantial class time to the teaching of writing and demonstrated a process-oriented approach to the teaching of writing. Students should have written multiple papers (at least three, 15 pages altogether at a minimum, not counting drafts), received feedback from the instructor and satisfactorily revised their writing. Creative writing and journalism courses do not satisfy the WI requirement.

Year-Long Courses

Students must register for and successfully complete both semesters of a year-long course (designated by a "D" or "Y" in the course number) before credit is granted. Any student who does not register for the second half of a year-long course by the end of the spring add/drop period will forfeit credit for the first semester. The first semester course and grade will remain on the student’s transcript, but the credits and grade will not be calculated in the cumulative totals. Students who do not successfully complete the second half of a yearlong course, through either failure or drop/withdrawal, will lose credit for the first semester. The first semester course and grade will remain on the student’s transcript, but the credits and grade will not be calculated in the cumulative totals. Exceptions to this policy are by approval of the Administrative Board only.

Students enrolled in a year-long course designated with a "Y" in the course number may declare separate grading options each semester. Year-long courses designated with a "D" in the course number must be taken with the same grading option both semesters.

 Students who feel they are qualified to enter a yearlong course at mid-year should speak with the instructor. If the instructor approves, students must petition the Administrative Board to add the course at mid-year. Students who are beginning music performance courses in the spring semester need the department's permission only; petitioning is not necessary.