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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.

Changes to Academic Records Policy

Smith College academic records are sealed 30 days following graduation, withdrawal or other separation (non-enrollment) from Smith College. No changes or additions to a student’s undergraduate or graduate transcript will be permitted after this date, except to correct administrative errors or as provided for by approved policies. These include, but are not limited to, grade changes; course registration changes; changes to majors, minor, concentration or Five College certificate; additional transfer credits; or additional courses taken at Smith following graduation or separation from the college.

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 Academic Board. Approved students are allowed to participate in all Commencement events and their names appear in the program, but they receive an empty diploma cover 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.

Course Program/Minimum Semester Course Load

The normal course program (course load) for traditional-aged undergraduates consists of 16 credits taken in each of eight semesters at Smith. Only with the approval of the academic board may a student complete her degree requirements in fewer or more than eight semesters. The minimum course load for a traditional-aged undergraduate in any semester is 12 credits. Students may not use their free drop if it results in dropping below the minimum 12-credit program. A traditional-aged student who is enrolled in fewer than 12 credits in any semester will be administratively withdrawn by the Academic Board at the end of that semester. In such cases, the student must remain away from the college for at least one semester and may then apply to return to Smith. Seniors are expected to enroll in the minimum 12-credit program whether or not the credits are needed for graduation.

Approved summer session or interterm credit may be used to supplement a minimum 12-credit load or to make up a shortage of credits. Please see "Transfer Credit Limits" and related sections below for detailed information regarding transfer credit policies and maximums.

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 may carry no more than 24 credits per semester, unless approved by the Academic Board. A student studying on a Smith Program 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 earned credits in a departmental or interdepartmental major. For the bachelor of arts degree, one-half of a student’s total program, or at least 64 credits, shall be taken outside the department or program of the major. Any course that is explicitly listed in the catalogue 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. Prerequisite, dual-prefixed and cross-listed courses are also considered to be inside the major. Approved exceptions to the 64-credit rule include the following:

  • 100-level prerequisites that do not count directly toward major requirements (i.e., are below the level eligible to fulfill a major requirement) are not counted as inside the major.
  • In programs that are broadly interdivisional, cross-listed courses taken in excess of those used to fulfill major requirements may be exempted from the inside-of-major credit count.
  • Students pursuing departmental honors are required to take at least 56 credits, rather than 64 credits, outside of the department or program in which they are honors candidates.  

The requirements for each major are described before the course listings for each major department and program. Students should refer to the semester’s schedule of course sections for the most current information on cross-listed and dual-prefixed courses.

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.

Maximum Credits During Registration

During early registration (April and November), students may register for up to 19 credits. Additional credits, up to a maximum of 24, may be added during the add/drop period at the beginning of the semester. Students are encouraged to register for only those classes that they fully intend to complete.

Students may not register for classes that conflict with other classes on their schedule. Sixteen (16) credits is considered the maximum load for students on academic probation, unless approved by the class dean and academic adviser.

Online Add/Drop Period

Students may add courses online for the first five days of classes only. In the second week of classes, a student must obtain the instructor's permission via a course eligibility waiver to add, even if there are open seats in the class. Students may continue to drop courses online through the full two-week add/drop period. Students may add or drop a course through the third week of classes, with approval of the instructor, as well as their faculty adviser and class dean with an add form.

Repeating Courses

Effective fall 2017 semester, students may repeat for credit a course taken at Smith in which a grade of C or lower was earned. A maximum of two courses may be repeated during the student’s period of enrollment. Permission of the student’s liberal arts or major faculty adviser and the course instructor is required.

A Smith course may be repeated at Smith only, not at another institution (including those in the Five College Interchange). Discontinued or infrequently offered courses may not be repeated by substituting a similar or comparable course currently in the curriculum, nor may a course originally taken as a conventional course be repeated as a special studies. A repeated course must be taken in the same grading mode (i.e., conventional letter grade or S/U) as the original course.

A student repeating a course that was passed (a grade of D- or higher) and for which credit was earned will receive no additional course credit toward graduation. Students who complete a Smith course that is a repeat of (or equivalent to) a course transferred from another institution, or for which credit has already been given as the result of an Advanced Placement or other examina­tion, will also not receive additional credit. The transfer or Advanced Placement course credit will be excluded from their academic record and the course will be noted on the transcript as a repeated course. 

All grades earned in courses, including any repeated courses, will appear and remain on the student’s transcript. Only the higher grade of a repeated course will be calculated into the term and cu­mulative GPAs, however. The exception is a grade of E received as a result of Academic Honor Board decision. A student who fails a course under this circumstance may repeat the course; however, the original grade (E) will remain on the transcript and be retained in the calculation of the term and cumulative GPAs. 

It is the student’s responsibility to register a repeated course properly with the registrar’s office at the time of registration by submitting a completed course repeat authorization form. Topics and other courses that are noted as repeatable for credit in the course description or department/program catalog section are not subject to this policy, unless the student receives permission to repeat the same topic and meets all criteria above. This policy does not apply retroactively to courses repeated prior to fall 2017 semester. 

Students receiving federal financial aid should check with Student Financial Services prior to repeating the same course twice. Per federal policy, once a student has completed any course twice with a grade, they are no longer eligible to receive additional federal financial aid for that course. If a student retakes a course that is not aid eligible, the credit hours will be excluded from the financial aid enrollment for that semester.

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 Program 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

Credit/Non Credit 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 approvals. The elected grading option is noted as credit/non credit on the course registration on Workday.

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.

Credits earned in courses with a mandatory S/U grading option, including all Spring 2020 semester courses, are not counted towards the 16-credit limit. Due to exceptional circumstances, all Spring 2020 semester courses were converted to mandatory S/U grading and thus do not count toward the 16-credit limit.

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.

Courses taken S/U fulfill Latin Honors designations if carried on the course and a Satisfactory (S) grade is earned.

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.

Academic year 2020-2021

Due to continued disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to instruction and residency, a student will be allowed an additional 12 optional S/U credits for use during the 2020-21 academic year. A student may not carry these additional credits into future academic years, and students electing to take more than 12 optional S/U credits in 2020-21 will draw on the 16 credits provided in the Code.

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.

*Five College special studies also require submission of a Five College request in Workday.

Registration requires the approval of the instructor. Submit an approved Special/Advanced Studies form to the registrar's office by the end of the fifth day of classes.


A special studies form must be typed and printed for signature approval before submitting to the registrar's office. Hand written forms are not accepted. Emailed forms are accepted with either the signature on the form or an email approval from the instructor.

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 must be declared with the change of grading option form before the S/U deadline.

The Writing Intensive 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. To learn more details, please see The Writing Intensive Requirement webpage.

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 Writing Intensive 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, received feedback from the instructor and satisfactorily revised their writing. Some focus on public-facing writing genres (e.g. op-eds, podcasts) is not only permissible but welcome. However, 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 Academic 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 Academic 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 the Academic Board is not necessary.