General Information

Academic Policies and Procedures: A-E

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Publisher: JMU Academic Affairs
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Academic Standing and Continued Enrollment
Continued enrollment at JMU depends upon an undergraduate student’s ability to maintain satisfactory academic progress toward attaining a degree. The university measures this ability by the student’s cumulative grade point average. To assist students in maintaining satisfactory progress, JMU has adopted academic standards designed to provide early identification of students who are experiencing academic difficulty and to provide timely intervention through academic support programs.
Academic Good Standing
Undergraduate students who maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 are considered to be in academic good standing and are eligible for continued enrollment at JMU.
Academic Warning
The status of academic warning applies to any student whose grade point average for a semester is below 2.0. Students who are placed on academic warning at the conclusion of a semester are urged to contact their advisers to devise strategies for improving academic performance.
  Academic Probation
Academic probation is an indication of serious academic difficulty and applies whenever a student’s cumulative grade point average falls below 2.0. Students who are placed on academic probation at the end of the fall semester may enroll for the spring semester; however, students on academic probation will be restricted to a course load of no more than 12 credit hours each semester until their cumulative grade point average has improved sufficiently enough to remove them from academic probation. The university might also require students on academic probation to confer regularly with their academic advisers and to participate in educational skills development programs.
  Academic Suspension
A student will be placed on academic suspension if that student’s cumulative grade point average is below the minimum required for continued enrollment. (These requirements are set forth in the following table.) As a rule, academic suspension will be invoked at the end of spring semester (and summer session for students who attend summer session); however, in exceptional cases where academic performance is persistently unsatisfactory, or in cases where students fail to meet continued enrollment conditions, the university may choose to suspend students at the end of fall semester. A student who is suspended at the end of fall semester must submit an Intent to Enroll form by April 1 to return for summer session.

Suspended students who wish to rectify their academic deficiencies may enroll in the immediately following summer session. If the student uses a summer session to raise his or her cumulative grade point average to at least the minimum required for continued enrollment on academic probation, then that student will be eligible to enroll for the fall semester under the restrictions described under academic probation. Students unable to raise their grade point average to the minimum required conditions for continued enrollment will be academically suspended and ineligible for continued enrollment at JMU.

The period of suspension is one calendar year following a first suspension. Following a second suspension, the period of suspension is two calendar years. Students who are academically suspended for a second time are eligible to apply to return to JMU by agreeing to apply for the Transfer Equivalent Option upon their approved return to JMU. Re-entry is not guaranteed, but is contingent upon review by an academic review committee chaired by the Director of Academic Student Services. Such review may result in denial or conditional re-entry.

Total Number of Hours for Standing1 Cumulative GPA for
Academic Suspension
1-27 less than 1.500
28-44 less than 1.650
45-59 less than 1.750
60-74 less than 1.850
75-89 less than 1.900
90-104 less than 1.994
105-119 less than 1.999
102 or above less than 2.000
1 Total Number of Hours for Standing includes all hours attempted at JMU plus (1) Credit hours transferred to JMU, (2) Credit hours earned by departmental exam and AP credit, and (3) Credit hours for courses taken on a credit/no credit basis (whether the final grade was CR or NC). For instance, in the example below a student has attempted 60 credit hours at JMU and received 30 credits for transfer work and 2 hours of no credit work. The hours attempted plus the no credit and transfer hours place this student in the 92 credit hour category, even though the total number of hours earned is equal to 82. With a cumulative GPA of 1.991, the student is subject to suspension.
JMU Hrs Attempted Trans Hrs NC Hrs JMU Hrs Earned Cum Hrs Earned Hrs for Standing Cum Quality Pts Earned Cum GPA
60 30 2 52 82 92 119.5 1.991
  Academic Dismissal
A student who is suspended a third time will be permanently dismissed from the university. No appeal of this dismissal will be considered, nor will students dismissed for academic deficiency be allowed to exercise the transfer equivalent option.
Back to top of page Aging Credit
Students are subject to the curricular and graduation requirements contained in the undergraduate catalog in effect during or subsequent to the academic year of their first enrollment at JMU. At the discretion of their academic unit heads, students who leave and reenter the university after an absence of a semester or more will be subject to the catalog in effect at the time of their re-entry or the catalog used by the majority of students with whom they graduate.

With the exception of undergraduates enrolled in the Individualized Studies program, students are expected to complete all baccalaureate major and degree requirements within seven years of their original entry date to JMU or previous higher educational institution(s). If required by the academic unit, academic work completed more than seven years prior to the students’ anticipated graduation date might be subject to review by the major and minor academic units and the Office of General Education for applicability to the undergraduate degree program. In programs leading to licensure or certification, additional standards may apply.

Back to top of page Attendance
A student’s participation in the work of a course is clearly a precondition to his/her receiving credit in that course. Because of the wide variety of courses and teaching methods at JMU, the university recognizes that the nature of a student’s participation in the work of a course cannot be prescribed on a university-wide basis. For this reason, classroom attendance is not a matter subject to regulation by the university. Attendance in class and in the laboratory is a matter between the student and the faculty member in that class or laboratory.
Back to top of page Auditing
In order to audit a class, a student must have the permission of his/her faculty adviser and the head of the academic unit offering the class. Audited courses will not affect a student’s semester credit hours or grade point average.
Back to top of page Changes in Requirements
Generally, a student is subject to the curricular and graduation requirements contained in the catalog in effect upon the student’s first enrollment at JMU (or, if requested for valid reasons by the student and approved by the student’s major programs and the Office of the Registrar, the requirements contained in a different catalog).

However, James Madison University is a progressive educational institution and its offerings and requirements are under continual examination and revision.

Revisions often affect currently enrolled students. Although the university attempts to alert students to these revisions through the academic advising process, individual reports of academic progress and various campus publications, responsibility for meeting all curricular and other graduation requirements rests with the students, who are encouraged to consult regularly with their program advisers as well as Academic Advising and Career Development.

Back to top of page Classification
The classification of students depends upon the number of credit hours they have earned.
  • First year students: Fewer than 28 credit hours
  • Sophomores: 28-59 credit hours
  • Juniors: 60-89 credit hours
  • Seniors: More than 89 credit hours
Back to top of page Course Adjustment
A course adjustment is any change to a student’s registered course schedule. A course adjustment can include any of the following: changing a credit option, changing a section, adding a course, dropping a course or withdrawing from a course. Deadlines for processing specific course adjustments are stated in the Registration and Student Record Services Handbook and the Office of the Registrar Web site. The end of the course adjustment period (approximately one week after midterm grades are due for a regular semester) is the deadline for withdrawing without penalty from a course and changing credit options for a semester course.

First semester first year students (students who have taken 27 or fewer credit hours) must secure the prior approval of their faculty adviser for any course adjustments. Each student is responsible for knowing her/his registered course schedule and for making any desired course adjustments prior to the published registration deadlines.

  Adding a Course, Changing Sections or Changing Credit Options
Students may add a course and change sections or credit options according to deadlines and instructions published in the Registration and Student Record Services Handbook. Students should note that adding a course may result in a tuition increase.
  Dropping a Course
Dropping and withdrawing both result in the termination of a student’s enrollment in that course. Dropping a course must be completed before the drop deadline, which is the second Tuesday of a regular semester. There is no fee for dropping a course, and the dropped course will not appear on the student’s transcript. Depending on the student’s course load, dropping a course might result in a tuition reduction.
  Withdrawing from a Course
A student may terminate enrollment in a course by withdrawing from the course after the drop deadline. A student who withdraws from a course will receive a grade of “W” for the course, and this grade will be recorded (and remain) on the student’s transcript regardless of the status of the student in the course at the time of the withdrawal. In extraordinary situations, a student who becomes unable to complete some course requirements after the course adjustment deadline has passed may request a grade of “WP” or “WF” from the instructor. The form (e.g., verbal, written) and timing of such requests are determined by individual instructors; the student is responsible for ensuring that the request is made in an appropriate manner and at an appropriate time. In response to such a request, the instructor may choose to record a grade of “WP” or “WF,” but is not obligated to do so (and may record any grade other than “W”). The course instructor may also suggest that the student contact the JMU Ombudsperson about withdrawing from the university. Withdrawing from a course will not result in a tuition reduction.

Students considering withdrawing from a course should be aware that graduate and professional schools and future employers might hold differing opinions on a student’s withdrawal from a course. For this reason, a student should withdraw from a course only after serious consideration.

Back to top of page Course Load
In all programs, the normal load per semester is 15 or 16 credit hours. A student with a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or better may register for as many as 21 credit hours per semester. Any student in good standing may take a maximum of 19 credit hours without securing special permission.

Students in good standing who wish to exceed these credit per semester limitations must secure permission from the head of the academic unit in which they are majoring.

The university strongly recommends that a student on academic warning not register for more than 16 credit hours per semester. A student on probation may not take more than 12 credit hours per semester.

  Academic Probation and Course Load
Students on academic probation should get the approval of the office of the dean of their major college if they wish to take more than 12 credit hours per semester. Students should note that an undergraduate course load of at least 12 credit hours a semester is required for a student to live in a residence hall.
  Summer Session Course Load
During summer session, undergraduate students may take six credit hours for each four-week term, nine credit hours for each six-week term and twelve credit hours for each eight- and ten-week term. The head of the academic unit in which the student is majoring must approve overloads at the time of registration. Students are reminded that summer course work is intensive because of the condensed instructional time-frame and are encouraged to plan their summer schedules with the demanding workload in mind.
Back to top of page Confidentiality of Educational Records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
James Madison University adheres to and annually informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. This act, with which the institution intends to fully comply, was designated to protect the privacy of educational records. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) students have certain rights with respect to their education records.

These rights include:

The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access.
Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the University official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading.
Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Upon request, the University may disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. The following is considered “Directory Information” at James Madison University and may be made available to the general public unless the student notifies the Office of the Registrar in person or in writing within five days after the first day of class registration. Student’s name, telephone numbers, addresses, date and place of birth, major and minor fields of study, college of major and year (first year student, sophomore, etc.), enrollment status (full-time/part-time) including credit hours, dates of attendance, degree sought and time, degrees conferred, awards and honors conferred, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, fraternity and/or sorority and educational societies.

The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by James Madison University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605. For more detailed information concerning JMU’s records policy see James Madison University, Policies and Procedures, Policy 3102, The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Back to top of page Credit/No-credit Course Registration
The credit/no-credit option has been established to encourage students to explore academic areas with which they are unfamiliar. Such academic exploration allows students to fully integrate field-based learning activities into appropriate programs of study. The design of the credit/no-credit option allows students to participate in courses outside of their major and minor fields of concentration without jeopardizing their academic records. In some cases, the credit/no-credit option might also help to reduce academic pressures and competition for grades.

Students electing to take courses under this option should be selective in choosing the courses that they take as credit/no-credit. Graduate and professional schools and future employers, however, might hold differing opinions of such a nontraditional grading system. For this reason, students should consult with their academic advisers for information concerning the inclusion of credit/no-credit course grades within their programs.

Students are eligible to take a course on a credit/no-credit basis if they have completed at least 28 credit hours at JMU and have attained a 2.25 cumulative grade point average or higher. Transfer students may take courses on the credit/no-credit option only if they have completed 28 credit hours with at least 14 hours at JMU.

JMU allows students to register for kinesiology activity courses on a credit/no-credit basis at any time without regard to minimum hours completed or grade point average. Also, grades for student teaching are assigned on a credit/no-credit basis. Except for field-based courses (which may be defined by an academic unit as credit/no-credit) the following courses may not be taken credit/no-credit:

  • Courses used to meet General Education requirements
  • Courses within a major program
  • Courses within a minor program
  • Courses listed by name and number in a major or minor program but offered outside the major and minor academic unit
  • Courses being repeated that were previously taken for a letter grade
  • Degree requirements
Students should also keep in mind the following factors when considering the credit/no-credit option:
  • Students can take up to 15 credit hours on a credit/no-credit basis.
  • The university limits the maximum number of credit/no-credit courses a student can take to four credit hours per semester or one course of more than four credit hours per semester.
  • Student teaching is not counted as a part of these credit/no-credit totals.
  • Students registering for classes should declare the course or courses that they plan to take on a credit/no-credit basis at the time of registration, and all changes to and from the credit/no-credit option must be completed by the end of the course adjustment period.
  • The credit/no-credit option will only apply to final grades. All course work and quizzes will be graded as if the student were taking the course for credit.
  • Students taking a course on a credit/no-credit basis will only be identified to the instructor after final grades have been submitted.
  • Instructors will submit letter grades to the university registrar who will then change all grades of “A” through “C” to “CR” (credit) for those students enrolled under the credit/no-credit option. (The university makes exceptions to this process for field-based courses designated by the academic unit.) Students will receive credit hours, but they will not receive quality points for the work completed. Therefore, the grade of “CR” will not affect a student’s cumulative grade point averages.
  • A grade of “NC” (no-credit) will be recorded for all grades of “C-” and below and the student will not receive credit hours or quality points for the grade of “NC.” The fact that the student took the course will remain on that student’s transcript, but the grade assigned in that class will not affect that student’s cumulative grade point average.
Back to top of page Credit Opportunities
The university offers the following options to enable students to earn credit toward their degree outside the traditional classroom setting:
  • Admission of High School Students as Special Students (Refer to the Office for Admissions Web site at http://www.jmu.edu/admissions/ for more information.)
  • Admission of First year students With Advanced Placement (See information concerning the College Board Advanced Placement program.)
  • Credit by Examination
  • Independent Study
  Credit by Examination
College degrees represent growth and maturity in certain fundamental knowledge and skills rather than a mere accumulation of credit hours. In recognition of the fact that some persons may achieve academic competence through nontraditional means, such as private study, technical employment or prior instruction, JMU endorses the concept of credit by examination.

By permitting a student to earn credit by academic unit examination for knowledge already gained, highly motivated or academically advanced persons are able to accelerate their program. It is the student’s responsibility to ascertain what preparation and background are necessary for taking advantage of this means of acceleration, before attempting an examination.

Any enrolled undergraduate student may apply to take an examination for credit in selected courses in the undergraduate curriculum. Permission to take an examination for credit must be obtained from the head of the academic unit in which credit is sought. A student will not be permitted to take the examination for credit option with any of the following conditions:

  • The student is presently enrolled in the course.
  • The student has previously completed the course.
  • The course is a prerequisite for a course in which the student is currently enrolled or has completed.
  • The course is numbered at a lower level than courses in which the student is currently enrolled or has previously completed without the expressed approval of the academic unit head.
  • A student’s grade in a course was assigned due to a violation of the Honor System.
Each academic unit will use its own discretion in developing the form of the examination and in determining the procedure to be followed. Students may earn as many as 30 credit hours through credit by academic unit examination, with no more than 12 credit hours in any one discipline. To receive credit, a student must make a grade of “C” or better on the examination. Each academic unit shall determine what constitutes a “C” for that academic unit. No academic unit shall require a grade higher than a “C” for passing the examination. The examination for a course can be taken only once in a given semester. A nonrefundable fee must be paid prior to the administration of an examination for credit. (Refer to the fees information.) Each academic unit will determine its time schedule for giving examinations.
  Independent Study
Every academic unit at JMU offers a course designed to give capable students an opportunity to do faculty-supervised independent studies. Such courses often carry more than the normal three credit hours for a semester’s work. In addition, these independent study courses allow especially capable students to work at their own, often accelerated pace. Arrangements for independent study should be made with individual faculty members.
Back to top of page Early Re-enrollment
If there are documented extenuating circumstances associated with the academic deficiency that resulted in a student’s suspension from JMU, the student on academic suspension may appeal for permission to re-enroll at JMU prior to being eligible for readmission.

During a first suspension, the student may choose to make a written appeal for early re-enrollment to the office of the dean of the major college or to the office of the Associate Dean for General Education for students with undeclared majors. The office of the dean of the major college or the Associate Dean for General Education will make the decision regarding permission to re-enroll and the conditions under which re-enrollment will be granted.

Following a second suspension, the period of suspension is two calendar years. Students who are academically suspended for a second time are eligible to apply to return to JMU by agreeing to apply for the Transfer Equivalent Option upon their approved return to JMU. Re-entry is not guaranteed, but is contingent upon review by an academic review committee chaired by the Director of Academic Student Services. Such review may result in denial or conditional re-entry.