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Academic Policies and Procedures: F-N

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Final Examinations
Students are expected to attend final examinations during the times scheduled for those examinations. Extenuating circumstances, however, might prompt faculty members to approve a student’s request for an exception to attending the final examination. Students whose request for exceptions are disapproved by the relevant faculty members have the right to appeal to the relevant academic unit head or academic dean. No appeal will be favorably considered without prior consultation with the faculty member.
Back to top of page Final Examinations Missed Due to Inclement Weather or Emergency
In response to inclement weather and other emergencies, the university may be forced to cancel final exams. When the university closes due to weather or other types of emergencies, faculty will administer regularly scheduled final examinations at an official make-up time designated by the university unless otherwise announced in the course syllabus. The official make- up time will be designated as part of the closing announcement. Unless otherwise notified, make-up examination locations will be the same as locations for regularly scheduled exams. If it is determined that exams cannot be given because of inclement weather or other emergency, faculty will assign final grades to students based on the exams, tests and projects completed prior to the regularly scheduled exam dates.
Back to top of page Grade Appeal Procedure
Maintaining standards of excellence and the integrity of the teaching/learning process are important values to JMU faculty. The university and its faculty members also recognize that grades may sometimes be inappropriately assigned. If such disagreements occur, students have a right to voice their opinion concerning a particular course grade. Evaluation of student work and assignment of grades on the basis of academic criteria are the responsibilities and prerogative exercised by the professor.
  Grade Change Procedure
If a student (graduate, undergraduate or post-baccalaureate) believes that a grade was assigned in error, because of a mistake in calculation or an error in recording a grade, the student should consult the professor (or professors, in the case of a jointly taught course) before the Friday of the second full week of classes in the regular semester following the semester of the contested grade to resolve the discrepancy. Requests for review of spring semester or summer session grades must be initiated no later than the Monday of the third full week of classes in the subsequent fall semester. If the professor agrees that a change should be made, the professor should submit a Grade Change Form, available from the Office of the Registrar or on the Web at http://www.jmu.edu/registrar/forms.shtml, and forward it to the relevant academic unit head or cluster coordinator for signature. A copy of the Grade Change Form will be forwarded to the dean. The only basis for this type of change is an error in grade assignment or calculation.
  Grade Review Process
If a student (graduate, undergraduate or post-baccalaureate) believes that a final course grade was unfairly awarded, that student may initiate the grade review process. Students should be aware that, as a result of review, a grade may be raised, lowered or left the same. Evaluation of student work and assignment of grades on the basis of academic criteria are the responsibilities of and prerogative exercised by the professor teaching that particular course. Grounds for grade review are limited to two categories.
  • The grade was assigned in a manner other than that listed in the course syllabus or as amended by the professor with appropriate notice.
  • The grade was assigned in a manner other than that used for other students in the class.
  Activating the Grade Review Process
To activate the grade review process, the student should follow these four steps.
  1. The student submits a Grade Review Form (available at www.jmu.edu/registrar/forms or the Office of the Registrar) to the appropriate professor by Monday of the third full week of classes in the regular semester that follows the semester for which the contested grade was given. The student should attach a written explanation of reasons for dispute, including any documentation relating to the disputed grade. Requests for review of spring semester or summer session grades must be initiated no later than the Monday of the third full week of classes in the subsequent fall semester.
  2. The student meets with the professor by Friday of the third full week of classes to attempt to resolve the concern.
    • If the student and the professor reach an agreement that the grade should be changed, the professor changes the grade by submitting a Grade Change Form to the appropriate academic unit head for that individual’s signature. A copy of this signed Grade Change Form will be forwarded to the dean. For graduate students whose grade of “C,” “U” or “F” is to be changed, notice of the grade change must be sent to the College of Graduate and Professional Programs before that change occurs.
    • If no resolution is reached, the professor signs the Grade Review Form and records a written response on the reverse side of the form. The professor returns the original copy of this form to the student, retains a copy of the form for his or her personal records and forwards a copy to the relevant academic unit head by Friday of the fourth full week of classes.
  3. The student must contact the relevant academic unit head by the Friday of the fifth full week of classes to request review of statement and response.
  4. The academic unit head then meets with the student and confers with the relevant professor.
    • The academic unit head signs the Grade Review Form and records a written response on the reverse side of the form by Friday of the seventh full week of classes. The student receives the original copy of this form, the relevant professor receives a copy of the form and the sender retains a copy of the form.
    • If all involved parties agree that the grade should be changed, the professor submits a Grade Change Form to the academic unit head and the appropriate individual signs the form. A copy of the form will be forwarded to the dean. Notice of the grade change must also be sent to the College of Graduate and Professional Programs before the grade change occurs for graduate students who have a grade of “C,” “U” or “F” changed to some other grade.
After the review process outlined above has been completed, a student can also request that the form, documentation and responses be reviewed by the dean of the college in which the class was taught. The college dean’s responsibility is only to ascertain whether all parties have had an opportunity to present all relevant facts and have received a fair and impartial hearing at each level. To enter this phase of the process, a student should follow these procedures.
  1. The student contacts the dean by Friday of the eighth full week of classes and requests that the dean review the overall process.
  2. The college dean reviews the process to be sure the student and the faculty member have had a fair hearing.
    • If the relevant college dean believes that due process was not followed during the review process, the dean consults with the relevant professor and academic unit head or cluster coordinator to resolve the dispute.
  3. The relevant college dean sends a written response to all involved parties by Friday of the 10th full week of classes. This written response is appended to the Grade Review Form. The dean returns the original copy to the student, retains a copy for him or herself and sends a copy to the relevant academic unit head and the relevant professor.
    • If it is agreed that the student’s grade should be changed, the relevant professor submits a Grade Change Form to the academic unit head. The recipient then signs the form and forwards a copy to the dean. Notice of the grade change must also be sent to the College of Graduate and Professional Programs before the grade change occurs for graduate students who have a grade of “C,” “U” or “F” changed to some other grade.
There is no further review beyond college dean. The entire process will not extend past the end of the semester following the contested grade with the exception of grades given for summer session courses.
  Special Circumstances
Students who spend a semester abroad should submit the Grade Review Form to the relevant professor by the Monday of the third full week of classes in the semester following the semester during which the grade was given. These students must also notify the professor of their semester absence from campus.

Students can complete a written explanation of the reasons for the dispute and can submit relevant documentation upon their return to campus, but that student cannot submit the request after the end of that semester.

If a faculty member is not on campus when a student wants to initiate a grade review, the student should contact the academic unit head to begin the process.

Grades for block courses are officially recorded at the end of the semester; therefore, a grade review process for a block grade should follow the same procedure as for a semester course.

Back to top of page Graduation
  Graduation Requirements
The faculty adviser and the academic unit head make the official check on major and minor course requirements for graduation. The Office of the Registrar makes the final check on courses required for the final term, total credit earned, the General Education program, degree requirements and the cumulative GPA earned at the university, as well as other university-wide requirements. To receive a degree from JMU, a student must:
  • Meet the General Education requirements
  • Have a minimum of 120 earned credit hours accepted by JMU
  • Have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better at JMU
  • Have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better in the major and minor subjects at JMU
  • Meet the major and degree requirements of one of the curricula leading to the degree for which they are candidates
  • Have been enrolled at JMU a minimum of two regular semesters and have earned a minimum of 30 credit hours at JMU during that period of enrollment
  • Be enrolled at JMU during the semester in which the requirements for the degree are completed
  • Have earned at least 60 credit hours accepted by JMU from accredited senior (four-year) institutions of higher education, including JMU
A student expecting to graduate at the end of any semester must file an Application for a Bachelor’s Degree, available at the registrar’s office, with the university registrar as specified in the University Calendar. Responsibility for meeting graduation requirements rests with the student.

A student who has applied to graduate may participate in commencement exercises only if the student has fulfilled or is reasonably expected to fulfill all applicable graduation requirements prior to the date of the commencement exercises. A student who is reasonably expected to fulfill all applicable graduation requirements no later than the end of summer session may participate in the spring commencement exercises immediately preceding the summer term.

Attendance at commencement exercises is expected. If a student is unable to attend commencement, the university registrar must be notified at least 21 days prior to commencement.

Permission to participate in (or actual participation in) commencement exercises does not mean or imply that a student has fulfilled all applicable graduation requirements.

  Graduation with Honors
Before becoming eligible for graduation with honors, a student must have been enrolled at JMU for a minimum of four regular semesters and have completed a minimum of 60 credit hours at JMU during that period of enrollment with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50 on all course work completed at James Madison University. Graduation honors will then be determined as specified in the table below based on all course work, including course work taken at other colleges. All grades received in all courses attempted will be used to calculate the grade point average in consideration for graduation with honors. Grades and credits completed at other colleges will be converted to the JMU grading system.

Graduation honors will be noted in the printed commencement program. The graduation honors printed in the program will be based on the grade point average at the end of the semester preceding the semester in which final graduation requirements are met. However, for students who participate in the May ceremony but complete requirements in summer session, the honors noted in the commencement program will be based on the grade point average earned at the end of the preceding fall semester. Final graduation honors recorded on the diploma and transcript will be determined by the grade point average at the end of the semester in which all graduation requirements are met.

Honors Average
Cum laude 3.50-3.699
Magna cum laude 3.70-3.899
Summa cum laude 3.9 or above
These standards apply only to students entering JMU for the first time in fall 1996 and thereafter.
Requirements for graduation with honors for students who entered JMU prior to 1996 are regulated by the catalog in effect at the time they enrolled.
  Graduation Awards
The title of Valedictorian is an honor bestowed by the Faculty Senate on behalf of the JMU faculty. Criteria were established by the Faculty Senate. It is given to the May graduate with the highest grade point average who has also earned at least 100 credit hours at James Madison University as of the fall semester prior to the student’s May graduation. The student must have completed an average of at least 14 credit hours per fall and spring semester during his or her career at JMU. The grade point average will be calculated using grades recorded on the official transcript through the fall semester of the student’s last year of undergraduate enrollment.

The Academic Excellence Award is an honor bestowed by the JMU Faculty Senate on behalf of the JMU faculty. Criteria were established by the Faculty Senate. It is for the student graduating in August or December who holds a grade point average that equals or exceeds that of the valedictorian and who has earned at least 100 credit hours at James Madison University. The student must have completed an average of at least 14 credit hours per fall and spring semester during his or her career at JMU. The grade point average will be calculated using grades recorded on the official transcript through the spring semester of the student’s last year of undergraduate enrollment. When more than one student qualifies for the Valedictorian or Academic Excellence Awards, each qualified student will be recognized.

  Graduation with Second Baccalaureate Degree
A student may earn two different baccalaureate degrees concurrently or consecutively at James Madison University if he or she meets the following requirements:
  • Earns a minimum of 150 credit hours, including a minimum of 60 hours at JMU.
  • Meets all degree and university graduation requirements for both degree programs.
  • Meets all prerequisite and course requirements in two different major fields.
Students who hold a baccalaureate degree from another institution may earn a second baccalaureate degree at James Madison University by meeting the following requirements:
  • Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours and two regular semesters (including the semester in which requirements for the second baccalaureate degree are met) at JMU.
  • Meet all prerequisite and course requirements in the major field and degree requirements for the second baccalaureate degree program.
  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher at JMU in course work completed for the major and second baccalaureate degree programs.
Back to top of page Grievance Procedure for Students
This policy applies to student grievances against faculty that do not concern grades, discrimination or harassment. Policies for grievances concerning these matters are outlined elsewhere.
  1. Each academic unit head will appoint an advisory committee made up of faculty and students from the academic unit that will hear grievances of students. The advisory committee may take any of the following actions:
    • Examine materials submitted by the student and the party grieved against (“respondent”).
    • Interview the student and the respondent.
    • Interview any witnesses requested by the student, the respondent or the committee.
    • Request additional materials from any person or entity relevant to the charges.
    • Make a recommendation on the grievance to the academic unit head.
  2. The academic unit head may accept the recommendation of the committee, reject the recommendation or partially accept and partially reject the recommendation. The academic unit head will take any action he or she deems appropriate on the grievance.
  3. If either the student or the respondent is dissatisfied with the action taken by the academic unit head, the action may be appealed to the dean. The decision of the dean is final.
  4. If the academic unit head is the party against whom the grievance is filed, the dean will receive the report of the committee and stand in the place of the head of the academic unit for the purpose of making the decision on the grievance. If the dean is the party against whom the grievance is filed, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will handle any appeal.
Back to top of page Harassment
It is the established policy of JMU to provide a work and study environment for faculty and staff members and students free from all forms of harassment, intimidation and exploitation. Prohibited harassment is offensive verbal or physical conduct when:
  • Submission to the conduct is made a condition of employment or admission of an applicant (J16-101).
  • Submission to or rejection of the conduct is the basis for personnel action (recommendation for promotion or grades) (J16-102).
  • The conduct seriously affects an employee’s or student’s performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or study environment. The conduct includes but is not limited to behaviors referring to a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, veteran status, political affiliation, or disability (J16-103).
Questions, assistance or violations related to this policy should be directed to the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity, 1017 Harrison Street, (540) 568-6991.

As an alternative, the student may deal with harassment in any of the following ways. If a student believes that he or she has been harassed by a staff member, faculty member or by a student employee, the student should take one or more of the following actions:

  • Discuss the matter with the faculty or staff member involved, explaining why a particular comment or action was offensive.
  • Discuss the matter with the immediate supervisor of the faculty or staff member, giving an account of the comment or action in question.
If the student believes that he or she has been harassed by a student, the student should take one or more of the following actions:
  • Discuss the matter with the accused, explaining why a particular comment or action was offensive.
  • Bring a charge of harassment to the Office of Judicial Affairs in Frederickson Hall, C-Section.
If a student employee believes that he or she has been a victim of harassment, he or she should take one or more of the following actions:
  • Discuss the matter with the accused, explaining why a particular comment or action was offensive.
  • Discuss the matter with the immediate supervisor of the accused, giving an account of the comment or action in question.
  • Contact the student employment office at (540) 568-3269.
Regardless of who the alleged harasser is, a student may discuss the matter with the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, the Director of the Counseling and Student Development Center or the Office of Equal Employment, giving full details of the alleged harassment. The student will be advised of proper university procedures that can be pursued. If requested, complaints will be held in confidence and counseling will be provided. No investigation or action against the accused person will be taken on a student’s behalf unless the student consents to be identified, if necessary, to the individual accused in connection with the investigation. A student also has the option of filing a formal charge of harassment with the U.S. Department of Education. The address and telephone number are available from the affirmative action officer at 1017 Harrison Street.

Back to top of page Honor System
The academic program at JMU operates under an Honor System that dates back to the 1909-10 academic session. Students adopted the present Honor System in order to uphold individual and community integrity. Each student is expected to observe complete honesty in all academic matters and to report instances where another student has violated the Honor System.

A student Honor Council administers the Honor System, and every student who matriculates at the university, whether graduate or undergraduate, becomes a member of the Honor System. The university expects the cooperation of faculty members and administrators in upholding this Honor System. The Student Handbook provides full information on the Honor System, and the Honor Council office provides students with assistance in understanding Honor System policy.

The Honor Council encourages all members of the JMU community to familiarize themselves with the Honor Code and Honor System procedures. The Honor Council office is located in Chandler Hall Rooms 133 and 133A, and the Web site at is http://www.jmu.edu/honor.

Back to top of page Major Information
Students entering JMU should confer with their advisers in order to determine a major program of study. If entering students have not decided on a specific major, they may register as undeclared. JMU encourages undeclared students to discuss their interests with representatives from the office of Academic Advising and Career Development, professors, academic unit heads and fellow students to find a major program best suited to each student’s goals and interests. Failure to do so could extend the time that students will need to fulfill graduation requirements. Students who would like assistance in identifying career options related to their specific majors can participate in the Major and Career Decisions Program through Academic Advising and Career Development. The program helps students decide on career direction by assessing their career interests, skills and abilities as well as providing information about career options.
  Declaration of Major
All students must declare their major by the beginning of their sophomore year. To declare a major, students should obtain a Change or Declaration of Major Form from the Office of the Registrar. Students must take this form to the head of the academic unit they wish to enter. Academic units accept students on the basis of their academic records and on the satisfaction of other criteria the academic units might establish. Academic units assign advisers for students who are beyond the level of a first year student. The Change or Declaration of Major Form is due in the Office of the Registrar by the third Friday of the first semester of sophomore year. Declaration by the deadline will ensure eligibility for continued enrollment at the university.

Transfer students who enter JMU with 30 or more credit hours must declare a major upon acceptance to the university.

  Change of Major
Students who would like to change their major should obtain a Change or Declaration of Major Form from the Office of the Registrar. Students must take this form to the head of the academic unit they wish to enter. Academic units accept students on the basis of their academic records and on the satisfaction of other criteria the academic units might establish. Academic units assign advisers for students who are accepted as majors.
Back to top of page Makeup Days for Classes Missed Due to Inclement Weather or Emergency
When it is necessary to cancel classes due to weather or other emergencies, faculty have several options for making up the missed instructional time.
  • Hold class at the regularly scheduled time on the official university make-up day, normally the Saturday immediately following the missed class.
  • Hold class at a time acceptable to all class members other than the regularly scheduled time or the official make-up day. Time and location will be arranged by the academic unit.
  • Accommodate the missed instructional time within remaining class meeting time.
  • Hold class through electronic means.
Back to top of page Misconduct in Research and Other Scholarly Work
Policy 2205, concerning Misconduct in Research and Other Scholarly Work, applies to all individuals involved in the performance of scholarly and creative activity and research conducted at JMU, whether performed under external or internal funding. It applies to all scientists, trainees, technicians and other staff members, students, fellows, guest researchers or collaborators. Misconduct as defined under this policy means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific and academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research. Misconduct by a student under this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from the university, loss of fellowship or scholarship and potential criminal prosecution.
Back to top of page Nonreturning Students and Leave of Absence
Students who plan to complete their current semester but who will not return to JMU for the subsequent semester (excluding summer term) must notify the Office of the Registrar in writing to ensure cancellation of housing assignments, courses for which they have pre-registered and tuition charges.

Students who are planning a temporary interruption in their studies at JMU should formally request a leave of absence by completing a Cancellation/Non-Returning Notice found at http://www.jmu.edu/registrar/forms or in the Office of the Registrar, 300 Warren Hall. Questions concerning the status of non-returning or leave of absence should be directed to the Office of the Registrar or to http://www.jmu.edu/registrar.