academic standards & policies

Academic Expectations

Students are expected to attend all scheduled classes and to be in touch with their professors when an unavoidable absence occurs. Regardless of their other activities, students are responsible for completing all course requirements on time and to the best of their abilities. Furthermore, students are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic integrity, including the approriate use and citation of the work and ideas of others.

Majors and Minors

The college catalog describes the majors and minors available at Colby-Sawyer College. The catalog outlines suggested registrations and lists of the courses required. An introductory course and talking to people familiar with the major, such as an advisor, faculty members, and students in the major will help in choosing a major and/or a minor.

Double Major

It is possible to have two majors. Students should plan early and carefully to complete the required courses. Approval from the department chair and the academic dean is necessary for a double major. And, it may take more than four years to complete a double major. The advisor can help plan for a double major.

Course Credit and Course Load

All courses are calculated on the basis of semester credit hours and most are one semester in duration. A typical full-time student enrolls for 12 to 18 credit hours each semester. Fifteen credits is considered a normal course load. Students living in residence halls must maintain a minimum 12 credit course load throughout the semester. In extraordinary circumstance, students may petition the director of residential eduction for permission to remain in the residence halls with a reduced load. Students enrolling for more than 18 credit hours must have the permission of the academic dean and pay for the additional credits.

Letter GradePoint Value
B  3.0
C  2.0
D  1.0
F  0.0

Grading System

A four-point letter grade system is used to indicate student achievement. Each letter grade has the following numerical quality-point value:

Students in most degree programs are allowed to take one elective course each semester (a maximum of two per year) on a Pass/Fail basis. Major courses and courses required for the Liberal Education program must be taken for a letter grade.

Grade Reports

The college releases educational records in the form of grade reports to the parents or guardians of dependent students (as defined by the Internal Revenue Code). Students over 18 years of age and independent who wish their educational records released to parents or guardians must sign a waiver form made available by the academic dean. Such waivers must be signed each academic year. Annually, the academic dean will provide students with a form asking them to specify if they are dependent or independent, and to designate the correct names and addresses to which grade reports are to be sent.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

The minimum standard for satisfactory academic standing for all students is a 2.0 (C) cumulative grade point average.

Mid-semester Grade Reports

Professors may confer at any time during the semester with students believed to be in academic difficulty. Mid-semester Grade Reports may be issued by professors to inform students of their progress in a course at mid-semester. Mid-semester Grade Reports are required for first-year students and for students whose mid-semester grade is below C. Copies of these notices are sent to the student and to their parents. Students should confer with both the professor and academic advisor in order to determine the best method of insuring academic progress and success.

Academic Probation and Suspension

Students whose cumulative grade point average is below the minimum standard of a 2.0 grade point average will be placed on academic probation status and notified in writing. Academic Probation indicates that students must improve their performance or risk suspension or dismissal at the conclusion of the next semester. These students must meet with their advisor to plan a strategy to improve their academic performance. Students on academic probation also risk losing their financial aid or tuition-remission assistance.

Students on probation who do not achieve the minimum grade point average at the conclusion of the next semester are subject to suspension or dismissal from the college. Students whose semester performance is satisfactory, but whose cumulative GPA remains unsatisfactory at the conclusion of the second semester following notification of probation are also subject to suspension or dismissal. A student whose grade point average is exceptionally low may be suspended or dismissed without being placed on probation. Students who are suspended are eligible to reapply to the college after a specific period of time, normally one year. Decisions to readmit will be made by the academic dean. Students who are dismissed from the college may not be readmitted.

Dean's List

To qualify for the Dean's List, students must achieve a semester GPA of 3.50 or better while carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours in graded courses. Courses graded Pass/Fail may not be included as part of the 12 credit hours.

Honor Societies

Alpha Chi is a national honor society that recognizes the academic achievements of juniors and seniors. To be eligible for membership, students must rank in the top 10% of the junior or senior class and meet other eligibility requirements as listed in the College Catalog. Qualified sophomores may become Alpha Chi Associate members.

Psi Chi is the national honor society in Psychology. To be eligible for membership, students must rank in the top 35% of the class, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, have completed at least three college semesters and nine credits of Psychology courses with a minimum GPA of B (3.0) in those courses, and be enrolled in a program of study with strong psychological content, and meet other eligibility requirements as listed in the College Catalog.

Sigma Theta Tau is a national honor society in Nursing. Nursing students may be invited to become members if they have completed one-half of the nursing curriculum, have a minimum GPA of 3.00, rank in the upper 35 percent of their graduating class, and other requirements.

Academic Awards

The college selects students to receive a variety of academic awards as well as service and leadership awards each year. The highest academic award is the David H. Winton Baccalaureate Award, given at Commencement to the student who ranks highest in scholarship in his or her graduating class. The most prestigious service and leadership award is the Colby-Sawyer Award, given annually at Commencement to the graduating senior who, in the opinion of the faculty, best exemplifies the ideals of the college in personal dignity, intellectual growth, contribution to student life, and constructive influence upon other students.

Confidentiality of Student Records

Colby-Sawyer maintains confidentiality of student records in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 as amended. This means that offices of the college cannot normally release information about a student to parties outside of the college without the consent of the student. However, the college expressly reserves the right to release information about a student to parents, guardians, or other appropriate persons when necessary to ensure or protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of the student or other persons.

Leave of Absence

Colby-Sawyer allows students to interrupt their study for two semesters for an Educational Leave of Absence (ELOA). Students may apply for an ELOA to study at another approved institution here or abroad and request that the grades and credits be accepted by Colby-Sawyer College. Colby-Sawyer College's registrar must approve all courses prior to enrollment and students must earn a minimum grade of C (2.00) in each course to receive transfer credit. Grades for transferable academic credits earned at accredited institutions during the leave will become part of the student's permanent record and cumulative grade point average. It is the student's responsibility to provide Colby-Sawyer College's registrar's office with an official transcript for courses taken at another college or university.

An ELOA does not affect the completion of college residency or academic requirements. An approved leave assures that degree requirements of the program in which the students are enrolled will remain unchanged for them or will be negotiated as appropriate. However, it does not guarantee the student's return to the residence hall occupied prior to the leave.


Enrolled students who withdraw during a semester before the deadline to drop a course with no penalty will receive a W for their courses. Students who withdraw after the deadline to drop a course with no penalty but before the semester ends will receive a grade of F in each of their courses. See the College Calendar for specific dates. Students who do not register for courses for the fall semester by June 1 or by January 1 for the spring semester will be administratively withdrawn from the college effective the last day of the semester for which they were enrolled.