2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog

Academic Regulations


Each semester all Bryn Mawr students preregister for the next semester’s courses in consultation with their deans. Failure to do so results in a $15 fine. Once a student has selected a major, she must also consult her major adviser about her program each semester. Students must then confirm their registration with the deans and submit their final programs to the registrar on the announced days at the beginning of each semester. Failure to confirm registration results in a $25 fine.

Students normally carry a complete program of four courses (four units) each semester. Requests for exceptions must be presented to the student’s dean. Students may not register for more than five courses (five units) per semester. Requests for more than five units are presented to the Special Cases Subcommittee of the Committee on Academic Standing for approval.

Credit/No Credit Option

A student may take four units over four years, not more than one in any semester, under the Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) option. A student registered for five courses is not permitted a second CR/NC registration.

Transfer students may take one CR/NC unit for each year they spend at Bryn Mawr, based on class year at entrance.

A student registered for a course under either the graded or the CR/NC option is considered a regular member of the class and must meet all the academic commitments of the course on schedule. The instructor is not notified of the student’s CR/NC registration because this information should in no way affect the student’s responsibilities in the course.

Faculty members submit numerical grades for all students in their courses. For students registered CR/NC, the registrar converts numerical grades of 1.0 and above to CR and the grade of 0.0 to NC. Numerical equivalents of CR grades are available to each student from the registrar, but once the CR/NC option is elected, the grade is converted to its numerical equivalent on the transcript only if the course becomes part of the student’s major.

When a course is taken under the CR/NC option, the grade submitted by the faculty member is not factored into the student’s grade point average. However, that grade is taken into consideration when determining the student’s eligibility for magna cum laude and summa cum laude distinctions.

Students may not take any courses in their major subject under the CR/NC option, but they may use it to take courses towards the College Seminar, Quantitative, Divisional or Foreign Language Requirements. While all numerical grades of 1.0 or better will be recorded on the transcript as CR, the registrar will keep a record of whether the course meets the 2.0 minimum needed to count towards a requirement.

Students wishing to take a course CR/NC must sign the registrar’s register by the end of the sixth week of classes. No student is permitted to sign up for CR/NC after that time. Students who wish to register for CR/NC for year-long courses in which grades are given at the end of each semester must register CR/NC in each semester because CR/NC registration does not automatically continue into the second semester in those courses. Haverford students taking Bryn Mawr courses must register for CR/NC at the Haverford Registrar’s Office.

Course Options

Some courses, including many introductory survey courses, are designed as two-semester sequences, but students may take either semester without the other and receive credit for the course. There are, however, a very few courses designed as year-long, two-semester sequences that require students to complete the second semester in order to retain credit for the first semester. Such courses are designated in each department’s course list. Students must have the permission of the professor to receive credit for only one semester of such a course.

Most departments allow students to pursue independent study as supervised work, provided that a professor agrees to supervise the work. Students pursuing independent study usually register for a course in that department numbered 403 and entitled “Supervised Work,” unless the department has another numerical designation for independent study. Students should consult with their deans if there are any questions regarding supervised work.

Students may audit courses with the permission of the instructor. There are no extra charges for audited courses, and they are not listed on the transcript. Students may not register to take the course for credit after the stated date for Confirmation of Registration.

Some courses are designated as limited enrollment in the Tri-Co Course Guide. The Tri-Co Course Guide provides details about restrictions. If consent of the instructor is required, the student is responsible for securing permission. If course size is limited, the final course list is determined by lottery. Only those students who have preregistered for a course will be considered for a lottery.

Students who confirm their registration for five courses may drop one course through the third week of the semester. After the third week, students taking five courses are held to the same standards and calendars as students enrolled in four courses.

No student may withdraw from a course after confirmation of registration, unless it is a fifth course dropped as described above. Exceptions to this regulation may be made jointly by the instructor and the appropriate dean only in cases when the student’s ability to complete the course is seriously impaired due to unforeseen circumstances beyond her control.

Cooperation with Neighboring Institutions

Full-time students at Bryn Mawr may register for courses at Haverford, Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania during the academic year without payment of additional fees according to the procedures outlined below. This arrangement does not apply to summer programs. Credit toward the Bryn Mawr degree (including the residency requirement) is granted for such courses with the approval of the student’s dean, and grades are included in the calculation of the grade point average. Bryn Mawr also has a limited exchange program with Villanova University.

Students register for Haverford courses in exactly the same manner as they do for Bryn Mawr courses, and throughout most of the semester will follow Bryn Mawr procedures. If extensions beyond the deadline for written work or beyond the exam period are necessary, a Bryn Mawr dean will consult a Haverford dean to make sure a student is in compliance with Haverford regulations.

To register for a Swarthmore course, a student must take a signed permission form from her dean to the Swarthmore Registrar’s Office in Parrish Hall. After obtaining the registrar’s signature, the student must return the form to the Bryn Mawr Dean’s Office. In addition to obtaining approval from the Swarthmore registrar, the student must also obtain the instructor’s signature on a Swarthmore form. Bryn Mawr students may register for up to two liberal arts courses a semester in the College of Arts and Sciences or the College of General Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, on a space-available basis, provided that the course does not focus on material that is covered by courses at Bryn Mawr or Haverford. Scheduling problems are not considered an adequate reason for seeking admission to a course at Penn.

In order to register for a course at Penn, the student should consult the Penn Course Guide, fill out a Penn registration form which is available on the Bryn Mawr registrar’s home page, obtain her dean’s signature, and submit the completed form to the Bryn Mawr Registrar’s Office. If the Penn Course Guide indicates that permission of the instructor is required for enrollment in a course, the student is responsible for securing this permission. Bryn Mawr students must meet all Penn deadlines for dropping and adding courses and must make arrangements for variations in academic calendars. Note that Bryn Mawr students cannot shop Penn classes. Students should consult their deans if they have any questions about Penn courses or registration procedures.

Bryn Mawr juniors and seniors may take one course per semester in the College of Arts and Sciences at Villanova University on a space-available basis, provided that the course is not offered at Bryn Mawr or Haverford. If the course is fully enrolled, Bryn Mawr students can be admitted only with the permission of the Villanova instructor. This exchange is limited to superior students for work in their major or in an allied field. Students must have permission of both their major adviser and their dean.

Courses at Villanova may be taken only for full grade and credit; Bryn Mawr students may not elect Villanova’s pass/fail option for a Villanova course. Credits earned at Villanova are treated as transfer credits; the grades are not included in the student’s grade point average, and these courses do not count toward the residency requirement.

In order to register for a course at Villanova, the student should consult the Villanova Course Guide, available in the Dean’s Office, and obtain a registration form to be signed by her major adviser and returned to the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office forwards all registration information to Villanova; students do not register at Villanova. Students enrolled in a course at Villanova are subject to Villanova’s regulations and must meet all Villanova deadlines regarding dropping/adding, withdrawal and completion of work. It is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements for variations in academic calendars. Students should consult their deans if they have any questions about Villanova courses or registration procedures.

Bryn Mawr students enrolled in courses at Swarthmore, the University of Pennsylvania, or Villanova are subject to the regulations of these institutions. It is the student’s responsibility to inform herself about these regulations.

Conduct of Courses

Regular attendance at classes is expected. Responsibility for attendance—and for learning the instructor’s standards for attendance—rests solely with each student. Absences for illness or other urgent reasons are excused, and it is the student’s responsibility to contact her instructors and, if necessary, her dean, in a timely fashion to explain her absence. The student should consult her instructors about making up the work. If it seems probable to the dean that a student’s work may be seriously handicapped by the length of her absence, the dean may require the student to withdraw from one or more courses.

Quizzes, Examinations and Extensions

Announced quizzes—written tests of an hour or less—are given at intervals throughout most courses. The number of quizzes and their length are determined by the instructor. Unannounced quizzes may also be included in the work of any course. If a student is absent without previous excuse from a quiz, she may be penalized at the discretion of the instructor. The weight is decided by the instructor. If a student has been excused from a quiz because of illness or some other emergency, a make-up quiz is often arranged.

An examination is required of all students in undergraduate courses, except when the work for the course is satisfactorily tested by other means. If a student fails to appear at the proper time for a self-scheduled, scheduled or deferred examination, or fails to return a take-home exam, she is counted as having failed the examination.

A student may have an examination deferred by her dean only in the case of illness or some other emergency. When the deferral means postponement to a date after the conclusion of the examination period, she must take the examination at the next Deferred Examination Period.

Within the semester, the instructor in each course is responsible for setting the date when all written reports, essays, critical papers and laboratory reports are due. The instructor may grant permission for extensions within the semester; the written permission of the dean is not required. Instructors may ask students to inform their dean of the extension or may themselves inform the dean that they have granted an extension.

Two deadlines are important to keep in mind when planning for the end of the semester. Assignments due during the semester proper must be handed in by 5 p.m. on the last day of written work, which is the last day of classes. Final exams or final papers written in lieu of exams must be handed in by 12:30 p.m. on the last day of the exam period. Note that the exam period ends earlier for seniors. These deadlines are noted on the registrar’s Web site.

During the course of the semester, if a student is unable to complete her work for reasons she cannot control, she should contact her professor in advance of the deadline, if at all possible, to request an extension. Extensions are generally not given after a deadline has already passed.

Requests for extensions that go into the exam period or beyond involve conversations between the student, professor, and dean. A student should contact both her professor and her dean before the due date of the assignment in question. The dean and the professor must agree to all terms of the extension. Normally, the dean will support such an extension only if the delay results from circumstances beyond a student’s control, such as illness or family or personal emergency. Once the terms of the extension are agreed upon, the dean fills out an extension form, which is then submitted to the registrar.

If the instructor has not received a student’s work by the end of the exam period, the instructor will submit a grade of Incomplete if an extension has been agreed upon. An Incomplete is a temporary grade. Once the student submits her work, the Incomplete will be replaced by the numerical grade which is the student’s final grade in the class.

If a student does not meet the date set in her extension, and does not request and receive a further extension, the instructor is required to submit a final grade. When official extensions are not received by the registrar from the dean, and the instructor submits a grade of Incomplete or fails to submit a grade, that grade is temporarily recorded on the transcript as an Unauthorized Incomplete. No grade, except a failure, can be recorded in place of an Unauthorized Incomplete without an extension or other appropriate action taken jointly by the student’s dean and instructor.

Seniors must submit all written work and complete exams by 5 p.m. on the Saturday before senior grades are due in the Registrar’s Office. Extensions beyond that deadline cannot be granted to any senior who expects to graduate that year.

Specific dates for all deadlines are published and circulated by the registrar. It is the student’s responsibility to inform herself of these dates.

Grading and Academic Record

Grading Scale   Letter Grade      Explanation
4.0                    A                MERIT 
3.7                    A-               Merit grades range from 4.0 (outstanding)
3.3                    B+              to 2.0 (satisfactory).
3.0                    B                Courses in which students earn merit
2.7                    B-               grades can be used to satisfy the major
2.3                    C+              and curricular requirements.

2.0                    C

      1.7                    C-
1.3                    D+              PASSING

1.0                    D

      0.0                    F                FAILING

Once reported to the registrar, a grade may be altered by the faculty member who originally submitted the grade, or by the department or program chair on behalf of the absent faculty member, by submitting a change-of-grade form with a notation of the reason for the change. Once reported to the registrar, no grade may be changed after one year except by vote of the faculty.

The Merit Rule requires that a student attain grades of 2.0 or higher in at least one-half of the total number of courses taken while at Bryn Mawr. She may be excluded from the College at the close of any semester in which she has failed to meet this requirement and is automatically excluded if more than one-half of her work falls below 2.0 at the close of her junior year. A student who is excluded from the College is not eligible for readmission.

The Standard of Work in the Major requires that every student working for an A.B. degree maintain grades of 2.0 or higher in all courses in her major subject. No student may choose as her major subject one in which she has received a grade below 1.0 or one in which her average is below 2.0.

A student receiving a grade below 2.0 in any course in her major subject (including a course taken at another institution) is reported to the Committee on Academic Standing and may be required to change her major.

At the end of the junior year, a student having a major subject average below 2.0 must change her major. If she has no alternative major, she is excluded from the College and is not eligible for readmission.

The Committee on Academic Standing (CAS) reviews the records of all students whose work has failed to meet the academic standards of the College. A student’s record is brought to the attention of the CAS when she has incurred a failure or NC following a previous failure or NC, or when her work has failed to meet either the general standards embodied in the Merit Rule or the Standard of Work in the Major. The CAS also reviews the record of any student whose work has seriously deteriorated.

A student whose record is brought before the CAS receives an official report from the Committee which specifies the standards she must meet by the end of the following semester or before returning to the College. The student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) receive a copy of this letter. The student also receives a letter from her dean. A student whose record has been reviewed by the committee is put on probation the following semester, or the semester of her return if she has been asked to withdraw. She will be required to meet regularly with her dean during her probation. Faculty members are requested to submit mid-semester reports for students whose work has been unsatisfactory. Students who meet the standards specified by the committee during the semester on probation are then no longer on probation.

Any student whose record is reviewed by the CAS may be required to withdraw from the College and present evidence that she can do satisfactory work before being readmitted. The CAS may also recommend to the president that the student be excluded from the College. An excluded student is not eligible for readmission to the College.

Cumulative Grade Point Averages

In calculating cumulative grade-point averages, grades behind CR, NC or NNG are not included. Summer school grades from Bryn Mawr earned on this campus are included, as are summer school grades earned from the Bryn Mawr programs at Avignon and Pisa. No other summer school grades are included. Term-time grades from Haverford College, Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania earned on the exchange are included. Term-time grades transferred from other institutions are not included.


The A.B. degree may be conferred cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

Cum laude
All students with cumulative grade point averages of 3.40 or higher, calculated as described above, are eligible to receive the degree cum laude.

Magna cum laude
To determine eligibility for magna cum laude, grade point averages are recalculated to include grades covered by CR, NC and NNG. All students with recalculated grade point averages of 3.60 or higher are eligible to receive the degree magna cum laude.

Summa cum laude
To determine eligibility for summa cum laude, grade point averages are recalculated to include grades covered by CR, NC and NNG. The 10 students with the highest recalculated grade point averages in the class receive the degree summa cum laude, provided their recalculated grade point averages equal or exceed 3.80.

Credit for Work Done Elsewhere

All requests for transfer credit must be approved by the registrar. Credit may be transferred for liberal-arts courses taken at accredited four-year colleges and universities, provided that the student earns grades of 2.0 or C (C- grades are not acceptable for transfer credit) or better in these courses. Credit will not be transferred for a course taken by correspondence or distance learning, even if it is sponsored by an accredited four-year institution. Work done at approved foreign institutions is also accepted for transfer credit; in cases where numerical or letter grades are not given, the registrar considers written evaluations of the student’s work to determine whether she has earned the equivalent of at least 2.0 grades for this work. Grades earned in courses accepted for transfer credit are not included in the grade point average.

A student wishing transfer credit must submit an official transcript to the registrar. A student who wishes to meet College requirements (such as the College Seminar, quantitative or divisional requirements) with courses taken elsewhere must obtain approval from her dean or the registrar. In some cases, the student may be asked to obtain the approval of the appropriate department. Note that the foreign language requirement cannot generally be satisfied via transfer credit.

One unit of credit at Bryn Mawr is equivalent to four credits (or four “semester hours”) at most schools on the semester system. One unit of credit at Bryn Mawr is also equivalent to six credits (or six “quarter hours”) at most schools on the quarter system. Students taking a semester or year of coursework away from Bryn Mawr must take the normal full-time course load at the institution they are attending in order to receive a semester (four units) or a year (eight units) of transfer credit. Usually 15 or 16 semester hours, or between 22 and 24 quarter hours, are the equivalent of four units at Bryn Mawr; between 30 and 32 semester hours, or 45 and 48 quarter hours, are the equivalent of eight units at Bryn Mawr. Students who complete less than a full-time program with grades of at least 2.0 or C receive proportionally less transfer credit.

A student who wishes to spend a semester or a year away from Bryn Mawr as a full-time student at another institution in the United States should have the institution and her program approved in advance by her dean, major adviser and other appropriate departments. A student who plans foreign study needs the approval of the Foreign Study Committee in addition to that of her dean, major adviser and other appropriate departments.

Students who transfer to Bryn Mawr from another institution may transfer a total of eight units. Exceptions to this rule for second-semester sophomores and for juniors are considered at the time of the student’s transfer application.

Students may use work that is not transferred for credit to satisfy College requirements, provided that such work would meet the standards for transfer credit.

A student who wishes to present summer school work for credit must obtain advance approval of her plans from her dean and must submit an official transcript to the registrar. No credit is given for a course graded below 2.0 or C (C- grades are not acceptable). Credit is calculated as closely as possible on an hour-for-hour basis. A total of no more than four units earned in summer school may be counted toward the degree; of these, no more than two units may be earned in any one summer. No credit will be awarded for any single course that lasts fewer than three weeks or for any two courses, if taken concurrently, that last less than six weeks.

Students may receive up to four units of transfer credit for courses taken at a college prior to graduation from secondary school, provided that these courses were taught at the college level and not in the high school and were not counted toward secondary school graduation requirements. These courses may include those taken at a community college. In all other respects, requests for transfer credit for work done prior to secondary school graduation are subject to the same provisions, procedures and limits as all other requests for transfer credit.

Departure from the College prior to Graduation

Every student who leaves Bryn Mawr prior to graduation should see her dean and complete a Notice of Departure.

Personal Leaves of Absence
Any student in good academic standing may apply for a one- or two-semester leave of absence from the College. She should discuss her plans with her dean and fill out a Notice of Departure by June 1 or, for a leave beginning in the spring, by November 1. During her leave of absence, she is encouraged to remain in touch with her dean and is expected to confirm her intention to return to the College by March 1 (for return in the fall) or November 1 (for return in the spring). Reinstatement is always contingent upon the availability of space in the residence halls.

A student on a semester-long leave of absence who chooses not to return at the scheduled time may ask to extend her leave by one additional semester by notifying her dean by the above deadlines. If a student on a leave of absence chooses not to return to the College after two semesters, her status changes to “withdrawn”(see “Voluntary Withdrawal” below).

Medical Leaves of Absence
A student may, on the recommendation of the College physician or her own doctor, at any time request a medical leave of absence for reasons of health. The College reserves the right to require a student to take a leave of absence for reasons of health if, in the judgment of the medical director, she is not in sufficiently good health to meet her academic commitments or to continue in residence at the College. Permission to return from a medical leave is granted when the College’s Health Center receives satisfactory evidence of recovery (see below, “Readmission following a Psychological or Medical Leave of Absence”).

Psychological Leaves of Absence
Occasionally a student experiences psychological difficulties that interfere with her ability to function at college. Taking time away from college to pursue therapy may be necessary. The College sees this choice as restorative, not punitive. With evidence of improvement in health, Bryn Mawr welcomes the student’s return. The College believes that time away for psychological reasons should, in most cases, be for an entire academic year to allow sufficient time for growth, reflection and meaningful therapy. Students who hurry back prematurely tend to risk a second failure. Therefore, leaves of absence for psychological reasons are granted for a period of one year except in unusual situations (see below, Permission to Return following a Psychological or Medical Leave of Absence”).

Permission to Return Following a Psychological or Medical Leave of Absence

When a student is ready to apply to return following a psychological or medical leave of absence, she must apply for permission to return. She should contact her dean and request an application for permission to return. In addition, the return process requires the approval of Bryn Mawr’s medical director or the appropriate member of the College’s counseling staff. The student should ask the physician or counselor with whom she has worked while on leave to contact the appropriate person at the College’s Health Center. Students who want to return in September must submit all permission to return materials by May 1. Those who want to return in January must submit all such materials by November 1.

Voluntary Withdrawals
A student in good standing who leaves the College in the following circumstances will be categorized as “withdrawn” rather than on leave and will need to apply for permission to return (see below, “Permission to Return After Withdrawal”):

  • if she leaves the college in mid-semester (unless she qualifies instead for a medical or psychological leave of absence),
  • if she matriculates as a degree candidate at another school,
  • if her leave of absence has expired, or
  • if she loses her good standing after having applied for a leave of absence.

Required Withdrawals
Any student may be required to withdraw from the College because she fails to meet the academic standards of the College, because of an infraction of the Honor Code or other community norm, or because she is not healthy enough to meet her academic commitments.

In addition, any student whose behavior disrupts either the normal conduct of academic affairs or the conduct of life in the residence halls may be required to withdraw by the Dean of the Undergraduate College. If the student wishes to appeal the decision, a committee consisting of three faculty members from the Committee on Academic Standing, the president of the Self Government Association and the head of the Honor Board hears the student and the dean. The committee makes its recommendations to the president of the College; the president’s decision is binding. In cases of required withdrawal, no fees are refunded.

Permission to Return After Withdrawal

Students who withdraw, whether by choice or as a result of the above procedures, must apply for permission to return if they wish to return. Students who wish to return from withdrawal should request an application for permission to return from their dean. Students must submit their return application and all supporting documents no later than May 1 (for return in the fall) or November 1 (for return in the spring).