Normal course load is four units per semester. One Bryn Mawr unit of credit is the equivalent of four semester hours or six quarter hours. Most courses carry one unit of credit. Elementary and intermediate language courses designated as intensive carry 1.5 units of credit. There are also some courses that meet for only half the semester that carry 0.5 units of credit. In order to make satisfactory progress towards the degree, students should plan to earn at least eight units per year.
Many students consider taking five units of credit in some semesters. Their motivation may be related to credits (they want to make up a missing credit; they want to graduate early), or there may simply be five classes in a certain semester that they really want to take. For most students, most of the time, taking five classes has significant drawbacks: it may lead to a decline in academic performance, limit time available for meaningful activities outside the classroom, or simply take a toll on physical or mental health. For this reason, all students are asked to consult with their dean (and major adviser) before enrolling in five units. Students have until the end of the third week of the semester to drop a fifth class, no questions asked. Starting Fall 2013, students may drop a fifth course through BiONiC. Complete instructions are available from the Registrar's Office.
Occasionally a student may wish to enroll in 5.5 units. A student's dean does not have the authority to permit this. Instead, a student must gain permission from the Special Cases Committee.
Even if a student enters Bryn Mawr with many credits (from AP, IB or other exams, or from college work completed before her matriculation), the student is generally expected to enroll in a full course load each semester. Students with a documented disability may be eligible for a reduced course load as part of accommodations offered through the Office of Access Services. Students, generally seniors, who are enrolled in advanced courses or who face other significant demands on their time, may expect to be granted permission for a reduced course load (three units) during one semester. Other students who feel there is good justification for a reduced course load should speak to their deans. Any student who asks permission to enroll in only three units must meet with the dean and fill out a three-course enrollment form.
In general, students are charged full tuition regardless of course load. Exceptions are routinely made for McBride Scholars.
Students who wish to have the benefit of attending a class without making the commitment to doing written work and examinations may audit a course with the permission of the instructor. Different instructors may have different policies regarding auditors, and students must follow these policies. Audited courses are not listed on transcripts.
No student may retake for academic credit any course for which the student has already earned a passing grade. If a student retakes a course the student has failed, the original registration with the grade of 0.0 or NC remains in place. A second registration will be recorded along with the grade the student earns the second time. Both registrations will remain on a student's record, count as "units attempted," and figure into the cumulative grade point average.