Course Load

Students are required to enroll in at least four academic units each 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. Complete instructions about how to drop a fifth course through BiONiC 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 matriculation), the student is generally expected to enroll in a full course load each semester.  Students, generally juniors and 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 or at most two semesters. Any student who asks permission to enroll in only three units should fill out a three-course enrollment form, which will be linked to from the FAQ page in the weeks leading up to each new semester.  

In general, students are charged full tuition regardless of course load. Exceptions are routinely made for McBride Scholars. Students are responsible for ensuring they are meeting all degree requirements, including the residency requirement.  A full statement of academic requirements can be found in the Academic Program section of the Catalog.

Auditing a Course

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.

Retaking a Course

Repeating a failed course: With the permission of the instructor, a student who fails a course may enroll in it a second time. The initial enrollment and failing grade remain on the student’s transcript and count towards the overall GPA.

Repeating a below merit course: In extraordinary circumstances, a student who receives a grade of 1.0, 1.3 or 1.7 in a required course may petition the Special Cases Committee to repeat the course. The student would receive a unit of credit for the first attempt only. However, both grades would count toward the overall GPA. With the permission of the Committee, a student may repeat up to two courses, and not more than one in any semester.  The repeated course takes the place of the student's fourth course; students should not plan to repeat a course on top of four other courses.  After receiving the approval of the Special Cases Committee, students work with the Registrar’s Office to add the course.