Jun 16, 2024  
2018-2019 Shepherd University Catalog 
2018-2019 Shepherd University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Policies

Schedule of Classes

A complete schedule of classes offered each semester showing days of the week and the hours at which they will meet will be available in print and online before the beginning of the semester. In addition, a tentative listing of course offerings planned for the following semester will be made available online. The university reserves the right to cancel classes with an enrollment of 10 or fewer students and to make changes in a student’s schedule for class balancing and other administrative purposes.

Final Examinations

University policy requires that final examinations, when included as part of course requirements, be given at the end of each semester and summer term. A schedule prepared by the Office of the Registrar establishes each semester’s final examination period; the final day or days of each summer term are reserved for final examinations. All final examinations are to be administered at the published time, unless other arrangements are approved by the provost.

Graduating seniors in their last semester, fall or spring, with a grade point average of 3.0 or better in a given course (this recommendation not to include general education courses) may be excused from the final examination at the option of the instructor. Such students may elect to take the final examination which will count in the determination of the final grade. This policy does not apply to courses taken during summer sessions.

Academic Load

A semester hour (or credit) generally consists of one contact hour per week. To be considered full time, an undergraduate student must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 semester hours in a semester. To complete a bachelor’s degree (a minimum of 120 semester hours) in the traditional four years, a student would need to carry an average academic load of 15 semester hours in a semester.

Degree-seeking students may register for a maximum of 19 semester hours per semester; however, the academic load for the first semester should generally not exceed 17 hours. The maximum of 19 semester hours does not apply to private applied music lessons and ensembles. The maximum academic load in the summer is 14 semester hours overall (7 semester hours per session).

A student who wishes to register for more than 19 semester hours in a regular semester, or for more than 14 semester hours overall in a summer semester, (including non-Shepherd University semester hours), must have a 3.0 or higher overall grade point average, and must not be carrying any incomplete grades from previous semesters. If these criteria have been met, the student must obtain an approval form from the Office of the Registrar and seek approval from the academic advisor, department chair, and the provost. Any exceptions to this rule must be appealed by petition to the Admissions and Credits Committee.

In no case may a student enroll for more than 23 semester hours per semester.

Credit Hour Definition

Shepherd University Policy Determining Credit Hours Awarded for Courses

Shepherd University requires this policy to be practiced by all faculty, full-time and part-time. All definitions and standards apply equally to courses regardless of section, instructor, location, modality, or course length.

The federally-approved regulation for a credit hour has been defined in two ways:

§ 600.2(1): The credit hour value of a standard or more traditional course must be calculated as follows: A clock hour of instructional time is the equivalent of

(a) 50 minutes of class time or (b) 60 minutes of independent-study work or some measures of clinical time; and (2) a minimum of two hours of out-of- class work is expected for every hour (50 minutes) of instructional time.

To assist faculty in ensuring that a course complies with this policy, (1) the Credit Hour Calculator will be available online, both on the CTL and Provost’s website, (2) the Summary Chart   should be used as a guide, and (3) the Reading Speed Tables   may be used as a guide.

§ 600.2(2): If the credit hour value for an academic activity (including but not limited to “laboratory work, internships, practica, and studio work”) cannot be calculated using the information cited in § 600.2(1) (above), that academic activity can be found to have met the federal definition by documenting that it involves “at least an equivalent amount of work” as the criteria cited in § 600.2(1).

To assist faculty in ensuring that a course complies with this policy, (1) the Summary Chart should be used as a guide, and (2) the Reading Speed Tables may be used as a guide. Note that Reading Speed Charts are incorporated into the Credit Hour Calculator.

I.  Background

New federal regulations (34 CFR parts 600 and 668) require that institutions submit their definitions and related policies regarding credit hours to their accrediting agencies and receive an official, recorded certification from that agency that the definitions meet the new federal definition of a credit hour.

II. Federal definition of a credit hour

…a credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates:

  1. Not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time, or;
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work as outlined in item 1 above for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours. (§600.2)

A semester hour approximates one hour (or 50 minutes) of classroom time and two hours of out-of-class student work each week in a 15-week semester or its equivalent. (Report of the Meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, December 2010, U.S. Department of Education, pp. 25-26).

III. Shepherd University definition of a credit hour

Shepherd University’s definitions of a credit hour constitute a formalization of policy in order to ensure compliance with federal and accreditation expectations, as well as to provide consistency throughout the University. Courses may be composed of any combination of elements described, such as a lecture course, which also has required laboratory periods or a lecture course having an additional requirement for supervised independent study or tutorial activity.

IV.  Application of the Policy

The requirements which follow represent minimums for average students and that some deviation in excess of these requirements may occur, particularly at the graduate and professional levels. Please note that each category of academic activity is followed by the applicable policy section.

In the interest of accurate academic measurement and cross-campus comparability, the following policies and practices apply in controlling the relationship between contact hours, work outside of class, and credit hours.

• Basic one credit hour  [§ 600.2(1)]

At least 15 contact hours (with each hour being 50 minutes) of recitation, lecture, discussion, seminar, or colloquium, as well as a minimum of 30 hours of student homework, are required for each unit of student credit.

• Lecture, traditional class  [§ 600.2(1)]

A semester credit hour is earned for fifteen 50-minute sessions of classroom instruction with a normal expectation of two hours of outside study (homework, reading assignments, preparation for class) for each class session (meeting time). Typically, a three-semester credit hour course meets for three 50-minute sessions per week for fifteen weeks, for approximately 45 sessions and 90 hours of work outside of the classroom. (This usually yields 16 weeks when including the final exam.)

• Supervised group activity [§ 600.2(2)] (laboratory, field trip, practicum, workshop, group studio)

The equivalent of three 50-minute sessions per week over a traditional 15-week semester of a lab, rehearsal, or studio time would qualify for one semester credit hour.

Where such activity involves substantial outside preparation by the student, the equivalent of two 50-minute sessions will earn one semester credit hour.

Field trips are to be counted hour-for-hour as laboratory meetings (not including travel time).

• Supervised individual activity [§ 600.2(2)] (independent study, individual studio, tutorial, dissertation)

One semester credit hour credit for independent study (defined as study given initial guidance, criticism, review and final evaluation of student performance by a faculty member) will be awarded for the equivalent of three one-hour sessions of student academic activity in a traditional 15-week semester.


V. Full-time Independent Study [§ 600.2(2)] (clinical placements, student teaching, practicum)

If a student’s academic activity is essentially full-time (as in a student teaching or in a clinical placement), at least one full-time, eight-hour per day, 40-hour, five day week of such experience will be required for one credit hour. Depending on specific curriculum, programs may require more than one week in order to award one credit hour.

Clinical placement experiences are defined as “a part of the program that allows for observation, participation, studies of individual pupils or clients, individual field work, and practicums both on and off campus.” Credit for clinical experiences is determined in accordance with recommendations of a program’s specific best practices, accrediting body, or applicable state regulation.

VI. Experiential Learning  [§ 600.2(2)]

At its discretion, Shepherd University may award credit hours for learning acquired outside the institution (provided that such hours are an integral part of a program of study). When a life or work experience is to be credited as a concurrent portion of an academic program design’s, as in an internship, one semester credit hour will be awarded for each 40-45 clock-hour week of supervised academic activity that provides the learning considered necessary to program study. The number of such credits to be awarded is limited according to the policies stated in the “Academic Policies” section of the catalog.

VII. Short Sessions  [§ 600.2(1)]

Credit hours may be earned in short sessions (summer sessions, intersessions, weekend sessions, workshops, seminars, etc.) proportionately to those earned for the same course during a traditional 15-week semester, normally at no more than one credit per week of full- time study.

Courses offered over a period of time other than a traditional 15-week semester will require the same amount of classroom and out-of-class work per credit hour as is required of semester-long courses. The same amount of work will be distributed over a shorter period of time and may be allocated in various ways.

Forty-five hours of work are required to earn one credit hour. The allotment of face-to-face instruction and work outside of class may vary. Examples:

  • For one credit, a workshop could require 15 hours of contact time and 30 homework hours (total hours = 45).
  • For one credit, a seminar could require 20 hours of contact time and 25 homework hours (total hours = 45).
  • For one credit, a studio could require 30 hours of contact time and 15 homework hours (total = 45).

Since it would be virtually impossible for a student to satisfactorily complete 45 hours of work in less than one week, the policy regarding the duration of courses maintains that a course must cover at least a one-week period for every unit of credit given. During the intensive summer session, however, eight units of credit might be given over a four-week period.

VIII. Credit by Examination  [§ 600.2(2)]

At its discretion, an institution may award semester hour credits for mastery demonstrated through credit-by-examination. When such credit by examination is allowed, it may be used to satisfy degree requirements or to reduce the total number of remaining hours required for a degree.

IX. Distance Education, Internet, and Hybrid (Blended) Courses  [§ 600.2(1)]

Shepherd University’s credit hour policy for distance education, Internet and hybrid courses is consistent with the standards for courses offered through face-to-face instruction, although some or all of course content and faculty-student interaction occurs through one or more forms of distance education.

Auditing Courses


A student may initially register to audit a course. Regular university tuition and fees are charged and no credit is awarded for an audited course. Declaration of a change in a course status from credit to audit must be processed within the first 15 days of classes (Monday-Friday) of a fall or spring semester or within the first three class days (Monday-Friday) of a summer session. Any subsequent change in course status must be appealed to the Admissions and Credits Committee. A student who audits a course is expected to comply with the instructor’s attendance policy.

Special Examination for Course Credit

Application must be made to the registrar for permission to take a special examination. To qualify for permission to take such an examination, an applicant must be a degree-seeking student enrolled full time at Shepherd University and be recommended by the department chair and the instructor concerned. Examinations will not be given for courses in which the student has previously earned a low grade.

Applicants must pay a fee for each special examination. A receipt for the payment of the fee must be obtained from the Business Office and submitted with the application for special examination. No money will be refunded if any examination is failed. Upon successful completion of the special examination, the student will receive the credit hours for the course with no letter grade designated. This will not affect the grade point average of the student.

Courses Taken at Other Institutions

Once enrolled at Shepherd University, a student must receive prior approval to enroll in and transfer any additional coursework from another institution. Transfer approval is subject to the following conditions:

  • No Shepherd University D or F grade can be replaced by an equivalent transfer course.
  • Only courses from accredited institutions of higher education may be transferred to Shepherd.
  • A maximum of 72 transfer semester hours from accredited two-year institutions may count toward graduation requirements.
  • The last twelve hours of coursework before graduation must be completed at Shepherd.
  • A GPA deficiency earned at Shepherd University cannot be made up at another institution.

A Transfer Approval or Consortium Registration form must be completed, including appropriate faculty signatures, and submitted to the Office of the Registrar prior to enrolling at another institution. Both forms are available in the Office of the Registrar.

Exceptions to any of these policies must be petitioned through the Admissions and Credits Committee for final action.

Special Topics Courses


The university offers courses which fulfill short-term needs not justifying permanent listing in the Catalog or which respond to requests received on short notice.

Each discipline may have two courses, one lower-level and one upper-level, bearing the designation “Special Topics: (specific title).” The numbering of these courses is generally 199, 299, 399, or 499 depending on the level. The class schedule and the student transcripts also will carry the specific title of the course. Courses will be offered upon the agreement of the provost.

Credit given will be from one to four hours, and the course may be repeated as needed by the department. Topics for these courses will be created as needed by the department.

Classification of Students

Classification of students is made on the following basis: first year, 29 semester hours or less; second year, 30 to 59 semester hours; third year, 60 to 89 semester hours; fourth year, 90 or more semester hours.

Selecting a Major and Minor

The list of majors and minors is found in the Programs of Study section of this catalog with the curriculum for each following in that section. A comprehensive major needs no minor; teacher education programs are comprehensive.

Where a minor is required, students should be aware of the value and necessity of choosing the minor early in their university career. Delaying this decision beyond the second year may mean that the student will not be able to complete the degree program in four years.

Degree-Seeking Undecided Majors

Students who seek a baccalaureate degree but have not chosen a major will be placed in the B.S. Undecided program and assigned an academic advisor in the Advising Assistance Center (AAC) with whom they will work closely until a major is officially declared. Students will not be permitted to remain as B.S. Undecided registrants after they have completed 30 hours of undergraduate credit. At that time, students will be assigned an academic advisor in the department of their declared major.

Withdrawal and Change of Class Schedule

Students desiring to add or drop a course during the first five class days of a semester should do so by using the RAIL system. A course dropped during this time period will not appear on the student’s transcript.

Beginning on the sixth class day of the semester until 4 p.m. on the 2nd Friday after midterm week, a student may withdraw from a class with a grade of W, without affecting grade point average (see Grading System). A week containing one or more scheduled class days is considered a full class week. There will be no exceptions to this deadline (see Summary of Withdrawal Dates).

The last day for withdrawal from an eight-week class will be as posted in the academic calendar.

During the summer sessions, any time prior to 4 p.m. of the second calendar day before the last day of classes of each summer term, a withdrawal (W) will be permitted. Failure to submit the withdrawal form to the Office of the Registrar by the deadline will result in the grade of F or IF (see Grading System).

Until 4 p.m. on the last class day of the semester, a student may process through the Office of the Registrar a complete withdrawal from the university (all enrolled classes). Students who discontinue attending class without following the proper withdrawal procedures will receive a grade of F or IF in the course (see Grading System).

Withdrawal from the university must be reported and financial clearance made at the Business Office (see Grading System for additional information on withdrawals).

Summary of Change of Class Schedule (abbreviated dates in summer)
Action: Add a course.
Process: No form required; add class AND PAY online through RAIL. No bill will be mailed.
Eligible Dates: First five class days.
Result: Course added.

Action: Drop a course.
Process: No form required; drop class online through RAIL.
Eligible Dates: First five class days.
Result: Course dropped; course will not appear on transcript.

Action: Withdraw from a course.
Process: Form required; obtain from advisor; submit to registrar.
Date: Sixth class day through 2nd Friday after mid-term week.
Course Grade: W.

Action: Complete withdrawal from the university.
Process: Form required; obtain from registrar.
Date: Sixth class day through the last class day of the semester.
Course Grade: W.

The withdrawal procedure is incomplete until all necessary signatures have been secured and the appropriate forms returned to the Office of the Registrar by the specified time stated in the current academic year calendar.

Any counseling provided to a student from any employee of the university, which differs from established university policies, must be confirmed by the provost. Although a student may receive advice from any agent of the university, the final responsibility for a decision concerning withdrawal rests with the student, in consultation with the course instructor, in accordance with university policies. Prior to withdrawing from a course, those students receiving financial aid must refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress  section of the Catalog.

Any student who commits academic misconduct is ineligible to withdraw from a course unless the withdrawal is approved by the instructor. This exception to the withdrawal policy applies to the entire period within which a student would otherwise be eligible to withdraw and receive a W on the transcript. This exception to the withdrawal policy may be applied retroactively to the transcript in cases where the student is ultimately found by the university to have committed academic misconduct prior to the date that a withdrawal was processed by the registrar. Refer to the Student Handbook.

Absence from University/Readmission

Students in good academic standing who must discontinue their studies for a brief time will be considered eligible to re-enroll in future semesters, as long as they return after no more than two consecutive regular semesters (not including summer sessions), and do not take courses at another institution during that time without prior approval from the university. (For procedures to take courses with permission during a time of absence, see the section titled Courses Taken at Other Institutions.)

Students who are on suspension, who take courses at another institution without prior approval, or who are absent from studies for more than two consecutive regular semesters (not including summer sessions), must re-apply through the Office of Admissions.

Students wishing to return after absence, and who do not need to re-apply through the Office of Admissions, should check the semester schedule of classes for advisement dates, and make an appointment with their advisor.

Completion of Drug and Alcohol Education Programs

As a condition for receiving federal funds or any other form of financial assistance under any federal program, all higher education institutions must implement a drug and alcohol policy which complies with applicable federal, state and local drug and alcohol laws. As part of this requirement, new Shepherd University students are required to complete the educational training. Contact Shanan Spencer, director of counseling services, at 304-876-5161 for more information.

Requirement to Complete Sexual Violence Education Program

Under the Violence and Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, colleges and universities are required to offer prevention and awareness programs to new students. All new Shepherd University students are required to complete sexual assault educational training. Contact Shanan Spencer, director of counseling services, at 304-876-5161 for more information.

Requirement to Attend All Orientation Programs

Shepherd University students are required to attend all Orientation programs as defined by the Office of New Student Programs unless given written permission by the assistant vice president for student affairs for student engagement or his/her designee.