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Academic Policies

The university’s official Undergraduate Academic Policies are updated and published each year in Academic Regulations, and distributed to every student. All students are expected to obtain copies of these regulations and familiarize themselves with the content, since failure to be aware of a provision does not excuse a student from adhering to it. On the other hand, whenever a student feels that some special circumstance warrants an exception to a regulation, that student is encouraged to discuss the situation with his or her academic dean who may be able to help work out an alternative.

Some of the more important aspects of the Undergraduate Academic Policies are summarized below; check the latest edition of Academic Regulations for specific details.

Classification of Students
Undergraduates may enroll in one of five categories:

1. Full-Time Students
Students who are admitted as candidates for a degree are normally designated as a member of a particular graduating class and are expected to make normal progress toward graduating with that class by carrying, at minimum, 12 or more credits each semester.

2. Part-Time Degree Students
The category “Part-Time” is an original admissions category as well as a category into which full-time students may revert for purposes of continued part-time study. All academic regulations and standards for full-time students including a 2.000 cumulative average apply to part-time students, with the exception of the requirement to complete 12 credits per semester. Each semester of part-time enrollment is counted as a partial semester in applying the rule limiting students to 10 semesters of enrollment. Students involved in part-time study must complete their last 60 credits within five years. Part-time students are charged tuition on a per-credit basis; fees are also assessed according to the number of credits. To ensure part-time billing, the student must complete a special billing card during preregistration.

3. Part-Time Non-Degree Students
Special Student status is a limited non-degree admission category for those who do not have a bachelor’s degree and wish to enroll in regular university courses without pursuing a degree. If a Special Student later applies for admission to a university degree program, all credits earned prior to matriculation will be evaluated by the Office of Transfer Affairs according to policies detailed in Academic Regulations. A maximum of 15 credits earned as a Special Student may be accepted as resident credit if the student later matriculates into a degree program. Credits which are accepted will be factored into the semester count. A new grade point average begins at matriculation. Students who withdraw in good standing from an undergraduate degree program and who wish to enroll on a non-degree basis must notify the Registrar of their desire to change their status.

4. Second-Major Students
A student may earn a second major and have it recorded on the permanent record provided that:

a) The student declares the major as early as possible and in advance of graduation.

b) The second major is completed concurrently with the first major within the 10 semesters allowed for the completion of all graduation requirements.

c) An authorized representative of the second major certifies to the Registrar that all requirements for that second major have been completed.

d) The second major lies in the same school or college as the first or declared major or the academic dean of the second school or college certifies to the Registrar that all requirements for graduation from that school or college have been satisfied.

e) Students wishing to obtain their second major from the Isenberg School of Management must formally apply prior to the start of their sixth semester of full-time study (75 completed credits for part-time students). Applications should be made through the Isenberg School of Management Undergraduate Counseling Office.

5. Second-Bachelor’s Degree Students
Individuals interested in pursuing a second bachelor’s degree must apply through the Admissions Office. Prior to acceptance, they must obtain the support of an authorized representative of a department and an undergraduate dean in the School or College of the proposed second degree.

a) Students and graduates of this university who wish to earn a second bachelor’s degree must complete a minimum of 30 additional credits, all of which must be in residence (i.e., students who want to work for two bachelor’s degrees simultaneously do not have to complete one and then start the other anew).

b) Graduates of other institutions who wish to earn a second bachelor’s degree at this university must complete a minimum of 45 credits in residence at the Amherst campus, not including enrollment through the Division of Continuing and Professional Education. (For those who have previously attended this university, residency requirements are handled individually.)

Modifications for Disabilities
The university is committed to providing an accessible and equitable learning environment for all qualified students, and offers support services through two offices, depending on the type of disability a student has. Both offices are described in greater detail elsewhere in this Guide. Disability Services provides support for students with learning, physical, and medical disabilities. Students with psychological disabilities are served by the office for Counseling and Assessment Services (CAS) as part of the Undergraduate Advising and Academic Support Center. Disability Services is an agency within Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

It is a student’s responsibility to provide documentation of disability to the appropriate disabilities service office. Documentation of a medical, physical or psychological disability must come from an appropriate medical or other qualified professional care provider. Learning disabilities must be documented through current and formal psychoeducational assessment completed by qualified professionals trained in the assessment of learning disabilities. An Individualized Education Plan or a Section 504 plan is useful but is not, in and of itself, sufficient documentation to establish the rationale for accommodations.

The university does not waive requirements for students with disabilities, but allows reasonable modifications in programs and courses for students with documented disabilities. Degree and course requirements have been implemented for important educational reasons, and the university’s goal is to provide the assistance necessary, through the support agencies, to enable students with disabilities to meet these requirements and fully participate in the educational experience that they encompass. For students with learning disabilities and students with hearing impairments, this includes modification of the foreign language and global education requirements of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, to allow these students to meet the intent of the requirement through a method tailored to their individual circumstances.

Students must also request modifications well in advance to allow time for the appropriate disabilities office and faculty to coordinate reasonable accommodations. Particularly in the case of the foreign language requirement, students need to make arrangements for modifications as early as possible following admission. The university strongly encourages students with disabilities to take advantage of the support services offered.

Academic Grievances
The University of Massachusetts has established an academic grievance procedure for the purpose of providing undergraduate students with a fair, reasonable, and efficient method of addressing their academic grievances. A copy of the procedure may be obtained from the Ombuds Office, the Provost’s Office, or the office of the Student Government Association. Students with concerns that might be resolved through this procedure should contact the Ombuds Office, tel. (413) 545-0867.

Academic Honesty
The university requires honesty of all its members in their academic work. Honesty is necessary to the learning process, and is integral to the atmosphere of genuine inquiry and intellectual curiosity which the university seeks to foster. Academic dishonesty contradicts the expectations of a community whose central purpose is the pursuit of intellectual endeavor, and is prohibited in all programs of the university.

Academic dishonesty violates the university’s Academic Honesty Policy, and any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty is subject to sanctions. Extensive examples of academic dishonesty are included in the Academic Honesty Policy, which is found in the Code of Student Conduct ( The following are definitions of some of the most common forms of academic dishonesty:

Plagiarism is the failure to acknowledge the source of all information gathered in the preparation of class and written work. It includes direct quotation, paraphrase, and the “borrowing” of information or facts which are not common knowledge, without acknowledging the source through footnote, adequate means of citation, or proper quotation structure. Students are encouraged to learn the style most accepted in their disciplines.

Cheating is the intentional use or attempted use of materials, information, or study aids other than those specifically authorized, in an attempt to claim credit for learning not one’s own. Under university policy, this can include unauthorized collaboration with others in conducting research or preparing work; the unauthorized use of commercial term paper companies; improper use of computer file, program, user-name, or password; use of books, notes, calculators, or discussion with others during an examination unless specifically authorized; falsification of signatures or initials; and repeated use of all or substantial portions of the same work without specific prior approval.

Fabrication includes the “invention” of information in any laboratory or other academic exercise without prior notice to and permission from the instructor; alteration and resubmission of returned academic work without prior notice and permission; and misrepresentation of the actual source from which information is cited.

Facilitation of dishonesty is knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty.

An instructor who believes that a student has violated the Academic Honesty Policy may impose course sanctions, including failure of the course, and, if warranted, may recommend additional university sanctions such as suspension or expulsion. An instructor who wishes to impose sanctions must either file a formal charge of academic dishonesty or reach an informal resolution of the matter with the student. Students may appeal formal charges of academic dishonesty to the Academic Honesty Board.

The Academic Honesty Office, c/o the Ombuds Office, 823 Campus Center, tel. (413) 545-0867, is responsible for administering the policy and appeal process, including maintaining records, advising all concerned parties about their rights and responsibilities, and convening hearing panels.

Absences for Religious Reasons
The university has established policies in order to comply with Massachusetts law concerning religious observance. The following is a portion of this policy:
“Any student who is unable to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement, because of religious observance, is to be provided with an opportunity to make up the said examination, study, or work requirement. Students have the right to make up examinations, study, or work requirements that they miss because of absence from class for religious observance, but they also have an obligation to inform the course instructor as to the days on which they may be absent for religious reasons. Students should inform the course instructor in writing of the days they will be absent as early as possible in the semester and always prior to the day(s) the student will be absent for religious reasons. If they feel it is important for course planning, instructors have the right to require students to provide a written list of days they will be absent for religious observance within one full calendar week after the student’s enrollment in the course, provided the course instructor lists this requirement and corresponding deadline on the course outline or other handouts. In the event of a dispute between a faculty member and a student in the course, the chair/head (or a designee) of the department in which the course is taught shall be responsible for its amicable resolution. If the dispute cannot be resolved at this level, the issue should be referred to the Ombuds Office,” tel. (413) 545-0867.