2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Jul 19, 2024  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Policies and Procedures

Here, you’ll find information on the Advanced Placement test (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), class attendance, credits and grades, course repeats, grade reports, grade appeal policy, academic eligibility and class standing, examinations, registration, withdrawal, conduct and readmission.

Advanced Placement and Exemption

Exemption from one or more of the degree requirements and/or admission to advanced courses may be granted on the basis of the Advanced Placement tests of the College Board, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, transfer credit or, in some cases, placement tests taken at Sweet Briar. Neither academic credit nor placement is awarded for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), experiential learning or armed services experience. Requests for information about the Advanced Placement tests should be made to the College Board or the student’s high school counselor.

Since the College wishes to enable every student to advance at a rate commensurate with her ability and previous preparation, any student who has not participated in the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs, but believes that she is capable of doing the work of an advanced course or should be exempted from a degree requirement, may so indicate to the dean. Placement tests and conferences with program faculty will be arranged to meet the needs of such students.

Advanced Placement Test (AP)

A student who receives a score of 4 or 5 on an Advanced Placement test will be granted credit for a year’s course or for a term’s course, as well as exemption from both the program’s introductory course, if there is one, and any appropriate Leadership Core requirement. For a few tests, a score of 3 will also be granted credit. Students must request that Educational Testing Service (ETS) send official score reports to the registrar’s office.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

Sweet Briar College recognizes the challenging nature of the International Baccalaureate program of study. Six semester hours of credit will be granted to a student presenting a score of five or higher on any of the International Baccalaureate higher-level examinations. On the recommendation of the individual program, advanced placement or credit, or both, may be awarded to a student presenting a score of 4 on any of the International Baccalaureate higher-level examinations.

Class Attendance

The College maintains that regular class attendance is essential to its educational plan. It is the responsibility of the student to attend all classes and to keep up her work. Faculty may take class participation into account in grading.

Credits, Grades and Quality Points

The College requires 120 semester credit hours to be presented for graduation. Grades are assigned as follows:

Grade Description Quality Points Affect GPA Earn Credit
A Excellent 4.0 Yes Yes
A Excellent (-) 3.7 Yes Yes
B+ Good (+) 3.3 Yes Yes
B Good 3.0 Yes Yes
B- Good (-) 2.7 Yes Yes
C+ Satisfactory (+) 2.3 Yes Yes
C Satisfactory 2.0 Yes Yes
C- Satisfactory (-) 1.7 Yes Yes
D+ Poor (+) 1.3 Yes Yes
D Poor 1.0 Yes Yes
D- Poor (-) 0.7 Yes Yes
F Failure 0.0 Yes No
P Pass 0.0 No Yes
CR Credit 0.0 No Yes
NC No Credit 0.0 No No
S Satisfactory 0.0 No No
U Unsatisfactory 0.0 No No
W Withdrew 0.0 No No
AU Audit 0.0 No No
I Incomplete* 0.0 No No
TR Transferred 0.0 No Yes

* Incomplete indicates that a substantial piece of required work in a course has not been completed because of exceptional circumstances which merit an extension of time.

A minimum grade point average of 2.00 in the major and overall is required for graduation. Grade point averages are calculated to the second decimal point and are not rounded up or down. With specified exceptions, only graded work pursued at Sweet Briar is used in determining the grade point average. A minimum of two years of residence and 60 credit hours earned at Sweet Briar are required for the degree.

Pass/Credit/No Credit Grading Option

A student with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00 may, with the approval of her advisor and the instructor, choose to take a total of two courses on a “Pass/Credit/No Credit” basis. A student in her first term at Sweet Briar is not eligible for this option. Under this grading option, students who earn grades of “C-” or higher will receive a final grade of “P”; those who earn grades of “D+,” “D,” or “D-” will receive a final grade of “CR”; and those who earn a grade of “F” will receive a final grade of “NC.” Courses offered on a P/CR/NC grading option only are excluded from the two-courses limit.

Some academic programs have policies which further limit or prohibit the use of this grading option on courses that could count toward a major or minor. Consult the major and minor requirements listed under each program for such restrictions.

Course Repeats

A student may repeat a completed course, regardless of grade, for a better understanding of the subject. Course repeats are subject to the following conditions:

  1. A student may choose to repeat a course only twice during her four years at Sweet Briar. A student may repeat once course twice, or two separate courses one time each.
  2. Seats are open first to those who have not taken the course. If a waiting list forms, a student repeating the course must vacate the seat.
  3. The repeated course must be the same course or its equivalent as determined by the major, and it must be taken at Sweet Briar College. Topical seminars repeated under this policy must have the same course content. When course content differs, the topical seminar may be repeated and is not subject to the conditions of this policy.
  4. Grades for all course attempts will appear on the student’s transcript and will be included in all GPA calculations, but credit will be applied only once toward fulfilling degree requirements.
  5. Grades earned in all course attempts will be included in the calculation for all honors.
  6. Majors may designate a course as non-repeatable. This exclusion must be included in the course description in the Catalog.
  7. A student must designate at the time of registration her intent to repeat a course under the conditions of this policy. Forms for this purpose are available from the Office of the Registrar.

If a student fails a required course, she must repeat the course either at Sweet Briar or at another institution, subject to approval of the Dean and the head of the major concerned. If a student fails a required course twice, she may be declared ineligible to remain in the college.

Credit Hours

Sweet Briar defines a credit hour and awards credit in accordance with the federal definition of a credit hour.

Generally, all courses, with the exception of some senior capstone seminars, meet a minimum of 50 minutes of scheduled class time per week for each credit hour over the course of a 15-week semester. Senior seminars, which are 300- or 400-level courses requiring more independent work and participation by the student, may meet for a minimum of 40 minutes of scheduled class time per week for each credit hour over a 15-week semester. Generally, one semester hour of credit represents three hours per week of in-class and out-of-class work.

Course Information

Course numbers indicate in a general way the level of instruction. Numbers below 200 indicate introductory courses; 200-299 intermediate; 300-399 advanced; 400-499 courses normally open to seniors, majors, and others of unusual ability; 500-599 graduate level courses that, with appropriate qualifications and permission, may be taken for undergraduate credit; 600-799 graduate level courses.

Courses with no stated prerequisites are open to first-year students. The courses are usually, but not always, numbered below 200. Courses with a prerequisite of permission of the instructor may be open to first-year students. Consult the instructor for more information.

Directed, special, and independent studies (numbered 261, 361, and 461 respectively) are offered in many departments. These courses require permission of the instructor in addition to any other published prerequisites. Special forms, available from the Registrar’s Office, are required to register for these courses.

Internships (numbered 377) are offered in many departments. The prerequisite for an internship is the permission of the instructor. Special forms, available from the Career Services Office, are required to register for internships.

Grade Reports

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended (FERPA) provides that academic transcripts may be furnished to parents (or legal guardians) of a student without the student’s written consent only when the parents establish the student’s status as a dependent according to the Internal Revenue Service code.

It is Sweet Briar’s expectation that each student should take the responsibility to inform her parents of her academic progress. However, if parents wish to receive copies of final grade reports, they should contact the registrar’s office for information on how to receive them.

Grade Appeal Policy

A student who feels that a grade reported to the registrar’s office is incorrect and is prepared to present evidence to support this grievance must use the following procedure:

  1. Initiate the procedure by voicing the complaint to the instructor before the end of the subsequent semester.
  2. If the complaint is not resolved at the first level, the student may then take the matter to the chair of the division for mediation. If the instructor is the chair of the division, proceed to the next level.
  3. If the matter is still not resolved at the division level, the student may then refer the matter to the dean of the faculty for further mediation.

The dean will investigate the matter and take appropriate action. A grade may be changed only if such change is necessitated by a clerical error or other oversight. Grade changes are limited to the semester subsequent to that in which the work was done.

Academic Eligibility and Class Standing

Any student who fails to achieve a cumulative credit ratio of 2.00 at the end of any term will be reported by the dean to the Eligibility Committee, which may place the student on academic warning, academic probation, academic suspension, or declare her ineligible to continue her college course. Normally, a student with a GPA below 1.80 shall be placed on academic probation.

The status of a student who has been placed on academic warning or academic probation for three consecutive semesters shall be reviewed by the Eligibility Committee, who may suspend the student or declare her ineligible to continue.

Students not making satisfactory progress toward the degree or who experience extreme academic difficulty in a given term may be placed on academic warning or academic probation even if their cumulative GPA is greater than 2.00.

No student on academic warning or academic probation may hold any extracurricular office or compete on club or varsity teams.

Class standing is determined by completion of credit hours as follows:

Class Credit Hours Earned
First Year 0.00 - 26.99
Sophomore 27.00 - 59.99
Junior 60.00 - 89.00
Senior 90.00 or more

Satisfactory Progress Requirement

Students must demonstrate progress toward the degree by completing a minimum number of semester hours and maintaining a minimum credit ratio. Only courses taken for credit will be used in calculating the minimum hours earned: withdrawals, incompletes and noncredit courses will not be included.

For full-time students, satisfactory academic progress is demonstrated by advancing to the next class each year. Students who fail to meet this standard are ineligible to receive need-based financial aid. They may regain eligibility to receive need aid once they regain satisfactory academic progress.

In the fall term of her fourth year, a student must have passed at least 87 semester credit hours and must have a cumulative credit ratio of no less that 1.90.

In the fall term of her third year, a student must have passed at least 54 semester credit hours and have a cumulative credit ratio of no less than 1.80.

In the fall term of her second year, a student must have passed at least 21 semester credit hours and have a cumulative credit ratio of no less than 1.70.

For part-time students, satisfactory progress is demonstrated by compliance with the following schedule:

End of Year Minimum Semester Hours Minimum GPA
1 16 1.70
2 34  
3 54 1.80
4 75  
5 97 1.90
6 120 2.00

Students who fail to meet this standard are ineligible to receive need-based financial aid. They may regain eligibility to receive need aid once they regain satisfactory academic progress.

The academic progress of all students shall be monitored twice a year by the Eligibility Committee. The status of a student who, at the beginning of the academic year, has failed to demonstrate satisfactory progress toward the degree shall be reviewed by the Eligibility Committee, who shall place her on warning, probation, or declare her ineligible to continue at the College.


Examinations are given in all courses at the end of each term, unless the instructor decides upon some other means of assessment. Students self-schedule their examinations within the period provided in the official calendar for the term. All tests and examinations are given under the Honor System. Violation of its requirements constitutes a serious offense.


Students, both new and returning, must complete their registration for courses on the dates specified by the registrar’s office each year. To carry more than 18 credit hours per semester, a student must have special permission from her advisor and the dean.

Major and Minor Requirements

A student is not allowed to declare her intent to complete a major, a minor, or a certificate until the second semester of the sophomore year. At that time, a student must plan with her major advisor a program for the junior and senior years. A student’s options include declaring only one major, declaring one major and one minor (or certificate), or declaring two majors.  A student must complete the major, minor, or certificate requirements specified by the program. A minimum 2.00 grade point average in the major, minor, or certificate program is required for graduation. The grade point average calculation for each declared major is done using the minimum number of courses taken that meet major requirements, together with any subset of additional courses in the major field of study, which results in the highest grade point average. Each senior must pass the senior culminating exercise in her major as designated by the program. This culminating exercise must be completed at Sweet Briar College.

Withdrawal from the College

A student who wishes to withdraw from the college during the academic year must first meet with the Dean of the College and complete a withdrawal checklist. She must also clear all financial obligations before her academic transcripts will be released.


The College reserves the right to exclude at any time any student whose conduct or academic standing it regards as unsatisfactory.

Readmission to the College

Readmission after withdrawal from Sweet Briar is not automatic. To request readmission, students should write to the Dean of the College.

Session Enrollment Requirement

A semester is made up of a 3-week and a 12-week session and students must be registered for both sessions of each semester. Students are required to enroll in one 3- or 4-credit course in each 3-week session. With the approval of the Registrar, students may enroll in a 3- or 4-credit semester-long course through the Tri-college Consortium to satisfy this enrollment requirement.