Academic Credit Hour Policy

Definitions

Academic credit has provided the basis for measuring the amount of engaged learning time expected of a typical student enrolled not only in traditional classroom settings but also laboratories, studios, internships and other experiential learning, and distance and correspondence education. Students, institutions, employers, and others rely on the common currency of academic credit to support a wide range of activities, including the transfer of students from one institution to another. For several decades, the federal government has relied on credits as a measure of student academic engagement as a basis of awarding financial aid. In accordance with federal regulations, a credit hour is an amount of work directed by institutional established equivalencies, represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement (Southern Association of Colleges Commission on Colleges, Credit Hour Policy, 2012).

Scope

This policy and procedure provides for the establishment, review, and awarding of academic credit hours at Samford University. The procedures below are those applied to the more commonly used credit situations at Samford. This includes the standard 15-week instructional format, accelerated instructional format, non-classroom based learning experiences, and online course delivery experiences.

Criteria for Establishment of a Credit Hour

The Samford University definition of a credit hour formalizes compliance with federal and accreditation expectations and helps to provide consistency throughout the University. Samford follows the Carnegie unit of measure for assigning credits to its undergraduate and graduate academic courses. One semester credit is equivalent to a minimum of 1 hour in-class (defined as 50 minutes of instruction) and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work per week.

Example Minimum Standards for Total Direct Faculty Instruction and Student Preparation for Lecture / Seminar Classes
Credits Direct Faculty Instruction* Student Preparation (out of class) Total Minutes per Semester
1 12.5 hours 25 hours 37.5 hours
2 25 hours 50 hours 75 hours
3 37.5 hours 75 hours 112.5 hours
4 50 hours 100 hours 150 hours

*An equivalent amount of work is required in courses and academic activities where class time is not the primary mode of learning, such as online and hybrid courses, laboratory work, independent study, internships, practica, studio work, etc. Credits will be awarded on the basis of documented learning objectives, expected learning outcomes, and student workload expectations within a specified period of academically engaged time. Academic units are responsible for ensuring and documenting that credit hours are awarded only for work that meets the requirements outlined in this policy. Instructors of record for a course are also encouraged to state the expected out-of-class student work in their course syllabus.

For the standard 15 week term (plus an addition week for final exams), the following weekly determinations are used:

  • Lecture/Seminar Classes: A unit of credit equates to three hours of student work per week (1 hour in-class or direct instruction plus a minimum of 2 hours of out-of-class).
  • Laboratory/Experiential Classes: A unit of credit equates to 3 hours per week of direct instruction in a laboratory/experiential setting, and 1-3 hours of out-of-class student work per unit of credit. The latter range allows for discipline and student level differentiation.
  • Laboratory/Experiential Classes (School of The Arts): A unit of credit equates to 4 hours of student work per week (1-3 hours in-class or direct instruction in a laboratory/experiential setting plus a minimum of 1-3 hours of out-of-class). The range allows for discipline and student level differentiation.
  • Studio Classes (School of The Arts): A unit of credit equates to 6 hours of student work per week (2 hours in-class or direct instruction plus a minimum of 4 hours of out-of-class).
  • Ensemble/Production Classes (School of The Arts): A unit of credit equates to 6 hours of student work per week (3-6 hours in-class or direct instruction plus a minimum of 1 hour of out-of-class). Irregular scheduling may occur, but total hours will meet minimum requirements. Zero credit may be awarded for Ensemble or Production Classes beyond degree requirements.
  • Applied (Private) Studio (School of The Arts): A unit of credit equates to a minimum of 3 hours of student practice per week, plus the necessary individual instruction. 1 credit receives a 30-minute private lesson, 2 credits receive a 45-minute private lesson, and 3 credits receive an hour private lesson. All applied students also participate in weekly performance seminars; students studying a secondary area are encouraged, but not required, to attend seminars for that area.
  • Clinical Courses (College of Health Sciences): Clinical credit hours are assigned in accordance with practice standards and requirements of accrediting bodies or licensing agencies. A unit of credit equates to a minimum of 3 hours of student work/clinical per week. Programs/disciplines may require more than 3 hours of student work/clinical per week for a unit of credit.

For courses meeting fewer than 15 weeks, the credit hours awarded for a given course or academic experience must be reasonably equivalent to the standard of 3 hours combined direct instruction and student work per credit hour for a 15-week term.

For independent study and experiential learning courses, the credit hours applicable for a given course or academic experience must be reasonably equivalent to the standard of 3 hours combined direct instruction and student work per week, per credit hour, for a 15-week term. Specific independent study and experiential guidelines and forms are provided at the school/college from which the course is being taken. Guidelines at the college/school may include the number of independent studies (or credits) and experiential learning opportunities permitted per student for a single degree, required student grade point average (GPA), and which course numbers are assigned as independent study.

Academic Integrity Policy

This process may be used by graduate or professional programs that do not have an academic integrity process in place.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

A degree from Samford University is evidence of achievement in scholarship and citizenship. Activities and attitudes should be consistent with high academic standards and Christian commitment and should be in keeping with the philosophy and mission of the University. At Samford, academic integrity is expected of every community member in all endeavors and includes a commitment to honesty, fairness, trustworthiness, and respect.

The University Statement on Academic Dishonesty is as follows: students, upon enrollment, enter into a voluntary association with Samford University. They must be willing to observe high standards of intellectual integrity, respect knowledge, and practice academic honesty. Those who cheat on an examination or class assignment are not only academically dishonest, but also are deficient in the scholarly maturity necessary for college study. Those who engage in academic dishonesty are subject to severe punishment. The more dependent, the more inevitable becomes ultimate failure, often accompanied by public disgrace. Any act to obtain an unfair academic advantage is considered dishonest.  

For more information, see the Student Conduct website.  

Academic Warning and Required Withdrawal

Placement on Academic Warning

Any student who has attempted 12 or more credits at Samford University must have a cumulative GPA of 2.00 in work done at Samford. Failure to maintain a 2.00 GPA will result in being placed on academic warning.

Continuation of Academic Warning

Any student who has been placed on academic warning and whose Samford cumulative GPA continues to be below 2.00 will continue on academic warning unless required to withdraw.

Making Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students on academic warning who maintain the GPAs listed below will be considered as making satisfactory academic progress toward graduation and may remain in school. Student athletes are held to NCAA standards for continuing eligibility that may be higher than those below. Contact the Athletic Compliance Officer for details.

Requirements to Classify as Making Satisfactory Academic Progress
Total Quality Credits Required Cumulative Samford GPA
13-31 1.70
32-63 1.80
64-95 1.90
96 or more 2.00

Required Withdrawal

If a student placed on academic warning does not achieve the cumulative GPA required at Samford University at the end of the semester or term, he or she is required to withdraw from the University for at least one full semester. Readmission is not automatic. Applications for readmission must be made through the Office of Admission at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the semester/term the student wants to return. Students may not attend other institutions during their period of withdrawal. Samford University will not accept any transfer credits completed during this required absence.

Grading System Guidelines and Policies

Pass/Fail Basis Grading System

Any student who is enrolled in the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts, the Brock School of Business, or the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education, who is classified as a sophomore, junior, or senior, may elect to receive a pass/fail grade rather than a letter grade in no more than 12 credits of regular coursework. In a course elected for grading on the pass/fail basis, the student’s grade shall be designated “pass” or “fail.” A grade designation of “pass” shall not be included in the student’s grade point average; a grade of “fail” shall be included at 0.00 quality points per quality credit.

No course elected for grading on the pass/fail basis shall satisfy any part of a core, general education, major, or minor requirement for graduation. Successfully completed pass/fail courses will count toward the 300/400-level requirement and toward the minimum total credits. The student can change from a grading basis to the pass/fail basis or from the pass/fail basis to the grading basis any time prior to the deadline for withdrawing from a class without academic penalty.

Certain internship and externship courses may be taken for pass/fail credit only. Credits earned in these courses may count toward the major or minor requirement and will not be included in the 12-credit limit. (Consult with your dean or advisor before registering for pass/fail credit.)

Course Repeats

Upon the recommendation of the advisor and with the approval of the university registrar, an undergraduate student may repeat a course for credit in which she or he received a C- or lower to improve her or his grade and cumulative GPA, as well as her or his understanding of course content.

When a course grade of C- or lower is repeated at Samford, only the grade earned in the most recent instance of the course, even if it is lower, will count in the calculation of the cumulative average. The credits count only once. Both courses and both grades remain on the transcript with an indication of which course is counted in the computation of the cumulative GPA. The repeated course must be exactly the same course that was originally taken. Courses repeated at other institutions do not change the Samford cumulative GPA.

Courses with grades of C or higher may be repeated; however, both grades will be averaged into the Samford cumulative GPA.

The deadline for submitting the petition to repeat a course with a C- or lower grade is the last day to add a course in the semester the repeated course is being taken. A form for this purpose is available in the Office of Student Records.

A course can be repeated only once using the repeat policy to exclude the original grade from the student’s GPA calculation. A student may take advantage of this policy for no more than 16 credits. Repeating a course may influence a student’s financial aid or sports eligibility. Courses repeated after graduation will not change the graduation GPA.

Examinations

Examinations, two hours in length, are given in all undergraduate subjects at the end of each semester. The precise weight assigned to the final examination is determined by the faculty member, the traditional policy being to count as 25 percent to 35 percent in obtaining a final average.

Grade Changes

An initial grade may be changed by an instructor with the approval of the instructor’s department chair and dean. This change reflects administrative error in the calculation of a grade, the accidental misposting of an incorrect grade, or some other administrative factor resulting in the posting of an incorrect grade. It can also be the result of the completion of course requirements by a student where an INC grade is replaced by a letter grade. An E or an INC which is not changed by grade change automatically becomes an F if not removed by the last day of classes in the next full semester after the grade was given. This grade of F may not be challenged.

Grade Appeals

An initial grade may be challenged by a student before the last day of classes of the next full semester. Jan Term grades must be appealed by the conclusion of the spring term. Summer term grades must be appealed by the end of fall term. All petitions must be made first in writing to the instructor, chair, and dean. If each of these three in turn denies the appeal, the student may submit a written appeal to the university registrar. The registrar will convene a subcommittee of the Faculty Academic Affairs Committee who will weigh the appeal. The results of this subcommittee’s decision are final.

Grades are indicated by letter symbols. The numerical value assigned to a letter grade is determined by each faculty member.

Letter Grading System
Grade Symbol Definition Quality Points Earned
A The highest proficiency in ability and application 4.0
A- Slightly less than the highest proficiency in ability and application 3.7
B+ Outstanding proficiency 3.3
B Ability and achievement of a high but second order 3.0
B- Ability and achievement of a high but third order 2.7
C+ A better than average performance 2.3
C Average ability or average achievement 2.0
C- Slightly below average achievement. There is a repeat policy. 1.7
D+ Below average performance. Many colleges decline to accept transfer credit of lower than a C grade. There is a repeat policy. 1.3
D Below average performance. There is a repeat policy. 1.0
D- Just above failing performance. There is a repeat policy. 0.70
E Grade given to a student who, though failing a final examination, has a general daily average high enough to justify the expectation that he/she could pass the course if permitted to take a make-up examination. An E can be removed only by re-examination and is never raised to a grade higher than D. There is a repeat policy. 0.00
F Outright failure and can be changed only if it is the result of a clerical error made by the institution. If F is given as a final grade, the student must repeat the entire course and earn a passing grade to receive credit for it. There is a repeat policy. 0.00
FA Grade given to a student who is dropped from a course because of excessive absences or who withdraws from the University without written permission from the Office of Student Records. It carries the same penalty as F. 0.00
FX Failure due to a violation of academic integrity. 0.00
INC Represents Incomplete. Incomplete grades are valid if the student has done work that would earn a passing grade in the course but has failed to complete some portion of the required work because of an emergency, and the work can be completed without further class attendance. 0.00
IP Indicates that a course remains In Progress and ends after the semester’s/term’s final grade deadline. 0.00
Z Represents No Grade. It is given when a faculty member does not assign a grade. Instructor must change the Z to a grade. 0.00
W Indicates that the student withdrew before the academic penalty period, but was in good standing. There is no penalty for W. 0.00
WF Indicates that the student withdrew during the academic penalty period. WF carries the same penalty as F. 0.00
P Grade assigned for successful completion of a course designated Pass or Fail. It will not be included in the GPA. 0.00
AU Symbol assigned for successful completion of a courses taken on an audit basis. An audited course will not meet any graduation requirement or be included in the GPA. 0.00

Multi-Program Definitions

Definitions of Internal Academic Programs

Combination/combined programs per SACSCOC Standard 9.2:  offered by one academic institution, credits are double counted.  May require SACSCOC notification or prior approval, written agreement, Provost and curricular approval.

Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's (aka Fast-Track):

Students who have completed three-fourths of a bachelor’s degree may apply to select master’s programs.  After acceptance into an ABM program, students will be able to begin graduate coursework to apply to their undergraduate degree.   The student must complete all undergraduate degree requirements with a minimum of 128 credit hours, all graduate degree requirements with a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours, and 150 credit hours total to award both degrees.  Coordination between the academic departments and Provost and curricular approval are required. 

Joint Program (Graduate Only):

Student fulfills requirements for two separate degrees with some overlap so that the total number of units required is reduced.  Coordination between the academic departments and Provost and curricular approval are required.  The total number of credits completed by a student must be equal to or greater than 60 graduate hours.  A joint program may involve degrees from two separate schools/colleges within the University.  Students may be awarded one degree independent of the other.

Double Major:

Student fulfills all degree requirements for two majors or concentrations within the same degree (i.e. bachelor of arts, master of arts, etc).  When a double major includes majors from more than one college, the University Registrar must be informed of the student’s preference as to the college and major for official listings. The first major listed by the student is used in determining both the degree to be received as well as the Commencement ceremony to attend.  Students must meet all the major and general education requirements for both majors. If the general education requirements differ, the student must fulfill the stricter of the two requirements.  A double major does not require coordination between academic departments and does not require curricular approval.

Dual Degree:

Student fulfills all degree requirements for two separate degrees. 

Undergraduate a dual degree requires a student to take an additional 32 credit hours to earn the second degree. Upon completion of the major requirements and the 32 additional hours, the student will be awarded two degrees.  When a dual degree includes more than one college, the University Registrar must be informed of the student’s preference as to the college for official listings. The first degree listed by the student is used in determining both the degree to be received as well as the Commencement ceremony to attend.  Student must meet all the major and general education requirements for both degrees. If the general education requirements differ, the student must fulfill the stricter of the two requirements.  A dual degree does not require coordination between academic departments and does not require curricular approval.

Dual degrees are not defined at the graduate level unless credits are shared, in which case they are joint degrees (see above).  If a student independently chooses to pursue two degrees simultaneously, he or she must complete all requirements for both degrees in their entirety

Definitions of External Academic Programs

Joint and dual academic awards per SACSCOC Policy Statement:  offered by different academic institutions, credits could be double counted.  May require SACSCOC notification or prior approval, written agreement, Provost and curricular approval.

Dual Academic Awards:

Students study at two or more institutions and each institution grants a separate academic award bearing only its name, seal and signature. 

Joint Academic Awards:

Students study at two or more institutions and the institutions grant a single academic award bearing the names, seals and signatures of each of the participating institutions. Samford does not currently offer joint academic awards with another institution. 

Withdrawal Refund Policy for All Students

Student Withdrawal

The University is required to contract for a substantial amount of goods and services in advance. Most of these expenses are fixed and are not subject to change on short notice. Under certain circumstances, refunds are available to students who officially withdraw from the University. A student desiring to withdraw from the University must obtain an official withdrawal form from the Office of the Registrar. The form must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar when it is completed. This policy applies to all terms including semesters, fall and spring terms A and B, summer terms and Jan Term. If a withdrawal results in a tuition reduction and the student has received financial aid, some of the aid could be required to be returned by the University. In such cases, the student will be required to reimburse the University.

Withdrawal Refund Policy for Fall and Spring Semesters (excluding Fall P4s and A and B Terms)

Fall and Spring Full Term refunds are based on the days following the last day to drop/add, as follows.

In case of withdrawal or suspension:

  1. Beginning the first day of class and running through the last day to drop/add on the undergraduate calendar, the tuition and room rent refund will be 100 percent.
  2. Beginning the first Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 90 percent.
  3. Beginning the second Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 75 percent.
  4. Beginning the third Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 50 percent.
  5. Beginning the fifth Monday after the last day to drop/add and ending on the eighth Wednesday after drop/add, the tuition and room rent refund will be 25 percent.
  6. After the eighth Wednesday after drop/add, no tuition and room rent refund is available.
  7. Board plan (meal charge) refund shall be calculated on a pro rata basis.

Withdrawal Refund Policy for Fall/Spring A and B Terms

Fall and Spring A and B Term refunds are based on the days following the last day to drop/add, as follows.

In case of withdrawal or suspension:

  1. Beginning the first day of class and running through the last day to drop/add on the Evening Studies calendar for that part of term (A or B), the tuition and room rent refund will be 100 percent.
  2. Beginning the first Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 90 percent.
  3. Beginning the second Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 75 percent.
  4. Beginning the third Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 50 percent.
  5. Beginning the fourth Monday after the last day to drop/add and ending on the fifth Wednesday after drop/add, the tuition and room rent refund will be 25 percent.
  6. After the fifth Wednesday after drop/add, no tuition and room rent refund is available.
  7. Board plan (meal charge) refund shall be calculated on a pro rata basis.

Withdrawal Refund Policy for Jan Term

Jan Term refunds are based on class days as follows.

In case of withdrawal or suspension:

  1. On the first and second day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 100 percent.
  2. On the third day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 90 percent.
  3. On the fourth day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 75 percent.
  4. On the fifth day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 50 percent.
  5. On the sixth day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 25 percent.
  6. After the sixth day of classes, no tuition and room rent refund is available.
  7. Board plan (meal charge) refund shall be calculated on a pro rata basis.

Withdrawal Refund Policy for Summer Full Term (Summer 10-Week and 14-Week)

Summer Full Term (Summer 10-Week and 14-Week) refunds are based on the days following the last day to drop/add, as follows.

In case of withdrawal or suspension:

  1. Beginning the first day of class and running through the last day to drop/add, the tuition and room rent refund will be 100 percent.
  2. Beginning the first Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 90 percent.
  3. Beginning the second Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 75 percent.
  4. Beginning the third Monday after the last day to drop/add and running through that Friday, the tuition and room rent refund will be 50 percent.
  5. Beginning the fourth Monday after the last day to drop/add and ending on the fifth Friday after drop/add, the tuition and room rent refund will be 25 percent.
  6. After the fifth Friday after drop/add, no tuition and room rent refund is available.
  7. Board plan (meal charge) refund shall be calculated on a pro rata basis.

Withdrawal Refund Policy for Summer I and II Terms

Summer I and II Term refunds are based on class days as follows.

In case of withdrawal or suspension:

  1. On the first, second, third, and fourth day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 100 percent.
  2. On the fifth and sixth day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 90 percent.
  3. On the seventh and eighth day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 75 percent.
  4. On the ninth and tenth day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 50 percent.
  5. On the eleventh and twelfth day of classes, the tuition and room rent refund will be 25 percent.
  6. Beginning the thirteenth day of classes, no tuition and room rent refund is available.
  7. Board plan (meal charge) refund shall be calculated on a pro rata basis.

Refund and Cancellation Policy for Abroad Programs

Different refund and cancellation policies apply to the various abroad programs. A copy of these refund and cancellation policies may be obtained from the sponsoring department or school.

Military Call to Active Duty

Students will be allowed to withdraw without penalty from the University and receive a 100 percent tuition remission (less any financial aid which the student may have received for the semester) upon presenting an original copy of their orders to the dean of academic services.

Alternatively, incomplete (INC) grades with no tuition reimbursement may be more appropriate when the withdrawal is near the end of the semester and INCs are agreed to by the instructor(s) and the student and approved by the dean of the school or college. In the latter case, the student will be allowed to complete the coursework according to a written agreement submitted to the Office of the Registrar. Incomplete grades and withdrawals may affect your financial aid eligibility. Please contact your financial aid advisor if you are a recipient of Title IV aid.

Return of Title IV Funds

Federal financial aid funds are awarded with the expectation that students will complete the entire period of enrollment. Students “earn” a percentage of the funds that are disbursed to them with each day of class attendance. When a student, who has received federal financial aid (Title IV funds), leaves school before the end of the semester or period of enrollment, federal law requires the University to calculate the percentage and amount of “unearned financial aid funds that must be returned to the federal government.” This calculation may have the effect of requiring the student to repay funds that have already been disbursed to the student.

Once a student has completed more than 60 percent of the enrollment period, students are considered to have earned all funding received. The University will not reduce the amount owed simply because of the loss of eligibility of financial aid. Thus, withdrawal prior to completion of 60 percent of the semester may result in the student having to pay from personal funds amounts of financial aid required to be returned to federal sources, in addition to any institutional costs owed to the University. Students are urged to consider these financial implications prior to making the decision to withdraw from school.

Refund Appeal

Students or parents who believe that they have individual circumstances warranting an exception to published refund policies may appeal. To appeal, the student or parent should contact:

University Registrar
Office of the Registrar
Samford University
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, Alabama 35229