Academic procedures in this section spell out policies related to the student’s academic program, from course selection and registration to exams and grades to issuance of transcripts. Topics include:

  • Student’s Responsibility
  • Student’s Program
  • Selection of Courses (Eligibility, Adding, Dropping, Withdrawal)
  • Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading
  • Repeated Courses
  • Exemption by Examination
  • Auditing Courses
  • Attendance
  • Religious Holidays
  • Academic Honesty
  • Warnings
  • Exams (Hour, Quizzes, Semester)
  • Marks, Incomplete Grades, Changes in Grades
  • Transcripts
  • Academic Review and Standing, Probation, Dismissal
  • Class Standing
  • Transfer Credits
  • Leave of Absence

Student’s Responsibility

Each student must be aware constantly of progress in meeting requirements for graduation. If there is any question about an individual record, the Registrar’s Office should be consulted. Each student must also be aware of deadlines set within each academic year that pertain to academic actions; these are available from the Registrar’s Office and on the registrar’s website as Critical Dates. Academic calendars, maintained online, list official schedules for Colby’s academic terms.

The College’s official means of communication is electronic. Students are expected to activate their Colby email accounts and to check them regularly, as many official notices from the administration and the faculty are sent only as electronic mail. Academic records, including courses a student has taken and the student’s status with respect to fulfillment of academic requirements, are available in a password-protected environment through the College website.

Student’s Program

The student at Colby normally takes from 12 to 18 credit hours in each semester and one offering during the January term. Full-time standing during a semester requires a minimum of 12 credit hours. 

Each first-year student has a faculty advisor to assist in planning the academic program. A new faculty advisor is assigned when the student has selected a major. Approval of the faculty advisor(s) is required for all procedures affecting a student’s academic program.

Prospective students frequently ask what subjects they will study—especially in the first year. It would be misleading to present any specific pattern of courses for either of the first two years. The programs of individual students may vary widely because there is considerable latitude within the requirements. To prepare for their lives in an increasingly complex society, students are encouraged to learn quantitative skills, to learn to write well, and to take courses that expose them to cultures other than their own.

To ensure distribution among the divisions, first-year students must include a first-year writing (W1) course, a foreign language (unless exempted by examination), and courses to meet area requirements. Students are urged to complete all distribution requirements by the end of their sophomore year. Students are encouraged to elect subject areas that are new to them and are advised to avoid over-concentration in any department or division.

Students considering a scientific career or the study of medicine should begin electing scientific subjects at once. Many departments in the natural and social sciences recommend mathematics in the first year. The student and assigned advisor should discuss a prospective program, noting carefully the recommendations and requirements in areas of major study. The initial selection of a major is by no means final; students are encouraged to explore alternative options throughout their sophomore year.

Selection of Courses

Each semester students select programs of study for the following semester. Students select courses via the Web after consultation with academic advisors. Selections are confirmed or denied following review of courses against academic departments’ criteria for course limits and priorities, after which students may add or drop courses via the Web, subject to rules stated for each course.

Deadlines for voluntary changes—adding, dropping, or withdrawing from a course, changing sections within a course, declaring or revoking the satisfactory/unsatisfactory option, augmenting or decreasing credit in courses offered for variable credit—appear in Critical Dates published annually by the registrar and available online.

No student may register for more than 20 credit hours in any semester without special permission from the faculty advisor(s) and the dean of studies.

Ordinarily, a student can neither repeat a course for additional credit nor register for two courses scheduled to meet concurrently (but see Repeated Courses in this section).

Other than in exceptional circumstances specified in advance in writing by the dean of studies, a student will not be permitted to register later than the eighth class day of a semester.

Prior to registration, each student must complete payment of fees as specified by the treasurer, who is not authorized to defer such payment. New students must also provide the required health certificate prior to the first day of classes. (See Health Records in the Student Affairs and Campus Life section.)

Adding Courses
Students in any class year are permitted to add courses to their schedules, with the permission of the instructor, during the first eight class days (hereafter referred to as the “add period”) in either semester.

Dropping Courses
All students enrolled full time at Colby may drop courses via the Web through the mid-semester drop date. The specific drop dates for each year are published in Critical Dates, available on the Web or from the Registrar’s Office.

Students’ schedules are available on the Web. It is each student’s responsibility to ensure that his or her registrations are accurate and total at least 12 credits, the minimum for full-time status (see Student’s Program above). Dropped courses will not appear on the student’s permanent record or transcript. Students may not drop a course simply by absenting themselves from its meetings. Absence without formally dropping a course subjects the student to a mark of F in the course.

Withdrawal from Courses
Only first-year students may withdraw from courses until the last day of classes and receive the mark of W. Appropriate forms, approved by advisor and instructors, must be filed with the Registrar’s Office. If at the time of withdrawal the instructor considers the student to be failing, the mark shall be WF (for a conventionally graded course) or WU (for satisfactory/unsatisfactory option). Neither W nor WF nor WU is used in calculating the student’s grade point average but will appear on the transcript.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading
Students may elect a limited number of courses (totaling no more than 16 credits) on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis; these cannot fulfill distribution requirements. Most departments specify that major courses must be taken on a conventionally graded basis.

Forms for declaring satisfactory/unsatisfactory options can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office. The form must be completed and returned by the end of the add period in the semester in which the course is taken or by the end of the drop period for a January course. A satisfactory/unsatisfactory election may be voluntarily revoked by a deadline established for each term. Letter grades submitted by instructors will be converted to S (for grades A through C-) or U before being posted on permanent records; any grade below C- is unsatisfactory and will be recorded as a U on the grade record. The Registrar’s Office cannot release more specific information on the quality of the S, even upon request of the student who earned it.

Repeated Courses
Students with a need to earn a higher grade may repeat a course previously passed; both the first and subsequent enrollments and grades will be permanent entries on the academic record and transcript, and both grades will be used in computing the grade point average. No additional credit will be granted for the repeated course. Exceptions: Some courses build skills or change content in ways that make them repeatable regardless of grades given. Catalogue descriptions for such courses usually include the statement “May be repeated for additional credit.” More-specific information about repeatable courses may be obtained from the chair of the department concerned.

Exemption by Examination
Distribution requirements, as well as certain requirements for the major, may be absolved by examination without course enrollment when appropriate and at the discretion of the department concerned. Matriculated students may earn credit by examination in 100- or 200-level courses to a maximum of 12 hours. Departmental examinations or external examinations approved by the department may be used, with credit given for the equivalent of at least C-level work. The cost of each examination is borne by the student. The College will exempt students from the language requirement for attaining before entrance a score of 640 in an SAT-II Subject Test in a foreign language or for attaining a score of 640 in Colby’s placement test during first-year orientation or for attaining a 6 or 7 in a foreign-language International Baccalaureate higher-level exam or a 7 on a standard-level exam; in those cases, no academic credit will be granted.

Auditing Courses
A matriculated Colby student may arrange to audit courses with the consent of the instructor. No credit is earned, and the audit is not recorded on the student’s permanent record.

An auditor is not permitted to submit papers or perform any other function for which course credit is usually given. For this reason, auditing is seldom permitted in courses where the method of instruction involves significant individual attention and criticism. Under no circumstances can academic credit be given an auditor, nor can an audited course later be converted into an accredited course. The decision whether the course is to be audited or taken for credit must be made at entry.

Individuals who are not matriculated Colby students may register to audit courses at the College. Application to audit must be made with the dean of admissions; if approval is granted, forms for registering to audit specific courses must be filed with the Registrar’s Office. Permission to audit will be withheld if the class is already too large and if auditing applications for it are numerous.

Students are expected to attend all of their classes and scheduled course events in any semester or January and are responsible for any work missed. Failure to attend can lead to a warning, grading penalties, and/or dismissal from the course with a failing grade.

Religious Holidays
Colby is supportive of the religious practices of its students, faculty, and staff. The College is committed to ensuring that all students are able to observe their religious beliefs without academic penalty.

The College will enable any student to make up any course requirements scheduled during a religious holiday that is observed by that student. Students are expected to inform course instructors within two weeks of the beginning of the term of any religious observance that will conflict with course work. The faculty member will then work with the student to find a reasonable accommodation that will allow the student to complete the academic work. In addition, no student will be required to participate in college events such as athletic commitments, lectures, or concerts on these holidays.

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life maintains a list of religious holidays. Faculty are encouraged to consult this list as they plan their courses.

Academic Honesty

Intellectual integrity is a fundamental value of all academic institutions and is at the heart of the teaching, learning, and research activities of the College. Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are serious offenses. Finding an instance of academic dishonesty, the instructor will report the case to the academic integrity coordinator. If the student does not accept responsibility for the charge of academic dishonesty, an investigation will be initiated. The Academic Review Board will review the case and may impose a sanction up to and including suspension or expulsion. The decision of the board shall be final and binding. The report becomes part of the student’s confidential file and is destroyed six years after graduation or the last date of attendance. Students may not drop or withdraw from a course in which they have been found guilty of academic dishonesty (unless approved by the Academic Review Board).

Student accountability for academic dishonesty extends beyond the end of a semester and even after graduation. If Colby determines following the completion of a course or after the awarding of a Colby degree that academic dishonesty has occurred, the College may change the student’s grade in the course, issue a failing grade, and rescind credit for the course and/or revoke the Colby degree.

Students who are found responsible for academic dishonesty in a course, while that course is still in session, are not allowed to complete a course evaluation for that course. Students who are found responsible for academic dishonesty in a course will not be allowed to write a letter for the promotion or tenure of the professor of that course.

Without the approval of all the instructors involved, registration for two or more courses scheduled to meet concurrently is a form of academic dishonesty.

Throughout the semester, at the discretion of the professor, warnings are issued to students. A major warning signifies that a student’s average is below passing. Warnings may also be issued for excessive absence or late or incomplete assignments. Attention is called to the statement on attendance in this section of this catalogue.


Hour Exams and Quizzes
Hour exams will be scheduled with at least one week’s notice. Short quizzes may be given without notice.

Semester Exams
Six days are set aside at the close of each semester for three-hour final exams. The Registrar’s Office schedules the time and place of semester exams in all courses except those that are specifically exempted by the appropriate department chair. An excused absence for a semester exam is granted if:

  1. The instructor gives permission because of illness or grave emergency.
  2. The registrar has been notified (on the appropriate form) of a valid conflict involving three exams on one day, four in consecutive order, or two courses with the same exam number.

A student with three exams scheduled in one day or four exams in sequence may choose the exam to be postponed.

A postponed exam may be taken during the designated make-up period or at another time subsequent to the scheduled exam agreeable to both the student and the instructor. There is no make-up for failed exams.

The mark for the exam may constitute up to half of the total course mark.

A student may obtain marks from instructors, but the only official College record is that maintained in the Registrar’s Office. Grades can be viewed on the Web two weeks following the faculty’s grade reporting deadline; semester reports are released to parents upon explicit request of the student. Grade reports may be withheld for students whose financial obligations to the College have not been met.

In graded courses: Marks are ordinarily posted as A, B, C, D, and F, with + or – appended to grades A through D. A mark below D- means failure. (For points earned, see Quality Requirement in the Academic Requirements section.)

A          Excellent work in meeting the goals of the course, in mastering the course material, in critical analysis, in written and oral communication, or in other forms of creative expression, within the context of the course expectations. (The grade of A+ is awarded only in very rare instances when a student exceeds the highest reasonable expectations for undergraduates.)

B          Very Good to Good work in meeting the goals of the course, in mastering the course material, in critical analysis, in written and oral communication, or in other forms of creative expression, within the context of the course expectations.

C          Satisfactory work in meeting the goals of the course, in mastering the course material, in critical analysis, in written and oral communication, or in other forms of creative expression, within the context of the course expectations.

D          Minimally acceptable work in meeting the goals of the course, in mastering the course material, in critical analysis, in written and oral communication, or in other forms of creative expression, within the context of the course expectations. (While the grade of D counts as a passing grade for any individual course, a student receiving D grades in multiple classes may be at risk of falling below the minimum 2.0 GPA required for graduation.)

F          Seriously deficient work that is not acceptable. No credit is awarded. F may also indicate abandonment of a course without formal withdrawal.

In nongraded courses: For semester courses, CR indicates credit is earned; NC is recorded if credit is not earned. For January courses, CR indicates credit for program; F is recorded if no credit is earned.

Courses offered for January Program credit only (i.e., which fulfill the January Program requirement but carry no credit hours toward graduation) are graded credit (CR) or fail (F).

Incomplete Grades: A mark of I indicates a course not finished for some reason, generally for cases of significant illness or critical emergency. Students must request an I grade by submitting an Incomplete Request Form to the Office of the Registrar before the end of classes. Submitting the form does not guarantee that the request will be granted. The Incomplete request will be considered by the course instructor, in consultation with the class dean and academic advisor. Work to make up a grade of I must be submitted within limits set by the instructor, but no later than the second Monday of Jan Plan for the first semester, February 28 for January courses, or June 10 for the second semester. Grades are due within one week of the work deadline. After these dates, any remaining marks of I will be changed to F. The registrar will send reminder notices one week prior to the deadline to all students whose I marks have not yet been converted. The dean of the college may give limited extensions for the completion of work without penalty, but only for excuses similar to those acceptable for missing a final examination. A student with any mark of I (except in the case of illness or critical emergency as noted by the Dean of Studies Office) is not eligible for Dean’s List.

Changes in Grades: An instructor who wishes to change a semester grade (except I) after the grade reporting deadline must secure approval of such change from the provost/dean of faculty. Any change must be demonstrated to be necessitated by discovery of an error in recording or reporting or must result from a bona fide medical problem as verified by the dean of studies.

Marks of W, WF, and WU indicate withdrawal from a course and represent the student’s standing at the time of withdrawal. W indicates either passing or no basis for judgment. WF indicates failing. WU indicates that the grade would be below C- in a course being taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. These marks are excluded from computation of all averages.

Transcripts are available from the Registrar’s Office upon receipt of a signed request from the student or former student. For current students, a Web-based request form is available. There is no charge for the transcript itself, whether delivered by post or electronically; a fee is assessed for expedited, non-electronic delivery. Transcripts will not be issued for anyone whose financial obligations to the College have not been met.

Academic Review and Standing
The opportunity to continue at Colby is a privilege earned by satisfactory academic achievement. The Committee on Academic Standing reviews the academic records of all enrolled students at the end of each semester to verify satisfactory progress toward the degree. The Office of the Dean of Studies informs students of changes in their academic standing.

  Semester GPA   Semester credits
Good Standing ≥ 2.0 and  ≥ 12
Academic Probation 1.70-1.99 and/or < 12
Academic Dismissal      < 1.70 or < 2.0 while on probation


Academic Probation
Students who earn fewer than 12 credits or a grade point average between 1.70 and 1.99 in any semester will be placed on academic probation. A student will be placed on probation in the major if the major average falls below 2.0 or if there is inadequate progress toward completion of the major. Only when there are compelling extenuating circumstances (e.g., illness, unusual personal problems) is it advisable for a student to carry fewer than 12 credits; such a reduced program must be approved by the dean of studies and may still result in academic probation.

A student who is on probation must earn 12 credits and a C (2.00) average in the subsequent semester to avoid dismissal. The January term will be considered part of the full year’s performance in evaluations made by the committee at the end of the second semester. A student placed on probation in the major must regain or change that major in the subsequent semester. (See Major Requirement in the Academic Requirements section).

Any student on academic probation is required to consult with his/her academic advisor, class dean, and any extracurricular advisor, such as a coach, to discuss whether the student should continue participation in extracurricular activities.

Academic Dismissal
Students who earn less than a 1.70 grade point average in any semester or who do not earn at least 12 credits and a 2.00 grade point average while on probation will be dismissed from the College for one academic year. Students may appeal the decision by submitting a written statement to the Committee on Academic Standing prior to its meetings in mid-January and mid-June (held approximately two weeks after semester grades have been posted). This is the only opportunity to appeal the dismissal.

Students who have been dismissed may, after one year, apply to the committee for reinstatement. Before requesting readmission, the student must earn a B or better in at least two preapproved courses taken at an accredited institution. It is the responsibility of the student to initiate the readmission process by submitting to their class dean a written request, by Dec. 1 for spring semester and by May 1 for a fall semester return. The committee will take favorable action on readmission applications only when satisfied that the factors that led to failure have been adequately addressed and that the student has ample motivation and capacity to earn the degree. Readmission is a privilege, not a right.

Upon a student’s return to the College, his or her records from study elsewhere are subject to review and action by the Committee on Academic Standing. A readmitted student will be on academic probation during the first semester back. A second dismissal is final.

Class Standing

A student’s class standing is determined primarily by the number of full-time semesters completed, but also by credit hours earned.

First-year standing: fewer than two semesters or fewer than 28 credit hours.

Sophomore standing: two or three semesters and 28 to 60 credit hours.

Junior standing: four or five semesters and 61 to 89 credit hours.

Senior standing: six or more semesters and 90 or more credit hours.

Class standing is not automatically changed to a higher level upon the posting of additional credits; students who believe themselves eligible for a change of class year should consult the registrar. Students will be warned if they are not making adequate progress toward the 128 credits needed to graduate.

Transfer Credits

Transferred Credits for Newly Admitted Students
Courses taken at other accredited institutions, not including online courses, in which grades of C or higher have been earned (the courses may not be taken with pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading), may be credited toward the Colby degree under the conditions and circumstances listed below and those specified in Residence Requirement and Quantity Requirement in the Academic Requirements section. All credits presented for transfer toward a Colby degree must be supported by official transcripts issued by the college or university where the credits were earned. Course descriptions and syllabi are helpful and may be required. Transferred grades are not used in computing the grade point average.

  1. When students are admitted by transfer, their records are tentatively evaluated by the registrar to determine the transferable equivalent in Colby courses. These courses are credited subject to confirmation through satisfactory progress at Colby.
  2. College-level courses taken on college campuses with college students prior to matriculation as first-year students are evaluated on the same basis as courses presented by new transfer students, unless the courses were part of a dual enrollment or early college high school program or were used to fulfill high school graduation requirements (in which case the courses may still fulfill distribution requirements and/or serve as prerequisites to higher-level courses).
  3. Refer to Advanced Standing in the Admission section of this catalogue for additional programs in which credit or advanced course placement may be earned.

Transferred Credits for Currently Enrolled (Matriculated) Students
Courses taken at other accredited institutions, not including online courses, in which grades of C or higher have been earned (the courses may not be taken with pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading), may be credited toward the Colby degree under the conditions and circumstances listed below and those specified in Residence Requirement and Quantity Requirement in the Academic Requirements section. All credits presented for transfer toward a Colby degree must be supported by official transcripts issued by the college or university where the credits were earned. Course descriptions and, in some cases, syllabi are required. Transferred grades are not used in computing the grade point average.

  1. Students seeking to transfer credits for full-time study away from Colby must file application forms by the established deadlines with the Office of Off-Campus Study. Approval must be obtained prior to beginning such study. The Office of Off-Campus Study must be notified immediately of any subsequent change in the approved program.
  2. Graded credits earned at an accredited degree-granting institution may be transferred toward a Colby degree by matriculated students, including students dismissed for academic reasons by the Committee on Standing, if approved in writing, prior to enrollment in specific courses at the other institution, by the appropriate College authorities. Forms on which to seek approval can be obtained from the Office of the Registrar. The Registrar’s Office must be notified immediately of any subsequent change in the approved courses.
  3. No student may receive transfer credit for more than nine credit hours taken for the purpose of completing degree requirements after leaving Colby. Credits earned at summer school will not constitute a semester to apply to those required for the Colby degree.

Leave of Absence

Withdrawal from College, Leave of Absence
Students who leave Colby while a semester is in progress are required to withdraw formally, as are students who leave at the end of a semester with no definite plans for return. Students who withdraw are not permitted to return without approval of the dean of studies. Students who withdraw for medical reasons must have the permission of the College physician in order to apply for readmission. Eligibility for initial or continued financial assistance from the College will be subject to review and action by the College’s Office of Student Financial Services.

Students taking a leave of absence must notify the College by the date when course preregistrations are due for the following term.

Students who leave to participate in College-approved student programs elsewhere, or who leave at the end of a semester for a specified period, may take a leave of absence and are not required to obtain special permission in order to return. Courses intended to transfer must be pre-approved (see Transfer Credits).

Students who withdraw or take a leave of absence to serve in the United States military may return without obtaining special permission and without change of academic status, assuming the absence does not exceed five years. Exceptions include veterans who receive a dishonorable discharge, bad conduct charge, or who were court-martialed.

All withdrawals and leaves of absence must be effected officially by filing a form with the dean of studies. The proper exit procedure, which includes the surrendering of residence hall and post office keys, must be followed to be eligible for any refunds that may be due. (See Refunds in the Fees and Charges section). A student who leaves without official notification is not eligible for refunds, which are calculated from the date the withdrawal is approved by the dean of studies.

Students intending to return from a withdrawal or leave of absence must notify the dean of studies of their intent to return by June 1 for a fall return and by November 1 for a January or spring return.