The Undergraduate Experience
Academic Policies & Information
Academic Policies - For detailed information pertaining to current academic policies, please refer to www.mcla.edu/registrar.
Student Handbook - To view a copy of MCLA's Student Handbook, please go to www.mcla.edu/info-for/current-student.
Grading System – Institutional credit is graded on a quality point system based on the following scale:
|Letter Grade||Quality Points|
Listed below are other grade notations that may appear on student records. These grades are not used in computing the quality point average.
- P, PS = Pass*
- I = Incomplete*
- NP = No Pass*
- NR = Not Reported*
- AU = Audit*
- PC = Pass Continue*
- U = Unsatisfactory*
- W = Withdrawal*
- WX = Withdrawal from the College*
*Not reflected in grade point average
Grade Point Average - The grade point average is a numerical indication of the student's academic achievement. It is the quotient of the total quality points earned divided by the total credits attempted for all courses in which grades A through F were received. No quality points are assigned to notations AU, I, NP, P, PS, PC, T, U, W or WX.
Transfer Credit – Credit earned at other accredited institutions and applied toward degree programs at MCLA is awarded based upon equivalency and an earned grade of “C-”, or higher for undergraduate credit; and a grade of “B”, or higher for graduate credit. Transfer credit, MCLA requirement waivers, and experiential credit/prior learning are indicated on the record with a grade of “T” and are not included in the grade point average.
Visit mcla.edu/administration/registrar for information and instructions on ordering official transcripts. No transcript will be issued without the student's written request. An official transcript bears the College seal. Unofficial transcripts can be accessed and printed by students using Self-Service Banner.
Incomplete Contract/Grade Policy
The grade of Incomplete is a temporary grade which may be reported only when a portion of the assigned work, as clearly indicated in the course outline/ syllabus, has not been completed because of the necessary absence of the student or other reason equally satisfactory to the instructor and then only when the instructor judges the work already done by the student to be of passing quality.The obligation rests with the student to request an incomplete. If the instructor approves the request, the instructor and student will sign an Incomplete Contract specifying the nature of the course work to be completed before the deadline specified in the contract. The paperwork must be completed and submitted to the Registrar before the incomplete grade can be recorded.The course work must be completed by a date to be determined by the instructor, said date not to exceed six weeks after the start of the following semester. The "I" is then changed to an appropriate permanent letter grade, or a grade of "F". Grades of "I" disqualify a student for Dean's List designation.
Definition of Credit Hour
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 to not less than:
- One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of 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
- At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition 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.
MCLA in accordance with the federal regulations and commonly accepted practices in higher education operates on a 50-minute hour as it relates to direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two additional hours per week as it relates to other non-direct instructional activities (laboratory, internships, etc.)
Each unit of internship requires a minimum of forty-five (45) hours of on-site experience for each credit hour (See Policy on Internships)
Course Numbering System
Courses are numbered according to the code below. Courses from 100-299 are lower division courses. Courses number 300 and above are upper division courses and call for more advanced work. In general, the higher the course number the more sophisticated the work required. Students must complete at least 39 credits of upper division work in order to graduate.
100-150 First-year/introductory courses
151-299 Normally sophomore-level courses
300-399 Courses requiring a level of work expected of juniors
400-499 Courses requiring a level of work expected of seniors
500-599 Field experience: independent study, internships, student teaching
In general, the higher the course number, the more likely the listing of a prerequisite to successfully perform well in the course. A content or skill prerequisite might be listed where prior conceptual knowledge or an ability level is crucial for success. Other examples of prerequisites might be completion of core courses or an indication of required class status, such as a junior or senior. Courses list prerequisites that are appropriate indicators of the level of preparation needed.
A college is a community of students and faculty interested in the search for knowledge and understanding. This requires a commitment to honesty and integrity. Honesty on the part of every college student is integral to higher education at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Acts of dishonesty are not merely a breach of academic honesty but conflict with the work and purpose of the entire College Community.
Violations of academic honesty include but are not limited to:
- Submitting the work of others as one’s own
- Unauthorized communication during or about an examination
- Use of information (notes, electronic communication, etc.) that is not permitted during exams, tests, quizzes
- Obtaining or disseminating unauthorized prior knowledge of examination questions
- Substitution of another person in an examination
- Altering College academic records
- Knowingly submitting false statements, data, or results
- Submission of identical or similar work in more than one course without the approval of the current instructor
- Collaborating on material after being directed not to collaborate
- Forging a signature or false representation of a College official or faculty member or soliciting an official signature under false pretense
- Other behavior or activities in completing the requirements of a course that are explicitly prohibited by an instructor
- Plagiarism (as defined below)
The academic departments of the College have varying requirements for reporting the use of sources, but certain fundamental principles for the acknowledgment of sources apply to all fields and levels of work. The use of source materials of any kind and the preparation of essays or laboratory reports must be fully and properly acknowledged. In papers or laboratory reports, students are expected to acknowledge any expression or idea that is not their own. Students submitting papers are implying that the form and content of the essays or reports, in whole and in part, represent their own work, except where clear and specific acknowledgement is made to other sources. Even if there is no conscious intention to deceive, the failure to make appropriate acknowledgment may constitute plagiarism. Any quotation - even of a phrase - must be placed in quotation marks and the precise source stated in a note or in the text; any material that is paraphrased or summarized and any ideas that are borrowed must be specifically acknowledged. A thorough reordering or rearrangement of an author’s text does not release the student from these responsibilities. All sources that have been consulted in the preparation of the essay or report should be listed in the bibliography.
Upon an occurrence of alleged academic dishonesty, instructors may exercise their discretion in imposing a sanction. Instructors may also report this sanction to the Registrar or file additional charges against students if they believe that additional sanctions are appropriate. Instructors will notify the Registrar in writing in either or both of the following cases:
- Any acts of academic dishonesty whenever they have imposed a sanction that is beyond the value of the assignment
- The instructor requests that the College take further action.
The Academic Appeals Committee handles reported violations of this policy. The process is detailed in the Academic Appeals Policy.
Academic Appeals Policy
The Academic Appeals Committee will hear academic grievances from and about students enrolled in the undergraduate program. It will also serve as a hearing board for students charged with academic dishonesty.
Procedures for Course Grade Appeal or Academic Suspension
In the event a student wishes to appeal an instructor’s grade, the process for filing an appeal:
- The student will bring a written statement to the instructor explaining in detail all the facts relevant to the appeal. This must be discussed with the instructor. If a decision or resolution acceptable to the student is not reached:
- The instructor shall give the student a written statement of his/her decision, explaining in detail his/her reasons for that decision within one week of meeting with the student.
- The student will then bring both statements to the chair of the academic department sponsoring the course. The chair will read and discuss the statements with the student and consult with the faculty member as appropriate.
- The chair will provide the student with a written statement of his/her decision, recommending support or denial of the case decision within one week of meeting with the student. If a decision or resolution acceptable to the student is not reached:
- All materials will be forwarded to the Dean of Academic Affairs who will read and discuss all the statements with the student and other parties.
- The Dean will forward all information to the Registrar. Meetings of the Academic Appeals Committee will be called as needed by the Registrar. Requests for a hearing before the Academic Appeals Committee must include written statements from all parties as outlined above. Such requests must be made to the Registrar within thirty days of initiating the appeal.
In cases involving appeals of a course grade a student has one month into the following semester to initiate an appeal relating to grades earned in the regular Fall or Spring semesters. In all other cases (e.g. Summer) the student has one month after receipt of the grade to initiate an appeal through the aforementioned channels. No grade appeals can be made after the above deadlines.
In cases involving academic suspension, students wishing to be readmitted must appeal in writing by the date specified in the student’s suspension notice. Forms explaining suspension appeal will be sent to the student at the time of notification.
- Students will submit WRITTEN appeals ONLY.
- The Academic Appeals Committee has the authority over enrollment conditions, including, but not limited to, mandating course selection for students and mandating the number of credits taken per semester.
All students academically suspended from the college must minimally meet the following conditions for readmission:
- At least 6 credits of transferable credit earned during the suspension period with a GPA of at least 2.0.
- A Readmission Approval Form must be completed by the student and approved by the Office of Academic Affairs or its designate, prior to enrolling in classes. Courses must be taken at an accredited institution other than MCLA.
- Students must sit out the following academic semester from MCLA. Students will be allowed to finish any courses in which they are attending classes at the time of suspension. However, such courses will not count for purposes of readmission.
- Other conditions may be imposed by the Academic Appeals Committee or the Office of Academic Affairs or its designate, based on the student’s overall record.
A student academically suspended from MCLA more than twice may appeal and may be eligible for readmission at the discretion of the Academic Appeals Committee.
Appeal Procedures - Academic Honesty
Upon an occurrence of alleged academic dishonesty, the instructor may exercise his/her discretion in imposing a sanction. The instructor may further file charges with the Academic Appeals Committee against the student if he/she believes that additional sanctions would be appropriate.
The instructor must notify the Registrar in writing of any occurrence of academic dishonesty whenever he/she has imposed sanctions. Such notification shall include the student’s name, course title, date of occurrence, type of dishonesty, sanction(s) being imposed, and any further action requested. This notification shall be effected within 14 days after discovery of the incident. A copy of said notice shall be sent to the student involved, including the charges made against the student and the grounds, if proven, that would justify failure or other academic sanctions.
If the student wishes to appeal the sanction imposed by the instructor, the student must initiate an appeal within 14 days after receipt of notification.
The Academic Appeals Committee shall consider as a basis for a hearing that:
- The student claims not to have been academically dishonest.
- The student claims the instructor imposed an inappropriate sanction.
- The nature of the offense merits further action.
In academic dishonesty cases, the committee may receive requests for hearings from students, individual faculty, staff members, or the Registrar.
- A hearing is requested by notifying the Registrar in writing. The Registrar is the Chairperson of the Academic Appeals Committee.
- A faculty or staff member may bring charges against a student when sanctions of grading do not appear appropriate to the faculty or staff member, in light of the academic dishonesty.
- The Registrar must refer cases of second and/or subsequent offenses of academic dishonesty for committee action.
If occurrence does not concern work performed for direct academic credit, the member of the faculty, staff, or administration filing charges shall maintain all supporting documentation and shall notify the Registrar of the suspected violation(s). The Registrar will then institute the established college procedure for dealing with violations of academic ethics.
Upon request for a hearing, it is the duty of the Registrar as chairperson of the Appeals Committee to schedule such a hearing within 30 days if school is in session. All parties to the case shall receive written notification of the hearing 7 days in advance, including date, time, and place. The student should be given the names of witnesses and an oral or written report on the facts to which each witness shall testify, so that the student may prepare a defense.
The student may elect to waive his/her right to a hearing before the Appeals Committee, and admit to the charge(s) addressed. In such cases the committee will then proceed to the assessment of the appropriate sanction.
The Appeals Committee may recommend the following sanctions for cases involving Academic Dishonesty:
- Academic Reprimand, which consists of a notice placed in the official file in the Registrar’s Office. The Academic Appeals Committee may recommend that such notice remain on file for up to five years.
- Current semester dismissal for the semester in which the offense was committed. Grades of “WX” will be recorded on the courses no matter when the sanction is imposed; however, the instructor of the course in which the academic dishonesty occurred may exercise his/her option of assigning an “F” in that course.
- Semester dismissal both for the semester in which the academic dishonesty occurred and the following semester.
- A student who has been dismissed or suspended from classes may not enroll in any course offered by the college.
If a student is dismissed for academic dishonesty, the student’s transcript will state that the student was dismissed for academic dishonesty and will indicate the date on which the student was dismissed. The student may petition the Vice President of Academic Affairs five years after the date of dismissal to have this statement removed from his/her academic transcript.
Students will be informed in writing of any sanction imposed on them by the Academic Appeal Committee.
A student who has been dismissed from the college for academic dishonesty may appeal for readmission. The Office of Academic Affairs or its designate may determine additional conditions of readmission.
If a student has been academically dismissed from MCLA more than twice for repeated violation of the academic honesty policy, the student is ineligible for readmission.
Appeal hearings will be closed to all but the student and/or faculty involved. Either party involved in the case may petition the Committee in writing, within 24 hours prior to the hearing, to allow students and/or faculty members involved in the case to participate in or sit in during the hearing. Petitions will be approved at the discretion of the Academic Appeals Committee.
Either party to a grade or academic honesty appeal may testify on their own behalf.
The Committee reserves the right to allow the faculty member involved to hear the student’s testimony.
The student has the option to stay and hear the testimony of the faculty member and any other witnesses. The student will then be given an opportunity to respond to the testimony of those witnesses.
The Committee will entertain a written petition for rehearing only in exceptional instances in which either party can demonstrate significant new factual information.
The Academic Appeals Committee reserves the right not to hear an appeal in any case where data is not sufficient, the necessary steps have not been followed or when jurisdiction is not clear.
The membership of the Academic Appeals Committee hearing Academic Suspension Appeals shall consist of:
- Two faculty members appointed by the President of the Faculty Association for a two year term
- One faculty member appointed by the President of the Faculty Association for a three year term
- An MCLA Administrator
- The Dean of Academic Affairs
- The Registrar shall act as Chair — voting only in the event of a tie
- The Dean of Academic Affairs or the Office of Academic Affairs or its designate, shall act as Chairperson in the absence of the Registrar.
Membership of the committee hearing Grade Appeals and/or Academic Dishonesty Appeals shall consist of all members listed above as well as two students chosen from the college judicial board pool by the Office of Student Affairs. If necessary, other appropriate students will be selected by the Registrar.
A quorum shall be at least two faculty and one administrator for suspension appeals (in addition, one student for grade and dishonesty appeals).
In all cases any action requires a majority of those present.
Voting will be by secret ballot.
Any member of the committee who is involved in a particular case may not participate in that case.
Reports of the Committee Decisions
In all cases the Committee’s recommendations along with all pertinent documents will be forwarded to the Vice President of Academic Affairs for their recommendation. The Committee’s and the Vice President’s recommendations will be forwarded to the President for final approval. If requested, the President will provide written rationale to either party involved in the case.
The Registrar shall record all sanctions imposed for academic dishonesty by the instructor and by the President unless there is a finding of acquittal. In the case of acquittal, the record of the charge will be deleted from the files.
- Such records of sanctions shall be maintained by the Registrar separately from the permanent file, and will be made available to the Admissions Office should the student apply for readmission.
- All such records shall be destroyed upon graduation or five years from the last date of attendance.
- In the specific instance of a student dismissed from the college for academic dishonesty such records shall remain permanently on file, unless petition is made to the Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Further information regarding instructor and student rights and responsibilities and appropriate procedures to be followed in applying this policy may be obtained from the Office of the Dean of Academic Affairs or the Registrar.
Academic Standing Policy
A student's cumulative MCLA GPA, combined with credits earned, will determine the academic standing category at the end of each semester according to the following standards:
- 0-30 earned credits1:
- Academic Good Standing: MCLA cumulative GPA of 2.000 or above
- Academic Probation: MCLA cumulative CPA of 1.500-1.999
- Academic Suspension: MCLA cumulative GPA under 1.500
- 31-75 earned credits1:
- Academic Good Standing: MCLA cumulative GPA of 2.000 or above
- Academic Probation: MCLA cumulative GPA of 1.750-1.999
- Academic Suspension: MCLA cumulative GPA under 1.750
- 76 and above earned credits1:
- Academic Good Standing: MCLA cumulative GPA of 2.000 or above
- Academic Probation: no probation
- Academic Suspension: MCLA cumulative GPA under 2.000
Earned credits includes transfer credits and MCLA credits (at the 100 level and higher) in which a passing grade was earned.
Students who are suspended and successfully appeal their suspension will be so designated by a separate category of academic standing that reflects academic probation following a successful appeal of an academic suspension. The following designations reflect MCLA's Policy on Academic Standing in accordance with a student's cumulative MCLA GPA:
- Academic Good Standing - cumulative GPA of 2.00
- Academic Probation - student on academic probation
- Academic Probation following Appeal - appeal of suspension approved
- Academic Suspension - student academically suspended
- Academic Dismissal - student dismissed (permanently) from MCLA
A student with a GPA less than 2.0 but a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or greater will be issued an Academic Warning. A letter of Academic Warning will be sent to the student and copied to the student's advisor explaining the potential consequences of poor academic performance (including successive semesters of Academic Warning or future Academic Probation or Academic Suspension). For each semester in which an Academic Warning is received, the student must meet with his or her academic advisor and complete an Academic Success Plan, which will be submitted to Advising Services for review and appropriate referrals.
A student who fails to achieve a 2.0 cumulative GPA, while achieving a GPA higher than the Academic Suspension cutoff will be placed on Academic Probation. A student on Academic Probation or Academic Probation Following Appeal must adhere to certain conditions designed to promote academic success. These conditions may include:
- Course load of not more than 15 credits
- Academic schedule changes to allow repeat courses
- Meetings with an academic advisor, learning services, and/or advising services to complete an Academic Success Plan that will monitor student progress
- Attendance at academic success workshops (e.g. study skills, time management, etc.)
- Restrictions on certain extracurricular activities as determined by the Office of Academic Affairs or its designate (for the first semester on Academic Probation, a student will remain eligible for participation in extracurricular activities unless individual departments or activities have higher standards).
Class Attendance Policy
Students are expected to attend all of their classes. They must also be aware of course requirements. In the event of planned absences, students must notify instructors in advance. In the case of unplanned absences, students should notify their instructors as soon as possible. In both cases, students will work with instructors to craft a plan to make up the work in a manner that satisfies the learning objective in a reasonable timeframe. Students who expect to be absent from classes for more than three class periods should contact the Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) for help notifying their instructors.
Absences of students from scheduled classes will be considered excused for the following reasons:
- Participation as a representative of the College in a scheduled intercollegiate athletic event. It will be the responsibility of the athletic department to notify instructors of the student's participation and absence in advance of the anticipated absence.
- Participation as a representative of the College in a scheduled intercollegiate club competition or professional/academic conference, travel courses, or field trips scheduled as part of a course. The club must be a recognized campus club. It will be the responsibility of the club advisor or the sponsoring academic/administrative department to notify the student's instructors of the student's participation and absence in advance of such absence.
- Health and/or disability-related absences, or absences resulting from other extenuating circumstances, for which a valid reason is presented. It is the faculty member's decision when verifying the validity of a health and/or disability-related excuse to determine if it is acceptable. In the case of an instructor holding concerns or feeling unqualified to make a correct judgment about a student's absence, the Dean of Academic Affairs will make a determination in consultation with the Dean of Student Success and Engagement.
- Any student of the College who is unable, because of his or her religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study or work requirement shall be excused from any such examination or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement, provided that it shall not create and unreasonable burden upon the College
If a student believes their grade has been incorrectly penalized as a result of an absence, they may pursue an appeal through the College's existing undergraduate grade appeal policy.
Off Campus Study Policy
Students at MCLA may enroll in coursework at other accredited institutions concurrent with their enrollment at MCLA or during semesters they may be away from the College (e.g. study abroad or domestic study away programs). All such course enrollments must be approved in advance by the student's major department and the Registrar using the Request for Off-Campus Study Approval form (or the Request for Study Away Course Approval form).
Consistent with MCLA's transfer credit policy, students receive equivalent credit for courses in which a grade of C- or above, or its equivalent in the case of study abroad courses, is earned. Transfer grades are not included in the student's cumulative grade point average at MCLA.
This policy also applies to students who plan to take courses off campus while on leave from MCLA or who are withdrawn from the College and are planning to apply for readmission.
Credit for Learning Experiences Outside of MCLA
The College recognizes that significant learning occurs outside the formal academic experience at MCLA, through community activities, military service, or other study. Students may receive credit for such experiences through a number of programs that are detailed below.
Academic credit will be awarded for students achieving certain standards on the following assessments:
International Baccalaureate (IB) Program
The IB program is a standardized curriculum which is offered in many countries, including the U.S. After 2 years of advanced study, students take external exams called higher level (HL) exams in their area of intensive study which are scored using a scale of 1-7, with 7 being the highest score. MCLA recognizes both the IB Diploma and Certificates. The College will award 6 to 8 credits for each higher level exam passed with a score of 4 or better. (Eight credits are awarded in the sciences and six credits are awarded in all other subject areas.) For more information, please contact the Registrar's office at 413-662-5216 or email@example.com.
Advanced Placement (AP) Program
Sponsored by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), the AP program offers students the opportunity to earn college credits. The standardized AP exam usually is taken upon completion of a specific course of study in high school. The College will grant credit for an AP score of 3 or higher. An official copy of the CEEB report must be sent to the MCLA Office of Admission for evaluation. For more information, please contact the Registrar's office at 413-662-5216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
Sponsored by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), the College Level Examination Program provides standardized tests across a diverse array of college-level courses. The Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) maintains a list of the MCLA course equivalents (core and departmental) for CLEP exams. For each CLEP examination awarding 3 or 6 credits, MCLA requires a minimum score of 50, representing the mean test score of students who earn a C in the corresponding college level course. For students seeking 12 credits in foreign language, the following scores are required: French 62, German 63, Spanish 66. For more information, please contact CSSE at 413-662-5400 or email@example.com.
Prior Learning Credit Policy*
Students can earn up to 30 credits for learning experiences outside of college. To apply for these credits, students develop a portfolio documenting life experiences (work, community, military service, etc.). The content of the portfolio must be consistent with the educational goals and outcomes of specific courses or general areas of study. An initial meeting with the Coordinator of Advising Services is held to discuss the nature and extent of the experiential learning for which credit is sought. The student must also submit a 2-3 page summary of experiences to Advising Services. Students should also meet with appropriate department chairs, particularly when seeking substantial credits in a single academic area.
The prior learning process involves the completion of a portfolio, including a reflective narrative that describes the experience and the learning that took place. Appropriate documentation is required to support the student's explanation of the overall value of the experience as well as specific skills, abilities, and knowledge that were gained. Students seeking prior learning credit must also enroll in MCLA's Experiential Credit Portfolio Preparation and Writing (ENGL 395) course to provide additional support and assistance with the process. The ENGL 395 requirement may be waived by the Coordinator of Advising Services based on factors such as demonstrated writing proficiency, the nature of the portfolio's content, and/or the number of credits being sought.
The completed portfolio is submitted to Advising Services along with the application sheet. Advising Services transmits the portfolio to the appropriate academic department(s) for faculty review by the department chair(s) or his/her designee(s). Evaluators will make a recommendation of the number and distribution of credits awarded. These recommendations are reviewed by the Coordinator of Advising Services and then transmitted to the Dean of Academic Studies who makes the final decision. [A $100 per credit fee is assessed prior to posting the credits to the student's MCLA academic record.]
Credit for Physical Education Experiences - Students seeking credits for 1 or 2 physical education experiences (e.g., First Aid/CPR and lifeguard certifications, individual physical wellness activities) that occur outside of MCLA should submit a completed application along with their documentation to the Coordinator of Advising Services for review and approval by the Physical Education department. [A $25 processing fee will be assessed for this services.]
Credits awarded through the IB program, the AP program, CLEP, and Prior Learning are not included in the 45 credits that must be taken at MCLA to earn a degree from the College
Leave of Absence Policy
A leave of absence up to two semesters may only be granted to students who are matriculated, in good academic standing, and in good financial standing. Students taking a leave of absence are expected to discuss this decision with their academic advisor and work with their advisor to determine appropriate steps to complete their degree program.
Students must contact the Office of the Registrar if they are not returning from their leave as anticipated (by December 1 for the Spring semester and by August 1 for the Fall semester). A student taking a one-semester leave of absence may extend the leave for a second semester through a written request to the Registrar.
Students who do not return within two semesters (two semesters without grades) will be withdrawn from the College and will need to apply for readmission.
Students processing a leave prior to the last day of classes will have a notation of WX on their record for that semester.
Students with financial aid who take a leave of absence will be treated as a withdrawn student for financial aid purposes, based on the College Refund policy calculation. Students who have borrowed through a state and/or federal loan program will be required to complete the online exit counseling for the appropriate programs. Student loan repayment will begin six months after the date of the leave from the College. Students should check with their loan services for deferment eligibility once they return to school. When a student returns from leave, they may have to complete a satisfactory academic progress appeal for financial aid, depending on when their date of leave occurred. Students will be considered for aid based on the funds available at the time of their return.
Residential students: Please note that the Residency Occupancy Agreement states that a resident student who withdraws from the College during the period covered by that Agreement must turn in keys, remove belongings, and arrange for a room inspection within 24 hours from the effective date of the withdrawal/leave. Students processing a leave with an effective date on a weekend will have their meal plan deactivated the Friday before the effective date.
Students are encouraged to meet with Student Financial Services to address any questions related to the leave of absence.
Withdrawal from Course and College Policy
W - Withdrawal from a Course - Indicates withdrawal from a course after the end of the drop period and up to 50% completion point of the course. Courses that do not run the full semester will have withdrawal deadlines that adhere to the 50% completion point. It is the responsibility of the student to be aware of all deadlines for withdrawal. No withdrawals for individual courses may be made past the withdrawal deadline.
Students leaving the College must complete a Withdrawal from College form and a brief online survey. Students officially withdrawing before the first day of final examinations will receive a notation of WX in all courses. After this time, students will receive a final grade in all courses.
In adherence to best reporting practices, if a student withdraws from all individual courses during a semester, the student's record will reflect that they have withdrawn from college and must apply for readmission. This is necessary due to financial aid implications and National Student Clearinghouse reporting.
Residential Students: Please note that the Residency Occupancy Agreement states that a resident who withdraws from the College during the period covered by that Agreement must turn in keys, remove belongings, and arrange for a room inspection within 24 hours from the effective date of the withdrawal/leave. Students processing a withdrawal with an effective date on a weekend will have their meal plan deactivated on the Friday before the effective date.
Students are encouraged to meet with Student Financial Services to address any questions related to withdrawals.
Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE)
CSSE is guided by the philosophy that MCLA is a community defined by collaborative relationships designed to assist, educate, and empower students. This involves communicating clear expectations to students, setting appropriate aspirational goals, and connecting students with programs and services to support their efforts in reaching those goals. For more information, please go to mcla.edu/student-services/csse.
The following are key services that form the Center for Student Success and Engagement:
- Advising Services
- Career Services
- Academic Support and Disability Resources
- Success Coaching
- Undeclared Program
Advising Services is the primary academic resource on campus to empower students to make informed academic, career and life decisions. Staff assist students with academic program information (including core curriculum), registration, schedule adjustments, prior learning credits, off campus study approvals, leadership opportunities, and general academic difficulties. All undeclared students receive academic advising with staff in Advising Services. For more information, please go to: mcla.edu/advising.
Career Services provides students and alumni with the necessary professional development tools and skills to prepare for any post-undergraduate transition. The Office of Career Services assists with the decision-making process in the areas of career exploration and discovery, graduate school preparation, and job searching. Career Services also facilitates the development of significant connections between students/alumni and employers. Through partnering with the academic departments, Career Services strongly encourages and promotes the value of internships as a demonstrable way for students to prepare for future employment opportunities. By working closely with the Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations, Career Services introduces current students to alumni who are able to share their professional experiences. These networking opportunities offer valuable insight into various career paths and industries. For more information, please go to: mcla.edu/career-services.
The Office of Academic Support and Disability Resources welcomes students in the areas of academic support and accommodations for students with disabilities.
Academic Support is committed to offering students various academic resources to support students' goals. From first year to graduate students, all are encouraged to seek assistance in improving their academic skills. Academic Support coordinates the following:
- Small group tutorials led by qualifies peers are available in many classes. Requests are submitted during the first eight weeks of a semester. If a student, after consultation with their instructor, continues to have difficulty in a course, it is appropriate to request a tutorial. Students can request a tutor online through Self-Service Banner.
- Supplemental Instruction (SI) is provided to increase student performance in traditionally difficult classes. SI Leaders are upper-class students who have previous experience in the targeted courses. Working in collaboration with faculty and Academic Support, they help students develop study strategies to enhance understanding of course content. SI Leaders attend class with the students and run learning sessions on a weekly basis to support academic success in the course.
- Study Skills Workshops are offered throughout the semester and include time management and organizational strategies.
- Academic Skills Center boosts excellent study skill resources as well as 1:1 consultation by appointment with academic support staff. For additional information, please see: mcla.edu/student-services/academic-support.
For more information on Academic Support, please see: mcla.edu/academicsupport.
Disability Resources works with students individually to determine accommodations that are appropriate and reasonable. If a student qualifies for disability services, an individualized accommodation plan is developed to address documented needs and facilitate equal access. Our philosophy and programs assist eligible students in fostering independence in college to the fullest extent possible, embracing self-advocacy and developing skills to transition and succeed in their careers. For further information or to inquire about accommodations, please call 413-662-5314 or visit the website at mcla.edu/student-services/disability-resources.
Applying a holistic approach, CSSE success coaching helps committed MCLA students develop skills, behaviors and habits that contribute to student success in college. These areas include college, career and life readiness skills such as: academic and career goal setting, learning strategies, time management, organization, self-regulation and self-efficacy. The Success Coaching program is designed to promote a positive and successful learning experience for MCLA students. For further information about CSSE Success Coaching, please call 413-662-5400.
The Undeclared Program is designed to support students who have not declared a major. The program engages students with a variety of experiences designed to encourage informed decisions when choosing a major. These include working with academic advisors and exploring academic and career services. For further information, please contact CSSE/Advising at 413-662-5400.
MCLA students must declare a major program of study by the time they have earned 60 credits. Transfer students entering MCLA with 60 or more credits must declare a major after the completion of their second semester at MCLA. Students have the responsibility of completing all requirements for their chosen major regardless of when the major is declared. Students already in a major may become Undeclared if they wish to explore other majors.
Student Support Centers
The Writing Studio
The Writing Studio is a space where writers collaborate and create. Trained peer Writing Associates will collaborate with writers at any stage of the writing process: from understanding assignments and brainstorming ideas to planning, revising and polishing final drafts. Students, faculty and staff can sign up for a one-hour in-person or online writing appointment at mcla.edu/writingstudio.
The Math Help Drop-In Center
The Math Help Drop-In Center is a friendly, judgment-free place where any MCLA student (and even faculty/staff!) can get online help with any math question from any course, by trained peer tutors who will help you build your skills and confidence in math, no matter where you're starting from. No appointment needed - come by Room 101 in the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation, and make sure you check out our website for helpful tips and our current hours of operation: mcla.edu/mathcenter.
College Academic Program Sharing (CAPS)
CAPS is a program for sharing academic programs among Massachusetts state universities. It offers access to the academic resources of another state university while maintaining degree status at MCLA. A student may take up to 30 semester hours of credit through the CAPS program. A minimum GPA of 2.0 must be achieved in this coursework. To qualify for CAPS, a student must first earn at least 30 credits at MCLA and have a minimum GPA of 2.0. For further information about CAPS, please contact the Registrar's Office at 413-662-5216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cross-Enrollment at Berkshire Community College/Williams College
A limited number of matriculated students enrolled full-time and in good academic standing may register without additional tuition at Williams College or Berkshire Community College for courses not offered by MCLA. Interested students should consult the Registrar's Office at 413-662-5216 or email@example.com.
First-Year Experience (FYE)
The "First-Year Experience" is a strategically integrated approach to help support and prepare students for the transition from high school to college. The MCLA Onboarding Process, Orientation, Academies, and the First 8 Weeks programs are designed to enhance meaningful participation in academics and co-curricular social life. This experience will foster students' enthusiasm for learning and create a sense of belonging in the MCLA Community.
FIRST 8 WEEKS
The First 8 Weeks program is designed to provide students with the skills and resources needed to be successful inside and outside the classroom. Students who participate in these programs will be academically supported, connected to their major, life, and career, and involved in co-curricular life on campus.
FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR (FSEM)
All first-year students will take a First-Year Seminar (FSEM) course. These student-centered courses will introduce first-year students to the rigors - and excitement - of college-level inquiry and to the principles of integrative thought, while also leaving time to discuss learning strategies central to academic success.
Independent Study is advanced-level coursework in a subject area not covered in depth by the normal course offerings of an academic department. It should provide within its own structure a valuable experience of independent research, analysis, and reporting which will enhance the student's grasp of their subject field, and entail the requisite motivation, skills, and discipline of independent work. Independent Study should provide new and unique objectives consistent with the academic program of the student.
Independent Study proposals are to be developed jointly by the instructor and the student. The learning objectives are to be carefully considered and identified in the proposal. The method by which the student will evaluate the learning experience and by which the instructor will evaluate the student must be indicated. It is imperative that instructors evaluate whether the student is able to work independently and will benefit scholastically from such a study.
Students are limited to a maximum of 12 credit hours of independent study and independent research credit, combined. Independent Studies may be taken for variable credit, and require approval of the Independent Study instructor, Chair of the credit-granting department, the student's advisor, and the Dean of Academic Affairs. Application for an Independent Study requires that a student be a matriculate junior or senior, with the exception of freshman and sophomores whose readiness is specifically demonstrated on the Independent Study application.
The amount of credit to be earned in an Independent Study course is to be determined by the instructor at the time the proposal is submitted, and may vary from one to three credits, depending upon the number of objectives identifies in the proposal, and the degree of difficulty, or complexity, as judged by the instructor.
The number of credits is not to be changed at the end of the study period because the student failed to meet all of the objectives which were identifies in the proposal. The grading system cited in the college catalog is designed to provide for this.
An internship is a new learning experience, for credit, provided for selected and specially prepared individuals who aspire to become professional practitioners, apply their academic skills and knowledge to work environments, and explore vocations. It is an experience of "reality" in which the knowledge, the skills, and the judgment of the intern are put into play in solving problems which characterize professional practice.
Each academic department may establish an internship course according to the college-wide policies for new course development. Once established, students may apply to take the course for credit under the guidance of a faculty sponsor from the credit-granting department, who will serve as the instructor of record for the course.
A faculty sponsor will be responsible for evaluating individual student readiness for the experience, maintaining regular communication with both the student and external organization during the internship, in order to identify and address challenges as they arise; and evaluating student success at the end of the internship.
- Internship opportunities are reserved for matriculated juniors and seniors, with the exception of freshman and sophomores whose readiness is specifically demonstrated on the internship application. Students must also have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Academic departments have the option to require higher GPAs and/or to restrict enrollment based on class status.
- No more than fifteen (15) credit hours of internship can count toward a degree. Programmatic exemptions to the credit hour limit require approval of the governance process.
- A minimum of forty-five (45) hours of on-site experience are required for each credit hour.
- The internship must be a new learning experience. If the internship is within an organization or location where the student has previous experience, the application must demonstrate how the intern position differs from previous experience.
- The credit-granting department may establish reasonable additional criteria for accepting students as interns, and also have the option of offering the internship on a pass/fail basis.
- An internship application, completed in consultation with the faculty sponsor, will require the following information:
- The educational and experiential objective of the internship
- The on-site work to be completed during the internship
- The number of hours of on-site work
- The number of credits requested and method of grading
- Any information regarding prior experience relative to the internship
- A plan for evaluating the internship experience
- The completed proposal must be approved by the student, faculty sponsor, Chairperson of the credit-granting department, the student's academic advisor, and the Dean of Academic Affairs.
- Each internship must contain a writing component, evaluation by the site director/supervisor, and a final evaluation by the faculty sponsor.
One of the ways MCLA explores its Liberal Arts mission is to foster a cohort of passionate students - students who are intellectually engages with each other and the world, who love books, writing, and learning for their own sakes, whose curiosity ranges beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries, and who crave intellectual challenges. The Honors program aims to offer a home for such students. The idea behind Honors at MCLA is not that you are undertaking more work, but that the work you undertake is more interesting. Learn more at mcla.edu/honors.
The Washington Center
Juniors and seniors may participate in an intensive internship program available during the summer or academic semesters, combining coursework, career workshops and networking, and seminars with an internship in Washington, D.C. For more information, call 413-662-5389 or visit www.twc.edu.
National Student Exchange
Through the National Student Exchange (NSE), students can study for one semester or up to one calendar year at one of nearly 200 participating colleges and universities within the United States and its territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands) and Canada. For more information, call 413-662-5389 or visit www.nse.org.
Students in all majors have the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or a year. MCLA is affiliated with International Studies Abroad (ISA), Center for International Studies Abroad (CIS Abroad), and Semester at Sea. Study abroad programs are available in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Australia. For more information, call 413-662-5389 or visit www.studiesabroad.com, www.cisabroad.com, or www.semesteratsea.org.
MCLA offers travel courses during January and March. Recent trips have included travel to China, England, France, Ireland, Japan, Peru, and Spain. MCLA's travel courses are academic courses that also meet regularly on campus before and following travel. They include a normal academic experience of reading, research, and reporting. The courses are typically junior-level, carry three upper-level credits toward graduation, and are an excellent opportunity to combine travel and study. For more information, visit mcla.edu/academics/undergraduate-education/travel-courses.
Undergraduate Research Program
The Undergraduate Research Program encompasses independent scholarly and creative activity by students in the arts, humanities, and sciences. This program supports students with independent study opportunities in many disciplines, small research and travel grants, and a dynamic campus-wide Annual Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) for presenting their work. For more information, visit mcla.edu/academics/undergraduate-education/undergraduate-research.
- The core curriculum requirements must be completed.
- The requirements for the student's major must be completed (student must be matriculated).
- A minimum grade point average of 2.000 overall and 2.000 in the major program requirements must be earned.
- A minimum grade point average of 2.000 in the minor program requirement must be earned.
- A minimum of 45 credits must be completed at MCLA; a minimum of one half of the courses in a student's major must be taken through MCLA.
- At least 120 credits, including the major program credits, must be earned. No more than five credits can be fulfilled by personal fitness/skills courses in physical education.
- A student's final 15 credits of coursework must be completed at MCLA.
- At least 39 of the 120 credits must be in upper-division work (300-500 level).
- A graduation requirement of two credits of physical education must be earned.
- Application for graduation must be filed with the Registrar's Office.
Graduation Participation Policy
MCLA requires that students must complete all graduation requirements by the end of the academic year in order to participate in the spring graduation ceremony. In the case of demonstrable circumstance preventing a student's timely completion of all requirements for graduation, exceptions may be granted by the Dean of Academic Affairs, on a case-by-case basis, under the following conditions:
- The student has a minimum GPA of 2.0, and;
- The student's remaining number of untaken classes and/or incompletes does not exceed six credits, or in the case of unfinished lab courses, a maximum of eight credits, and;
- The Dean of Academic Affairs may choose to grant the exception, provided the student has demonstrated the ability to complete all remaining coursework by August 31, or by the end of the fall semester in the case of student teaching; in exceedingly limited circumstances and at their discretion, the Dean of Academic Affairs may approve an extension of these deadlines to either the end of the following Fall semester or the next offering of the course(s). If additional courses must be taken, student must submit verification of enrollment in summer courses to the Dean before the exception will be granted. If unfinished requirements consist of either Incompletes of non-credit bearing requirements, the student must submit written completion agreements with the supervising faculty member and/or Department Chair to the Dean before the exception will be granted.
MCLA Scholar Program
A growing number of MCLA students engage in significant independent scholarly work during their undergraduate years with little formal recognition of their achievements. The purpose of this program is to recognize the outstanding work of these students by conferring the MCLA Scholar designation at graduation and on their official college transcripts. This designation will assist students in their future career and educational endeavors. This program will also provide clear standards for independent work and scholarship which prospective and current students can aspire and work towards.
- At least two semesters (minimum of 6 credits) of Independent Study or equivalent experience in one academic discipline. This work must be independent, substantive, and conducted under the supervision of a faculty mentor.
- Evidence of professional scholarship in the form of one of the following: a presentation at the MCLA Undergraduate Research Conference, a presentation at a regional/national undergraduate or professional conference, a public art show, exhibit, or performance, or work on art commissions.
- Application by the student. The deadlines will coincide with the graduation application deadlines in the Fall and Spring of each academic year.
- A minimum GPA of 3.30 or the equivalent of the cum laude graduation honor.
- A letter of support from the independent student faculty advisor. A review committee of two faculty (from different disciplines and selected from individuals serving on the Undergraduate Research Advisory Board) and the Dean of Academic Affairs will review all the applications and letters to confer the MCLA Scholar designation. The MCLA Scholar designation should also be indicated on the students' official transcript.
Honor Societies and Special Recognitions
ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, Native American)
ALANA students are presented with a traditional African Kente cloth scarf as part of graduation ceremonies. Kente cloth was first produced by the Ashanti people of Ghana in Southwest Africa to honor kings and queens. Kente cloth was worn during ceremonial events and special occasions and, therefore, denotes the formal nature of earning the baccalaureate.
Colors: Kente Cloth
All Academic Scholar Athletes (Athletics)
All Academic Scholar Athlete designation is awarded to graduating student-athletes who have competed in intercollegiate athletics during their senior year and who have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher.
Colors: Gold sash with MCLA and MASCAC insignias
Alpha Chi National Honor Society is a coeducational academic honor society which recognizes and promotes academic excellence among college and university students of all disciplines to encourage a spirit of service and leadership, and to nurture the elements of character that make scholarship effective for good.
Colors: Gold Medallion on a Blue and Green Cord
Alpha Lambda Delta (First Year)
Alpha Lambda Delta is a national honor society that honors academic excellence during a student's first year in College. Its purpose is to encourage superior academic achievement among students in the first year, to promote intelligent living and a high standard of learning, and to assist students in recognizing and developing meaningful goals for their roles in society.
Colors: Gold, Red, White Cords
Chi Alpha Sigma (National College Athlete Honor Society)
Chi Alpha Sigma recognizes college student-athletes who earn a varsity letter in at least one sport while maintaining a 3.4 or higher cumulative GPA throughout their junior and senior years.
Colors: Bronze Medallion
Delta Mu Delta (Business)
Delta Mu Delta is a business honor society that recognizes and encourages academic excellence of students at qualifying colleges and universities to create a DMD community that fosters the well-being of its individual members and the business community through lifetime membership. The Zeta Zeta chapter of Delta Mu Delta was established at MCLA in 1992.
Colors: Purple, Gold Cords
Phi Alpha Theta (History)
Phi Alpha Theta is a professional society for promoting the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of ideas among historians. It brings students, teachers, and writers of history together both intellectually and socially.
Colors: Madonna Red and Blue with Multi-Colors Tassel Cords
Pi Gamma Mu (Sociology; Anthropology; Social Work; Child and Family Studies; Criminal Justice; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies)
Pi Gamma Mu is the oldest international honor society in the social sciences. Founded in 1924, its mission is to recognize excellence in social science scholarship, nurture leadership, and foster cooperation among its members. The blue and white cords stand for truth and light. The society's insignia represents social science knowledge production to understand and address social problems.
Colors: Blue and White Cords
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science)
Pi Sigma Alpha is the only honor society for college students of political science in the United States. Its purpose is to stimulate scholarship and interest in the area of government and politics.
Colors: Red, White, and Black Multi-Colored Tassel Cords
Psi Chi (Psychology)
Psi Chi is the national honor society in psychology, founded in 1929 for the purposes of encouraging, stimulating, and maintaining excellence in scholarship and advancing the science of psychology. Psi Chi is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and is affiliated with both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, the professional societies for psychologists in the United States.
Colors: Gold and Blue Cords
Rho Pi Sigma
Rho Pi Sigma is the MCLA chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH). Rho Pi Sigma honors and recognizes outstanding members of the MCLA residence area system and promotes a higher quality and standard of involvement and interaction within the residence area communities. Membership is limited to 20 individuals, and selection is based on the demonstration of exceptional leadership within the residence areas, a good record of campus citizenship, and active membership on a Residential Programs & Services (RPS) advisory board or committee.
Colors: Blue, White Cords
Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics)
Sigma Pi Sigma is the national honor society in physics. Founded in 1921, Sigma Pi Sigma exists to honor outstanding scholarship in physics, to encourage interest in physics among students at all levels, to promote an attitude of service, and to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics.
Colors: White and Green Cord
Sigma Tau Delta (English)
Sigma Tau Delta is an international English honor society established in 1924 to confer distinction for high achievement in English language, literature, and writing. It is the second largest member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS).
Colors: Red and Black
Student Philanthropy Program
The Student Philanthropy Cords represent a student's dedication and commitment to MCLA through their first philanthropic donation to the College toward their Senior Class Gift or other area of their choice. One of the College's core values is to instill a culture of giving back. Graduates who wear the blue and gold cords during Commencement are showing pride in this Institution and making a difference in the lives of future Trailblazers.
Colors: Blue and Gold Cord
Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Minor
This minor explores how gender and sexuality are socially, culturally, and historically constructed, negotiated, and contested; considers the feminist perspective in a variety of contexts; and approaches women, gender, and sexuality studies from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Colors: Purple Cords