Apr 21, 2024  
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Standards and Administrative Requirements

Academic Standards and Administrative Requirements

UMBC’s standards and requirements on academic matters are subject to change.

The academic policies found in this section are intended to support the primary purpose of a university - the acquisition of knowledge - by establishing standards of student performance and acceptable conditions for attending UMBC.

As such, these policies represent the values of the university as developed over time and customarily are enforced vigorously by its faculty and staff. The uniform application of policy affords equitable treatment of students and further, by holding them to high standards, enhances the stature of UMBC and its degrees.

Accordingly, exceptions to policy are granted only in rare instances - not because the university is unfeeling toward individual needs, but because it cares about the integrity of its academic standards and believes that by maintaining that integrity, the university ultimately provides a greater service to the entire community.

Student Responsibility 

As a matter of UMBC policy and procedure, students are responsible for the management of their academic careers. They are expected to familiarize themselves with resources such as the undergraduate catalog and the degree audit, and to remain informed of all published degree requirements and academic calendar dates. Failure to do so does not provide a basis for exceptions to academic requirements or policies. Although, students receive guidance from academic and faculty advisors, students must assume full responsibility for completing published degree requirements.

Students are also expected to maintain communication with the university about academic, financial, and other essential matters. As e-mail is the university’s primary medium of official communication with students, students are responsible for reading official messages sent to their UMBC e-mail addresses. Students are also expected to maintain their current postal address and telephone number in the UMBC Directory, since certain important messages will be sent via U.S. mail.

Academic Integrity Standards at UMBC

Integrity lies at the heart of the academic endeavor. The Undergraduate Student Academic Conduct Policy (Policy) defines and strives to ensure academic integrity at UMBC. The Policy defines standards for academic honesty and describes the process for addressing allegations of undergraduate student academic misconduct. The underlying philosophy of this Policy is that members of the university community view academic integrity as a serious institutional value and that academic misconduct incidents should be resolved by faculty members and students in a cooperative manner.

Some cases of academic misconduct may seem more serious than others; however, all instances of academic misconduct as described in the Policy should be reported to the Academic Conduct Committee. Filing a report, even when the offense does not appear to be extensive, flagrant, repeated, or intentionally deceitful, produces two worthwhile results: it creates a record that can identify a student whose misconduct is repeated in more than one course or over more than one semester, and it clarifies that UMBC takes academic misconduct seriously.

To that end, the UMBC Faculty Senate adopted the following statement, with the expectation that it would be included on the syllabus for each undergraduate course:

By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC’s scholarly community in which everyone’s academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong. Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal. 

For more information visit: Academic Integrity at UMBC 



The schedule of classes and associated policy and procedural information for each term are made available on the UMBC Web site.

Students enroll in UMBC classes online via the university’s myUMBC Web portal, after meeting with an academic advisor. Students may not register for classes in a regular semester (Fall or Spring) until advising has taken place.

Students are responsible for their own course registration. This includes following established procedures for enrolling in courses for which they want to receive credit, as well as dropping courses or withdrawing from courses or terms they do not intend to complete. Students are strongly encouraged to review their schedule via myUMBC prior to the first day of classes to verify their enrollments, class meeting times, and room locations. Students also need to remember that Blackboard access does not equate to official registration in that course. Further, students may not participate in, and will not be awarded credits or grades for, classes in which they are not enrolled.

Student responsibility for course registration includes following the established prerequisites, course sequences, and other enrollment requirements, whether or not such requirements are enforced by the registration system. In registering for classes, students are also responsible for following the university’s policies with respect to pass/fail enrollment, course repeats, and maximum course load.

Unless specifically notified otherwise, students are not enrolled in any class without having completed the registration transaction themselves according to the established procedures. Students should be mindful that if they elect to be placed on waitlists for full course sections, the responsibility for enrollment in the courses is assumed at the time the student is placed on the waitlist. This responsibility includes assuming financial obligations. A student who has decided not to assume that responsibility may remove his or her name from the waitlist for a course.

A student’s first registration in degree-seeking status will occur during orientation preceding their first semester at UMBC. For subsequent semesters, continuing students may register for the next semester during Advance Registration (conducted on a credit-earned priority basis) or during General Registration. Late Registration, beginning on the first day of the term, may be assessed late fees as published on the Student Business Services website.

Course Load

UMBC considers students enrolled for 12 credits or more in a fall or spring semester or summer term to be full-time students. Full-time status may be defined differently by outside agencies and by some financial aid programs.

To register for more than 19.5 credits in a fall or spring semester, more than 4.5 credits in a winter session or more than 8 credits in one of the two summer sessions, students must complete an excess credit form and obtain written approval from their advisor and the Office for Academic and Pre-Professional Advising.

Classification of Students

UMBC students are classified according to the number of earned credits as follows:

  • Freshman 0-29 credits
  • Sophomore 30-59 credits
  • Junior 60-89 credits
  • Senior 90 or more credits


Undergraduates Taking Graduate Courses for Undergraduate Credit

Subject to requirements determined by the program offering the course, undergraduate students may register in the undergraduate college for graduate-level courses (i.e., those numbered from 600 to 898, with the exception of 799) for undergraduate credit. A student seeking this option normally will be in the senior year; have earned an accumulated grade point average of at least 3.0; have successfully completed, with a grade of ‘B’ or better, the prerequisite and correlative courses; and be a major in the appropriate or a closely related department offering the course.

Enrollment in a graduate-level course does not in any way imply subsequent departmental or Graduate School approval for credit for a graduate degree at UMBC, except in relation to approved accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs.

Undergraduates Taking Courses for Graduate Credit

University System of Maryland undergraduate students who have a grade point average of at least 3.0 in the discipline in which the graduate course is to be taken may register in the undergraduate college for certain 600-level and higher courses, which may later be counted for credit toward a graduate degree at UMBC. Except in approved accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs, the credits must be in addition to those required for the student’s undergraduate degree. Credits in the senior year exceeding those required for graduation cannot be used for graduate credit without prior written approval of the appropriate faculty.

Changes in Registration

Once registered for a particular semester, students may add or drop courses according to the Academic Calendar published on the Registrar’s Office website. After the end of the schedule adjustment period, dropped courses will be reflected on official transcripts with a grade of “W.” Students will receive grades for all courses not dropped by published deadlines. Students who fail to attend class without having dropped the course will receive a grade of “F” unless they have officially withdrawn from the university. Students must follow all registration procedures as published on the Registrar’s Office website each semester.

Students who have been administratively de-registered from UMBC or from a specific class will be notified in writing via e-mail sent to their UMBC e-mail address. De-registration can result from a class being cancelled due to insufficient enrollment, academic or disciplinary suspension, or other reasons.

Withdrawal from UMBC 

Students wishing to withdraw from all courses for which they have registered must notify the Registrar’s Office by filing a semester withdrawal by way the UMBC RT Ticketing system no later than the last scheduled day of classes prior to final exams. Their transcript will have a notation of “Withdrawn” for that semester if their withdrawal occurs after classes have begun, and a “W” will appear on the transcript for each course. The effective date of withdrawal, for refund and grading purposes, will be the date the withdrawal is received in the Registrar’s Office.

When withdrawing, students should be certain to follow all withdrawal procedures as published on the Registrar’s Office website. Failure to do so will result in the student remaining academically and financially responsible for the courses in which he or she is enrolled. Failure to attend classes does not constitute official withdrawal and will result in “F” grades for all courses and liability for all charges. Stop payment on checks, failure to pay the semester bill, or failure to attend classes does not constitute official notification of withdrawal and will not release a student from financial or academic liability.

A student who withdraws will be eligible for Advance Registration for the next term. If not enrolling in the next term, the student will be eligible for General Registration for the subsequent term. If not enrolling for two semesters in a row, the student is required to apply for re-admission or reinstatement to the University through the Office of Admissions and Orientation.

Grades and Academic Records Grading System

For all courses in which a student is enrolled at the end of the 10th week of the semester, the following letter symbols will be posted to the permanent record: “A,” indicates superior achievement; “B,” good performance; “C,” adequate performance; “D,” minimal acceptable achievement; “F,” failure; and “I,” incomplete work. “W” indicates a course dropped after the end of the Schedule Adjustment Period. “NA” (non-applicable) denotes a course that does not apply to a degree program and does not enter into GPA (grade point average) calculations.

UMBC calculates grade point averages by assigning numerical values to letter symbols:

  • A = 4 quality points
  • B = 3 quality points
  • C = 2 quality points
  • D = 1 quality point
  • F = 0 quality points


The semester grade point average is determined by multiplying the credit value of each course by the numerical equivalent of each grade to produce a quality point total and then dividing total quality points by total credit hours attempted in courses that are included in the GPA. The same method is used to compute cumulative grade point averages.

Courses that are included in the GPA calculation are, in general, courses taken in residence at UMBC for academic credit and for which a letter grade has been earned. Following this principle, grades from study abroad courses taken under the auspices of UMBC and from courses taken through inter-institutional enrollment are included in the GPA calculation. Although courses taken on a “Pass/Fail” basis are usually excluded from the GPA, such courses are included in the GPA if a grade of “Fail” is earned. Explicitly excluded from the GPA calculation are grades from developmental courses, zero-credit courses, transfer courses, and credit-by-exam. Also excluded from the GPA calculation are courses for which a “W” or “I” grade is displayed and courses with grades marked “excluded” or “non-applicable” due to operation of the policies on course repeats, academic clemency, and the non-applicable semester.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

When students have completed 30 or more credits and are in good academic standing at UMBC, they may enroll for one pass/fail (P/F) course per semester for a total of 12 credits toward graduation.  Courses that are only offered on a P/F basis, such as Physical Education, certain research experience courses, and internship courses are excluded from this policy.

Courses for which a student registers for the P/F grading option may only be used toward the student’s elective credits, and not to fulfill general education, major, minor, or certificate requirements.

After consulting with an academic advisor, students may designate a course as P/F during registration or change a course to or from a P/F option within the published time frame as listed in the Academic Calendar.

A pass grade “P” under the P/F option indicates achievement in the range of “A,” “B,” “C,” or “D.” A grade of “P” is not calculated in the GPA, but a grade of “F” is calculated into the student’s GPA in the same manner as all “F” grades.

Audit Grading Option

A student who wishes to show that he or she has attended a course but does not seek academic credit, may register in a course as an auditor. The notation “AU” is listed for audited courses for which no credits are attempted or earned.

Audited courses count as zero-credit toward all enrollment certifications, such as full-time enrollment. Part-time students must pay tuition and fees for audited courses. Audited courses do count toward maximum enrollment limits.

After consulting with an academic advisor, students may designate a course as AU during registration or change a course to or from an AU option within the published time frame as listed in the Academic Calendar. When the audit option is selected, the faculty teaching the audited class may set certain criteria which the auditor must meet, such as class attendance.

Incomplete Grades

Incomplete (“I”) grades may not be awarded unless specifically requested by a student. A grade of “I” may be submitted at the discretion of the course instructor under exceptional circumstances for course work that is qualitatively satisfactory but, for reasons beyond student’s control, cannot be completed by the end of the semester. Generally, an incomplete grade is granted when only a small portion of work is remaining to complete the course.

If an incomplete grade is granted by the course instructor, students may not re-register for or participate unofficially in the course in a later term as a means to make-up the incomplete course work. Any outstanding course work must be completed under the guidance of the original course instructor, even if the course is not offered, the instructor is not in residence, or the student is not enrolled in the university.  

If a grade change has not been submitted by the date grades are due at the end of the regular semester following the one in which the “I” was issued, a grade of “F” will be awarded automatically, unless the instructor requests a one-time, one semester extension of the “I” grade by submitting an RT Help Ticket to the Registrar’s Office.

Incomplete coursework must be completed or “I” grades will be converted to “F” grades before degrees can be awarded.

Grade Changes

Once a course grade is recorded on the transcript, a grade change may be submitted by the original course instructor only if there is an exceptional circumstance that is documented.

Grade changes submitted within one year from the original grade posting deadline require approval by the original course instructor and the department chairperson.

Grade changes submitted more than one year after the grade posting deadline, post-degree, or in the absence of the original course instructor require additional approval by the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education.

Institutional Credit

Physical Education courses and courses that are developmental in nature carry “institutional” credit only. These credits are used to determine semester credit loads (full-time/part-time). Developmental credits are not calculated into the cumulative GPA; however, Physical Education credits are calculated if an F grade is earned in the course. “Institutional” credits are not counted toward the minimum 120 required for graduation.

Repeating Courses

Any course may be repeated, but if a grade of “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “P” already has been earned for that course, the subsequent attempt does not increase the total credits earned toward the degree. Credits for repeated courses will only be counted once toward graduation requirements. Only the highest grade will be used in the computation of the cumulative grade point average; however, all grades earned remain on the permanent record. Some courses are repeatable for additional credits as specified in the course descriptions. In these instances, all credits and grades will be applied to the student’s record.

UMBC has several limitations that apply to repeating courses: Students may not register for a course more than two times. They are considered registered for a course if they are enrolled after the end of the schedule adjustment period. Students may petition the Office of Undergraduate Education for a third and final attempt of a course taken at UMBC or another institution.

Additionally, students may not repeat a course for a higher grade once they have successfully completed any subsequent course of a higher level in an academic sequence (for example, students may not retake FREN 101 after successfully completing FREN 102).

Permission to repeat a course for a second attempt at another institution may be requested by filing a verification of transferability form in the Registrar’s Office (recommendation by a student’s faculty advisor is required if the course is a major/minor/certificate requirement). Grades in transferred courses do not replace a student’s grade in any prior attempts of the course. Students repeating a UMBC course at another institution must request that the transferred course be accepted as a repeat (with the UMBC attempt designated as non-applicable to the UMBC grade point average) which may impact the student’s cumulative UMBC grade point average.

Cross-listed Courses 

Cross-listed courses bear a particular significance within the general education distribution requirements. A cross-listed course is listed with more than one disciplinary designation; therefore, carries two or more disciplinary prefixes (e.g., HIST 273   is also listed as JDST 273   and RLST 273  ). However, a cross-listed course is, in fact, a single course taught with a multidisciplinary approach by a specific faculty member. A cross-listed course will be indicated in the Undergraduate Catalog with a note that the course is “also listed as” the course (or courses) with which it is cross-listed. A cross-listed course is considered any one of its assigned disciplines, no matter under which disciplinary designation the course is taken. Therefore, HIST 273 can be considered a history course, a Judaic studies course or a religious studies course. This has important implications for fulfilling the general education requirements, and it is recommended that students note cross-listed courses carefully when choosing courses to satisfy general education requirements.


In response to a student’s written or electronic request via myUMBC, the Registrar’s Office issues official transcripts of scholastic records for students and alumni. Transcript requests should include full name, former name where applicable, address, dates of attendance and the complete address to which the transcript is to be sent. In compliance with federal regulations, a written request must be signed by the student.

Requests for transcripts should be made at least two weeks before they actually are needed. Transcripts are not furnished for any current or former student who has an outstanding financial obligation to the university.

Visit the Registrar’s Office Website for information on how to request transcripts. 

Confidentiality of Records  

UMBC maintains records of matters relevant to the educational process of each student. These records cannot be disclosed to individuals other than the student except by written consent of the student, by legal order or in carefully circumscribed instances based on the University System of Maryland’s clearly defined policy, which complies with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

For more information visit: Privacy and the Release of Education Records

Academic Honors


Honors are based upon coursework taken over the duration of a student’s entire undergraduate academic career at UMBC. To be eligible for Honors, students must have earned at least 60 graded credits at UMBC (excluding Pass/Fail and Audit grades) with a GPA as follows:

Summa cum laude (“With highest honor”): Students graduating with a GPA between 3.95 and 4.0.

Magna cum laude (“With high honor”): Students graduating with a GPA between 3.75 and 3.9499.

Cum laude (“With honor”): Students graduating with a GPA between 3.5 and 3.7499.


Calculation of Honors

For purposes of being recognized with Honors, GPA and credit calculations are determined as follows:

  • In-progress coursework that is being taken on a regular graded method (excluding Pass/Fail and Audit grades) will be counted toward the 60 credit requirement, but not toward the GPA requirement.
  • For May degree conferral, GPA calculations are based upon coursework completed through the end of the prior winter session.
  • For August degree conferral, GPA calculations are based upon coursework completed through the end of the prior spring semester.
  • For December degree conferral, GPA calculations are based upon coursework completed through the end of the prior summer session.

While students may be provisionally recognized with Honors at the time of the applicable commencement ceremony in May or December and in the commencement program (refer to Eligibility for Undergraduate Commencement Participation), the official determination of Honors occurs after the commencement ceremony, once final semester grades have been submitted and calculated. The diploma of the University and the final official transcript are the only documents that officially award Honors at the time the degree is conferred by the University. 


President’s List

If students earn a semester grade point average of 4.00 or higher for a semester in which they are enrolled for at least 12 hours of graded credits (no P/F), they will have the notation of “President’s List” posted to the transcript for that semester.

Dean’s List

If students earn a semester grade point average of 3.75 or higher for a semester in which they are enrolled for at least 12 hours of graded credits (no P/F), they will have the notation of “Dean’s List” posted to the transcript for that semester.

Semester Honors

If students earn a semester grade point average of 3.5 or higher for a semester in which they are enrolled for at least 12 hours of graded credits (no P/F), they will have the notation “Semester Academic Honors” posted to the transcript for that semester.

General Honors

During their freshman and sophomore years, students admitted to the Honors College enroll in honors courses (typically at least one each semester) that have limited enrollment and provide an opportunity for close interaction with distinguished members of the teaching faculty. Detailed requirements for the Honors curriculum can be found on the Honors College web site, www.umbc.edu/honors.

Departmental Honors

Advanced-level honors work is generally undertaken by juniors and seniors in the department of their major field of study. Those departments that offer departmental honors programs enrich the major by providing special courses and unique opportunities for independent study and research under the guidance of departmental faculty. To graduate with departmental honors, students must complete at least nine credits in departmental honors courses, have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in their major, and satisfy any other requirements specified by their major department.

Academic Standing

Minimum Standards for Continued Enrollment

All undergraduates with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or above are in good academic standing and are academically eligible to return for subsequent semesters.

Academic Warning

A student in good academic standing whose current semester GPA falls below 2.0 for any fall or spring semester will receive an academic warning and may be required to participate in advising, tutoring or academic skills interventions designed to improve academic performance, as well as a possible limit on the number of credit hours attempted. Academic warning is not recorded on the student’s official record.

Academic Probation

A student whose cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 as of the end of a fall or spring semester will be placed on academic probation. A student may be enrolled in classes during a probationary semester, but may be required to participate in intensive advising, academic skills courses or workshops, and may be required to limit the number of credit hours attempted. Academic probation is recorded on the student’s official record.

Academic Suspension

Following two consecutive semesters on academic probation, a student whose cumulative GPA and current semester GPA are both below 2.0 will be academically suspended from the university as of the start of the next regular semester.

A student who has received a suspension notification may attend the upcoming summer or winter session but is ineligible to be enrolled for the next fall or spring semester or any subsequent term unless formally reinstated. Academic suspension is recorded on the student’s official record.

If the cumulative GPA remains below 2.0 but the current semester GPA is 2.0 or higher, such a student will be placed on academic probation for an additional semester.

Reinstatement after Suspension
The Academic Actions and Reinstatement Committee reviews all reinstatement applications. Courses completed at other institutions while the student was suspended from UMBC will be considered for transfer credit under the usual rules for transfer. Generally, a reinstated student will have subsequently completed at least 12 credits of academic work at another institution, with a GPA of at least 2.5, or the student will have been absent from UMBC for a significant period of time.

Academic Dismissal
After a student has been reinstated, the first instance of a cumulative GPA of less than 2.0 at the close of a fall or spring semester will result in academic probation. The second consecutive semester of a cumulative GPA less than 2.0 will result in dismissal from the university if the student’s current semester GPA was also below 2.0. In general, a student who has been academically dismissed will not be considered for future reinstatement. If the student’s cumulative GPA is below 2.0 but the semester GPA is 2.0 or higher, the student is placed on academic probation for an additional semester.

Non-applicable Semester

Students may request to declare a particular single semester, in which at least nine credits were attempted, non-applicable to their record. To be considered for a non-applicable semester, the student must have earned a minimum of 90 credits, at least 45 of which were earned at UMBC, and the quality of the work for the specified semester (semester GPA must have been less than 1.5) must be clearly out of line with the rest of the student’s record.  Additionally, the student must clearly have changed the focus of their academic program (this may include a change in major, minor, or certificate program) following the specified semester of poor performance. Students may petition the Office of Undergraduate Education to be considered for a non-applicable semester.

If the petition is approved, the semester will be marked on the permanent record as non-applicable (NA), however, all grades earned will still appear. Credits attempted, credits earned and quality points will not be used in calculating the cumulative grade point average. To receive a degree, students will have to repeat any courses required for graduation that were taken during the semester made non-applicable.

Academic Clemency

Students who are readmitted or reinstated after a lapse of five calendar years or more may petition the Registrar’s Office during the first semester of return to UMBC to have up to 16 credits of failing grades excluded from the calculation of their UMBC grade point average. If the petition is approved, the specified courses will be marked on the permanent record as non-applicable (NA), however, all grades earned will still appear. Courses approved for exclusion from grade point average calculations may not be changed thereafter, even if the student changes his or her major.

Application for Graduation

Students must file a formal application for graduation with the Registrar’s Office during their final semester. The deadline for applying for May graduation is February 15; for August graduation, June 15; and for December graduation, September 15.

Students should review their progress toward completion of graduation requirements in consultation with their academic advisors on a regular basis. While degree audit reports are for advising purposes only and are not official records of academic history or completion of degree requirements, students are encouraged to review their degree audit to assist in assessing completion of general, university and major-specific requirements. Students should consult with an advisor in the appropriate academic departments with regard to the completion of program requirements.

Eligibility For Undergraduate Commencement Participation

Undergraduate students who are enrolled to complete all degree requirements by the end of the spring semester may elect to participate in the May commencement ceremony. Undergraduate students who are enrolled to complete all degree requirements by the end of the fall semester may elect to participate in the December commencement ceremony. Students who complete their degree requirements in one of the summer sessions may elect to participate in the following December commencement ceremony and those completing their requirements during the winter session may elect to participate in the following May commencement ceremony.  Students may only participate in one commencement ceremony based upon the semester in which all degree requirements will be met.

In-progress coursework, including incomplete grades, will be included in the calculations when determining student’s eligibility for undergraduate commencement participation (120 credit requirement, 45 upper level requirement and 2.0 GPA requirement).

Exceptions for undergraduate commencement participation will not be considered.