Academic Policies

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Cornish College has established academic requirements and standards which must be met for successful completion of individual courses and a baccalaureate degree. These requirements and standards are published in the Cornish College of the Arts Catalog (this publication) and the Student Handbook (www.cornish.edu/downloads/student_life/Cornish_Student_Handbook.pdf).

Academic Advisors, Department chairs, faculty members, and the Registrar will provide guidance on academic matters, but students are responsible for understanding the academic policies as well as the successful progress and completion of their own program. The full Academic Policy is available through the Registration & Records Office.

Registration

Current Cornish students register in advance for fall and spring semesters during registration periods assigned by the Registrar.  Students register for classes using the online student information system, Compass. The Registrar assigns advance registration periods to students based on the number of credits accumulated by the last completed term. Students are responsible for meeting with their academic advisor or department chair in advance of their registration appointment to plan their schedule and review degree progress.

New students will meet with an academic advisor to select and register for courses during specified New Student Registration days. The Office of Admission will inform new students of the time and location of their advising and registration appointment, along with any needed preparation.

Detailed procedures for all matters pertaining to course registration are published in the Academics section of Compass. Students can contact the Registration & Records Office with questions or clarify policy and procedure.

Adding and Dropping Courses

Students may add courses or change course sections through the first eight days of each semester (the add/drop period.) Students may drop courses up through the 11th week of the term, but after the first eight days of the semester, a non-punitive withdrawal grade (W) is noted on the student’s transcript.  After the add/drop period ends, students must withdraw from a course in person in the Registration & Records Office. A student who stops attending a course without officially dropping it, known as course abandonment, receives an F, which is calculated into the grade point average.  Withdrawing from or abandoning a course may affect a student’s pace of progression (see Keeping Your Aid, on pg. 4.)

Credit Limit per Semester

Students may register for up to 18 credits each semester. Students with a 3.00 GPA or higher who wish to register for an overload must receive written permission from the Registrar. Additional per-credit tuition fees will be charged. (See the Tuition & Fees page of the Cornish website for current tuition fees.)

Repeated Courses

Students may repeat a course, but unless otherwise specified in the course description, the course will fulfill a degree requirement only once.  Subsequent grades for repeated courses will not cancel the initial grade; rather, both grades will be included in the calculation of the student’s grade point average unless the student has submitted a Grade Forgiveness petition.  Students cannot receive financial aid for repeated courses except when taken in fulfillment of a requirement.

Closed Classes

As courses fill during registration, students are encouraged to register for alternate choices and to check Compass regularly for changes to section status (Open/Full).  Cornish does not provide a waitlist for classes.

Independent Study

Department curricula are assumed by the College to provide a complete training path. Upon attaining sophomore, junior or senior class standing, a student may be permitted a career total maximum of six credits of Independent Study, which must consist of research outside the established curriculum and otherwise unavailable in any department. Independent Study is defined as student-performed research and study.

Group Study

Group study is defined as the project-based study, research, or other learning experience, that is developed by student(s) or a department to augment existing curricula. Group study must be approved by the department and structured by clearly defined criteria and with learning outcomes. There is a five student minimum enrollment required for all Group study courses with a maximum enrollment of nine students per course. Students may not enroll in more than one Group study per semester.  

Tutorial Study

Tutorial study is a variable credit course defined as college-level complementary training which may include study, research, or other learning experience. Students may apply for Tutorial study after meeting with their department chair and by submitting a Tutorial study application to the Registrar. This course meets once a week for the full semester. Students may enroll for two or three credits in this course. There is an individual instruction fee charged for each Tutorial Study course enrolled; see the Tuition & Fees section for the current yearly rate for in-major, primary lessons.

Concurrent Enrollment

Once a student begins attending courses at Cornish, advance approval is required for concurrent enrollment at another institution if the student intends to transfer courses to satisfy Cornish degree requirements. Without advance approval, coursework that is completed at another institution while a student is enrolled at Cornish will not be applied toward degree requirements and will not be considered for transfer. 

Course Abandonment

Abandoning courses by ceasing to attend, or by telling the instructor that you do not intend to complete the course does not constitute withdrawal; official procedures are required to withdraw from a course or the College. Failure to complete a course or the semester does not cancel a student’s obligation to pay tuition, fees, and other charges in full. Moreover, students will receive a grade in all courses for which they have registered, regardless of whether or not they attend. Once the add/drop period has ended, all withdrawals must be done in person at the Registration & Records Office.

Withdrawal from the College

Students may completely withdraw from the semester up until the last day of the 11th week of the semester. Students should meet with their department chair for academic advising before pursuing this route. Students should also carefully review the grading and tuition refund policy as part of their decision to withdraw from the College. Unless the student formally requests a Leave of Absence, a complete withdrawal from the term will be understood to indicate that the student is officially withdrawing from Cornish. Once the add/drop period has ended, all withdrawals must be done in person at the Registration & Records Office. If a student wishes to return to the College after withdrawing, they should contact the Office of Admission and follow the readmission policy and procedure.

Leave of Absence

A formal Leave of Absence can be requested for up to one academic year by students who have completed at least one semester at Cornish in good academic standing. A Leave of Absence reserves a student’s place in the department for the duration of the leave. If new degree requirements are instituted while the student is on Leave of Absence, that student need only complete the degree requirements in place at the time of the student’s departure.

Students who wish to return from a Leave of Absence must complete an application to return and submit it to the Registration & Records Office. Once the application to return is processed, the student may register during the Continuing Student Advance Registration period. Students receiving financial aid should also contact the Office of Financial Aid at the same time and complete all necessary paperwork as instructed. Procedures will vary, depending on whether the student is returning in the spring or fall semester.

Non-Matriculated Enrollment

Students interested in taking classes without obtaining a degree from Cornish can take classes through the College’s Non-matriculated Student Program. Registration for classes is through the Registration & Records Office. Students must be at least 16 years of age to enroll in credit or noncredit classes on a non-matriculated basis. Students may enroll for no more than nine credits per semester, and only the first 16 semester hours of credit attained on a non-matriculated basis can be applied to a degree program at Cornish. Financial Aid is not available to non-matriculated students.

Grades

Courses can be taken for one of three grade options: Letter grade, Pass/Fail, and Audit (No Credit). Students who elect Pass/Fail or Audit grade options must inform the Registration & Records Office of this choice in person before the end of the add/drop period. Students may elect to take up to six credits of College Electives with a Pass/Fail grade option.

The Pass grade (“C” or better) does NOT impact GPA, although the credits are calculated into the student’s total Career Hours. Should a student fail a course taken as Pass/Fail, both the failing grade and attempted hours are calculated into the student’s Term and Career GPAs. Humanities and Sciences requirements and/or major requirements (unless designated by the department curricula) may not be taken on a Pass/Fail basis. Courses taken as audit are not awarded college credit and cannot count towards degree requirements. Audited courses should be considered as courses taken for personal enrichment only; see the Tuition & Fees page of the Cornish website for the tuition rate for this grade option.

  • Grade changes
    The course instructor must submit grade corrections and/or changes through Compass by the ninth week of the next regular semester.
  • Incomplete grades
    To receive an incomplete grade, a student must agree upon and complete an Incomplete Grade Contract with the instructor. This contract should be approved by the student’s department chair and submitted to the Registration & Records Office by the last day of the semester. Changes for Incomplete grades must be submitted to the Registration & Records Office by the 9th week of the next regular semester.

Grade Point Average

Only graded courses taken in residence at Cornish are calculated into the grade point average. The letter grade point equivalent is multiplied by the number of credits attempted, which gives the total grade points for a class. For example, a “C” (2.0) in a three-credit course equals 6.0 grade points. Total grade points for term and career are then divided by total graded credits to calculate the term and career grade point averages.

Cornish College of the Arts faculty uses the following grading system:

Grades Calculated within GPA

Letter Grade Grade Point
A 4.0 grade point
A- 3.7 grade point
B+ 3.3 grade point
B 3.0 grade point
B- 2.7 grade point
C+ 2.3 grade point
C 2.0 grade point
C- 1.7 grade point
D+ 1.3 grade point
D 1.0 grade point
D- 0.7 grade point
F 0.0 grade point

Grades Not Calculated within GPA

Letter Grade Grade Point
P Pass (C or better)
NC Non-Credit Audit
NG No Grade Submitted by Instructor
W Withdrawn
I Incomplete

Grade reports are posted at the end of each term and available to the student through Compass.

Academic Term Honors

Full-time students whose semester grade point average is between 3.85 and 4.00 are placed on the Honors List. These honors are recognized by a reception hosted by Student Life and by a special letter of commendation to the student, a copy of which is maintained in the student’s academic file.

Academic Standards

The Academic Standards Committee is responsible for the development of the grading and evaluation policy at Cornish. In addition, the committee also addresses decisions pertaining to academic probation and suspension of students, as well as student petitions of College policy and regulation. The Academic Standards Committee is composed of the Provost, department chairs, faculty, Dean of Student Affairs, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs, and Dean of Academic Services & Registrar. It meets at the end of each regular academic term to review and/or report on student progress. The following information defines minimum academic standards and possible actions as mandated by college policy.

  • Good Academic Standing
    Students are required to maintain a 2.0 minimum career grade point average during the course of their studies.
  • Academic Warning
    Academic Warning is given when a student’s semester grade point average falls below the minimum good academic standing requirements (2.0).
  • Academic Probation
    Students are placed on Academic Probation when their career grade point average falls below minimum academic standing requirements (2.0). If a student is placed on Academic Probation for two consecutive regular semesters, the student may be suspended from further study at the College.
  • Academic Suspension
    A student may be suspended if the career grade point average remains below the required minimum grade point average (2.0) for two consecutive semesters of attendance. An academically suspended student who wishes to return to Cornish must petition the Academic Standards Committee after one academic year has passed. The student must then formally re-apply to the College through the Office of Admission.
  • Expulsion
    A student may be expelled for unacceptable conduct or academic performance. This action is based on a recommendation by the Academic Standards Committee or the Dean of Student Life, is noted on the student’s transcript, and prohibits return to Cornish for any further study.

Grade Forgiveness

A student who receives a grade of C- or below in a course at Cornish College of the Arts may repeat that course one time under the Grade Forgiveness policy. Both courses and grades will be posted to the permanent record. The grade of the most recent attempt will be used in calculating the career grade point average and for completion of degree requirements. Course credits will be counted only once toward a degree.  Students must inform the Registration & Records Office of their intention to pursue Grade Forgiveness, in person, before the end of the add/drop period.

Academic Amnesty

Readmitted students may petition the Academic Standards Committee for Academic Amnesty for grades earned at Cornish College of the Arts five or more years prior to readmission. Although the original grades will appear on the transcript, grades granted academic amnesty are not included in the student’s grade point average or credit-hour totals. Academic Amnesty can be granted only for an entire term’s coursework. Once granted, a student may not apply any courses from that term to current degree requirements.

Transcripts

Cornish College of the Arts has authorized the National Student Clearinghouse to provide transcript ordering online. Students can order transcripts with this service using any major credit card, an e-mail address and a signed consent form. A processing fee of $5.00 will be charged for the first copy, and $2.75 for each thereafter (if ordered within a single session). Official transcripts require three to five days for processing. The official transcript bears the signature of the Registrar, the College seal, and the date of issue. Unofficial transcripts are free of charge and may be printed directly from Compass, or requested in writing from the Registration & Records Office.

Transfer/Nontraditional Credits

Transfer credit may be awarded for college-level, non-remedial coursework with a grade of C or better from regionally-accredited colleges or universities. The Registration & Records Office staff and department chair and/or academic advisor will evaluate all transfer work and assign Cornish course equivalencies and credits. Credits from quarter-based institutions transfer to Cornish at a 3:2 ratio. No more than 70 transfer credits (including AP/CLEP/IB/CBE/PLE credits detailed below) can be applied toward a student’s degree. All students must complete at least 60 credits in residence at Cornish.

Advanced Placement Credit (AP)

Advanced Placement credit may be awarded on the basis of the College Board Advanced Placement exams taken prior to enrollment at Cornish. Official copies of the test results must be submitted to the Office of Admission as a part of the admission process. Exam results may be no more than five years old at the time of application to a degree program. No more than six-semester credits of non-studio coursework can be satisfied through the AP, CLEP or IB exams. AP exam scores of 5, 4, and 3 are accepted for college credit by Cornish. Studio Art examinations are not accepted for college credit in the major at Cornish. Please refer to the Registration & Records Academic Policies section of the Cornish website here for an explanation of how AP credits are awarded.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

Cornish accepts credits for the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) subject examinations if the student has scored in the 50th percentile or higher. Official copies of the test results must be submitted to the Office of Admission as a part of the admission process. Exam results may be no more than five years old at the time of application to a degree program. Credit will not be granted for the general CLEP examination. Up to six credits may be satisfied through IB, AP and/or CLEP results.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

Cornish may award six-semester credits for Higher Level Subject Exams with a score of 5, 6 or 7. Official copies of the test results must be submitted to the Office of Admission as part of the admission process. Exam results may be no more than five years old at the time of application to a degree program. Up to six credits may be satisfied through IB, AP and/or CLEP results. Please refer to the Registration & Records Academic Policies section of the Cornish website for an explanation of how IB credits are awarded.

Credit by Exam (CBE)

Students who have learned the subject matter of a particular course on their own may petition for credit by proof of proficiency in their freshman or sophomore year. The fee is $30 per credit challenged. A maximum of 30 credits of combined CBE and PLE credit may be awarded.

Prior Learning Experience (PLE)

Students who have documented college-level education and/or experience that is not transferable may petition for prior learning experience credits in their freshman or sophomore year. Awarded PLE credits must apply directly to the student’s degree requirements at Cornish College of the Arts. Typically, PLE credit is considered for study at non-accredited institutions, extensive volunteer or paid work in the field of study, or private instruction. The fee is $30 per credit evaluated. A maximum of 30 credits of combined CBE and PLE credit may be awarded.

Credit Hour Definition Policy

In accordance with national standards, and in compliance with federal guidelines, the following definitions of a credit hour at Cornish College of the Arts represent a minimum level of student achievement of specific learning outcomes as verified by assessment of student work. Out of class time expectations are averages only and may vary depending on the level of the course as well as the individual ability and learning style of the student.  A classroom / instructional hour is defined as 50 minutes.

  1. For studio courses, 1 semester hour of credit is based on at least 1.5 to 2 hours of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum expectation of 1 hour of out of class student work each week for approximately 15 weeks (including exam week).  For a 6-credit foundation studio, this would equate to 12 hours in class and 6 hours of out of class student work per week during the 15 week semester.
  2. For lecture courses, 1 semester hour of credit is based on 1 hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of 2 hours of out of class student work each week for approximately 15 weeks (including exam week).  For a 3-credit lecture course, this would equate to 3 hours in class and 6 hours of out of class student work per week during the 15 week semester.
  3. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in the definitions above for other academic activities established by the College that lead to the award of credit hours, including internships, independent and individual tutorial studies, private instruction, practica, and rehearsal/performance.