Academic Policies

Registrar's Office

Academic Policies


Academic Honesty

A college is a community of students and faculty interested in the search for knowledge and understanding.  Essential to that search is a commitment to honesty and integrity.  Honesty on the part of every college student has and always shall be an integral part of the plan of higher education at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.  Acts of dishonesty conflict with the work and purpose of the entire College and are not merely a private matter between student and instructor.

Violations of academic honesty include but are not limited to:

  • Submitting the work of others as one's own 
  • Plagiarism (as defined below)
  • Communication during an examination
  • Using crib notes in an exam, except as allowed by the instructor
  • Obtaining prior knowledge of examination questions
  • Substitution of another student in an examination
  • Altering College academic records
  • Knowingly using false statements for academic benefit
  • Collaborating on material after being directed not to collaborate
  • Forging a signature of a College official or faculty member
  • Soliciting an official signature under false pretense

Plagiarism - 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 reference 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 further file charges with the Academic Appeals Committee against students if they believe that additional sanctions would be appropriate.  Instructors shall notify the Registrar in writing of any occurrence of academic dishonesty whenever they have 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 fourteen 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 sanction. If the student involved wishes to appeal the sanction imposed by the instructor, the student must initiate an appeal within two weeks after receipt of this notification. The Academic Appeals Committee shall consider as a basis for a hearing that:  a) the student claims not to have been academically dishonest; b) the student claims the instructor imposed an inappropriate sanction; c) the nature of the offense merits further action. In academic dishonesty cases the Committee may receive requests for hearings from students, from individual faculty and staff members, and from the Registrar.   The Academic Appeals Committee reserves the right not to hear any appeal in any case where data is not sufficient, the necessary steps have not been followed, and when the committee jurisdiction is not clear.

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.

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 Add/Drop/Withdrawal from Courses        

Add/Drop Form

Addition of Courses

Students may add courses during the first seven academic days of each semester.

Dropping of a Course

Students have seven academic days to drop from a full semester course with no academic penalty and no notation that they were enrolled in the course on their records.  Courses running less than an entire semester will have varying drop dates based on the length of the course. 

Withdrawing From Courses

Students who withdraw after the drop period ends and prior to the 50% completion point of the course will incur no penalty as far as the quality point average is concerned but will have a notation of "W" on their permanent record.  No student may withdraw from a course after the 50% completion point of the course.   Any student not attending a course and not officially withdrawing will be issued a grade of "F" on his/her record.  The "F" grade will be used in computing the student's grade point average. 

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend all of their classes.  They must also be aware of course requirements. Whenever possible, students should notify their instructors prior to an absence from class and make up missed work within a reasonable length of time after their absence. Students who expect to be absent from classes for three days or longer should contact the Center for Student Success and Engagement for help notifying their instructors.

Eligible Absences
Absences of students from scheduled classes will be considered excused for the following listed 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 conferences, 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 for which a valid reason is presented.  Judgment of the validity of the excuse is left to the instructor.
  • 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 an unreasonable burden upon the College.

Accommodations for Eligible Absences

  • Each instructor will develop an excused absence policy, which follows the statement of eligibility above.  In lieu of such individual policy, a department may choose to develop a departmental policy.
  • The absence policy shall be made a part of the course syllabus and shall be made available in print to all enrolled students within the first two weeks of the semester.
  • No student having an excused absence shall be penalized for such absence on account solely of being absent.  Nothing in this policy is intended to excuse a student from the responsibility to make up  missed work within a reasonable length of time.
  • A student with excused absences due to participation as a representative of the College (see 1 and 2 under Eligible Absences) may be held to deadlines for submitting class work provided that such deadlines are a part of the course syllabus and were available to the student within the first two weeks of the semester.
  • Students anticipating absence because of participation in an eligible event shall make arrangements  prior to their absence to make up any missed work. 

Policy on Attendance at Out-of-Class Events

In providing a rich cultural education, MCLA recognizes that a total college experience extends beyond regularly scheduled instruction in a formal classroom or laboratory setting.  There are a number of educational events or activities that occur outside these settings (e.g., concerts, plays, field trips, etc.) which are an important part of the student's liberal arts education.  Attendance at out-of-class events may present hardship for some college students, especially those with jobs and families.  Therefore, reasonable accommodations shall be made for all students with respect to such events, with the following provisions:

  • Instructors may schedule out-of-class experiences as they deem necessary to achieve the purposes and goals of the course for which the event is scheduled.  Students should be given the option of attending the out-of-class experience or their regularly scheduled classes.
  • Insofar as possible, all out-of-class events at which student attendance is expected are to be included on the course syllabus.  In any event, reasonable advance notice of such expected attendance must be given.
  • If the out-of-class event is an exam, the student may opt to take the exam at another time.  This other time shall be mutually agreeable to the instructor and the student and must be arranged prior to the original exam date.
  • Students for whom attendance at any such event will constitute a hardship with scheduled classes and/or family or employment responsibilities, shall be granted an opportunity to complete an equivalent alternative assignment to meet the course requirements without penalty.

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Audit Policy        

Audit Form

A student may audit a course with the approval of the chairperson of the department and the consent of the instructor. Auditors are subject to any conditions established by the department or the instructor.  No credit is awarded for audited courses.  Such courses are officially reported on the student's transcript with the notation "AU" (Audit-No Credit) when all course conditions are met.  Auditor status cannot be changed.

Students register for audit during the first week after the Add Period.  A student who wishes to attend class before audit registration may do so with the consent of the instructor.  Students are responsible for all course fees when auditing a course.  Students who have registered for a grade have enrollment preference over auditing students.

Class Status

Matriculated students are assigned class status according to the total number of earned credits at the conclusion of each semester.









90 or more



Course Load

Course Overload Form

Fifteen (15) credit hours is the normal academic course load at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.  Students may enroll for up to eighteen (18) credit hours without special permission.  Students wishing to enroll for more than eighteen (18) credit hours must secure the permission of their advisors.  The Dean of Academic Affairs must approve any request above 21 credits.


Course Repeats/Off Campus Study Approval      

Course Repeat Form

A course may be repeated.  If the course is required and the student received an F, the course must be repeated.  The grade earned in a repeated course replaces the original grade in the student's quality point average even if the repeated grade is lower.  (The grade earned each time the student took the course remains on the student's transcript, but the course is marked "RX", and the originally attempted credit is not calculated into the quality point average.) 

Students must complete a Repeat Course Form for each course they repeat. Repeat course work taken off campus must be approved prior to the course being taken.

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Declaring/Changing of Major        

Change of Major/Minor Form

Students wishing to change their major must secure a Change of Major form from CSSE/Advising.  This form requires the approval of the chairperson of the new department and must be filed with the Registrar's Office before the change of major takes effect.


Declaring a Minor        

Change of Major/Minor Form

Students who are completing the requirements of a minor program must complete a Change of Major/Minor form.


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 not less than:

  1. 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
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work 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)
  • Laboratory courses must maintain a minimum of 45 contact hours per unit of credit.
  • Field trips are to be counted hour-for-hour as laboratory meetings.


Dual Degree Policy

Matriculated MCLA students may earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and/or a Bachelor of Science degree.  Students completing more than one major within either the BA or BS programs at MCLA will have the additional major(s) noted on their transcript but will not receive another degree and/or another diploma and cannot participate in another graduation ceremony.

This Policy is effective immediately upon the approval of the President and supersedes all previous college policies regarding second degrees and dual degrees.

The All College Committee requests that the implications of this policy be made clear to students by the appropriate institutional offices.


Grade Appeal

Undergraduate Grade Appeal Form

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 semester.  In all other cases (e.g. summer) the student has one month after receipt of the grade to initiate an appeal.  No grade appeals can be made after these deadlines.

Internship Policy

CHARACTERISTICS OF PROFESSIONAL INTERNSHIPS:  An internship is a new learning experience 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.

Departmental Programs

Each academic department may establish an internship program within the confines of the characteristics given in this document.  If they choose to do so, they must develop stated objectives, strategies for meeting these objectives, and criteria for evaluation.  The department would then submit the internship program proposal simultaneously to the Curriculum Committee for approval of the objectives, the strategies for meeting these objectives, and its relationship to the curriculum and to the Academic Policies Committee for approval of the evaluation criteria.  The recommendations of these Committees on each internship program would be forwarded to the All-College Committee and finally the President for his/her approval.

Operational Guidelines

  1. Application into an internship program requires that a student be a matriculated junior or senior with a 2.00 GPA.  Academic departments have the option to require higher GPAs.
  2. 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.  The Medical Technology program is exempt from the credit hour granted.
  3. A minimum of forty-five (45) hours of on-site experience are required for each credit hour limit.
  4. The internship must be a new learning experience.  If the internship is within an organization or location where the student has previous experience, the student must demonstrate in his/her application how the intern position differs from previous experience.
  5. 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.
  6. To apply for an internship, the student must fill out an Internship Application.  This form will require the following information:
  7. the student's educational and career objectives
  8. the educational and experiential objective of the internship
  9. the on-site work to be completed during the internship
  10. the number of hours of on-site work
  11. the number of credit requested
  12. any information regarding prior experience relevant to the internship
  13. a plan for evaluating the internship experience.
  14. The faculty sponsor upon acceptance of the student's proposal will submit it to the department chairperson for approval.
  15. The internship application will then require the approval of the Dean of Academic Affairs.
  16. Evaluation Requirements.....each internship must contain a writing component, interim evaluations by faculty sponsor (e.g. site visit[s], evaluation by the site director/supervisor, and a final evaluation by the faculty sponsor.


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Leave of Absence

A student whose personal, family, or medical circumstances require a temporary interruption of college study may apply for a leave of absence for up to two semesters.  To apply for a leave of absence a student must complete an application through CSSE/Advising.  Recommendations regarding requests will be made by Advising Services to the Dean of Academic Affairs.  The Dean will make the final decision on the request.

A leave of absence may only be granted to students who are matriculated and in good academic and financial standing.  All students returning from a leave of absence must contact the Registrar's Office no later than December 1 for reactivation in the spring semester and August 1 for reactivation for the fall semester.  Students who are granted a leave of absence before the end of the drop/add period will have no notation on their record for that semester.  Students granted a leave after the add/drop period and through the last day of classes will have a grade of "WX" on their record for that semester.

*Students are advised to contact Student Accounts and Financial Aid regarding refunds, loan deferment/repayment and eligibility for further aid.


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 to which prospective and current students can aspire and work towards.

Program requirements:

  • 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 study 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 Studies 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.


Off-Campus Study for Currently Enrolled Students  

Off Campus Study Form

Matriculated students who wish to enroll in coursework at another accredited institution while still enrolled at MCLA must receive approval from MCLA prior to enrolling in such courses.  Approval is granted through the Registrar's Office in consultation with the department chair.  Coursework in which the student received a grade of C- or above is transferable, provided that the student's overall grade point average is a 2.0 or higher (based on a 4.0 scale) at the other institution.

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Academic Standing at MCLA - 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:


Earned credits    GOOD STANDING     PROBATION       SUSPENSION   

0 - 30                  2.000 or above      1.500 -1.999       under 1.500
31-75                  2.000 or above      1.750 - 1.999      under 1.750
76 and above       2.000 or above       no probation      under 2.000

Earned credits include 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


Academic Warning

A student with a semester 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 CSSE/Advising for review and appropriate referrals.


Academic Probation

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: (1) course load of not more than 15 credits; (2) academic schedule changes to allow repeat courses; (3) meetings with an academic advisor, learning services, and/or advising services to complete an Academic Success Plan that will monitor student progress;(4) attendance at academic success workshops (e.g. study skills, time management, etc.); and (5) 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).


Academic Suspension

Students suspended under this policy may appeal their suspension.  The Registrar notifies students of their suspension and of their right of recourse to the appeal process.  Suspended students may not enroll at the College for one semester.  They may then apply to the Admissions Office for readmission.  The College requires that they complete a minimum of 6 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0 at another institution before reapplication.     Students must complete an off-campus readmission form available from the Registrar. Approval is  required prior to enrollment in courses.  Students re-applying after sitting out one semester on suspension will be evaluated on an individual basis based on the entire Massachusetts College academic experience and coursework completed at another college.  Students suspended at the end of the spring term may not take courses at MCLA in the summer or fall, and must re-apply through admissions.


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Study Abroad/Study Away Policy

Students who study abroad/study away must meet the following criteria:

- Minimum 30 credits earned (sophomore status)

- Minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA

- No holds on student accounts

- Must complete the International/Domestic Travel Statement of Consent Form (the statement is      included below for informational purposes but is not part of the policy)


Travel Liability Waiver

Statement of Risk - Study Away and/or participation in a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA)-sponsored travel course is voluntary and not required by the institution for completion of any major or minor academic program. Students should be aware of the potential risk associated with international and domestic travel. MCLA does not encourage, nor promote, the participation in unsafe  activities such as sky diving, off-roading, handling of exotic animals, eating unsafe foods, etc. Students are encouraged to make sure their country of interest is not on the U.S. Department of State Alerts and Warnings list. (see:  In addition, students should remain abreast of social, economic, and political issues in their country of interest and should be familiar with the laws governing said country. MCLA assumes no liability for incidents and accidents involving the students studying away from the MCLA campus or participating in a MCLA sponsored Travel Course. Students are encouraged to take precautions when traveling away in terms of preparation for emergencies and unforeseen incidents. The College affiliated student health insurance program does not cover international travel, but covers the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Students who are traveling outside of the coverage area are encouraged to purchase health insurance independently or through one of the college's affiliated third party providers: CISAbroad, International Studies Abroad, Semester at Sea.

Code of Conduct

Since academic credit is awarded upon the successful completion of MCLA sponsored Travel Courses or Study Away programs, students are held to MCLA's code of conduct standards regardless of their location. Students represent MCLA and should act in accordance with the MCLA code of conduct. The following is taken from the MCLA Student Handbook found on the MCLA website under Student Life/Resources.  Violations of College policy whenever the conduct in question occurs in any of the following circumstances may be subject to College disciplinary action; - if it occurs while the student who is charged was attending or participating in any college-related activity (such as athletic contests, field trips, study abroad programs or social events).

Assumption of Liability

I am participating in the above captioned study away or MCLA sponsored travel course, and hereby release, waive, indemnify, defend, and hold harmless all MCLA Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, agents, and assignees from and against any and all claims, for bodily injury demands or causes of action of any type whatsoever, including property damage or personal injury, damages, losses and expenses, including but not limited, to attorneys' fees, arising out of or in any way related to participation in this trip with which I choose to participate in. I am aware that there are possible risks and dangers associated with my participation. I assume full responsibility for any injuries or damages I may sustain as a result of my participation, including travel to or from the trip destination. In addition, I assume liability for and agree to indemnify and to hold MCLA Board of Trustees, faculty and staff harmless for all claims or damages caused, in whole or in part, by me and any negligent, intentional, or other act of omission on my part. By signing this waiver of liability and release, I acknowledge that I have read and understood this document and the assumption of liability for students attending MCLA programs. I fully agree and understand all terms and conditions in this document.


Teaching Assistant Policy

The College recognizes the value of Teaching Assistantships as an educational experience. To this end, each academic department may establish Teaching Assistantships in accordance with College policy. A student interested in becoming a Teaching Assistant (TA) must be in good academic standing.  The student must also have demonstrated competency in the subject area in which he/she will be assisting. Academic Departments offering Teaching Assistantships may specify additional requirements.

Faculty must then approve the student's involvement in the Teaching Assistantship and the student will then enroll in a department-sponsored course (1 - 3 credits, with one credit defined as 45 hr per semester) specifically designed for the Teaching Assistant experience and approved on a form signed by the student, faculty member, department chair, and Academic Dean. In this course context, a learning agreement will be developed which describes the duties, academic work and authority of the Teaching Assistant; the Office of Academic Affairs will develop a common form for all Teaching Assistantships that will include guidelines for credit and space for detailed description as well as spaces for the appropriate approval signatures. Teaching Assistantships have the option of being either letter graded or taken as pass/fail courses. Students may apply no more than six credits as Teaching Assistants toward graduation.  INDIVIDUAL DEPARTMENTS WILL BE ALLOWED TO USE THEIR DISCRETION REGARDING APPROPRIATE CREDIT EARNED AS WELL AS GRADING MODE.

Students enrolled in a credit-bearing Teaching Assistantship will not be eligible for College workstudy funds or any form of remuneration for the conduct of work done as a Teaching Assistant. While Teaching Assistants may be allowed to review student coursework to learn about the grading process, only Faculty shall evaluate student coursework and assign grades.


Withdrawal from College

Students leaving the College must complete a Withdrawal from College form obtained from CSSE/Advising.  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.

Note: A student is not officially withdrawn from the College until the appropriate form has been completed and has been validated by the Registrar's Office.


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