Merrimack College prepares students to thrive as productive, responsible citizens in the increasingly complex, competitive, and diverse world of the 21st century. Across the five schools of the College - Liberal Arts, Science and Engineering, Education & Social Policy, Health Sciences, and the Girard School of Business - the curriculum provides the knowledge and skills that a well- educated person requires to succeed personally and professionally in an ever-changing and challenging global environment. Merrimack College graduates are prepared both for productive careers and for global citizenship. Students learn to take responsibility for themselves, for others, and for the world. Whether they major in Business or History, Chemistry or Psychology, Engineering or English, all students gain a common educational foundation by completing a general education program in which they explore essential knowledge about the world through the varied lenses of the Humanities, the Sciences, and the Social Sciences.
As they progress through their college-wide general education program, students take courses designed to develop their ability to communicate effectively, think critically, understand and respect cultural differences, exercise ethical responsibility, reflect on their experiences, and take charge of their own intellectual, creative, personal, and spiritual growth. Individual development and learning are enhanced by small classes, close interaction with faculty, and active learning both inside and outside the classroom.
Merrimack College’s policy on credit hours relies on federal regulation, which defines a credit hour as an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutional established equivalence that reasonably approximates 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 10 to 12 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 the above paragraph 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.
Requirements for the Bachelor’s Degree
All candidates for the bachelor’s degree must satisfy numerical and residence requirements, general education requirements, and the requirements of a major program. Each of these is described below. The courses remaining in a student’s program after completion of their general education and major requirements may be used to complete an additional major or majors, a minor or minors, or for free or open electives.
Student Responsibility for Degree Requirements. Undergraduate students at Merrimack College must complete all requirements for the bachelor’s degree as set forth by the College, their School, and academic departments or programs. While students are supported by their academic advisors, students are personally responsible for knowing all academic policies, regulations, and requirements affecting their programs of study and for abiding by all such policies, regulations, and requirements during their period of enrollment at the College. Continued enrollment is subject to compliance with the policies, regulations, and requirements as described herein and as otherwise published by the College. Failure to understand the policies, regulations, and requirements does not relieve a student of his or her responsibility for adhering to the policies and regulations and completing the requirements.
Numerical and Residence Requirements
Along with curricular requirements, all students must satisfy the following numerical and residence requirements.
Numerical Requirements. Beginning with the class of 2012, students in all bachelor’s degree programs must complete a minimum of 124 credits, with a final overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 or better. (See the definitions and explanations of letter grades, grade points, and grade point averages provided in the section on Course Policies below.) Students must also achieve a final grade point average of 2.00 or better in their major as defined by their major discipline (see individual program listings ). No approximation or rounding in the calculation of the grade point average is permitted.
Residence Requirements. To receive the bachelor’s degree from Merrimack College a student must fulfill the following residence requirements:
- At least forty-eight credits must be taken at Merrimack College;
- At least half of the major credit requirements must be taken at Merrimack College;
- At least twenty-four of the last thirty-two credits must be taken at Merrimack College; and
- All credits in the final semester must be taken at Merrimack College.
Through the School of Liberal Arts, the School of Science and Engineering, the Girard School of Business, the School of Health Sciences, the School of Education & Social Policy, and through interdisciplinary programs that involve multiple schools, Merrimack College offers degree programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. For a complete listing of undergraduate degree programs, see below in the section describing each academic program. For graduate programs listings, visit www.merrimack.edu/graduate.
In the School of Science and Engineering and the Girard School of Business, students may pursue degrees in the traditional four-year curriculum, or in a five-year Cooperative Education program. In addition, students in all of the Schools may be in the College’s Honors Program. All students may pursue majors and minors in more than one School. It is also possible for students to design their own major programs. The details for designing a major can be found in the listing for Self-Designed Major in the section describing the individual academic programs.
While completing major programs and general education requirements, many students can complete additional academic programs tailored to their individual interests, including minor programs, a double major, or a second degree.
Major. A major, or primary specialization, is required of all candidates for the bachelor’s degree. A major is a specialized program of study, constituted by a focused set of courses, most of which typically are drawn from one discipline, the major discipline, but some of which may be drawn from closely related, or cognate, disciplines; for example, a major in Physics requires not only Physics courses but also cognate courses from Mathematics and Chemistry. The number of major and cognate courses required varies from major to major. (See the descriptions of the program requirements of the different majors.)
Double Major. To obtain a double major, a student must satisfy all of the requirements of both majors; earn a GPA of at least 2.00 in both majors; and satisfy all other College graduation requirements. Students must indicate one of the majors as a primary major. Students will receive a single diploma designating the degree associated with the primary major and be listed under the primary major at Commencement. However, both majors will be listed on the transcript. Undergraduate students in the School of Education & Social Policy with a major in Education must select a second major in another discipline as a double major.
Students who wish to have two degrees at Commencement need to meet the requirements for a double degree rather than a double major (see below). Students adding a second major must declare their intention to pursue either a double major program or a double degree program on the form described below in the section on Declaring or Changing Majors or Minors.
Co-Major. A special case of the double major, a co-major must be taken in conjunction with another, primary major. A co-major is not, by itself, sufficient to fulfill the College requirement that degree candidates successfully complete a major to graduate. To complete a co-major program, students must satisfy all the requirements of both the co-major and the primary major; earn a GPA of at least a 2.00 in both majors; and satisfy all other College graduation requirements. Students will receive a single diploma designating the degree associated with the primary major and be listed under the primary major at Commencement. However, both the co- major and the primary major will be listed on the transcript.
Second or Double Degree. Students wishing to be granted separate degrees in two fields of study can do so in any two majors from different fields with the same exceptions as for a double major. To obtain a double degree, students must complete the equivalent of an additional year of full-time study, that is, no fewer than 155 credits for those graduating in Spring 2013 or after (124 + 31). Additionally, they must satisfy all the requirements of both majors; earn a GPA of at least 2.00 in both majors; and satisfy all other College graduation requirements. Successful students will receive two diplomas, are eligible to obtain honors in both majors, and will be listed under both majors at Commencement. Students adding a second major must declare their intention to pursue either a double major program (above) or a double degree program on the form described below in the section on Declaring or Changing Majors or Minors.
While five years will normally be required for the completion of a double degree program, students who have completed a single degree are eligible to obtain a second degree by satisfying all of the requirements within seven years of graduation.
Minor. A minor is an optional, academically approved and officially recognized secondary specialization. Giving students an opportunity to explore a discipline other than their major in some depth, a minor requires the completion of a focused set of at least 18 credits drawn from that discipline. At least one-half of the credits required for a minor must be upper-level courses, i.e., courses not considered by the offering department to be introductory in nature. (See the descriptions of the program requirements of the different minors.)
Open Electives. Courses remaining in a student’s program after completion of general education, major, cognate, and, in the case of Business Administration majors, core and concentration requirements, are free or open electives. Such courses are generally required to complete the numerical requirements for graduation.
Declaring or Changing Majors and Minors. A form for declaring or changing a major or minor can be obtained at the office of the academic department offering the intended major or minor program. The form is also available at the Office of the Registrar and on the College’s intranet portal, myMack. The form allows students to add or drop major and/or minor programs simultaneously. Students changing majors or minors should go to the department offering the new major or minor. Students who only wish to drop a program and not add a new one should go to the Office of the Registrar. Students adding a second major are required to declare their intention to pursue either a double major or a double degree program of study.
To have accurate and pertinent registration and advising material, students are advised to make major or minor changes or declarations by October 15 in the fall semester, March 15 in the spring semester, and July 15 in the summer.
Determination of the Degree Requirements in Effect
All bachelor’s degree programs require a minimum of 124 credits. Students who follow approved academic programs will normally graduate after four academic years (8 semesters) of full-time study.
Students who do complete 16 credits each semester over 8 semesters will earn 128 credits. Accordingly, degree programs that require 124 credits allow a small degree of latitude in credits earned per semester. A few programs require more than 128 credits, and students in those programs will need either occasional semesters of more than 16 credits or summer coursework to complete all graduation requirements. The specific requirements of each program are described in their respective sections of this catalog. In addition, Cooperative Education students will normally need five years for the completion of their eight semesters of full-time study. Students pursuing a double degree program will also normally need five years of study.
Students who do not graduate with their prospective graduation class because of a leave of absence, withdrawal from college, or failure to successfully complete all degree requirements will be reassigned to another, appropriate graduation class. If they are reassigned to the next graduation class (e.g., members of the class of 2018 assigned to the class of 2019) they will normally be expected to satisfy the degree requirements in effect for their original graduation class.
If, however, a break in attendance of more than one year occurs, students (including Cooperative Education students) may be expected to satisfy the degree requirements of the graduation class to which they have been reassigned.
General Education Requirements
The Core Curriculum in Liberal Studies
This curriculum provides all students, regardless of major, with a solid grounding in the liberal arts. The Liberal Studies Core curriculum establishes foundational knowledge and skills as students’ transition into college life, encourages exploration into various dimensions of society and culture, and enables students to make connections in their overall understanding of our complicated world. The Liberal Studies Core prepares graduates to live as informed, productive, and responsible citizens in an increasingly complex and diverse environment. While a student’s major provides in-depth knowledge of a specific field of study, the Liberal Studies Core provides all students with the range of knowledge, skills, and perspectives required to succeed professionally and personally in challenging global situations. In keeping with Merrimack’s commitment to its rich Catholic and Augustinian intellectual heritage, the Liberal Studies Core also encourages students to value and practice critical inquiry, social responsibility, and ethical judgment in the academic, social, and personal dimensions of their lives, and to develop the capacity for lifelong learning.
Course Requirements and Area Requirements. The Liberal Studies Core has two types of requirements, Course Requirements that are fulfilled by taking courses specifically for meeting that requirement, and Area Requirements that can be fulfilled by taking courses or by engaging in other approved activities. There are eleven (11) Course Requirements, normally adding up to 44 credits, and five (5) Area Requirements that do not add to the credits required (see below on the effect of transfer courses on the credit requirements). Three of the five Area Requirements are fulfilled by taking courses designated for that Area Requirement; one of the Area Requirements can be fulfilled either by such a course or by completing an appropriate activity; and one is based on participation in Academic Convocation, which is part of the First Year Experience course, at the beginning of the Fall semester.
The Faculty Senate’s General Education Committee distributes a list of all courses approved for fulfilling each of the requirements of the Liberal Studies Core. The departmental course descriptions in this catalog and the Master Schedule published by the Registrar also indicate which courses fulfill the various requirements. In the list of requirements below, a code letter or letters appears in parentheses. That code is used in the course descriptions later in the catalog and on the Master Schedule.
Meeting Multiple Requirements in a Single Course. Because scholarly disciplines are often inherently interdisciplinary, many of the College’s courses are identified as fulfilling multiple requirements. However, each of the eleven Course Requirements must be fulfilled by a separate course. That is, a single course that is identified as fulfilling two Course Requirements can be used by a student to fulfill only one of those two requirements. Courses taken to meet the Course Requirements can be used to meet major or minor requirements.
In contrast, any course that fulfills an Area Requirement can simultaneously be used to meet any other academic requirement, or can be an open elective. That is, Area Requirements can be fulfilled by a course that meets major or minor requirements, open electives, or any of the Liberal Studies Course Requirements. A course designated as fulfilling multiple Area Requirements fulfills them simultaneously. For example, if a student takes a single course designated as fulfilling the Experiential Learning and Writing Intensive requirements (see below), then the student has fulfilled both of those requirements with that course.
Structure of the Liberal Studies Core Requirements. The Course and Area Requirements are organized into three categories: Foundations, Explorations, and Connections. Each of these is described in turn.
Foundations Requirements. Foundational requirements in critical thinking and ethics, effective writing, and quantitative reasoning teach skills and habits of mind that are essential for academic success. Foundations requirements should normally be completed by the end of the sophomore year.
The Foundations requirements consist of three Course Requirements:
- FYW 1050 - Introduction to College Writing (FYW)
- PHL 1000 - Introduction to Philosophy (PHL)
- Ethics (E)
The Foundations requirements also include one Area Requirement:
- Quantitative Reasoning (Q)
Explorations Requirements. The Explorations Requirements form the core of Merrimack’s commitment to providing a strong education in the liberal arts. Required coursework in this element of the Liberal Studies Core develops students’ breadth of knowledge in multiple disciplines and affords them the opportunity to explore different areas of study as they decide on a major or confirm their commitment to a chosen field of specialization. Explorations requirements can be taken at any time in the student’s program, however, it is strongly recommended that the Religious and Theological Studies requirement should be completed by the end of the sophomore year.
The Explorations requirements consist of eight Course Requirements:
- Religious and Theological Studies (RTS)
- Arts and Literature (AL)
- Foreign Language (FL)
- Historical Studies (H)
- Two courses in Social Science disciplines (SOSC)
- Two courses in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
The Explorations requirements also include one Area Requirement:
- Cultural Diversity (D)
The eight Course Requirements in Explorations are modified for students majoring in Athletic Training, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or Exercise Science.
- Religious and Theological Studies (RTS)
- Two courses in Social Science disciplines (SOSC)
- Two courses in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
- Three courses from the following four categories: Arts and Literature (AL); Foreign Language (FL); Historical Studies (H); a Mathematics course.
The Area Requirement in Explorations (Cultural Diversity) remains the same for these students; the Foundations and Connections requirements (see below) are also unchanged.
For all students, regardless of major, the two courses in Social Science are designed for disciplinary breadth, and must be taken from two different social science disciplines (that is, two different academic departments). The two courses in STEM can be used either for breadth, or for depth in a STEM field, and therefore can be from a single discipline or from two different disciplines.
Connections Requirements. The Connections Requirements are designed to foster connections: among different components within individual courses; among two or more individual courses; between classroom instruction and learning experiences outside the classroom; between theory and practice; or between the academic community and the world outside the College.
The Connections requirements consist of three Area Requirements:
- Students must attend Academic Convocation in the Fall of their first year at Merrimack, and complete a related assignment, normally through the First Year Experience course (AC);
- Students must take a Writing Intensive course (W);
- Students must complete an Experiential Learning (X) course or approved experiential learning activity.
Transfer Students and Transferred Courses. Normally, the Liberal Studies Core Curriculum will require a minimum of 44 credits (eleven 4-credit courses). However, some students may transfer in some of the courses from other institutions and earn fewer than 44 credits after meeting all the requirements. All students who transfer in courses must earn a minimum of 40 credits in courses that meet Liberal Studies Core requirements. Students who complete the eleven Course Requirements and the five Area Requirements in fewer than 40 credits must take an additional course (or courses) until they achieve 40 or more credits. The course(s) used for this purpose can be from any of the Course or Area Requirements.
Optional Academic Programs and Activities
Merrimack College offers students multiple educational opportunities in optional programs and activities involving study off campus, or through various programs that accelerate academic progress.
Students matriculated at Merrimack College may, with the approval of their major department chair and the Registrar’s Office, take courses for transfer credit at other accredited institutions of higher learning. Courses must also be approved by the corresponding Merrimack College department. For example, an English course must be approved by the English Department. If it is determined that there is no equivalent Merrimack course, open credit toward numerical graduation requirements may be granted. Courses taken at another institution will be accepted as transfer credit if and only if a grade of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale (C or better) is earned. Grades in courses for which transfer credit has been granted do not enter into the computation of the student’s grade point average.
The Registrar’s Office determines the credit to be granted for courses transferred from approved programs in international institutions (e.g., through Study Abroad as described below), based on the translation of grades and credit from the academic system of the host institution or country to the American semester system. In doing so, the Registrar follows the recommendation of the foreign institution’s Registrar (or its equivalent office) as found on transcripts or other official documentation from the foreign institution. As with other transferred courses, the equivalent Merrimack course, if any, is determined by the corresponding Merrimack College academic department.
The number of credits granted for courses transferred from domestic institutions is determined by the institution that offered the course. Thus, a course worth 3 credits at another institution that is on a semester system is granted 3 credits at Merrimack College. However, courses from institutions on other credit systems (e.g., quarter, semester, hours) are translated into semester credits. Many institutions, both domestic and foreign, are not on the same 4-credit curriculum as Merrimack College, and therefore transferred courses may have an impact on meeting various academic requirements including majors, minors, and general education requirements. Students should check relevant sections of this catalog for credit requirements, and consult with their academic advisor or the Registrar as appropriate with regard to the effect of transferred courses.
Information for students who transfer from other institutions to complete their degree at Merrimack College can be found at the end of the Catalog in the section on Admission and Financial Aid.
The College grants credit for a number of academic programs offered away from the campus, including Study Abroad, the Northeast Consortium of Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (NECCUM), American University Washington Semester, and Air Force Reserve Officer Training (ROTC).
Study Abroad. Study abroad is recommended for students in all majors in order to expand their understanding of themselves, the world, and critical global issues. Merrimack College offers a variety of semester, full-year, and short-term study abroad programs, some of which include an optional internship and/or service-learning component. Students interested in a semester or full- year program should begin planning at least one year prior to departure. Non-Merrimack courses taken abroad in an approved program are recognized as transfer courses and subject to the determination of transfer credit as described above. Additional information and a current list of approved study abroad programs can be found at www.merrimack.edu/academics/global-education/.
NECCUM Cross Registration. Merrimack College is a member of the Northeast Consortium of Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (NECCUM). During a session in which they are registering for a full-time course load, Merrimack students may cross register for up to 8 undergraduate credits on a space-available basis at other institutions in the consortium: Endicott College, Gordon College, Middlesex Community College, Montserrat College of Art, North Shore Community College, Northern Essex Community College, Salem State University, and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Courses taken through NECCUM are accepted for transfer credit only if the student earns a grade of C or better. Courses taken through the NECCUM cross registration do not enter into the computation of the grade point average. To cross register, students must be full-time “day” students and be registering for a full-time course load of which the NECCUM course may be a part of the full-time load, have completed 16 credits, and have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00. Forms are available in the Office of the Registrar.
American University Washington Semester. Merrimack College is associated with the American University program for study in Washington, D.C. Several programs in a variety of fields are offered to college juniors from member institutions. These programs are centered on internships and associated seminars. Qualified students may, with the permission of their department, substitute a semester in one of the programs for equivalent coursework at Merrimack subject to the Merrimack rules concerning transfer credits described above. Interested students should contact the chair of the Political Science Department.
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Merrimack College students may enroll in Air Force ROTC courses at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. The Air Force ROTC program qualifies men and women for a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Two-year, three-year, and four-year programs, as well as scholarships, are available. Details can be obtained by contacting Air Force ROTC Detachment 345, UMass Lowell, via www.uml.edu/afrotc or www.afrotc.com. Registration for ROTC courses is done via NECCUM cross-registration (see above).
Accelerated Academic Progress
Students may accelerate their academic progress by taking additional courses during the fall and spring semesters (subject to certain limits described below in the section on Academic Status and Progress) or in Merrimack College’s summer programs. They may also accelerate their academic progress through a number of programs administered by other organizations, as described here. Further details on some of these programs are found in the section of the Catalog on Admission and Financial Aid.
Advanced Placement (AP). College credit may be assigned for sufficient performance on AP tests offered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). For more details, see the section on Admission and Financial Aid . Individual academic departments determine the credits earned and the minimum score necessary to earn credit.
International Baccalaureate (IB). College credit for International Baccalaureate examinations are subject to review. An official IB examination report is required for consideration. High Level examinations with a score of 5 or better will be reviewed for credit.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Course credit may be granted through the CLEP program, in which students can take an equivalency examination in an academic area instead of a course offered by the College in that area. The examinations are offered by the College Entrance Examination Board and are available in most academic disciplines. CLEP examinations are usually offered to replace courses at the introductory level. CLEP examinations should be taken prior to the start of the student’s junior year, but no later than the start of the student’s senior year. Information about the program may be obtained from the department chair of the appropriate discipline or from the Transfer Coordinator in the Registrar’s Office.
Foreign Language Achievement Testing Service (FLATS). Brigham Young University Foreign Language Achievement Tests are available to matriculated Merrimack College students who have acquired skills in foreign languages that are not offered for credit at the College. Students may earn up to 12 credits, to be determined by the Registrar and the Department of World Languages and Cultures based on test scores. Further information about the program may be obtained from the Academic Counselor for International Students in the Center for Academic Enrichment.
Credit for Military Training (ACE). Merrimack College awards academic credit for military training based on the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations.
Credit by Departmental Examination. In some instances, at the discretion of individual academic departments, students may earn credit for a course by passing an examination administered by the department offering the course. Information can be obtained from the chair of the appropriate department.
There are a number of policies and procedures that must be followed in association with registering for courses; while taking courses; and in changing the status of a course. Additionally, the College’s grading policies and practices are described.
Registering for Courses
Entering first-year students are enrolled into a schedule of courses for their first semester at orientation. Subsequently, students determine their schedule of courses with the approval of their academic advisor. In doing so, a number of policies and requirements, and options should be considered.
Pre-Requisites and Co-Requisites. Some courses require knowledge or skills acquired in other courses, and those courses therefore have pre-requisites or co-requisites. Pre-requisites are courses that have to be completed with a passing grade before taking the course that lists it as a pre-requisite. Co-requisites are courses that must be taken at the same time as the course that lists it as a co-requisite. Some co-requisite courses may also be taken prior to the course requiring them; some pre-requisite courses may also be taken at the same time as the course that requires them. In those cases, permission of the academic department or instructor of the course is required.
Continuing Course. Some two-semester courses are such that the same grade is given for both semesters of the course based on work done across the two semesters. The grade to be received for the first semester is therefore not known until the work for the second semester is completed and graded. In these cases, the work done in the first semester is assigned the grade of Y (or Continuing) until a grade can be given for the work done in both semesters. Once the second semester’s grade is assigned, the first semester’s work is then assigned a grade identical to the one assigned that of the second semester, replacing the Y grade.
Auditing a Course. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors with cumulative grade point averages of 2.50 or better may register for one, but only one, additional course as auditors. They must obtain authorization from the professor teaching the course, and the chair of the department offering the course. Auditors are subject to any attendance regulations that may be in effect, but are not required to complete assignments or take examinations. Auditors do not earn academic credit for the course, but will have a record of having audited it on their transcript. Students taking a course as an audit must indicate their intention when they register for the course. No change to or from auditing will be permitted after the drop/add period (see below under Changing the Status of a Course).
Taking a Course Pass/Fail. In order to encourage students to explore new areas of knowledge without undue risk to their cumulative grade point averages, the College permits the taking of open elective courses on a pass/fail basis (see the definition of open electives above in the section on Requirements for the Bachelor’s Degree). Students wishing to take a course pass/fail may do so as long as that course is not required to satisfy general education requirements, major or major cognate requirements, Business core or concentration requirements, or minor requirements; only open electives may be taken on a pass/fail basis. No more than eight credits taken on a pass/fail basis may be taken from any one department, no more than four credits may be taken in a single semester, and no more than twelve credits may be counted towards the Bachelor’s degree. The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate may exclude specific courses from pass/fail registration upon review of a department’s request. Details on grading, and on the impact on GPA of taking a course pass/fail can be found in the section on Grade Policies, below. The standard for a passing grade is determined by the instructor. Students should find out exactly what will be considered a passing grade before choosing to take a course on a pass/fail basis.
Students taking a course on a pass/fail basis should indicate their intention when they register for the course, but students may also make such a declaration on or before the 10th class week. No change to the pass/fail registration will be permitted after the conclusion of the 10th class week. Courses offered in a nontraditional term will have a pass/fail deadline equivalent to two- thirds of the course.
Registering for an Overload / Maximum Credit Limit. As described below in the section on Academic Status and Progress, the normal course load in a semester is 16 credits. While not recommended for most students, any full-time student may take up to 19 credits in any semester. Students who meet the criteria below may take a maximum of 20 credits.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors whose preceding semester grade point average is at least 3.00 may take 20 credits in a given semester. Any second semester senior who needs to take additional credits in order to complete graduation requirements or commencement participation requirements may do so. But in no case shall any student be permitted to take more than twenty credits in any one semester.
Qualified students with the requisite grade point average wishing to take additional credits should consult with their major department chair and the Registrar’s Office. At such consultations, the department chair or the Registrar’s Office will acquaint the student with the disadvantages as well as the advantages of carrying additional credits. The final decision remains the right and the option of the qualified student.
Repeating a Course. Students have the option of repeating a course, whether or not they failed the course originally. Courses may be repeated more than once. This option allows students to improve their cumulative grade point average as well as increase their knowledge. For example, if a student repeats a course in which a “D+” had previously been earned and earns a “B,” the points for the “D+” will be replaced by the points for the “B” in the computation of the grade point average. On the other hand, students who repeat any course other than one which they have failed risk lowering their cumulative grade point average should they earn a lower grade when repeating the course. The transcript will include a record of every course taken and the letter grades received. Courses must be repeated at Merrimack if the new grade is to be calculated in the grade point average. Grades earned at another institution do not compute in the grade point average.
Students can repeat courses as many times as required to pass the course. However, if a student wishes to repeat a course to improve their grade, they can only receive aid for courses repeated one time.
Policies and Practices during a Course
Several policies affect students while taking courses. These include attendance policies, mid- term and final grades, academic integrity, and final examination policies.
Attendance Policies. Attendance is essential to a good educational experience; therefore, students are expected to attend classes regularly. It is the responsibility of the professor(s) to notify students in writing of their specific attendance policies in their course syllabus, and to place such statements on file with the Office of the Dean. In those rare instances when it is necessary to be absent, students should inform the professor in advance and are responsible for work missed. Permission to make up quizzes, examinations, and other work may be granted at the discretion of the professor. If the absence is due to a conflict with a Merrimack activity or event, the responsible Merrimack faculty member, staff member, or administrator will provide advance written notice to the professor. When in the judgment of a professor a student’s progress is being seriously impeded by excessive absence from class or by other difficulties he or she may be experiencing, the professor is encouraged to refer the matter to the Office of the Dean.
Mid-Term and Final Grades. Students are assigned grades for courses at mid-term and at the end of the semester. Students can check their grades on MyMack, the College intranet portal. Mid-term grades are for information on progress; only final grades appear on the transcript.
Academic Integrity Code. In the fall of 2011, the Faculty adopted a new Academic Integrity Code and Review Procedures. The document describing the code and procedures for reviewing cases of academic integrity infractions - cases of academic dishonesty - can be seen in the Faculty Handbook and in the Student Handbook. The kinds of infractions include (but are not limited to) cheating, fabrication of information, complicity with others engaging in infractions of academic integrity, plagiarism, appropriation of others’ work, unsanctioned multiple submissions of work, and unsanctioned collaboration on academic work. Penalties are at the discretion of the instructor of the course; if the penalty for the course is a grade of F, there is the additional possibility of a College Penalty including suspension or expulsion from the College. Students have the right of appeal, both of the allegation of an infraction and of the penalty imposed. Details of the processes for reporting, appealing, and investigating allegations can be found in the document described above.
Final Examinations. Final examinations are given at the end of each semester, at the time designated on the official examination schedule. A student who, because of illness or other legitimate extenuating circumstances, is unable to take a regularly scheduled final examination, must communicate as soon as possible with the appropriate professor who will, if judging that the circumstances so warrant, establish an appropriate time and place for the administration of a “make-up” final examination replacing the one missed.
Changing the Status of a Course
Once students have begun an academic session, they have several options to consider, including changing the set of courses in which they are enrolled by dropping and adding courses; changing the grading basis from a letter grade to pass/fail; withdrawing from a course; or requesting an incomplete. Details on each appear below.
Dropping and Adding Courses. Students may drop or add courses without penalty and without the student’s record showing that a course was dropped up until the fifth day of classes at the start of each semester. Dropping or adding courses during the drop/add period is subject to the conditions described below in the section on Academic Status and Progress regarding full-time and part-time status, and above in the section on maximum credit limits under Registering for Courses. The Academic/Administrative Calendar, on the Registrars’ Office Website, lists the precise date for the end of the drop/add period. Courses offered in a non-traditional term will have a drop/add deadline appropriate to the term. The date will be posted in the appropriate calendar.
Changing to Pass/Fail Grading. As described above in the section on Registering for Courses, under certain circumstances students may elect to convert a course to a Pass/Fail grading basis. As noted above, students may do so on or before the 10th class week. No change to the Pass/Fail registration will be permitted after the conclusion of the 10th class week. Courses offered in a nontraditional term will have a Pass/Fail deadline equivalent to two-thirds of the course. Please review the discussion above for further information on Pass/Fail grading.
Withdrawing. Students wishing to withdraw from a course after the end of the drop/add period may do so and receive a grade of “W” (or Withdrawn) at any point up to and including the end of the tenth week of class. Students may not withdraw after that deadline. To withdraw from a course, students should consult their professor, advisor, or department chairperson and must obtain an authorized signature on a withdrawal approval form in their academic department. Students should consider the fact that if withdrawing from a course will drop their course load to below 12 credits, athletic eligibility, health insurance, financial aid, and housing may be jeopardized.
The section on Academic Status and Progress, below, includes further information on withdrawing from the College, and leave of absence policies.
Incomplete. Occasionally, extenuating circumstances lead to an inability to complete a course successfully during the regularly scheduled time in which it is offered. At the discretion of the instructor for the course, students may be able to take an incomplete, and complete the course after the semester has ended. An incomplete is not used to extend the time for completion of general course requirements, but is restricted to the completion of a limited requirement, such as a final examination or paper.
A variety of grades appear on transcripts; the list of possible grades and their definitions appear below, followed by the definition of grade point average (GPA) and cumulative GPA.
Letter Grade Definitions. The grades students earn in their courses, corresponding to their level of academic achievement, are expressed by one of the following letters:
||Minimal Passing Quality
||Pass on a pass/fail option
||Official withdrawal from a course within the first 10 weeks of the semester.
Also used to indicate withdrawal from the College.
||Continuing course. Same value as the grade for the succeeding semester.
Failure. The letter grade “F” is used to indicate work that must be repeated or replaced. (See the section on Repeated Courses, below.)
Auditor. A letter grade of “H” will appear on the student’s transcript to signify that a course has been audited.
Incomplete. The grade “N” (or Incomplete) denotes work not completed due to some extenuating circumstance (see above in the section on Changing the Status of a Course for details). A student receiving an “N” will be allowed four weeks from the end of the semester for the work to be completed and the grade to be converted. At the end of that time, if the instructor has not informed the Registrar of a new grade, an “N” will convert to an “F.”
Pass/Fail. Details on the policies regarding taking a course on a pass/fail basis appear above in the section on Registering for Courses under Course Policies. Students taking courses on a pass/fail basis receive either a grade of “passing” or a “failing” grade. The grade of “passing,” signified by a “P,” is given without any discrimination being made between a superior, good, fair, or minimal passing level of achievement. While a grade of “P” is not computed in the grade point average, a grade of “F” is computed in the grade point average. The standard for a passing grade is determined by the instructor.
Withdrawal. The grade “W” indicates that a student has withdrawn from the course after the end of the drop/add period (see above in the section on Changing the Status of a Course), and no later than the end of the tenth week of class. It also is used to indicate that a student has withdrawn from the College (see below in the section on Academic Status and Progress).
Withdrawn Failing. The grade “WF” indicates that a student was assigned a grade of “F” in the course before withdrawing.
Continuing Course. The grade “Y” is used to indicate that the course is the first part of a two- semester sequence in which the grade for each semester will be the same and depends on the work done in the second semester. After the second semester is completed, the grade assigned at the end of the second semester will replace the grade of “Y” for the first semester and both semesters will appear on the transcript with the same letter grade.
Repeated Courses. When a student has repeated a course (see above in the section on Repeated Courses under Registering for Courses) the grade earned the last time the student took the course will be used in the computation of the cumulative grade point average (whether the last grade is higher or lower than the earlier grade). The transcript will include a record of every course taken and the letter grades received. Courses must be repeated at Merrimack if the new grade is to be calculated in the grade point average. Grades earned at another institution do not compute in the grade point average.
Grade Points. In the calculation of the academic averages for all scholastic purposes, points for each credit hour are assigned according to grades earned as follows:
Course grade points are determined by multiplying the grade points earned by the number of course credits. For example, a grade of B in a four-credit course will yield twelve grade points
(3.0 grade points multiplied by four credits is twelve points), while a grade of D in a two-credit course will yield two (1.0 multiplied by two is two).
Cumulative Grade Point Average. With the exception of the grades earned in courses that are subsequently repeated, all grades of “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F,” with or without “pluses” or “minuses,” earned in courses taken at Merrimack College for credit and recorded on a student’s transcript are included in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average; only the last grades awarded for courses repeated at the College are included. The cumulative grade point average is then calculated by dividing the total number of points assigned for included grades by the total number of credit hours represented by the courses for which those grades were earned.
In the determination of whether a student has met a minimum grade point average to meet a College requirement (such as a graduation requirement, or satisfactory academic standing), or to qualify for an academic honor, the grade point average (GPA) is never approximated or rounded.
Academic Status and Progress
Depending on the number of credits students take, they are classified as either full-time or part- time. Adding or dropping courses may change that classification; progress from freshman year to graduation depends on successfully completing credits and remaining in good academic standing.
Classification. Classification is based on the total number of credits that a student has earned. Freshman classification is 0 - 27 credits; sophomore classification is 28 -59; junior classification is 60 - 91; senior classification is 92 or more credits.
Full-time Status. The bachelor’s degree requires a minimum of 124 credits, normally taken over eight semesters. A normal course load is 16 credits per semester. Students with a semester course load of 12 credits or more are considered full-time and must pay full tuition and corresponding fees and expenses.
Students participating in the Cooperative Education program are treated and reported as full- time students at Merrimack College provided that the student works at least 25 hours per week. Study Abroad students are also considered to maintain full-time status while abroad.
Part-time Status. Students enrolled in 11 credits or less per semester are considered part-time. Students considering part-time enrollment should be aware that part-time students may be ineligible for campus housing and financial aid, risk any scholarships they may have, and may not participate on varsity athletic teams. Students considering part-time status should be aware that many health plans will cover dependent children over age 19 only if they are full-time students. Therefore, dropping or withdrawing from courses (see above, under Course Policies) should be done only in consultation with the student’s advisor.
Leave of Absence/Withdrawal from the College
Occasionally, students may want to take time away from the College or withdraw entirely.
Withdrawal from the College. Students may discontinue their education by notifying the Registrar’s Office in writing of their intention to withdraw. Oral notice is not sufficient. Withdrawal based on an honorable dismissal entitles the student to a refund of tuition and room and board charges according to the schedule given in the Fees and Expenses section of this catalog.
Leave of Absence. Leaves of absence are granted to students in good academic and disciplinary standing who have completed at least two semesters as full-time students at the College and who determine that circumstances necessitate a temporary interruption of their college careers. Authorization for leaves of absence is granted by the Registrar’s Office upon receipt of the student’s written notification of intent. The request must be signed and dated or must be sent from the student’s Merrimack College email account.
It must be done in advance unless there is an unforeseen circumstance. It must include a reason for the leave. Carrying with it an intention of returning to the College, a leave of absence guarantees readmission to the College upon receipt by the Registrar of a notification of the intent to return.
Only one leave of absence will normally be granted each student and they are granted for not more than one year, unless the student receives an extension of the leave from the Registrar’s Office. Students on leaves of absence of more than one year’s duration may be held to any changes in the College curriculum or their programs of study occurring during their leaves. (See the section on the determination of degree requirements, above.)
The guaranteed readmission may be revoked if the student’s conduct while on leave is such
that it would have resulted in disciplinary discontinuance had he or she remained at the College. The student retains the right of appeal in such cases. Acceptance for return as a resident student is always contingent upon space in the residence halls. Any student who wishes to live on campus upon his or her return must place his or her name on the waiting list maintained by the Office of Resident Life.
Medical Leave. Students seeking a medical leave of absence are subject to the same policies and procedures as above, with the following exceptions. They are not required to have completed a minimum of two semesters as full-time students, and they need to provide written documentation from a physician or other qualified licensed professional which provides a professional opinion that a medical leave is necessary. The documentation must be submitted to Hamel Health and Counseling. The Hamel Director will review the documentation and is responsible for approving medical leaves. Students returning from medical leave must contact Hamel Health and Counseling prior to the semester they wish to return. Medical documentation must be provided which states a professional opinion that the student is medically able to return to coursework and/or residential life on campus. Once reviewed by Hamel Health and Counseling, students receive final approval to return from the Dean of Students or designee.
Academic Progress and Standing
For academic advancement from semester to semester, it is not sufficient that students merely pass all courses. They must, in addition, maintain sufficiently high cumulative grade point averages. If they do not, they may be placed on academic probation for the following semester or find themselves subject to suspension or dismissal. A student on academic probation is not in good academic standing. As noted above, for all categories, the determination of whether a student has met a required GPA is not subject to rounding or approximation.
Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid. To maintain eligibility for financial aid, students must make satisfactory academic progress over time. The criteria for satisfactory academic progress include number of credits earned and attempted, and minimum grade point averages over time. Details can be found in the section on Admission and Financial Aid at the back of the catalog.
Academic Probation. Students who fail to achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 will be placed on probation for the succeeding semester.
Regardless of their cumulative average, students are automatically placed on probation for the following semester if their semester grade point average is 1.70 or lower or if they incur two or more failures in any one semester. All students on probation will be required to be part of the Academic Monitoring Program and fulfill the requirements of the contract for that program.
Academic Suspension. Students placed on probation will be suspended if they do not achieve in the probationary semester a semester average that gives a reasonable expectation that they will be able to achieve the cumulative average required for graduation within a reasonable period of time.
Whether or not they have been on probation, students are subject to suspension when they fail to achieve the following cumulative grade point averages:
1.50 with the attempt of at least 12 credit hours
1.60 with the attempt of at least 24 credit hours
1.70 with the attempt of at least 36 credit hours
1.80 with the attempt of at least 48 credit hours
1.90 with the attempt of at least 60 credit hours
2.00 with the attempt of at least 72 credit hours
All students except freshmen are subject to suspension if their grade point average falls below 1.70 for two consecutive semesters. Any student whose semester grade point average is 1.50 or lower may be subject to immediate suspension.
All students who are subject to suspension will be suspended if they do not make a written appeal to the College’s Academic Board through the Director of the Center for Academic Enrichment (see subsequent section). For those students who appeal a suspension, the written appeal must identify the extenuating circumstances of their situation and the means they will take to remedy the problems involved. Final decisions regarding suspension will be made following the systematic evaluation of each appeal by the Academic Board. Appeals will only be granted to those whose situation demonstrates strong hope for successful remedy of the problems leading to suspension. All students subject to suspension whose appeals are denied are automatically suspended. All students whose appeal of suspension is granted will be required to be part of the Academic Monitoring Program and fulfill the requirements of the contract for that program.
Normally, students who have received an academic suspension may not attend or take any courses at the college, including day, evening, or summer courses, for the next two semesters (including the summer as one semester). They may then reapply for admission through the Office of the Registrar. However, to be readmitted they must demonstrate their ability to handle the academic load at Merrimack. This will normally be done by demonstrating the ability to carry a full course load with a B or better average at another college.
Academic Dismissal. Students who have received a second academic suspension are subject to academic dismissal. All students who are subject to academic dismissal will be dismissed if they do not make a written appeal to the College’s Academic Board through the Director of the Center for Academic Enrichment. For those students who appeal academic dismissal, the written appeal must identify the extenuating circumstances of their situation and the means they will take to remedy the problems involved beyond those means already taken. Final decisions regarding academic dismissal will be made following the systematic evaluation of each appeal by the Academic Board. Appeals will only be granted to those whose situation demonstrates strong hope for successful remedy of the problems leading to dismissal. All students subject to dismissal whose appeals are denied are automatically dismissed.
All students whose appeal of dismissal is granted will be required to be part of the Academic Monitoring Program and fulfill the requirements of the contract for that program. Details on the program may be obtained from the Director of the Center for Academic Enrichment.
Application for Readmission after Suspension or Dismissal. Students who have had appeals denied or who have chosen not to appeal an academic suspension or dismissal are not eligible to take any courses at Merrimack College for a minimum of two consecutive semesters (in such cases the summer counts as a single semester). To resume studies at Merrimack College after the two (or more) semesters, students must complete and submit an application for readmission to the Office of the Registrar. Students must demonstrate that the time away was spent in a constructive manner, either through coursework at another institution (with a GPA of 2.7 or higher), gainful employment, or by addressing issues that contributed to the suspension or dismissal in the first place. An interview with the Director of the Center for Academic Enrichment is also required. Once this process is complete, the Academic Board will make a decision and inform the applicant as soon as possible.
Academic Board. The Academic Board serves the College and its students by working to clarify, consider, and resolve discrepancies between academic policies and the day-to-day decisions and actions of students. Always seeking to maintain a balance between the best interests of students and the integrity and existence of academic policies and procedures, the Board reviews and takes action on petitions from students requesting an exception to a policy or procedure in light of extenuating circumstances. The Academic Board convenes as needed during the academic year for petitions involving academic policies and procedures, and in January and June to consider appeals of academic suspensions and academic dismissals. Members of the Board include the Provost, the Director of the Center for Academic Enrichment (who serves as the Secretary to the Board), the Deans of the Schools of the College, the Registrar, and the Assistant Dean of Campus Life (for purposes of relevant student conduct information). Students should contact the Director of the Center for Academic Enrichment for information about Board processes and for submission of appeals.
Academic Forgiveness Policy. A student seeking readmission to the college after an absence of 3 or more years may apply for Academic Forgiveness which, if approved, would grant grade amnesty. An application for academic forgiveness can be found in the Office of the Registrar.
Official transcripts for all academic work attempted during the interim of last attendance and reapplication must be included with the application. If official transcripts for all previously attempted coursework are not provided to Merrimack College before readmission, transfer credit will not be considered. Transfer credit for courses taken at other colleges during the interim period will be awarded according to the policy described above in the section on Optional Academic Programs and Activities.
If reinstatement with academic forgiveness is approved, all of the student’s previous Merrimack College courses and grades will continue to appear on the transcript but will be treated as transfer courses counting only for credit, thereby eliminating the previous cumulative grade point average. Consistent with transfer policy, credit will be eliminated for all Merrimack College courses with grades of C- or below. Thus, at the time of reentry under the Academic Forgiveness Policy, there is no cumulative average working to the student’s disadvantage. The Forgiveness Policy includes all previous Merrimack work and does not allow the students to pick and choose individual courses for grade amnesty. The student’s Merrimack College grade point average is computed solely on work attempted after reinstatement.
Students electing the academic forgiveness option will be required to meet degree requirements of the catalog in effect on the date of the student’s reentry following academic forgiveness approval. All other current policies and practices apply to students granted academic forgiveness. A minimum of 48 credits must be completed at Merrimack College after academic forgiveness is granted. Academic forgiveness can only be granted once in a student’s association with the College. Students who are granted academic forgiveness are eligible for graduation honors. At the time of application for academic forgiveness, the student must acknowledge in writing that, once academic forgiveness has been granted, it will not be rescinded.
Students should contact the Office of Financial Aid for information on how this policy may affect financial aid.
Academic Honors and Graduation
Merrimack College recognizes academic excellence by naming students of high academic achievement to the Dean’s List, by designating them as Presidential Scholars, by conferring departmental honors, or by granting bachelor’s degrees cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude. In determining eligibility for an honor, the calculation of GPA is not subject to rounding.
Students who complete at least 12 credits hours in a given semester, not on a pass/fail basis and with an overall grade point average of 3.25 through 3.74 for the semester, shall have their names placed on the Dean’s List in recognition of their meritorious achievement.
Students who complete at least 12 credits hours in a given semester, not on a pass/fail basis and with an overall grade point average of 3.75 through 4.0 for the semester, shall have their names placed on the President’s List in recognition of their meritorious achievement.
The Presidential Scholar designation is given to those students who have senior status, have completed a minimum of 104 credits at the beginning of the spring semester of their senior year, are included on the Registrar’s list of anticipated May graduates, and have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50.
Merrimack College Seniors who have exhibited extraordinary academic accomplishment within a specific discipline may be conferred Departmental Honors upon graduation. The distinction of Departmental Honors is intended to recognize and reward those students who demonstrate academic initiative, originality and achievement above and beyond that which is required by the major curriculum. Senior students will be eligible for this distinction upon graduation if they have achieved a cumulative and departmental grade point average of 3.00 and have completed a substantial, original and independent project in their field of study. Honors projects must result in some tangible end product such as a written thesis, and/or oral presentation, creative artistic performance, or show in the student’s field of study, and may be part of an existing departmental Senior Thesis Research or Seminar course. The determination as to whether the distinction of Departmental Honors will be conferred by a given department, as well as the specific criteria for doing so, will be made by faculty members within each department. Students may be awarded the distinction of Departmental Honors separate from and in addition to institutional honors.
Students who graduate with cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.25, both in their majors and for their academic program as a whole, are graduated cum laude. Those who graduate with cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.55, both for their majors and for their academic program as a whole, are graduated magna cum laude. Those who graduate with cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.75, both for their majors and for their academic program as a whole, are graduated summa cum laude.
Graduation and Commencement Participation Policy
Merrimack College holds one commencement ceremony in May of each year. Degrees are conferred three times each year: August 31, December 31, and May (date varies). The degree will not be awarded or posted until the conferral date has passed. Students who have completed all degree requirements may participate in the College’s annual Commencement exercises. Students who have not satisfactorily completed all academic requirements for graduation at the time of Commencement may also participate if they meet or exceed the criteria described below. They will receive a blank diploma. They may also opt out, and choose to participate at a subsequent Commencement. Students may only participate in Commencement once. Requirements for participation in Commencement are not subject to appeal.
The determination of eligibility occurs at the end of the drop/add period in the spring semester or other final academic term preceding Commencement. At that time, the Registrar will calculate each student’s expected credit total, which is the number of credits earned plus the number for which a student is registered. Students may participate in Commencement if their expected total is no more than 8 credits less than the minimum credit requirement for their degree program. For students in all bachelor’s degree programs starting with the class of 2012, the minimum number of credits is 124, so bachelor’s degree candidates whose expected total is at least 116 credits may participate.
In all cases, the credit count will be based on the official record in the Registrar’s Office. Students with pending transfer credits are responsible for ensuring that those credits have been recorded by the Registrar’s Office by 5:00 pm on the Friday nearest February 15.
No diploma will be awarded until the student has been certified by their major department(s) as having completed all academic requirements and certified by the Bursar as having met all financial obligations to the College.
Procedures for Grade Appeal
1. A student who wishes to complain about a grade would be expected to discuss the matter first with the course instructor, doing so as soon as possible after receiving the grade.
2. The instructor should be willing to listen, to provide explanation, and to be receptive to changing the grade if the student provides convincing argument for doing so. (In most 128 cases the discussion between the student and the instructor should suffice and the matter should not need to be carried further.)
3. If, after the discussion with the instructor, the student’s concerns remain unresolved, the student might then approach the instructor’s department chair or another member of the faculty who is the instructor’s immediate administrative superior. That person, if he or she believes that the complaint may have merit, would be expected to discuss it with the instructor. If the matter still remains unresolved, it should be referred to an ad hoc faculty committee.
4. The ad hoc committee would ordinarily be composed of faculty members in the instructor’s department or in closely allied fields. The committee would examine available written information on the dispute, would be available for meetings with the student and with the instructor, and would meet with others as it sees fit.
5. If the faculty committee, through its inquiries and deliberations, determines that compelling reasons exist to change the grade, it would request that the instructor make the change, providing the instructor with a written explanation of its reasons. Should the instructor decline, he or she should provide an explanation for refusing.
6. The faculty committee, after considering the instructor’s explanation, and upon concluding that it would be unjust to allow the original grade to stand, may then recommend to the department head or to the instructor’s immediate administrative superior that the grade be changed. That individual will provide the instructor with a copy of the recommendation and will ask the instructor to implement it. If the instructor continues to decline, that individual may then change the grade, notifying the instructor and the student of this action. Only that individual, upon the written recommendation of the faculty committee, should have the authority to effect a change in grade over the objection of the instructor who assigned the original grade.
Academic Integrity Policy
The academic purpose of attending college is to pursue knowledge and truth, a purpose wholeheartedly embraced by St. Augustine in his own intellectual life. The collegial pursuit of knowledge and truth depends on cooperation and trust between student and teacher, among students, and between the student and the college. This pursuit involves learning methods of research and writing whereby such knowledge and truth are both learned and subsequently conveyed through competencies and skills acquired through academic study.
Academic integrity is fundamental to creating and maintaining an atmosphere of cooperation and trust. It is thus a concern for everyone in the college community. The academic integrity code below is designed to help students understand what is not permissible in their academic and intellectual lives at the college. It seeks to protect students from unintentional acts of dishonesty and to preserve the trust inherent in the student-teacher relationship, which is compromised if suspicion arises regarding the integrity of a student’s work. The code is also designed to inform students of the rules which will be used to judge academic integrity infractions.
Academic Integrity Code
In the broadest sense, academic dishonesty results from any attempt to gain an unfair advantage over others. The following definitions and examples are meant to guide you as students in the matter of avoiding academic dishonesty in your studies at the college. The code is also designed to inform you of the rules which will be used to judge academic integrity infractions.
While taking a test, quiz, or examination, you must rely on your own mastery of the subject and not attempt to receive help in any way not explicitly approved by the instructor. For example, students cannot use books, notes, study aids, assistance from electronic devices, or another’s work without the instructor’s permission.
Trying to take someone else’s examination or trying to have someone else take your own examination is prohibited, as is lying about a class absence or about the need for an extension on a paper or exam, claiming that an exam or paper has been submitted but lost by the instructor, or changing exam answers after the exam has been returned. Obtaining, in advance, specific questions on any test, quiz, or examination not authorized by the instructor is likewise prohibited. Similarly, purchasing a term paper or copying another student’s work and submitting it in whole or in part as your own are prohibited and constitute plagiarism (see below).
Team or collaborative projects, however, where students are told by their instructor to work together and the submission represents joint effort, are permissible.
You must not falsify, invent, alter, or use in a deliberately misleading way any information, data, or citations in any assignment. For example, making up or changing data or results or relying on someone else’s results in an experiment or lab assignment is prohibited, as is citing sources that either do not exist or have not been actually used or consulted.
You must not help or attempt to help another student commit an act of academic dishonesty as, for example, allowing another student to cheat from your exam or assignment or helping another student on a take-home exam.
This prohibition does not apply to team projects where students are directed by their instructor to work together.
Plagiarism is intellectual theft. At Merrimack, the failure to acknowledge the intellectual contributions of others is considered plagiarism. It is important to avoid even unintentional plagiarism by being familiar with accepted ways to acknowledge sources and by developing good note-taking and research habits. The explanations and examples below are designed to help you avoid plagiarism.
The most common way to acknowledge the reliance or indebtedness to someone else’s work is to provide footnotes, end-notes, in-text citations, or other documentation. Commonplace knowledge such as well-known dates, proverbs, or colloquial expressions seldom require documentation, but you should consult your instructor or cite the source if you are in doubt. In general, the harder it would be for someone to find the fact you have mentioned, the more likely you need to acknowledge its source. It is your responsibility to show clearly when and where you are relying on others, in part because your readers may wish to learn from the same sources you have used.
Since the internet has made information so readily available and the indebtedness of students to sources of many kinds raises issues of how best to handle sources, the following instructions are meant to be helpful in avoiding plagiarism. They are not, however, a substitute for instructions from your particular teachers.
- It’s plagiarism if you use someone else’s words without acknowledgement. If you use someone else’s words, not only must you give the source, but you must also put these words in quotation marks or use some other appropriate means of indicating that the words are not your own. This requirement applies to spoken as well as written words and mathematical formulations, whether or not they have been formally published.
- It’s plagiarism if you use someone else’s ideas, facts, data, or arguments without acknowledgement, even if the words you use are your own. If you use someone else’s examples, reasoning, or experimental results, you must acknowledge that use. Paraphrasing, summarizing, or rearranging someone else’s words, ideas, or results does not alter your indebtedness to the source, which must be acknowledged.
- It’s plagiarism if you acknowledge someone in a way that will lead a reader or listener to think your indebtedness is less than it actually was. If you use a whole paragraph worth of ideas from a source and include as your final sentence a quotation from that source, for example, you must indicate that your indebtedness includes more than just the quotation. If you simply put a page number after the quotation, you will lead your reader to think that only the quotation comes from the source. Instead, make clear that you have used more than the quotation.
Since online information is so readily available and cut-and-paste procedures are so easy to use, you must understand and use accepted techniques for citing internet sources and must be particularly on guard not to claim authorship of any idea or words of another. Since many internet sources do not include an author’s name, it is easy to assume that the work is part of the public domain and may be used without acknowledgement. This is not the case. All work taken from another must be acknowledged. The same rules apply to citing internet sources as apply to citing print sources, but the form of the citations may differ. Information on how and when to properly cite sources is available from your instructor. You can also seek help from staff in McQuade Library or visit the library’s webpage: “How to Cite Sources,” http://libguides.merrimack.edu/content.php?pid=117804. Help is also available at the Writing Center located in McQuade Library.
The words or ideas of a roommate or tutor or of an encyclopedia, or notes from another class all require acknowledgement. Introductions and notes from books also require acknowledgement. Speak with your instructor about the best way to handle such acknowledgements for your particular class.
- It’s still plagiarism if you use unacknowledged material accidentally or even unintentionally. Avoiding plagiarism begins with good note-taking, research, and essay-drafting habits. Take careful notes on sources, keeping track of these sources throughout the various stages of the writing process. Notes should identify the information you have obtained and where you acquired it so that later you can acknowledge your indebtedness accurately. A paper can be plagiarized even if you have simply forgotten that you used a certain source, or even if you have included material accidentally without remembering that it was taken from another source. One of the most common problems is that students write a draft of a paper without proper documentation, intending to go back later to “put in the references.” In some cases students accidentally hand in such papers instead of the documented version, or they forget to include some citations in their final draft. The fact that the wrong draft was submitted is not a defense against an accusation of plagiarism. In general students are held accountable for the work that they actually hand in, rather than the work they intended to hand in.
You must acknowledge the original source when using or incorporating an existing work into the production of a new work for a variety of purposes such as creating parody, offering commentary, or extending meaning and/or expression through a new context for the original work. Appropriation is particularly relevant to the fine arts. It is an expressive option that requires attention to legal and historical practice and responsibility since copyright and other laws may be involved. You should acknowledge the original source(s) according to your instructor’s guidelines.
You must not submit academic work for a class which has been done for another class unless your instructor gives prior approval. In any assignment, an instructor is justified in expecting that a certain kind of learning will be taking place. Handing in something done previously may preclude this learning.
When doing out-of-class projects or assignments, you must work individually unless collaboration has been expressly encouraged or permitted by your instructor. In many disciplines, collaboration is considered not simply a vital tool for learning, but more importantly, one of the primary means for generating knowledge. Thus it is expected, encouraged, and in some cases mandatory that students collaborate with each other, with faculty, and with tutors as they complete their assignments. You should follow your instructor’s guidelines with respect to whether and what kind of collaboration is permissible with regard to an assignment or project. You should follow your instructor’s guidelines with respect to seeking the help of tutors for a graded assignment and to the manner of the acknowledgement of such help. If you are in doubt as to whether collaboration is acceptable, you should assume that you are expected to do your work independently unless cooperation is specifically authorized by the instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor.
Penalties for Academic Dishonesty
Individual Course Penalty
The academic course penalty will be determined by your instructor. A student who violates the academic integrity code in a course may receive an F for the course, or, at the discretion of the instructor, a less severe penalty. If you withdraw from any course in which you have been accused of an academic integrity violation for which the penalty is F for the course, the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs will record the grade of WF on your transcript.
If the course penalty results in failure for the course, you will be referred to the instructor’s academic dean. The severity of the violation may, in the judgment of the dean and upon the recommendation of the instructor, require an additional college penalty beyond failure for the course. A college penalty may result in such actions as suspension or expulsion from the college. Your academic dean will be notified of the action.
If not expelled from the college, you must complete an educational program devised by the office of the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and supervised by your academic dean, to help you come to a fuller understanding of the academic integrity code. If you fail to complete the educational program to the satisfaction of your dean, and within the timelines specified by your dean, a hold will be placed on your transcript until the program has been completed.
Right of Appeal
If you acknowledge the integrity infraction but believe that the course grade penalty is inappropriate, you may appeal the grade through the normal college procedure for resolving grade disputes. Your instructor can inform you of the process as can your academic advisor or your academic dean.
If you acknowledge the integrity infraction but believe the college penalty, if one has been imposed by the instructor’s dean, is inappropriate, you may appeal the dean’s penalty to the Provost / Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). All college penalty decisions are reviewed by the Provost / VPAA.
If you believe that you have not committed an integrity infraction, your instructor or your instructor’s dean will refer your case to the Academic Integrity Board (AIB). You may also appeal directly to the AIB.
If you withdraw from the college before your appeal is completed, the Provost / VPAA will enter the grade of WF on your transcript for the course and any reapplication for admission to the college may be denied.
Academic Integrity Review Procedures
These procedures cover all cases where students are alleged to have committed infractions of the academic integrity code. Materials on academic integrity violations will be considered an internal and confidential record. These materials will be retained in the files of the Provost / VPAA until the student graduates or withdraws from the college. At that point, the files will be removed and destroyed.
Note: All references to “dean” in the following procedures are to the instructor’s academic dean unless otherwise indicated.
Reporting the Violation
The Academic Integrity Code helps students understand what is permissible and what is not regarding academic course conduct. Any additional requirements an instructor seeks to impose must be specifically published and accessible to students on either an instructor’s course syllabus and/or course website.
1. If an instructor believes that a student has violated the academic integrity code, the instructor will, under normal circumstances, notify the student, allowing the student an opportunity to respond. Depending on the circumstances, the instructor may choose to notify the student orally or in writing. At his or her sole discretion, the instructor may take a variety of actions, including taking no action, requiring the student to redo the work or complete an alternative piece of work, giving the student a failing grade for the assignment in question, or giving the student a failing grade for the course, which requires written notification to the student.
2. When an instructor assigns as penalty a failing grade for the course, the instructor must also report the matter in writing to the instructor’s department chair. If the department chair has questions, the chair may refer the matter back to the instructor for further discussion or clarification. Unless the instructor wishes to withdraw the action, the department chair will report the matter to the dean. The dean will notify the Provost /VPAA’s office of the instructor’s action.
If the dean decides to impose a college penalty, then such a penalty can include suspension or expulsion from the college. The dean may request further consultation with the instructor, the department chair, or the student before imposing such a penalty
3. Students who believe an academic integrity violation by others has occurred should report the suspected violation to the instructor. If the instructor does not act on the report, students may also report the matter to the instructor’s department chair, the instructor’s academic dean, or to their own academic dean who will report the complaint to the instructor’s academic dean. The instructor’s department chair or academic dean will investigate and determine how to proceed.
Appealing the Course Grade Penalty
If a student believes the course grade penalty imposed by the instructor is inappropriate, the student can appeal the course grade through the normal college procedure for resolving grade disputes.
Appealing the College Penalty
If a student believes the college penalty imposed by the dean is inappropriate, the student may appeal the college penalty to the Provost / Academic Vice President.
Appealing the Allegation
If a student denies that an academic integrity violation has occurred, the dean will refer the matter to the Academic Integrity Board (AIB). A student may also appeal directly to the AIB.
Upon receiving notice from the dean that an alleged academic integrity violation has occurred and the student(s) involved have denied the allegation, the Provost / VPAA will direct the Chair of the AIB to assemble a hearing panel consisting of faculty and student members of the AIB (see “Composition and Procedures of the Academic Integrity Board”). If several students are involved in one case, the dean may request that the panel consider the situation of all involved students, even if one or more do not deny having committed an academic integrity offense. The panel will make a determination regarding whether academic dishonesty has occurred and convey its findings to the dean, who will advise the student and the instructor of their rights of appeal.
The sole purpose of the hearing panel is to determine whether an academic integrity violation has occurred.
If the hearing panel determines that a violation has occurred, the original action of the instructor will stand, subject to decision on any appeal of the board’s findings (see #4 below, “Appealing the Findings of the Academic Integrity Board”). The Chair of the AIB will notify in writing at the same time the instructor’s academic dean and all parties of the hearing panel’s findings. If the student believes, nonetheless, that the instructor’s action is inappropriate, the student may appeal the grade through the normal college procedure for resolving grade disputes. The grade appeal process will only consider the grade and not reconsider or review the decision that an academic integrity violation has occurred.
If the hearing panel determines that a violation has occurred, the dean may impose on the student a college penalty. If, in the dean’s judgment, there are no extenuating or mitigating circumstances and the penalty for the academic integrity violation assigned is expulsion from the college, the dismissal and the reason for the dismissal may be noted on the student’s transcript.
If the hearing panel determines that a violation has NOT occurred, the Chair of the AIB notifies in writing the instructor’s dean and all parties, at the same time, of the hearing panel’s findings. The instructor’s department chair will then request that the instructor re-grade the student’s work based on the premise that no violation has occurred. If the instructor refuses, the instructor’s department chair will follow the normal college procedure for resolving grade disputes to resolve the matter.
Appealing the Findings of the Academic Integrity Board
Findings of the hearing panel of the Academic Integrity Board (AIB) can be appealed in writing to the dean by either the student(s) or the instructor within five (5) business days. There are only two grounds for an appeal: (1) there was a material procedural error in the panel’s review of the case; (2) new evidence not reasonably available to the panel at the time of its deliberations has come to light.
After reviewing the records of the hearing panel, written materials submitted with the request for an appeal of the panel’s findings, and the results of any further consultations with the parties, the dean may either affirm the finding of the hearing panel or remand the case to the hearing panel on the basis of either or both grounds for appeal.
If the case is remanded to the hearing panel, the panel will review and correct any substantiated violation of procedure and examine any new evidence; it will once again forward its findings to the dean. At this point, the dean will review the findings to be sure the grounds for the appeal of the hearing panel’s original findings have been addressed. If so, the findings of the board will stand.
Required Educational Program
Once the determination has been made that an academic integrity violation has occurred, either by admission of the student(s) or findings of the hearing panel of the Academic Integrity Board (AIB) and the penalty is not expulsion from the college, the student’s academic dean, in consultation with the AIB Chair, will require the student to complete a program of education and reflection on the meaning and importance of academic integrity. This program will be designed by the office of the Provost / VPAA and may include written exercises, community service, and/or participation in an integrity educational program supervised by the college.
If the educational program is not completed in a timely and satisfactory manner as determined by the student’s academic dean, the student’s dean will impose a hold on the student’s academic records, thus preventing the student from registering for further courses, transferring coursework to another institution, or graduating until the conditions of the educational program have been met.
Composition and Procedures of the Academic Integrity Board
The Academic Integrity Board (AIB) is the appeals mechanism for allegations of academic integrity code violations. It consists of faculty members and students. From its ranks come the members of a hearing panel for any case of alleged academic dishonesty. The sole purpose of the hearing panel is to determine whether an academic integrity violation has occurred. The hearing process is an internal community-based procedure governed by the policies of Merrimack College and is limited to members of the Merrimack College community as defined below.
The Provost / Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) will constitute the membership of the AIB according to the requirements below. Except for the Chair of the AIB, who is a member of the Provost/VPAA’s staff, AIB members will normally serve three-year terms to provide experience and continuity to the hearing panels.
1. A Chair of the AIB from the Provost / VPAA’s office who will have faculty status, as defined in the Faculty Senate Constitution and Bylaws. The job of the Chair will be to oversee the academic integrity policy at the college, including insuring that incoming students are aware of the code, that the code is widely disseminated and regularly communicated, working with faculty and academic support staff in devising ways that promote and support academic integrity, devising an educational program to aid understanding of academic integrity by students who have violated the code, and overseeing all procedures of the AIB, including the training of board members on issues such as conflicts of interest, the importance of confidentiality, and how to assess evidence.
2. At least five (5) fulltime faculty with at least one faculty person from each of the college’s disciplinary divisions (business, humanities, science and engineering, social science) chosen by the Faculty Senate. The faculty will normally serve for three-year terms.
3. At least four (4) undergraduate students chosen by the Student Government Association drawn from each of the college’s disciplinary divisions (business, humanities, science and engineering, social science) who have at least sophomore status. Students will serve for the duration of their tenure at the college or up to three years.
If a vacancy in the board occurs, the Provost / VPAA will ask the Faculty Senate and/or the Student Government Association to fill the respective vacancy.
The Hearing Panel
A hearing panel will be formed from the membership of the AIB to hear cases involving an alleged breach of the academic integrity code. A new panel for each case will be formed by the Chair of the AIB on the basis of availability and impartiality. A panel will consist of six (6) members from the following AIB membership categories:
The Chair of the AIB, who will be a non-voting member, who will provide continuity among the various hearing panels, convene and preside over the proceedings, and assure compliance with the requirements of reviewing the complaint at all levels including the hearing process; one faculty member, preferably from the school of the course involved in the alleged violation; two (2) other faculty members, preferably one from the student’s school if different from that of the course instructor; two (2) students.
The Hearing Panel Review Process
1. When a case is referred to the AIB, the Provost / VPAA’s office will ask the Chair of the AIB to convene a hearing panel to determine if a violation has occurred. Normally the panel will be convened within thirty (30) days of receipt of notification. If the violation occurred prior to the final exam in the course, the hearing panel will, if possible, be convened prior to the scheduled time of the final exam. If the violation is reported during the examination period or between semesters, the hearing panel will, if possible, be convened within thirty (30) days after the beginning of the next fall or spring semester.
2. The Chair of the AIB will inform in writing the student(s), the instructor, the instructor’s department chair, the instructor’s dean and the student’s dean (and, if appropriate, any additional or other complainant) of the time, place, and membership of the hearing panel. The AIB Chair will do so within a reasonable time to permit adequate preparation for the hearing. The hearing will not be delayed if a student cannot be reached for lack of a correct address in the college’s student record system. If the student fails to appear for the hearing, the hearing panel will make its judgment on the basis of the evidence presented at the hearing, and the student will forfeit any right to a further hearing or appeal.
3. Members of the hearing panel will disqualify themselves from hearing a case if they feel there is a conflict of interest or a perceived conflict of interest. A disqualified member will be replaced by another member of the same membership category, if possible (see “The Hearing Panel” above for the definition of categories). If another member of the same membership category is not available, the Chair of the AIB will select another member of the AIB to fill the vacancy. In no case, however, will the number of students on the hearing panel exceed two. If the AIB Chair cannot perform the responsibilities of chairing the hearing panel either because there is a real or perceived conflict of interest or other special circumstance that prevents it, then the Provost / VPAA will provide a person to serve as hearing panel chair, preferably a past or present member of the AIB.
An accused student or a complainant may object to any single panel member assigned to the case. The objection must be written and received by the AIB Chair at least two (2) business days before the hearing. Upon ruling that a challenge is valid, the AIB Chair, after notifying the student and complainant, will replace the challenged member with another from the same category if possible. If another member of the same category is not available, the AIB Chair will select another member of the AIB to fill the vacancy.
4. The student(s), the instructor, and the instructor’s chair may attend the hearing. Each may, with the approval of the AIB Chair, address the panel. Any member of the panel may question the student(s) or the instructor. The student may present relevant evidence, including witnesses, in support of his or her position. The hearing will be conducted at the college and is closed to the public (including parents, legal guardians, and legal counsel). The AIB Chair will preside but not vote. Formal rules of evidence will not apply. The AIB Chair may admit or exclude witnesses during the testimony of other witnesses and may exclude any person who, in the Chair’s judgment, disrupts the proceeding. The student or instructor may each be accompanied by a student or faculty member whose role is limited to advising the student or instructor. This adviser may not make statements, examine witnesses, or otherwise intervene. Advisers cannot be attorneys in any case.
5. The hearing panel will deliberate among themselves with no other persons present and make its determination by confidential majority vote based on the evidence. The sole purpose of the panel is to consider whether an academic integrity violation has occurred. The panel does not make recommendations on issues such as mitigating circumstances or the severity of the punishment. All materials and discussions with respect to any case are considered confidential educational records and are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and any release of case materials is guided by the college’s FERPA guidelines. All communications follow the official Merrimack College communication policy as outlined in the Student Handbook.
The minutes of the hearing or hearings are the responsibility of the AIB Chair and will be part of the official confidential file to be kept by the Chair of the AIB in the Provost / VPAA’s office. The minutes should include the names of the student(s), the faculty member, the panel members, and any witnesses, advisers, or other individuals who attended the hearing, and should tell the result of the panel’s decision. The minutes should not include the actual vote count. The Chair may, at his or her sole discretion, also summarize information that was brought up in the hearing but that does not appear in the record.
6. The Chair of the Academic Integrity Board will notify in writing the instructor’s dean and all parties, at the same time, of the hearing panel’s findings.
Academic Dishonesty Sanction Guidelines
|Copying answers from other students on exam (quiz, test, other course work).
||F for the course.
|One person allowing another to cheat from his or her exam (quiz, test, other course work).
||F for the course.
|Possessing or using material during exam (crib sheets, notes, books, etc.) which is not expressly permitted by the instructor.
||F for the course.
|Taking exam from room and later claiming that the instructor lost it.
||F for the course and further disciplinary action.
|Failing to submit an assignment and later claiming that the instructor lost it.
||F for the course and further disciplinary action.
|Changing answers after an exam (quiz, test, or other course work) has been returned.
||F for the course and further disciplinary action.
|Fraudulent possession of exam prior to administration.
||F for the course and further disciplinary action.
|Obtaining a copy of an exam or answer key prior to administration.
||F for the course and further disciplinary action.
|Having someone else take an exam.
||F for the course and further disciplinary action for both students.
||F for the course.
|Submission of purchased term papers or papers written by others.
||F for the course and further disciplinary action.
|Submission of the same term papers to more than one instructor, where no previous approval has been given.
||F for the course and further disciplinary action.
|Unauthorized collaboration on an assignment.
||F for the course for both students.