The responsibility for planning the academic program largely rests with the student. Information in the programs of study and courses of instruction section of this catalog and other academic announcements must be reviewed carefully in order for the student to take the required courses at the right time. The counseling services of faculty advisers, department chairpersons, the registrar and the deans are available to assist students.
The academic advising program at Bluffton is based on the premise that significant learning and growth can occur within the context of a close relationship between students and advisers. At the beginning of the fall semester, first year students indicate whether they want as their advisor their first year seminar instructor or a member of the department in which they intend to major. Upon delaring their major all students are assigned an advisor in their department. Transfer students who have decided on a major are assigned to an adviser. The registrar advises transfer students who have not yet chosen a major. It is recommended that students declare a major by the second half of their sophomore year.
Bluffton University uses Jenzabar as the Internet-based course management system.
Bluffton University operates on a semester calendar. All course credit is given in semester hours. See current academic calendar.
Students are expected to register for courses on the official registration days. The university calendar is to be consulted for the specific days.
Registration material is made available to continuing students through the registrar’s office.
Schedule of classes
A schedule of classes is published and is available in print form and via Jenzabar prior to registration for each semester.
Minimum enrollment for a course
Bluffton reserves the right to cancel any course if fewer than seven students enroll.
A full-time student load is considered to be at least 12 hours per semester. Students whose loads drop below 12 hours are strongly urged to contact the director of financial aid to see if this affects their financial aid. Students enrolled for fewer than 12 hours in a semester are classified as part-time students. These students may not participate in intercollegiate activities nor hold office in co-curricular activities. Part-time students may reserve a room in the residence halls only with special permission of the dean of student affairs.
The normal load that a student takes will not exceed 17 semester hours per term unless special permission has been obtained from the registrar.
Most courses may be audited with permission of the instructor. Courses which may not be audited include applied music, directed studies, practicums, internships and independent studies.
Students registering to audit a course must indicate at the registrar’s office that the course is to be audited. An audit fee is assessed to all students who audit courses.
Students, having audited a course, may not change their registration to receive credit after the end of the add period. An audited course may be taken a second time for credit. Credit by examination is not allowed for courses that have been audited.
Change of course
The deadline for adding courses is generally the end of the first week of the semester, with the specific date indicated on the calendar. After the add period has ended, students may not add courses unless they have exceptional reasons. The deadline for dropping courses is generally the end of the second week of the semester, with the specific date indicated on the calendar. After the drop period has ended, students may withdraw from a course with the instructor assigning a grade of WP (withdrawn passing) or WF (withdrawn failing) up to a point halfway through the course. The deadline for non-emergency withdrawals is set on the calendar. After that time withdrawal is allowed only for medical or other exceptional reasons. Permission to withdraw after the deadline must be obtained from the registrar.
Upon enrollment in a course, students at Bluffton become accountable for all the requirements of the course. Thus, they are directly responsible to each instructor for all required work in each course, including work missed because of absence. The instructor is responsible for informing students at the beginning of each course of the course requirements, including the class attendance policy.
A permanent record of students’ grades is maintained by the registrar. Grades are entered in the permanent record as follows:
|B+, B, B-:
|C+, C, C-:
|D+, D, D-:
||poor achievement, but passing;
||failing, the course must be repeated if credit is desired;
||credit, representing successful completion of a credit/no credit course;
||no credit, representing unsatisfactory completion of a credit/no credit course;
||deferred grade, course in progress;
||withdrawn with passing work at the time of withdrawal;
||withdrawn with failing work or without official approval, considered as an E;
||an incomplete course. An “incomplete” means that a student, because of illness or other emergency, has been granted an extension of time to complete a course. To receive an “incomplete” a student must apply for and obtain permission from the course instructor.|
It is expected that an incomplete will be removed within the first two weeks of the semester following the one in which it was given. If this is not the case, the student may be advised to drop one of the classes in which he or she is currently enrolled. If not removed by the end of the semester following the one in which it was given, the incomplete becomes an E.
Points are assigned to grades as follows:
To graduate from Bluffton University a student must have a grade-point average (GPA) of not less than 2.0. This average is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points by the number of semester hours attempted. Courses graded on credit/no credit basis are not included in this calculation. Students transferring to Bluffton from other institutions do not receive grade points for the grades earned at the previous institutions. Cumulative grade point averages are based only on work completed at Bluffton.
A student may elect to take a course for “credit” or “no credit” rather than the traditional letter grades, subject to the following restrictions:
- This option may not be used in courses required for the major nor for the Liberal Arts and Sciences Program;
- No more than 20 semester hours taken under this option may count toward the graduation requirement of 124hours;
- This option may not be exercised until a student has successfully completed 15 hours of traditional letter grades.
The procedure for declaring this option is for the student to report to the registrar at the beginning of the term the course in which to exercise the option; the request must be made before the end of the drop period. Students who, after the drop period, withdraw from a course taken with the credit/no credit option will receive a NC grade.
Courses that are offered for credit/no credit grades only must fall within the limitations of point two above, but there may be exceptions to points one and three.
The grade “credit” is interpreted to mean any grade within the traditional range of grades A through C-. A “no credit” is the equivalent of the traditional D and E.
The grades “credit” and “no credit” will not carry a point value and thus will not be computed in the grade-point average.
Minimum grade requirements
Any course taken as a prerequisite for a general educatin course must be passed with at least a grade of D-. Any course taken as a prerequisite for any other course must be passed with at least a grade of C-. Circumstances may, on occasion, justify the waiver of this requirement by the instructor of the subsequent course.
Any course in which the grade of D+ or lower is earned will not be counted toward any major or minor. Circumstances may, on occasion, justify the waiver of this requirement by the department in which the student completes the major or minor.
Policy for repeated courses
Students earning a D or E in a course may repeat the course to improve their grade and grade-point average, as well as their understanding of course content. In a repeated course only the most recent grade will be calculated in the grade point average, although all grades will appear on the permanent record.
It should be understood that with only the most recent grade of a repeated course counted in the grade-point average the student is not receiving double credit for the course; only the credit from the course as repeated counts in the total semester hours passed and the GPA. The student is expected to pay for the course each time it is taken. Students wanting to take advantage of this must declare their intention to the registrar’s office at the time of registration for the course.
Minimum standards of academic achievement
Unsatisfactory academic performance at Bluffton University, as defined here, will result in the following three kinds of action. In all cases of suspension or dismissal, the Undergraduate Academic programs Council or its designated committee will review the student’s academic program and performance before confirming the student’s suspension or dismissal.
The Undergraduate Academic Programs Council or its designated committee is empowered to make exceptions to the policy where in the judgement of that council it is clearly in the best interests of the student and the university to do so.
- Probation. Any time after having received grades in a minimum of two courses at Bluffton University, that a student’s cumulative grade point average falls below the requisite level indicated below, the student is placed on academic probation until the cumulative gradepoint average reaches the required level for the appropriate classification:
|First year (fewer than 27 semester hours completed)
|Sophomore year (at least 27, fewer than 58)
|Junior year (at least 58, fewer than 88)
|Senior year (at least 88 semester hours completed)
Reclassification of class level will be made at the end of each semester.
- Suspension. At the end of each semester the academic performance of all students in attendance during the semester will be reviewed. Those on probation for the previous semester and whose cumulative grade point average is still below the requisite level for their classification will be subject to suspension through the following semester.
Any student, after having attempted 12 semester hours, whose grade point average for the semester is below 1.0, will be subject to suspension.
Students who have been suspended must apply for readmission and provide evidence that it is in their best interest to be readmitted. Their application will be reviewed by the Admissions and Scholarship Committee.
Work taken at another college or university during the period of suspension will not be accepted for credit at Bluffton University.
- Dismissal. Any student having been suspended twice shall be considered dismissed. Students having been dismissed will not be eligible for readmission.
Prior to suspension or dismissal on the basis of the approved policy relating to academic standards, a student’s record will be reviewed by the Retention Committee. This committee consists of the registrar, the dean of student life, the dean of academic affairs, the chairperson of the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council and another faculty member designated by the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council. The role of the dean of student life will be to represent nonacademic considerations that may have affected a student’s not achieving a satisfactory level of academic work. Information which appropriately belongs within the campus judicial system will not be introduced to the Retention Committee unless it is in support of the student. (The suspension or dismissal power of the Retention Committee will not be used to displace the normal procedure for disciplinary cases.)
Suspension or dismissal
Bluffton University reserves the right to suspend or dismiss any student at any time when in the judgment of the university authorities the student has grossly neglected studies or has been guilty of serious misconduct. A student suspended or dismissed receives no credit for work done during the term in which the dismissal occurs.
Withdrawal from college
Students who wish to withdraw from the university during a term or at the end of a term must inform all offices involved. Information on withdrawal, indicating the offices in which withdrawing students are to be interviewed, is available from the registrar’s office.
Academic foregiveness policy
Academic forgiveness allows a student returning to Bluffton University after at least a five year absence the option of keeping the credit for courses in which a grade of C- or better was earned (as well as courses with grades of CR), while removing from the grade point average all grades earned at Bluffton University prior to readmission.
The aademic forgiveness policy and its conditions are as follows:
- 1. At least five years must have passed since the student last attended Bluffton University.
2. Academic forgiveness applies only to courses taken before readmission.
3. The previous GPA is eliminated.
4. After a student elects academic forgiveness and eligibility is verified, a notation will be added to the student's transcript indicating that this policy has been applied.
5. Credit earned at Bluffton prior to readmission with a grade of D+ or lower is forfeited.
6. Credit earned at Bluffton prior to readmission with a grade of at least C-, or with a grade of CR, will be carried over at the time of re-entry.
7. Grades from all coursework taken at Bluffton will be used in claculating eligibility for Pi Delta membership.
All students enrolled for at least 12 hours in a semester are considered full-time students. All students are classified by the registrar in one of the four classes – first year, sophomore, junior and senior – or as special students.
Class standing is determined by the number of hours completed, as shown below:
||fewer than 27 semester hours completed
||at least 27, fewer than 58
||at least 58, fewer than 88
||at least 88 semester hours completed|
Declaration of major
Students may declare their majors as early in the college program as they feel ready. Early declarations are advantageous in that students’ advisers are then selected from within the major field. Normally students declare a major by the end of their sophomore year at the latest. Students who have not declared a major prior to registering for the fall semester of their senior year are not permitted to register until they have completed the declaration process.
To declare a major, a student must return a signed copy of a major declaration form to the registrar’s office. The declaration form must be signed by the chairperson of the major department and the faculty adviser within the department (assigned by the chairperson of the department). If the student is seeking a license to teach, the form must also be signed by the director of teacher education. Declaration forms are available in the registrar's office.
Students who declare more than one major are expected to meet in full all requirements of both majors, including the departmental comprehensive exams.
At the time of declaring a major or a minor, students choose to declare the major or minor that was in effect when they entered Bluffton University or the one that is in effect when they declare the major or minor. Students must complete the general education program that is in effect at the time they enter Bluffton University.
Evaluation of instruction
Student evaluation of instruction is coordinated through the registrar’s office. It is expected that students will be given opportunity to evaluate courses on forms distributed through the registrar’s office unless other plans have been approved in advance by the dean of academic affairs.
The forms are to be distributed in class and class time is to be used for students to complete them. They are then to be returned, by a student, to the registrar’s office. They will be tabulated and the dean of academic affairs will report to each instructor with an evaluation summary for each course as well as a summary for all courses taught by all faculty. No reports will be given to faculty until grades are turned in. Except for courses with low enrollments, faculty receive the original forms completed by students.
Assessment of university achievement of goals
Assessment is an ongoing effort by Bluffton University to monitor student work in order to determine the degree to which Bluffton is meeting its goals for educating its students. The information gained through assessment is crucial to the university’s efforts to improve its educational programs. To that end, student papers and other assignments may be read by university employees other than the immediate classroom teacher. When student work is used for assessment purposes, precautions are taken to insure the anonymity of the student and the student’s confidentiality will be respected.
Only in special cases will a student be permitted to take a course under the private tutorship of an instructor. All possibilities should be explored to take the course in a classroom situation or from an accredited correspondence school. If this is not possible and the course is required, permission must be obtained in writing from the instructor and the registrar. A directed study involves frequent conferences between student and instructor.
Independent study program
Qualified students shall be allowed to complete up to four courses through departmentally supervised independent studies. Such independent study options shall be open to either majors or nonmajors in the departments involved. Students are expected to obtain written permission from the supervising faculty member and obtain departmental approval by completing a form available from the registrar’s office. The student then returns the completed form to the registrar at the time of registration.
Credit by examination
Students may earn a maximum of 20 semester hours of credit toward graduation through examination. This includes external examination programs as well as credit-by-examination offered through the university. In general, the level of the course being tested may not be lower than course work previously completed in the field.
Students may request permission to seek credit for a course through examination. The request, accompanied by some indication that the student possesses sufficient background for credit, is made to the chairperson of the department in which credit is sought and to the dean of academic affairs. Upon receiving permission and after paying the credit-by-examination fee, the student may take a special examination. A second fee will be charged upon successful completion of the exam.
The examination itself is to expect of the student at least the equivalent competence of what would be expected of students actually completing the course. On the basis of the examination results, a letter grade is to be recommended by the tester. The notation of “credit” (CR) will be made on the student’s permanent academic record if the grade recommended is C- or higher; otherwise the notation “no credit” (NC) will be made.
Credit by examination is not allowed in a course which previously has been audited or for which tutorial assistance has been obtained unless the student pays the full tuition charge.
Credit may also be earned through nationally recognized examination programs for examinations in which passing scores are earned. These programs include CLEP, PEP and DSST which were developed to give recognition to adults who have acquired knowledge outside the traditional classroom situation and who wish to receive college-level credit for this work.
The CLEP and DSST examinations are administered on the campus through the office of adult and graduate education. Additional information is available through that office at 1-800-488-3257, option 4 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full credit is normally given for all courses completed at any properly accredited college or university in which the applicant has earned a grade of C- or better. All transcripts submitted by any student will be reviewed individually. Credit will be awarded only for work shown on an official transcript, that is, a transcript sent directly from the originating institution to the registrar’s office. Neither individual grades for classes nor GPA is transferable.
All students enrolled at Bluffton University who want to take course work at another institution to transfer back to Bluffton University are asked to complete a form requesting advance approval for the course (the form is available from the registrar’s office). If the course work is to meet a general education requirement or for elective credit, the registrar will grant or deny approval; if it is to be applied to the student’s major, the department chair will grant or deny approval. In all cases, the minimum grade requirement for transfer work is C-.
Extension and correspondence study
Bluffton University will not accept more than 10 semester hours of correspondence courses and extension college courses toward meeting the requirements of a baccalaureate degree. Students who intend to earn a baccalaureate degree at Bluffton are required to secure permission from the registrar before enrolling in any correspondence or extension course.
Study abroad opportunities are available around the world. Bluffton University has semester-long study abroad programs in Northern Ireland. In consultation with the academic adviser, students may choose from a number of programs in a variety of academic disciplines in other study abroad programs, including programs offered by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, Brethren Colleges Abroad, and CASAS. These programs afford excellent opportunities for study and travel in a foreign culture and language area. For additional information, please refer to descriptions under the liberal arts and sciences program and to the director of cross cultural programs.
Transcript of record
Upon the written request of the student, an official transcript of the student’s academic record will be sent from the registrar’s office to any recipient the student designates. The student is entitled to one transcript free of charge. In addition, transcripts needed for scholarship applications are free. A fee of $3, payable in advance, is charged for each additional transcript. The written request should include the student’s name, current address, telephone number, address(es) to which the transcript should be sent, social security number, payment and signature.
Institutional policy for student education records
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Bluffton University respects all of these rights. In accordance with FERPA, students are notified of the following rights:
- Right to inspect: Students have the right to inspect and review all their personal education records maintained by or at this institution.
- Right to request amendment: Students have the right to seek to have corrected any parts of an educational record believed to be inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of student rights. This right includes the right to a hearing to present evidence that the record should be changed if this institution decides not to alter the education records according to requests.
- Right to prevent disclosure: Students have the right to prevent disclosure of education records to third parties with certain limited exceptions. It is the intent of Bluffton University to limit the disclosure of information contained in education records to:
- those instances when prior written consent has been given to the disclosure.
- items of directory information for which a student has not refused disclosure. For a complete list of items designated as directory information and for instructions to prevent disclosure of this information, see below.
- or items for which, under the provisions of FERPA, disclosure cannot be restricted. Information which cannot be restricted from disclosure includes: student name, full or part-time status, degree(s) granted and dates of attendance.
- Right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education: Students have the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy and Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, DC 20202-4605, concerning this institution’s failure to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
- Right to obtain policy: Students have the right to obtain a copy of the Bluffton University student records policy. This policy is available from the registrar’s office.
Bluffton University has designated the following items as Directory Information: student name, campus address, home address, campus telephone number, home telephone number, e-mail address, date and place of birth, major field(s) of study, class standing, full or part-time status, hours registered, hours completed, class schedule, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, photograph, dates of attendance, degrees, honors and awards granted, date of graduation, and previous schools attended. Bluffton University may disclose any of these items without prior written consent unless notified in writing to the contrary.
Preventing disclosure of directory information
To authorize Bluffton University to withhold specific items of Directory Information, indicate the information to be withheld, sign and date the request and submit it to the registrar's office. This will remain in effect until the registrar’s Office is directed otherwise in writing.
Students should consider very carefully the consequences of a decision to withhold any item from Directory Information. Should a student decide to request that Bluffton University not release certain items of Directory Information, requests for such information from individuals or organizations outside Bluffton University will be refused. This information could then only be released to a specific individual or organization with the student’s written permission.
Bluffton University will honor student requests to withhold any of the items listed as Directory Information other than student name, full or part-time status, degree(s) granted and dates of attendance, but cannot assume responsibility for subsequent permission to release them. Regardless of the effect upon the student, Bluffton University assumes no liability for honoring student instructions that such information be withheld.
Superior scholastic ability among students is given recognition in several ways:
The dean's list
is published at the end of each semester. It includes the names of all students of at least half-time status whose GPA for the period is no lower than 3.6. Students on the dean’s list whose cumulative GPA, as based on at least 20 semester hours, is no lower than 3.75 will be indicated as receiving “distinction for continued high achievement.” Students with incompletes are disqualified.
The Pi Delta Society
is an honorary scholastic society established to promote high standards of scholarship. Admission is by vote of the faculty from those seniors who, at the time of their graduation, have a 3.75 cumulative GPA.
are given annually to the best scholar in each major. Special awards may be given to the foreign student with the highest scholarship record, the best independent study of the year and to students with special achievement in other areas.
The Undergraduate Academic Programs Council sets the criteria for selecting recipients of these awards. The council may grant more than one award where there are several who are highly qualified. The council may also elect not to give an award if there is no one who clearly qualifies.
The honors program
at Bluffton is a four-year program designed to challenge intellectually ambitious, highly motivated students in all disciplines. While pursuing their major field of study, students enroll in honors sections of certain general education courses plus a junior honors course. Students also engage in service learning and cultural events.
The C. Henry Smith Scholars program
is designed to recognize students of high ability who affirm the concept of liberal education and to make more visible students of high academic performance as a stimulant to student attitudes toward higher scholastic attainments.
C. Henry Smith Scholars are selected by the Undergraduate Academic ProPrograms Council or its designated committee each spring from among next year’s juniors and seniors who have a GPA of 3.3 or above. Only 15 scholars are chosen each year. Criteria include: 1) high academic performance, including GPA, performance in independent studies and academic substance of courses taken; 2) recommendations from two faculty members (one from within the student’s major and one from outside the student’s major); and 3) participation in and contribution to the community at large.
C. Henry Smith Scholars may be utilized in course planning, teaching and/or special tutoring. If the student helps with course preparation and has regular instructional contact with students, remuneration may be at a rate higher than that for regular campus employment. Alternately, C. Henry Smith Scholars may receive credit for duties performed within the scope of an organized learning project instead of remuneration. C. Henry Smith Scholars participate in regularly scheduled student-faculty seminars.
are awarded by the faculty at commencement to a student who has met the following requirements for a program of independent study in her/his major field:
- A student must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher in major courses in order to submit a departmental honors proposal.
- The student registers for a 1-2-hour independent study no sooner than the junior year. During this independent study, the student develops, with supervision from a sponsoring professor in the student's major, a proposal for his/her honors project. (Guidelines for the proposal should be obtained from the registrar.) At the end of the independent study, the student presents the proposal to a sponsoring committee consisting of the major professor assisted by two other faculty members, one of whom is from outside the major department. Additional resource persons, such as staff members and persons from outside the Bluffton University community, may be asked to advise.
- The proposal, signed by members of the sponsoring committee and by the appropriate department chair (or chairs), is submitted by the sponsoring professor to the Special Studies and Honors Committee before April 1 of the junior year. The student defends the merits of the proposal before the Special Studies and Honors Committee.
- If the Special Studies and Honors Committee approves the proposal, the student registers for an additional 3-6 credit hours of independent study to complete the proposed study. (The total number of required hours for Departmental Honors, including the 1-2 hours granted for researching and writing the proposal, is 5-7 semester hours of independent research spread over at least two semesters.) Departmental courses, such as one taken as a research seminar, will not fulfill the independent research requirement. (Note: If the proposal is not approved by the Special Studies and Honors Committee, the student cannot pursue Departmental Honors; however, the student has the option of completing the proposed study by registering for standard independent study hours.)
- The student submits progress reports to the sponsoring professor periodically throughout the course of the study.
- Near the end of the study, the sponsoring committee gives an oral examination to the student concerning the project and the immediately related area of study. The sponsoring committee then submits to the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council a recommendation for or against granting honors. The major professor is responsible for assigning a grade to the independent study hours.
- Following the oral examination, but no later than two weeks before the final faculty meeting of the final term of the study, the student makes accessible to the faculty the product of the study. Copies of written documentation, provided by the student, are to be placed in the library, the student's major department office, and the office of the vice president and dean of academic affairs.
- The Undergraduate Academic Programs Council makes a recommendation to the faculty for or against granting honors. Faculty approval of the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council's recommendation is necessary to grant the student Departmental Honors.
All seniors are to take a comprehensive examination in their field(s) of major study. The purpose of the examinations is to give students opportunity to demonstrate their ability to correlate and apply knowledge they have obtained in their studies in major and related fields. The evaluation of students’ performance becomes part of their permanent records.
The form of the comprehensive examination may vary among departments. In most it is a written examination; some departments may choose to require some other method to evaluate a student’s performance. Some departments may choose to utilize standardized tests for this purpose. The comprehensive examination may include, but is not to be limited to, an oral interview.
Students seeking a degree must meet the requirements for graduation stated in this Bulletin. If requirements affecting a student have changed since entrance to the university, the faculty will decide whether the new requirements are binding. Exceptions to requirements may be made by the academic affairs office.
Following are general requirements for the baccalaureate degree:
- completion of 124 hours of academic work;
- completion of the requirements for the liberal arts and sciences program;
- completion of the arts and lecture requirement;
- participation in institutional assessment activities;
- completion of a program of studies in a major with a GPA of 2.0 within the major program (in some majors 2.5 is required);
- a GPA of at least 2.0 overall;
- a minimum of 30 semester hours at Bluffton University;
- a minimum of 24 of the last 30 hours completed at Bluffton University;
- satisfactory achievement in the departmental senior comprehensive exams;
- an affirmative recommendation of the faculty based on the student’s academic record and personal character; and
- participation in the baccalaureate and commencement services, unless exception is granted by the dean of academic affairs.
Candiacy for degree
Degrees are granted at the end of each semester. Candidates for degrees must complete a declaration of intent to graduate provided by the registrar’s office. This form must be completed no later than the beginning of the semester preceding the one in which the degree is to be secured. There is only one commencement service, which is in the spring. Diplomas are distributed only to students who have participated in graduation ceremonies or have been exempted from participation by the dean of academic affairs.