Academic Policies

1. Definition of Credit

Sierra States University awards academic credits based on the Carnegie unit, which awards one unit of credit for each 50-minute class session per week. For each credit in undergraduate programs, students are expected to complete a minimum of two hours of academic work (study, preparation, etc.) outside of class each week. Courses in graduate programs require three or more hours of outside work each week per credit.  The policy on academic credits is based on those generally accepted in degree-granting institutions of higher education. A quarter at Sierra States University typically consists of 10 weeks excluding finals. Students in all majors are advised to limit their job and social commitment in order to give their coursework adequate attention. One quarter credit hour equals 10 classroom hours of lecture, 20 hours of laboratory, and 30 hours of practicum. Students in all majors are advised to limit their job and social commitments in order to give their coursework adequate attention.

 

 

2. Class Participation

Sierra States places great importance upon class participation because of the nature of the material being taught, the value of in-class interaction, and the need for students to develop habits of diligence and reliability. Students should make meaningful interaction between faculty and student and among students themselves through the online platform and threaded discussion. Students are expected to complete their assignments in each class session so that they will be prepared to answer questions and properly discuss the material. See the course syllabus for further details on how participation grades are computed. Individual professors may impose additional attendance and participation requirements that potentially may impact the course grade. It is important to keep an accurate record of any absences from class, including dates and reasons. In the event of a discrepancy and/or appeal, this information could prove to be essential. Students should not rely upon professors or the Registrar to supply tallies, warnings, or notifications.

 

3. Attendance Policy

Successful completion of the educational programs at Sierra States University requires a significant commitment of time for class work and outside study each day.  Sierra States students are expected to attend all class meetings to fully benefit from all coursework.  Even though it is not mandatory, Sierra States University strongly recommends instructors incorporate attendance into the course grading scale.

 

Each instructor will establish his or her own attendance policies and procedures, and publish them in the course syllabus.   It is also the responsibility of each instructor to inform his or her class of these policies and procedures at the beginning of each quarter.  Students are responsible for knowing the attendance policies and procedures of each class in which they are enrolled.

 

It is the student’s responsibility to properly register for classes.  During the first week, if an enrolled student does not attend the first class meeting, the instructor may drop the student from the class.  Each instructor will make the final decision based on careful review of the circumstantial evidence provided by the student who did not attend the first class meeting without prior arrangement with the instructor. 

 

It is also the student’s responsibility to officially withdraw from the university or drop from a class that he or she is no longer attending in accordance to the established deadlines.  A student who stops attending but does not drop a class may receive a failing grade in that class.

 

4. Make-up Exams

All tests, including final exams, are to be taken at regularly scheduled times. These times are typically announced in the syllabus at the start of the quarter. In the event of extenuating circumstances, students should contact the professor as early as possible for accommodations to take the exam at a different time. If the professor determines the reason for the absence as insufficient and does not merit a rescheduled exam, the student will be required to take the exam at the scheduled time or receive an “F” for the exam. If the professor agrees to reschedule the exam, the student should contact the faculty member directly to make scheduling arrangements.

 

5. Final Exams

Final exams are given for the majority of the courses. Such tests may or may not be comprehensive. Its grade weight is determined by the professor and indicated in the syllabus. Except in the case of an emergency, students are discouraged from requesting early or late finals. Students must obtain permission from both the Professor and the Academic Dean to reschedule a final exam.

 

6. Grading System

Sierra States University uses a 4.0 grading system to grade the quality of course work and determine the grade point average. Faculty members assign letter grades based on the following table:

Score

Grade Letter

Grade Point

98-100

  A+

4.0

94-97

A

4.0

90-93

 A-

3.7

87-89

 B+

3.3

84-86

B

3.0

80-83

B-

2.7

77-79

 C+

2.3

74-76

C

2.0

70-73

C-

1.7

67-69

  D+

1.3

64-66

D

1.0

60-63

 D-

0.7

Below 60

F

0.0

Incomplete

I

No GPA Impact

Withdrawal

W

No GPA Impact

Passed

P

No GPA Impact

Not Passed

NP

No GPA Impact

Satisfied

S

No GPA Impact

Unsatisfied

U

No GPA Impact

 

The Registrar translates letter grades to grade points in accordance with this table:

Grade Letter

 

Grade Point

A / A+

Excellent

 

 

4.0

A-

3.7

B+

3.3

B

Good

 

3.0

B-

2.7

C+

2.3

C

Average

 

2.0

C-

1.7

D+

1.3

D

Poor

1.0

D-

0.7

F

Fail

0.0

I

Incomplete

No GPA Impact

W

Withdrawal

No GPA Impact

P

Passed

No GPA Impact

NP

Not Passed

No GPA Impact

S

Satisfied

No GPA Impact

U

Unsatisfied

No GPA Impact

 

Grades are usually available within three weeks of completing a quarter. They are released to the student by the Registrar’s Office along with a calculation of the student’s quarter GPA and cumulative GPA.

 

7. Grading Policy

Individual faculty members determine the grading policy for each course. In the course syllabus, faculty members clearly state the specific criteria by which the grade will be assigned, including the relative weight of assignments, papers, examinations, attendance and other assessments. Faculty members have the sole authority to change grades.

 

8. Contesting a Grade

Grades are computed in accordance with the course syllabus and in-class instructions. If the accuracy of a grade is uncertain, the student should approach the professor and respectfully request a detailed explanation of how the grade was computed. If the discussion does not result in a satisfactory resolution, then the student should contact the Academic Dean. Please approach the matter with proper and respectful behavior.

Any disputed grade, including a quarter grade, should be brought to the professor’s attention within two weeks of receiving the grade. Professors are given one month from the time quarter grades are issued to make changes in the Registrar’s Office if deemed appropriate.

 

9. The Dean’s List

Full-time students who earn a grade point average of 3.75 or higher in any one quarter are placed on the Dean’s List for that quarter.

 

10. Auditing Courses

If classroom space permits, students and their spouses may take courses on an audit basis. Credit is not given. The professor is not obligated to allocate class or personal time to a student who is auditing. The charge for auditing a course is listed in the Financial Information section of this catalog.

 

11. Complaint Resolution

If students have complaints about individual faculty members regarding particular course requirement(s), examination(s), or grade(s), or pertaining to general issues, such as teaching method and classroom conduct, they should bring the matter directly to the individual faculty member. If a student is not satisfied with the faculty member’s response, the student may bring the matter to the Dean of the program for a final decision. The Dean will work with the student and the faculty member towards a resolution and must inform them of the decision in writing within two weeks.

                         

12. Honesty

Cheating is a violation of academic integrity and will not be tolerated. Examples of cheating include: copying another student’s paper or test, receiving information from a student who has already taken a test, sharing information about a test, and falsifying a report. Another form of cheating is plagiarism, which involves using someone else’s ideas or words without giving proper credit. If material is quoted, quotation marks and appropriate citation must be used. Paraphrased material must also be given appropriate citation. A student found cheating will receive a “0” for the assignment or test and will be reported to the Dean of Student Affairs for disciplinary action. Such discipline may include a Restorative Action Plan (as described in the Student Handbook) or dismissal, as determined by the Dean of Student Affairs. If students are aware of cheating or plagiarism, he or she should report it to the professor immediately.

 

13. Faculty Assistance

The Sierra States faculty is committed to helping students academically and spiritually. Professors post their office hours each quarter; students are encouraged to take advantage of these times by visiting their professors, either by phone, e-mail or in person.

Some faculty members will provide their home or cell phone numbers, and/or e-mail in their syllabus. Please use discretion when contacting the professor outside office hours. The school assigns each student a faculty member to serve as an advisor. Students are required to meet with their advisor each quarter to review their academic plan and register for courses for the upcoming quarter. We encourage students to meet with their advisor at additional times to discuss their academic, spiritual, and ministry progress.

 

14. Program Length

Students are usually expected to complete each program within the following time frame: the bachelor degree in 4 years, the master degree in 2 years, and the doctoral degree in 3 years. The maximum time frame allowed for students to complete a program is 150% of the normal program length, namely 6 years for the bachelor program, and 3 years for the master program. An extension may be granted for special circumstances.

 

15. Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal regulations (CFR 668.34) require that, in order to be eligible for assistance from Title IV student aid, all students (full-time, part-time, undergraduate, and graduate) must maintain satisfactory academic progress toward completion of their degree. All students who receive institutional, federal and state financial aid must meet the academic standards of Sierra States University and the standards of satisfactory academic progress defined by federal regulations as follows:

  • Maximum Time Frame – Students must complete their degree within a maximum period of 150% of the published length of the academic program. Federal regulations state that a student is ineligible when it becomes mathematically impossible to complete their program within 150% of the published program length.

 

  •  Minimum Pace of Progression – Students must complete 66.67% of all attempted courses. To calculate the Pace  of Progression, divide the cumulative number of units successfully completed by the cumulative number of units attempted.Minimum GPA – Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.00 for undergraduate and 3.00 for graduate programs at the end of each term.

 

Students not meeting SAP are subject to dismissal from their program of study and are ineligible to receive financial aid, except under special circumstances (for more information about financial aid policy related to SAP, please refer to Financial Aid Policies & Procedures in this catalog). When a student’s progress is evaluated as prescribed and his or her academic performance is below either of the thresholds required to maintain SAP, the student’s academic progress will be projected to determine if and when it would be possible for the student to reestablish SAP.

 

16. Unsatisfactory Academic Progress

An undergraduate must maintain an overall grade point average of at least 2.0 in coursework taken at Sierra States University, and a graduate student at least 3.0 in course work. If a student’s progress, measured at the end of each term, is determined to be unsatisfactory AND a projection indicates that it is possible to reestablish SAP by the end of the subsequent term, the school may place the student Academic Probation. The student will be advised of the performance necessary to reestablish SAP.

 

17. Academic Probation and Dismissal

Students who do not maintain the minimum required GPA (grade-point-average) would be placed on probation for one Quarter. Instructors will counsel the students for a better studying method, and initiate a different studying strategy that ensures a more successful academic career. Continued enrollment requires the Academic Dean’s approval. If a student on academic probation does not raise the cumulative GPA to 2.0 (3.0 for graduate students) for two consecutive quarters after academic probation, the student will be academically dismissed. 

 

18. Course Withdrawal

Students desiring to withdraw from an individual course should contact the Academic Dean to obtain the necessary forms and procedures for official withdrawal. Students who withdraw from a course before the withdrawal due date will receive a grade of “W.” Although “W” is not computed in the student’s CGPA, it is counted as attempted units in calculating the pace of progress.

 

19.Incomplete

We discourage our professors from assigning an “incomplete” as a quarter grade. An “incomplete” is assigned only under extenuating circumstances and only if the student’s work was satisfactory prior to the emergency situation. Incomplete grade is not used in computing the cumulative GPA for the moment. However, the professor must submit a replacement grade by the date agreed upon with the student (and no later than the end of the following quarter) or the incomplete will automatically be changed to an “F.” Incomplete course is counted as attempted units in calculating the pace of progress.

 

20. Repeated Courses

An undergraduate student will be permitted to repeat a course in which a grade of C-, D+, D, D-, F, NP, U is recorded. Courses in which grades earned were either C or B, may be repeated only with approval from the Office of the Registrar. Only courses taken at Sierra States University will be used to change course grades. In addition, the student must notify the Office of the Registrar, the quarter a course is repeated.

 

A graduate student will be permitted to repeat a course in which either a C or lower grade was earned. When a graduate student repeats a course with a grade of C or lower the first time, the better grade is the only one used in computing the cumulative GPA, and the units are counted only once. Both grades are shown on the student’s permanent record. 

 

In order to graduate, the student will need to repeat a course if it is not completed within the specified time. This includes the situation in which the student is re-admitted after withdrawing from or being dismissed from the program. If a student repeats a course and passes with a grade of 2.5 or better, the initial attempt will not count to towards their GPA.

 

21. Transfer Credits

Transfer credits are not computed in a student’s qualitative grade point average. Transfer credits are counted as credits attempted and earned for the purposes of calculating a student’s progress in the program.