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General Academic Policies
i. Academic Progress
Academic progress is the standard by which progress toward a degree is measured in terms of quality (GPA) and quantity (number of credits earned towards graduation). Quantity is measured both in terms of total number of years needed to complete the program as well as required minimum annual and/or per semester credits completed.
Note: a passing grade of D- or higher is required for undergraduate students and C or higher for graduate students in order for credits to be considered completed.
All students are responsible for keeping track of their academic progress and should know which credits they have earned, and what they still need to earn to meet graduation requirements. Students with questions about their academic progress should contact their advisor or chair/program director for clarification.
ii. Academic Load and standards for academic progress
Sixty credits (60) are required to earn an AFA degree (or 66 credits, if matriculated prior to fall 2012). Though students are free to pursue an Associate’s degree full-time (12–18 credits per term), the program caters primarily to part-time students. Students must complete at least 11 credits per year and the entire program in six years or less.
Bachelor's (BA and BFA)
One hundred–twenty (120) credits are required to earn a BA or BFA degree for students. Students following 2008-2009 academic plan or prior require 126 credits to earn their degree. BFA students are required to maintain full-time status (excluding summer). The minimum full-time load for bachelor’s students is 12 credits per semester and the completion of at least 21 credits per year.” Audited and non-credit classes do not count toward the minimum full-time academic load. The maximum full-time load is 18 credits per semester. Bachelor’s students must have written permission from the dean of enrollment to register for fewer than 12 credits or more than 18 credits per semester. Students exceeding 18 credits will incur additional tuition costs. Part-time enrollment may be permitted in a student’s final semester when nearly all required credits have been completed. BA students have the option to register part-time throughout their enrollment (excluding international students with an F-1 visa).
Students are encouraged to meet with the director of financial aid to discuss award adjustments resulting from a reduced academic load prior to schedule adjustments.
Undergraduate students may petition the Academic Review Committee in cases where extenuating circumstances prevent completion of the program within the time limits and/or benchmark credits per annum as stated above. Students should request a leave of absence prior to the semester(s) of planned academic inaction.
Master's (MA and MAT)
Graduate students must be enrolled in at least nine credits each semester, excluding summer semesters, to be considered full-time. International students holding an F-1 visa must be full-time each semester, excluding summer semesters. Part-time graduate students must be enrolled in at least six credits each semester, excluding summer semesters. Audited and non-credit classes do not count towards the minimum academic load. Graduate students must have written permission from the dean of graduate studies or the dean of enrollment to register for less than six credits per semester. Permitted enrollment under six credits may occur in a student’s final semester when nearly all required credits have been completed.
Additionally, academic progress at the graduate level is assessed through a comprehensive coursework review with the chair or program director during the semester in which all academic requirements are completed. Students are deemed degree candidates following successful reviews and written notifications by each program, and will be cleared to finish remaining internships, theses, comprehensive examinations, and any additional non-residential requirements.
Master of Arts in Teaching
Full-time enrollment each term (excluding summer) is required for the MAT degree. After one academic year, a student in good standing may request a one-semester or long-term reduction to part-time status, in close continuing consultation with the program director.
Master of Arts in Art Education
Students take at least one course in fall and spring terms, but usually no more than six credits in those semesters. A typical schedule equals approximately four to five courses per full year in Education, Studio and other art courses, combined. Summer study is strongly recommended for coherency of experience in the program, and students may take nine credits or more over two summer semesters.
Master of Arts in New Media Photojournalism
Full-time enrollment each term (excluding summer) is required for the degree. It may be necessary to complete an internship during the summer.
All other graduate programs
Full-time enrollment is optional, but part-time graduate students must be enrolled in at least six credits each semester, excluding summer. Audited and non-credit classes do not count towards the minimum academic load. Graduate students must have written permission from the director of academic advising, the dean of students, dean of enrollment, or the provost to register for fewer than six credits per semester. Permitted enrollment under six credits may occur in a student’s final semester when nearly all required credits have been completed.
iii. Maximum Time Limits
The standard timeline for completing degree requirements varies according to the specific degree and program as detailed below. In all cases, including interruptions in study, the maximum time limit for completing graduate degree requirements is 10 years from time of matriculation at the Corcoran. Students should request a leave of absence prior to the semester(s) of planned academic inaction.
Students may petition the Academic Review Committee in cases where extenuating circumstances prevent completion of the program within the time limits and/or benchmark credits per annum as stated below. Academic load requirements impact eligibility for financial aid, which is governed by separate, external minimums. Students are encouraged to meet with the director of financial aid to discuss any adjustments that may result from a reduced academic load prior to schedule adjustments. Graduate students should note that fellowships require full-time enrollment (nine or more credits), except for the Master of Art Education degree, with approval.
Students must complete at least 11 credits per year and the entire program in six years or less.
For continuously enrolled bachelor’s students, the program should be completed within six years.
For continuously enrolled graduate students, the maximum time limit for completing degree requirements is four years, except for the MA in Art Education, which is six years. Additional annual credit earning minimums as detailed below:
Master of Arts in Interior Design
60 credits in four years, with a minimum 15 credits per year, extension for thesis with permission of the program director
Master of Arts in Teaching
60 credits in four years; with a minimum 15 credits per year
Master of Arts in Exhibition Design
48 credits in four years; with a minimum 12 credits per year, extension for thesis with permission of the program director
Master of Arts in Art and the Book
48 credits in four years; with a minimum 12 credits per year
Master of Arts in Art Education
33 credits in six years; with a minimum 5.5 credits per year
Master of Arts in New Media Photojournalism
48 credits in four years; with a minimum of 12 credits per year
iv. Change of Academic Program
Undergraduate students in the AFA and BFA programs considering a change of major (from interior design to fine art, for example, or from one design major to another) should discuss their intentions with their advisor and with the current and prospective department chairs/program directors. Students should consider their options carefully since changing majors will likely require additional coursework and may delay graduation due to the sequencing of required major studio requirements. Declaration/Change of Undergraduate Major forms are available online at www.corcoran.edu, or in the Office of the Registrar, and should be signed by the student, the student’s advisor, and the department chairs/program directors of both the student’s current major and prospective major. Forms must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar in order for the change to be finalized.
Any change of degree program (from AFA to BFA, or from MA Interior Design to MA Exhibition Design, for example) requires admission through the Office of Admissions, including a review of transcript. Students should contact their advisor for assistance in applying to pursue a new degree program.
The BFA/MAT program is designed so that students receive both degrees after completing all requirements in their fifth year. Students in the BFA/MAT combined program who decide not to complete the MAT portion of the degree may petition to receive a BFA degree once all requirements for that degree have been completed. The dean of enrollment and dean of undergraduate studies will jointly review such requests, which should be made the semester before a student expects to graduate, and will provide a written recommendation to the provost who will provide a written decision in response.
v. Annual reviews for BFA students
The studio departments in the BFA program conduct annual reviews of upper-level students’ work to individually assess each student’s progress through the curriculum. (Other programs, including graduate programs, may conduct similar reviews at their own option.) Each department sets its own process and schedule for these reviews, which are required of BFA students but not connected to any credit-bearing class. Departmental reviews do not preempt attendance in scheduled classes, so individual sessions should be scheduled for times when students are free to attend.
Reviews allow the faculty of a department to consider a student’s work as a whole and to make judgments about the student’s technical facility, conceptual understandings, and overall direction relative to the learning goals of the department. Students receive both oral and written feedback to prepare them for entering the next stage of the curriculum.
Successful completion of the review is a pre-requisite for starting the next year’s coursework or for proceeding with thesis. Students who are deemed to have not made sufficient progress will receive recommendations for remediating any shortcomings, which may include additional coursework, an independent study, or a leave of absence. Department chairs will meet with any student receiving such recommendations to arrive at a mutually agreeable course of action.
Students who are Studying Away, On Mobility, or on a Leave Of Absence when their departmental reviews take place should arrange with their chair to be reviewed prior to the start of the next semester.
vi. Attendance Policy
Class participation is an important requirement in both studio and academic courses, and students are expected to attend all class sessions and course-related activities of each course for which they are registered. More than two unexcused absences within a given class (one during the summer term), or 20 percent of the semester, are grounds for automatic failure of the course.
Faculty may establish their own attendance policies as long as they are clearly stated in the course syllabus, and they may count attendance and promptness as factors in grading. Faculty-generated attendance policies may not be less than the college policy.
Students who intentionally stop attending a course must either (1) officially Drop the course by the Drop deadline by filing a signed Add/Drop form with the Registrar’s Office, or (2) after the Drop deadline has passed, request a course Withdrawal by the Withdrawal deadline by using the same Add/Drop form. Dropped courses do not appear on transcripts, but Withdrawals do. Failure to officially Drop or Withdraw from a course before the end of the first ten weeks of classes will lead to a grade of F being recorded. (Please see current Academic Calendar for specific dates. Summer terms have different schedules and deadlines.)
Students may not attend any class for which they are not officially registered.
vii. Excused Absences
In exceptional circumstances, the dean of students, in coordination with the chair or program director, may approve emergency absences for medical or other legitimate reasons. In such cases, students are required to provide medical or other supporting documentation. Students should first notify their faculty about their intended absence (unless the absence is a result of an emergency) and then provide documentation to the dean of students immediately upon their return. Once proper documentation is received, the Office of Student Affairs will notify the instructor of the approved excused absence.
Although students may receive an excused absence, they are not relieved of the obligation to master materials presented during the class and must fulfill all course assignments. Faculty may provide alternative assignments to make up for work missed. In such cases, the excused absence will not be counted as a part of the allowable absences under Attendance Policy above, nor will faculty factor the absence into final grading.
Absences due to religious holidays must be pre-approved by the instructor no later than the class prior to the absence (see Student Accommodations and Resources for further instructions). Students should fill out a Request for Accommodation form and give the form to their faculty. Faculty will sign and send the form to the Office of Student Affairs. The same requirements and procedures as for excused absences, discussed above, apply.
Viii. Credit Hours
Academic credit is determined by semester credit hours, which are defined by the U.S. Department of Education and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. (A credit hour by definition is 50 minutes long; a clock hour is 60 minutes long.) Credit applies to two types of courses: studio classes centered on student creative activity, and academic classes involving lectures or seminars in art history and the arts and humanities.
In studio classes a semester credit hour represents at minimum three hours of student work per week for 15 weeks. As a rule, a three-credit studio course consists of 4.5 hours of class time and 4.5 hours of studio time outside of class per week. In academic classes, a semester credit hour represents at minimum one credit hour of class time and two hours of additional study for 15 weeks; a three-credit course typically meets for 2 hours 45 minutes a week for 15 weeks. Additional study outside of academic classes includes but is not limited to reading, writing, and attending exhibitions and lectures, as required. Seminars given in the studio departments follow the semester credit hour definition of academic classes.
For study-away courses and those involving travel, class time is often supplemented by cultural experiences such as visits to museums and architectural sites. A semester credit hour in these cases is counted as 30 clock hours of instruction and supervised experiences in the presence of a faculty member. A three-credit course for study away thus requires a minimum of 90 hours of study and cultural experiences.
ix. Course Substitution
Course substitutions are available to students who need to either take a class outside of the Corcoran College of Art + Design as transfer credit to make up a requirement or to take a substitute course within the College in place of a requirement. In all cases, approval is needed from the student’s academic advisor and the chair or program director, or the dean of students, or the director of academic advising and the signed course substitution form must be recorded with the Office of the Registrar before the student may take the substitute class. Course substitution approvals are revoked if the student does not complete the approved coursework within the specified semester.
If a class is taken at another institution (outside of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area) the student must make arrangements with the visited institution to have an official transcript mailed directly to the Office of the Registrar immediately after the coursework is completed and graded. Credits cannot be evaluated for transfer until an official transcript is received. A satisfactory grade must be earned for a course to be accepted for transfer credit (B or better for graduate students and C or better for undergraduate students). Graduate students may transfer only graduate level courses. See section on Transfer Credit Evaluation for additional details.
If the substitute course is taken at another participating Consortium institution, a separate cross-registration process is required. See the section regarding the Consortium for a list of participating institutions, eligibility requirements, policies, and registration procedure.
Permission to take a course elsewhere will not be approved for a course that the student has attempted at the Corcoran and earned an unsatisfactory grade. Because graduate courses are generally specialized, students should not assume that courses at another institution will cover the same material as at the Corcoran, even when descriptions are similar.
x. Transfer Credit
Transfer Evaluation Procedures
Students may receive transfer credit for courses taken at another institution or at the Corcoran prior to matriculation, under certain proscribed conditions. Transfer credit evaluations for courses taken prior to matriculation, including work completed at the Corcoran, are completed by the Office of Admissions in consultation with chairs or program directors if needed. Granting of transfer credit is at the ultimate discretion of the Dean of Enrollment. Petitions to change the decisions of the Office of Admissions should be directed to the Dean of Enrollment.
Courses taken after matriculation but outside the Corcoran must be approved in advance by the student’s departmental chair or program director. This includes participation in mobility programs, study away programs, and individual courses completed at other institutions. Cross-registration in Consortium institutions follow a distinct set of policies (see “Educational Partnerships and Programs” section of the Student Handbook for details). Credit is awarded once an official academic transcript is received or, in the case of Corcoran-sponsored courses, when grades are recorded.
Standards for Transfer Credit
Courses for which transfer credit is sought must meet the level of quality of coursework given at the Corcoran and be germane to the college’s curricular requirements or electives. Only courses for which a grade of “C” or better was earned are considered.
Courses evaluated for transfer from other college and universities, as well as Advanced Placement Tests and International Baccalaureate Exams, are converted to semester hours in accordance with the credit-hour minimum standards outlined elsewhere. Receipt of a satisfactory transcript from a collegiate institution accredited by an agency or association recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, or its overseas equivalent, is necessary for all transfers of credit, and all such courses must have been taken within ten years of the transfer-credit request.
Credit for coursework done at the Corcoran under the auspices of one program may be applied to another program at the Corcoran provided it meets the requirements of the second program and has not been used in attaining a prior degree at the same or higher level.
Transfer Credit Maximums
For associate’s degree students, a maximum of 30 credits of transfer coursework can be considered towards degree requirements.
Bachelor’s degree students may transfer up to 72 credits from prior coursework completed at other institutions. Of those credits, undergraduate students may not transfer more than nine from outside the Corcoran after matriculation, unless authorized by the department chair or dean. In addition, all minimum residency requirements must be met (see section on graduation requirements for more information).
For graduate students, a maximum of nine credits of transfer coursework can be considered towards degree requirements. Of these nine potential transfer credits, no more than six credits can be taken after Corcoran matriculation unless authorized by the program director. In addition, all minimum residency requirements must be met (see section on graduation requirements for more information).
XI. Graduation Requirements
Students must be actively enrolled at the Corcoran with good academic and financial standing during their final semester of their degree programs, in order for a degree to be conferred. All coursework must be completed, even if the coursework is not applicable to a given degree, and a successful thesis accepted by the student’s department or program. Students will not receive their diploma until all degree requirements are met and a thesis completed and accepted. (Please see Diplomas section for information on receiving your diploma.).
Application for Degree forms are available online and must be submitted prior to the start of a student’s final semester of enrollment, e.g., in the fall semester for a spring graduation. Forms should indicate the term in which the student anticipates completion of all academic requirements. A graduation fee is required ($150 for undergraduate and $195 for graduate students). The application and fee will be valid for one year (three semesters, including summer). If academic requirements are not met within the allotted time, a graduation application must be resubmitted with fee. Upon receipt of the graduation application, a graduation audit is completed and a student’s status, including any missing coursework, is communicated to their departmental advisors. As noted in the Academic Progress section, students are ultimately responsible for the completion of all requirements, so it is strongly encouraged that they frequently refer to their planning sheet or online academic plan. If students have any questions about their progress they should contact their advisor or chair/program head.
If a student completes all academic requirements, but has not submitted an application for degree, they will be cleared for their degree; however, a hold will be placed on the student’s record until the paperwork and fees are submitted.
Official academic transcripts and diplomas will not be released until all outstanding bills and charges are paid in full.
Students retaining a balance post-graduation may be referred to an outside collections agency (see Outside Collections Agency policy).
Associate’s students must complete all academic degree requirements, earn at least 36 Corcoran credits after matriculation, satisfy all outstanding bills, charges, and accounts, and have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.
Bachelor’s students must complete all academic degree requirements, earn at least 48 Corcoran credits after matriculation, satisfy all outstanding bills, charges, and accounts, and have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Students who follow a 2009-2010 academic plan or after must also have a 2.5 cumulative major GPA. Bachelor’s students with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or greater upon the completion of their degree will earn a notation of honors on their transcript.
Bachelor of Fine Arts – Fine Art Concentrations
Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in Fine Arts have the option of pursuing a concentration, which requires 18 credits of coursework in a specific studio area. Students may declare a concentration in Ceramics, Digital Media, Painting and Drawing, Printmaking, or Sculpture by submitting a Declaration of Academic Program form to the Office of the Registrar that has been signed by the fine art department chair. Forms should be submitted no later than the sophomore year, so that students may be advised appropriately. Concentrations cannot be retroactively applied upon completion of degree. Concentrations are noted on the student’s transcript but not on the diploma. All coursework applied to the concentration must be completed with a grade of C or higher.
All graduate students completing a written thesis must provide an electronic copy to the College Library; graduate students completing a written thesis must submit the accepted thesis to UMI Dissertation Publishing via the Library’s website, www.corcoran.edu/library, and must provide two copies of the completed thesis to the department head or chair on cd or flash drive according to departmental thesis requirements.
Master of Arts in Interior Design (60 credits) and Exhibition Design (48 credits)
Students must complete all academic degree requirements; successfully defend and submit a signed final copy of their thesis, earn at least 39 Exhibition Design or 51 Interior Design credits in residence at the Corcoran, satisfy all outstanding bills, charges, and accounts, including library items and fees, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
Master of Arts in Teaching (60 credits) and Master of Arts in Art Education (48 credits)
Students must complete all academic degree requirements; submit a signed final copy of their thesis, earn at least 51 (MAT) or 41 (MAAE) credits in residence at the Corcoran, satisfy all outstanding bills, charges, and accounts, including library items and fees, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Thesis and internships may not need to be completed in the Washington, D.C. area, but students must be regularly enrolled at the Corcoran and under its active academic supervision for these requirements, even if granted approval to complete them elsewhere. All degree requirements must be completed within one year of the original expected date of graduation. Students must be actively enrolled for credit during their final semester, either in residence or in an approved program. Special permission requests to study outside of the Corcoran during a final semester must be supported by the chair or program director and approved by the dean of students prior to registration. Students who have completed all courses and fulfilled all credit requirements, but who are still completing specific tasks such as a thesis, must register for maintaining status. Students can contact their program director or academic advisor for more information on maintaining status and fulfilling academic requirements during the assigned period of pre-registration.
Master of Arts in Art and the Book (48 credits)
Students must complete all academic and studio requirements. Those Art and the Book students who have a studio focus will need to submit and successfully defend a full, cohesive body of work. This will include a final copy of the written thesis. Students with an academic focus will need to submit and successfully defend an extensive written thesis in its final culmination. Art and the Book graduate students must have a earned at least 39 credits in residence at the Corcoran, satisfy all outstanding bills, charges, and accounts, including library items and fees, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
Master of Arts in New Media Photojournalism (48 credits)
Students must complete all academic degree requirements; submit a signed final copy of their thesis, earn at least 39 credits in residence at the Corcoran, satisfy all outstanding bills, charges, and accounts, including library items and fees, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
Graduate programs do not have honors notations.
XII. Thesis Completion Requirement
All programs of the Corcoran College of Art + Design require students to complete a thesis and to have their thesis accepted by their department or program as satisfactory prior to receiving their degree. Theses may be in the form of a written academic research paper, a coherent body of creative work in a field of art, design (including creative writing), or a combination therof. Each degree program determines its own criteria for what constitutes a satisfactory thesis; thesis coursework allows students and faculty to assess whether the thesis paper or project is meeting appropriate benchmarks prior to its submission.
AFA students following academic plans prior to 2012-2013 are exempt from the thesis requirement.
XIii. Participation in Commencement
The Corcoran College of Art + Design publicly conveys degrees once a year at a commencement ceremony in the spring. To participate, students must meet the requirements for graduation, as detailed above, and have submitted a graduation application to the Office of theRegistrar in the fall. A graduation audit is performed by theOffice of the Registrar after the graduation application is received. Final approval to walk in commencement is made once final grades have been received by the Registrar’s Office and the thesis work has been accepted as satisfactory.
Undergraduate students with six credits or less needed to fulfill their degree requirements should seek the support of their department chair and advisor to petition the provost for participation in the commencement ceremony. In addition, students with due balances may petition the provost to walk at graduation.
Participation in the commencement ceremony is distinct from receipt of an academic degree, and a degree is conferred only upon successful completion of all requirements.