Jul 18, 2024  
2020-2021 Catalog 
2020-2021 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

University Academic Policies


Student Responsibility for Observing Policies

Students are directed to the Appendices  section in this Catalog for information on university policies and administrative rules (Title 516 WAC), academic honesty, academic grievances, and other important policies. Information on university policies is also located on the university policy website: policy.wwu.edu. Information on WWU’s administrative code rules (Title 516 WAC) is located at apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=516.

The University attempts to make students aware of academic policies through the publication of the Catalog, the online Timetable of Classes, other materials, and in advising sessions. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with those policies and to be aware of any policy changes that may occur.

Once application materials have been submitted, they become the property of Western Washington University.

E-Mail as Official Means of Communication

Recognizing the expanding reliance on electronic communication, WWU has determined that e-mail will be one of the University’s official means of communication. See POL-U7100.02 Using E-mail Accounts for Official Correspondence with Students. E-mail correspondence will be sent to students’ WWU e-mail addresses. Departments, faculty and staff may use e-mail instead of the U.S. Postal Service to provide students with information relating to official University business. U.S. Postal Service or campus mail can still be used as appropriate. This policy only applies to e-mail messages sent by the University to students that are designated as “WWU Official Communication.”

Credit by Exam, Prior Learning and Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement, Prior Learning Credit and Credit by Exam is granted only to matriculated students.  The maximum credit granted for any combination of Advanced Placement, Prior Learning and Credit by Examination is 45. Additional credits which exceed 45 and carry GUR applicability may be used to satisfy the GUR. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Western Washington University Advanced Placement
    One quarter of successful performance in an advanced course in a sequence which is developmental in nature can, upon departmental recommendation, qualify a student for credit in the preceding course; admission to the advanced course is subject to permission of the department.
  2. Western Washington University Course Challenge
    Challenge examination or procedures prepared by the department concerned.
    The following regulations govern course challenges:
  • Students desiring to challenge a course should apply to the Testing Center by the fourth week of the quarter. The time and procedure to be followed in completing the evaluative process will be announced by the Testing Center. A special fee is charged for each challenge examination. See Tuition and Fees .
  • If the challenge is passed, the result of the challenge is recorded as “Satisfactory” on the student’s permanent record and is not used in computing grade point averages
  • The challenge application will normally be denied:
    • If the student is currently enrolled in the course
    • If the student has previously established credit for a similar course at this or another institution
    • If the student has previously failed the course
    • If the student has previously challenged the course and failed
    • If the student has previously audited the course
    • If, in the judgment of the director of the Testing Center, in consultation with the department concerned, the challenge procedure is inappropriate
    • If the student is in their final quarter prior to graduating and the course is part of the General University Requirements
    • If, in the judgment of the academic department, the student has not demonstrated sufficient familiarity or understanding to have a reasonable chance of passing a challenge examination
  1. Prior Learning Credit
    Western Washington University will award credit for prior learning on a case by case basis. Students seeking prior learning credit must apply to the Registrar’s Office within 6 weeks of their first term of enrollment after admission. The Registrar’s Office coordinates and documents the petition review with the applicable academic department. Academic departments and affiliated faculty are considered experts and specialists in their respective disciplines and therefore the authority in evaluating prior learning experience, equivalency in credit and relationship to degree. The Registrar’s Office will award prior learning credit as approved by academic departments.
  2. International Baccalaureate (IB)
    Western Washington University will grant up to 15 credits for each approved standard level and higher level International Baccalaureate subject examination passed. The department concerned has determined the minimum acceptable score and credit. Go to the following link on the Admission’s website to see what credits are awarded for IB scores: admissions.wwu.edu/apply/ap-ib-cic. To earn credit, students must have an official Transcript of Grades sent directly from International Baccalaureate to Western’s Office of Admissions. Students who have passed exams in subjects not listed will need to consult with the Office of Admissions. Such exams will be considered on an individual basis to determine eligibility for General University Requirement (GUR) or elective credit.
  3. College Board Advanced Placement Examinations in certain subjects.
    The department concerned has determined the minimum acceptable score and credit. Go to the following link on the Admission’s website to see what credits are awarded for AP scores: admissions.wwu.edu/apply/ap-ib-cic. To earn credit, students must have an official score report sent directly from the College Board to Western’s Office of Admissions.
  4. Cambridge International Exams. 
    WWU will grant 15 credits for approved A-level examinations and 7.5 credits for approved AS-level examinations with passing grades of A-E. Credit will not be granted for both an A-level and an AS-level exam in the same subject area. Approved exams will be given a Satisfactory, “S”, grade. Some exams may also apply to GUR. In accordance with the previously stated university policy, a maximum of 45 credits will be granted for any combination of Advanced Placement and Credit by Examination. Students should submit official results of the Cambridge International Exams to the Office of Admissions for determination of transfer credit. At the time of this catalog’s publication, the following exams will not result in credit:
  • Applied Information and Communication Technology
  • Computing/Computer Studies/Computer Applications
  • Design and Technology
  • General Paper
  • Thinking Skills
  • Use of English

The department concerned has determined the minimum acceptable score and credit. Go to the following link on the Admission’s website to see what credits are awarded for each International Baccalaureate subject examination score: admissions.wwu.edu/apply/ap-ib-cic.

Course Numbering

Courses numbered from 100 to 299 are classified as lower division; those numbered from 300-499 as upper division. Generally, the first digit of a course number indicates its intended class level:

100-199 — First-year (freshman) courses
200-299 — Second-year (sophomore) courses
300-399 — Third-year (junior) courses
400-499 — Fourth-year (senior) courses
500-699 — Graduate-level courses

Only courses numbered 100 or above appear on the official transcript. 

Except in unusual circumstances, students are not permitted to take courses more than one year above their class standing. Any undergraduate student wishing to enroll in a course numbered 500 or higher must obtain approval (an override) from the instructor and the Graduate School. (See the Graduate School  section of this catalog.)

The numbers 197, 297, 397, 497 and 597 are used for temporary courses.

The number 117 is reserved for First Year Experience (FYE) courses.

The number 699, continuous enrollment, is reserved for master’s degree students in their final quarter who have registered for all their course work. Contact the Graduate School for further information.

The numbers 137, 237, 337, 437, 537 are reserved for Faculty-led Global Learning Programs. These courses are offered through the WWU International Studies program or through colleges. Contact the Education Abroad office, Miller Hall 208, for information. Repeatable with different subject matter.

The numbers 300, 400, 500 are reserved to designate Directed Independent Study (1-15), enabling students to pursue, on an individual basis, topics not covered by the curriculum.

Courses listed in this General Catalog constitute a record of the total academic program of the University.
Except for unforeseen scheduling and personnel circumstances, it is expected that each course will be offered during the period of this catalog. In some cases, a new course may be offered in the Summer Session prior to appearing in the General Catalog. Such a course would be described in the Summer Session website.

For an exact scheduling of courses at Western and details regarding titles, prerequisites, number of credits and grading for specific courses not listed in this catalog, students should consult the annual online Timetable of Classes, Classfinder or the Summer Session website for summer quarter.


Student are responsible for ensuring that they have satisfied all prerequisites, with a grade of C- or better, before registering for a given course. Although some prerequisite enforcement is driven by the Web registration system, students should not assume they are eligible to enter a course without having taken the prerequisite just because the system allows them to register for the course. A student who has registered for a course without satisfying prerequisites or obtaining permission may be required by the instructor to withdraw from the course. If an instructor requires a student to withdraw from a course because a prerequisite is not satisfied, the student is responsible for doing so via Web4U or in person in the Registrar’s Office. All tuition, fees and withdrawal related deadlines apply.

Waitlisting & Registration

When a course reaches capacity during Phases I, II and III of registration, students may add themselves, via Web4U, to an automatically-generated waitlist. Before waitlisting is allowed, students must meet all course prerequisites and other course restrictions listed in the University Catalog, the online Timetable of Classes, and Classfinder

When a seat becomes available in a waitlisted class, an automated email message is sent to the official WWU email address of the first student on the waitlist, notifying the student of the available seat. Students may also sign up to have waitlist notifications and other official WWU communications sent via text message. Students who receive notification of seat availability are responsible for registering via Web4U before the notification expires. During Phases I and II, notifications are active for 24 hours from the time the notification is sent, and for 12 hours during Phase III. The notification expires if the student does not register within the time allowed. A notification is then sent to the next student on the waitlist. All other registration policies are applicable when waitlisting services are active.

Further details on waitlisting and how to sign up for text message delivery can be found under Registration on the Registrar’s Office website.

Credits and Credit Loads

Credits are assigned to a class based on the amount and type of work expected from a typical student in class. Credit is awarded for courses only in the quarter in which the student is registered for the classes and completing the work.

Classes will be assigned one credit for each hour per week of classroom discussion or lecture, and one credit for every two hours per week of laboratory or practice/rehearsal involving some preparation or reporting.

Classes using different formats for at least part of the course will be assigned credit for amounts and types of work equivalent to those described above. When such a component is proposed, the type and amount of work involved must be described in detail. In particular, the activity for which credit is assigned must be structured and occur at regular or periodic intervals throughout the course, and faculty must supervise and evaluate students’ work in this activity.

Since each hour in a course requires at least two additional hours of study, and since students usually register for several courses, Western has established the following credit load policies for undergraduate students:

  • The standard fulltime load per quarter for undergraduates is 15 credits. In order to graduate in four years, students must average 15 credits per quarter. NOTE: some majors require more than four years of study.
  • During the first quarter of residence, a load must not exceed 18 credits; before registering for more than 15 credits, students should consult with their advisors
  • After the first quarter of residence, the maximum allowable load is 20 credits per quarter; students are limited to 18 credits during Phase I of registration
  • Employed students are advised to adjust their credit load accordingly

Correspondence Credit

Correspondence credit earned through a fully accredited college or university, including Western’s Independent Learning program, may be accepted toward the bachelor’s degree. Some departments limit the number of correspondence credits that may apply toward the major. Enrollment in only correspondence courses through Western’s Independent Learning program does not qualify as continuing enrollment for newly-admitted, first quarter Western students. Contact the Registrar’s Office for information regarding student status.

Non-Matriculated Students and Credit Limitations

A program for non-matriculated students allows community members not admitted to Western and undergraduate/certificate extension program students to enroll in Bellingham campus courses. Non-matriculated students are not eligible to register or get on waitlists until the first day of the quarter. Students who have been dismissed from Western due to low academic standing may not enroll as non-matriculants except during summer quarter.

A student must be admitted to Western to apply credit to a degree. A maximum of 45 credits earned as a non-matriculant may be accepted toward a bachelor’s degree at Western. Contact the Graduate School for information on applying credit to graduate programs.

Students enrolled as non-matriculants are subject to all University academic policies as enumerated in this section of the catalog. They must maintain good academic standing according to University scholarship standards. Continued low scholarship will result in the loss of future registration privileges.

Auditing Courses

Auditors are persons who desire to attend courses without earning credit. Written permission from the instructor and approval from the Registrar’s Office are required to register to audit a class.

Auditors may not actively participate in class and therefore certain courses may not be audited, including, but not limited to physical education activities, laboratory courses, studio courses, independent study courses, language courses, courses not taught in a group setting, and any other course the Registrar deems ineligible. Auditing a course cannot be used toward successful completion of academic credit.

Auditors are not allowed to register until the first day of the quarter, and the course must not have reached maximum enrollment. Changes to or from audit cannot be made after the first five days of the quarter.

Students enrolled for 10 or more non-audited credits may audit a course without an additional charge. Students enrolled for less than 10 credits should refer to the Tuition and Fees section “Auditing a Class.” Students approved to register for an audit are responsible for paying any course fees attached to the course. Students who choose to audit self-supporting classes through Outreach and Continuing Education are required to pay the full amount of tuition and fees.

Special Registration Privileges

The Registrar’s Office grants course registration privileges on a space-available basis fall, winter and spring quarters, for one term at a time, to auditors, Washington State employees, and Washington residents 60 years of age and older who are eligible for tuition reduction. Tuition reduction for summer quarter is available to WWU employees only. Written permission from the professor is required to audit a class. Special students and auditors must submit a Special Student Enrollment Form and/or the applicable tuition/fee waiver application to the Registrar’s Office 2-3 weeks prior to the beginning of each quarter. The forms can be found online at: www.wwu.edu/registrar/services/forms_links.shtml.

Class Standing

An undergraduate student is classified as a freshman when their total completed credits (including transferred credits) range from 0 to 44, a sophomore with credits of 45 to 89, a junior with credits of 90 to 134, and a senior with credits of 135 or more.

Full-Time Status

180 credits are the minimum number of credits required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University. Many majors require more than the minimum of 180 credits. In order to graduate in four years, a student should plan to enroll in an average of 15 credits each quarter. Undergraduate students must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credits in order to be considered full-time (e.g., eligibility for financial assistance, full-time veterans’ benefits, participation in intercollegiate athletics, etc.) Graduate students, officially admitted to the Graduate School must be enrolled in a minimum of 8 credits for financial aid purposes and veterans’ benefits. Students are advised to check carefully to determine that they meet the definition of “full-time enrollment” for the program in which they are participating.

The following table illustrates the minimum number of credits to be considered full time, three-quarter, or half time each quarter for specific eligibility, aid and benefit related services and agencies.




Full time (for financial aid eligibility, veteran’s benefits, athletic eligibility, enrollment verification to outside agencies)

12 or more credits

8 or more credits

Three-quarter time (for financial aid eligibility, veteran’s benefits, enrollment verification to outside agencies)

9, 10 or 11 credits

6 or 7 credits

Half-time (for financial aid eligibility, loan deferments, enrollment verification to outside agencies)

6, 7 or 8 credits

4 or 5 credits

Full fees are assessed to all students enrolled in 10 credits or more. Students enrolled in at least 10 credits are eligible to live in on-campus housing, hold Associated Student office and obtain on-campus student employment.

The Student Health Center is available to all students enrolled in 6 or more credits on WWU’s Bellingham campus. Students registered for 3 to 5 credits have the option of paying the Health Services fee to use the services during a quarter. Former students, students on leave, dependents of students, faculty and staff of WWU, and Whatcom Community College students living on WWU’s campus are not eligible for these services.

Graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 8 credits to be eligible for graduate teaching assistantships (TAs). If a graduate student has completed all the course work listed on the approved plan of study with the exception of the thesis (690) or research (691), the graduate student may remain eligible for the TA appointment by enrolling for as few as 2 credits (with prior approval from the Graduate School). Other graduate students who have completed all the course work listed on the approved plan of study with the exception of the thesis (690) or research (691) should consult with the Graduate School regarding the minimum credit requirements.

This table applies to fall, winter and spring quarters only. Enrollment status and requirements for summer may differ. Please consult the appropriate program office.

Adding a Course

A student may add a course to an existing schedule as late as the fifth day of the quarter. After that time, course additions are allowed only under unusual circumstances and require written permission or current override from the course instructor or department. A special late-add fee is charged when adding after the second week (see Tuition and Fees  section).

Class Attendance

Students are expected to be prepared for class and to be in attendance for all class meetings unless directed otherwise by their instructor. Attending the first meeting of every class is critical to academic success and being absent from the first class meeting without discussing the absence with the instructor in advance may result in being asked to withdraw from the course.

A student absent from any exam or class activity through sickness or other cause judged by the instructor to be excusable shall be given an opportunity to take a rescheduled exam or make up the class assignment in a timely manner agreed upon by the instructor (see Leaves of Absence). Examples of excused absences may include participation in University-sponsored activities such as debating contests, musical or theatrical performances, or intercollegiate athletic competition. Students involved in university sponsored activities who know of a scheduled event or activity they will participate in that will result in a class absence are expected to notify their instructor early in the academic term to determine alternative arrangements for missed material, assigned work or examinations.

University policy does not allow a student to attend or participate in a class without formally being registered for it. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that they are properly registered for each course in their schedule.

Religious Accommodations

Western provides reasonable accommodation for students to take holidays for reasons of faith or conscience or for organized activities conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization. Students seeking such accommodation must provide written notice to their faculty within the first two weeks of the course, citing the specific dates for which they will be absent. “Reasonable accommodation” means that faculty will coordinate with the student on scheduling examinations or other activities necessary for completion of the course or program and includes rescheduling examinations or activities or offering different times for examinations or activities. Additional information about this accommodation can be found in SB 5166: Providing religious accommodations for postsecondary students.

2020-2021 Holiday & Observance Calendar

Appendix F - Academic Grievance and Appeal Policy and Procedures  

University Policies and Procedures

Withdrawal from a Course

Single course withdrawals that occur prior to the sixth day of the quarter are considered to be a change of initial registration and results in no entry on the permanent record (transcript). To withdraw from a course during the first five days of the quarter, a student must complete the transaction on Web4U. If withdrawing from all courses on or after the first day of the quarter, it is considered a ‘school withdrawal’ and it is recorded on the official transcript as a grade of SW (see Withdrawal from the University).

Course withdrawals that occur from the beginning of the sixth day of the quarter to the end of the second week will result in no entry on the permanent record (official transcript), but a mark of “XM” will appear with the withdrawn course on the unofficial record (academic history). If withdrawing from your only class during the second week, a grade of SW will appear on the permanent record. Withdrawals that occur beginning the sixth day of the quarter may affect a student’s tuition charges and may result in a credit of half of applicable tuition only. Fees are not refunded after the fifth day of the quarter. There also may be implications for financial aid recipients’ awards. Beginning with the sixth day of the quarter, a student must complete the withdrawal in person at the Registrar’s Office in Old Main 230, during regular business hours. Beginning the third week of the quarter, a mark of “W” is posted for each withdrawn course.

Course withdrawal from the beginning of the third week to the end of the seventh week is permitted only if the student has an unused annual withdrawal privilege. Each student is granted two annual withdrawal privileges at the beginning of the academic year in fall quarter. The annual withdrawal privileges can be used during fall, winter, spring or summer quarter. (See Summer Session for summer course withdrawals.) Unused annual withdrawals cannot be used in subsequent years. To use an annual withdrawal privilege, a student must complete the withdrawal in person at the Registrar’s Office.

After the seventh week of the quarter, course withdrawal is not permitted. Discontinued attendance without official withdrawal results in a failing grade (Z or F). Course withdrawal deadlines are published in the dates and deadlines section of the Registrar’s Office website and the Summer Session website.

To withdraw from an extension course, a student must file the appropriate form through the extension office. For specific site information, see the Outreach and Continuing Education  section in this catalog.

Students may drop an Independent Learning course by contacting the Independent Learning Office in writing. There is no refund 30 days after registration.

Withdrawal from the University

Withdrawal from the University, including self-supporting program, may be made at any time before the final two weeks of a quarter. After the first five days of the quarter, students must initiate the withdrawal process in the Registrar’s Office or at their extension site. The official date of withdrawal has significant impact on determining a student’s remaining balance due or refund/credit (see the Registrar’s Office quarterly Important Dates and Deadlines for exact deadlines**). Students, especially students receiving financial aid, are strongly encouraged to seek information from both the Financial Aid Office and the Student Business Office prior to withdrawing from the University. A withdrawing student who will be away from Western a full quarter or more, except summer quarter, must apply for readmission prior to the deadline stated in the Undergraduate Admission section of this catalog.

The official date of withdrawal is the date of the final withdrawal transaction whether through Web4U or in the Registrar’s Office. A student’s intent to withdraw begins when the student makes initial contact with the Registrar’s Office and initiates the Notification of Student’s Intent to Withdraw from All Classes Form. The difference between the student’s intent to withdraw date and the official date of withdrawal may delay the determination of a student’s outstanding balance due or refund/credit. Students are encouraged to complete the university withdrawal process in a timely manner.

Beginning the first day of classes, including withdrawal from the institution, a grade of SW (school withdrawal) is posted on the permanent record for each course for which the student was registered.

Upon registering for courses, students incur a legal debt to the University. When a student leaves the University at any time without formally withdrawing, or the student decides not to attend classes without formally withdrawing via Web4U or at the Registrar’s Office, the student’s account balance remains due in compliance with all deadlines. Choosing to not attend classes does not result in automatic withdrawal from classes or relief from any financial balance due the institution and will result in failing grades on the official transcript. Enrolled students who do not attend and who fail to withdraw from the institution may use the Registrar’s General Petition to request an exchange of failing grades for school withdrawal notation. Formerly enrolled students who did not attend and are approved for withdrawal through the General Petition process are still responsible for any outstanding financial balance due the institution.

** Summer Session withdrawal deadlines vary depending on the length of the course. See the Summer Session website for details.

Dean’s Withdrawal

A student who is unable to complete the quarter or a class due to compelling circumstances beyond their control or due to a significant hardship (such as incapacitating illness or injury) may petition to withdraw from the University or a course after the stated deadline.

Petitions for the Dean’s Withdrawal are available in the Office of Student Life and must be submitted by the deadline determined by the Office of Student Life. A complete school withdrawal results in grades of SW for each course for which the student was registered. If the student qualifies for a partial withdrawal, a grade of W is posted for those courses.

Students approved for a Dean’s Withdrawal are still responsible for any outstanding financial balance due the institution. Refund/credit of tuition and some fees may apply and are processed based upon the student’s Last Date of Attendance. The Last Date of Attendance is reported by the student on the Dean’s Withdrawal Petition and may be verified by a staff member of the Office of Student Life or staff member of the Registrar’s Office. The Last Date of Attendance is the last known date when the student actively engaged or participated in learning activities, to include attending class, reading or responding to online materials or discussions, completing an exam or quiz, or discussions in-person or via email with the instructor regarding the class.

Summer withdrawal deadlines and policies are published on the Summer Session website.

Emergency Leaves of Absence

A leave of absence from classes may be granted when psychological or family emergency, illness or injury requires a student to be absent from class. Leaves of absence are issued only upon request from the student and may be granted for two days, but no more than five days during an academic quarter or summer session. If a faculty member requires official notification of student medical or emergency leaves of absence, the faculty member will inform the students in their courses of that fact in the course syllabus. (Non-medical leave or absence are available through the Office of Student Life, Dean of Students Office. Medical leave of absence is provided through the Student Health Center.) All leave of absences require proper verification.

While a leave of absence generally makes it possible for the student to make up work missed, in some instances the amount of time lost makes course completion impractical. In those cases, withdrawal or incomplete grades may be appropriate. A student absent from any exam or class activity through sickness or other cause judged by the instructor to be excusable shall be given an opportunity to take a rescheduled exam or make up the class assignment in a timely manner agreed upon by the instructor. Examples of excusable cause may include participation in university-sponsored activities such as debating contests, musical or theatrical performances, or intercollegiate athletic competition. The student should consult with the course instructors and/or the Dean of Students Office.

Insufficient Progress Toward Degree and Registration Holds

The University reserves the right to deny access to classes by students who make insufficient progress toward a degree or major. Insufficient progress toward a degree is determined by the Registrar in consultation with academic and administrative officials. Insufficient progress toward major is determined by the department chair in consultation with the Registrar. Students who do not make progress toward a degree or who repeatedly withdraw from the University after registering may have their enrollment privileges suspended. Students on probation who repeatedly register for Pass/No Pass or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory courses may have their registration privileges suspended. Students who do not declare a major by the time they reach 105 credits may not be permitted to register. Students who do not declare a major, pre-major, or Phase I major by the time they reach 105 or more quarter credits are required to meet with an advisor or submit an online major declaration plan for advisor approval each quarter prior to registering until they have declared a major.

More information regarding this policy can be found on Academic Advising’s website here: wwu.edu/advising/105creditholds.shtml. Students who reach 210 credits without graduating or submitting a degree application or approved plan of study may not be permitted to register.

Criteria for determining Insufficient Progress

Degree-seeking students who fail to make progress toward a degree based on one or more of the following components of evaluation may have their enrollment privileges suspended or other administrative action taken (conditions that would be applied to help students succeed academically):

  • Continuing students with a net completion rate of fewer than 80% of credits attempted at WWU (excludes courses dropped before the second Friday of the quarter)

  • Students with repeated coursework in more than three courses or any single course more than once.

  • Students who earn a quarterly grade point average below 2.0 for two or more consecutive quarters

  • Students who take more than two course withdrawals of any type (late course withdrawal, hardship withdrawal, school withdrawal) within a calendar year (September 1 - August 31)

Finals Preparation Week

The week immediately preceding final examination week is known as finals preparation week and provides the following protections which enable students to complete their studies without undue hardships:

  • Final examinations must be administered at the date and time specified in the final examination schedule, with the exception of laboratory-section final exams
  • During finals preparation week, no examinations shall be administered; exceptions may be made if there is agreement of the instructor, the appropriate department chair and/or dean, and the entire class membership
  • No graded assignments shall be introduced during finals preparation week
    • Students may consent, on an individual basis, to accept new graded assignments for purposes of extra credit and/or makeup for previous assignments
    • Instructors must have notified students in writing, by the end of the course’s fifth week, of any graded assignments whose due dates fall during finals preparation week

The term “graded assignments” refers to written or oral presentations which are a required component of class performance and which are utilized in determining students’ letter grades or evaluations for the quarter. Examples include essays, papers, research projects and class presentations or quizzes.

Final Examinations

Final examinations, given in most courses at Western, are administered according to a schedule published in the online Timetable of Classes. The scheduled days and hours for these examinations may not be changed. The final examination is normally held where the course meets.

All final examinations are scheduled during the last week of the quarter, which is known as final examination week. No final examinations except laboratory finals — whether for a whole class or part of a class or an individual — may be given before final examination week. This means that students may not petition faculty for early final examinations and that students should plan their end-of-quarter schedules in the expectation of final examinations in all courses. In the rare cases where final examinations are not given, instructors will notify students at the beginning of the quarter.

A student who fails to take a final examination without making prior arrangements acceptable to the instructor receives a failing grade for the course. Under unusual circumstances, an instructor may allow a student who has been making satisfactory progress in the course to take a late final examination and receive a temporary incomplete (K) grade. This privilege is available only to students who have been making satisfactory progress in the course. It is recommended that the incomplete grade given in this manner should be completed early during the next quarter. See additional details noted in the section ‘The Incomplete (K) Grade’.

If the final examinations schedule causes a student to take three or more examinations in one day, any of the student’s instructors may arrange an examination later during finals week.

There is no final examination week in summer session. Course requirements are determined by each instructor.

Grades and Grade Reporting

At Western, grades describe both a student’s mastery of subject matter and the ability to communicate that mastery in examinations, essays, demonstrations and discussions. The three grading systems are described below. (Fairhaven College is authorized to follow a different system described in the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies  section of this catalog.)

Temporary Grade Policy

With input from the Faculty Senate and the Associated Students, and with the approval of the Provost, the University will follow a temporary grading policy. This temporary policy has no bearing on courses graded S/U or on grading in the Fairhaven College, which has its own grading policy. For more Covid-19 information on Classes and Academics for the 2020-2021 academic year go to wwu.edu/coronavirus/classes.

Fall 2020 Undergraduate Grading Policy  

Fall 2020 Graduate Grading Policy  

Winter 2021 Undergraduate Grading Policy  

Winter 2021 Graduate Grading Policy  

Spring 2021 Undergraduate Grading Policy  

Spring 2021 Graduate Grading Policy  

Summer 2021 Undergraduate Grading Policy  

Summer 2021 Graduate Grading Policy  

A-F Grading

Most courses at Western are graded on the traditional A-F system. The grades that may be earned under this system, and their values for GPA calculation (see “Grade Averages” below), are as follows:

A (excellent), 4.00; A-, 3.70; B+, 3.30; B (good), 3.00; B-, 2.70; C+, 2.30; C (fair), 2.00; C-, 1.70; D+, 1.30; D (poor), 1.00; D-, 0.70; F (failure), 0.00; Z (failure due to discontinued attendance without withdrawal), 0.00; K (incomplete), X (missing grade); XM (course withdrawal during second week of quarter; mark appears on academic history, but not on official transcript); W (course withdrawal after the second week of the quarter; mark appears on both the academic history and official transcript); SW (school withdrawal; mark appears on each course when school withdrawal occurs on first day of quarter or later).

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading

Some courses are graded on the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory system. For these courses, appropriate curricular agencies have determined that the traditional A-F system is inappropriate. If a course has been approved for S/U grading, the only grades that may be assigned are S, U and K. Neither S nor U is considered in the calculation of grade averages.

All S/U courses are identified in the course descriptions of this catalog and in the online Timetable of Classes.

Pass/No Pass Grading

Students may choose the Pass/No Pass grading option in certain elective courses. The minimum level of performance required to receive a grade of P varies from course to course and is determined by each instructor or department. Students should not assume that performance equal to a grade of D or higher will result in a passing mark. Often performance at the level of C or higher is required. Regulations pertaining to Pass/No Pass grading are as follows:

  • Courses graded Pass/No Pass may not be applied to the major and minor, supporting courses, professional education requirements, upper-division writing proficiency requirement and General University Requirements
  • Graduate courses taken for the graduate degree cannot be taken Pass/No Pass
  • Courses graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory cannot be taken Pass/No Pass
  • To designate a course as Pass/No Pass students must submit a request at the Registrar’s Office after registering for the course; they may change this designation by submitting the change to the Registrar’s Office at any time through the fourth week of a quarter. For extension program courses or Summer Session, please see Summer Session or Independent Learning deadlines.
  • Prerequisites, work required and credit allowed may be affected by election of the Pass/No Pass option
  • In computing grade averages, neither the P nor NP grade in Pass/No Pass courses is counted
  • Should a student change their major or minor, the academic departments involved are the sole judges of the acceptability of any Pass/No Pass courses already completed in the newly chosen major or minor
  • Once a student has earned NP grades in courses totaling 10 credits, they may no longer register for courses under the Pass/No Pass option
  • MATH 099 is a non-credit course that does not appear on the official transcript but will appear on the academic history. A grade of YP indicates pass, a grade of YN indicates no pass, and a grade of YK indicates incomplete. These grades are not calculated into the student’s grade point average or earned credits.

NOTE: Excessive use of the Pass/No Pass grading system may negatively influence admission to some graduate or professional schools.

The Incomplete (K) Grade

The grade of K (incomplete) may be assigned under all grading systems. It may be assigned only upon request of the student and agreement of the course instructor. Normally it is given only to a student who has been in attendance and has been doing passing work until the final two weeks of the quarter when extenuating circumstances beyond their control make it impossible to complete course requirements on schedule. (Extenuating circumstances do not include mere lateness in completing work, the desire of a student to do extra work to raise a poor grade, et cetera.)

To receive a K grade, a student must print a contract form and negotiate a formal agreement with the course instructor specifying the work done and the remaining work to complete the course and earn a grade. One copy is kept by the student and one by the faculty member.

Normally, the student completes the work agreed upon during the next quarter and a final grade is submitted by the instructor. After one year, however, if a final grade has not been submitted, the K automatically reverts to a failing grade (Z), and the student may establish credit only by registering again for the course. (Grades of K earned in thesis courses numbered 690 do not lapse to failure.) In no case will a final grade replacing a K affect the student’s academic standing in the quarter in which the final grade is assigned.

Completing a K grade (and recording it with a final grade) will not affect the student’s faculty action (scholarship standing) for the quarter in which the K was assigned, nor will it affect the faculty action for the quarter in which the final grade is recorded if the grades and faculty action for that quarter have already been submitted. However, it will affect the cumulative grade point average as soon as the final grade is recorded.

A student who receives an incomplete in a required course the final quarter before graduating must complete the course within two weeks of the end of that quarter in order to graduate at that time. If the course is not completed after two weeks, the prospective graduate is subject to resubmitting the degree application and registration in another course to satisfy the final-quarter-in-residence rule.

The Incomplete (K) Grade policy temporary change

The following temporary change to The Incomplete (K) Grade policy was made by the University for the 2020-2021 academic year. This change will officially go into effect fall quarter 2021:

An assigned grade of K will be removed and replaced when the grade change is made (either when the work is completed to satisfy the contract, or as provided by the policy if the contract has not been satisfied after one year). This will apply until the policy change takes effect in Fall 2021.

Grades and Academic Honesty

Grades are given for the student’s work and achievement. Fair evaluation of students’ work and helpful instruction are possible only when students submit work which genuinely reflects their own reading, computation, research and thoughts and is their own production, whether in writing or other format(s). Academic dishonesty can result in a failing grade and the placement of a note in the student’s permanent record. For the University’s policy on academic honesty, see Appendix D - Academic Honesty Policy and Procedure  in the Appendices section of this catalog.

Grade Averages (GPA)

To determine a grade average, points are assigned to each grade earned under the A-F grading system (A = 4.00, B = 3.00, et cetera. See A-F Grading). The point value of each grade is multiplied by the number of credits assigned to the course. Total points are then divided by total credits attempted. Thus, a student who earns a five-credit A, five-credit B and a five-credit F has earned a quarterly average of 2.33 (35 points divided by 15 credits attempted).

A grade average of 2.00 (C) represents the minimum acceptable level of performance to remain in good standing at the University. Higher grade averages may be required for admission to or retention in certain major programs.

Only grades earned at Western are calculated in determining a student’s quarterly or cumulative grade average.

Grades of S, U, P, NP, AUD, K, X, W, XM, YP, YN, YK and SW are not included in GPA calculation.

Grades Yielding Credit

Credit is granted for courses completed with grades of D- or higher on the A-F grading system and for grades of P and S. The grades of D+, D and D-, however, represent a level of work that is unacceptable in a student’s major or minor, supporting courses for majors and minors, ENG 101, and the courses that satisfy a student’s upper-division writing proficiency requirement. Professional education courses required for teacher education programs and courses required for state teaching endorsements must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

Repeating a Course

A few courses are approved to be repeated for credit. Such approval is included with the course description in this catalog. If a course not designated as repeatable for credit is retaken, the following will apply:

• Students may not repeat any previously passed course more than once.

• Credit will be awarded only once for a repeated course.

• The last grade earned will be used in the computation of the cumulative and major grade point averages.

• All grades will remain in the student’s official record.

• A course cannot be repeated to change the student’s grade point average after a baccalaureate degree has been awarded.

• Students wishing to repeat a class in which they already received a P, S, or C- or better grade may not register for the class until Phase III of registration. Students, in this circumstance, who register for a repeated course prior to Phase III may be required to drop the course by the academic department or Registrar’s Office. The repeat registration for English composition prior to Phase III requires the written permission of the chair of the department.

This policy applies to undergraduate students. Please note that departments may require Graduate students to repeat a course in order to attain an acceptable level of competence. Graduate students should review the Scholarship Standards under the Graduate School  section of the catalog.

Final Grades

Final grades are assigned at the end of each quarter and are available to students on Web4U. An accurate representation of final grades, quarterly and cumulative grade point averages, credit completion totals and academic standing does not occur until 4-5 business days after final examination week.

Grade Changes

Once a grade has been filed with the Registrar, it is regarded as final. Except for the conversion of incomplete (K) marks, grade changes are accepted only under the following circumstances:

It is discovered that the grade resulted from clerical error in transcription or recording. Requests for change to correct these errors must be made in writing to the Registrar by the course instructor and only during the quarter immediately following original issuance of the grade.

The Registrar may be instructed to change a grade as the result of the academic grievance procedure.

The Registrar may be instructed to change a grade if it is determined that the grade resulted from academic dishonesty.

Fresh Start

A former Western undergraduate student who returns to the University after an absence of five years or more may be given permission to start a new cumulative grade average. To be eligible, the student must be returning to Western as an undergraduate and cannot have taken any Western courses (including extension, correspondence, and cyber) during the five-year absence. The absence begins from the last day of the quarter of previous enrollment.

The Fresh Start application deadline is the end of the first week of the quarter in which the student returns. The application should be submitted to the Registrar’s Office. Students who have been dropped for low scholarship, even if absent for five years or more, must pursue reinstatement. See Reinstatement section below.

Undergraduates who might be considering applying for the master’s degree at WWU should contact the Graduate School office for information about the implications of having been given an undergraduate Fresh Start.

Post-baccalaureate students and students in graduate programs are not eligible for Fresh Start. An undergraduate student can be granted only one Fresh Start.


Students at Western may be eligible to earn the following awards/distinction that are entered on their permanent academic records.

Presidential Scholar Award

In 2000 in honor of Western’s Centennial, President Karen W. Morse instituted the Presidential Scholars Award to honor graduates for their exceptional scholarship and service to the university and community.

One award will be granted per college (one award per division of Humanities and Social Sciences). The deans will nominate candidates based upon recommendations from the faculty, in accordance with customary college practice. The seven graduation seniors exemplify the University’s goals of academic proficiency, advancement of diversity, and service to the community.

These awards are presented annually during spring quarter.

Outstanding Graduate Award

This award was initiated in 1978 to recognize the excellence in Western students. Recognition is based on criteria decided entirely by each academic department. Faculty members from academic departments and programs select one graduate to honor as the Outstanding Graduate of the year. Selection is a high honor based on a combined excellence in academics, leadership stewardship to the department and/or university, research and writing, service to the campus and community, and promise for the future. The award is added to students’ official transcripts.

Departmental Honors & Distinction

Several academic departments recognize students achieving certain levels of distinction in the departmental major. Individual department eligibility requirements are listed in the department catalog section and the respective program of study in the catalog if the particular department is recognizing this achievement.

Quarterly President’s List (Honor Roll)

Each undergraduate student whose quarterly grade average places them at the 90th percentile or higher among students of the same class (freshman, sophomore, et cetera) shall be placed on the President’s List. The term “honor roll” shall be affixed to the student’s permanent academic record for that quarter. To be eligible for the quarterly President’s List, a student must be enrolled officially in a division of Western Washington University which employs the A-F grading system and must complete at least 14 credits that quarter on the A-F grading system.

Graduation Honors 

Graduation cum laude or magna cum laude is possible from those colleges of Western Washington University which employ the A-F grading system. Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, which employs a different grading system, may develop alternate ways to honor outstanding graduates.

The Graduate School does not confer graduation honors on graduate students although some graduate programs recognize meritorious graduate students.

To be eligible for cum laude or magna cum laude status upon graduation, the student must have earned at least 65 graded credits (under the A-F grading system) while in junior or senior standing. Only students who earn a first bachelor’s degree are eligible for graduation honors.

Magna cum laude shall be awarded to each student whose honors grade average places them at the 97th percentile or higher among graduating seniors from their college during the previous academic year. Cum laude shall be awarded to each student whose honors grade average places them from the 92nd through 96th percentiles among graduating seniors from their college during the previous academic year.

To receive honors recognition at Western’s commencement exercises, it is necessary for a student to have qualified for honors by the end of the quarter prior to graduation.

Scholarship Standards

The following scholarship standards apply to each academic division of Western Washington University, except Fairhaven College. Students should note that transfer between academic divisions is restricted in cases of low scholarship.

Low- and high-scholarship standings are not changed as a result of the removal of incomplete (K) grades and late grades received in correspondence courses.

Good Academic Standing

Students are in good academic standing if they have a cumulative grade point average that is not below 2.00.

Low Scholarship

The University has set the standards described below to ensure that students who are earning low grades will examine their objectives carefully before continuing enrollment. In some cases, students will be dropped from the University. The standards are designed to ensure that a student will examine their objectives and seek assistance before grades deteriorate to the point that continued enrollment or admission to another college or university becomes impossible. In all cases involving low scholarship, students are encouraged to consult with the Academic Advising Center, their instructors, or major advisor.

The low scholarship categories below apply to all divisions of Western Washington University except Fairhaven College. (See the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies  section for that division’s scholarship standards.) Students dropped from one college division may not transfer to another college division without reinstatement by the Scholastic Standing Committee. These standards also apply to students enrolled in self-supporting courses.

Academic Warning
A warning is issued to a first-quarter freshman or a first-quarter transfer student (who has not previously attended Western) whose grade average is below 2.00 and to any continuing student whose quarterly grade average is below 2.00 but whose cumulative grade average is 2.00 or higher.

Academic Probation
Any student except a first-quarter freshman or first-quarter transfer student (who has not previously attended Western) whose cumulative grade average falls below a 2.00 is placed on academic probation. A student who begins the quarter on probation must earn at least a quarterly grade average of 2.00 to avoid academic dismissal (see below).

Continuing Probation
A student who begins a quarter on probation and, during that quarter, earns a grade average of 2.00 or higher without raising their cumulative grade average to at least 2.00 is placed on continuing probation. The student must then improve their cumulative grade average to at least 2.00 or attain at least a 2.30 quarterly average during the next quarter of enrollment.

Students on probation or continuing probation who repeatedly withdraw or register for Pass/No Pass or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory courses may have their registration privileges suspended by the Registrar.

Academic dismissal
A student will be dropped from the University if they (a) begin a quarter on probation and earn a quarterly grade average below 2.00 and fail to raise their cumulative grade average to at least 2.00 or (b) begin a quarter on continuing probation and earn a quarterly grade average below 2.30 and fail to raise their cumulative grade average to at least a 2.00.

Under unusual circumstances involving consistent patterns of course withdrawal or course repeats, a student whose cumulative grade average is 2.00 or higher may be dismissed from the University. The provost may authorize dismissal in these unusual cases after reviewing records presented by the Registrar.

A student who has been dismissed for low scholarship should contact the Academic Advising Center in Old Main 380 for advising and the petition process. The student may enroll only in Summer Session, or independent and online courses through Western. Coursework through these programs does not guarantee future reinstatement as a degree candidate. See also the Reinstatement section below for more details.

Removal from probation occurs at the end of a quarter during which a student has improved their cumulative grade average to 2.00 or higher.


Students who have been dismissed for low scholarship and want to return to Western should contact the Academic Advising Center in Old Main 380 and schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor. Students who succeed in gaining reinstatement have earned strong grades in coursework taken since dismissal, established strong study skills, overcome personal challenges that previously interfered with their studies and have clearly defined, realistic academic goals.

Students who have been dismissed for low scholarship can seek reinstatement (but not for the quarter immediately following the quarter of dismissal). For the petitioning process and additional information, go to wwu.edu/advising/. The Scholastic Standing Committee has the responsibility of determining reinstatement.

Academic Honesty Policy

Academic dishonesty is not tolerated at Western Washington University. A student commits an act of academic dishonesty when they participate in representing work of their own when in fact it is the work of another. A Western student charged with academic dishonesty may face significant repercussions such as failure of the assignment and course and possibly dismissal. All acts of academic dishonesty are on record in the Registrar’s Office and the office of the Provost. Students do have the right to due process and may appeal a charge of academic dishonesty. For a full description of the academic honesty policy and procedures at Western, see Appendix D - Academic Honesty Policy and Procedure  in the Appendices section of this catalog.

Academic Grievance Policy

The text and procedures of Western’s Academic Grievance Policy are contained in Appendix F - Academic Grievance and Appeal Policy and Procedures  in the Appendices section of this catalog.

Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid

The text of Western’s policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid is contained in Appendix J - Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for Financial Aid Recipients  in the Appendices section of this catalog.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), passed by Congress in 1974, protects the confidentiality of student records against disclosure to third parties and guarantees access to those records by the student. FERPA allows the university to release certain “directory information”, which may include the student’s name, local address and phone number, whether the student is enrolled, dates of attendance, degrees earned, and most recent previous institutions attended. However, Western Washington University is more restrictive, releasing to third parties only whether the student is currently enrolled, dates of attendance, and degrees awarded. For students who have requested a confidential block through the Registrar’s Office, no information is disclosed, not even whether the student is enrolled.

When a student enrolls in a postsecondary institution, rights of access are transferred from the parents to the student. Thus parents who wish to have access to their students’ educational information must present a written, signed and recently dated consent from their student for each request.

Western students have 24 hour computer access to their own educational record via Web4U and therefore students and parents are encouraged to dialogue about appropriate and respectful sharing of educational information within the context of their relationship and recognition of the adult standing of the student by the university.

Individuals whose work requires access, such as university faculty and staff and government officials who work to improve instruction, also are allowed by FERPA to view student records.

For more complete information about FERPA and Western’s Student Records Policy, see Appendix E - Student Records   in the Appendices section of this catalog.

Student Records Policy

For the complete text of this policy, see Appendix E - Student Records   in the Appendices section of this catalog.

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