Academic Policies

Academic Honesty / Dishonesty

Students are expected to be scrupulous in their observance of high standards of honesty in regard to tests, assignments, term papers, and all other procedures relating to class work. Academic dishonesty as used here includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism, cheating on examinations, theft of examinations or other materials from an instructor’s files or office or from a room in which these are being copied, copying of an instructor’s test material without the permission of the instructor, theft of computer files from another person, or attributing to one’s self the work of others, with or without the others’ permission. Falsification of an academic record with intent to improve one’s academic standing also shall be construed to be academic dishonesty.

Hutchins Library staff members have prepared an informative online summary of plagiarism, which is the act of presenting someone else’s work as one’s own. In the library’s Facts on Plagiarism, plagiarism is described in detail to help students define, understand, and avoid questionable practices.

When Academic Dishonesty is suspected, the following process is followed:

  1. In the event a student is suspected of being guilty of academic dishonesty, the faculty member in whose course the offense allegedly occurred is responsible for pursuing the matter, making an initial determination, and deciding upon an appropriate course-related sanction up to and including failure of the course. When an instructor is convinced that academic dishonesty has occurred, the instructor will counsel with the student involved in an effort to determine an appropriate course of action. The minimal action is to reject the work in question. The instructor then must report the finding in writing to the Director of Academic Services, appending any documentary evidence of the dishonesty, and furnish the student with a copy of the written report. The Director of Academic Services then will record the report in a confidential file.* If multiple charges in the student’s confidential file are observed, the Director will report this student to the Student Admissions and Academic Standing (SAAS) Committee for adjudication and possible further sanctions, including suspension. While deliberating to determine appropriate consequences, the SAAS Committee may ask for information from the student’s previous disciplinary or labor records. The student shall be informed of the names of those consulted by the Committee.
  2. An instructor has the option of referring any single case of alleged academic dishonesty to the SAAS Committee for adjudication and/or disciplinary action, even in the absence of multiple charges. Also, in any case involving alleged dishonesty, the student has the right to appeal an action taken by the instructor to that Committee. Upon receipt of the written report, the Director of Academic Services will inform the student that there is one week in which to initiate an appeal of any part of the instructor’s report. Such appeals are to be sent to the Director of Academic Services.
  3. While functioning as a judicial body to determine guilt or innocence, the SAAS Committee will observe the judicial procedures defined in the Community Judicial Code contained in the Berea College Student Handbook. Cases involving false testimony before the SAAS Committee while that committee is functioning as a judicial body will be heard by the Student Life Council. Students who appear in a hearing before the SAAS Committee shall determine whether student members of the Committee shall participate in the adjudication.

*The principles of this policy and procedure were approved by the College Faculty in 1973.

**The purpose of keeping the confidential file separate from the student’s regular permanent student record is to make it possible for one person, the Director of Academic Services, to be aware of multiple violations. Besides calling such occurrences to the attention of the SAAS Committee, the Director will furnish information from the file concerning the violations of a particular student upon request by the Campus Conduct Hearing Board, the Student Life Council, the individuals reviewing applications for readmissions, or the Labor Program Council. The purpose of furnishing such information to these bodies is to assist them in their effort to obtain perspective on the student as a whole while deliberating to determine appropriate consequences in a particular case. Except as noted above, no group or other individual will have access to the file.

Academic Performance Standards


Grading Scale

The quality of a student’s academic achievement in each Berea College course is reported through final course grades in a grading scale adopted by the College Faculty in November 2007, as follows:


Excellent Work


Good Work


Competent Work*


Poor work that is still worthy of credit

Raises serious concern about the readiness of a student to continue in related course work.


Failing work that is unworthy of credit


The required minimum of 7 Convocation credits were earned


The required minimum of 7 Convocation credits were not earned


Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, Satisfactorily Completed

Given in developmental mathematics courses and in other non-credit courses and projects.  These grades are not used in determining the GPA.


Passing work

Given for courses which do not affect GPA, but for which credit is earned.


Continuing Progress

Given when a student is enrolled in a class that continues into the next term.



Assigned only when some portion of a course has not been completed for good and sufficient reason.  Courses in which I grades are assigned must be completed no later than the end of the next regular term in which the student is enrolled or the grade will be recorded as “F” on the permanent record.  Note that instructors may set an earlier deadline for completion of incomplete work than that set by the College.


No grade

A temporarily assigned grade when extenuating circumstances prevent an instructor from submitting grades at the time they are required due to travel abroad or other challenges deemed permitted by the Academic Dean.  A change of grade is required no later than 10 days following the assignment of the N.

In addition, the course grades of A, B, C, and D may be modified by a plus (+) or minus (-) suffix, indicating achievement which is respectively at the higher or lower segment of each of these grade ranges.

* Please note that a C- does not count for sequenced courses requiring a C or higher in a previous course (e.g., FRN 102 requires a C or higher in FRN 101).

Achievement in courses at the College is recorded by grades of A+/A/A-/B+/B/B-/C+/C/C-/D+/D/D-/F/U/S/SC/P/CP/I.  Also see "Dean's List" and "Graduating with Honors" in this publication.

Repeating a Course for a Higher Grade

A course in which a C-, D+, D, D- or F is earned may be repeated for a higher grade. The earlier grade will remain on the transcript, but only the higher of the two will be computed in the GPA. Earned credit will be given only once. Permission to repeat a course in which a grade of C or higher is earned may be given only by the Student Admissions and Academic Standing (SAAS) Committee. Courses may be repeated no more than two times without approval of the SAAS Committee. The highest grade will be computed in the GPA. Permission to take a course for the fourth time rarely will be given.

NOTE : For the purpose of meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress goals (see the Financial Aid and Student Accounts section in this publication), repeated courses will be counted only once toward meeting the minimum required passed course credits.

Grade Point Average

The GPA is a measure of a student’s academic achievement at the College, calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the total number of credits attempted. A term GPA and the cumulative average are computed at the end of each term for each student. For purposes of computing the Grade Point Average (GPA), the following weights are used: A=4.0; A-=3.7; B+=3.3; B=3.0; B-=2.7; C+=2.3; C=2.0; C-=1.7; D+=1.3; D=1.0; D-=0.7; and F=0.0. Included in the GPA calculation are the grades earned for Convocation credit, calculated as 0.25 convocation credit for CA and 0.0 credit for CF grades.

NOTE: Convocation credits do not count in the minimum earned credits needed for a degree. S, SC, I, and U grades are not used in calculating GPA. W, WP, WF, and I grades in non-credit courses are not used in computing the GPA. All core, distribution, concentration, and collateral courses are used in the calculation of a student’s major GPA.

Dean’s List

A student who achieves a regular term GPA of 3.4 or higher while passing at least four total credits (to include all courses counting toward "load credit" including MAT 010, 011, and 012) will be named to the Dean’s List.

Grade Appeals

It is recognized that instructors must have the primary responsibility of assessing the quality of academic performance, advancement, and achievement of students in their classes.  However, instructors are subject to human frailties; these frailties can cause errors in calculation or judgment that may affect assessment of a student’s performance.  Instructors may appear to be capricious or inconsistent in their grading of a particular student.  Consequently, students may feel rightly or wrongly, a need to appeal that assessment.  Except in the most unusual circumstances, grades will be changed only upon the recommendation of the faculty member involved and then only with the consent of the Student Admissions and Academic Standing (SAAS) Committee.  The following procedures, designed to protect both the student and the faculty member, are to be followed such that the issue is resolved fairly and expeditiously:

  1. Within 30 days of the start of the next regular term after assignment of the grade, the student must make a formal written appeal to the instructor involved explaining why he or she believes the grade should be changed. If the instructor finds an error has been made, he or she will request that the SAAS Committee approve a grade change and notify the student in writing of the request. If the instructor finds the grade to be correct, he or she will notify the student in writing of the decision not to change the grade, specifically addressing the student’s stated reason for the appeal. The instructor’s response must take place within 30 days of receipt of the appeal, or—for reasons of college-related travel, sabbatical, or other extenuating circumstances such as sick leave—within 30 days of the start of the next regular term when the faculty member returns.
  2. If the student is not satisfied with the written response of the instructor, the student has the right to appeal in writing to the Chair of the Division in which the course is taught within 30 days of the date of the instructor’s written response. The student’s written notice of appeal should be accompanied by all relevant materials; a copy of the original written appeal to the instructor and a copy of the instructor’s written response must be forwarded to the Division Chair.  Within 30 days of the student's written appeal to the division, the Division Chair will convene a subcommittee from the division.  This committee will consist of the Division Chair and at least four other divisional faculty representing a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives.  The student and faculty member may be present for the hearing.  If the Division Chair is the faculty member whose grade is being appealed, he or she will appoint another member of the division to chair the appeal hearing.  For GST and GSTR courses, the Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning serves as the Division Chair and members of the Committee on General Education serve as the division committee. The decision of the designated division committee shall be communicated in writing to the student, the faculty member, and the Director of Academic Services within 14 days of the date of the hearing. The letter should address the program’s reason for supporting or denying the student’s appeal. (Also see the “Summary of Grade Appeal Policy” chart for this information presented in chart form.)
  3. If either the student or the faculty member does not agree with the decision of the designated division committee, either may appeal to the SAAS Committee.  Within 30 days of the date of the division committee's written decision on the appeal, the student/faculty member must submit a letter contesting the division committee's decision to the Chairperson of the SAAS Committee.  The SAAS Committee will base its decision on the following materials forwarded by the division: the original appeal by the student to the instructor, the instructor's written response, the student's written appeal to the division and all supporting materials, the designated division committee's responses to the student and the instructor, a written summary of the designated division committee's decision (if any), and any paperwork or materials considered by the designated division committee.  Both the student and the faculty member may be present when the appeal is heard.  The decision of the Committee will be final.
Summary of Grade Appeal Policy
Action Time Limit
Student submits written appeal to faculty member Within 30 days after start of next regular term 

Instructor finds error was made; requests that SAAS Committee approve a grade change; and notifies student in writing of request for grade change.


Instructor finds the grade to be correct, notifies student in writing, specifically addressing the student's stated reason for the appeal

Within 30 days of receipt of written appeal or—for reasons of travel, sabbatical, or other extenuating circumstances, such as sick leave—within 30 days of the start of the regular term when the instructor returns
Student is not satisfied with the written response of the instructor and submits written appeal to Division Chair (or the Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning for GST and GSTR courses). Within 30 days of date of instructor’s written response
Division subcommittee holds appeal hearing. Within 30 days of student’s written appeal
Division Committee's decision communicated in writing to the student, instructor, and the Director of Academic Services. Within 14 days of the Division committee's decision
 Either the student or instructor does not agree with the decision of the division's committee and appeals to the SAAS Committee Within 30 days of the date of the division committee's written notification of its decision 

Mid-Term Grade Report

Soon after the middle of the Fall and Spring terms, students are informed of their academic progress in all courses via the Midterm Grade Report. All students who do not have grades of C in at least three full course credits at midterm are encouraged to seek the counsel of their Academic Advisor.

Academic probation or suspension does not result from midterm grades, but is the result of unsatisfactory final grades. Failure to consult one’s Academic Advisor and follow his or her recommendations may affect the academic standing and enrollment status of a student who is not making satisfactory progress.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Berea College expects all enrolled students to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward completion of degree requirements. Satisfactory Academic Progress includes both GPA and credits standards. Students are responsible to understand the SAP and graduation requirements and to monitor their academic standing to ensure compliance with these policies.

Students will be placed on Academic Probation at the end of any regular term for failure to maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) or meet the credit requirements identified in the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Chart below. If the student fails to meet the conditions of Academic Probation, Academic Suspension may result. Please see the “Academic Difficulties” section for more information on the consequences of not meeting the SAP policies. Please note that while the credits listed in the Progress Standard column are minimums a student must meet in order to not be placed on academic probation, a student must average 8 credits per year (Spring, Fall, and Summer terms) in order to meet the minimum credits required for graduation in most majors.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Chart


Performance Standard


Progress Standard

Number of Total Terms

Minimum Cumulative GPA



Minimum Acceptable Credits*



 4 earned

3 passed


2.00 (1.67b)

 8 earned

6 passed


2.00 (1.85b)

 12 earned

9 earned



 16 earned

13 earned



 20 earned

18 earned



 24 earned

22 earned



 28 earned

26 earnedd



 32 earned

32 earned

a Summer term coursework may be used to meet preceding spring term standards for GPA and credits.

b Minimum cumulative GPA for continued probation

c Beginning with the third regular term, the number of credits will be based on earned credits and not passed (i.e. Developmental Math courses count toward load/passed credit and full‐time status but not earned credit which counts toward graduation requirements.) Please see the Academic Dictionary in the College Catalog and Student Handbook for more information on Earned Credit versus Passed credit.

d A student who only has 26 credits at this stage will require summer term coursework after participating in the May graduation ceremony in order to graduate before the beginning of the next regular term.

Application for Degree Requirement

Upon completion of six regular terms, degree-seeking students who have not yet applied for a degree will receive notification from the Associate Registrar informing them that they will need to submit the Application for Degree form, preferably within the following week. At the very latest, students are required to file this Application for Degree prior to registering for classes in their seventh term.

Before submitting this degree application, students should run another degree evaluation in myBerea to make certain that all degree requirements are recorded correctly. Any deficiencies can be discussed with their Academic Advisor prior to registration in the terms leading up to graduation. (Also see “Course Substitutions and Waivers of Degree Requirements” below.)

After the Application for Degree has been filed, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the Associate Registrar of changes in plans or programs. All requirements for the degree, except regular course work, must be completed 30 days prior to the commencement at which the student will graduate.

Students who file the Application for Degree are expected to attend Commencement Exercises.

Note: Neither diplomas nor transcripts will be issued to students with past-due student accounts.

Alternative Credit Opportunities for Continuing Students

A student currently enrolled at Berea who wishes to transfer credit earned at another regionally accredited institution must submit a Transfer of Credit Application with approval signatures from the Academic Advisor and the Program Chair for the program in which the course would be offered at Berea.  The form must be submitted to the Registrar's office prior to enrollment in the course to be transferred.    The following policies apply to courses taken elsewhere:

  • Only courses and earned credits completed with a grade of C or higher at a regionally accredited institution.
  • Eight (8) of the last eleven (11) courses required for completion of the degree must be earned in residence at Berea College. Exceptions can be approved by the Student Admission and Academic Standing Committee.
  • Credit is transferred only on the basis of an official transcript mailed directly to: Office of the Registrar, CPO 2168, Berea College, Berea, KY 40404. It is the student's responsibility to request this document from the registrar where the course was taken.
  • Only credit is transferred to Berea; not grades or quality points. Transfer credit is not used in computing the GPA at Berea College and higher grades will not replace lower grades on the Berea transcript.
  • Credit cannot be given for any course that is the equivalent of a course previously completed at Berea College.
  • Any course in which a grade of ‘F’ has been earned at Berea can only be repeated at Berea. 
  • Current students may not meet Developmental Math requirements with transfer work.
  • In general, transfer courses must be the equivalent of 0.75 credits in order to meet any General Education or Major requirement (Course Credit and Equivalent).

Berea College Advanced Standing Examination

Students may receive credit for most courses at Berea by obtaining an Advanced Standing Examination application form from the Student Service Center (Lincoln Hall, first floor) and arranging for the examination with the Program Chair. Upon the student’s request and the Program Chair’s approval, an instructor would write an examination. Course credit may be granted by Advanced Standing Examinations administered by the program. If awarded, the credit will be recorded on the student’s transcript under “Advanced Standing Examination,” with the course name. Students wishing to receive Advanced Standing credit for Art courses may submit a portfolio to help show evidence of skills and accomplishments. A student may not receive credit by Advanced Standing Examination in language courses numbered below the fourth level if the course is in the student’s first language. In addition, Advanced Standing Examinations are not given for any GSTR courses.

Degree Requirements

Berea’s curriculum offers the advantage of interdisciplinary general study coupled with intensive study in 33 major fields (some of which have multiple concentrations) and 34 minor fields of study. In all academic disciplines, students acquire knowledge and deepen their understanding of the subject area, while gaining competency in applying the content and methods of inquiry to daily life. A degree is conferred upon the completion of both the General Education curriculum and the curriculum of a selected major, provided the student has earned the minimum number of credits (including 20 outside the major), and has earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 or higher in all courses, as well as in the major course work. (Please be aware that some academic programs require a GPA higher than the College requirement of 2.00.) To calculate the minimum GPA requirement for a major, the College combines all grades earned in both the discipline (requirements and electives in the major rubric and concentration, if any) and in collateral courses, unless otherwise indicated by a particular program for its major requirements. A minimum of 32 earned course credits (typically 34 in Nursing) is required for graduation, with at least 20 credits taken outside the major discipline.

General Education Program

Berea College's curriculum includes an interdisciplinary General Education Program in addition to intensive study in a major. As an institution with a liberal arts foundation and outlook, the College has a responsibility to educate the whole person. Berea College's General Education Program addresses Berea's Great Commitments and is designed to help students develop important knowledge, skills, and habits of mind. The program extends from the first year through the senior year and includes, in addition to course work, convocations and other experiences.

The Aims of General Education


The General Education Program will help students understand:

  1. aesthetic, scientific, historical, and interdisciplinary ways of knowing;
  2. religion, particularly Christianity, in its many expressions;
  3. Berea College’ s historical and ongoing commitments to racial (traditionally black and white) and gender equality, as well as to the Appalachian region;
  4. the natural environment and our relationship to it;
  5. the roles of science and technology in the contemporary world;
  6. U.S. and global issues and perspectives.


The General Education Program will help students develop the abilities to:

  1. read and listen effectively; write and speak effectively, with integrity and style;
  2. think critically and creatively, and reason quantitatively;
  3. develop research strategies and employ appropriate technologies as a means to deepen one’s knowledge and understanding;
  4. work effectively both independently and collaboratively;
  5. resolve conflicts nonviolently.

Habits of Mind

The General Education Program will help students:

  1. deepen their capacities for moral reflection, spiritual development, and responsible action;
  2. develop an openness to and knowledgeable appreciation of human diversity in terms of race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, language, and culture;
  3. cultivate their imagination and ability to discern connections, consider alternatives, and think about topics and issues from multiple perspectives;
  4. think and act in ways that promote peace with justice;
  5. develop habits leading to lifetime health and fitness.

Learning Experiences

The above aims of General Education Program will be achieved through a combination of learning experiences designed to help students become independent learners and thinkers.  Such learning experiences are likely to include:

  1. Discussion and lecture;
  2. Student-initiated learning;
  3. Experiential learning (for example, service-learning, travel, internships, etc.);
  4. Collaborative learning.

General Education Requirements

All Berea College degrees include the following General Education Requirements

  • GSTR 110: Writing Seminar I: Critical Thinking in the Liberal Arts
  • Note: credit for this course cannot be transferred in; however, transfer students who took College Composition while attending a regionally-accredited college or university as a degree-seeking student—and who earned a grade of B or higher in the course—can waive this requirement and take GSTR 210 in their first term of attendance.

  • GSTR 210: Writing Seminar II: Identity and Diversity in the United States (credit cannot be transferred in or waived)
  • GSTR 310: Understandings of Christianity (credit cannot be transferred in or waived)
  • GSTR 332: Scientific Knowledge and Inquiry  OR the optional alternative of two approved Natural Science courses in two different disciplines, at least one of which must be approved as a Natural Science Laboratory course. To date, the following courses have been approved to meet this alternative (all of them approved to meet a Natural Science Laboratory course)—ANR 110, ANR 130, BIO 100, BIO 101, BIO 110, CHM 101, CHM 113, CHM 131, CHM 134, PHY 111, PHY 127, and PHY 221.
  • GSTR 410: Seminar in Contemporary Global Issues (credit cannot be transferred in or waived)
  • Practical Reasoning Requirement (two approved courses, at least one of which must be firmly grounded in mathematics or statistics)
  • Six Perspectives Areas—Arts; Social Science; Western History; Religion; African Americans', Appalachians', Women's; and International (Language or World Culture option)
  • Lifetime Health and Wellness: WELL 100 and Physical Activity Requirement
  • Active Learning Experience (ALE)
  • Developmental Mathematics Requirement
  • Twenty (20) courses taken outside the major
  • Convocation Requirement

NOTE:  Some Berea College courses can be used to fulfill more than one requirement. When a course is used to satisfy both a General Education requirement and a major requirement (i.e., PSY 100: General Psychology, which meets the General Education Social Science Perspective, as well as the requirement for the Psychology major), the credit is counted only once and in the major discipline. No single course may fulfill more than two General Education requirements and no single transfer course can fulfill more than one General Education requirement. The required General Studies courses (GSTR 110, GSTR 210GSTR 310, GSTR 332, and GSTR 410) cannot be used to fulfill any additional requirements.

Developmental Mathematics Requirement

The Development Mathematics Requirement must be waived on the basis of test scores OR met by completing MAT 010, MAT 011, and MAT 012. Each of these full-term courses carries one full load term credit but not earned credit toward graduation. The grades for these courses are “satisfactory,” “satisfactory completion,” or “unsatisfactory.”

Students are required to enroll continuously--Fall-Spring-Summer--in MAT 010, 011, and 012 until their Developmental Mathematics requirement is competed.  Those students not completing their Developmental Mathematics requirement by the beginning of their third regular term are subject to suspension for two regular terms. 

By policy, students initially placed in MAT 010 are required to attend the summer session following their first year in order to complete MAT 012. Students placed in MAT 011 who do not successfully complete in their initial attempt are required to attend the summer session following their first year in order to complete MAT 012.   

Twenty Earned Course Credits Outside the Major Requirement

Students must complete 20 earned course credits outside the core and distribution requirements of their major. GSTR courses are counted outside the major.  When a course is used to satisfy both a General Education requirement and a major requirement, the credit is counted only one time, and in the major discipline. Collateral courses are included in the 20 credits outside the major.

Note: If a collateral course or a substitution for a collateral course is within the major rubric, it does not count in the 20 credits outside the major.

Collateral courses are included in the major’s GPA calculation. Cross-listed courses may be counted as being outside the major if the course does not count toward any requirement for that major—including collateral courses—and if it is taken under the non-major rubric.

Incoming Student Requirements (GSTR and Developmental Math)

GSTR 110 and GSTR 210 must be completed by the end of the third regular term of enrollment. GSTR 110 must be taken in the first regular term of enrollment and GSTR 210 in the second regular term. GSTR 210 may be delayed until the third regular term only if a student re-takes (and passes) GSTR 110 in the second term, or if a student takes (and passes) GST 150 for additional writing instruction.

Students who do not waive Developmental Math must maintain continual enrollment until the sequence is completed (see Developmental Math Requirement)


All students are expected to attend Convocations each term of attendance at Berea minus one (usually the last term of attendance).  A grade of CA (Convocation 'A') is recorded for all students who are marked as attending 7 Convocations by the Convocations program.  No more than 8 CA (Convocation 'A') grades may count towards the student's cumulative GPA.    Convocation credit is only GPA credit and does not count towards the total credits required for graduation.  Exceptions are detailed below:
  1. Students doing a Study Abroad term are exempt from the Convocation requirement during that term.
  2. Students engaged in student teaching are exempt from the Convocation requirement during that term as well as during the preceding term (generally the student's 8th term).

See the Convocations program website for specific details about participation in the Convocation program.

Note: Participation in the Convocations program is not technically a degree requirement.  Students are expected to participate.  A grade of CF (Convocations Fail) is recorded and averaged in to a students GPA each term a student is expected to participate and is not marked in attendance for 7 or more Convocation events.  A grade of CA (Convocations 'A'') is recorded otherwise and averaged into the GPA.     

Definition and Declaration of Majors and Minors

Definition of Major

At Berea College, the term “major” describes one of the three parts of each student’s undergraduate curriculum (the other two parts being the General Education curriculum and the student’s self-selected elective courses). The major is a set of courses selected to provide an opportunity for a student to undertake in-depth study. The College offers majors in discipline-specific programs, interdisciplinary programs (which draw upon a variety of program courses), and student-designed independent majors. A major field of study has these aspects:

  • a central core of method, theory, and content;
  • a formal integration of the diversity of topics and analytical tools within the field of study;
  • an intellectual sequence of study that moves to increasingly complex and sophisticated understandings; and
  • opportunities for students to demonstrate some mastery of the field of study's nature, tools, central questions, arguments, history, philosophical presuppositions, limits, etc.

It also is understood that a curriculum that represents a major cannot provide full coverage of all of that field of study, and that the major's size will be limited to respect the traditional eight-term duration of undergraduate study. Unless approved by Faculty action for exceptional reasons, a major consists of 8 to 12 course credits from a particular program rubric. Majors often require some additional collateral courses, with the sum of program offerings and collateral courses being no more than 16 course credits, unless additional course credits are approved by Faculty action. A student-designed Independent Major (see “Independent Major” in this publication) would be guided by the same principles.

Designating an Exploratory Major

In the Spring term of their first year, students will engage in a process to designate an Exploratory Major. This is a required procedure and is intended to promote reflection upon emerging disciplinary interests and to help prepare the student for the Declaration of Major (Note: The designation of an Exploratory Major is not an official declaration of major. For information on this process, refer to “Declaration of Primary Major”). After the student has identified an Exploratory Major, a new advisor in that field of study will be assigned, unless their current first-year advisor is already in that major and available to provide service in the student’s second year.

Declaration of Primary Major

During the regular term in which a student is expected to complete fifteen (15) course credits, s/he will be notified by the Office of the Registrar that it is time to declare a primary major. The student will be provided with instructions to engage the process electronically by entering their myBerea web portal, clicking on “Academics,” and then clicking on “Academic Pathways.” A drop down box will provide choices of majors from which the student may choose. Once a major has been selected, the student should submit their choice and exit the system. If the student wishes to double major, the process must be repeated a second time to select the second major. The student will be given a window of opportunity early in the term to submit the choice(s) of major after which the Program will be given time to deliberate regarding the student’s choice. Once a decision has been reached, the Program Chair will submit a decision to the online portal indicating acceptance by the assignment of an advisor within the program or communication to the student indicating reason for denying acceptance. Denial can be either temporary or permanent depending on the reason(s) submitted by the Program Chair. (See Academic Programs and Courses in this Catalog & in the Student Handbook for admission to the major requirements and recommendations, if any, for Berea’s current majors and minors.)

Students admitted to the major will complete a Curriculum Plan for the remaining terms of enrollment with the assistance of the newly assigned major advisor. (Students proposing an Independent Major should follow instructions provided under “Independent Major” in this publication.) The Curriculum Plan provides a guide for the most efficient use of a student’s time in meeting the College’s graduation requirements within the guideline of the Eight-Term Rule (see “Graduation Requirements” in this Catalog & Student Handbook).

If the student needs more than eight (8) regular terms (or the equivalent for transfer students whose previous college coursework caused them to be credited with one or more terms) to complete the selected major, s/he must complete a Request for Extension of Terms form (with a curriculum plan attached), which must be submitted to the Office of Academic Services along with a letter explaining why the program cannot be completed within eight (8) regular terms. Failure to follow an approved Curriculum Plan will not be considered a valid reason for an extension of terms beyond the normal eight. Requests will be reviewed by the Director of Academic Services and/or the Student Admissions and Academic Standing (SAAS) Committee. (See “Eight-Term Rule and Extensions of Terms” in this publication.)

Students for whom admission to a major is not approved will be notified in the next regular term that they must reapply. These students and advisors may choose to develop a Curriculum Plan that can be retained by the student and the advisor and submitted later if the student is admitted to the major.

Students who fail to complete the Declaration of Major process by the end of the term in which they will accumulate 15 course credits, or who do not meet the minimum requirements for admission to the major, have one regular term to meet the minimum requirements. Failure to complete the process by the end of the next regular term may result in suspension from the College for two regular terms.

See “Academic Difficulty” in the Academic Performance Standards section for penalties associated with failing to declare a primary major within the time allowed by the College to do so.

  1. E-mail notification to student that it is time to declare a major
  2. Student accesses myberea portal (Click on “Academics” tab and then “Academic Pathways” link to choose the major.) If a student desires to choose more than one major, the process must be completed again to propose a second major
  3. Student window closes and Program Chair window opens
  4. Program Chairs are notified that it is time to begin review of proposals
  5. Program Chair window closes and student window opens
  6. Students are notified that it is time to check the response from the program (go to myBerea portal to check status)
  7. If student is approved, he/she will be assigned an advisor and will work with that advisor to develop a curriculum plan before the deadline for the process to end
  8. If the student is denied, he/she will be notified again in the subsequent term to complete the process in the same manner in the following term.

NOTE: If a student is beyond their 5th term and has not successfully declared their major, they are subject to suspension from the College for two regular terms.

Independent Major

An Independent Major is an option available to students who wish to pursue a field of study that cannot be met through an established Berea College major program. Students are free to propose majors, provided they meet the criteria in the Catalog & Student Handbook ’s Definition of a Major. While this list is not exhaustive, some examples of previously approved independent majors are: Appalachian Studies, Classical Studies or Classical Civilizations, Peace and Social Justice Studies, and Sustainable Community Development.

At least one term prior to when they plan to declare the major and submit their proposal, students interested in an Independent Major should talk with the Teaching Faculty members they would like to have as their primary and secondary Independent Major advisors. (Each advisor must be above the rank of instructor and a member of the Teaching Faculty from one of the programs with significant course work included in the proposed major curriculum. Normally, the primary advisor would be from the academic program in which the greatest number of courses would be taken. The secondary advisor should be chosen to provide the student with guidance in an area related to the field of study.).

To propose an Independent Major, students develop a rationale outlining and explaining their goals (career, educational, etc.) for the proposed Independent Major and why none of the existing majors (alone or in conjunction with other majors and minors) in the Berea College Catalog & Student Handbook will meet their specific goals. Students explore the Independent Major by looking at other accredited four-year institutions of higher education and finding approved undergraduate majors in the student’s proposed field of study. These majors will be used as the model for the Berea College Independent Major. Using the list of courses/experiences required at each of the other schools, and in consultation with the primary and secondary Independent Major advisors, a tentative curriculum is developed based on offerings available to Berea students. Students then prepare a comparison chart for the other school’s program and their proposed Independent Major at Berea. Students should prepare a narrative to go with the charts and, wherever the proposed plan deviates from the program being used as a model, students must explain their reasoning for the change(s).

Using the latest information available concerning when courses next will be offered (online Catalog & Student Handbook, program coordinators, advisor’s information, etc.), prepare a Curriculum Plan showing how the degree will be completed in their current and remaining terms. This Curriculum Plan must be reviewed and approved by the Independent Major advisors. Additional approvals for the curriculum itself and the title of the Independent Major must be obtained from the coordinator of all programs in which two or more courses in the major are required (including core, capstone, and collateral courses). The student then meets with a College reference librarian to assess available resources for the Independent Major curriculum. The student also will prepare a list of other resources (people, centers, institutions, museums, etc.) available to the student to support the proposed major. The student and Independent Major advisors all must sign the cover sheet after careful review of the completed proposal.

Completed proposals with all required signatures are submitted by the deadline each regular term to the the Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning (located in Suite 320 Lincoln Hall), liaison to the Academic Program Council. The Council and/or Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning may accept, reject, or request that the student modify and resubmit the proposal. If approved, copies of the final version are sent to the student and the Independent Major advisors and the original is kept in the student’s file in the Office of the Registrar.

Proposals are subject to the following guidelines:

  1. For students declaring an Independent major as their primary degree program, the online declaration of major and the completed Independent Major proposal must be submitted by the regular-term deadlines set by the Office of the Registrar. Students who are required to declare a major will receive notification early in the Fall or Spring term in which the student will accumulate fifteen (15) course credits.

    Note: Preparation of a completed proposal can take months and should begin in the regular term prior to when the student intends to declare the Independent Major.

  2. For second majors or those wishing to change their primary major, proposals must be submitted by the regular-term deadline set by the Office of the Registrar.

  3. The student must obtain approval from the Director of Academic Services if the proposed Independent Major will require that the student’s College career be more than eight regular terms (including transfer terms). To obtain approval for an extension, the student must complete the Request for an Extension of Terms paperwork (available in the Self Serve Room, 101 Lincoln Hall) explaining the need for additional terms in the proposal materials and submit it along with the Independent Major proposal. (The Office of Academic Services will coordinate the approval of both the major and the extension.)
  4. The Dean of Curriculum and Student Leaning will serve as the Program Coordinator for all Independent Majors.

Double Majors

Students may graduate with two majors. Approvals for second majors may be requested after 15 course credits are earned. The student must have earned an overall minimum GPA of 3.00 at the time of application. A Curriculum Plan must be submitted, including all courses required for both majors, at the time of application. Students with double majors are expected to complete degree requirements within eight regular terms. To receive the degrees in both majors, the student must meet the curriculum requirements of both and earn a minimum GPA of 2.00 in each major.


Berea College offers minors in 34 fields of study that allow students to broaden and deepen their particular areas of expertise. A minor program will be a program with a minimum of five course credits and a maximum of seven course credits. Independent minors are not permitted. Application for a minor may be made at any time after 15 course credits are earned. To be eligible for a minor, the student must have earned a minimum GPA of 2.00 at the time of application. A Curriculum Plan that includes both the major and minor, as well as remaining General Education course work, must be submitted at the time of application. Students undertaking a minor are expected to complete degree requirements within eight (8) regular terms. A minimum GPA of 2.00 must be earned in order to complete the minor. A Minor Checklist for each minor is made available to students and advisors via a link from this posted publication, but the description in the Academic Programs and Courses section in the online Catalog & Student Handbook remains the official source for information concerning the minor.

Minor Programs Offered at Berea

Course Substitutions and Waivers of Degree Requirements

Requests for substitutions or waivers of degree requirements must be initiated by the Academic Advisor(s), supported by the Program Chairperson, and approved by the Division Chairperson who serves as a liaison to the Academic Program Council (APC). These requests should be made by the term prior to the graduation term, or as early as possible.

The process to request a change in curriculum begins when the Academic Advisor completes the form available on the Registrar's webpage.  

For established majors or minors in the Catalog, the request is forwarded to the Program Chairperson. (The Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning serves as Coordinator for GST courses, General Education requirements, and Independent Majors.) If the Program Chairperson agrees to and supports the request for substitution or waiver, he or she will indicate support in an e-mail to the Division Chairperson that includes the Advisor(s) request and rationale and any additional information to support the request. If the Program Chairperson wishes to request that the course substitution is to be a blanket substitution for all students within the major, please indicate such in the e-mail of support. For Independent Majors, the primary and secondary advisors (both indicating agreement for the request) forward the request directly to the Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning.

The Division Chairpersons either will approve the request for substitution or waiver or will take the request to the Academic Program Council for its review and determination. The student, Academic Advisor, and Program Chairperson will be notified by e-mail of the outcome.

Eight-Term Rule and Extension of Terms

Students are expected to complete all degree requirements within four academic years, or eight regular terms, including transfer terms for transfer students, terms abroad, off-campus field studies, internships, and the addition of one or more minors or additional majors, if any.  Terms in which a student is on a leave of absence or is approved for part-time status are not counted towards total terms of attendance. Failure to follow the approved Curriculum Plan submitted as part of the Declaration of Primary Major process does not constitute a valid reason for needing an extension of terms.

Students who, for good reason, are unable to complete degree requirements within eight regular terms may submit a Request for an Extension of Terms form—which includes a revised Curriculum Plan, and an accompanying letter explaining the reason(s) the extension is needed—to the Office of Academic Services. (Students proposing an Independent Major that requires more than eight terms, even if a prior extension of terms was approved for another major, should include this request with their completed proposal; approvals will be coordinated by the Director of Academic Services and the Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning.) Requests for a one- or two-term extension not approved by Academic Services may be appealed to the Student Admissions and Academic Standing (SAAS) Committee. All requests for more than 10 terms of attendance are reviewed by the SAAS Committee.

Graduating with Honors

The cumulative GPA will be the measure to determine academic honors, which are designated as follows: summa cum laude 3.900 or higher; magna cum laude 3.750 to 3.899; cum laude 3.600 to 3.749. The College recognizes those students who have demonstrated such excellence by an honors notation on the permanent record, transcripts of the permanent record, diploma, and in the program for the commencement ceremony. The cumulative GPA on which the honors will be based in celebratory programs is that of the last term prior to the one of graduation. However, final transcripts will reflect the honor for the cumulative GPA earned at the end of the term of graduation.

To be eligible for honors, the student must have completed at least seventeen (17) course credits at Berea College.  (Also see GPA under "Grades and Grading Scale" in this publication.)

Residency Requirement

To earn a Berea College degree, students must complete a minimum of four (4) regular (fall and spring) terms as a degree-seeking student at Berea College.