Academic Policies and Requirements

1. USAO Orientation
All first-time-entering students at USAO are required to complete a 1-hour-credit Freshman Orientation (IDS 1001).  This course is designed to acquaint students with the campus environment, teach strategies for college success, introduce students to the concept of a liberal arts education, impart an awareness of the institution's mission and history, and connect freshmen with the larger university community.  EXCEPTION:  Transfer students with 31 or more credit hours are not required to take this seminar.

2. Physical Education Requirement
Two hours of physical education, including PHED 1011, are required. Exceptions are allowed only in the following instances:
   a.    Students who have served on active military duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and supply the Registrar's Office with appropriate documentation are exempt.
   b.    Students who are physically disabled and provide documentation from a qualified physician may, upon approval by the Registrar, be exempted.

3. Class Attendance
Students are responsible for attending the classes for which they have registered.  No specific number of free absences is authorized.  Instructors have the authority to determine the validity of student explanations given for absences. Students late for class should see the instructor at the end of the class period. Irregular attendance and habitual tardiness may seriously affect the course grade.

When students representing the university must be absent during the school day, they should discuss (in advance) the proposed absences with their instructors and make arrangements for any work that will be missed.

Students who have enrolled but cannot begin attending due to circumstances beyond their control must notify the Registrar’s office.  Students who fail to notify the Registrar’s office by the end of the add/drop period will be withdrawn from classes.

4. Student Assessment
USAO is an institution whose primary concern is for excellence in teaching and thus is committed to improving the quality of the learning process.  To achieve this goal, USAO has a student assessment program designed to measure student progress throughout the undergraduate academic experience.

Upon entry as freshmen, students are assessed to provide a baseline of academic skills and college success factors and are counseled concerning their strengths and weaknesses. During the junior year, students are again evaluated for basic skills attainment, as compared to the baseline measures. As graduating seniors, students are assessed in their major field and in general education competencies gained from completion of the IDS core curriculum.

The assessment tests provide feedback to the university about the quality of its academic programs and provide students with an evaluation of their progress within the undergraduate curriculum. Combinations of standardized and local assessments are used at USAO. Completion of all required assessments is mandatory for graduation.

In addition, if an entering student subject score on the ACT admissions test is below 19, the student will be required to complete placement tests to determine if he or she is ready for college-level studies in those subject areas.

5. Change of Major
To change a major, a student must:
   a.    obtain a change-of-major form in the Registrar's Office
   b.    have the former advisor sign the form,
   c.    have the new advisor sign the form,
   d.    return the form to the Registrar's Office, and
   e.    the former advisor will give student’s file folder to the new advisor.

6. Credit-Hour Load
Fifteen credit hours is a normal load per trimester.  To be considered full-time, a student must be enrolled in 12 credit hours in the fall or spring and a total of 12 credit hours for the whole summer term.  Full-time summer enrollment may consist of 5 hours in the Independent Study term and 7 hours in the 10-week term, or it may be 12 hours in the 10-week term if the student does not enroll for Independent Study.  A 3.0 grade point average and approval by the Registrar is required to enroll in more than 18 credit hours.  The maximum credit-hour load is 22 hours in the fall and spring, 15 hours in the 10-week summer term.  Note:  A full time enrollment of 12 credit hours / semester is insufficient to allow for graduation in four years (eight trimesters).  To graduate in four years or less it is recommended that students take a minimum of 15 hours /trimester.

7. Academic Calendar
The academic year consists of two 15-week trimesters, August through December and January through April. The third trimester consists of a 5-week Independent Study term, April through May, and a 10-week summer session, May through August.

8. Student Classification
A student's academic standing is determined by the number of credit hours earned:
  Freshman-30 or fewer hours
  Sophomore-31 to 60 hours
  Junior-61 to 90 hours
  Senior-91 or more hours

9. Transfer of Course Credit
USAO normally accepts credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning equivalent to those taught at USAO.  Transfer credits are accepted and applied to degree programs generally in accordance with the recommendations in the Transfer Credit Practices Guide published by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). Consequently, credits from some technical and professional schools may not be applicable toward degree requirements at USAO due to the highly technical or specialized nature of the coursework. Transfer work is counted as lower-division or upper-division credit, depending on the level at which it was offered at the institution where it was earned.  Two-year college work is accepted only as lower-division credit.

To make course transfer decisions easier, students will want to consult the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education website and look at the course transfer matrix that outlines courses which will transfer among Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities.  To do this use, click on “Students,” then “Transfer Students,” then “Course Transfer.”  Students can select the discipline under which the course falls for the school year desired, then the equivalent courses will be displayed.  For Independent (private) colleges and universities transfer guidelines vary from institution to institution.  A student will need to check with the institution he or she wishes to attend for additional information.  For transfer courses to count toward the major or general education core a grade of at least a “C” must be earned.

A currently enrolled student must have prior approval from his/her advisor and the Registrar's Office before courses will be accepted in transfer and applied to the student's degree program. Interested students are required to complete and file with the Registrar's Office a "Request for Transfer of Credit" form. This form is available in the Registrar's Office.

10. Grading System
USAO is dedicated to producing excellent students, and the official record of that excellence can be found on the academic transcript.  While grades are not the only index to achievement, the college transcript remains a strong indication–of the quality of a student's university work.  
Here’s how the system works:
      A    excellent   
      B    good   
      C    average   
      D    passing   
      F    failing   
      I     incomplete
  AW    administrative withdrawal that maybe awarded by instructor for insufficient attendance.
  AU    grade given for a course taken for no credit (Audit)
      N   grade was not submitted by the instructor by the appropriate deadline.
      P    passing
    W    withdrawal
   NP    not passing
   RP    remedial pass
   RF    remedial fail

A grade of “I” can be given when the student does not complete the work in a course for such reasons as illness or family emergencies.  The instructor will deem sufficient cause in awarding an “I.” An “I” not changed by the instructor within one calendar year of its being awarded will become permanent and remain on the student's transcript but will not contribute to the student’s GPA.  The "N" grade must be replaced by the appropriate grade prior to the end of the subsequent trimester.

For each hour of “A,” students receive four grade points; for “B,” three points; for “C,” two points; and for “D,” one point.  Incomplete and failing grades earn no points.  Grades of W, AW, AU, RP, and RF are not counted as hours attempted, and are not calculated in the retention/graduation and cumulative GPAs.  If a student withdraws from a course failing, the grade is recorded as an “F” and the hours are counted as hours attempted, which effects the GPA.

The total number of grade points earned by the student divided by the total number of hours attempted results in a grade point average (GPA).  For example, if a student has earned 100 grade points and has attempted 40 hours of work, the GPA is 100 divided by 40, or 2.5.

11. Honor Rolls
USAO recognizes students whose GPA is 3.5 or higher for 12 or more hours of class work in the fall and spring trimesters and for all summer-term hours enrolled, exclusive of P, F, or I grades.  The Regents Honor Roll recognizes those who meet the above criteria and who have been enrolled full-time for three consecutive trimesters.

The university further recognizes and encourages academic excellence through graduation with honors. To be eligible for graduation with honors, students must meet the following requirements:

  a.    a minimum graduation/retention GPA of 3.65 for cum laude, 3.8 for magna cum laude, and 3.9 for summa cum laude; plus
  b.    a minimum of 60 hours toward the bachelor’s degree at USAO.
The GPA of transfer students is based on all college work attempted.

12. Change in Grade
Except in the case of an Incomplete, grades on the permanent record can only be changed upon written request to the Vice President for Academic Affairs by the instructor who made an error in reporting the grade.  If that instructor is no longer employed by USAO, the appropriate division chair may make the request.  No grade can be raised by special examination.

13.  Continued Enrollment in the University
To remain eligible for continued enrollment in the university, students must make satisfactory academic progress.  All courses in which a student has a recorded grade will be counted in the calculation of the GPA for retention purposes, excluding remedial and reprieved courses.  Such progress, in terms of GPA, is as follows:

Credit Hours Attempted              Graduation/Retention GPA Requirements
1-30 credit hours                         1.7
31 or more credit hours               2.0

14.  Academic Notice, Probation, and Suspension
       a.    Academic Notice
             (1)    Freshmen (30 or fewer credit hours) who have earned a GPA of 1.7 to less than 2.0 will be placed on academic notice.
             (2)    A student who earns 9 or more hours of "F" grades in any trimester will be placed on academic notice, regardless of the graduation/retention GPA.

        b.   Academic Probation
              Any student who does not make satisfactory progress as indicated above will be placed on academic probation for one trimester.  A second consecutive      trimester with 9 or more hours of "F" grades will result in academic probation.  To continue at the end of that trimester, the student must have:
              (1)    earned an overall GPA of 2.0 on regularly-graded coursework (excluding activity or performance courses) or
              (2)    met the minimum graduation/retention GPA standard required above.
Students on academic probation may not enroll in more than 13 credit hours in a trimester, unless approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

        c.    Academic Suspension
              (1)    Students who have earned fewer than 90 credit hours toward a degree and who fail to meet the criteria for removal from probation will be immediately suspended from the university.  Unless an appeal is granted by the Academic Regulations Committee (see below), such students will not be reinstated until one regular trimester (fall, spring, or summer) has elapsed.
             (2)    A one-time-only exemption may be offered to suspended students with 90 or more earned hours in a specified degree program.  This exemption will allow the suspended senior to enroll in an additional 15 trimester hours in a further attempt to achieve the requirements for retention.

15. Academic Appeal and Readmission Procedures
Appeals by Suspended Students – Students who wish to appeal their suspension must document any extraordinary personal circumstances that contributed to the academic deficiencies that led to the suspension.  Such events must be highly unusual, such as the death of an immediate relative; a serious illness; severe financial distress; direct, significant work conflicts; unexpected, substantial family obligations; or personal crisis.  Appeals decisions will be made by the Academic Regulations Committee.  For further information about academic appeal procedures, students should see the Registrar.

Readmission of Suspended Students – Students who are academically suspended by USAO will not be allowed to reenter for at least one regular trimester (fall, spring, or summer) except as noted above.  Suspended students can be readmitted only one time.  Such students are readmitted on probationary status and, while on probation, must maintain a 2.0 GPA each trimester or raise their graduation/retention GPA to 2.0.

A reinstated student who is suspended a second time from USAO cannot return to USAO until the graduation/retention GPA is raised to the retention standard of 2.0 by attending another institution within the Oklahoma State System.

Reinstatement of Suspended Students at System Institutions – Research indicates that many times students suspended from one institution may succeed in a new academic environment if given the opportunity.  Such students, therefore, may, at the discretion of the receiving institution, be admitted and such admission would be probationary.  Institutions admitting such students should provide the appropriate academic services to facilitate their success.

16. Withdrawal Policy
Withdrawal from Class – Students will receive a grade of "W" if they withdraw from a class within the first five weeks of a regular trimester, the first two weeks of Independent Study, or the first three weeks of the 10-week summer term.  For any drop or withdrawal after these deadlines, a "W" or "F" will be assigned, depending on the student's standing in the class.  A grade of "W" is GPA-neutral.  A grade of "F" is calculated in the student's GPA.  

Withdrawal from College – A student wishing to withdraw from college must initiate the action in the Registrar's Office.  Otherwise, the student will not have an honorable dismissal from college and all grades for the trimester may be recorded as "F."  No official withdrawal is allowed after the 13th week of a regular trimester and the ninth week of a summer term.

17.    Academic Forgiveness
The university recognizes that extenuating circumstances may be responsible for a student's poor grades.  Therefore, the university allows a currently enrolled student to request academic forgiveness for grades that jeopardize the student's good academic standing. All requests for forgiveness begin with the student's written explanation of the poor grades earned.             

Three procedures for academic forgiveness are available:
  a.  Repeated Courses
A student may repeat up to a maximum of four classes totaling 18 credit hours in courses in which the original grade earned was a “D” or “F."  The second grade earned will be used to calculate a student’s retention/graduation GPA.  Both attempts shall be recorded on the transcript with the earned grade.  The Explanation of Grades section of the transcript will note that only the second grade earned is used in the calculation of the retention/graduation GPA. If a student repeats an individual course more than once, all grades earned, with the exception of the first, will be used to calculate the retention/graduation GPA.

  b.  Academic Reprieve
A student may request that a maximum of two consecutive trimesters (or semesters) of college work be reprieved. In the event a reprieve is granted, grades in the term reprieved will not be used to calculate retention/graduation GPAs. At least three years must have elapsed between the time at which the grades were awarded and the time of the reprieve request.  Prior to requesting the academic reprieve, the student must have earned a GPA of 2.0 or higher with no grade lower than a “C” in all regularly graded coursework (a minimum of 12 hours), excluding activity or performance courses.  All courses remain on the student's transcript but are not calculated in the student's retention/graduation GPA.  Course work with a passing grade included in a reprieved semester may be used to demonstrate competency, but the course work may not be used to fulfill credit hour requirements.

  c.  Academic Renewal
A student may request Academic Renewal for all courses completed before the date specified in the  request for renewal.  At least five years must have elapsed between the last trimester (or semester) being renewed and the renewal request.  Prior to requesting Academic Renewal, the student must have earned a GPA of 2.0 or higher with no grade lower than a “C” in all regularly graded course work (a minimum of 12 hours) excluding activity or performance courses.  All courses remain on the transcript, but are not calculated in the student’s retention/graduation GPA. Neither the content nor the credit hours of renewed course work may be used to fulfill any degree or graduation requirements.

A student may receive no more than one academic reprieve or renewal in his/her academic career and only one option (reprieve or renewal) can be used.

The Explanation of Grades section of the transcript will note the courses and trimesters (or semesters) reprieved or renewed.

18. Enrollment for Audit
A student may audit a course if approved by the advisor at the time of enrollment.  The student must have been formally admitted to the university and be eligible to enroll for credit.  The fee is the same as enrollment for credit.  A change from audit to credit cannot be made after the final day to add a course.  A student may change from credit to audit during the first nine weeks of coursework.

19. Enrichment Courses
To enrich and broaden their educational experiences, students are encouraged to take courses outside of their academic majors without jeopardizing their grade point averages.  In addition to Independent Study and other courses which are graded "P" or "NP," students may take up to a total of 9 additional hours of coursework on a P/NP basis.  A student may take no more than 4 credit hours of coursework on a P/NP basis each trimester.  There are special exceptions to that rule, allowing students to take more than 4 hours of P/NP, such as Independent Study projects. Independent Study credit may not be used in fulfillment of major requirements.
Enrichment courses include only non-IDS courses outside a student's academic major or minor field.  P/NP classes will not be used in calculating a student’s GPA although they will count toward graduation when completed successfully with a grade of P.  Approval of the course must be given by the Registrar's Office at the time of enrollment.

20. Graduation Requirements
Final responsibility belongs to the student for his or her academic progress and fulfilling degree requirements for graduation. The specific requirements for obtaining a degree are detailed throughout the USAO Catalog.  In addition, every program advisor provides a checklist of degree requirements or special information regarding specific fields, which should be studied and followed by the student seeking a degree.  For example, the Teacher Education Handbook details university and state requirements important to students in teacher education programs.

Advice is available from the faculty, the academic counselor, the Registrar's Office, the Director of Teacher Education (if applicable), and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  

Degree candidates must apply for graduation in the Registrar's Office.  Application for graduation must be completed before the student's last trimester begins. A student who applies late for graduation is subject to a late fee of $150.

While some programs have special criteria for graduation, all students must meet the following requirements in order to graduate:

  a.    regular admission to the university;
  b.    satisfactory completion of USAO Freshman Orientation (IDS 1001);
  c.    satisfactory completion of the general education core courses (IDS);
  d.    satisfactory completion of the specific requirements for the major field, including the departmental exit exam;
  e.    a retention GPA of at least 2.0 based on all hours earned;
  f.         satisfactory completion of at least 40 credit hours of upper-division (3000/4000) classes.
  g.    satisfactory completion of the state-mandated 124 credit hours, with no more than 62 hours transferred from a junior or community college;
  h.    satisfactory completion of at least 30 credit hours at USAO (with at least 15 credit hours of the last 30), or at least 50 percent of the hours required in the major field;
  i.         completion of all student assessment tests;
  j.         participation in graduation exercises unless allowed to graduate in absentia; and
  k.    payment or resolution of all financial obligations to the university.

Welcome to USAO! Students must first be admitted to the university.  After admissions enrollment involves a few simple steps:

  1.    Go to the Office of Admissions for advisor assignment, enrollment excuse letter, and advisement form.  Troutt Hall, Room 225.  Complete assessment tests, if necessary.
  2.    Go to your faculty advisor’s office. Consult with your advisor, fill out the advising form and obtain your advisor’s signature.
  3.    All first-time students new to USAO and those needing housing go to the Student Services Office for housing contract and meal plan information.  (Otherwise, skip this step).  Student Center, 3rd Floor.
  4.    Go to the Financial Aid Office for financial aid processing and advisement.  Troutt Hall, Room 112.
  5.    All students who are scholarship recipients go to the Public Relations Office for a media photograph.  (Otherwise, skip this step).  Troutt Hall, Room 102.
  6.    Go to the Registrar’s Office and submit your advisement form to get enrolled.  Troutt Hall, Room 204.
  7.    Go to the Business Office for class schedule and fees statement.  Troutt Hall, Room 220.

Please follow these instructions in the order in which they appear so that you may be enrolled in the quickest and most efficient manner.