Oberlin College is in a special three-term year for the 2020-21 academic year; readers should reference the academic calendar for dates related to specific academic policies.
View the updated 2020-21 Academic Calendar.
This section is intended to provide information about academic policies, many of which apply to opportunities and programs offered on and off-campus. Please see the Academic Opportunities section of this catalog for further information on academic opportunities for Oberlin students.
Click on a link to be taken to the entry below.
Student Academic Record Policies
Official transcripts for Oberlin students contain a record of all coursework completed at Oberlin College or while on an Oberlin-sponsored program (currently, The Danenberg Oberlin-in-London Program). Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate credit, and credit from successful completion of approved liberal arts courses taken at a college while enrolled in high school will count toward courses/credits within the pre-matriculation limit. Work transferred to Oberlin including that taken on an Academic Leave is recorded on the Oberlin transcript but grades are neither recorded nor reflected in the GPA. Work completed on an Academic Leave does not count as post-matriculation transfer credit as long as it satisfies the requirements listed in the Other Off-Campus Study Options section on the Academic Opportunities page .
Official transcripts are available to order. The first request requires the completion of a Consent Form. Certain types of record holds may prevent the release of a transcript.
View more information about ordering transcripts here.
At the beginning of the semester, all students must confirm they have returned to campus by swiping their Oberlin ID card at designated locations on campus. Students who do not complete this action by the deadline will be withdrawn from the College.
Each semester, a student may be:
- enrolled and studying on campus;
- enrolled and studying off campus in an approved Oberlin-sponsored program or, under special circumstances, studying with an Oberlin faculty member (ENR);
- on an approved leave:
- Academic Leave of Absence, also referred to as Study Away (ALOA),
- Personal Leave of Absence (PLOA),
- Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA);
- finishing away (FINA); or
- withdrawn from the College.
Each of these is explained below. Specific academic policies apply to each status; please consult the appropriate sections of this catalog.
Each Oberlin degree program – Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, and the Double-Degree program – has a residency requirement, i.e., the number of semesters a student must be in residence at Oberlin or enrolled in Oberlin programs. See the appropriate section of the catalog e.g., Bachelor of Arts, for details about these requirements.
Full-time and Part-time Status
Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, and Double-Degree programs who enroll in 12 credits or more will be considered full-time students. The number of credits required for full-time status is distinct from the number of credits required to maintain satisfactory degree progress for the purposes of academic standing. See section on Courseload below.
Courseload, Overloads, and Underloads
Based on a student’s degree there is 1) a minimum number of courses/credits in which a student is expected to enroll each semester to maintain satisfactory degree progress and 2) a maximum number of courses/credits in which a student may enroll each semester.
Students must obtain permission to register for an underload or overload. Underload requests must be submitted by the date indicated on the Academic Calendar. Normally, underload requests will only be considered from students entering their final semester. Registering for fewer than the expected number of credits without permission may result in an academic standing sanction. Overload requests must be submitted by the add/drop deadline for the period in which the student wishes to overload.
Full tuition is charged for all students unless a student receives permission to underload or overload. For students with permission to underload or overload, the semester’s tuition is based on the number of courses/credits for which a student is registered at the end of the add/drop period for semester courses, which is the eighth class day of the semester. For further information regarding tuition and fees, see the Expenses Section of this catalog.
College of Arts and Sciences
Courseload: Bachelor of Arts students must be registered for no fewer than three and one-half courses/14 credits to meet academic standing requirements.
Underload: Bachelor of Arts students who wish to register in any semester for fewer than three and one-half courses/14 credits must obtain permission from the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar.
Overload: Bachelor of Arts students who wish to register for more than four and one-half courses/18 credits up to five and one-half courses/22 credits must obtain permission in advance from the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. An overload fee will be charged for any courses/credits over five courses/20 credits; for further information regarding tuition and fees, see the Expenses Section of this catalog.
Conservatory of Music
Courseload: Bachelor of Music students must be registered for a minimum of 16 credits per semester to meet academic standing requirements.
Underload: Bachelor of Music students who wish to register in any semester for fewer than 16 credits must obtain permission in advance from the Office of the Conservatory Deans.
Overload: Bachelor of Music students who wish to register for more than 24 credits must obtain permission in advance from the Office of the Conservatory Deans. Bachelor of Music students may register for 26 credits in any two semesters without additional charge. An overload fee will be charged if a student takes more than 24 credits for a third or more semester; for further information regarding tuition and fees, see the Expenses Section of this catalog.
Double majors with two areas of principal private study may register for 28 credits without additional cost. Students electing to take two areas of principal private study are charged at the per-credit overload price for each credit above eight.
Courseload: Double Degree students must be registered for a minimum of 16 credits per semester to meet academic standing requirements.
Underload: Double-Degree students who wish to register for fewer than 16 credits per semester must obtain permission in advance from the Office of the Conservatory Deans.
Overload: Double-Degree students who wish to register for more than 26 credits per semester must obtain permission in advance from the Office of the Conservatory Deans. An overload fee will be charged for any credits over 26 credits; for further information regarding tuition and fees, see the Expenses Section of this catalog.
Students register for courses at assigned registration times available via OberView. Registration takes place in November for the spring semester and in April for the fall semester. All on-campus students are required to meet with their advisors before registering and are required to register during their scheduled registration time. Students receive registration times according to the total number of hours completed at Oberlin or earned since matriculating at Oberlin (on study away or as transfer work) and current registered hours.
New Arts and Sciences and Double-Degree students entering in the Fall semester submit a list of course choices before coming to campus. From this list, the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar will register the student in two to three courses. Conservatory students will be pre-registered in some required core courses based on major requirements and placement information. New students complete the registration process on campus after meeting with their advisors just prior to the beginning of the fall semester. New students who matriculate at Oberlin in the Spring semester register on campus prior to the beginning of the Spring semester.
Students may make adjustments to courses after the initial registration in Self Service Banner via OberView. Students must review their course schedules and make all necessary changes by the end of the official add/drop period. For full semester and first module courses, the add/drop period ends on the eighth class day of the semester. For second module courses, the add/drop period ends on the eighth class day of the second module.
Students are responsible for making all changes to registration information by all published deadlines and will receive credit only in those courses for which they officially register or add.
The Academic Calendar lists all relevant deadlines approved by the faculty of Oberlin College and enforced by the Office of the Registrar. If a student believes that an exception to a deadline is necessary, the Office of the Registrar will consider an appeal only in a situation that is beyond the control of the student. Normally, a request for an exception will be considered only once in a student’s academic career.
View the complete academic calendar.
Students may request an exception by submitting an appeal form to firstname.lastname@example.org within two weeks after the relevant deadline.
View more details on the appeal process, please see the Office of the Registrar’s website.
Students registered for at least one full course/4 credits are permitted to audit up to two courses/8 credits per semester (whether one chooses to audit full courses/4 credits or half courses/2 credits, two courses is the maximum). Official audits are recorded on transcripts. Students may audit lecture courses in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory with consent of the course instructor. Auditing is not typically permitted in applied studies courses in the Conservatory. Oberlin College reserves the right to determine that a course is not suitable for auditing.
The deadline to register for an official audit is the add/drop deadline. After the add/drop deadline, a student cannot change from credit to audit or from audit to credit.
For information regarding charges for auditing courses, please see the Auditing Fee section in the Expenses Section ; for information about grades for audited courses, please see the Auditing Grades portion of the Grading section of this page.
Class standing is determined by the total completed credit hours at Oberlin and transfer credit hours.
||Bachelor of Arts
||Bachelor of Music
Progress Towards Graduation
Students in the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music programs must maintain a sufficient course load each semester so that they earn their degree in eight semesters. Students in the Double-Degree program must maintain a sufficient course load each semester so that they earn their degree in ten semesters.
In 2019-20 the completion or graduation rate for students who entered Oberlin College in 2014 on a full-time basis was 86 percent. In 2019-20 the completion or graduation rate for students who entered Oberlin College in 2013 in the five-year, Double-Degree program was 87 percent.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) governs the accessibility and release of student academic records maintained by an educational institution. In accordance with this legislation, Oberlin College has established standards for the release of student directory information to third parties and of academic information to parents or guardians.
Oberlin College does not send mailings to parents or guardians regarding a student’s academic record, except in cases of suspension or dismissal. Upon receiving written permission from the student, however, the College will release grades and information regarding academic progress to parents or guardians.
Medical Forms and Insurance Certification
Prior to initial enrollment and registration, all new students, including Language Teaching Assistants, must submit to Student Health Services a Medical History/Physical Exam form, a certificate of immunization, and an insurance certification.
The academic year is divided into two 15-week semesters and a four-week Winter Term (please see the complete academic calendar at https://www.oberlin.edu/registrar/academic-calendar). Each semester consists of approximately 14 weeks of classes, a one-week midterm break, a four-day reading period, and a five-day final examination period. No classes are held during the reading period. In addition to full semester courses, the college offers first- and second-module courses that are approximately seven weeks long.
The Honor System helps maintain a high standard of integrity in all academic work, under the basic assumption that all work submitted is the sole and original product of the individual student. The System respects the student’s ability to maintain this standard and encourages the further development of this ability.
The Honor System, which is supervised by the Student Honor Committee, applies to all work submitted for academic credit, such as examinations, quizzes, papers, and laboratory assignments. The system also applies to destruction, hiding, and improper removal or retention of library materials with the intent of denying others access.
The administration of the Honor System requires the collective and individual cooperation of the entire Oberlin College community and is fully explained in the Student Conduct Resources and Campus Policies.
View Student Conduct Resources and Campus Policies.
Oberlin provides a Winter Term of four weeks in January to encourage and enable students to discover the value of self-education. This term affords students an opportunity to devise and pursue programs of independent study or research and to undertake, individually or with a group, on- or off-campus, other projects of educational value that the structured curriculum during the academic year cannot accommodate easily. Winter Term provides an opportunity for variations and supplements to the usual course offerings, with an emphasis on experimentation and creativity, intellectual independence, and personal responsibility.
Winter Term projects may be proposed by faculty, students, and occasionally by members of the administrative and professional staff and alumni. Many departments offer individual and group projects; students often devise their own projects. Students who pursue their projects on campus can take advantage of the facilities and opportunities that Oberlin offers. Many concerts, theatrical productions, films, lectures, forums, and discussion groups that enliven Winter Term are part of on-campus projects. Typical off-campus projects include (but are not limited to) career exploration, internships, international projects, and community engagement. Each year, nearly 200 students choose to pursue Winter Term projects abroad.
For students interested in an internship, a career-related or community engagement project, or a project abroad, advisors and numerous resources are available to assist them in identifying opportunities.
Please see the Winter Term website for detailed information for procedures and deadlines, and a listing of Winter Term Group Projects.
Questions about Winter Term requirements should be directed to the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar for students in the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Office of the Conservatory Associate Deans for students in the Conservatory of Music.
- Winter Term Projects
- In order to graduate from Oberlin, students pursuing a bachelor’s degree are required to complete three full Winter Term projects.
- Transfer students must complete one full project in each Winter Term during their enrollment at Oberlin unless this would result in more than three projects.
- A project may be completed either individually or as part of a group. Individual projects require a written proposal, final report, and a positive assessment of the project by the sponsor. Winter Term projects are evaluated as “completed” (Y) or “not completed” (N); no letter grades are given. Winter Term project titles and evaluations (“Y” or “N”) are recorded on student transcripts.
- Winter Term projects are rated as half or full. Students may participate in one half, two halves, or one full project each Winter Term.
- The time commitment for a half project is three hours per weekday; the commitment for a full project is five to six hours per weekday.
- The required three Winter Term projects may be completed on or off campus, in any combination.
- Students who plan to take a leave of absence for study abroad for an entire academic year should plan to complete Winter Term projects during each of the three years in residence, since they may not register for Winter Term while on leave for the entire year. Students on leave for one semester may register for Winter Term if they are enrolled at Oberlin for the other semester of the year and if their courses of study elsewhere do not overlap with Winter Term.
- Winter Term projects are not the same as semester courses/credits, i.e., Winter Term projects are not included in the required 32 Arts and Sciences courses/128 credits, 168 Conservatory credits, or 214 credits for the Double-Degree program.
- A student registered for a Winter Term project may not be paid for work associated with their project.
- Winter Term Sponsor
Every project must have an on-campus sponsor. Faculty members and, under some circumstances, members of the Administrative and Professional Staff, may serve as project sponsors. Finding a suitable sponsor is largely a matter of matching student and faculty or staff member interests. The sponsor will help the student design a Winter Term project that is academically relevant, rigorous, experiential, and educationally rewarding.
- Winter Term Fees
There are no additional tuition or room fees for Winter Term. For students who live in Residential Education housing and are enrolled in a Campus Dining Services meal plan during the fall semester, there are no additional fees for living and dining on campus during Winter Term; but students must complete the Winter Term Housing Form.
There are no student participation fees for on-campus group projects. Off-campus group projects require a fee from each participant to help defray project expenses. Some projects may require students to purchase textbooks or supplies. For students with demonstrated financial need, project funding is available from the Office of Winter Term via the request form included in the Winter Term project application.
Winter Term Planning and Advising
Students should discuss their Winter Term plans with their academic advisors and potential project sponsors in October. Early planning is especially important for students who choose an internship or other individual projects.
Two grading options are offered: letter grades or Pass/No Pass (P/NP). Each semester students may choose to have some or all of their eligible courses evaluated P/NP (see Pass/No Pass in Conservatory Courses for additional details). To exercise this option, students must complete a request via OberView form, signed by the advisor no later than the last day of the eighth week of classes or the last day of the fourth week of classes for a module course. Once the Pass/No Pass Option is declared, no change in the grading option may be made. If no option card is submitted, letter grades will be recorded. The Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention approves Pass/No Pass requests for Conservatory courses.
In addition to a student opting to take a course P/NP, an instructor may declare an entire course graded on the P/NP basis. In this case, the course will be listed as such in the catalog, and the student has no option as to which grade option will be used.
The grades recorded and their equivalents in quality points (used in computing grade-point averages) are as follows:
To obtain the quality points earned in a course, the numerical equivalent of the grade is multiplied by the number of credits assigned to the course (in the Arts and Sciences, 4 credits for a full course and 2 credits for a half course). The grade-point average is computed by dividing the total quality points by the total number of credits assigned to courses for which letter grades are recorded.
All passing work (A+ to C minus) is given the uniform grade of Pass (P). Work below C minus is considered not passing and is given a grade of No Pass (NP). The grades of P and NP do not enter into the GPA calculation. Departments will have the option of deciding how to handle P/NP grades with respect to credit in the major. Please consult the major requirements in this catalog for specific information regarding P/NP grades.
Pass/No Pass in Conservatory Courses
Conservatory majors must register for the following courses for letter grade only: Music Theory I-IV, Aural Skills I-IV, Introduction to the History and Literature of Music, and any class taken to satisfy a requirement in secondary applied study.
- All faculty-taught private applied study (including composition) is offered for letter grades only.
- Secondary lessons with supervised student teachers are offered for Pass/No Pass grading only.
- Small ensembles are offered for Pass/No Pass only at the discretion of the individual coach.
- Oberlin Orchestra, Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, Oberlin Sinfonietta, and Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble are offered for letter grades only.
Repeating Courses with a D or F grade
A student may repeat once a course for which a grade of D, F, or NP is received. Only one of the repeated courses (with a grade of D or better) may count toward the total number of courses or credits required for graduation, and both courses remain on the transcript and both grades are included in the GPA calculation. Please see the grading policies above for an explanation of how Letter or P/NP grades are counted in the calculation of the GPA.
A student may withdraw from a class between the end of the Add/Drop period and the last day of the eighth week of classes (the last day of the fourth week of classes for modules). If a student withdraws from a class, the notation W (Withdrawn; no indication of passing or failing) will be entered on the student’s transcript. W grades do not affect the GPA calculation. The W grade denotes a course that is not successfully completed. Any course with a grade of W is not counted toward the required minimum for graduation.
After the end of the eighth week of classes (fourth week for a module course), a withdrawal grade is no longer an option. Thus, the student will earn either a letter grade or P/NP.
The number of registered credits is not reduced by withdrawing from a course. Thus, students must remain within the maximum courses/credits allowed (five courses/20 credits, with permission, for the Bachelor of Arts; 24 credits for the Bachelor of Music; and 26 credits for the Double-Degree program), if there is consideration of withdrawing from one course and adding another during the semester.
Students registered for at least one full course/4 credits are permitted to audit up to two courses/8 credits per semester (whether one chooses to audit full courses/4 credits or half courses/2 credits, two courses is the maximum). Official audits are recorded on transcripts. Students may audit lecture courses in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory with the consent of the course instructor and the chair of the department. Auditing is not typically permitted in applied studies courses in the conservatory. Oberlin College reserves the right to determine that a course is not suitable for auditing. A successful audit results in the grade of AU which does not affect the GPA. An unsuccessful audit results in the grade of F. Students may not withdraw from an audited course.
Minimum GPA Required for Graduation
In order to graduate, a student must have a GPA of at least 2.0. P, NP, and W grades do not enter into the GPA calculation.
Upon request, a student may receive a written evaluation of work taken under the P/NP option. Students desiring such an evaluation should obtain the necessary forms from the Office of the Registrar and give them to the course instructor at the end of the semester or course. At the student’s request, such written evaluations may be sent, along with transcripts, to a graduate or professional school and/or a prospective employer.
An asterisk grade is used at the end of the first semester to indicate that the work of a course covers two semesters and that no grade can be recorded yet. When the final grade is given at the end of the second semester the asterisk is removed and the grade earned is recorded for both semesters.
An incomplete grade is a temporary grade, assigned at the end of a semester, to permit students additional time to complete work in a course. Policies regarding incompletes are governed by the division of the course.
For courses in the College of Arts and Sciences, there are two kinds of incompletes: educational and emergency. For courses in the Conservatory of Music only emergency incompletes are available. All requests for incompletes and extensions of incompletes in Arts and Sciences courses must be addressed to the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. Requests for incompletes in Conservatory courses must be addressed to the Office of the Conservatory Associate Deans.
Each semester, faculty members submit midterm grades to report on the progress of students enrolled in their courses. Midterm grade options are:
S Satisfactory (working at a level appropriate to the current stage of the course)
R Risk of failure (borderline performance)
U Unsatisfactory performance (likelihood of failure unless there is a significant improvement; not working at appropriate level, skipping classes or not submitting work on time)
N Not in attendance (student has never joined the course in person or has informally withdrawn)
Faculty post midterm grades by the end of the day on Tuesday following both fall and spring breaks and students may view midterm grades two days later on Thursday following fall and spring breaks.
During their career at Oberlin, students may have a maximum of two educational Incompletes in Arts and Sciences courses–authorized by the course instructor–for educational reasons. Educational Incompletes are not available in Conservatory courses. A student eligible for an Educational Incomplete must begin the process by scheduling a meeting with the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar and requesting a form. Educational Incomplete Forms are available three weeks before the end of the semester. The student should then discuss the request for an Educational Incomplete with the instructor. If the instructor approves, the student must submit the completed form before the time of the scheduled final exam for the course. The form will be routed to the instructor for final approval. The due date for finishing work is determined by the instructor, but it may not be later than the deadline published on the Academic Calendar. (Normally that deadline is no later than three weeks after the last day of classes.) The due date for coursework to be submitted under an Educational Incomplete may be extended only for emergency reasons and only by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. If the coursework is not completed within the specified time, a grade will be recorded based on the extent to which the course requirements have been met. Additional educational incompletes (beyond two) may be authorized by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar only under very exceptional circumstances, and only in Arts and Sciences courses.
Emergency Incompletes may be authorized by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar (for Arts and Sciences courses) or the Office of the Conservatory Associate Deans (for Conservatory courses) for reasons that arise from circumstances beyond the student’s control, usually for medical, psychological, or life-crisis reasons. To request an Emergency Incomplete, students should make an appointment to meet with a dean in the appropriate Dean’s office. Normally, Emergency Incompletes are authorized for end-of-semester work, not for work missed earlier in the semester. The due date for finishing the work is set according to how much time was lost during the final weeks of the semester due to the emergency, but it may not be later than the deadline published on the Academic Calendar. Emergency Incompletes must be requested before the final exam time as scheduled by the Registrar.
Documentation verifying the medical or life crisis reason is required at the time a student makes a request for an Emergency Incomplete. No Incomplete grades will be given in private study or ensemble participation in the Conservatory. The due date for coursework to be submitted under an Emergency Incomplete may only be extended only for emergency reasons and only by the appropriate Dean’s office. If the coursework is not completed within the specified time, a grade will be recorded based on the extent to which the course requirements have been met.
Semester grade reports are available to students via OberView. Consistent with federal law, Oberlin College does not send student grade reports to third parties. Students may authorize access to the transcript via proxy. Please consult OberView for instructions to set up proxy access.
Final Examination/Final Project Regulations
The final examination schedule is determined by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar and is posted on the registrar’s website in the summer before the fall semester and by late November for the spring semester.
View the entire final examination schedule and policy.
An individual student may not take a final examination or submit a final project at a time other than the time scheduled for that course by the Registrar – not even at the time allocated to other sections of the same course – without special permission from the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar (for courses in the College of Arts and Sciences) or the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention (for courses in the Conservatory).
A final exam may be administered either at the time and place scheduled for that course by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar or as a take-home exam that is due at the time that coincides with the end of the exam time scheduled for that course by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. The time period for an “in-class” final exam is limited to two hours. Take home final exams should not be distributed before the last day of classes.
In lieu of a final exam, instructors have the option of designating one academic exercise (a paper, performance or other work) as the course’s final project and making this due at the time that coincides with the end of the exam time scheduled for that course by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. (The only exceptions to this are certain musical performance examinations, auditions, and other Conservatory assessments.)
For Students in the College of Arts and Sciences
The graduation requirement for the Bachelor of Arts degree is a minimum of 32 full courses of which a maximum of two of the required 32 courses may be fulfilled by a combination of co-curricular credits. All students are required to complete a minimum of 30 full academic courses. Two half academic courses will count as the equivalent of one full course.
Students are expected to progress toward graduation at a more or less constant rate. Given the requirement of 32 full courses, students should pass an average of four courses per semester to complete 32 courses in eight semesters.
Students must attain a minimum level of accomplishment each semester to maintain good academic standing. Students in their first semester must pass at least three full academic courses or the equivalent; students in each subsequent semester must pass at least three and one half full courses per semester of which three must be full academic courses or the equivalent. The remaining half course may be another academic course or the equivalent in co-curricular courses.
AP, IB, or other courses earned prior to or after matriculation at Oberlin cannot be used to make up for a failed course for the purpose of academic standing.
Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 to be in good academic standing. Students who at the beginning of a semester need fewer than 3.5 full courses to graduate are required to complete only the number of courses necessary for graduation. The Academic Standing Committee reviews the records of students whose achievement in a given semester falls below the established minimum.
Consult this online chart which indicates the possible academic standing sanctions that serve as guidelines for the initial review of a student’s record.
A student who has been suspended or dismissed has the option of appealing the decision of the Academic Standing Committee if they believe that there are extenuating circumstances that the Committee should consider. The decision of the Academic Standing Committee regarding the appeal is final. A student who successfully appeals a suspension or dismissal will be placed on conditional probation during the first semester subsequent to the appealed sanction. All conditions of the probation must be met during the probationary semester or the student will be subject to the original sanction without recourse to appeal.
An academic suspension in the College of Arts and Sciences is for two semesters; a suspended student has the option of appealing to return for the next semester (or after one semester of suspension). The Academic Standing Committee may expect the student to take approved academic courses at another accredited college or university in order to demonstrate readiness to return to Oberlin. A student who is suspended may not take or participate in any Oberlin College courses, live in campus housing, nor may s/he participate in student organizations e.g., teach or take an ExCo course, or work on campus. Requests for exceptions must be approved by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar in consultation with the Dean of Students. Conditions to return from suspension will be clearly stated in a student’s suspension letter and must be met or be in process before the student appeals to return.
The Arts and Sciences Academic Standing Committee reviews the records of Arts and Sciences students whose achievement in a given semester falls below the appropriate established minimum. (The records of students who withdraw after the end of the tenth week of classes are subject to review by the Committee.) The decision of the Academic Standing Committee regarding a student’s academic standing is final.
For Double-Degree Students
The academic standing of double-degree students is determined jointly by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music Academic Standing Committees. Double-degree students are expected to register in courses in both divisions and progress toward timely completion of all majors and degree requirements in ten semesters/five years.
To remain in good standing in the Double-Degree program, double-degree students are required to declare a College major and successfully complete their Conservatory Sophomore Committee by the end of the fifth semester of enrollment. Students who are accepted into the program after entering Oberlin must meet these requirements by the end of the sixth semester. Students who do not meet these expectations will be issued an Alert and will have one semester to complete them. Failure to meet requirements after a semester on Alert will result in disenrollment from the degree in which progress is insufficient and, therefore, disenrollment from the Double-Degree program.
For Students in the Conservatory
Conservatory students are expected to progress toward graduation and completion of one or more Conservatory majors at a rate consistent with the recommended distribution of major grid requirements.
I. To remain in good academic standing, Conservatory students must pass a minimum of 16 credits each semester, maintain a minimum GPA of 1.67, and progress satisfactorily towards completion of a major.
- Students must pass 16 credits per semester unless fewer are required for degree completion. AP, IB, and transfer credit cannot be used to make up a Failed course for academic standing purposes. For degree completion in eight semesters, Bachelor of Music students should generally pass 21 credits per semester.
- Oberlin College academic policy precludes students from retaking a Failed course more than once; therefore, any student who earns a grade of F or NP more than once in the same required course is unable to progress towards completion of the major.
- Satisfactory degree progress includes timely completion of Conservatory core coursework, including required courses in Musicology, Music Theory, and Aural Skills, and satisfactory work in Private Applied Lessons.
- Students must participate in the Large Ensemble Program, as appropriate to the major, and as assigned, unless there are serious, extenuating circumstances (e.g., injury, illness, study away, etc.).
- The Academic Standing Committee will review students’ academic progress relative to the number of semesters remaining in the students’ degree program.
II. When a student fails to achieve good academic standing, the following courses of action are available as determined by the Conservatory’s Academic Standing Committee (“Committee”). The Dean’s Scholarship is subject to review if any academic standing sanction is issued.
A student without a previous academic action who fails to pass the minimum required number of credits, achieve the minimum required GPA, or progress satisfactorily towards completion of the major may receive an Academic Alert. An Alert is designed to advise the student that their progress to degree completion is in jeopardy and to engage the student in academic support services as early as possible.
A Private-Study Alert is issued to students who receive C+ or below in their principal private applied or composition study.
Major Committee Alert
A Major Committee Alert is issued to students who do not pass a Major Committee Examination. In some cases, the Academic Standing Committee may issue the status of Denial of Continuation in a Major.
Denial of Continuation in a Major
- A student who earns a D or below in any semester in a required major course offered within the major department, or who receives a C+ or below for two consecutive semesters in a major course, requires the Department’s permission to continue in the major.
- A student is not permitted to continue in the major if they earn a C+ or below for two consecutive semesters in the principal applied or composition study or if they do not pass a Major Committee Examination.
- A student is not permitted to continue in the major if they earn a grade of F or NP more than once in the same required course.
Note: A student Denied Continuation in a Major may appeal to the Committee for permission to enroll for one additional semester without a major for the purpose of finding a new major within the Conservatory. In cases when the Committee determines that an alternate Conservatory major is not possible, a student Denied Continuation in a Major will be dismissed from the Conservatory.
If the appeal is granted, the student must show evidence of abilities in another Conservatory major, as well as satisfactory progress in Conservatory core courses (e.g., required courses in Musicology, Music Theory, and Aural Skills) at the conclusion of the additional semester. More than one semester of enrollment in the Conservatory without a new major is not permitted. Failure to be admitted to a new major by the conclusion of the probationary semester will result in dismissal from the Conservatory and discontinuation of the Dean’s Scholarship Award.
A student who fails to pass the minimum required number of credits, achieve the minimum required GPA, or progress satisfactorily towards completion of the major is placed on Academic Probation. The student will return to good academic standing if they earn the required minimum number of credits and GPA and progress satisfactorily in the major in the subsequent semester.
A student who has been on Academic Probation in any previous semester and fails to pass the required minimum number of credits, achieve the minimum required GPA, or progress satisfactorily towards completion of the major is suspended for one or two semesters at the discretion of the Committee. The Committee may suspend a student without a previous probationary semester in instances of serious unsatisfactory academic progress (e.g., passing few credits in a semester). In cases of extenuating circumstances, however, the Committee may elect instead to place the student on Academic Probation for another semester.
- Conditions for return from Suspension are clearly stated in a student’s suspension letter and must be met or substantially completed at the time of the student’s appeal to return to campus. The Academic Standing Committee may expect a suspended student to take approved academic courses at another accredited college or university in order to demonstrate readiness to return to Oberlin. The student must obtain pre-approval and make arrangements for the transfer of credit through the Conservatory and Office of the Registrar before enrolling in the courses at another institution.
See the Registrar’s Transfer of Credit policy and procedures.
- A student who is suspended may not take any Oberlin College courses; live in campus housing; or participate in ensembles, student organizations, or campus activities (e.g., Secondary or ExCo teaching, ExCo participation, campus employment, etc.). Requests for exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Conservatory’s Associate Dean for Advising and Retention in consultation with the Dean of Students.
- A student with a documented disability who is recommended by the Office of Disability Resources and approved by the Conservatory’s Associate Dean for Advising and Retention for part-time status will be expected to complete all courses/credits for which they register in a given semester. Passing fewer courses will result in review by the Academic Standing Committee with possible sanctions of Probation, Suspension, or Dismissal, depending on the student’s previous status and outcome of the review.
- A student reinstated after Suspension will be on Academic Probation during their first semester back at Oberlin College.
A student may be dismissed for unsatisfactory academic progress if they:
- have a previous academic suspension and earn fewer than 16 credits or have less than a 1.67 cumulative GPA;
- have a previous academic suspension and pass fewer than half of remaining credits needed to graduate or have less than a 1.67 cumulative GPA;
- have successfully appealed a previous Dismissal and earn fewer than 16 credits or have less than a 1.67 cumulative GPA; or
- have been denied continuation in a major. See Denial of Continuation in a Major guidelines.
Appeal of Dismissal
A student may appeal a Dismissal immediately following the Committee’s decision, but not during any subsequent semester.
III. A student who has been suspended or dismissed has the option to appeal the decision to the Academic Standing Committee if they believe there are extenuating circumstances that the Committee should consider. The decision of the Academic Standing Committee regarding the appeal is final.
Conservatory English Language Proficiency (ESOL) Requirement
All undergraduate Conservatory students whose first language is not English are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) prior to matriculation. While there is no absolute minimum score on any test for Oberlin, students scoring lower than 60 on the internet-based TOEFL are less likely to be competitive applicants.
All entering undergraduate students for whom English is a second language will be placed in an ESOL course based upon their TOEFL or IELTS score and evaluated for language proficiency during the first week of class. Students may also be asked to take Oberlin’s ESOL placement test, regardless of their TOEFL or IELTS scores. Students are not required to take the general Conservatory writing assessment typically administered during Orientation. Adjustments to initial ESOL placement will be based on an assessment of language proficiency and/or supported with documentation of completed college-level ESOL coursework.
Students are required to complete the ESOL sequence through ESOL 140 to fulfill the Conservatory Writing Requirement for graduation. ESOL 120 is a prerequisite to begin the Music Theory and Aural Skills sequence (MUTH 120 or 131 and MUTH 101, and the courses that follow), and ESOL 130 is a prerequisite for MHST 101.
Transfer of Credit
Within limits, Oberlin College permits credit earned at other fully accredited colleges and universities to be applied to the requirements for Oberlin degrees provided that the following two criteria are satisfied:
- The student has earned a minimum grade of C minus or better.
- The coursework falls within the scope of a liberal arts curriculum, for students pursuing the BA, or a conservatory curriculum, for students pursuing the BM.
The overall limits on transfer of credit for first-time college students are:
- Maximum Pre-Matriculation Credit
Transfer credit earned before matriculation (AP, IB, international entrance exams, pre-matriculation college credits) is limited to 5 courses/20 credits. The pre-matriculation credit limit includes courses taken as part of the Oberlin High School Enrichment Program. It excludes the special courses offered for admitted students in the spring and summer before they matriculate.
Advanced placement in courses on the basis of work completed prior to matriculation (AP, IB, and international entrance exam scores, pre-matriculation college credit) will be determined according to individual department and program policies.
- Maximum Post-Matriculation Credit
Transfer credit earned after matriculation (excluding credit earned on an approved Academic Leave of Absence-Study Away Program and credit earned while Enrolled-Not-in-Residence) will be limited to 3 courses/12 credits.
- Separate Limits Will Apply for Students who Transfer to Oberlin
Please refer to the Office of the Registrar transfer of credit policies for specific limits for transfer students.
The Office of the Registrar administers the transfer of credit policy. Questions regarding the transfer of credit policy, regulations, and procedures should be directed to that office. In the case of questions regarding policy or regulations, the final decision will be made after consultation with the appropriate dean’s office.
Because of the variety of work that students may present for transfer and the policies governing the transfer of credit, students are strongly advised to consult the transfer of credit policies and procedures on the Registrar’s website before planning to take work elsewhere. The complete policy and procedures can be found here. There are many important considerations that students must address; careful planning on the part of the student will ensure that as much credit as possible can be transferred. Following are the major issues that need to be considered before taking a course away from Oberlin; please see the Registrar’s website for complete details.
- Limitations as to the type of credit Oberlin College will accept, and courses or subjects excluded from transfer
- Limitations as to the number of credits Oberlin College will accept, both before and after matriculation
- Limitations as to the time in which credits may be transferred to Oberlin
- How transfer of credit is recorded on the student academic transcript
- Evaluation of credits with regard to full and half academic courses
- How transfer of credit might apply to major requirements
- Fees for transfer of credit
- Credit for “Concurrent Enrollment Programs”
Transfer credit is recorded on the student record; grades earned at other institutions are not calculated in the Oberlin GPA.
A fee applies to the transfer of credit; see the Expenses section of this catalog.
Please see the Registrar’s website for the full transfer of credit policy.
Leaves and Withdrawals
Academic Leave of Absence/Study Away
Students participating in off-campus study options not conducted by Oberlin College itself are classified as being on an academic leave of absence. Student applications for leaves are processed by the Director of International Programs and granted by the Off-Campus Study Committee prior to a student’s departure from Oberlin.
View information about applying for an academic leave of absence.
Academic leaves are approved when students can demonstrate the value of such leaves for their Oberlin education and meet the following criteria:
- A student must have completed at least two semesters at Oberlin.
- A student must have declared a major.
- A student must be in good academic standing.
- All students must be enrolled as full-time students as defined by the program they attend. Normally, for Arts and Sciences students, this means completion of the equivalent of 4 full academic courses. Conservatory and Double-Degree students must complete a minimum of 16 credits.
- Normally, students may earn a maximum of 4 full academic courses/16 credits for one semester of work on an approved academic leave of absence, and up to 8 full academic courses/32 credits for a full year (two semesters) of work on an approved academic leave of absence.
Deadline for Applications for Academic Leaves
For academic leaves for the full academic year, the fall semester or spring semester, students must apply by March 15 of the preceding academic year.
Personal Leave of Absence
Students who wish to pursue primarily non-academic activities away from Oberlin may apply for a personal leave of absence through the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. Work taken at other institutions during a personal leave may be transferred to Oberlin in accordance with the following guidelines: up to two courses/eight credits in one semester (or four credits for each quarter or trimester), for a total number of courses/credits not to exceed the post-matriculation limits in the transfer-of-credit policy. Completed applications for leaves beginning the following semester are due the first Friday in December and the first Friday in May. Requests for extensions of personal leaves must be received by the same deadlines. Applications received after these deadlines will be given consideration; however, there is a late filing fee of $300.
View forms and more information about Personal Leave of Absence.
Medical Leave of Absence
Students who wish to take a leave from Oberlin for a health-related condition need to apply for a medical leave of absence, administered by the Office of the Dean of Students, which is assisted in the process by Student Health and the Counseling Center, the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar and the Student Help and Resource Exchange (SHARE) program. To consult about a decision or ask about the process, students should contact the Office of the Dean of Students. Students applying for medical leave must provide appropriate supporting documentation from a healthcare professional. Students who submit applications by 4:30 p.m. on the Friday before the semester begins are eligible for a full refund of semester expenses. (For information on refund of tuition and fees, please see Expenses in this catalog.)
Applications for approval to return from medical leave are considered on a rolling basis. Once a student’s health is sufficiently managed and/or recovered to resume their studies, students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for approval to return from medical leave. When health circumstances allow, the ability to plan ahead for their return for the next semester (selecting a class schedule, requesting housing, and arranging local healthcare) can significantly improve a student’s experience and smooth the transition back to Oberlin. Because some advance planning in several areas is required of the College to be ready for a student’s return, as well as time and availability to process the application to return, applications received after the first businesses day in August are typically too late to consider for the semester that is about to begin and would be considered for spring semester return instead. Likewise, applications to return that are received after the first business day in January will generally be too late for approval to return for the spring semester and be considered for return the following fall. (Please see the Academic Opportunities section of the catalog for information on leaves and winter term.)
From the first day of classes through the end of the tenth week of classes, the student who is granted a medical leave will be withdrawn from all courses, and W’s will be recorded for those courses on the transcript. Students who submit applications for medical leaves effective for the current semester from the first day of the eleventh week to the last day of classes have two options. First, if the student wishes to complete coursework, they can apply for incomplete grades. (Please see Grading in this catalog.) In this case, the student will receive grades for all courses. The medical leave will take effect at the end of the current semester. Second, if the student elects not to complete coursework, they will be withdrawn from all courses and W’s will be recorded on the transcript. The medical leave will take effect immediately, and in most circumstances, the student will remain on medical leave through the subsequent semester. Records for students taking a medical leave after the tenth week may be reviewed by the appropriate Academic Standing Committee and may be subject to academic standing action. Students who are granted medical leaves after the first day of the sixth week of classes are not eligible for an adjustment to their student accounts balance.
An application for a medical leave received after 4:30 p.m. on the last day of classes will be processed for the subsequent semester; the transcript for the current semester will include the grades assigned by the faculty, and cannot be expunged or altered in any way. Work taken at other institutions during a medical leave may be transferred to Oberlin in accordance with the following guidelines: up to two courses/eight credits in one semester within the transfer-of-credit post-matriculation limit. (Please see the Transfer of Credit section above for additional details on relevant policies.) When a student seeks to return, they will need to: (1) submit an application for approval to return from medical leave, (2) submit the assessment for return from medical leave (completed by their healthcare provider), and (3) apply through the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar for reinstatement (see below).
View forms and more information.
Withdrawal from the College
Students withdrawing permanently from Oberlin must apply through the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. Conservatory and Double-Degree students should first consult their principal advisors and the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention. All students who receive financial aid from Oberlin College must consult with the Office of Financial Aid before withdrawing. Students who have withdrawn from Oberlin and seek readmission may not transfer credit for courses taken at other institutions while withdrawn.
View more information here.
Suspension and Dismissal
Students may be asked to leave Oberlin for academic or disciplinary reasons. Suspension is usually for a specified period of time and/or until specified conditions have been met. Dismissal is permanent. Additional information about academic standing statuses of probation, suspension, and dismissal is available in the Academic Standing section of this page.
View Student Conduct Resources and Campus Policies.
Students who have been suspended and seek reinstatement may transfer courses/credit taken at another institution while suspended only with permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Standing (for arts and sciences students) or the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention (for conservatory students) so long as such credit remains within the limits for post-matriculation transfer-of-credit. Such permission must be granted in advance of taking the course/credit. (Please see the Transfer of Credit section above for additional details on relevant policies.)
In order to return to Oberlin, a student who has been withdrawn or suspended must submit a reinstatement form to the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar. Appropriate forms and materials must be received by July 1 for fall semester and by December 1 for spring semester. No exceptions are made. Relevant offices review the request for reinstatement and the student will be informed about the decision as quickly as possible.
A Conservatory student who has been suspended by the Conservatory Academic Standing Committee must also complete an appeal process. Information about this process is provided in the student’s letter of suspension.
Access the entire reinstatement process.
A student in the Arts and Sciences who has been suspended by the Academic Standing Committee must also complete an appeal process through the Associate Dean for Academic Standing. Information about this process is provided in the student’s letter of suspension. The Academic Standing Committee may, either at the time of suspension or at the time of petition for reinstatement, set specific conditions that must be fulfilled prior to reinstatement.
When Conservatory or Double-Degree students wish to return to the Conservatory of Music, the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention reviews the academic record with representatives of the appropriate major departments. Students withdrawn for two or more consecutive semesters may be required to re-audition for reinstatement. Those withdrawn for more than four semesters must meet the graduation requirements for the major in effect at the time of their return to the Conservatory of Music.
Private Readings in the College of Arts and Sciences
Students who wish to pursue a topic not covered in the regular curriculum may register for a private reading. This one-to-one tutorial is normally at the advanced level in a specific field and is arranged with a member of the faculty who has agreed to supervise the student. Approval for a private reading course depends upon the following conditions:
- Each department establishes its own guidelines concerning Private Readings, and Department or Program chairs give final approval for all Private Readings.
- Private readings must have a clear academic or artistic focus; under no circumstances should a Private Reading consist only of practical activities like tutoring or entail acting as a research assistant for a faculty member.
- The subject matter of the private reading course should not duplicate that of a regular course.
- Private reading courses may not be used to fulfill the Curriculum Exploration, Writing, Quantitative and Formal Reasoning, or Cultural Diversity requirements.
- A student is limited to one Private Reading per semester for either a half course/2 credits or a full course/4 credits. Exceptions must be approved by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar.
- Applied music lessons may not count as private reading courses.
Private Readings in the Conservatory
For students enrolled in Oberlin degree programs who wish to study individually and in-depth a topic not covered in the regular curriculum, the option of a one-to-one tutorial is available. This work is at an advanced level in a specific field and is coordinated with a member of the faculty who has agreed to supervise the study and who possesses expertise in the area in which the private reading is being undertaken.
Approval for a private reading course depends on the following conditions:
- The student shall have completed the basic courses pertinent to the subject matter of the private reading. As a rule, only juniors and seniors are eligible to undertake private reading courses.
- The subject matter of the private reading course may not duplicate the work of a regular course.
- The student is limited to one private reading course per semester for either two or four credits. Exceptions must be approved by the Associate Dean for Advising and Retention.
- Private applied study and composition lessons, ensemble playing, other forms of musical performance, and work in elementary and intermediate aural skills may not count as private reading courses.
- Normally, the faculty supervisor for a private reading course should be a faculty member other than a student’s own applied study or composition teacher.
Approval for a private reading course must be given by the student’s advisor, the faculty member supervising the project, and the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention.
Marching at Commencement
To be eligible to participate in Commencement:
- students must be registered at Oberlin for the final semester in residence
- this registration must be for all remaining course requirements for the degree(s) sought
Students who have permission to finish their work away from Oberlin (see below) may participate in Commencement exercises at the end of their final semester in residence at Oberlin. A student may participate in Commencement only one time.
Double-degree students: A double-degree student completing the two degrees in different semesters may participate in Commencement exercises for the single degree (either BA or BM) assuming all marching requirements for that degree are met. Double-degree students may return to participate in Commencement exercises as a double-degree student only after the requirements for the second degree have been met. Double-degree students who choose to participate in Commencement a second time are responsible for all expenses related to the second Commencement.
Finish Away Policies
College of Arts and Sciences (BA)
A student in the College of Arts and Sciences who has completed at least seven semesters may request permission to finish away a maximum of 2 full courses/8 credits after either a fall or spring semester, so long as all other requirements, including the residency requirement, have been met, and the courses/credits to be completed at another institution for transfer to Oberlin are within the post-matriculation transfer-of-credit limit. In some cases, a student may finish away through Oberlin courses on an Enrolled-Not-in-Residence registration. Study completed while Enrolled-Not-in-Residence is not subject to the post-matriculation limit. A student must request permission from the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar to complete these courses/credits away from Oberlin.
Permission to complete more than two full courses/eight credits away from Oberlin is to be granted only after careful consideration of educational or personal reasons by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar, so long as all other graduation requirements have been met and the total number of courses/credits transferred to Oberlin does not exceed the post-matriculation transfer-of-credit limit.
Conservatory of Music (BM)
A student in the Conservatory of Music who lacks not more than eight credits and has met the residency requirement may request approval of Finish Away status from the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention in order to complete these credits at another institution; if any of these credits are requirements for the student’s major, the major department must also approve completion of requirements for Finish Away status.
Permission to complete more than eight credits away from Oberlin will be granted only after careful consideration of educational or personal reasons by the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention, so long as all other graduation requirements have been met and the total number of credits transferred to Oberlin does not exceed the post-matriculation transfer-of-credit limit.
Double-Degree Students (DD)
Normally double-degree students complete both degrees at the same time. However, under certain circumstances, a student may request permission to finish degree requirements off campus. The double-degree student who is considering completion of the BA degree away from campus after completion of the BM should consult the finish away policies for students in the College of Arts and Sciences. The double-degree student who is considering completion of the BM degree after completion of the BA degree should consult the finish-away policies for the Conservatory. The combined finish away maximum for both degrees is two full courses/8 credits.
This category generally applies to students who are participating in programs sponsored by individual departments of Oberlin College, such as the Danenberg Oberlin-in-London Program. Students wishing to participate in these programs apply directly to the appropriate academic department in consultation with their academic advisor (and in the case of double-degree and Conservatory students, the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention). Once accepted to the program, students must file Enrolled-Not-in-Residence forms with the appropriate office. Credits earned in these programs are internal Oberlin credits, and no transfer of credit is involved.
Under special circumstances, students may arrange for independent study in appropriate off-campus locations. This independent study status is limited to students who have completed two or more semesters at Oberlin. Such independent study is arranged with and overseen by Oberlin faculty members and is approved in advance by the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar for students in the College of Arts and Sciences and by the Conservatory Associate Dean for Advising and Retention for Conservatory students. This status is normally granted for less than full-time study. Students pay Oberlin College tuition for this work, which must be completed within a specified semester. Deadlines for application for the following semester are the first Friday in December for a spring program and the first Friday in May for a fall program. In both types of Enrolled-Not-in-Residence, students’ matriculation deposits will be refunded upon graduation. Students are responsible for notifying the appropriate offices of any change in plans and face forfeiture of their matriculation deposits if such notice is not given.