Approved by: Provost
History: Issued              -- August 2006
Revised            -- February 27, 2015
Last Reviewed -- July 22, 2019
Related Policies: Academic Regulations for Masters and Licentiate Degrees; Academic Regulations for Doctoral Degrees
Additional References:
Responsible Official: Provost tel. (202) 319-5244


I. Introduction


An undergraduate program of instruction generally includes a minimum of 30 weeks of class work and exams per calendar year. The required course load for a full time undergraduate is 12 credit hours per semester.


II. Definitions


A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than either:

  1. One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.


III. Equivalent Experience


If a student is in a course which is equivalent to previous experience, this should be reported to the academic adviser so that proper placement may be made and the question of possible credit may be explored.


IV. Overelection


  1. A student who achieves a 3.0 grade point average in a program at the end of a semester may enroll in the following semester for additional credits beyond those normally permitted in the program (overelect), according to the regulations of the school in which the student is enrolled. The same privilege is available to a student whose cumulative average is 3.0 or better.
  2. A student may overelect without achieving the 3.0 grade point average in one semester of the senior year, with permission of the academic dean.


V. Change of Curriculum, Course or Section


  1. A student who wishes to transfer from one curriculum to another must notify the academic dean's office and must undertake to meet all the requirements of the curriculum to which the student transfers. Transfers from one school to another must be approved by the academic dean of each school (i.e., obtain the release of the dean of the school the student is leaving, and the acceptance of the dean of the school to which transfer is requested).
  2. During registration students indicate section preferences for multisection courses. A student is expected to attend each course for which the student is registered.
  3. A student may add a course for credit within the first week of class. All changes must be processed using the Web site
  4. A student who wishes to take an elective course on a pass/fail basis must submit to the registrar's office a Registration Change Form with the approval of the academic dean. See Academic Calendar for deadlines.


VI. Exchange Courses


Exchange courses taken at participating institutions are considered as The Catholic University of America courses in all respects. Students are subject to the policies of The Catholic University of American when they participate in exchange courses.


VII. Summer Sessions


Courses taken in summer sessions elsewhere may be applied toward degree credit under the following conditions:

  1. Both the course and the institution must have the prior approval of the dean of the school in which the student is normally enrolled.
  2. In order to be acceptable for degree credit, a summer course taken elsewhere must be passed with a grade which is equivalent to a C or higher at this university; however, such grades will not be computed in the student's cumulative grade point average, except for class rank and honors at graduation.


VIII. Student Classification


In addition to the usual student classification (freshman, sophomore, etc.), there are also: (a) special students; (b) transfer students.

Special Student - A student who is pursuing courses for credit, but is not a candidate for an undergraduate degree at this university.

Transfer Student - A student accepted from another educational institution whose standing is classified after satisfactory completion of the equivalent of a normal semester program of studies at this university.

Note: A student who has started the year in which the student expects to obtain the baccalaureate degree (or its equivalent in the case of a part-time student) may begin graduate work while fulfilling undergraduate requirements if, in the opinion of the academic dean, the student's academic performance and promise justify this action. The student will be enrolled as an undergraduate under conditions set by the academic deans concerned until the undergraduate program is completed.


IX. Program of Concentration (Major) or Specialization


To obtain a baccalaureate degree a student must be accepted in a program of concentration or specialized studies. To be admitted to such a program a student must be accepted by the departmental representative(s) and the academic dean. In schools with no departments such approval shall be obtained from the academic dean or representative. A 2.0 cumulative average normally shall be necessary and sufficient for such acceptance, if the student has also done satisfactory work in previous courses in the (proposed) field of concentration. Specific requirements for each department may be necessary.


X. Double Major


A double major leads to a single degree, and consists of a primary and a secondary major. The two majors can be located in one school or in two different schools.

All major-specific requirements (core major courses, comprehensive examinations, and additional major-specific requirements, as defined by the school and approved by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies) must be completed for both majors. All of the general education requirements for the "primary major" must be completed. No more than two core major courses may overlap and count toward both majors.

The degree corresponding to the primary major (BA, BS, BSArch, BE, BM, etc.) will appear on the diploma. Both majors must be completed at the same time: a secondary major cannot be added to a diploma already awarded. Double majors may be earned within the same department (for departmentalized schools) or within the same school (in non-departmentalized schools) at the discretion of the school.

In order to be accepted to a double major, a student must earn a 3.2 cumulative GPA and obtain approval from the academic dean(s) of the relevant school(s) and meet any additional criteria set by the relevant school(s). Students are ordinarily accepted into a double major during the spring semester of their sophomore year.


XI. Dual Degree


A dual degree program leads to two different degrees (e.g. a BM and a BA). All requirements of both degrees must be completed, including comprehensive examinations and general education requirements. Individual courses may be double counted--i.e. counted toward both degrees--but a minimum of 145 unique credit hours, at least 73 of which must be taken at The Catholic University of America, is required to complete a dual degree. Both degrees must be completed at the same time: a second degree cannot be added to a diploma already awarded.

In order to be accepted to a dual degree, a student must earn a 3.2 cumulative GPA, obtain approval from the academic deans of the relevant schools, and meet any additional criteria set by the relevant schools. After the schools have approved a dual-degree program, full documentation of the program is forwarded to the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies, who monitors the administration of the program. Schools participating in dual-degree programs are expected to provide appropriate advising to students pursuing dual degrees and to confer with the other school as appropriate. Students are ordinarily accepted into a dual degree program during the spring semester of their sophomore year.


XII. Comprehensive Examination


In schools where a comprehensive assessment is a requirement for graduation, a senior who fails to meet the requirements for graduation in the assessment may be granted the privilege of undergoing another assessment, but may not graduate until the assessment has been passed. At least 40 calendar days must elapse after a previous attempt before a student may undergo another comprehensive assessment. Exceptions to this timeline are left to the discretion of each school's deans.


XIII. General Degree Requirements


  1. For baccalaureate degrees, at least 60 semester credits must be taken at this university. Courses taken through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan area and courses taken within approved CUA study abroad programs are acceptable in meeting this requirement. Different requirements may apply to special degree programs as approved by the Academic Senate. (Academic Senate, May 8, 2002)
  2. In addition to the above requirement, at least 30 of the last 36 credits taken for a baccalaureate degree must be taken at this university. Consortium and CUA study abroad courses meet this requirement.
  3. Courses taken at other institutions, during the summer or while on leave, are subject to approval by the dean of the school in order to be transferred and applied to CUA degree requirements. Without prior approval transfer of credit is not guaranteed.
  4. During any semester when registered for courses at CUA a student may not transfer courses taken at other institutions except for courses taken through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.
  5. Ordinarily a GPA of 2.0 and fulfillment of a minimum of 120 credits is required for graduation.

Special degree programs include:

  • School of Philosophy: Basselin Program
  • School of Nursing: Program for Registered Nurses
  • Program for Licensed Practical Nurses
  • Program for Students with no Transfer Credit
  • Program for Students with Transfer Credit
  • School of Engineering: 3-2 Cooperative Engineering Program - St. Anselm College/CUA
    (Computer Science Program: first three years)
  • 3-2 Cooperative Program - Georgetown University/CUA (Bachelor of Science in Physics and Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, five-year program)
  • 3-2 Agreement - St. Vincent's College/CUA
  • Cooperative Degree Program - Mount St. Mary's College/CUA
  • Frederick Institute of Technology CUA


XIII. Attendance at Class


Good scholarship requires the presence of students at all class and laboratory meetings. The responsibility for prompt and regular class attendance rests upon the individual student. If, for any reason, a student is absent too frequently from class, it may become impossible for that student to receive a passing grade. Authority for excusing absences rests with the teacher who may request that the student obtain authentication of absences considered unavoidable.