Academic Policies and Procedures

Academic Honesty

Based upon its philosophy of education, St. Mary's University is strongly committed to academic excellence, truth, honesty, and personal integrity. The University expects all students to agree to the following:

"The St. Mary's University Honor Code"

As a member of the St. Mary's University Community, I promise not to participate in academic dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or other academic misconduct which deliberately infringes upon University policy. I will not tolerate these activities from my fellow classmates.

Academic dishonesty is outlined in the Student Handbook. Students of the St. Mary's University community who will fully choose to violate the Honor Code understand that the Dean of the appropriate School will adjudicate infractions according to Article V: Judicial Charges and Hearings of the Code of Student Conduct. If the student is deemed guilty, the consequences could include removal from St. Mary's University.

Sanctions for a student's academic dishonesty vary according to the nature and the seriousness of the offense. Instructors may require a student to redo a class/laboratory assignment; may record an F (Failure) for a particular test, examination, or class/laboratory assignment which involved dishonesty; or may record an F (Failure) for a final course grade. Any student appeal of a Instructor imposed sanction must be made in writing to the student's Dean within fourteen (14) days. Instructors inform their Department Chairperson in writing, with a copy to their Dean, concerning any sanctions imposed upon students for academic dishonesty. A written statement of official policies, procedures, and processes related to academic dishonesty is available in any Dean's office.


The Office of the Registrar maintains education records for all currently enrolled and former students. Student education records are governed by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended.

Directory Information and Student Confidentiality

St. Mary's University will not disclose any personally identifiable information about students (except directory information listed below) without the written consent of the student. Directory information is that which is regularly made public such as student directory, athletic printed programs, requests made by potential employers, etc. St. Mary's University designates the following student information as directory information:

  1. Name, address, telephone number, e-mail address
  2. Major field
  3. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  4. Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  5. Dates of attendance
  6. Degrees, honors, and awards received
  7. The most recent educational agency or institution attended

Each student has the right to restrict the release of this information by submitting the appropriate form to the Registrar's Office. This request will remain in effect while the student is enrolled or unless student rescinds the request. School officials with legitimate educational interests may have access to educational records, without the students' consent if the record is needed in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities. School officials are identified as a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position; a person or company with whom the University has contracted; a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.

Class Attendance

Class attendance is related to academic success, and class participation contributes to the synergism of the educational process. Undergraduate students are expected to attend all classes, including laboratories, practica, and events associated with the course or program.

The Professor keeps the roll, may record a zero for any work missed due to an unexcused absence, and may drop a student for missing an equivalent of two weeks of classes. One absence in a laboratory will be the equivalent of two 50-minute absences or one 75-minute absence. "Two weeks" are computed as follows:

Fall and Spring Semesters

  • Six unexcused absences in a 50-minute class period
  • Four unexcused absences in a 75-minute class period
  • Two evening classes which are 165 minutes per meeting

Summer Sessions

  • Four day-class meetings
  • Two evening-class meetings

Three tardies constitute one absence.

Absences incurred during late registration (first week of classes) are considered excused. Absences for reasons other than University-sanctioned events (which must be approved by Deans or the Academic Vice President) will be determined to be "excused" or "not excused" by the Professor. An excessive number of absences, even if they are excused, can severely compromise the quality of the students' learning experience. Therefore, if the Professor judges that the student has missed excessive material due to absences (excused, unexcused or a combination of the two), that Professor may initiate action for withdrawal of the student from the class. The Professor shall notify a student one class prior to initiating action for a student's withdrawal. Grades assigned for withdrawals initiated by the Professor or by the student are "W" (Withdrawal).

It is the responsibility of the student to contact the Professor before an absence, if possible, or, in the case of an emergency, as soon after the absence as possible. It is also the responsibility of the student to make up any missed work to the satisfaction of the Professor on the basis of guidelines stated in that Professor's course syllabus.

Appeals from decisions made concerning this attendance policy may be brought to the attention of the departmental Chairperson. If the results of an appeal are not satisfactory at the chair person level, an appeal may be brought to the attention of the course respective Academic Dean.

Student Load

The normal course load for fulltime undergraduate students is from twelve to eighteen hours per Fall and Spring semesters, varying with the student's curriculum and scholarship record. To take more than 18 hours, the student must obtain permission from their academic adviser.  Students who take more than 21 hours will require permission from their respective Dean, in addition to the academic adviser.  The form to request permission is found on Gateway.

For part-time students who have full-time employment, the maximum load is two courses with total credit of six semester hours. To carry more, the part-time student must obtain written permission from their respective Dean.

The maximum course load for Summer sessions is two courses each session; therefore, the maximum for two Summer sessions is four courses and not more than fourteen semester hours. Courses taken in excess of these maxima must have written permission of the Dean.

Adding Courses

During the 100% refund period (corresponds to the first calendar week of fall and spring semesters or to the first two days of a summer session), changes to course schedules can be processed online via Gateway. If attempting to add a closed course during the 100% refund period, the student can be added to the waitlist if one is available for the selected course. Only under special circumstance(ex: student is graduating in that semester), can a student request to be added to a closed course.  The student must submit an ADD/DROP form to the Registrar's office with the signatures of the course instructor, the student's academic adviser, and the chair of the department from which the course is being offered. If the course is part of the SMC then the signature of the Core Director is required.

During the 75% and 50% refund periods, signatures of approval from the course instructor, Academic Adviser, and Dean are required on all Add/Drop forms in order to add a course(s) and/or to switch sections within the same course.  If a student wishes to add a course that has closed, he/she must submit an ADD/DROP form to the Registrar's Office with the appropriate signatures as previously indicated.

After the 50% refund period (approximately corresponds to after the third calendar week of classes during the fall or spring semester or after the first calendar week of classes during a summer session or an eight week course), students may NOT add any courses and/or switch sections within the same course except in extremely rare and extenuating circumstances as approved by the instructor of the course and the Dean of the school from which the course is being offered. This Add/Schedule Change policy is in agreement with our current Attendance policy which states that a student may be dropped from a course after missing the equivalent of two weeks of classes.

Dropping Courses

It is the student’s responsibility to drop a course.  The Registrar does not initiate drops for students from courses for non-attendance.  Notifying an instructor or failing to attend class does not constitute an official drop from a course nor does it eliminate the student’s financial responsibility for course payment. 

Drop Policy:

  • A course dropped by the end of the first 5 class days of the semester (Fall and Spring) is not reflected in a student’s transcript.
  • Students may drop a course up to the end of the 12th week of the semester. A grade of “W” will be automatically be issued.
  • Student-initiated withdrawals from a course will not be accepted after the 12th week of the semester.  Students who fail to withdraw by the published deadline will receive a final grade as determined by the faculty member.  However, the grades of “W” or “WF” will not be available as final grade options.
  • After the 12th week of the semester, faculty-initiated withdrawals from a course for excessive absences must be coordinated through the appropriate Dean or Associate Dean for a student to receive a “W” in the course.
  • If a faculty member chooses not to withdraw a student from the course for excessive absences, a final grade will be entered by the faculty member in Gateway based upon the work completed by the student.
  • Please refer to the Academic Calendar for each semester’s calendar date, including shorter semesters (summer, Maymester, etc.), for the specific drop date deadline.

International Students must also inform the Center for International Programs of their intent to withdraw from any course. Student Athletes must also inform the Athletic Department of their intent to withdraw from any course.  Dropping multiple courses or falling below full time status (12 credit hours) could potentially impact a student’s financial aid award, visa status, and challenges progress toward the degree.  Please consult with an academic adviser and financial aid adviser for more information.


A cancellation occurs when a student decides not to return to the university prior to the last day of late registration of a given semester (for fall and spring semesters the fifth day of class and the second day of class for summer sessions). A student’s schedule cannot be cancelled after the last day of late registration but a student can withdraw from the semester; see the University Withdrawals section below. Students are responsible for resolving any holds on their accounts, including payment of any outstanding balance with the Business Office.

Failure to follow these steps could result in responsibility for tuition and other fees.

A student who chooses not to return to the university and has not registered for classes for the upcoming semester is still responsible for completing any other required processes, such as resolving any holds on their account (viewable on Gateway) and canceling their housing assignment, if applicable.

University Withdrawals

A University withdrawal is when a student decides to leave the University after the fifth day of classes in a fall or spring semester (second day of classes in summer sessions). Beginning the sixth day of class these semesters (third day of classes for summer sessions), students must complete an exit process in order to properly withdraw from the University.

It is the responsibility of undergraduate students withdrawing from all courses to contact the Office of Student Retention to begin the withdrawal process. According to the tuition refund schedule, a student may be entitled to some refund of tuition at the time of withdrawal.

Notice to instructors or other University offices of withdrawal does not cancel registration or financial obligations. Withdrawal without proper notice may result in a grade of F in all courses for the semester and responsibility for full payment.

Undergraduate students who properly withdraw from the University will keep the academic standing they have at the time of their University Withdrawal.

The official withdrawal date is determined by the student’s contact with the Office of Student Retention. If the student fails to make this contact and simply stops attending classes, tuition, fees, meal plans and other applicable charges will not be adjusted on the student’s account. Lack of proper withdrawal may also result in financial aid credits be reversed according to federal regulations, leaving students with a larger financial liability if they do not withdraw properly.

Dropping a class or classes is not considered a withdrawal. The term withdrawal refers to dropping all classes after the fifth day of classes and leaving the University for that semester. For information about dropping a class, please refer to the Office of the Registrar.

Repeated Courses

At times, students may want to repeat a course in order to earn a better grade, improving their GPA. It is possible to do this, but under very specific conditions:

  • the original course must have been taken at St. Mary's University;
  • the repeat course must be taken at St. Mary's University;
  • the repeat course must be exactly the same course number and title as the original course. In the case of Topics Courses, the subtopic must be the same.

The administrative system will automatically flag repeat courses only if they are courses that can legitimately be repeated for credit. On the student's academic record, a course that is repeated will have an "E" (Excluded) next to the course. The repeated course that replaces it will have an "I" (Included) next to the course. From this semester forward, the Cumulative GPA reflects only the repeated course with the higher grade. In effect, the earlier course remains on the transcript but is no longer included in the cumulative GPA. The change does not affect the academic status (Probation or Suspension) of the original semester.

Students can repeat a course twice (whether having received a withdraw or actual grades).  After the second attempt, students who want to retake a course already attempted twice will need the written approval from their academic adviser.  (For Greehey School of Business majors, approval from Associate Dean is required.)

Adviser approval is required in order to provide an opportunity to discuss the impact of falling behind academically, especially if this may seriously impair the student's ability to complete their degree.

Note: Courses designated in the catalog as repeatable (such as topics courses or applied lessons) are not affected by this policy.

Graduate Courses

In exceptional cases, an undergraduate student may be permitted to enroll in a graduate course for undergraduate credit and for undergraduate tuition rates. Required for this exception is the prior written permission of the Graduate Dean, the appropriate undergraduate Dean, the graduate department chair person, and the instructor. The student must also secure from the Registrar an undergraduate course number. Graduate courses taken for undergraduate credit may be used only for undergraduate degrees. Such courses may not subsequently be used for graduate credit.

Independent Studies

Independent academic study may be available to students who have reached at least Junior status, hold a 3.0 GPA, have obtained the approval of their major Adviser, the Chairperson of their department and the Dean of the school in which the course is taken, and have arranged the delineation of a syllabus with a Professor who knows them and is willing to work on the project.

Review or Deficiency Courses

Review or deficiency courses, in general, are taken by conditionally admitted students to meet admission deficiencies or to better prepare themselves for freshmen level courses. The courses are measured on a semester-hour basis, but the semester hours from these courses do not apply to University or departmental degree requirements. The first digit of these courses is 0.

Freshmen Requirement

All incoming freshmen, including transfer students with fewer than twenty semester hours of actual (i.e., not high school Advanced Placement courses) university credits, must take ND 0101 in their first Fall or Spring semester at St. Mary's University.

Transfer Credits

Credit earned by correspondence or by enrollment at another college or university while a student is enrolled for residence work at this institution will not be counted toward a degree unless explicitly approved in advance. This policy applies to Fall, Spring, and Summer sessions.

Note regarding transfer course: Philosophy, Theology, Advanced Psychology, SMC 1301, SMC 1311, SMC 1314, SMC 2301, SMC 2302 and SMC 4301 courses cannot be transferred after a student has matriculated at St. Mary's University.

Matriculated students who go to another college/university during the summer cannot transfer Math courses numbered MT 2XXX, 3XXX, or 4XXX.

The maximum credit transferable from a junior college, or any combination of junior colleges, is 66 semester hours. A student who has attained junior standing—that is one who has completed 60 or more semester hours—may return to a junior college for an additional six (or eight) semester hours, with the appropriate Dean's prior approval (provided the total hours transferred from junior colleges do not exceed 66).  The maximum credit transferable from a four-year university is 90 hours.  A student with junior college and four-year university credits, the maximum total combined transfer hours is 90.

Students enrolled at another college must forward an official transcript.  Service personnel with Military and DANTES credit must forward evidence of their record to the Director of Admissions.

Students already enrolled at St. Mary's must furnish an official transcript of record for courses taken by extension and/or correspondence from a college or university offering non-resident courses. No credit will be granted by St. Mary's unless the enrolled student has had permission in advance to pursue such extension, correspondence, or "visitor" courses.

Individuals may obtain an official transcript of their work completed at St. Mary's University provided they have satisfactorily met all university obligations.

Texas Common Course Numbering

St. Mary's University participates in a statewide common course numbering system designed to facilitate the transfer of coursework among Texas institutions of higher education, both public and private. Identical numbers are referenced in the catalogs of other participating Texas institutions, and may be used to establish transfer equivalents for St. Mary's University courses.


All former students who have been away from St. Mary's for one Fall or Spring semester, or more, must file a formal application for readmission. If a student, during his or her absence from St. Mary's has attended any other institution, he or she must submit an official transcript reflecting such attendance; regulations governing transfer students shall apply. A student who leaves St. Mary's on scholastic probation or suspension, if approved,  will be readmitted on scholastic probation even if he or she has attended another institution during the period of absence. A student on probation at another school will be placed on probation at St. Mary's.  The readmission application is found on the Registrar's Office website.

Study Days & Final Exam Schedule

At the end of each Fall and Spring semester, the two days prior to the beginning of the Final Exam Schedule are designated as Study Days. Classes do not meet during Study Days. All major reports and assignments should be scheduled to be completed before Study Days.

Study Days are not to be used as dates on which papers are to be turned in, examinations are to be given, quizzes are to be scheduled, mandatory review sessions are to be held, or for any other class-related activities, other than office hours. Voluntary review sessions at which no new material is presented may be conducted by faculty on these days.

The official schedule of final examinations is published by the Office of the Registrar at Final examinations given during the Final Exam Schedule must be given on the dates and at the times when they are scheduled.  Unless otherwise noted, exams will take place in the same classroom where the class has been scheduled over the semester.

Departure from the Final Exam Schedule can be authorized only by the Dean of the respective school.