Academic procedures

  • Expectations and course registration

Student responsibility
The responsibility for planning the academic program rests largely with the student. Information in the undergraduate academic life section of this catalog and other academic announcements must be reviewed carefully in order for the student to take the required courses at the right time. The counseling services of faculty advisors, department chairpersons, the registrar and the deans are available to assist students.

Academic advising
The academic advising program at Bluffton is based on the premise that significant learning and growth can occur within the context of a close relationship between students and advisors. At the beginning of the fall semester, first year students indicate whether they want as their advisor their Becoming a Scholar instructor or a member of the department in which they intend to major. Upon declaring their major, all students are assigned an advisor in their department.  Transfer students who have decided on a major are assigned to an advisor in the appropriate department.  The registrar advises transfer students who have not yet chosen a major. It is recommended that students declare a major by the second half of their sophomore year.

Academic calendar
Bluffton University operates on a semester calendar. All course credit is given in semester hours. See current academic calendar.

Minimum enrollment for a course
Bluffton reserves the right to cancel any course if fewer than seven students enroll.

Course load
A full-time student load is considered to be at least 12 hours per semester. Students enrolled for fewer than 12 hours in a semester are classified as part-time students. These students may not participate in intercollegiate activities nor hold office in co-curricular activities. Part-time students may reserve a room in the residence halls only with special permission of the dean of student affairs.  Part-time students are strongly urged to contact the director of financial aid to see if their status affects their financial aid. 

Students must obtain permission from the registrar to enroll in more than 17 semester hours in one term.

Auditing courses
Most courses may be audited with permission of the instructor. Courses which may not be audited include applied music, directed studies, practicums, internships and independent studies.

Students registering to audit a course must indicate at the registrar's office that the course is to be audited. An audit fee is assessed to all students who audit courses. Students, having audited a course, may not change their registration to receive credit after the end of the add period. An audited course may be taken a second time for credit. Credit by examination is not allowed for courses that have been audited.

Adding, dropping, and withdrawing from courses
The deadline for adding courses is generally the end of the first week of the semester, with the specific date indicated on the academic calendar. After the add period has ended, students may not add courses unless they have exceptional reasons to do so. The deadline for dropping courses is generally the end of the second week of the semester, with the specific date indicated on the academic calendar. After the drop period has ended, students may withdraw from a course and receive a grade of W up to a point halfway through the course. The deadline for non-emergency withdrawals is set on the academic calendar. After that time, withdrawal is allowed only for medical or other exceptional reasons. Permission to withdraw after the deadline must be obtained from the registrar. The instructor will assign a grade of WP (withdrawn passing) or WF (withdrawn failing).  A W and a WP does not affect a student's grade point average, but a WF has the same effect on the grade point average as an E.

Class attendance
Upon enrollment in a course, students at Bluffton become accountable for all the requirements of the course. Thus, they are directly responsible to each instructor for all required work in each course, including work missed because of absence. The instructor is responsible for informing students at the beginning of each course of the course requirements, including the class attendance policy.

Definition of a credit hour

Bluffton University defines a credit hour as a unit of measure that gives value to the level of instruction, academic rigor, time requirements, and fulfillment of learning objectives for a course taken at the university. Basically, it is a proxy measure of student learning as defined by the fulfillment of learning objectives reasonably judged to require at least 37.5 clock hours per credit hour. Bluffton offers courses with a variety of learning formats and delivery modes. The following guidelines help define the average minimal time commitment required for one credit hour:

1. Not less than 50 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of 100 minutes out of class student work each week for fifteen instructional weeks (including exam week) for one semester hour of credit are expected for a course taught in a traditional format.

2. At least an equivalent amount of time as required in # 1 above is required for other academic activities including laboratory work, internships, practica, cross-cultural experiences, independent studies, studio work, directed studies, and other academic work leading to the awarding of credit hours.

3. At least an equivalent amount of time as required in # 1 above is required for courses taught in an online or accelerated format.

Grading system

A permanent record of students grades is maintained by the registrar. Grades are entered in the permanent record as follows:

A, A-:

excellent achievement;

B+, B, B-:

good achievement;

C+, C, C-:

fair achievement;

D+, D, D-:

poor achievement, but passing;

E:

failing, the course must be repeated if credit is desired;

CR:

credit, student earned a C- or higher in the course;

NC:

no credit, student earned a D+ or lower in the course;

DF:

deferred grade, course in progress;

W:

withdrawn;

WP:

withdrawn with passing work at the time of withdrawal;

WF:

withdrawn with failing work or without official approval, considered as an E;

I: an incomplete course. An incomplete means that a student, because of illness or other emergency, has been granted an extension of time to complete a course. To receive an incomplete a student must apply for and obtain permission from the course instructor.

It is expected that an incomplete will be removed within the first two weeks of the semester following the one in which it was given. If this is not the case, the student may be advised to drop one of the classes in which he or she is currently enrolled. If not removed by the end of the semester following the one in which it was given (by the end of spring semester for incompletes given in fall and by the end of summer semester for incompletes given in spring), the registrar will convert the I to an E.

Grade points
Points are assigned to grades as follows:

  A   4.0 A-   3.7
B+   3.3 B   3.0 B-   2.7
C+   2.3 C   2.0 C-   1.7
D+   1.3 D   1.0 D-   0.7
  E   0.0  

To graduate from Bluffton University, a student must have a grade point average (GPA) of not less than 2.0. This average is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points by the number of semester hours attempted. Courses graded on credit/no credit basis are not included in this calculation. Students transferring to Bluffton from other institutions do not receive grade points for the grades earned at the previous institutions. Cumulative grade point averages are based only on work completed under the auspices of Bluffton University.

Credit/no credit
A student may elect to take a course for credit or no credit rather than the traditional letter grades, subject to the following restrictions:

  • This option may not be used in courses required for the major or for a minor nor for the liberal arts and sciences program;
  • No more than 20 semester hours taken under this option may count toward the graduation requirement of 124 hours;
  • This option may not be exercised until a student has successfully completed 15 hours of traditional letter grades.
     

The procedure for declaring this option is for the student to report to the registrar at the beginning of the term the course in which to exercise the option; the request must be made before the end of the drop period. Students who, after the drop period, withdraw from a course taken with the credit/no credit option will receive a NC grade. Courses that are offered for credit/no credit grades only must fall within the limitations of point two above, but there may be exceptions to points one and three.

The grade credit is interpreted to mean any grade within the traditional range of grades A through C-. A no credit is the equivalent of the traditional D and E. The grades credit and no credit will not carry a point value and thus will not be computed in the grade point average.

Minimum grade requirements
Any course taken as a prerequisite for a general education course must be passed with at least a grade of D-. Any course taken as a prerequisite for any other course must be passed with at least a grade of C-. Circumstances may, on occasion, justify the waiver of this requirement by the instructor of the subsequent course.

Any course in which the grade of D+ or lower is earned will not be counted toward any major or minor. Circumstances may, on occasion, justify the waiver of this requirement by the department in which the student completes the major or minor.

Policy for repeated courses
Students earning a D or E in a course may repeat the course to improve their grade and grade point average, as well as their understanding of course content. Students earning a C in a course may repeat the course with permission from the registrar. In a repeated course, only the most recent grade will be calculated in the grade point average, although all grades will appear on the permanent record.

Only the credit from the course as repeated counts in the total semester hours passed and the GPA. The student is expected to pay for the course each time it is taken. Students wanting to take advantage of this must declare their intention to the registrar s office at the time of registration for the course.

See financial aid implications of repeated courses.

Standards of academic achievement

Unsatisfactory academic performance at Bluffton University, as defined here, will result in one of the following three possible actions.

Probation. Any time, after having received grades in a minimum of two courses at Bluffton University, that a student's cumulative grade point average falls below the requisite level indicated below, the student is placed on academic probation until the cumulative grade point average reaches the required level for the appropriate classification:

First year (fewer than 27 semester hours completed) 1.5
Sophomore year (at least 27, fewer than 58) 1.7
Junior year (at least 58, fewer than 88) 1.9
Senior year (at least 88 semester hours completed) 2.0

Reclassification of class level will be made at the end of each semester. Students who are on probation will attend a probation meeting and develop a plan for success. Students initially placed on academic probation will automatically be placed on financial aid warning.

Suspension. At the end of each semester, the academic performance of all students in attendance during the semester will be reviewed. Those on probation for the previous semester and whose cumulative grade point average is still below the requisite level for their classification will be subject to suspension through the following semester.  Moreover, any student having attempted 24 semester hours whose grade point average for the semester is below 1.0 and any student having attempted less than 24 semester hours whose grade point average is 0.0 will be subject to suspension.

Students who have been suspended must apply for readmission and provide evidence that it is in their best interest to be readmitted. Their application will be reviewed by the Admissions and Scholarship Committee. Work taken at another college or university during the period of suspension will not be accepted for credit at Bluffton University. Students who are re-admitted after an academic suspension who wish to reinstate financial aid must appeal to the financial aid appeals committee.

It should be noted that Bluffton University reserves the right to suspend any student at any time when in the judgment of the university authorities the student has grossly neglected studies or has been guilty of serious misconduct. A student suspended in this fashion receives no credit for work done during the term in which the suspension occurs.

Dismissal. Any student having been suspended twice shall be considered dismissed. Students having been dismissed will not be eligible for readmission.

It should be noted that Bluffton University reserves the right to dismiss any student at any time when in the judgment of the university authorities the student has grossly neglected studies or has been guilty of serious misconduct.  A student dismissed in this fashion receives no credit for work done during the term in which the dismissal occurs.

Appeals of Academic Suspensions and Dismissals
All students subject to suspension or dismissal have the right to appeal.  In order to appeal an academic suspension or dismissal, a student must submit a letter to the registrar stating the basis for the appeal and a letter from a faculty member supporting the appeal.  On the designated date, the Suspension/Dismissal Committee will meet to review any appeals received by that date.  The Suspension/Dismissal Committee, a subcommittee of the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council, consists of the registrar (who chairs the committee), the vice president for student life and dean of students, the dean of academic affairs and/or his/her designate, the chairperson of the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council, and another faculty member designated by the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council.  The role of the vice president of enrollment management and student life will be to represent nonacademic considerations that may have affected a student's ability to achieve a satisfactory level of academic work.  Information which appropriately belongs within the campus judicial system will not be introduced to the Suspension/Dismissal Committee unless it is in support of the student.  (The suspension or dismissal power of the Suspension/Dismissal Committee will not be used to displace the normal procedure for disciplinary cases.)  The committee will seek input from other faculty and staff members as seems appropriate.  In making its determination, the committee will consider the best interests of the student and the university.  In most cases, if the appeal is approved, the student will be placed on academic probation. Students whose academic suspension or dismissal appeal has been approved and who wish to reinstate financial aid must appeal to the financial aid appeals committee.

Withdrawal from Bluffton University
Students who wish to withdraw from the university during a term or at the end of a term must inform all offices involved. Information on withdrawal, indicating the offices in which withdrawing students are to be interviewed, is available from the registrar s office. Students who withdraw before the deadline for nonemergency withdrawals will receive W's for all courses. Students may withdraw after the deadline for nonemergency withdrawals and before the end of the semester only for medical or other exceptional reasons. Permission to withdraw after the deadline must be obtained from the registrar. When permission is given, instructors will assign grades of WP (withdrawn passing) or WF (withdrawn failing). A WP does not affect a student's grade point average, but a WF has the same effect on the grade point average as an E.

Academic forgiveness policy
Academic forgiveness allows a student returning to Bluffton University after at least a five year absence the option of keeping the credit for courses in which a grade of C- or better was earned (as well as courses with grades of CR), while removing from the grade point average all grades earned at Bluffton University prior to readmission.

The academic forgiveness policy and its conditions are as follows:

  • At least five years must have passed since the student last attended Bluffton University.
  • Academic forgiveness applies only to courses taken before readmission.
  • The previous GPA is eliminated.
  • After a student elects academic forgiveness and eligibility is verified, a notation will be added to the student's transcript indicating that this policy has been applied.
  • Credit earned at Bluffton prior to readmission with a grade of D+ or lower is forfeited.
  • Credit earned at Bluffton prior to readmission with a grade of at least C-, or with a grade of CR, will be carried over at the time of re-entry.
  • Grades from all coursework taken at Bluffton will be used in calculating eligibility for Pi Delta membership.
     

Class standings
All students enrolled for at least 12 hours in a semester are considered full-time students. All students are classified by the registrar in one of the four classes first year, sophomore, junior, and senior or as special students.

Class standing is determined by the number of hours completed, as shown below:

First year fewer than 27 semester hours completed
Sophomore at least 27, fewer than 58
Junior at least 58, fewer than 88
Senior at least 88 semester hours completed

Major
All students must complete a major in order to graduate from Bluffton University. A major is a program of study designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills and values related to a particular discipline. The requirements and curricula for majors are designed and proposed by departments and approved by the faculty. Requirements for all majors are specified in the Bluffton University catalog.

Minor
Students may choose to complete a minor. A minor is a secondary field of study requiring 18 to 22 hours. The requirements and curricula for minors are designed and proposed by departments or interdisciplinary groups of faculty members and approved by the faculty.

Concentration
A concentration is an option available to students in some majors at Bluffton University. Concentrations require focused and coordinated academic work either within the major or within an area of study meaningfully related to the major. Concentrations include a minimum of 9 semester hours.

Declaration of major
Students may declare their majors as early in the college program as they feel ready. Early declarations are advantageous in that students advisors are then selected from within the major field. Normally students declare a major by the end of their sophomore year at the latest. Students who have not declared a major prior to registering for the fall semester of their senior year are not permitted to register until they have completed the declaration process.

To declare a major, a student must return a signed copy of a major declaration form to the registrar's office. The declaration form must be signed by the chairperson of the major department and the faculty advisor within the department (assigned by the chairperson of the department). If the student is seeking a license to teach, the form must also be signed by the director of teacher education. Declaration forms are available from the registrar's office.
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Students who declare more than one major are expected to meet in full all requirements of both majors, including the departmental comprehensive exams.

At the time of declaring a major or a minor, students choose to declare the major or minor that was in effect when they entered Bluffton University or the one that is in effect when they declare the major or minor.

Evaluation

Evaluation of instruction
Student evaluation of instruction is coordinated through the registrar's office. It is expected that students will be given the opportunity to evaluate courses using forms distributed through the registrar's office, unless other plans have been approved in advance by the dean of academic affairs.

The forms are to be distributed in class and class time is to be used for students to complete them. They are then to be returned, by a student, to the registrar's office. The results will be tabulated and a report will be sent to each instructor with an evaluation summary for each course as well as a summary for all courses taught by all faculty members. No reports will be given to faculty until grades are turned in. Except for courses with low enrollments, faculty members receive the original forms completed by students. Copies of the reports are filed in the academic affairs office.

Assessment of university achievement of goals
Assessment is an ongoing effort by Bluffton University to measure student learning in order to determine the degree to which Bluffton is meeting its goals for educating its students. The information gained through assessment is crucial to the university's efforts to improve its educational programs. To that end, student papers and other assignments may be read by university employees other than the immediate classroom teacher. When student work is used for assessment purposes, precautions are taken to insure the anonymity of the student, and the student's confidentiality will be respected.

Special studies

Directed studies
Directed studies allow students to do the work of a regular, specified course by studying the material without regular classroom attendance. This may be done either during the semester the class is offered or when the class is not currently offered. The same learning must be demonstrated as that achieved by students attending the regular class; alternative arrangements for exams and other requirements are subject to approval of the instructor.

Approval to take a course as a directed study must be obtained from the instructor, the department chair, and the academic affairs office. Approval will be granted when there is undue hardship to the student because of transferring into Bluffton University or because of unexpected health concerns. Other extraordinary circumstances as determined by the academic affairs office may warrant approval. Approval will not be given for a student to complete a second major or a minor; for a student to graduate sooner than his/her cohort; for a student's convenience; because a student failed the course earlier; or, for the student to raise his/her GPA.
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Independent study program
Qualified students shall be allowed to complete up to four courses through departmentally supervised independent studies. Such independent study options shall be open to either majors or nonmajors in the departments involved. Students are expected to obtain written permission from the supervising faculty member and obtain departmental approval by completing a form available from the registrar's office. The student then returns the completed form to the registrar at the time of registration.
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Credit by examination
Students may earn a maximum of 20 semester hours of credit toward graduation through examination. This includes external examination programs as well as credit-by-examination offered through the university. In general, the level of the course being tested may not be lower than course work previously completed in the field.

Students may request permission to seek credit for a course through examination. The request, accompanied by some indication that the student possesses sufficient background for credit, is made to the chairperson of the department in which credit is sought and to the dean of academic affairs. Upon receiving permission and after paying the credit-by-examination fee, the student may take a special examination. A second fee will be charged upon successful completion of the exam.

The examination itself is to expect of the student at least the equivalent competence of what would be expected of students actually completing the course. On the basis of the examination results, a letter grade is to be recommended by the tester. The notation of credit (CR) will be made on the student's permanent academic record if the grade recommended is C- or higher; otherwise the notation no credit (NC) will be made.

Credit by examination is not allowed in a course which previously has been audited or for which tutorial assistance has been obtained unless the student pays the full tuition charge.

Students aged 23 or older may also earn credit through nationally recognized examination programs for examinations in which passing scores are earned. These programs include CLEP, PEP and DSST which were developed to give recognition to adults who have acquired knowledge outside the traditional classroom situation and who wish to receive college-level credit for this work.

The CLEP and DSST examinations are administered on the campus through the office of adult and graduate education. Additional information is available through that office at 1-800-488-3257, option 4 or adulted@bluffton.edu.

Transfer credit
Full credit is normally given for all courses completed at any regionally accredited college or university in which the applicant has earned a grade of C- or better. All transcripts submitted by any student will be reviewed individually. Credit will be awarded only for work shown on an official transcript, that is, a transcript sent directly from the originating institution to the registrar's office. Neither individual grades for classes nor GPA are transferable. Please see the Admissions information for students for a list of colleges with which Bluffton University has articulation agreements.

All students enrolled at Bluffton University who want to take course work at another institution to transfer back to Bluffton University are asked to complete a form requesting advance approval for the course (the form is available from the registrar's office). If the course work is to meet a general education requirement or is for elective credit, the registrar will grant or deny approval; if it is to be applied to the student's major, the department chair will grant or deny approval. In all cases, the minimum grade requirement for transfer work is C-.

Study abroad and off-campus study
Study abroad opportunities are available around the world. Bluffton University has a semester-long study abroad program in Northern Ireland. In consultation with the academic advisor, students may choose from a number of programs in a variety of academic disciplines in other study abroad programs, including programs offered by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Brethren Colleges Abroad, and CASAS. These programs afford excellent opportunities for study and travel in a foreign culture and language area. In addition, Bluffton sponsors an urban studies semester in Washington DC. The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities also has several off-campus semester programs in the United States. For additional information, please refer to descriptions under the off-campus programs and to the assistant director of cross-cultural programs.

Student records

Transcript of record
Upon the written request of the student, an official transcript of the student's academic record will be sent from the registrar's office to any recipient the student designates. A fee of $5, payable in advance, is charged for each transcript, with the exception of transcripts needed for scholarship applications which are free. The written request should include the student's name, current address, telephone number, address(es) to which the transcript should be sent, social security number, payment and signature.
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Institutional policy for student education records
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Bluffton University respects all of these rights. In accordance with FERPA, students are notified of the following rights:

  • Right to inspect: Students have the right to inspect and review all their personal education records maintained by or at this institution.
  • Right to request amendment: Students have the right to seek to have corrected any parts of an educational record believed to be inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of student rights. This right includes the right to a hearing to present evidence that the record should be changed if this institution decides not to alter the education records according to requests.
  • Right to prevent disclosure: Students have the right to prevent disclosure of education records to third parties with certain limited exceptions. It is the intent of Bluffton University to limit the disclosure of information contained in education records to:
    • those instances when prior written consent has been given to the disclosure.
    • items of directory information for which a student has not refused disclosure. For a complete list of items designated as directory information and for instructions to prevent disclosure of this information, see below.
    • or items for which, under the provisions of FERPA, disclosure cannot be restricted. Information which cannot be restricted from disclosure includes: student name, full or part-time status, degree(s) granted and dates of attendance.
  • Right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education: Students have the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy and Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, DC 20202-4605, concerning this institution's failure to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
  • Right to obtain policy: Students have the right to obtain a copy of the Bluffton University student records policy. This policy is available from the registrar's office.

Directory information
Bluffton University has designated the following items as directory information: student name, campus address, home address, campus telephone number, home telephone number, e-mail address, date and place of birth, major field(s) of study, class standing, full or part-time status, hours registered, hours completed, class schedule, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, photograph, dates of attendance, degrees, honors and awards granted, date of graduation and previous schools attended. Bluffton University may disclose any of these items without prior written consent unless notified in writing to the contrary.

To authorize Bluffton University to withhold specific items of directory information, indicate the information to be withheld, sign and date the request and submit it to the registrar's office. This will remain in effect until the registrar's office is directed otherwise in writing.

Students should consider very carefully the consequences of a decision to withhold any item from directory information. Should a student decide to request that Bluffton University not release certain items of directory information, requests for such information from individuals or organizations outside Bluffton University will be refused. This information could then only be released to a specific individual or organization with the student's written permission.

Bluffton University will honor student requests to withhold any of the items listed as directory information other than student name, full or part-time status, degree(s) granted and dates of attendance, but cannot assume responsibility for subsequent permission to release them. Regardless of the effect upon the student, Bluffton University assumes no liability for honoring student instructions that such information be withheld.
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Academic honors

Superior scholastic ability among students is given recognition in several ways:

The dean's list
is published at the end of each semester. It includes the names of all students of at least half-time status whose GPA for the period is no lower than 3.6. Students on the dean's list whose cumulative GPA, as based on at least 20 semester hours, is no lower than 3.75 will be indicated as receiving distinction for continued high achievement. Students with incompletes are disqualified.

The Pi Delta Society
is an honorary scholastic society established to promote high standards of scholarship. Admission is by vote of the faculty from those seniors who, at the time of their graduation, have met the following criteria:

  • Students who have completed 30 or more but less than 62 semester hours at Bluffton University at the time of graduation and have a GPA of 3.90 or better.
  • Students who have completed 62 or more but less than 93 semester hours at Bluffton University at the time of graduation and have a GPA of 3.80 or better.
  • Students who have completed 93 or more semester hours at Bluffton University at the time of graduation and have a GPA of 3.75 or better.
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Academic awards
are given annually to the best scholar in each major. Special awards may be given to the foreign student with the highest scholarship record, to the best independent study of the year, and to students with special achievement in other areas.

The honors program
at Bluffton is a four-year program designed to challenge intellectually ambitious, highly motivated students in all disciplines. While pursuing their major field of study, students enroll in honors sections of certain general education courses plus a junior honors course. Students also engage in service learning and cultural events.
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The C. Henry Smith Scholars program
is designed to recognize students of high ability who affirm the concept of liberal arts education and to make more visible students of high academic performance as a stimulant to student attitudes toward higher scholastic attainments.

C. Henry Smith Scholars are selected by the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council or its designated committee each spring from among next year's juniors and seniors who have a GPA of 3.3 or above. Only 15 scholars are chosen each year. Criteria include: 1) high academic performance, including GPA, performance in independent studies and academic substance of courses taken; 2) recommendations from two faculty members (one from within the student's major and one from outside the student's major); and 3) participation in and contribution to the community at large.

C. Henry Smith Scholars may be utilized in course planning, teaching and/or special tutoring. If the student helps with course preparation and has regular instructional contact with students, remuneration may be at a rate higher than that for regular campus employment. Alternately, C. Henry Smith Scholars may receive credit for duties performed within the scope of an organized learning project instead of remuneration. C. Henry Smith Scholars participate in regularly scheduled student-faculty seminars.

Departmental honors
are awarded by the faculty at commencement to a student who has met the following requirements for a program of independent study in her/his major field:

  • A student must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher in major courses in order to submit a departmental honors proposal.
  • The student registers for a 1-2-hour independent study no sooner than the junior year. During this independent study, the student develops, with supervision from a sponsoring professor in the student's major, a proposal for his/her honors project. (Guidelines for the proposal should be obtained from the registrar.) At the end of the independent study, the student presents the proposal to a sponsoring committee consisting of the major professor assisted by two other faculty members, one of whom is from outside the major department. Additional resource persons, such as staff members and persons from outside the Bluffton University community, may be asked to advise.
  • The proposal, signed by members of the sponsoring committee and by the appropriate department chair (or chairs), is submitted by the sponsoring professor to the Special Studies and Honors Committee before April 1 of the junior year. The student defends the merits of the proposal before the Special Studies and Honors Committee.
  • If the Special Studies and Honors Committee approves the proposal, the student registers for an additional 3-6 credit hours of independent study to complete the proposed study. (The total number of required hours for Departmental Honors, including the 1-2 hours granted for researching and writing the proposal, is 5-7 semester hours of independent research spread over at least two semesters.) Departmental courses, such as one taken as a research seminar, will not fulfill the independent research requirement. (Note: If the proposal is not approved by the Special Studies and Honors Committee, the student cannot pursue Departmental Honors; however, the student has the option of completing the proposed study by registering for standard independent study hours.)
  • The student submits progress reports to the sponsoring professor periodically throughout the course of the study.
  • Near the end of the study, the sponsoring committee gives an oral examination to the student concerning the project and the immediately related area of study. The sponsoring committee then submits to the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council a recommendation for or against granting honors. The major professor is responsible for assigning a grade to the independent study hours.
  • Following the oral examination, but no later than two weeks before the final faculty meeting of the final term of the study, the student makes accessible to the faculty the product of the study. Copies of written documentation, provided by the student, are to be placed in the library.
  • The Undergraduate Academic Programs Council makes a recommendation to the faculty for or against granting honors. Faculty approval of the Undergraduate Academic Programs Council's recommendation is necessary to grant the student Departmental Honors.
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Senior examinations
Bluffton requires a comprehensive assessment for each senior in his/her field(s) of study. The purpose of the assessment is to give students opportunity to demonstrate their ability to correlate and apply knowledge they have obtained in their studies in major and related fields. The evaluation of students' performance becomes part of their permanent records. 

The form of the comprehensive assessment will vary among departments. In some it is a written examination; other departments may choose to require some other method to evaluate a student's performance such as standardized tests, portfolios or oral interviews.
 

Graduation requirements

A student seeking a degree must meet the requirements for graduation stated in the catalog in effect at the time of the student's entrance. If requirements affecting a student have changed since entrance to the university, the faculty will decide whether the new requirements are binding. Exceptions to requirements may be made by the academic affairs office.

Following are general requirements for the baccalaureate degree:

  • completion of 124 hours of academic work;
  • completion of the requirements for the liberal arts and sciences program;
  • completion of the arts and lecture requirement;
  • completion of language requirement;
  • participation in institutional assessment activities;
  • completion of a program of study in a major with a GPA of 2.0 within the major program (in some majors 2.5 is required);
  • a GPA of at least 2.0 overall;
  • a minimum of 30 semester hours at Bluffton University;
  • a minimum of 24 of the last 30 hours completed at Bluffton University;
  • satisfactory achievement in the departmental senior comprehensive exams;
  • an affirmative recommendation of the faculty based on the student's academic record and personal character; and
  • participation in the baccalaureate and commencement services, unless exception is granted by the dean of academic affairs.
     

Candidacy for degree
Degrees are granted three times a year, at the end of each semester and at the end of the summer term. To be assigned a particular graduation date students must have completed graduation requirements within 21 days after that graduation date.  Candidates for degrees must complete an Application for Graduation provided by the registrar's office. This form must be completed no later than the beginning of the semester preceding the one in which the degree is to be secured. There is only one commencement service, which is in the spring. Diplomas are distributed only to students who have participated in graduation ceremonies or have been exempted from participation by the dean of academic affairs.  For detailed graduation information please see our graduation procedures for students.

Second bachelor's degree
A second bachelor's degree in any of our undergraduate majors or in one of our degree completion programs may be granted to a graduate of Bluffton or to a graduate of another regionally accredited institution. 
 
Admission
Applicants for a second bachelor's degree will meet with admissions staff from the office of adult and graduate studies and must meet the minimum requirements for admission as a post baccalaureate student. Admission to Bluffton will be based on the applicant's cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and good standing at the last institution attended.
 
Graduation requirements
To earn a second bachelor's degree, students must successfully complete:
  • a minimum of 30 additional semester hours of credit at Bluffton beyond completion of the first degree;
  • a minimum of 24 of the last 30 hours completed at Bluffton University;
  • combined credit in both degrees which add up to at least 150 semester hours;
  • all requirements for the major including departmental senior comprehensive exams;
  • a general education program as part of the first degree or completion of Bluffton's general education program; 
  • the cross-cultural requirement either through options offered by Bluffton or through comparable course work;
  • 3 semester hours of biblical studies and theology by completing REL 100 Introduction to Biblical Worldview, REL 200 Introduction to Biblical Literature, OMP 407 Faith and Community, or a comparable course from an Anabaptist perspective;
  • LAS 400 Christian Values in a Global Community or OMP 410 Living in the Global Community;
  • a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the second degree and the new major;
  • an affirmative recommendation of the faculty based on the student's academic record and personal character;
  • participation in the baccalaureate and commencement services, unless exception is granted by the dean of academic affairs.

To qualify for academic honors in a second bachelor's degree, the student must earn the requisite grade point average in all Bluffton hours taken after completion of the first degree.
 

August 2013