Adult degree handbook

Welcome to Bluffton University's Degree Completion Program!

The Business Management Program (BMP) is designed as an integral part of a comprehensive degree. The intent for all Bluffton graduates is that they expand beyond the technical and professional requirements of their majors. All students will embrace the depth and breadth of the human experience, developing a global consciousness as well as an ethical and professional sensibility. Our mission statement lays the foundation: Bluffton University seeks to prepare students of all backgrounds for life as well as for vocation, for responsible citizenship, for service to all peoples, and ultimately for the purposes of God’s universal kingdom.

Our goal is to support you in every way we can as you embark upon your educational journey at Bluffton University. We want to extend a warm welcome to you and look forward to seeing you grow in your education and profession. The peace church values which have shaped Bluffton’s heritage, the emphasis on integrity and on preparation for service – all this is part of who we are as a faith community, and you now become a part of our joyous community. I trust you will experience deep learning as you engage with your colleagues on this journey.

I am excited for you as you begin your studies and look forward to learning about your “lightbulb” moments! Please feel free to call or stop by the President’s Office in College Hall any time.

Again, welcome to Bluffton University!!                                                                                  

Jane M. Wood

Mission statement of Bluffton University
Bluffton  University is a liberal arts university in northwestern Ohio founded in 1899 by regional leaders of the General Conference Mennonite Church and is today affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA. Shaped by that historic peace church tradition, and nourished by a desire for excellence in all phases of its programs, Bluffton University seeks to prepare students of all backgrounds for life as well as vocation, for responsible citizenship, for service to all peoples, and ultimately for the purposes of God's universal kingdom. (Please refer to the university catalog for purposes.)

Bluffton University holds a certificate of authorization from the Ohio Board of Regents to confer both the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science and as well as the Master of Arts in Education, the Master of Arts in Business Management and the Master of Business Administration.  Bluffton University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association,, 312-263-0456.

Standards of campus conduct
In this campus community, both students and faculty share in the responsibility of maintaining campus standards. The vice president for enrollment management and student life and the Campus Judicial Board, composed of elected faculty and student representatives, handle campus disciplinary cases. Infractions of the rules and any serious misconduct become the particular concern of the vice president and the Campus Judicial Board. Students should  consult the Bluffton University Catalog for a complete explanation of the Standards of Campus Conduct.

For the students' welfare and in the best interest of the campus community, the university reserves the right to suspend or dismiss any student at any time when the university authorities deem such action imperative.

The honor system
Bluffton University observes the honor system in taking examinations and writing research papers. No monitor is in the classroom during test or examination periods. Students are asked to write and sign the following pledge on every examination paper: "I am unaware of any aid having been given or received during this examination." If a student cannot conscientiously sign this pledge, the course instructor is to be notified. Plagiarism is considered a serious violation of the honor system. (The Student Handbook contains a complete statement on plagiarism.)  Reported offenses are normally resolved through the campus judicial system. Although the honor system applies specifically to the academic area, it is understood that the spirit of the honor system should pervade all aspects of campus life.

University statement of nondiscrimination
Bluffton University admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, regardless of gender or handicap, to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the institution. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, gender or handicap, in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletic and other school-administered programs.

Description of the program
The Bluffton Cohort-based Degree Completion program is an accelerated, intensive degree completion program designed to provide students with knowledge and skills in management.  This unique degree program allows students to complete their major while still employed.

The program includes:

  • Majors in Business Management and Accounting available
  • Curriculum designed to apply current adult learning principles
  • Utilization of students' experience and skills
  • Qualified faculty experienced in academics, business, industry, human resources and consulting
  • A current, integrative and comprehensive approach to management
  • Bluffton University accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and membership in the North Central Association, and approval by the Ohio Board of Regents
  • Cohort group of 10-15 students remaining together throughout the program
  • ZOOM classroom format
  • One four hour class session per week for ZOOM format; one Saturday face to face session with five subsequent zoom sessions for the blended. 

Admission to Bluffton is gained through the Admissions Office, which acts on behalf of the faculty.

All candidates for admission to the university, upon applying, are ascribing to the Standards of Campus Conduct as stated in this Handbook and the Bluffton University Catalog.

Admission requirements 
The admission requirements address the applicant's ability to perform well in a demanding academic environment as well as the ability to apply the curriculum in an appropriate work setting.  Criteria will include previous university credit, character, and recommendations. Requirements for admission are the following: 

  • 23 years of age or older
  • Completion of at least some transferable university credit 
  • Regular employment or active involvement with an organization
  • GPA of 2.0 or higher

Full credit will normally be given for all studies completed at any other regionally accredited university, in which the applicant has earned a grade of C- or better, and which are comparable in content to courses offered at Bluffton.

Admission procedures
Application materials are available from the Bluffton University Admissions Office. Application may be made at any time. The applicant should do the following:

  • Submit online application.
  • Submit official transcript from each University attended
  • If applicable, submit copies of all DD214 and other military documents.
  • Submit resume 
  • Submit personal statement
  • Submit employer reimbursement policy

The Admissions Office will make the decision on admission after the student's application file has been completed.

Requirements for readmission
Bluffton students who have not been enrolled for one or more registration periods must apply for readmission to the university. The factors considered in readmission include those used in the initial admission decision. The decision will be made by the Admissions Office, which may consult the administrative officers, in cases where readmission is questionable.

Students who are withdrawn must be approved for readmission to the program by the Admissions Office. If approved for readmission, the student will start attending class with a group at the appropriate course. The student must pay current tuition and fees for the courses to be completed.

Students who have an outstanding balance on their account will not be readmitted until those obligations are met.

Financial information
Bluffton University is a non-profit institution. The tuition, fees and other expenses paid by the students cover only a part of the cost. The balance is met by income from endowment and gifts, and contributions from Mennonite churches, alumni, and other friends of the university. The university reviews tuition and fees annually and reserves the right to make changes.

Tuition payment plans
There are several payment plans available for students. They are described below. Payments may be made by cash, check, Visa, Mastercard or Discover with a 3% transaction fee charged to the payer. If paying by check, checks should be made payable to Bluffton University.

Full Payment Plan.  Full payment at the orientation meeting will be given a 5% discount on tuition. The advance registration deposit will be applied to total fees.

Deferred payment plan.  This plan allows the student to defer payment of tuition and fees that are reimbursable by an employer or an approved third party. To qualify, the student must provide a copy of the employer's reimbursement policy or third party reimbursement contract, and verification that the student is eligible. There is a $25 per semester participation fee. Those fees that are not reimbursable by the employer, must be paid using one of the two payment plans listed below. 

Semester Plan.  The student's costs are divided into three installments. The first payment is due at the orientation meeting. The other three payments are due at or before the first session of the second, third and fourth semesters.

Monthly Payment Plan.  A down payment is due at the orientation meeting and the balance is divided into twenty equal installments due the first of each month. There is a $25 per semester participation fee.

Penalty for late payment
Interest on past due accounts is computed at 1% per month (12% APR). Transcripts and diplomas, or records of any kind, will not be furnished until the account is paid in full. A student with an unpaid account may not continue classes in a subsequent semester.

Refund policies
Students who withdraw during any period of enrollment (semester) at Bluffton University and follow the approved withdrawal procedures will receive refunds for instructional fees according to the current refund schedule. Students may request the current refund schedule from the degree completion office.

Rules for calculating the return of Title IV aid
Students who are Title IV (federal aid) recipients will have the return of those funds and repayments calculated and distributed as prescribed by federal law and regulation. These distribution schedules are available to all prospective and currently enrolled students by contacting the business office or the financial aid office.

The Bluffton University Degree Completion Program is arranged in sequential courses within a standard term (semester). If a student withdraws after completing at least one course in any semester, the student is not considered to have withdrawn for federal refund purposes. Rather, Title IV aid would be recalculated based on the enrollment status represented by the completed course or courses (i.e., a completed three hour course would represent less than half-time status while completion of two courses equaling six hours would represent half-time status). Federal loans already received by the student before withdrawing would not need to be returned but the student would be under the repayment terms as outlined in the Promissory note.

If a refund amount is owed to the student, but the student has outstanding institutional charges, or if the student owes a repayment of a cash disbursement for non-institutional costs, the university will automatically apply the refund amount to those charges or repayment. The university will also notify the student in writing if either situation has occurred.

If a student attends more than one class session but withdraws without completing at least one course in a semester, federal rules for calculating the return of Title IV aid apply. Students may contact the business office of financial aid office to receive the current schedule.

Financial aid will be adjusted according to federal guidelines for students who withdraw.

Financial aid
Preparing for a university education requires a great deal of advance planning. To assist students in making appropriate financial preparation, students should familiarize themselves with the following items and make a list of those points which require action.

Guidelines and application procedures
Entering students seeking financial assistance are required to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) designating Bluffton University as one of the recipients. This application form and instruction booklet are available from the Admissions Office or the financial aid office. The FAFSA can also be accessed and filed electronically at

The student's eligibility is determined by subtracting the expected family contribution or EFC (derived from the FAFSA) from the cost of attending Bluffton University. In addition to tuition and fees, estimates are included in determining the student expense budget for books and supplies, living expenses, personal expenses, dependent care and transportation.

Students should be aware of application deadlines established by off-campus sources of aid including state and federal agencies. These deadlines are announced about one year before the beginning of the academic year.

Students seeking to continue financial assistance must re-apply for any type of aid. The amount of financial assistance awarded each year will depend upon the student's continuing need for aid and the amount of funds available.

All aid is disbursed to students through the business office, typically by crediting the student's account with a calculated amount of the aid at the beginning of each billing period.

Satisfactory academic progress
Bluffton University monitors student progress toward a degree on a per semester basis for academic and financial aid purposes. Students who meet the academic requirements (see Academic Procedures) for continuing their enrollment are eligible for financial aid. Federal and state aid will not be awarded to students who are not maintaining satisfactory academic progress.

In addition, the university monitors student progress annually. To be in good standing, a student must successfully complete at least two-thirds of the total hours attempted annually. A student who does not meet the annual two-thirds requirement will automatically be placed on financial aid probation. Under probation, a student will continue to receive financial aid but must in the next academic year complete at least two-thirds of the total hours attempted (in that year). This probationary period will automatically be offered one time in the student s career at Bluffton University. A student placed on financial aid probation will receive written notification.

Any student who has been terminated from financial aid as a result of not maintaining satisfactory academic progress has the opportunity to appeal such action to the financial aid appeals committee consisting of the financial aid director, the vice president for marketing and enrollment management, the vice president and dean of academic affairs and the registrar. The appeal must be in writing and submitted directly to the financial aid director.

The appeal may be on the basis of an undue hardship, such as death of a relative or illness of the student, as the cause of the deficient academic progress. If such an appeal is approved, the student will be placed on financial aid probation, for a maximum of 12 months. During this probation period, students will receive the financial aid for which they are eligible. At the end of the probation period, students whose academic progress meets the requirements will be removed from probation. Students who fail to meet the academic progress requirements will be suspended from receiving financial aid until re-established as outlined below.

Re-establishing eligibility
After financial aid has been withdrawn for failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress, students may re-establish eligibility by improving their completed courses and grade point averages at their own expense. Students should contact the financial aid office at the end of the next semester in which two-thirds or more of the hours attempted have been completed. Probationary financial aid eligibility will be permitted for an upcoming semester. When two-thirds of the courses attempted have been completed in two consecutive  semesters, the student is taken off of financial aid probation.

Students with  questions concerning financial assistance, should contact the financial aid office at (419) 358-3266.  The financial aid office is available to help estimate eligibility for financial assistance.  Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. So that financial eligibility may be determined in a timely manner, interested students should contact the financial aid office four to six weeks prior to the beginning of their first class.

Academic advising and student responsibility
Every student is encouraged to contact the degree completion administrative assistant for academic advising. This person is available to help you plan courses needed to fulfill liberal arts and science requirements or elective hours. Appointments can often be arranged on class nights prior to the class starting time. Final responsibility for meeting all graduation requirements lies with the student.

Initial registration is done directly with the the degree completion administrative assistant. Enrollment is limited and classes are filled on a first-accepted basis. A paid registration holds the student's place in a group. Registration for subsequent semesters is done automatically by the degree completion administrative assistant.

Grading system
Students may access their grade reports through my.bluffton. Follow the link You'll need to provide a username and password. Please contact our IT Help Desk at 419-358-3600 for assistance with your username and password. Once you're logged in, click the Student tab in the top purple band, then Unofficial Transcript on the left. You can scroll to the bottom of that page for a printer-friendly PDF version of the transcript. 

If a student needs grade information provided in a form other than through, the student should complete the AUTHORIZATION TO RELEASE COURSE GRADE form. Please contact the Registrar s Office by phone at 419-358-3321 each time grades are requested/required.

A permanent record of a student's grade 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 representing successful completion of a course
NC No credit, representing unsatisfactory completion of a course
DF Deferred, course in progress
WP Withdrawn with passing work at time of withdrawal
WF Withdrawn with failing work or without official approval, considered 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. Students receiving two or more incompletes in a given term may be dropped from the program unless satisfactory arrangements are made by the student with the Director of Degree Completion.

It is expected that an incomplete will be removed by the end of the module following the one in which it was granted. If this is not the case, the incomplete becomes an E. In special cases where the incomplete is assigned because the student has missed a class session for which he/she needs to attend a make-up session with another class, a period of two weeks will be allowed after the class make-up session for the applied summary paper or other work to be turned in, before the incomplete becomes an E.

Grade points
Points are assigned to grades as follows:

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

To graduate from Bluffton University, a student must have a grade point average (GPA) of not lower than 2.0. The GPA is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points (credit hours times points) by the number of credit hours attempted. Cumulative grade-point averages are based only on work completed at Bluffton University.

Minimum grade requirements
Any course in the major in which the grade of D+ or lower is received will not be counted toward the degree. Such a course will have to be repeated. The student must work with the Degree Completion Office to make arrangements for repeating the course before continuing on in the program.

Senior examination
A comprehensive examination in their field of major study is required of all seniors.  Within adult studies, this requirement is met through successful completion of the final research paper and an evaluation by the primary instructor on the student s performance, along with a standardized assessment at the end of the program.

Transcript of record
Official transcripts of a student's academic record can be released only at the request of the student. Bluffton University partners with the Parchment organization to ensure security for all transactions. Transcripts can be sent in either electronic or paper format. Transcripts are issued only if all financial obligations have been met. See the registrar's webpage for instructions and fees. 

Grade appeals and academic grievance procedures
A student who feels that a final course grade has been unfairly or erroneously assigned has a right to appeal. The student should first discuss the grade with the professor who assigned it. The student must contact the professor within 14 days of the grade being issued. Within 14 days of talking with the professor, if the student is still convinced that the grade is an unfair or erroneous evaluation of the student s performance, the student should contact the academic dean. The academic dean will talk with the student, the professor and the Director of the Degree Completion program to attempt to arrive at a mutually satisfactory settlement of the disagreement. If the dispute is not resolved to the student s satisfaction, the student may initiate a formal grade appeal:

  • No later than 20 class days after initially contacting the dean of academic affairs the student should file with the academic dean a written appeal which includes:
    • a statement of the nature of the complaint
    • the evidence, if any, on which the complaint is based; and
    • the redress or remedy that the student seeks.
  • Upon receiving the written appeal, the academic dean will impanel a hearing committee composed of three faculty members and one student. The academic dean will select one faculty member from the faculty at large and one faculty member each from lists of three faculty submitted by the student and the professor. The Director of the Degree Completion program will nominate the student and will be someone not known by the student or professor involved in the appeal.
  • The hearing committee will review written statements and information supplied by the student and professor. Both the student and the professor have the right, but are not obligated, to make a personal appearance before the panel. All discussions and written statements will be treated as strictly confidential. The hearing committee has the power to make recommendations to the professor, the student and/or the academic dean.
  • Typically the faculty member has the responsibility to determine the final grade for the course. In the event that the faculty member does not follow the recommendation of the hearing committee, the committee may petition the academic dean who, in consultation with and under the direction of the president of the university, will make the final determination. Academic grievances over matters other than final grades should follow the general procedures outlined for final grade disputes.

Any time after receiving grades in a minimum of two courses at Bluffton University that a student's cumulative grade-point average falls below 2.0, the student is placed on academic probation until the cumulative grade-point average reaches 2.0.

Suspension or dismissal
Students who have been placed on probation will be monitored after each course. If the cumulative GPA remains under 2.0, the student will be subject to academic suspension and unable to continue in the program for one semester. At the end of each semester, the academic performance of all students will be reviewed.  Students who have been suspended must apply for readmission.  

Bluffton University reserves the right to suspend or dismiss any student at any time, when in the judgment of the university authorities, the student has grossly neglected his studies or has been guilty of serious misconduct.  A student suspended may apply for readmission after the semester of suspension is complete.  A second suspension shall be considered a dismissal and readmission is not possible.  A student suspended or dismissed receives no credit for work done during the semester in which the action is taken.  For further information, see the Bluffton University Catalog.

Class attendance
Since participation is essential to learning, attendance at all scheduled class sessions is mandatory.  However, we understand that from time-to-time a student may need to be absent from class so we have established the following attendance policies for our program.

ZOOM model
An orientation to the program occurs on the Bluffton University campus at the first class session of the first course. At the beginning of the third semester, a Saturday session is also held to bring the cohort together physically. Additionally, those sessions include learning activities often different from online class sessions. A student may be granted one absence only (for the four semester program) from a Saturday Seminar. The request must be made to the academic director of adult degree completion programs in writing a minimum of 10 days prior to the requested absence. If the absence is granted the student will be required to meet with the course professor prior to the first mid-week online class session, complete an additional assignment and pay an additional instruction fee of $300. If a student is unable to give a 10 day advanced notice of absence from a Saturday Seminar or if the request is denied, the student will be dropped from the course and be required to take the course in a future semester.

If a student must miss an online class session, he/she is responsible to contact the professor to arrange for a make-up assignment. This will likely be in the form of an additional written assignment. If a student misses two online class sessions in a given course or a Saturday Seminar and one online class session, the student must retake that course.  No exceptions will be granted.

An attendance sheet is used to document student attendance and the number of minutes a student arrives late to class or leaves early (greater than 10 minutes). Patterns of absence and lateness that develop will result in the student receiving a written letter of warning. A continuation of this pattern may result in student termination from the program.

Students who miss three consecutive sessions without notifying either the professor or the degree completion office, are considered withdrawn from the program and must apply for readmission. It is the student's responsibility to adhere to these guidelines.

Withdrawal from university
Students who wish to withdraw from the program must notify the degree completion office in writing.  Students who miss three consecutive classes without notifying the degree completion office will be withdrawn using the final date of attendance as the official withdrawal date.  Students who withdraw any time after the first session of a course will be assigned a grade of WP, withdrawn with passing work, or WF, withdrawn with failing work or without official approval.

If written notification of withdrawal is not submitted, the student sacrifices his/her right to return and may obtain readmission only by petitioning the faculty and receiving consent.

Evaluation of Instruction
Student evaluation of instruction is coordinated through the Degree Completion Office.  Students will be given opportunity to evaluate courses online.  They will be tabulated by the registrar's office and a report will be given to each instructor with an evaluation summary for each course as well as a summary for all courses taught by all faculty.  No reports will be given to faculty until grades are turned in.

Supplementary courses
Prior to enrolling in courses for needed additional credits, you should contact the Degree Completion Office to ensure that the course(s) selected meet Bluffton University requirements and to complete the Advanced Approval of Work form.  You are responsible for having transcripts of grades and credits earned at other institutions forwarded to the Degree Completion Office, Bluffton University, 1 University Drive, Bluffton, OH  45817-2104.

Credit by examination
A maximum of 20 (twenty) semester hours is allowed for external exam credit.

CLEP - College Level Examination Board.  The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) of the College Entrance Examination Board was developed to give recognition to adults who have acquired knowledge outside the traditional classroom situation and who wish to receive university level credit for this work.  Generally three semester hours may be applied as credit toward graduation for each test passed with an acceptable score.

All CLEP credits are considered lower division and are accepted only if they do not duplicate previously completed course work. 

DSST - Dantes Subject Standardized Tests.   Dantes Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) provide an opportunity for students to obtain university credit for what they have learned in non-traditional ways. The DSST Program is made available by The Chauncey Group International and is used by adult education programs, the United States Department of Defense and two and four-year universities. The program offers students a cost-efficient, time-saving way to use their knowledge acquired outside of the classroom to accomplish their educational goals. For more information on DSST visit their website at

Academic Credit by Examination through Bluffton University.  You may request permission to seek credit for a Bluffton University course through examination.  The request, accompanied with some indication that you possess sufficient background for credit, is made to the chairperson of the department in which credit is sought and to the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs.  Upon receiving permission, and after paying the credit-by-examination fee, you may take a special examination.  A second fee will be charged upon successful completion of the exam.

The examination requires 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 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.  In general, the level of the course being tested may not be lower than course work previously completed in the field.  No student may receive credit grades in more than twenty hours of course work without obtaining special permission from the academic affairs office.

Credit for prior learning
Could you have college credit for work or life experience? Undergraduate students may have life or work experience which can be assessed for college credit. Through a process called prior learning assessment, or PLA, students can earn college credit for what they already know, and these credits can be put on a transcript at the start of their enrollment. There are many PLA options available and to learn more speak with one of our program advisors at 800-488-3257, option 2.  

Requirements for the bachelor of arts degree
Bluffton University is authorized to grant the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) for satisfactory completion of organizational management program.  The requirements for this degree are as follows:

  • Completion of a minimum of 122 semester hours of academic work
  • Completion of the requirements for the Bluffton University Enduring Values General Education Program
  • Completion of the major with a GPA of at least 2.0 within the major program
  • An overall grade-point average of at least 2.0
  • An affirmative vote by the faculty of Bluffton University
  • Participation in commencement is required, however participation in baccalaureate is optional

Candidacy for degree
Degrees are awarded at the end of each semester of the Bluffton University academic calendar.  The graduation date assigned will be the earliest possible date after all graduation requirements are completed.  Candidates for degrees will complete a Declaration of Intent to Graduate form distributed by the Degree Completion office during the final semester of their program.  It is on this form that the candidate indicates how he/she wishes his/her name to appear on the diploma and chooses his/her intended graduation date.  It is a student's responsibility to report any subsequent changes to the Degree Completion office.

An academic plan for completion of all coursework prior to the end of the calendar year is required to participate in graduation.

Bluffton University celebrates one graduation ceremony in May.  Students with graduation dates from the preceding December through the following August participate in the May graduation ceremonies.  Any graduate with uncompleted requirements or an outstanding bill will not receive a diploma at this time.  The diploma will be issued as soon as all obligations are fulfilled.