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Unit System Changes to Academic Policies Relevant for Current Students

The university’s catalog, with its many pages of policies, is one of the key documents used to establish the rules for student academic life. With the conversion to the unit system, many of these policies have been reworded into the language of units. Policies have changed little or not at all for current students—except that unit equivalencies have replaced the previous credit hours.  

In the new online catalog, a number of these policies will have changed for new, incoming students. These changed policies will apply to new students only. For current students, the most pertinent policies are listed below, with credit hours translated from current policies directly to units so expectations remain consistent.

See the frequently asked questions or contact us if your questions aren’t answered here.

Unit Definition and Limits
The conversion from credits to units was made assuming that 1 unit = 3.5 credits/ semester hours. This means, for conversion and transfer purposes:

  • 1-credit courses will be equal to   .29 units
  • 2-credit courses will be equal to   .57 units
  • 3-credit courses will be equal to   .86 units
  • 4-credit courses will be equal to 1.14 units
  • 5-credit courses will be equal to 1.43 units
  • 6-credit courses will be equal to 1.71 units

35 units will be required for all new students pursuing a degree. All continuing students are required to complete 34.29 units—the mathematical equivalent of 120 credit hours.

A student will normally enroll for 3.5 to 5 units per semester. Federal regulations require the equivalent of at least 12 credit hours for full-time status. 3.5 units is the closest reasonable approximation to 12 credits, so that was set as the minimum number of units for full-time status at Richmond. The maximum load was set at 5.5 units, which is the closest reasonable approximation to the current maximum load of 19 credits.  Students wishing to enroll for fewer than 3.5 units or more than 5.5 units must have permission from the dean of his/her school (Arts & Sciences – see coordinate college dean; Business and Leadership Studies – see academic dean).

Advanced Standing and Transfer Credit
Current students will continue to operate under the same expectations with regard to advanced standing and transfer work.

Credit By Examination
Continuing students should have, by this time, had any credit earned through AP, CLEP, IB, or other local examination programs transferred in to the University of Richmond. All credit earned through these programs will be translated directly to units, with no changes made in equivalencies or in resulting requirements satisfied.

During summer of 2008, when transcripts of continuing students have been converted to units, each student will see that the total of the credit hours earned at Richmond or transferred in has been converted directly to units. A statement on the transcript will explain the university’s change from credits to units, then a separate page will be provided that shows the overall unit equivalencies, GPA (which will not change as a result of the conversion), and new courses in units. Hence, everything will be converted directly.  

Residency Requirement
Under credit hours, current students need to earn at least 60 credits (half of their academic work) at the University of Richmond. Therefore under the unit system, current students must earn the mathematical equivalent of 60 credits—or 17.15 units—at the University of Richmond. This means that transfer work (including credit-by-examination, courses taken elsewhere, and study abroad courses) cannot exceed half of the credits/units earned toward graduation.

Transfer Credit

Credit in transfer may be accepted only for courses which are comparable to courses offered in the School of Arts & Sciences, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, and/or Robins School of Business curriculum at the University of Richmond. Moreover, the coursework must have been taken at an institution accredited by a regional accrediting agency or the international equivalent at the time the work was taken, and a grade or equivalent of C (2.0) or better must have been earned. Courses taken elsewhere in semester hours will be transferred in using direct equivalents to units (listed above). Coursework taken elsewhere using alternate systems will be translated appropriately by the registrar.

Coursework accepted in transfer shall be applied to specific degree requirements subject to the discretion of the academic department concerned. Units awarded are added into units required for graduation, but grades are not calculated in the grade point average.

All transfer work received by the registrar after May 20, 2008, which will include most work completed in the spring 2008 semester, will be entered on student records as units.

School of Continuing Studies Courses
The School of Continuing Studies courses will not be moving to units. This means the unit value of these courses will be determined in the same manner as with transfer work. Students will need to get approval (ideally pre-approval) for SCS courses as they do other transfer courses, and SCS courses will be calculated in the GPA. Remember that a 3-credit course will transfer in as .86 units, and a 4-credit course as 1.14 units.

Keep in mind the following general guidelines regarding SCS courses:

  1. Typically, registration for SCS courses that cover the same subject as courses offered in Arts & Sciences, Business, and Leadership will not be accepted.
  2. No SCS course may be used to fulfill a general education requirement, and SCS courses may only be used to fulfill major or minor requirements if specifically approved by the chair of the major or minor department. (The correct box must be checked “Yes” by the appropriate department chair on the transfer approval form.)
  3. SCS courses are not available to Arts & Sciences, Business, or Leadership students for registration until the first day of class and only on a space-available basis.
  4. Students enrolled in SCS courses are expected to abide by the SCS academic calendar, including holidays (SCS does not take a fall break) and examination period.

Pass/Fail Option
Available only in School of Arts & Sciences and Jepson School of Leadership Studies (excluding Leadership Studies courses)
An Arts & Sciences or Leadership Studies student who has completed at least 17.43 units of academic work may opt for one normally standard-graded course per semester to be graded on a Pass/Fail basis. The course may only be used to count toward the total units required for a degree, and cannot be used to satisfy any general education requirement or any major or minor requirement. No Jepson School of Leadership Studies or Robins School of Business courses may be taken for Pass/Fail grading except those in the Department of Economics. No more than four student-opted Pass/Fail courses are acceptable toward the degree. 

Note: Some courses are only available as pass/fail courses, such as internships, student teaching, and some research courses. The restrictions stated above do not apply to such courses.

Class Standing of Students
The class standing is established at first matriculation and is evaluated after grade posting for each subsequent term of enrollment. The standing is based on units passed including, if applicable, acceptable transfer and/or advanced standing credit. The standings are:
Year 1    0 -  6.82 units
Year 2    6.83 units - 15.40 units
Year 3    15.41 - 23.97 units
Year 4    23.98 or more units

Computing Your GPA
When your transcript is converted to units in the early summer, your GPA will be converted as well. Your GPA will not change as a result of this conversion. To calculate your semester, cumulative, or major GPA, or to see how your GPA is calculated, use the GPA calculator.
Work at the University
To earn an undergraduate degree, a student must have completed at least 17.15 units of acceptable University of Richmond coursework required for the degree in residence at the undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences, Robins School of Business or Jepson School of Leadership Studies. The last 8.5 units are expected to be included within the 17.15 units. In no case may a student count more than 17.15 units from a single subject area toward the minimum number of units necessary for graduation.

Concurrent (Dual) Bachelor’s Degrees
Dual bachelor’s degrees are two different bachelor's degrees that are pursued concurrently and completed at the same time. 

A student who wishes to pursue a bachelor’s degree concurrently shall notify the dean of his or her school promptly after the decision is reached. (Arts & Sciences students should contact the dean of the appropriate coordinate college.) A student in the Robins School of Business or the Jepson School of Leadership Studies who desires a second undergraduate degree in Arts & Sciences must receive the approval of the dean of the appropriate coordinate college as well as the sanction of the dean of her/his home school. Even when approved for the second degree, such student remains a member of her/his home school for academic, administrative and extracurricular purposes.

When two degrees are being sought concurrently, the grade point average computation and all academic policies are administered on the basis of the then-accumulated work for both degrees.

To earn a concurrent bachelor’s degree, a student must complete 42.86 units of academic work plus the additional degree requirements with at least 25.71 units taken at the University of Richmond. In addition, the general education requirements appropriate to each degree being sought, as well as requirements for the majors, must be completed satisfactorily. At the proper time, two degree applications must be submitted simultaneously to the University registrar. Latin honors, if earned, will be shown on both degrees.

Internship Course Limitations
For internship and practicum courses in any undergraduate school, the following limitations exist:

  • No more than 3.5 units of internship courses of whatever kind, excluding student teaching and Theatre 330-341 practicum, may be counted toward graduation.
  • No more than 1.75 units  of Internship 388 taken in the same academic department may be counted toward graduation.

Further information about internships and practicum courses is available from the chair or coordinator of the appropriate department or program.