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Frequently Asked Questions

(Fall 2008)

  1. What is a unit system and why are we using it?
  2. What is involved with the “unit conversion” and who will be effected?
  3. Why is the university moving to a unit system for undergraduates in A&S, Business, and Leadership Studies?
  4. Why aren’t the graduate schools, Law School, or the School of Continuing Studies converting to the unit system?
  5. Will I still be able to graduate on time?
  6. If I entered Richmond with my curriculum in credits, can I continue in the credit format through graduation even though we are now on units?
  7. Do I have the option of a “dual” curriculum in credits and units for a period of time?
  8. If my major or minor changed with the conversion to units, will I continue with the previous requirements or must I complete the new requirements?
  9. What will happen to my GPA earned in semester hours?
  10. Will I still have the option to take pass/fail courses under the unit system?
  11. How will credits convert to units?
  12. How will credits on my transcript be counted once the University moves to units?
  13. What will my transcript look like?
  14. How will credits convert to units if I study abroad?
  15. What if I want to take a class in the School of Continuing Studies?
  16. How will my transfer work be handled?
  17. When will the conversion take place?
  18. Will my participation in a Performing Ensemble still count towards my FSVP requirement?

1. What is a unit system and why are we using it?
At the University of Richmond, “unit system” refers to the classification scheme we will begin using in fall 2008 for determining the transcript value of a course or other credit-bearing academic experience. Unit systems are common at universities like Richmond, providing important benefits like:

  • reducing the total number of courses the typical student must take over four years
  • simplifying the curriculum
  • expanding staffing flexibility and
  • creating more clear expectations across courses.

More in depth information is available at "What is a Unit System?" and "Why a Unit System?".

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2. What is involved with the “unit conversion” and who will be effected?
Beginning with the fall 2008 semester, undergraduate classes in the schools of Arts & Sciences, Business, and Leadership Studies will earn units instead of credits or “semester hours.”  Therefore, this change applies to all current and future students in those schools.  The schools of Continuing Studies, Law, Graduate Arts & Sciences, and Graduate Business will continue to use credits/semester hours.

Below is overview information regarding registration and degree requirements under the unit system. More in-depth information on unit system changes to academic policies is available.

  • A unit is the equivalent of 3.5 semester hours.
  • Undergraduate degrees in Business, Leadership, and Arts & Sciences will require a minimum of 35 units for new students, 34.29 units for current students.
  • The minimum full-time load of study is 3.5 units per semester.  
  • The maximum full-time load of study without special permission is 5.5 units per semester.  
  • Most students will enroll in the equivalent of 4 units most semesters.
  • Most courses will earn one unit.  Some courses will earn ¼ unit or ½ unit (often labs, independent studies, practica, music lessons, and internships) and a handful of courses will earn 1½ or 2 units. Courses earning ¼ unit will be graded pass/fail.  
  • For more complete background information on the decision to move to a unit system, please read the original faculty committee report on the unit conversion and the supporting addendum.
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3. Why is the university moving to a unit system for undergraduates in A&S, Business, and Leadership Studies?
There are a number of good reasons for the change, including positive outcomes for students, faculty, and staff alike.  See “Why the Unit System” for more information.
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4. Why aren’t the graduate schools, Law School, or the School of Continuing Studies converting to the unit system?
The T.C. Williams School of Law, the School of Continuing Studies, and the Graduate Schools in Business and Arts & Sciences have different programs, students, needs, and curricula from those in the undergraduate schools of Arts & Sciences, Business, and Leadership Studies.  Their needs are better served by continuing with their present systems.
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5. Will I still be able to graduate on time?
Your graduation from Richmond should not be delayed by the conversion to a unit system.  Current students will be required to complete 34.29 units, which is the mathematical equivalent of 120 credits.  While some majors, minors, and concentrations have adjusted their requirements to better fit a unit system, department chairs and advisors will work with each student to create a fair and appropriate academic plan for graduation.
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6. If I entered Richmond with my curriculum in credits, can I continue in the credit format through graduation even though we are now on units?
No.  As of Fall 2008, the entire undergraduate curriculums of Arts & Sciences, Leadership Studies, and Business will be converted to units.  Student transcripts will be translated to units beginning in May 2008.
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7. Do I have the option of a “dual” curriculum in credits and units for a period of time?
No.  All undergraduate courses in Arts & Sciences, Leadership Studies and Business will be offered under the unit system as of Fall of 2008.  After that date, undergraduate students in those schools will earn only units rather than credits/semester hours.
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8. If my major or minor changed with the conversion to units, will I continue with the previous requirements or must I complete the new requirements?
As the university’s catalog states, course offerings and requirements are under continual examination and revision, so requirements for majors, minors and other programs can change at any time.  As with all curriculum changes, departments will work with students to develop transition plans that allow them to complete their requirements and meet their academic goals with minimal disruption.  No student should find her/his graduation delayed because of the unit system conversion.

During February and early March, department chairs and advisors will be holding information sessions and individual meetings to assist students in making the transition.
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9. What will happen to my GPA earned in semester hours?
Your GPA will not change. You may confirm this using the GPA calculator.
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10. Will I still have the option to take pass/fail courses under the unit system?
Yes.  The pass/fail policy has not changed.
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11. How will credits convert to units?
The conversion from credits (that is, semester hours) to units was made assuming that 1 unit = 3.5 credits/semester hours.  This means:

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

Courses taken elsewhere in semester hours will be transferred to Richmond using the direct equivalents to units listed above.  Coursework taken elsewhere using alternate systems will be translated appropriately by the registrar.
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12. How will credits on my transcript be counted once the University moves to units?
The total of earned credits (or “earned hours”) will be converted directly to units by dividing by 3.5.  You will still see your original courses in credits/semester hours listed on your transcript.  Only the total will be converted.
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13. What will my transcript look like?
Students who have completed work in credits/semester hours will still see that work showing in credits on their transcript.  The transcript will then include an additional page showing the conversion of total credits and GPA into units, followed by all coursework completed and graded under the unit system.  Transcripts will also include a notation for non-UR readers (e.g., graduate schools, employers) about the university’s conversion to the unit system.
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14. How will credits convert to units if I study abroad?
International Education and the Office of the Registrar have developed conversion plans for all of the University’s exchange programs so students can see how their abroad credits will transfer back to the University of Richmond. 
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15. What if I want to take a class in the School of Continuing Studies?
Since the School of Continuing Studies is remaining on a credit system, credit amount for these classes will be handled in the same manner as transfer work from another institution (see below). You must get a transfer approval form with the appropriate signatures to register for an SCS course.  If you complete the course with a “C” or better, the semester hours will transfer back as units, and the grade will count toward your GPA.
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16. How will my transfer work be handled?
Students will be required to have their transfer work approved by the appropriate department chairs as before.  They will still need to earn a “C” or better in the course and have official transcripts sent to the University Registrar.  For transfer and conversion purposes, remember that:

The conversion from credits (that is, semester hours) to units was made assuming that 1 unit = 3.5 credits/ semester hours.  This means, for transfer purposes:

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

Courses taken elsewhere in semester hours will be transferred to Richmond using the direct equivalents to units listed above.  Coursework taken elsewhere using alternate systems will be translated appropriately by the registrar.
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17. When will the conversion take place?
The university will begin offering undergraduate courses in Arts & Sciences, Business, and Leadership Studies in fall of 2008.  Starting in mid-May 2008, records of all continuing University students will be converted to units.  University of Richmond work taken during the summer of 2008 will be completed in credits, so August 2008 graduates will finish their degree in credits.  Once the conversion is made, 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.
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18. Will my participation in a Performing Ensemble still count towards my FSVP requirement?
Ensembles will maintain the FSVP designation under the units. Students must complete four semesters in the same ensemble at .25 units each to satisfy the FSVP requirement.
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