The full academic policies of Brandeis are found in the University Bulletin. Electronic copies of previous years' bulletins can be found on the website of the Office of the University Registrar. If you have other questions about academic policies at Brandeis, feel free to call the Office of Academic Services at 781-736-3470.
As a Brandeis parent, you may occasionally have general questions about academics, policy or curriculum. The following list outlines many of the most-asked-about academic policies and procedures of the University.
FAQs for Parents
- Absences from Class
- Academic Honors
- Academic Probation
- Academic Support
- Advising Alert
- Excused Absence/Incomplete
- General University Requirements
- Leave of absence (without credit)
- Rate of Work (number of classes a student may take)
- Summer School
- When my student needs advice...
- Withdrawing (from the University)
All students are expected to attend classes regularly. Students on probation are compelled by university policy to attend every class meeting. In addition, an individual faculty member may establish attendance requirements for all students in the course, and may insist on the completion of all assignments even if a student was not in attendance for the period. Classes begin at ten minutes after the hour and end on the hour. Tardy students may be marked absent at the discretion of the instructor.
Students who need to miss class due to illness, family emergency or any otherwise unavoidable reason are advised to contact both their class advisor and the professor(s) or TA(s) of the course(s) affected, whether by email, phone, etc. This initial notification does not ensure an extension or the opportunity to make up an examination. Students will need to discuss the matter in greater detail with their professor(s) in order to make specific arrangements. Depending on the nature of the circumstances and at the discretion of the student’s class advisor, Academic Services may also formally notify the student’s faculty of his or her absence. In the case of illness, the professor may request documentation from a physician and/or notification that the student has met with his/her class advisor to review the situation.
- Dean’s List: The Dean's List is an academic honor attributed to students whose semester GPA is 3.50 or higher. To be eligible, a student must have taken at least 3 full courses (12 credit hours) for a letter grade, and not have received a grade of D, E, NC or U (labs and PE are included). The only exceptions are seniors doing honors work in the Fall; they may receive an "S" on an honors work that is in process. The student will be notified by letter in the following semester if they have made the list.
- Phi Beta Kappa: Brandeis University is host to a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Each year, a highly select number of seniors (approximately 10% of the class) and an even more limited group of juniors (approximately 1% of the class) are elected to this national honor society. Although an extremely high level of academic achievement is necessary, there is no hard and fast GPA cut-off. A student may not request to join the society; membership is by invitation only.
- Latin Honors: Latin Honors of Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude are awarded to seniors based on their final GPA. GPA’s are calculated to three decimal places and not rounded (there are no exceptions). Students with a 3.5 receive Cum Laude, 3.7 Magna Cum Laude, and 3.8 plus departmental honors receive Summa Cum Laude. A student who has a 3.8 GPA but does not receive departmental honors will be awarded Magna Cum Laude. These honors are automatic – the student does not need to fill out any application. With the exception of Summa Cum Laude, Latin honors are not tied to departmental honors.
- Departmental Honors: The requirements for Departmental Honors vary by department and are usually specified in the University Bulletin. Most departments require a thesis or honors research supervised by a department faculty member. Honors are usually determined by a committee of department faculty members and can be honors, high honors or highest honors. Departmental and Latin honors are listed on both the diploma and final (permanent) transcript.
Students who receive one or more unsatisfactory grades (D,E,F) or have a GPA below a 2.00 in any given term will be reviewed by the Committee on Academic Standing (COAS) and may be placed on Academic Probation. Students on Academic Probation are not eligible to study abroad or to take a semester leave of absence (without credit), as they are not considered to be in good academic standing. Students who fail to maintain a satisfactory academic record for successive semesters will have their records reviewed by COAS and may be required to withdraw from the university. Around the time of the Committee meeting, students will have the opportunity to submit a petition to remain enrolled at Brandeis. The petition should explain the circumstances which affected academic performance and outline the student’s plan for maintaining a satisfactory record in subsequent semesters should they be permitted to stay at Brandeis.
Students who are not currently in good academic standing are strongly encouraged to meet with their class advisor to develop a strategy. The class advisor may also provide assistance in the petition process.
There are several academic resources available on campus to provide academic support for students outside of the classroom.
- Academic Services offers the Brandeis University Group Study (B.U.G.S.) program, a program which provides free peer tutoring for all undergraduates. Sessions are led by students who have successfully completed the course(s) addressed. B.U.G.S. can help students to better understand course material, prepare for exams, and answer any questions related to the course(s). Study groups are offered in most subject areas.
- The Writing Center is another excellent resource and offers free tutorial services on writing assignments across the disciplines at any stage of development to help students with term papers, application essays, short assignments, and most writing needs.
Sometimes a situation arises that prevents a student from completing a final assignment or taking a final exam at the scheduled time. During these situations, the university is prepared to work with both the student and faculty to facilitate a conversation about whether receiving an excused absence (EA) and/or excused incomplete (EI) may be appropriate. Typically, a student would receive an EA or an EI only for emergency or medical reasons. An EA and/or EI is not given because of conflicts in travel plans or reasons related to a lack of appropriate planning for the finals period.
Students in good academic standing are eligible to request an EA and/or EI. It is a contract that is agreed upon by both the student and instructor at the end of the semester in the event that the student is not able to complete the final exam or submit the final paper/project on the pre-assigned date. T o be given an EA and/or an EI, the student must meet with his or her Class Advisor in the Office of Academic Services.
An EA indicates that the student has completed the required coursework during the semester, but is not able to take the final exam on the scheduled date. The student would agree to take the exam during the conflict resolution period or during the make up exam period at the start of the next semester.
An EI indicates that the student has completed the required coursework during the semester, but the final paper or project cannot be submitted by the scheduled date. An EI is a written agreement between the student and instructor granting an extension beyond the end of the semester. The due date should be mutually agreed upon by the student and instructor, but should not extend past the Office of the Registrar’s published deadline in the academic calendar.
An EA or EI notation serves as a temporary placeholder until the work has been completed by the agreed-upon course of action. The instructor will then issue a grade change to the Office of the Registrar's. Any work that is not completed by the published deadline date will be replaced with an 'E' denoting that the student has failed the course.
To arrange an EA or EI, you should encourage your son or daughter to meet with their instructor to request an incomplete. You may also encourage him/her to meet with their class advisor to help facilitate the conversation with the faculty member. Ultimately the instructor must agree on the extension, and the student must meet with both the instructor and his/her class advisor to fill out the appropriate contract together.
A liberal arts education allows students the opportunity to develop skills by integrating knowledge from different fields. Rather than having a fixed core curriculum, these requirements are designed to guide students in sampling a variety of courses that may reveal talents and interests in areas that might have been previously unfamiliar to them. It also helps students develop competence in their writing, linguistic, and quantitative abilities – important skills in today’s world. General Universityrequirements are designed to guide our students in this sampling process. We encourage all students at Brandeis to sample the full range from our liberal arts curriculum.
- University Writing Seminar (UWS) and one Writing Intensive Course (wi) and one Oral Communications Course (oc), or University Writing Seminar (UWS) and two Writing Intensive Courses (wi).
- Quantitative Reasoning (qr): Commitment to enabling students to understand, interpret, analyze, and evaluate numerical data and other quantitative information. The class fulfilling this requirement cannot double count with the class being used to fulfill the School of Science (sn) requirement.
- Foreign Language (fl): Establishing a level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing a foreign language through the completion of the 30 level or above.
- Non-Western and Comparative Studies (nw): Examines a particular culture, society, or region of the non-Western world, or that systematically makes comparisons across cultures.
- Physical Education (pe) (two classes): Through the completion of two non-academic credit bearing courses. Students may be exempted by taking the physical fitness exam, which may be taken during the first two years.
- School Distribution: one-semester course in each of the four schools, but may also fulfill the qr (except the School of Science), wi, nw, and or fl requirements.
- School of Creative Arts (ca)
- School of Social Science (ss)
- School of Science (sn)
- School of Humanities (hum)
While students must complete the USEM and UWS by the end of their second semester, the remainder of their requirements can be fulfilled up to the last semester before graduation. Students generally find that completion of the general university requirements happens naturally as they begin satisfying courses required by their major and/or minor. However, it is encouraged that students begin their foreign language requirement early in order to follow the three semester sequence, if applicable.
Brandeis University is committed to providing students with experiential learning opportunities and encourages credit and non-credit internship experiences that allow students to critically analyze and reflect on connections between theory and practice. Internships are supervised work experiences in which students combine critical thinking and intentional reflection with their liberal arts interests. A Brandeis University internship is:
- a learning experience anchored by a Learning Agreement/Syllabus
- a supervised by site supervisor and/or faculty member
- paid or unpaid
- intentional reflection on experiential and/or academic learning
- for-credit or not for-credit
- at least 100 hours
- at least 10 weeks during the semester OR at least 5 weeks during the summer
Brandeis offers Transcript Notation for internships meeting the above requirements. The Hiatt Career Center facilitates this process which allows students to have their internship site and organization officially noted on his/her Undergraduate Transcript.
Brandeis students may also choose to receive credit for their internships. Open to sophomores or higher, students may enroll in 4-credit, faculty-led Internship Courses that provide the academic context to accompany their internship experience. Students may be able to perform the internship in one semester and enroll in an internship course in the following semester with prior faculty approval. For more information, see the Bulletin, the Internships webpage, or contact the Academic Internship Administrator for more information.
*For parents of international students:* Please note that your son or daughter’s ability to participate in paid or unpaid internships directly relates to their visa status. It is important for your son or daughter to obtain appropriate work authorization prior to beginning any type of employment in the United States (on campus or off campus). They should consult with the International Students and Scholars Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) on all questions regarding internships and work authorization.
Students in good academic standing are eligible for a leave of absence and may take a semester or a year off to explore an internship opportunity, travel, or resolve a personal situation. Since credits taken while a student is away may not transfer back to Brandeis, it is advisable that students discuss with their class advisor various ways credits towards graduation can be made up.
Students must notify their class advisor about their intent to take a leave prior to the start of the semester. Students on financial aid should contact the Office of Student Financial Services directly to learn how taking time off from school will affect their loans and scholarships. Students on Brandeis merit scholarships will receive their awards the semester of their return, but should understand that awards are only valid for 4 academic years from matriculation. Students should also contact the Office of Residence Life and remove themselves from on-campus housing or from the waiting list for on-campus housing.
Prior the start of the semester in which a student plans to return, he/she must notify The Office of Academic Services so that Academic Services can work with other campus offices to re-activate his/her status. The student’s class advisor may request a letter describing what he/she did during their time away. If there are issues of good citizenship or health and safety reasons for leaving, your son or daughter may be asked to submit documentation by a physician or therapist stating his or her ability to return.
*For parents of international students:* If your son or daughter is taking a leave of absence, it is very important for them to contact the International Students and Scholars Office (email@example.com) to meet with an international student advisor to discuss his or her options. If your son or daughter is an F-1 or J-1 visa holder, taking a leave of absence will affect his or her immigration status.
To obtain a bachelor’s degree, students must complete the requirements of a major. Brandeis offers over 40 majors including the opportunity for students to design their own major. Students are required to declare a major by the end of their fourth semester. While students may choose to add additional major(s) and/or minor(s), they are only required to complete one major in order to graduate.
Declaring a major may bring forward an understandable amount of anxiety. The most important thing to note is that selecting a major is about matching a student’s interests and skills to an academic discipline while he/she is here at Brandeis. There are various advisors available to help students in this decision making process: Faculty Advisors, Undergraduate Advising Heads, Undergraduate Departmental Representatives, and Class Advisors. Students should also reflect on the classes he/she has enjoyed and peruse the University Bulletin which lists the available majors and its requirements.
Students should follow this link to access the major/minor declaration form, which includes step-by-step instructions for how to declare a major or minor.
Taking more: A student may choose to take an additional class and/or lab without an increase in tuition (a total of 5.5 classes). If a student thinks that he/she needs to be in 6 courses, they can contact their class advisor/dean to discuss the petition process. The option to take six courses in a semester is only available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Taking Less: The minimum load that a student may take in one academic year is 7 courses, with 3 being the minimum in any given semester. There is no standard part-time status at Brandeis. If a student thinks they need to be in less than 3 courses, especially for health or medical reasons, they should contact their class advisor to discuss the petition process.
Senior Reduced Status: Seniors who have completed all graduation requirements by the end of their 7th semester, but wish to remain at Brandeis for an additional semester, may petition to spend an eighth semester at the senior reduced rate. If approved, this program will allow the student to take 1, 2, or 3 courses and pay tuition on a per course basis.
Many students opt to take summer courses either at Brandeis or at another institution. This may allow students to try out a new course, fulfill general university requirements, or make up for lost course credits necessary for graduation (if taken at Brandeis Summer School only).
Summer courses taken at Brandeis may be transferred as course credit towards the student’s Brandeis degree based on the residency requirement. Grades will also be counted towards the student’s grade point average once transferred to their official Brandeis transcript. These courses can also count towards major/minor and other purpose credit.
Students who take summer courses at another institution must receive pre-approval from the Office of the Registrar in order to transfer credits back to Brandeis. Students should also contact the appropriate Undergraduate Advising Head (UAH) if they wish to have the summer course count towards their major/minor. These courses can only be transferred for purpose credit, i.e. to fulfill a major/minor requirement or a general university requirement, and may not count towards course credits needed for graduation.
Here at Brandeis, we strongly encourage our students to take advantage of our personalized academic advising and support services. Your son or daughter can utilize any (or all!) of the following advisors for academic support and guidance:
Class Advisors: The class advisors are here to assist students from pre-matriculation through graduation. This is achieved through individual advising appointments, drop-in hours and class programs. Class advisors also refer students to University resources for academic support or specialized information. Guidance is available in many areas including program planning (choosing courses), selection of a major or minor, fulfilling graduation requirements, overcoming academic difficulties and much, much more.
Lisa Hardej, Advisor for Students whose Last Names Begin with A-E
Katie Mcfaddin, Director of Class-Based Academic Advising, Advisor for Students whose Last Names Begin with F-K
TBD: Advisor for Students whose Last Names Begin with L-Q
If your student's last name begins with L-Q feel free to contact any advisor.
Julia Moffitt, Advisor for Students whose Last Names Begin with R-V
Brian Koslowski, Associate Director of Class-Based Academic Advising, Advisor for International Students and Students with Last Names Beginning with W-Z
Faculty/Staff Advisors: First-year students are assigned a faculty or staff advisor in June, several weeks before registration for fall classes. Faculty advisors are chosen based on the academic areas of interest expressed by student on information sheets sent during the early summer.
When students declare a major, usually in the second semester of their sophomore year, they will be assigned an advisor from that major if their current advisor is not from that department.
A faculty member does not have to be an official academic advisor for students to make an appointment to talk with her or him. Faculty open office hours exist for students to consult with professors about their field. This is especially true in the case of the Undergraduate Advising Heads, who are faculty advisors available in each department. Entering students are encouraged to contact their advisor before their initial registration with any questions or for advice with course selection.
Peer Advisors: Roosevelt Fellows are peer mentors who assist first-year students with their academic and personal acclimation to Brandeis. This prestigious position bears the name of Eleanor Roosevelt, an early instructor and Board of Trustees member of Brandeis University, renowned for her work toward greater social justice. Individually, the fellows provide one-on-one academic advising sessions held in the Office of Academic Services, the residence halls, or through email and IM. As a group, the Roosevelt Fellows develop and facilitate programs for first year students such as academic workshops during orientation, social events, and informative programs like “Roosevelt Fellows Recommend” in which the Fellows help first-year students select their courses for the coming semester.
Students Withdrawing in Good Standing: If a student begins an academic term at Brandeis, but chooses not to continue the semester after a few days or weeks, they are technically withdrawing from the university. The student must contact their class advisor to submit their request to withdraw from the University in writing. (Any courses taken at other institutions while on a withdrawal from the University are not eligible for transfer toward the Brandeis degree.) Students wishing to withdraw may do so at any time up to and inclusive of the last day of classes. When withdrawing during the semester, a "W" notation is entered for each course they are currently enrolled in. This simply denotes that they were enrolled and withdrew before the end of the semester. When a student decides to return to Brandeis, they are required to submit a personal statement and two letters of reference to their class advisor. Their advisor will present this information to either the Committee on Academic Standing or its Executive Council. Student should plan to submit documentation no later than December 1st for Spring semester and May 1st for Fall.
Students Withdrawing on Academic Probation: Students on academic probation are not eligible to take a leave of absence from the University. They may, however, arrange for time away from campus by withdrawing from the University for a minimum of one academic year (two semesters). After a year has elapsed, students must petition to return to the University. The student is required to submit a personal statement and two letters of reference to their class advisor. Students may also be asked to provide documentation regarding their physical and/or mental health. Since the class advisor will present this information to the Committee on Academic Standing for review, we strongly recommend the student get in touch with him/her at least two months prior to the semester in which they hope to return. They should plan to submit their documentation to their advisor no later than November 1st for Spring semester and May 1st for Fall.