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Academic Policies and Procedures for Undergraduate Students

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Undergraduate Information

The following pages contain academic regulations and other information of interest to all students pursuing an undergraduate degree at Binghamton University. In addition to the all-University regulations discussed here, regulations specifically pertaining to the various schools at the University appear in the school sections later in the Bulletin. All students are expected to be familiar with the regulations in this section and in the section for the school in which they are enrolled, and are responsible for their observance. For interpretations of these regulations or for answers to questions about specific points of academic policy, students should consult the academic advising office of the college or school in which they are enrolled.

Students whose circumstances or aspirations are not covered by standard academic policies, or who wish to request exceptions to standard policies, may seek a waiver by filing a petition in the academic advising office of the college or school in which they are enrolled. If the initial petition is not resolved to their satisfaction, they may appeal according to guidelines available in each dean’s office. To aid students with their appeals, the Student Association provides an ombudsperson.

Binghamton University has had a General Education program for all undergraduate students since 1996. The State University of New York Board of Trustees, in December 1998, adopted Resolution 98-241 establishing a General Education Requirement for all baccalaureate degree candidates at SUNY’s state-operated campuses.

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Undergraduate General Education Program

Convinced that there are several areas of knowledge and experience that ought to be central to the academic experience of every undergraduate student, Binghamton University has adopted a comprehensive General Education curriculum. This curriculum has broad goals. It is intended to help students develop:

  • an appreciation of and capacity for effective personal expression;
  • knowledge about various intellectual traditions;
  • an understanding of and respect for different peoples and civilizations;
  • knowledge of and appreciation for the natural world, achieved through active engagement with the methods and philosophy of natural science;
  • logical thinking, balanced skepticism, and tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty;
  • a knowledge of and appreciation for the arts and creative expression;
  • skills needed to locate, evaluate and synthesize information from a variety of sources;
  • skills needed to understand and use basic research techniques;
  • skills needed to perform the basic operations of personal computer use.

To achieve these objectives, the faculty of Binghamton University requires students to take courses in the following broad areas of learning:

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Category 1: Language and Communication

Composition (C) courses are courses in any of the departments or divisions of the University. They require a process of revision and a minimum of 20 pages of expository prose. At least 50 percent of the course grade is based on student writing.

Oral Communication (O) courses involve at least two oral presentations and evaluation of speaking that count for at least 15 percent of the final course grade.

The language of communication for fulfilling both the C and O requirement shall be English.

Note: Composition and Oral Communication components may be combined to create Joint (J) courses.

Foreign Language skills are ensured by requiring that students pass either a third-semester college-level course in one foreign language or a second-semester course in two foreign languages, or satisfactorily complete some other significant activity that requires second-level foreign language proficiency as a prerequisite, such as study abroad in a non-English environment or an internship serving people who can communicate only in a language other than English. Students may fulfill the foreign language requirement prior to enrolling in college either by completing four or more units of one high school foreign language with a course grade in the fourth unit (i.e., the unit beyond the Regents exam in NY Regents high schools) of 85 or better, or three units each of two high school languages with course grades in each third unit of 85 or better, by passing the AP examination (or its equivalent) with a score of 3 or better, or by demonstrating equivalent proficiency in some other fashion. For additional information, please see the General Education website at

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Category 2: Creating a Global Vision

The complexity of the modern world demands that students attain a heightened awareness both of the plurality of cultures that have contributed to the making of the United States and of the interdependence of the cultures of the world.

Pluralism in the United States (P) courses consider three or more cultural groups in the United States in terms of their specific experiences and how they have affected and been affected by the basic institutions of American society. Each course takes substantial account of at least three of the following: African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, Latino Americans and Native Americans.

Most P courses assume a basic knowledge of United States history, as measured by demonstrating a level of proficiency equivalent to a score of 85 or above on the Regents examination on United States History and Government. Students who have not demonstrated this knowledge must meet the P requirement by choosing from among a designated group of P courses that pay significant attention to a broad span of United States history.

The primary focus of Global Interdependencies (G) courses is to study how two or more distinctive world regions have influenced and interacted with one another and how such interactions have been informed by their respective cultures or civilizations.

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Category 3: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Mathematics

Students must have an understanding of the methods of investigation typical of the natural and social sciences and must be able to make individual observations and quantitative measurements in a hands-on environment in the natural sciences. In order to have the experience of discovery through the use of logic and reasoning, students also need to study mathematical methods and reasoning.

Laboratory Science (L) courses emphasize the formulation and testing of hypotheses and the collection, analysis and interpretation of data. Each course includes a minimum of 10 laboratory meetings, exercises, field studies or practica.

Social Science (N) courses emphasize the major concepts, models and issues of at least one of the social sciences.

Mathematics/Reasoning (M) courses include any course in the Mathematics Department numbered 130 or above, any of several designated statistics courses, or any of several designated logic courses. An Advanced Placement score of 3 or better in Calculus or Statistics may be used to satisfy this requirement.

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Category 4: Aesthetics and Humanities

By taking courses in this area, students gain an expanded sense and understanding of culture and a greater appreciation of human experience and its expressions.

Aesthetics (A) courses enhance students’ understanding of the creative process and the role of imagination in it. Students study or practice artistic expression and production in such fields as art, art history, cinema, creative writing, dance, graphic design, music and theater.

Humanities (H) courses enhance students’ understanding of human experience through the study of literature or philosophy.

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Category 5: Physical Activity/Wellness

Exercise, body awareness and wellness are essential components of a healthy and productive lifestyle. The dictum we follow is “a sound mind in a sound body.”

Physical Activity (Y) courses devote at least 50 percent of their time to the performance of physical exercise designed to develop one or more of the following attributes: neuromuscular skill, muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility.

Wellness (S) courses deal with such topics as diet and nutrition, physical development, substance abuse, human sexuality, relaxation or physical, mental and emotional fitness. Their focus is on developing a healthy lifestyle rather than on simply providing information about the human body.

The Physical Activity/Wellness requirement may be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

  • Completion of a one-credit (or more) Physical Activity course and a one-credit (or more) Wellness course.
  • Completion of a one-credit Physical Activity/Wellness course and one of the following:
    • one-credit Physical Activity course;
    • one-credit Wellness course;
    • one-credit Physical Activity/Wellness course.
  • Completion of a two-credit (or more) course that combines a physical activity and wellness.

Note: Physical Activity and Wellness components may be combined to create Physical Activity/Wellness (B) courses.

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Restrictions and Exceptions

  • Students may use appropriate transfer credits to satisfy particular course requirements. The determination of which transfer credits satisfy General Education requirements will be the responsibility of the evaluator of transfer credit in each of the undergraduate schools.
  • General Education courses may also be counted as satisfying college and major requirements.
  • Certain courses are designated as meeting the criteria for more than one of the General Education categories. When a course is so designated, students may use it to satisfy only one of the General Education course requirements. There is an exception to this rule: Composition (C), Oral Communication (O), Joint (J) and Foreign Language courses may satisfy either one or both of these requirements and also satisfy one other General Education requirement.
  • General Education courses may not be taken Pass/Fail unless that is the mandatory grade option in the course.
  • Appropriate Advanced Placement credits, in some instances, may be used to satisfy the following General Education requirements: Aesthetics, Foreign Language, Humanities, Laboratory Science, Mathematics/Reasoning or Social Science.
  • The Foreign Language requirement is waived for students in the Watson School engineering programs.
  • The Foreign Language requirement for students in the Decker School of Nursing and the Watson School computer science program is fulfilled by one college course in foreign language at any level. This requirement may also be fulfilled in high school by demonstrating a level of proficiency equivalent to passing the corresponding Regents foreign language examination with a score of 85 or higher.
  • The Foreign Language requirement for transfer students in any school is fulfilled by one college course in foreign language at any level. This requirement may also be fulfilled in high school by demonstrating a level of proficiency equivalent to passing the corresponding Regents foreign language examination with a score of 85 or higher.
  • Courses that satisfy General Education requirements are so designated in the Schedule of Classes each semester. The code letter attached to a course in the Schedule of Classes means that the course fulfills the particular General Education requirement.
  • For all General Education requirements, a “course” is understood to be four credits. There are exceptions to this rule:
    • transfer courses that earned three credits at the student’s original school;
    • Physical Activity/Wellness courses (the specific credit-hour criteria for these courses are defined above);
    • Laboratory Science courses of one and two credits that have a four-credit pre- or corequisite;
    • Oral Communication courses of varying credits;
    • schools or programs in which three-credit courses are the norm.
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Summary of General Education Requirements



Composition (C)*



Oral Communication (O)*



Foreign Language



Pluralism in the U.S. (P)



Global Interdependencies (G)



Laboratory Science (L)



Social Science (N)



Mathematics/Reasoning (M)



Aesthetics (A)



Humanities (H)



Physical Activity (Y), Wellness (S),

Physical Activity/Wellness (B)




* Joint Oral Communication/Composition (J) courses satisfy both the C and O requirements simultaneously.

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Determination of Graduation Requirements

Graduation requirements for the undergraduate schools on the Binghamton campus are listed in the individual school sections of the Bulletin. In general, matriculated students follow the requirements for graduation listed in the Bulletin current at the time they are admitted. However, students who interrupt enrollment for three or more consecutive semesters (not counting summer or winter terms) are governed by the Bulletin in effect when they are readmitted. Exceptions are made for students eligible to continue at Binghamton who are forced to leave because of involuntary recall to military service.

With the departmental adviser’s consent and approval from their college or school’s academic advising office, students may elect a later Bulletin under which to fulfill the degree requirements; they may not elect an earlier Bulletin, nor use a combination of requirements from different Bulletins.

No Bulletin more than 10 years old may be used under any circumstances. Should a student maintain continuous enrollment under a Bulletin older than 10 years, the Bulletin under which degree requirements are to be completed is determined by the advising office of the college or school in which he or she is enrolled, in consultation with the student’s departmental adviser.

Previously non-matriculated students who then matriculate are governed by the requirements of the Bulletin in effect at the time of their matriculation.

When courses required in older Bulletins are no longer offered, or in other special cases, course substitutions may be made with the approval of appropriate department chairs, departmental advisers or deans.

Changes in regulations concerning grading systems, withdrawals, academic actions, attendance at other institutions, etc., may be made by appropriate University governing bodies; they become effective on the date specified in the legislation. The University reserves the right at any time to make changes deemed necessary in the regulations, fees, courses or programs described in the Bulletin and to cancel any course if registration does not justify its continuance or if qualified faculty members become unavailable.

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Residence Requirements

To receive a degree, students in the Decker School of Nursing or the School of Management must take at least 7-1/2 courses (30 credits) while in residence at their school. These 7-1/2 courses must be the last seven and one-half courses toward the degree, unless students petition the appropriate academic advising office and obtain in advance an exception to this rule. Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science students must also take at least 30 credits in residence, all of which must be within Watson School. Students in the College of Community and Public Affairs must take at least 40 credits while in residence at the school. These credits do not have to be the last 40 credits toward the degree. Students in Harpur College of Arts and Sciences must complete a minimum of 44 credits in Harpur College in order to graduate. Please see the Harpur section in this document titled "Undergraduate Information" for more information.

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Classification of Students

A student must pass a minimum of 24 credits to be classified a sophomore; 56 credits to be classified a junior; and 88 credits to be classified a senior. For this purpose, Incompletes are counted as credits passed.

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Program Load

The term “full-time” is applied to any undergraduate student carrying 12 or more credits, excluding audited courses. Undergraduate courses, except where indicated in the Bulletin, carry four credits. Outside reading and study are required to complete classroom assignments. Students are also expected to meet several times each semester with the instructor to obtain supervision and periodic evaluation of work done outside of regularly scheduled classes.

There is no rigid pattern of class meetings. In such courses as beginning languages and sciences, a course may have classes and laboratory sessions five or six hours a week. Other courses may meet three or four hours a week. Four-credit courses that meet less than four hours per week require one or two hours per week of independent or tutorial work under the guidance of the faculty, or other additional course-related activities. As noted above, however, time spent in the classroom is only a part of the student’s workload.

Undergraduate students are allowed to register for no more than 18 credit hours per semester, unless they have filed an academic petition form for an overload. Petitions to register for an overload are considered on an individual basis when submitted to the appropriate academic advising office.

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Tutoring Services

Tutoring in various subjects is available free of charge to students through the Center for Learning and Teaching. The Writing Center is open to all students and offers students free assistance in improving their writing. More information is available online at and

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Transfer of Credit

Once students are matriculated at Binghamton University, they may obtain credit toward graduation for courses taken at other institutions. The awarding of transfer credit is determined by each undergraduate school. We do not specifically list offerings at other schools in the Binghamton University Bulletin or elsewhere on the University website; however, courses taken at other accredited colleges and universities can most often be entered as transfer credit. Evaluations are completed in the advising office of each school. Questions regarding transfer credit decisions may be discussed with your academic advising office.

Before any courses are taken elsewhere, students should submit a “Petition to Take Courses at Another Institution” form. The student should submit the form to the department or school in which they are enrolled, or to the academic advising office of the school, for prior approval.

Transferred credits are adjusted when the credit system at the other institution is different; e.g., credits taken under a quarter system rather than a semester system are transferred to Binghamton at two-thirds of their quarter-credit value. In general, credits may be transferred only if they were earned for courses that are essentially theoretical rather than practical in nature (e.g., not practice teaching or typing courses), and if the student received a grade of C– or better, or the equivalent (C or better for students in the School of Management and the College of Community and Public Affairs).

These guidelines apply to courses taken at other institutions during a summer or winter session, correspondence courses, online courses, study-abroad courses sponsored by other units of the State University of New York, and courses taken through the National Student Exchange Program (which involves a semester or a year of study at one of many participating schools).

Students participating in study-abroad programs sponsored by American universities not a part of the State University of New York system, as well as students studying for a time at a foreign university, should first obtain approval from their academic advising office. Upon completion of the semester abroad, the student should request that the institution attended send a transcript or official grade statement to the appropriate academic advising office at Binghamton University.

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Progress Toward Degree (DARS)

All undergraduate students at the University are encouraged to print a Progress Toward Degree report through the online Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS). This report is available by logging into Banner self-service at

The DARS report shows students what program requirements have been completed and what requirements must still be met before a degree can be conferred. If students have questions regarding the DARS report, they should consult with a professional adviser in their college or school, or with their departmental adviser for their major.

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Double Degree Program

A student may earn separate baccalaureate degrees in very different fields by completing a significant amount of work (typically 30 credits) beyond that required for one degree and satisfying requirements for both degree programs. Only two degrees may be earned simultaneously. Students who successfully complete one or two degrees may pursue an additional baccalaureate degree in another very different field of study by completing additional academic work (again, typically 30 credits). This requires the submission of a new application to the desired school. To learn more about requirements and application procedures, students should contact the academic advising office of the college or school in which they are enrolled.

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Course Offerings

The Schedule of Classes is available online at This site lists the courses offered as well as course meet times, instructors, number of credits, General Education indicators, course descriptions, etc.

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Course Numbering and Prerequisites

All Binghamton University undergraduate schools use a course numbering system from 100 through 499. While each school may define the tiers more specifically, all schools define 100-299 as lower division and 300-499 as upper division.

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Harpur College Numbering System

100-199 Introductory courses, normally with no prerequisites, open to all students.

200-299 Intermediate courses, with or without prerequisites.

300-399 Intermediate courses, normally with prerequisites.

400-499 Advanced courses with specific course prerequisites.

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Professional Schools’ Numbering System

100-199 Lower-division introductory courses, no prerequisites, open to all students.

200-299 Lower-division intermediate courses, with or without prerequisites.

300-399 Upper-division intermediate courses, intended primarily for juniors and seniors, with prerequisites (courses, class standing or special permission).

400-499 Upper-division advanced courses, intended for seniors, with specific course prerequisites.

Within these levels, certain numbers are set aside to indicate particular learning experiences: A course number ending in “91” indicates a teaching practicum course; “95” indicates an internship course; a “97” indicates an independent study course; “98” or “99” indicates honors or thesis work.

Program planning must include the early identification of, and registration for, prerequisites to courses that the student intends to take at a later date. When there are special reasons, students may register for a course without having completed the prerequisites, provided they first obtain the consent of the course instructor.

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Undergraduate Degree Completion Policy

Completion of undergraduate degree requirements and all academic work pertaining to completion must be submitted prior to degree conferral. Academic work refers to study-abroad courses, courses taken at other institutions and courses taken at Binghamton University. All incompletes must be finished and missing grades posted before a degree can be conferred. Faculty should submit the grades for any incomplete or missing grades within 72 hoursof the work being received and evaluated. Substantive changes are not to be made to any student record after a degree is conferred.

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Credit by Examination

Credit for knowledge gained outside the classroom may be obtained through Excelsior College Examinations (formerly known as Regents College Examinations) and through subject-based College Entrance Examination Board (College-Level Examination Program, or CLEP) examinations. Credit earned through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, U.S. Armed Forces Institute/Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Services (USAF/DANTES), examination credit from other institutions and through correspondence may also apply to degree credit. Up to 32 external examination credits may be accepted; however, each undergraduate school within the University determines the number and kind of credit that counts toward its degree.

Acceptance of these examinations for major credit is governed by school and/or departmental policy. (See the section titled “Academic Credit” for a discussion of these exams and of International Baccalaureate credit.)

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Rules Governing Academic Life

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Academic Integrity

The faculty assumes that themes, term papers, studio work, results of laboratory experiments, examinations and computer-generated material submitted by the student represent the student’s own work. The presentation for academic credit of the same work in more than one course is prohibited, unless a joint project receives the express and prior consent of the instructors involved. The following remarks are intended to clarify this for all students:

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Cooperation in Preparing Course Material

Cooperative study of coursework is one of the legitimate ways to master a subject. Joint discussion of problems is therefore encouraged. Sometimes instructors encourage collaborative methods of learning, including peer review of papers. This too can be a productive way of mastering material and promoting one’s writing abilities. Students should be aware that wherever such learning results in an instructor’s evaluation, they are responsible for acknowledging their membership in the group fostering their learning.

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Written Work

Much coursework is assigned to students individually rather than in groups. In carrying out such assignments, a student may ask others for criticism of a piece of writing. Effective learning is often fostered by cooperation and assistance. Nonetheless, such assistance should never be so complete or so detailed that the piece of writing becomes more the work of the person assisting than of the student. That would be a form of misrepresentation. Similarly, a student may occasionally feel the need for preliminary aid in understanding the principles involved in various problems and the methods to be used in solving them (for example, in mathematics and foreign language courses). Such aid is legitimate, but in every case the student must be responsible for the preparation and presentation of assignments. Without these precautions, the student may unwittingly become involved in collaborative work so extensive that it may be considered plagiarism.

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Laboratory Experiments

Although students may be permitted or required to cooperate with one or more other students in a laboratory experiment, many experiments are to be done by the students independently, and all require some independent work. For students to submit the results of another’s experiment as their own, or to accept unauthorized help in an experiment, constitutes academic dishonesty.

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All sources of assistance — published or unpublished — are to be scrupulously acknowledged in every piece of writing and in oral reports.

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