The Academic Program
Union College offers studies in the humanities, the social sciences, the sciences, and engineering. The curriculum, which has a wide range and balance across areas of study, offers breadth and depth as students explore particular disciplines and interdisciplinary subjects. Union’s curriculum and student life are designed to educate students to live and work in a global, diverse, and technologically-complex society.
Union has a tradition of curricular innovation dating back to its founding in 1795. In the 19th century, Union pioneered the introduction of science, modern languages and engineering into the undergraduate curriculum. More recently, the College has made important advances in general education, interdisciplinary study, international programs, and undergraduate research. Our tradition of curricular innovation continues as Union pioneers ways to conceive of engineering as an integral component of the liberal arts and as we introduce students to computational methods, community-based learning, entrepreneurship, and ethical understanding in courses across the curriculum. At Union, we bring together faculty from diverse academic backgrounds so that students can gain mastery of a wide range of disciplines as well as an understanding of how different disciplines approach particular questions. Students thus prepared are ready to communicate, work, and think within and beyond their area of specialty. Many students study abroad as part of their Union education, often in programs led by Union faculty as well as programs of their own design.
A major may be centered in one of the College’s academic departments or a student may choose an interdepartmental major involving work in two or more departments, a formal interdisciplinary major, or a personally-designed “organizing theme major” that defines a central, unifying topic cutting across disciplinary lines. Students may also elect to take up to two minors.
The College is committed to ensuring that all students become good writers. The College’s program of Writing Across the Curriculum constitutes a systematic way of ensuring that students pay close attention to writing in courses located throughout the curriculum. The First-Year Preceptorial is the foundation of Union’s writing requirements. The Sophomore Research Seminar provides a foundation of research skills for upper-class work.
Union offers the following undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Science degrees in Biomedical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.
A Union education is a four-year integrated living and learning experience. Our curriculum is designed to enable a student to achieve the breadth and depth that mark the graduate of a liberal arts college. There is a structure in the movement of our curriculum from first to senior year, a structure that ensures the intellectual sophistication and maturity that we want our graduates to have. To qualify for a degree, a student must:
- Satisfactorily complete 12 terms of study at Union, including 36 term courses plus any additional courses taken as electives or to satisfy program requirements. The engineering program requires 40 courses over 12 terms. Please see exceptions to the requirement of 12 terms of study in the section, “Academic Calendar and Enrollment Requirements.” For two-degree programs refer to the section, “Combined Degree Programs.”
- Satisfactorily complete requirements in the Common Curriculum ;
- Satisfactorily complete requirements in the major field, degree program, or interdepartmental major, including senior capstone requirements such as a senior thesis, as applicable;
- Attain minimum cumulative indices of 1.80 overall and 2.00 in the major (and 2.0 in the minor if a minor has been declared).
To graduate, a student also must have paid all sums due to the Bursar’s Office, must have made satisfactory provision for payment of any other financial obligations assumed while in college, and must have returned all books and materials borrowed from the library. The individual student is solely responsible for assuring that the program presented for graduation fulfills all requirements, both in general and in specialized study. The Office of the Registrar should be consulted when questions arise about the satisfaction of graduation requirements. Notice of intent to graduate must be provided to the Registrar as per the deadline specified by the Registrar’s Office.
Academic Calendar and Enrollment Requirements
Union divides the academic year into three terms of 10 weeks plus a week of exams. A full course unit may be equated to five quarter-credit hours, or three and one-third semester credit hours. The normal course load for a full-time student is three courses in each of the three terms, or nine courses a year. Taking laboratory and other extra class hours into account, the average time per week spent in class is approximately 4.5 hours and the expected average time spent outside of class on course work is approximately 10.5 hours per week. To complete the entire curriculum in four years, engineering students should expect, on occasion, to take more than three courses per term, once per academic year. For additional information on course registration policies, refer to “Academic Program and Policies .”
It is expected that students will be enrolled full-time for 12 terms (at least 36 courses) through the spring term prior to graduation, with the two exceptions noted below. Additional courses, taken at Union or elsewhere, may be used to fulfill departmental or Common Curriculum requirements or to compensate for deficiencies in credits, but may not be used to graduate early or to take a term away from Union, with the following two exceptions:
- Any student entering the College with three or more pre-matriculation credits may graduate one term early or be unenrolled from Union for a term during the junior or senior year, provided that these credits have not been used to compensate for deficiencies incurred during their time at the College.
- Students in the Union Scholars and Seward Interdisciplinary Fellows programs may use any additional course credits they earn at Union to accelerate their graduation or to be unenrolled for a term.
Any student seeking early graduation must obtain approval from the Office of the Dean of Studies by the end of the junior year. Students seeking to be unenrolled for a term must contact the Office of the Dean of Students. For guidelines regarding transfer credits, refer to Transfer Credit Policy .
The Common Curriculum (General Education)
As a liberal arts college, Union is devoted to educating students to flourish in this rapidly changing world, a world with fluid geographic, intellectual and cultural boundaries. The Common Curriculum seeks to nurture in students a commitment to learning as central to one’s development over the course of a lifetime. Union starts with the assumption that college represents a beginning and not an end of one’s education. Union’s approach, ensuring that students learn much of what the College deems important and at the same time develop and satisfy a taste for exploration, combines elements of choice within a structure of requirements.
Union’s Common Curriculum ensures that students analyze and integrate knowledge from a wide variety of areas, communicate the results of their learning and, most important, continue to learn, an essential skill in today’s world. To accomplish this, we start with a First-year Preceptorial that emphasizes critical reading and writing using the perspectives of multiple disciplines, and a Sophomore Research Seminar that focuses on learning research skills necessary to assess through informed reflection the enormous varieties of information to which we have access today. Union’s Common Curriculum provides the foundational breadth that defines a liberal arts education through requirements in humanities, social sciences, linguistic and cultural competency, quantitative reasoning, and science and technology. The Common Curriculum is designed to enable students to become life-long learners by learning to analyze, synthesize, integrate, and communicate effectively, and obtain an appreciation of different disciplines and areas of knowledge, as well as interdisciplinary study.
A detailed description of the Common Curriculum is under “Common Curriculum .”
The major should be viewed as a coherent series of courses providing a solid background in the area of study as well as an introduction to advanced study. Depth of knowledge and understanding in a particular field of study is provided by the major. Courses in this area of special study may also count toward meeting some Common Curriculum requirements, but the prescribed program of study for a major is primarily intended to develop competence in the scholarship represented by an academic department or a group of departments. In addition to majors offered through academic departments, Union offers majors in interdisciplinary programs and individually designed “organizing theme” majors.
Students can pursue an interdepartmental major that combines study in two departments or interdisciplinary programs that offer an interdepartmental major (ID) by completing the ID requirements specified by each. Students must review particular department and interdisciplinary program terms and conditions for interdepartmental majors and then consult with the necessary Chairs and Directors in order to carry out an ID. Departments and interdisciplinary programs specify the terms and conditions for interdepartmental majors. Students should consult each department or program section in Majors, Minors, and Other Programs for descriptions of available options and requirements. Biomedical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering may not be used as a component of interdepartmental majors. Senior Writing Experience requirements vary among areas of study. Where appropriate, students can do one two-term thesis to satisfy both departments’ writing requirements.
Students may pursue a “double major” by satisfying all requirements of two majors, neither of which can be an interdepartmental major or an organizing theme major. Except as indicated under “Combined Degree Programs,” a student satisfactorily completing two majors earns one rather than two degrees. A student in such a program will be eligible for his or her degree whenever the requirements for both majors, along with those in the Common Curriculum program, are satisfied and a minimum of thirty-six course credits has been earned. Normally an overlap of at most three courses is allowed for the two majors.
The student who enters college with a fairly firm notion about a proposed field of concentration will find it advantageous to test his or her interest in the proposed major field during the first year. In many programs, a student need not begin a major during the first year in order to complete that major by the end of the fourth year. In engineering and science, however, it can be extremely difficult to complete a major in four years unless course sequences are begun in the first year. Students in pre-medicine also need to consider taking the requisite courses in their first year. At the end of the first year, the major may be declared or changed without penalty in the form of lost time and credit. Soon thereafter, and certainly by the end of the second year, the student should make a serious commitment to a focus of study. Every student is required to file with the Registrar a declaration of major no later than the end of the sophomore year (“Liberal Arts” and unspecified “Engineering” are not considered majors). Students majoring in an unspecified engineering program must declare their major by the end of their first year of study. This decision may be altered subsequently, although late change of major may require extra courses or terms. Requirements for majors appear at the head of each departmental listing. Some areas require additional courses from related disciplines.
Students may change their major program upon application to the Registrar. The change must have the consent of the Department Chair or Program Director. A request for a change of major submitted after the first week of the final term of study at the College may not be possible to accommodate without delaying the student’s graduation.
Students who wish to pursue a secondary field of concentration may select and declare up to two academic minors. A minor normally consists of six courses. Requirements for the minor may be found in the course listings by department and program. Students are normally expected to declare a minor in the sophomore or junior year. They must obtain the approval of the department chairperson or program director.
For students who wish to declare one minor, those courses used to satisfy the major field requirement plus those used to satisfy the minor field requirement may in no case total fewer than 18. For students who wish to declare two minors, the minimum is 23. A minimum cumulative index of 2.00 must be attained in courses used to satisfy the minor requirement. All students are responsible for verifying the accuracy of their declared minor at the time of their senior year audit review. Minors cannot be added once the degree has been conferred.
Combined Degree Programs
Union College offers programs in which a student may earn two baccalaureate degrees in the following combinations: engineering and bachelor of science or bachelor of arts, or two engineering degrees.
Nine courses beyond the requirements for the professional degree are required, and normally five years are required to complete them. Certain combinations of curricula within five-year programs may involve carrying an occasional course overload. If a student cannot fulfill all requirements for the two degrees, modification of the program is permitted only with the concurrence of the department.
Also offered are two-degree programs in cooperation with other area colleges, leading to a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree from Union and a law degree from Albany Law School; or to a bachelor of science degree from Union, an M.S. or M.B.A. degree from Clarkson University - Capital Region Center, and an M.D. from Albany Medical College; to a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science and a master of business administration in healthcare management; or to a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science and a master of teaching; or to a bachelor of science in a science or engineering field and a master of science in electrical or mechanical engineering, or energy studies. For more information on two-degree programs, please refer to the following sections under Majors, Minors, and Other Programs :
3+3 Accelerated Law Program (6-year program)
Leadership in Medicine/Healthcare Program (8-year program)
Master of Arts in Teaching (5-year program)
Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management Programs (5-year program)
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Energy Studies
The College considers its commitment to international programs to be a central part of its identity. In addition to broadening perspective and deepening knowledge, study abroad often energizes and challenges students so that they are motivated to a higher level of commitment to the enterprise of learning. Students studying away from Union do so through Union College terms abroad programs and exchanges. Students may apply for “non-Union” programs through Union’s International Programs office to study abroad on programs run by other colleges and universities. Independent Study Abroad programs allow students the opportunity to design their own study abroad experience. Mini-term programs are offered over winter and summer breaks as well. Refer to “International Programs” under Majors, Minors, and Other Programs for more information, including eligibility criteria, application procedures and withdrawal policies.
Registration for Courses
Registration Confirmation: Each term the Registrar conducts online prescheduling for continuing students who, with the help of their advisors, select three courses for the coming term. Prescheduling must be completed during the announced periods. Students who do not intend to preschedule should notify the Dean of Students of their intended withdrawal from the College. After prescheduling, a request for a change of course ordinarily must be filed with the Registrar no later than the fifth academic day of the term; such changes should be recommended by the advisor. Students who fail to finalize their course schedule after the end of the first week of the term will be assessed a late charge on their bill. With written permission from the instructor, a student may enter a course as late as the second week of the term. Students not enrolled in courses by the end of the second week of classes may be subject to withdrawal from the College for the term and will have to reapply for admission to the Dean of Students.
All full-time matriculated students are expected to be enrolled in no fewer than three courses at the start of each term, unless an exception is approved by the Dean of Studies. This does not include practicum courses. For withdrawals after the start of the term, please refer to the section “Withdrawal from Courses.” All regular undergraduate students are charged each term’s full tuition, which covers enrollment in three courses during that term. The tuition is not prorated for single courses unless the student has been in attendance for 12 full terms (or, for five-year programs, 15 terms).
Students must attend those sections of courses to which they have been scheduled by the Registrar. A change of section should be made with the Registrar’s Office provided that seats are available or permission is obtained from the professor.
Fourth Courses: Students who enroll in a fourth course in order to make up for a deficiency in credits due to withdrawal or failure will be charged a fourth course fee. Students are allowed to enroll in one fourth course in each academic year at no charge, provided they have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.3 and are making satisfactory progress in their program of study. These courses can be used to fulfill program requirements; however, they will be considered additional credits beyond the 36 required for graduation and can only be used towards graduation should the student fall behind in credits at a later date or if the student is making up a deficiency in credits because of withdrawal or failure. If such credit is used towards graduation, a fourth course fee will be charged. This policy also applies to fourth courses taken on an international program. Such courses can only be used toward graduation should the student fall behind in credits, in which a fourth course fee will be charged. Refer to Costs and Financial Aid for the relevant fee. Engineering students are required to take 40 classes for their degree and are therefore allowed to register for four additional fourth courses at no charge, normally one fourth course per academic year. Should an engineering student subsequently leave their program and declare a non-engineering major, the additional fourth courses taken will not count toward the 36 credits required for graduation. Refer to “Special Curricular Opportunities ” for information regarding extra courses for Union Scholars and Seward Fellows. Registration in a fourth course is not available to students in their first term of study at Union. Students who have below a 2.5 GPA or wish to register for their second or third overload course of the academic year, require approval from the Dean of Studies to enroll in a fourth course.
With the exception of students in the Scholars and Leadership in Medicine programs, all students, including engineers, are required to complete and submit the “Petition to Enroll in a Fourth Course” form at the time of registration.
Practicum: An enrollment in a zero-credit practicum does not count as one of a student’s three regular course registrations for the term (see above: Registration Confirmation). After successfully completing a practicum sequence, a student may request that one course equivalent be recorded. An aggregated practicum course credit of this sort typically requires registration in a zero-credit practicum in each of three separate terms; requirements specific to each practicum sequence should be confirmed in the Academic Catalog entry for the practicum. Accumulated practicum course credit may be counted toward no more than two of the thirty-six course credits required for graduation, though all practicum registrations will be recorded on a student’s record, and may be used to satisfy program requirements if allowed by a student’s major or minor.
Auditing Courses: A matriculated full-time student in good standing may audit a course if the instructor gives permission. An audit is not recorded on the student’s permanent record.
FOR SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS TO THE PASS FAIL POLICY FOR THE ACADEMIC YEAR 2020-2021, PLEASE REFER TO THE GUIDELINES AT https://www.union.edu/registrar/forms
In order to encourage students to explore the curriculum, students may take up to four electives to be recorded as “pass” or “fail.”
- No course registered as “pass/fail” may be used in fulfilling a requirement for the major, for a minor, for the Common Curriculum (General Education) or Writing Across the Curriculum, or for a term abroad.
- The “pass/fail” option is not open to students in their first two terms.
- A student may take no more than one “pass/fail” course per academic year (defined as the fall, winter, and spring) in the first three years.
- A student may take up to two “pass/fail” courses in the senior year (defined as the fall, winter, and spring), but may register for no more than one “pass/fail” course per academic term.
- A student may register for no more than one of the four “pass/fail” courses in any academic department and no more than two of the four “pass/fail” courses in any academic division (Refer to “Divisions ” under Common Curriculum.
- Independent study courses and those taken on a Term Abroad, may not be taken Pass/Fail.
- A grade of “pass” will be equivalent to the lowest passing grade or better.
A grade of “pass” will not be calculated in the term or cumulative index; a grade of “fail,” however, will count as any other failing grade. A course is registered as “pass/fail” by means of a form provided by the Registrar and the option must be exercised (or revoked) no later than the end of the third week of the term. The instructors (who will be informed of this choice by a particular student only by request) will submit regular letter grades, which will be appropriately converted to “pass” or “fail.” Later reconversion to the letter grade will be done only if required by a student’s official change of major or minor and only upon the specific request of the student.
Students who plan to pursue studies in Graduate or Professional schools should discuss with their advisors the effect of “pass/fail” grades on admission to such programs. Some graduate schools regard a grade of “pass” as a weak grade.
Attendance and Completion of Courses
Classroom Absences: The College expects students to attend classes and laboratories regularly, but it leaves to each instructor his or her statement of policy with respect to absence. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the policy and to inform instructors in advance of unavoidable absences. An instructor may lower a grade or assign a failing grade for excessive absence.
Withdrawal from Courses:
FOR SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS TO THE WITHDRAWAL FROM A COURSE POLICY FOR ACADEMIC YEAR 2020-2021 ONLY, PLEASE REFER TO THE GUIDELINES AT https://www.union.edu/registrar/forms
With proper notice to the Office of the Registrar, a student may drop a course during the first eight weeks of a term after consulting with his or her advisor and getting that advisor’s approval. Withdrawal from FPR-100, FPR-100H, or SCH-150 requires the approval of the Dean of Studies. Withdrawal from SRS-200 requires the approval of the Director of General Education.
During the first two weeks of the term, a student must add a class to replace the dropped class; exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Dean of Studies. After the end of the second week of classes and until the end of the eighth week, a grade of “W” will be assigned for dropped classes. Dropping a course after the end of the eighth week will result in a grade of “F” unless there are extraordinary circumstances beyond the student’s control that prevented him or her from completing the course. The Dean of Studies must approve the withdrawal. In such a case the grade shall be “WP” or “WF,” depending on whether the student was passing or failing at the time the course was dropped. A “Failure” (“F”) shall be posted to a student’s record if proper notice of withdrawal from a course is not given to the Registrar. For information on how this would affect tuition, please see “Withdrawal Deadlines, Refunds and Obligations ” in the “Costs” section. Students receiving financial aid who elect or are permitted to drop a course may be ineligible for such aid in subsequent terms. See the chapter on “Costs and Financial Aid ” for details.
Three Final Exam Advisory: Students with three final exams scheduled for the same day should speak with their professors to make arrangements to reschedule one of the exams. If arrangements cannot be made with individual faculty members, the student should consult with the Dean of Studies.
Absence from Final Examinations: Students are required to appear for scheduled final examinations. Absence from a final examination produces an automatic grade of “Failure” on the exam. In cases of a student’s absence caused by verified personal misfortune, the Dean of Studies may allow a grade of “Incomplete,” and the student must arrange with the instructor to take a makeup examination not later than two weeks after the last day of the examination period of the term in which the “Incomplete” was given.
Incomplete Course Work: Students must submit all course work no later than the closing hour of the last scheduled final examination period of each term, unless the instructor has set an earlier deadline. Graduating seniors cannot be issued a grade of “Incomplete.” A grade of “Incomplete” may be assigned only for extraordinary circumstances beyond the student’s control. The instructor must complete the incomplete form provided by the Registrar’s Office and obtain the student’s signature. An incomplete grade form must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office after submitting the final grades online. When an “Incomplete” is granted, the course work must be completed no later than two weeks after the last day of the examination period of the term in which the “Incomplete” was given. Course work not completed within the allotted period of time will be assigned a failing grade unless the Dean of Studies, in consultation with the instructor, grants an extension of the incomplete.
Repeating Courses: Students who repeat a course that they previously failed will have both grades listed on their transcripts. All credits attempted and total quality points earned will be used in calculating the cumulative grade point average. Students who repeat a course that they have previously passed (grade of “D” or better) will have both grades listed on their transcripts, but neither the quality points nor the credit associated with the second grade will be factored into their cumulative grade point average. The one exception to this policy is when the course is a required prerequisite that the department has stipulated must be completed with a minimum grade of either a “C” or “C-.” If a student retakes a prerequisite course that they have previously passed but without satisfying the minimum grade requirement, both grades will be equally factored into their GPA but they will only receive credit for taking the course once.
Making up Credits: There are many options for students to get caught up if they are behind in credits. Students behind in credits can take a fourth course at Union, a summer course at Union, a pre-approved summer course at another College (a maximum of three course credits can be earned at schools other than Union after matriculation), an internship or independent study over the summer for a full course credit, go on a mini-term, or earn a practicum credit by taking three terms of the same practicum with a passing grade. For more information, as well as the costs and procedures associated with each option, please click here.
Withdrawal from College: Withdrawal from the College at any time is considered official only upon written notice to the Dean of Students. The withdrawal date is considered the date on which written notification is received. Notification to another office or person, failure to preschedule or confirm registration, nonpayment of the term bill, or a request for a transcript are not considered notice of withdrawal. A student who wishes to withdraw permanently or take a voluntary leave of absence should notify the Dean of Students as far in advance as possible to avoid or reduce financial penalties.
Suspension: Students cannot transfer credits to Union for courses taken at other institutions while under suspension from Union College. This applies to both academic and social suspension.
Readmission: All applications for readmission or return from absence must be made in writing to the Dean of Students, normally at least one month before registration for the term. Readmission becomes official only if or when the admission and security deposit is on hand or has again been paid.
Academic Ratings: Instructors submit grades at the end of each term. A report of a student’s term grades is available to the student at https://webadvising.union.edu. Grade reports will only be mailed to the parent or guardian if the student requests one in writing at the Office of the Registrar. No other grade notices will be mailed to the student’s home address. The grades of scholarship and their associated quality points are A (4.0), A- (3.7), B+ (3.3), B (3.0), B- (2.7), C+ (2.3), C (2.0), C- (1.7), D (1.0), P (pass), and F (failure). A course in which a student receives the grade of “F” does not count toward graduation. If the course is required to complete a sequence in the major or otherwise required for graduation, a student must repeat this course and obtain a satisfactory mark. Some courses do not carry graduation credit and a few earn double credit.
Academic Good Standing: Union College regards a student to be “in good standing” academically if he or she is permitted to enroll for a subsequent term. To graduate, a student must present an overall cumulative grade point index of at least 1.80 and an index of at least 2.00 in the major.
The Subcouncil on the Academic Standing of Students will review the status of any student whose cumulative grade point index or immediate prior term grade point index falls below 2.00 or of any student for whom other considerations, particularly standing in the major, suggest questions of satisfactory progress toward graduation. If, after such a review, it is felt warranted, the Subcouncil may adopt one of the following actions:
Academic Warning: The student may remain in college, but unless the record improves, he or she will be subject to subsequent action. (This action is the minimum that will occur if either the cumulative grade point index or the prior term grade point index is below 2.00).
Special Academic Warning: Normally, the student must achieve a 2.00 or better index in the next term to remain in college. To be removed from Special Academic Warning, the student must achieve two consecutive term indexes of 2.00 or higher while carrying a full course load, with at least two graded courses in both terms. If the student’s cumulative index is still below 2.00, he or she remains on special academic warning.
Suspension: An exceptionally weak record in a single term or a failure to improve after warning may result in suspension when, in the judgment of the Subcouncil on the Academic Standing of Students, a student’s record makes it inadvisable to continue in college. The Subcouncil may recommend a one- or two- term suspension.
Dismissal: In certain cases, the Subcouncil may dismiss a student permanently.
Requests for reconsideration of the Subcouncil’s decisions must be submitted in writing to the Subcouncil through the Office of the Dean of Students. Reconsideration will occur only when information not previously available to the Subcouncil is submitted and, in the judgment of the Subcouncil, could have affected its decision. Such reconsideration in no way implies that the Subcouncil will subsequently reverse its original decision. Appeals (as opposed to requests for reconsideration) should be directed to the Dean of the Faculty. Such appeals will be considered only with respect to procedural issues.
The College does not tolerate dishonest academic behavior. Any academic work that students represent as their own must be their own. Students must take responsibility to seek advice from faculty members and academic deans if they have questions about what constitutes academic honesty. Students must not resort to plagiarism, theft and mutilation of library books and periodicals, or any other form of academic dishonesty. Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty will be subject to disciplinary action. Procedures regarding charges of academic dishonesty are described in the Faculty Manual. Additional information can be found at: Union College Academic Honor Code and Union College Statement on Plagiarism, furnished to all entering students.
Transfer Credit Policy
Matriculated Students (Transfer students see “Transfer Students Only” section below)
Credits received prior to matriculation at Union College, including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses
A matriculating first-year student can transfer in a maximum of four course credits to use towards graduation credit requirements through any combination of Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, the International Baccalaureate Program (IB), or college courses taken at other post-secondary institutions. Credit can be granted for similar high-level examinations from other countries, such as A-level examinations, in consultation with academic departments (references to AP and IB examinations below should be understood to apply to approved examinations from other countries as well.) Students must elect a more advanced course if they study in a department in which credit has been granted. Repetition of work for which credit has been granted will not be permitted. Please refer to department and program pages for specific guidelines. Please note: Online courses are not eligible for transfer credit. [For Academic Year 2020-21 (but not Summer 2021, online courses will be eligible for transfer credit.]
Students with AP examination scores of three or higher in calculus and four or five in other subject areas may be eligible to receive college course credit. Credit for IB courses may be awarded for higher-level examination scores of six or better; economics will accept a score of five at the higher level. Aside from AP and IB courses, Union College will consider granting credit for a course taken while the student is enrolled in high school only if the course is taken on the campus of the college or university offering the course, the course is available for enrollment by the students of that college or university, and the final grade is a C or better.
Any number of AP, IB or college courses may be used to determine course placement with the approval of the appropriate department chair in each instance. Only one AP, IB or college course may be used to fulfill a HUM, HUL, SOCS, QMR, SCLB, or SET requirement in the Common Curriculum (General Education).
Students who enter Union College with a combination of three or more AP, IB, or college credits may petition the Dean of Studies to graduate one term early. Students seeking early graduation must obtain approval from the Office of the Dean of Studies by the end of spring term the year preceding their expected graduation. Otherwise students are expected to be in full-time residence for 12 terms through the spring term prior to graduation. This rule does not apply to students enrolled in the Scholars, NSF-STEM Scholars, Seward Fellows or Law Scholars programs.
Credits received at other institutions after matriculation at Union College
Normally, permission is granted for courses taken at other colleges to count towards the total number of courses required for graduation only when a student has failed or withdrawn from courses started at Union and as a result is “behind” in credits. A student may transfer in a maximum of three such course credits for courses taken at other institutions. Students behind in credits who wish to receive credit for courses taken at other colleges must have those courses approved by the appropriate department chair(s) and by the Dean of Studies. A form for this purpose is available at the Office of the Registrar’s forms and guidelines webpage and should be submitted to request approval in advance of taking the relevant courses. Please note: Online courses are not eligible for transfer credit. [For Academic Year 2020-21 (but not Summer 2021), online courses will be eligible for transfer credit.]
Students who are not behind in credits may wish to enhance their education by taking courses at other colleges, particularly during the summer. Although credit towards the courses required for graduation will not be granted in such circumstances, up to three such courses may be used with the permission of the appropriate department chair(s) and the Dean of Studies to fulfill particular course requirements and to satisfy course prerequisites. Such permission must be obtained in writing and filed with the Registrar’s office in advance of taking such courses.
Normally, course work at other colleges will be recognized only if a minimum grade of “C” is achieved. The credit value of a course must be at least three semester-hour credits or five quarter-hour credits to earn one full course credit at Union. Students with 18 or more credits towards graduation may receive degree credit for courses taken at a two-year college only if approved by the Dean of Studies. The grades for course work accepted from other colleges will not be recorded on a student’s Union College transcript nor will these grades be factored into a student’s cumulative academic average.
Selected graduate courses at Clarkson University - Capital Region Center are open to advanced undergraduates with the approval of the student’s advisor. Students matriculated in a five year combined degree program may take up to three graduate level courses as an undergraduate. All other students will be limited to two graduate courses. The first two graduate courses (or three for matriculated combined degree students) that a student takes automatically count towards this limit. No substitutions may be made at a later date. For a list of eligible courses, please refer to the Clarkson University - Capital Region Center’s Supplemental Listing, which is available on the Registrar’s Office “Course and Exam Schedule” website during prescheduling. If the graduate course is cross-listed with an undergraduate course, Union students must enroll in the undergraduate course. For course descriptions, please consult the course catalog of Clarkson University - Capital Region Center.
For cross-registration at participating colleges of the Hudson-Mohawk consortium, please refer to the relevant heading in this catalog under the “Special Curricular Opportunities ” section for rules and restrictions. Students with 18 or more credits toward graduation may not cross-register for courses at a two-year college unless specifically approved by the Dean of Studies.
Transfer Students Only
Transfer students may bring in up to two full years of college course credit and must complete two years of study at Union to qualify for a Union degree. At most, four of these transfer course credits can come from any combination of Advanced Placement (AP) examinations or the International Baccalaureate Program (IB). Refer to the catalog entry on Transfer Credit Policy for Matriculated Students for required courses for AP and IB courses. Characteristics of courses for transfer credit must meet the requirements for transfer credit for all students at Union, including a minimum grade of C, credit for online courses is not given, and courses must have three semester credit hours or five quarter credit hours. Courses without Union equivalents can be transferred at the discretion of the Dean of Studies.
Students who are awarded 15 credits or fewer may, after matriculating at Union, transfer in three additional course credits for courses taken at other institutions to make up for deficiencies: courses for which the student received a grade lower than “C” before matriculation, course withdrawals or failed courses at Union, or pre-matriculation courses that did not transfer because they were not equivalent to a Union course. Students who are awarded 16 credits may transfer in up to two additional credits to make up for deficiencies; those with 17 credits may transfer in one additional credit from another institution to make up for a deficiency. Prior approval for all transfer credits must be obtained from the appropriate department chair and the Dean of Studies. Permission is normally granted only if the student is to make up for a deficiency (as described above or to fulfill Common Curriculum (General Education) or departmental requirements. If the student is not making up for a deficiency transfer credits cannot count toward the total number of credits required for graduation or towards accelerated graduation. Please note: Online courses are not eligible for transfer credit. [For Academic Year 2020-21 (but not Summer 2021), online courses will be eligible for transfer credit.]
With the approval of the relevant department and notification to the Registrar, proficiency examinations covering the substance of courses listed in this Academic Catalog, except independent study, may be taken by matriculated undergraduate students in good standing at a cost of $250 for each examination. Credit may be obtained from proficiency examinations to allow for placement out of certain courses, but cannot be used toward accelerated graduation.
Any proficiency examination may be taken only once. It will be graded “pass” or “fail,” but failures will not be recorded. In the Department of Modern Languages, credit may normally be earned by proficiency examination only for courses in literature and civilization numbered 300 and above. Students may not take proficiency examinations in subjects in which they have already taken courses at a higher level for credit.
Participation in Graduation
At Commencement, the College is pleased to recognize the accomplishments of students who have nearly completed their graduation requirements. Students who have completed all degree requirements except for one course by the end of spring term may participate fully in the Commencement ceremony, except that they will not receive their diplomas. They will process with the graduating class in alphabetical order and will cross the stage.
Students who are short more than one course but who are within six courses of completing degree requirements by the end of spring term have the option of marching in with their class if they meet all of the following criteria:
- They have started their fourth year of College-
- They have earned 27 course credits by the end of winter term-
- They are signed up for a full course load spring term-
- They will be within six courses of completing their degree by the end of spring term.
This last group of students will march in following their classmates and be seated behind the last group of graduating seniors. Their names will be read by the Dean of the Faculty after the graduating class has finished crossing the stage. Please note that their names will not appear in the commencement program; however, they will be allowed to cross the stage.
All students in the Commencement procession are invited, along with their families, to attend the department and program receptions immediately following the ceremony.
Students that complete their studies by the following December 15th, will receive their diplomas by mail provided there are no financial holds on their record.
Academic Honors and Recognition
Dean’s List: A student achieves Dean’s List standing for an academic year, which is defined as the fall, winter, and spring term, by meeting the following requirements:
- An academic index of at least 3.50 for the year.
- For 2020-21 academic year, all students must have a minimum of six graded (non-“pass-fail”) courses for attaining Dean’s List.
- No grades of “D” or “WF” or “F.”
A student who spends part of an academic year at the College may be admitted to the Dean’s List by the Dean of Studies if extraordinary circumstances prevent full-time attendance and the academic index for the courses taken is at least 3.50 with no grades of D or F.
Graduation with Distinction: Union College recognizes academic distinction by awarding some degrees summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude. These Latin honors signify various levels of the graduates’ cumulative grade point averages. The faculty has the responsibility and authority for setting the levels necessary to attain the various honors. Standards are summa cum laude (3.80 or better), magna cum laude (3.65 or better), and cum laude (3.50 or better). To be eligible, students must have taken at least eighteen courses toward their undergraduate degree while enrolled at Union.
Departmental Honors: In general, students become eligible for departmental honors provided that they (1) have achieved a cumulative index of 3.3 or better; (2) have an index of 3.3 or better in courses taken in the major with grades of A- or better in at least three such courses, exclusive of the senior thesis; (3) completed their Senior Writing Experience on which a grade not lower than A- has been earned (4) satisfy any other requirements set by the major department, and (5) have taken the final six terms of their program at Union or elsewhere in a study program approved by Union. Students should consult their departments for complete information. In the case of interdepartmental majors, students must satisfy the above for each department, except that for (2), they need to have at least two (not three) grades of A- or better in each department. Interdepartmental majors also must complete independent work of substance and distinction, in the form of a thesis or some other written or documented work on which a grade not lower than A- has been earned, and they must be nominated by both of the major departments. Leadership in Medicine students and double majors may earn departmental honors by fulfilling the requirements listed above in at least one of their majors.
Academic Honor Societies
Alpha Kappa Delta: Omega chapter of New York of Alpha Kappa Delta, the national honor society of sociology, was established at Union in 1979. Juniors and seniors who have done outstanding work in sociology are eligible.
Eta Kappa Nu: Phi chapter of the national honor society of Eta Kappa Nu for electrical engineers was established at Union in 1926. Students of outstanding academic achievement who show admirable qualities of character are invited to become members during their junior and senior years
Eta Sigma Phi: Eta Phi chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national honor society for Classics, was established at Union in 2005. Students who demonstrate high achievement in the study of Greek or Latin are eligible for election to full membership.
Nu Rho Psi: Alpha chapter in New York, the national honor society for Neuroscience, was founded in 2006 under the auspice of the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience and through the joint efforts of faculty and students at Baldwin-Wallace College, Baylor University and Johns Hopkins University.
Omicron Delta Epsilon: Alpha Beta chapter of New York of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the international honor society in economics, was established at Union in 1973. Juniors and seniors who have shown outstanding achievement in the study of economics are invited to become members.
Phi Alpha Theta: Alpha Iota Chi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for history, was established at Union in 2001. Students who have compiled outstanding academic records in history are eligible.
Phi Beta Kappa: Juniors and seniors of academic distinction who are candidates for the B.A. or general B.S. degree are eligible for membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Election is based on scholarship and character, with particular attention given to intellectual maturity and breadth. Union’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Alpha of New York, was established in 1817 and is the fifth oldest in the country. Election to membership is one of the highest distinctions to be gained by academic achievement.
Pi Mu Epsilon: Alpha Tau chapter in New York, a national undergraduate honors society in mathematics, was established at Union in 2013. Students who have compiled outstanding records in mathematics and who work to promote mathematics are eligible to apply for membership.
Pi Sigma Alpha: The Union chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national honor society in political science, was established in 1974. Students who have compiled outstanding academic records in political science are eligible.
Pi Tau Sigma: Established in 1915, Pi Tau Sigma is the national honorary mechanical engineering fraternity. Juniors and seniors with high academic achievement and character are eligible.
Psi Chi: Psi Chi is the national honor society founded to encourage, stimulate, and maintain scholarship in and advance the science of psychology.
Sigma Delta Pi: Established at Union in 1993, the Tau Mu chapter of Sigma Delta Pi honors juniors and seniors for outstanding achievement in the study of Spanish language and literature.
Sigma Pi Sigma: Founded in 1975, the Union chapter of the national honor society Sigma Pi Sigma recognizes outstanding scholarship in physics.
Sigma Tau Delta: Established at Union in 2009, Sigma Tau Delta is the international English honor society.
Sigma Xi: The Society of Sigma Xi is an honorary organization dedicated to the encouragement of scientific research pure and applied. The Union chapter, the third in the nation, was begun in 1887. Annually, the society elects to associate membership selected students in science or engineering who have demonstrated, usually by a written report, marked aptitude for scientific research. In addition, students and faculty who have demonstrated noteworthy research achievement may be elected.
Tau Beta Pi: Established at Union in 1964, Tau Beta Pi annually elects as members a rigorously-selected group of juniors and seniors who have achieved outstanding records in engineering studies and have demonstrated excellence of character.
College Policy Resources
The Student Handbook and the Faculty Manual are resources, available on the College’s web site, that outline College policies, including those regarding academic dishonesty, intellectual property, grades, and use of computing resources.
Students’ Rights and Confidentiality of Student Records (FERPA)
One of the goals of a Union College education is to enable students to gain the maturity, independence, and confidence to function as responsible adults. According to New York State law, students who have reached the age of 18 are considered to be adults and are accorded the full rights that such status entails. Because of this, it is the policy of Union College to communicate directly with students on all academic matters, such as grades, academic standing and issues of credit.
The 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) stipulates that in the case of students who are dependents of their parents in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, the College is allowed to disclose information from the student’s educational records without obtaining the student’s consent. It is the policy of the College to notify both students and parents in writing of formal academic warnings, probationary status and dismissal. Additionally, the College will notify the parents of a student in connection with a health or safety emergency as expressly permitted under FERPA.
In other communications with parents, the College will normally respect the privacy of the student. Information from the student’s educational records will not be disclosed without the student’s formal written consent. Grades are considered to be part of the student’s educational record and will not be disclosed to parents without the student’s formal written consent. Upon obtaining such written consent, the College will provide information to parents (or guardians).
All students will be required to declare their tax status at the commencement of each academic year. Any student who claims not to be a legal dependent must provide appropriate evidence to the College in writing within the first month of each academic year.
Student Right-to-Know Act
In compliance with the federal Student Right-to-Know Act requiring institutions of higher education to make available graduation rates, Union has calculated a six-year graduation rate of 87% based on the first-time, first-year student cohort entering in September 2012. This calculation does not include students who have transferred into the College from other institutions. The complete graduation rate report is available on line at https://www.union.edu/institutional-research/retention or by contacting the Office of Institutional Research, (518)388-6607.