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Academic Policies

The policies and procedures listed below are not intended to override the Academic Policies described in the official University Catalog.  Please refer to the University Catalog for further information/clarification.

Academic Requirements for B.A. Degree

Academic Advising

Academic Credit

Academic Standing

Advance Placement

Change of Address

Class Level Definition

Course Load

Course Numbering

Declaration of Concentration

Enrollment Verification

Final Examinations

Grade and Narrative Changes

Grade Grievance

Grading System

Grade Points

Grade Point Average

Foreign Language Policies

Honors and Awards

Incomplete Course Work

Leave of Absence

Low Grade Notices

Pass/No Pass Grade Option

Repeating Courses

Registration

Readmission

Schedule Changes

Student Identification Number

Study Abroad/Internship Program

Transcripts

Withdrawal Policies


Academic Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree

  • Students must successfully complete a minimum of 120 semester credit hours. Music ensemble courses can be counted for up to 7 of the 120 units.  However, any Music Ensemble courses taken beyond 7 units cannot be counted towards the 120 units.

  • Students must fulfill the General Education requirements as follows. See the General Education Program for more information on its supporting programs and courses:

  • Writing Requirements: Students must complete two courses in Communication Skills and one course in Modes of Inquiry.

  • Science and Mathematics: Students must complete one course in each area: the Mathematical World, the Biological World, and the Physical World.

  • Area and Comparative Studies: Students must complete the following two courses: Introduction to the Pacific Basin and The American Experience,

  • Core Curriculum: Students must complete the following two courses: The Enduring Questions of Humanity, and The Enduring Questions in Contemporary Contexts.

  • Creative Arts: Students must complete one course in creative arts.  A 1-unit Creative Arts Forum class must be taken concurrently with this class.

  • Language and Culture: All students must show proficiency in a foreign language by completing a series of four courses.

  • Wellness:Students must take Heath and Wellness.

  • Learning Clusters: Students must take two courses in the Learning Cluster format.

  • Study Abroad: All students must spend one block and one semester in a study abroad program during their junior year.

  • Students majoring in Liberal Arts must declare one of the four concentrations listed below at the end of their sophomore year and meet the requirements as listed:

  • Environmental Studies

  • Humanities

  • International Studies

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

  1. Core Requirements of the chosen Concentration: Students must take five courses, apart from any independent or special study course.  At least three of these five courses must be taken at the upper division (300-499) level.

  2. Elective Requirements of the chosen Concentration: Students must complete a total of at least four elective courses in the above concentrations. Of these four, at least one course must be chosen from each of the two concentrations not selected as part of the declared concentration, not including independent study or special study courses.

  3. Capstone Experience: Students must complete Capstone 390 followed by two capstone courses as part of their concentration, one in the final block and one in the final semester of the senior year.

  • The remaining number of units needed to meet the graduation requirement can be satisfied by any curriculum-wide courses taken as electives.

  • Academic residency requirements: All students who are candidates for the bachelor’s degree must successfully complete at least fifteen courses at SUA during the last two years before they are eligible to graduate. This includes the internship/study abroad program.

  • A minimum 2.0 grade point average for all courses taken at SUA is required. In addition, a minimum 2.0 grade point average in major courses is required.

  • Students must file an application for graduation in the Office of the Registrar at the end of the first session of their Senior year.

  • Students must ensure that all financial obligations to the university have been met.

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Academic Advising

Meeting and engaging in dialogue regularly with the academic advisor is an integral part of the Soka experience. New students will be assigned a preliminary academic advisor. When a student declares a concentration, he or she should choose an academic advisor in an appropriate academic area. Students may change advisors at any time. The academic year calendar will provide specific dates for academic advising during which the student should consult with his or her advisor prior to registration for the subsequent session.

All students are required to meet with their advisors prior to enrollment in classes. In addition, juniors are required to declare a concentration. Failure to meet these requirements will result in an “advisor hold” on the student’s academic record preventing them from registering for classes.


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Academic Credit

Each credit awarded is equivalent to 15 contact hours or 750 contact minutes.

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Academic Standing

Good Standing

A student is considered to be in good standing if he or she has a cumulative 2.0 (C average) grade point average, and at least 2.0 GPA for the most recently completed session.

Probationary Standing

A student who, at the end of any Fall or Spring session, fails to maintain Good Standing is considered to have Probationary Standing if the student fails to achieve a 2.0 (C average) for a session or maintains a cumulative grade point average below 2.0 (C). A student on probation is not allowed to take more than 4 courses in a semester and may be ineligible for certain extracurricular activities and programs.

Academic Dismissal

Academic dismissal means termination of a student’s relationship with the university for unsatisfactory academic performance. The Dean of Faculty will notify the student in writing.

While a student is on probation, that student is subject to dismissal:

  • If he or she fails to achieve a session GPA of at least 2.0

  • If he or she fails to achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 by the end of the second session after being placed on probation.


A dismissed student may, within two weeks of notification of dismissal, file a petition with the Academic Standards Committee for a hearing to reverse dismissal and extend probationary status. A dismissed student may not register in courses and is denied all privileges of student status.

A dismissed student who wishes to return to the university must file an application for readmission with the Office of the Registrar. In addition, an application for readmission must give appropriate reasons for reapplication consideration. A dismissed student who has been readmitted is on probation and has to meet specific conditions set by the Academic Standards Committee at the time of readmission. A readmitted student who fails to meet these conditions will be immediately dismissed and may not reapply.

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AP and Prior College Coursework

Soka University of America participates in the Advanced Placement (AP) program offered by the College Board to provide greater quality and opportunity for high school students to proceed with their education. Students must submit to the Office of the Registrar official transcripts or reports from the College Board no later than the end of the Sophomore year at SUA for scores to be considered. AP credits are not awarded; however, academic programs and areas may grant placement based on AP results. An on-going policy review takes place annually; therefore, placement based on AP tests and scores is subject to change without notice. Similarly, academic programs and areas may grant placement for college courses taken elsewhere.

The following guidelines are to be considered:
1. If academic programs and areas grant placement, students are placed in a higher level course.
2. Placement is not awarded if the student has already earned credit for the course at SUA.

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Change of Address

Newly matriculated students should notify the Office of the Registrar immediately of any change in their addresses or those of their parents or guardians. All current students should update their home/mailing address through their access of PeopleSoft.  The university assumes no responsibility for materials sent through the mail not received.

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Class Level Definition

Class level is defined in terms of completed credit hours as follows:

0-29.99

=

First Year

30-59.99

=

Sophomore

60-89.00 

=

Junior

>= 90

=

Senior


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Course Load

The normal course load in a session is 5 courses.  For all continuing students, the normal course load for the fall session is 4 courses, and spring session is 5 courses.  A full-time student must carry at least 12 units in the session (A session consists of a block and a semester.). Course withdrawals resulting in a load of 11 units or less in a session require a petition to be reclassified as a part-time student.  In the case where a petition is not filed or not approved, the student must withdraw from the university Students ordinarily register for no more than 19 units for a session (4 units in a block and 15 units in a semester). Students whose cumulative grade point average is at least a B (3.00) or better in the preceding session may petition their advisors and the Dean of Faculty for overload units in a semester. Overload units may be added only during the established deadlines for add/drop period.

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Course Numbering

Levels of courses at Soka University of America are designated as follows:

< 100

=

Remedial courses. Cannot be counted towards graduation.

100

=

Basic or introductory courses.

200

=

Intermediate level courses.

300,400

=

Advanced courses.



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Declaration of Concentration

All students must declare an area of concentration, with the approval of an academic advisor, by the end of their sophomore year.

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Enrollment Verification

Students needing a letter verifying their enrollment at SUA should make their request at the Office of the Registrar. For enrollment verification purposes, the following categories are used for students during the fall and spring sessions:

12.0 units or more

Full-time

6.0 to 11.99 units

Part-time

5.99 or less

Less than half-time


Categories are based on the number of units in which the student is enrolled on the date the verification letter is prepared.

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Final Examination

The instructor may not administer the final exam early or shorten the block or semester in any way. Any student who wishes to change the examination time or who fails to appear for the final exam at the scheduled time must petition for approval by the Dean of Faculty, such petition elaborating the extenuating circumstances prior to scheduling an alternate exam time.

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Grade and Narrative Changes

Once grades and narratives have been submitted to the Office of the Registrar, they become final and may be changed only in case of error. An instructor desiring a change of grade or narratives must present a written request to the Dean of Faculty. The change will become effective only if the change of grade form has been approved by the Dean of Faculty and filed with the Office of the Registrar by the end of the following session.

Students wishing to appeal a specific grade assigned by the instructor may do so under SUA’s Grade Grievance Policy. No grade or narrative changes are permitted after a degree is awarded.

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Grade Grievance

Students should contact faculty members when there are questions concerning the final course evaluations. The student and the instructor who gave the final course evaluation should resolve disputes, and a satisfactory resolution should be reached through meaningful and respectful dialogue. However, in cases in which satisfactory resolution cannot be achieved, a formal appeal can be filed through the Academic Standards Committee. The student must submit the appeal by the end of the following session.

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Grading System

Grades are reported to students in the following terms:

A

Outstanding

B

Superior

C

Satisfactory

D

Marginal

F

Failure


The grades of A, B, and C may be modified by (+) or (-). In addition, the following notations are used:

  • P    Pass (minimum of C- work is required). The units will be counted toward the total units required for graduation, but not in computing the grade point average.

  • NP  No-pass (below C- work). The units will affect the grade point average.

  • I     “Incomplete” is a notation of incomplete work,which has been postponed for serious reason after consultation with the instructor.

  • W   “Withdrawal” is a notation used when a student drops a course before the withdrawal deadline.


In addition to letter grades, students may request and receive narrative evaluations.

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Grade Points

Grade points for each course are assigned by multiplying the point value below for the grade earned by the number of units the course carried.

A+/A

4.0 Points

A-

3.7 Points

B+

3.3 Points

B

3.0 Points

B-

2.7 Points

C+

2.3 Points

C

2.0 Points

C-

1.7 Points

D

1.0 Points

F, NP

0.0 Points




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Grade Point Average

Grades are averaged on the basis of their unit value to determine a grade point average. Grades of “F” are considered in determining the grade point average. The session grade point average is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points earned in a session by the total number of units attempted in letter graded courses for that session. The cumulative grade point average is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of units attempted in letter graded courses. Courses in which NP has been earned also count toward the total number of units attempted.

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Foreign Language Polices

Choosing a Foreign Language

To fulfill the foreign language requirement at SUA, a student may choose any language offered that does not fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • A language that is native to the student, defined as the language of his or her country of origin.
  • A language in which the student has completed high school level coursework in a country where said language is spoken.
  • A language in which the student places into the 401-level or above on an LCP-administered placement test (see below for information on placement testing).

Placement testing: Students wishing to begin language study at a level above 101 are required to take a language placement exam upon entering the university, and will enroll in the appropriate level of their chosen foreign language based on the results of this test. Students who place into the 320-level or above must choose another language as their foreign language choice for the purpose of fulfilling SUA’s foreign language requirement (see 3 above). Students deemed “heritage learners,” but who do not meet any of the criteria above (1-3), may choose to pursue more advanced study in their second language in order to fulfill the foreign language requirement.

In those individual cases where this policy does not account for a student’s linguistic or cultural situation, the LCP may review his or her language choice.

Students are free to study more than one language at SUA, as long as they complete the 202-level or above in their first foreign language choice with a grade of B or better before they begin another language. In addition, students may enroll in upper-division LCP courses taught in any language in which they have demonstrated proficiency.

For purposes of this policy, English is not considered a foreign language at SUA.

Foreign language courses that are required for eligibility in the study abroad program may not be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis. Foreign language courses that are not required for study abroad (LCP courses taken as electives, as a concentration requirement, or after returning from study abroad) may be taken on a P/NP basis.

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Honors and Awards

Dean’s List

Dean’s List honors are awarded to students achieving high scholarship and a notation is placed on their official transcripts at the end of each session. To be eligible for the Dean’s List in a session a student:

  • Must achieve a 3.7 or higher grade point average for that session.
  • Must have completed 12 letter graded units or more.
  • Must have no I, NP, or F grades.
  • Must have had no academic disciplinary action taken against him or her.


Graduation with Honors

A student with outstanding academic achievement throughout his or her university career may be graduated with university honors. To be eligible for honors, the student must have an outstanding cumulative GPA for all work leading to graduation. Categories of honors are: cum laude (3.5 GPA); magna cum laude (3.7 GPA) and summa cum laude (3.9 GPA).

The Ikeda Scholarship

The Ikeda Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship program at Soka University of America. Aliso Viejo. This scholarship provides students with all expenses paid, including tuition, room and board, books, and incidental expenses for the academic year. It is based on merit alone, primarily academic accomplishment with experiences in leadership and service also taken into account.

Ikeda Scholarships are awarded annually in May to a student in the Sophomore class, the Junior class and the Senior class for a total of three scholarships per year.

A committee consisting of SUA’s Dean of Faculty and Dean of Students acts as the selection committee, making final recommendations to the University President who announces the recipients in the Spring of each academic year.

Annual Awards of Excellence

  • Excellence in Academics: The committee will review grades, narrative evaluations, papers and projects.

  • Excellence in Community Service: The committee will review student essays and letters of recommendation.

  • Excellence in Creative Arts: The committee will review art, literature, music, performance, in any form. May be awarded to an individual or to a group.

  • Excellence in Research: The committee will review papers or projects. May be awarded to an individual or to a group.

  • Excellence in Academic Mentoring: The committee will review essays and letters of recommendation.

  • The Global Citizen Award: This award is presented to the senior who excels in many or all of the four areas: academics, community service, creative arts, and research. The award recipient will present the graduation address on behalf of the graduating class.


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Incomplete Course Work

Students who have participated fully in a course during a particular block or semester and whose current work is of non-failing quality, may petition their instructor to assign an incomplete (I) grade if for substantial reason they cannot complete required coursework.

Normally the student obtains from the Office of the Registrar a “Request to Receive a Grade of Incomplete” form. The form is filled out by the student and given to the instructor, who then completes the form by assigning a default grade that is entered on the student record if the student does not complete the coursework by the deadline. An incomplete grade not removed by the deadline will result in the assignment of the default grade as submitted by the instructor.

If a student requires an extension to the deadline, the student must petition, in writing, to obtain an extension to the deadline for removal of the incomplete. The petition, approved by the instructor and the Dean of Faculty, must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office for an extension to be granted.

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Short Term Leave of Absence

Students may be granted a leave of absence for personal and/or family emergencies. A leave of absence is a short-term period of leave that will not adversely affect a student’s academic progress.  Such assessments will be made by the Dean of Students and the Dean of Faculty

Students who wish to request a leave of absence should:

  • Consult with their faculty advisor and the Dean of Students.

  • Submit written notification to the Dean of Faculty.

An approved leave does not require application for readmission. Students should advise the Dean of Students and the Dean of Faculty when they plan to return to the university.

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Low Grade Notices

Instructors are required to provide low grade notices to all students whose cumulative work in a course is at level of C- or below at the midpoint of the block or the semester. Failure to receive a low grade notice does not preclude the possibility that the student may fail the course.

Copies of low grade notices are sent to academic advisors, and students are encouraged to discuss their academic performance with their advisors and instructors.

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Pass/No Pass Grade Option

Students may elect to take up to 4 courses on a Pass/No Pass grading basis. In addition, they may receive Pass/No Pass grades in courses designated by the University or a specific faculty member, in which case they will also receive a narrative evaluation from the instructor. In no case may the total number of regular academic courses in which a student receives a Pass/No Pass exceed four. Grades are then reported in terms of a P (Pass) or NP (No Pass). C- work is required for a passing grade. Course credit is awarded for a “Pass” and the student’s grade point average is not affected. “No Pass” (NP), however, affects the grade point average.

The following general regulations are considered under the Pass/No Pass grading option:

  • The Pass/No Pass option applies to a total of four courses
  • Music Ensemble courses will not count toward the four-course limit
  • The Pass/No Pass option must be exercised by the last day to Add/Drop, (see Academic Calendar)
  • Once chosen, the Pass/No Pass option is not reversible
  • A grade of “NP” is equivalent to an “F” and will affect the grade point average.


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Repeating Courses

For courses where a grade of D or F is received, the student may repeat the course; however, credit will be given only once (except for courses designated as "may be repeated for credit").  The grade assigned for each enrollment shall be permanently recorded on the student's transcript.  A course originally taken for a letter grade may not be repeated on a Pass/No Pass basis.  In computing the GPA, the highest earned grade will be used.

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Registration

Registration is the procedure whereby a student enrolls for specific classes. Tuition payments or arrangements are required prior to registration. Students must complete both processes to be officially enrolled in classes.

New students register for courses at orientation after having had an introduction to SUA’s curriculum, degree requirements, and registration procedures. Currently enrolled students register for upcoming fall classes in May and for upcoming spring classes in November.

Students should consult the Catalog as they begin to plan their schedule. During the week before registration, students must consult with their advisor, complete their registration form, and secure their advisor’s signature before their enrollment appointment times arrive.

The schedule of classes is made available to all students and describes course offerings for every session. In addition, the Office of the Registrar publishes registration policies and procedures and a calendar of important dates.

Students should plan two or three alternate courses in case their first choice of courses is not available. Size limits are imposed on classes; therefore, classes will be closed to further enrollment immediately upon reaching the specified maximum.

Late Registration

Late registration begins after the registration period for each session. A late fee of $60 will be charged. Registration after the first week of instruction is not allowed.

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Readmission

Students who wish to be considered for readmission to SUA after an absence of three sessions or less must contact the Registrar’s Office to request an Application for Readmission. A readmission fee of $25 and other supporting documents are required with an application. The application must be submitted no later than ninety days for international students or thirty days for domestic students prior to the beginning of the session for which the student is requesting readmission. The Academic Standards Committee reviews all readmission applications. In addition, the Committee may require a medical report and a personal interview.

Students must complete the following steps:

  • Write a personal letter and include in this letter:1) a summary of activities since leaving the institution, including employment; 2) reasons for wanting to 3) academic goals; and 4) and any other information which may assist the committee in making a decision.
  • Furnish official transcripts of courses taken since leaving SUA.
  • Be in good financial status with the university.


Students with unsatisfactory course work will be considered for readmission. The Academic Standards Committee in making its decision regarding readmission will consider their prior SUA record and their course work at SUA.

Students who arrive at registration time expecting to be readmitted without following the readmission procedure should expect to wait until after registration to have their application considered. The Academic Standards Committee cannot guarantee acceptance in such cases.

Students wishing to return to SUA after three sessions of absence for any reason, including dismissal, must submit their requests to the Office of Enrollment Services and follow the required admission process. Students readmitted will normally be subject to current degree requirements.

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Schedule Changes

Students are allowed to change their schedule in accordance with the established deadlines for the add/drop period for each block or semester. During a block, the add/drop period ends after the third day of classes. During a semester, the add/drop period ends after the first week of classes.

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Student Identification Number

The student ID number is a number assigned to your academic record and is required for any inquiries you make. The ID number is printed on your study list, your official transcript, and all enrollment/grading related documents distributed by the Registrar’s Office. Your ID number is unique and considered confidential.

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Study Abroad Experience

During their junior year, students will spend one block and one semester during either the fall or spring completing a study abroad experience. This experience is directly linked to the language and culture the student has chosen to fulfill the foreign language requirement.
Study Abroad

Students may participate in study abroad programs in almost every part of the world for a full academic block and semester. Studying overseas provides a unique opportunity that can open up fresh perspectives on international political, economic and social issues, interpersonal relationships and ultimate career choices. The student must choose a country in which the primary language is the student’s chosen language of study. Depending on the level of language proficiency, the student may enroll in regular university courses or may enroll in language and culture programs that are accredited through a college or university in the United States. Depending on the program, the student may choose a home-stay with a family, or live in a university dormitory setting. All regularly enrolled students are eligible. Students studying abroad through approved programs are enrolled in a full course of study at the host institution, but receive Soka University of America credit.

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Transcripts

Official transcripts of courses taken at SUA are issued only with the written permission of the student. Requests for transcripts to show end of current session’s work are held until all grades are recorded.

Students should make their requests at the Office of Student Accounts. Regular service requests are generally processed within 3-5 working days after receipt of request. The fee for regular service is $5 per copy.  Rush service is available for an additional fee of $10.  These will be processed with 1-2 working days after receipt of request.  There is no additional fee for mailing your transcripts via US first class mail.  You may have your transcript sent via express delivery to any valid domestic address or international address for an additional $20.00 or $30 respectively.  Transcripts will not be issued when a student has outstanding financial obligations to the university. In this case, the student will be notified by the Students Accounts Office.

Transcripts from other institutions that have been presented for admission become part of the student’s permanent academic file and are not returned or copied for distribution. Students desiring transcripts covering work attempted elsewhere should request them from the appropriate institutions.

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Withdrawal Policies

Dropping a course
During a block, a student can drop a course with no record of enrollment before the end of the first day of classes. During a semester, a student can drop a course without a record of enrollment before the end of the first week of classes.

Withdrawal from a course

A student may withdraw from a course with the permission of his/her advisor within the established withdrawal deadlines. A grade of “W” is recorded on that student’s record.

Course withdrawals during a Block constitute a Leave of Absence. Course withdrawals resulting in a load of 11 units or less in a session require a petition to be reclassified as a part-time student.

Withdrawal from the University

A student who simply leaves the University without filing the required paperwork for a Leave of Absence or a Withdrawal is considered to have terminated his/her enrollment with the university as of the last class attended or the last evidence of academic participation in courses in which he/she was enrolled, and will have a grade of "W" posted to his/her record.

A student is considered to be in attendance until such notice has been received by the Dean of Students. All financial refunds or obligations are dated from the last class attended or the last evidence of academic participation.

Students wishing to withdraw from the university, must formally withdraw by completing a withdrawal from available at the Office of the Registrar or the Dean of Students Office, and must obtain the signatures specified on the withdrawal form. In cases of withdrawal for personal reasons, students must make an appointment with their academic advisors and notify the Dean of Students in writing prior to initiating a withdrawal procedure.

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