Classroom Policies

The following policies apply to all undergraduate students enrolled in courses taught in the English Department. Instructors may develop additional policies specific to their classes (such as policies on attendance and participation, late submission of work, and grading procedures and standards), but these may not override University, college, and department policies. This is not an exhaustive list but a compilation of the most frequently requested classroom policies.

The University requires that course syllabi include copies of, references to, or statements about those policies marked with an asterisk (*) after the title. For more information, see the policy on Syllabus Requirements.


Attendance (Department Policy)

Students are responsible for all information disseminated in class and all course requirements, including deadlines and examinations. The instructor will specify whether class attendance is required or counted in the grade for a class. In the absence of a course-specific attendance policy, the following department policy is in effect. Students should attend every class meeting, on time and prepared, and should remain in class for the duration of the class period. If a student misses the equivalent of one week of class with unexcused absences, his or her grade may be lowered. Once a student misses the equivalent of three weeks with unexcused absences, he or she may fail the course. Students are responsible for all material and assignments missed because of absence or lateness.

Mandatory Attendance at First Class Session and Consequences for Absence

Students must attend the first class meeting of every course in which they are registered unless (1) they obtain approval from the instructor before the first meeting or (2) they provide notice to the instructor they must miss class because of a recognized religious holiday. Otherwise, they may lose their places in class to other students. For more information, see the policy on Mandatory Attendance at First Class Session and Consequences for Absence.

Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences*

University policy recognizes that there are a variety of legitimate circumstances in which students will miss coursework, and that accommodations for makeup work will be made. Such circumstances include illness, physical or mental, of you or your dependent; medical conditions related to pregnancy; participation in intercollegiate athletic events; subpoenas; jury duty; military service; bereavement, including travel related to bereavement; religious observances; participation in formal University system governance, including the University Senate, Student Senate, and Board of Regents meetings, by students selected as representatives to those bodies; and activities sponsored by the University if identified by the senior academic officer for the campus or the officer's designee as the basis for excused absences. Such circumstances do not include voting in regional, state, or national elections. For more information, please see the University policy on make-up work

Grading and Workload Expectations

Grade Definitions*

The University uses plus and minus grading on a 4.000 cumulative grade point scale in accordance with the following:

  • A  (4.000) - Represents achievement that is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements
  • A- (3.667)
  • B+ (3.333)
  • B (3.000) - Represents achievement that is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements
  • B- (2.667)
  • C+ (2.333)
  • C (2.000) - Represents achievement that meets the course requirements in every respect
  • C- (1.667)
  • D+ (1.333)
  • D (1.000) - Represents achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements
  • S - Represents achievement that is satisfactory, which is equivalent to a C- or better

For additional information, please refer to the University policy on Grading and Transcripts.

Grading Systems

The two major grading systems used are the A-F and S-N. Departmental majors must take major courses on the A-F system; non-majors may use either system. The instructor will specify criteria and achievement levels required for each grade. All students, regardless of the system used, will be expected to do all work assigned in the course, or its equivalent as determined by the instructor. Any changes you wish to make in the grading base must be done in the first two weeks of the semester.

Expected Student Academic Work per Credit

The University prescribes the quantity of work needed to earn a credit as three hours per credit per week or 42-45 hours per semester. A student should therefore expect to spend about nine hours per week, including class time, on a 3-credit course. Workload expectations are an estimate of the amount of work needed for an average student to earn an average grade. Course grades are based on the quality of the work submitted, not on hours of effort. For more information, see the policy on Expected Student Academic Work per Credit.

Student Conduct

Student Academic Integrity and Scholastic Dishonesty*

Academic integrity is essential to a positive teaching and learning environment. All students enrolled in University courses are expected to complete coursework responsibilities with fairness and honesty. Failure to do so by seeking unfair advantage over others or misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own can result in disciplinary action. The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty as: plagiarizing; cheating on assignments or examinations; engaging in unauthorized collaboration on academic work; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; submitting false or incomplete records of academic achievement; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement; altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; or fabricating or falsifying data, research procedures, or data analysis. Within this course, a student responsible for scholastic dishonesty can be assigned a penalty up to and including an "F" or "N" for the course. If you have any questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam, ask. Review the University's Student Conduct Code

Student Conduct Code*

The University seeks an environment that promotes academic achievement and integrity, that is protective of free inquiry, and that serves the educational mission of the University. Similarly, the University seeks a community that is free from violence, threats, and intimidation; that is respectful of the rights, opportunities, and welfare of students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University; and that does not threaten the physical or mental health or safety of members of the University community. As a student at the University you are expected to adhere to Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code. Note that the conduct code specifically addresses disruptive classroom conduct, which means "engaging in behavior that substantially or repeatedly interrupts either the instructor's ability to teach or student learning. The classroom extends to any setting where a student is engaged in work toward academic credit or satisfaction of program-based requirements or related activities." Review the University's Student Conduct Code.

Use of Personal Electronic Devices in the Classroom

Instructors determine if personal electronic devices (such as cell phones and laptops) are allowed in the classroom. Students may be directed to turn off personal electronic devices if the devices are not being used for class purposes. Students are not permitted to record any part of a class/lab/other session unless explicitly granted permission by the instructor. If the student does not comply, the student may be asked to leave the classroom. For complete information, please reference the policy on Student Responsibilities.

Appropriate Student Use of Class Notes and Course Materials

Taking notes is a means of recording information but more importantly of personally absorbing and integrating the educational experience. However, broadly disseminating class notes beyond the classroom community or accepting compensation for taking and distributing classroom notes undermines instructor interests in their intellectual work product while not substantially furthering instructor and student interests in effective learning. Such actions violate shared norms and standards of the academic community. For additional information, please see the policy on Student Responsibilities.

Equitable Access

Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action*

The University provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs and facilities, without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. For more information, please consult Board of Regents Policy.

Sexual Harassment*

"Sexual harassment" means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature under either of the following conditions: (a) when it is stated or implied that an individual needs to submit to, or participate in, conduct of a sexual nature in order to maintain their employment or educational standing or advance in their employment or education (quid pro quo sexual harassment); (b) when the conduct: (1) is severe, persistent or pervasive; and (2) unreasonably interferes with an individual's employment or educational performance or creates a work or educational environment that the individual finds, and a reasonable person would find, to be intimidating, hostile or offensive (hostile environment sexual harassment). Sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence and related retaliation are all prohibited conduct at the University of Minnesota. For additional information, please consult Board of Regents Policy.

In my role as a University employee, I am required to share information that I learn about possible sexual misconduct with the campus Title IX office that addresses these concerns. This allows a Title IX staff member to reach out to those who have experienced sexual misconduct to provide information about the personal support resources and options for investigation that they can choose to access. You are welcome to talk with me about concerns related to sexual misconduct. Within the requirements of my job, I will be as responsive to your requests for confidentiality and support as possible. You can also or alternately choose to talk with a confidential resource that will not share information that they learn about sexual misconduct. Confidential resources include The Aurora Center, Boynton Mental Health and Student Counseling Services.

Disability Accommodations*

The University of Minnesota views disability as an important aspect of diversity, and is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. The Disability Resource Center (DRC) is the campus office that collaborates with students who have disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations.
  • If you have, or you think you have, a disability in any area such as mental health, attention, learning, chronic health, sensory, or physical, please contact the DRC office on your campus (612-626-1333) to arrange a confidential discussion regarding equitable access and reasonable accommodations.
  • Students with short-term disabilities, such as a broken arm, can often work with instructors to minimize classroom barriers. In situations where additional assistance is needed, students should contact the DRC as noted above.
  • If you are registered with the DRC and have a disability accommodation letter dated for this semester or this year, please contact your instructor early in the semester to review how the accommodations will be applied in the course.
  • If you are registered with the DRC and have questions or concerns about your accommodations please contact your access consultant/disability specialist.

Additional information is available on the DRC website or e-mail with questions. 

Names and Pronouns

University members and units are expected to use the names, gender identities, and pronouns specified to them by other University members, except as legally required. University members and units are also expected to use other gendered personal references, if any, that are consistent with the gender identities and pronouns specified by University members. The full policy about names and pronouns

Academic Services

Mental Health and Stress Management*

As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating, and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance and may reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via the Student Mental Health Website.

Academic Learning Support Services

The University provides a wide range of resources to support your learning. These include: 
  • SMART Learning Commons 
    • An all-in-one undergraduate academic support center located in the three main libraries—Wilson, Walter, and Magrath. The SMART Learning Commons offers support through peer tutoring (tutoring for over 200 undergraduate courses), peer-assisted learning groups (weekly facilitated study sessions connected to specific courses), peer research consultants (one-on-one assistance in conducting research), and media consultants (individual help with media projects). 
  • Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence
    • Group and individual tutoring and skill-building workshops where students can take their time to learn, study together, develop support groups, and build lasting friendships. 
  • Student Academic Success Services
    • One-on-one academic counseling and online self-help materials focusing on academic skills. 

Student Writing Support

Student Writing Support (SWS) offers free writing instruction for all University of Minnesota students—graduate and undergraduate—at all stages of the writing process. In face-to-face and online collaborative consultations, SWS consultants from across the disciplines help students develop productive writing habits and revision strategies. Consulting is available by appointment online and in Nicholson Hall, and on a walk-in basis in Appleby Hall. For more information, call 612-625-1893 or go to the SWS site. In addition, SWS offers a number of web-based resources on topics such as avoiding plagiarism, documenting sources, and planning and completing a writing project.

Students for Whom English is a Second Language (Department Policy)

University policy requires that undergraduate students in the same class be held to the same standards of academic performance and accomplishment. Students for whom English is a second language, however, may have difficulty with the readings, lectures, discussions, and writing assignments in a course. The University offers many resources to assist non-native speakers of English, including courses and consultations through the Minnesota English Language Program, the Center for Writing, the Department of Writing Studies, and International Student and Scholar Services. Please speak with your instructor if you would like to learn more about these opportunities.

Academic Freedom

Academic Freedom and Responsibility*

Academic freedom is a cornerstone of the University. Within the scope and content of the course as defined by the instructor, it includes the freedom to discuss relevant matters in the classroom. Along with this freedom comes responsibility. Students are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. Students are free to take reasoned exception to the views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled. Reports of concerns about academic freedom are taken seriously, and there are individuals and offices available for help. Contact the instructor, the Department Chair, your adviser, the associate dean of the college, or the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the Office of the Provost.

Offensive Material (Department Policy)

In any course, students may be required to read words or view images that they may consider offensive. The ideas expressed in any given text do not necessarily reflect the views of the instructor, the Department of English, or the University of Minnesota. Course materials have been selected for their literary, cultural, and/or historical value, in order to achieve specific learning objectives and course goals. These materials are meant to be examined in the context of intellectual inquiry and critical analysis, as appropriate for a university-level course. If you are easily shocked and/or offended, please contact your instructor to discuss whether a course is suitable for you.

College of Liberal Arts Grading Policies

The following grading policies apply to courses offered in the College of Liberal Arts. Instructors need not include statements about these policies on course syllabi, but students should familiarize themselves with these policies as applicable.


Standards for the S grade ("satisfactory" work) may vary from one course to another. The instructor may also set different tasks or establish different criteria for S-N and A-F registrants. However, the work required for an S may not be less than that required for a C- (1.67 grade points). The S is not figured into the grade point average.

Maximum Limits for S-N Grades

In order to complete a degree at the University, a student must take a minimum of 30 semester credits offered through the University. This includes 24 credits taken after admission for students in the College of Liberal Arts. Seventy-five percent, or at least 22 credits of the 30 credit minimum, must be taken on the A-F grade basis (with grades of D or higher). No courses taken for major or minor credit may be taken on the S-N grade basis unless the courses are designated "S-N only" and approved by the major department.


If a student officially withdraws from a course during the first two weeks of classes, no record of that course registration will remain on the student’s transcript. If a student officially withdraws from a course during the third through tenth week of class, or during the second or third weeks of summer sessions, a W (withdrawal) will be entered on the transcript. Withdrawal after the deadlines (with the exception of the one-time late withdrawal, noted below) will require approval of the College of Liberal Arts and may not be granted solely because a student is failing the course; there must be extenuating non-academic circumstances justifying late withdrawal.

One-time Late Withdrawal

Each student may, once during his or her undergraduate enrollment, withdraw from a course without college approval, and receive the transcript symbol W, after the deadline for withdrawal and at any time up to and including the last day of instruction for that course.  A student may not withdraw after completing the final examination or equivalent for a course.

Withdrawals and Misconduct

Students cannot evade (intentionally or unintentionally) a grade sanction by withdrawing from a course before or after a misconduct charge is reported. This also applies to late withdrawals, including the one-time late withdrawal.


The instructor will specify the conditions, if any, under which an "Incomplete" will be assigned instead of a grade. The instructor may set dates and conditions for makeup work, if it is to be allowed. The student and instructor must fill out an Agreement for the Completion of Incomplete Work stating the terms for completion whenever an incomplete is requested and approved. Undergraduates must submit work to make up an Incomplete within one year of the last final examination of the term in which the I was granted. (Students called to active military duty have up to one calendar year following their discharge from active duty to complete their incompletes). If the work is not submitted by that time, the I will automatically change to an F (A-F grade base) or an N (S-N grade base).

Grade Disputes

Students are entitled to an explanation of the grade they received and to file a complaint if they believe they have been unfairly evaluated and graded. Instructors are expected to deal promptly with these complaints and, if possible, to come to a resolution with the student. If no resolution can be reached, students may appeal to the department chair or designate. Students may also make use of the Student Conflict Resolution Center, 612-624-7272, in resolving complaints.

Change of Grade

No student may initiate an appeal of the grade earned in a course, including changing a grade to a W (withdrawal), more than one calendar year after the grade was assigned. A student is not permitted to submit extra work in an attempt to raise his or her grade, unless the instructor has specified at the outset of the class such opportunities will be afforded to all students.

Grades for Repeated Courses

A student may repeat a course once. When a student repeats a course, (a) both grades for the course shall appear on the official transcript, (b) the course credits may not be counted more than once toward degree and program requirements, and (c) only the last enrollment for the course shall count in the student’s grade point average.