FAQs Academic Standards

1. What are the academic standards and what if I do not meet these requirements?
  • An undergraduate student will be allowed to continue in the university as long as the cumulative grade point average (GPA) indicated in the following scale is maintained.
Total Hours Attempted
(including Transfer Credit)
Minimum Cumulative GPA Required
(Southern Miss Work)
0-14
1.50
15-29
1.75
30 and above
2.00
  • A higher minimum allowable GPA is sometimes specified by specific colleges within the university. If a student fails to maintain the quality of work necessary to make reasonable progress toward graduation, then the student will be placed on academic probation or suspension.
  • Total hours attempted will include credit taken at the university and approved transfer credits. Courses in which a student received grades of I, E, or P will not earn quality points that contribute to the Southern Miss GPA.
2. What is full-time vs. part-time?
  • Full-time undergraduates: The typical undergraduate student load is 12 to 19 semester hours (fall/spring); 9 to 14 semester hours is considered a full load during the summer session.
  • Full-time graduates: The typical graduate load is 9-14 hours (fall/spring) and 3 hours (summer) is the minimum load.
  • Students needing to take more than the maximum load must obtain permission from their college department (undergraduates) or the Graduate School (graduates).
3. What is the course numbering system?

Course Numbering:

  • Freshman Courses = 100-199
  • Sophomore Courses = 200-299
  • Upper-division Courses = 300-499
  • Graduate Courses = 500 or above
4. How many hours are required for each classification?

Classification is determined by the total number of earned semester hours completed at the University or through transfer hours or test credits.

  • Freshman: earned 0-29 semester hours
  • Sophomore: earned 30-59 semester hours
  • Junior: earned 60-89 semester hours
  • Senior: earned 90 and above semester hours.
  • Graduates: Classification for graduate students is determined by their degree seeking plan.
5. What are the grades and definitions?

A — indicates excellent work and carries 4 quality points per semester hour

B — indicates good work and carries 3 quality points per semester hour

C — indicates average work and carries 2 quality points per semester hour

D — indicates inferior work and carries 1 quality point per semester hour

E — indicates a course in progress.

F — indicates failure and carries no quality points

NA — indicates the instructor reported the student as not attending. The grade is considered as attempted, but no quality points are earned. The grade is calculated as an F in the student's grade point average.

I — indicates that a student was unable to complete course requirements by the end of the term because of extraordinary circumstances beyond his or her control. Poor performance or unexplained absences are not a justification for the assignment of an I.

AW — indicates administrative withdrawal

WP — indicates withdrawal from a course passing after the deadline for dropping courses. (awarded prior to fall 2014)

WF — indicates withdrawal from a course failing after the deadline for dropping courses. This grade is computed in the GPA as F. (awarded prior to fall 2014)

W — indicates withdrawn no penalty (No quality points awarded)

P — indicates a passing grade in courses taken on a pass-fail basis (does not count in computing GPA)

6. How do you compute grade point average?
  • Grade point averages are based on the number of hours undertaken rather than the number of hours passed in determining whether a student meets minimum standards.
  • Courses in which a student receives an E will not be counted as part of “total hours attempted” for grade point average computation. These courses will, however, be counted in determining eligibility for financial aid.
  • An undergraduate student will be permitted to repeat courses a total of up to 12 semester hours in order to improve his or her grade point average.
  • For the purpose of awarding honors or academic standing, Southern Miss does not round GPAs.
7. How do I get a grade changed?
  • When a student disagrees with the final grade given by an instructor, fair play requires the opportunity for an orderly procedure.
  • Students who feel a grade has been given in error should contact their instructor for clarification.  Grades can only be changed at the discretion of the instructor, chair and dean of the course.
  • A student must initiate the appeal procedure within 30 school days, excluding Saturday, Sunday and official student holidays, of the beginning of the semester subsequent to the one in which the grade was awarded, or 120 calendar days after the issuance of spring semester grades, should the student not be enrolled during the summer term. The procedure assures due process for both the instructor and student.
  • Grade changes are initiated by the instructor and submitted to the chair and dean of the college. The Registrar’s Office will only accept grade changes submitted by the college.
8. What happens when I get an “I” (incomplete) grade?
  • Students who receive an “I” (incomplete) grade in a course must contact the instructor of the course to complete the class.
  • Incomplete grades will be ‘time lapsed’ to a grade of F at the end of the next fall or spring term regardless of enrollment.  Incomplete grades given in the spring term will not be time lapsed at the end of the summer term.
  • Upon completion of an incomplete grade, the instructor must submit a Grade Change form in order for the grade to be changed.
9. When and where can I see my grades?
  • Grades are posted approximately 2 weeks after mini, 5-week 1, and 8-week 1 sessions end.  For full-term classes, grades are posted on the Monday evening after exams. Students will have access to view the grades via the SOAR self service page immediately if they have completed their Faculty Evaluations via their SOAR self service page.  If they have not completed their evaluations, they will be able to view their grades one week later
10. How do I get honors/awards?
  • Students are placed on the President’s List if they have earned a grade point average of 4.0 (all A’s) on a load of 12 semester hours or more during fall or spring, nine or more during summer, provided they have no grade of Incomplete (I) for the term. Courses taken for pass-fail credit will not be used in computing the minimum academic load.  The President’s List is earned each term of enrollment. The University does not round GPAs.
  • Students are placed on the Dean’s List if they have earned a grade point average of 3.5 or above on a minimum academic load of 12 semester hours or more during fall or spring, nine or more during summer, provided they have no grade of D or below for the term (includes F or Incomplete). Courses taken for pass-fail credit will not be used in computing the minimum academic load. The Deans’ List is earned each of term of enrollment. The University does not round GPAs.
  • Students with exceptional academic records may be awarded degrees with honors or highest honors based on hours attempted at The University of Southern Mississippi. A degree with Honors will be granted to a student who maintains a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more.  A degree with Highest Honors will be granted to a student who maintains a cumulative grade point average of 3.8 or more. The University does not round GPAs.
11. How can I remove a bad gradefrom my grade point average?
  • Undergraduate students who take a course more than one time are allowed to mark a repeat on the lower grade to improve the USM grade point average.
  • Undergraduate students are allowed up to 12 hours maximum on course work taken at USM during their undergraduate career.
  • When courses are marked with a repeat, the grade is shown on the transcript with a note “Repeated” and the grade is removed from the grade point average. 
  • Repeats that are marked can not be moved to another course at a later date.
  • After all repeats are marked on the transcript, courses are noted as “Retaken” and the grades will continue to be averaged in the USM grade point average but will not count toward degree requirements unless it is an approved multiple credit course.
  • Repeats cannot be placed on courses taken at another institution or if one of the multiple attempts was taken at another institution.
  • Graduate students are allowed one repeat during their graduate career and must get special permission by the Graduate Dean.
12. Can I repeat a course?
  • Repeat Policy for Undergraduate Students: Students may RETAKE a course as much as necessary.  However, students are allowed to take up to twelve (12) credit hours of repeated coursework during their undergraduate career. Students may only repeat a course by taking the same course and cannot take a course at another institution to replace a grade earned at Southern Miss. Once a course grade is marked as "Repeated", it becomes part of the official academic record and cannot be reassigned to another course. Students have used one of their opportunities to repeat a class and cannot reassign that repeat opportunity later in their academic career.
    This policy does not apply to courses for which a grade was assigned for reasons of academic dishonesty. Courses must be retaken at The University of Southern Mississippi.
  • Retake Policy for Graduate Students: On the recommendation of the student’s committee or major professor, a student may retake only one graduate level course in order to improve his/her GPA
13. What is Academic Honesty and how important is it?
  • When cheating is discovered, the faculty member may give the student an F on the work involved or in the course. If further disciplinary action is deemed appropriate, the student should be reported to the dean of students.
  • In addition to being a violation of academic honesty, cheating violates the Code of Conduct and may be grounds for probation, suspension, or expulsion. Academic dishonesty also includes any submission of false documents such as add/drop forms, substitutions, special requests, etc.
  • Students on disciplinary suspension may not enroll in any courses offered by the University of Southern Mississippi.