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Academic Information

Academic Standing

In response to the UNC Board of Governors' Fostering Student Success initiative, WCU will update policies pertaining to academic standing, course withdrawal, and grade replacement. The changes are meant to create policies that keep students moving forward to the successful completion of their degrees. Below you will find links to forms and resources for students in regards to academic standing or returning students. 

Appeal of Academic Suspension

Statement of Academic Intent

The Finish in Four initiative

Academic Policies

The policies below will be in effect for the current academic year and include the following:

Student Academic Standing is defined as either: Good Academic Standing, Academic Warning, Academic Suspension, or Academic Dismissal. Academic Standing considers both qualitative (GPA) and quantitative (percent completion) measures.

Good Academic Standing and Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). All students are expected to earn and maintain a grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 each semester and to successfully complete (earn) at least 67% of their attempted hours. Successful completion of a course means that a student must have credit pending (i.e. incomplete) or must earn credit for the course with a grade other than F, U, NC or W. Students in Good Standing will receive a notification if their semester completion rate falls below 67%.

Academic Warning for Continuing Students. Continuing students are placed on academic warning if the student’s cumulative Western Carolina University grade point average (GPA) falls below 2.0 or if the student fails to complete 67% of their attempted hours in their two most recently completed terms of enrollment or if the student fails to complete 67% of their overall WCU attempted hours. Cumulative GPA, semester and overall completion rate is checked at the end of each semester and students who fail to complete 67% of their attempted hours in their two most recently completed terms of enrollment or fail to complete 67% of their overall WCU attempted hours regardless of cumulative GPA will be placed on academic warning.

At the end of the term of academic warning, students must achieve the following to regain good academic standing:

  • Earn a 67% completion rate on the hours attempted for the semester, and
  • Earn an overall 67% completion rate on all WCU hours attempted, and
  • Raise the cumulative GPA to good standing (2.0),


  • Earn a 67% completion rate on the hours attempted for the semester, and
  • Earn an overall 67% completion rate on all WCU hours attempted, and
  • Earn a minimum 2.30 term GPA during the warning term.

Failure to achieve one of the above academic criteria will result in academic suspension.

Academic Suspension for Continuing Students:  Students who are on Academic Warning and who fail to meet the criteria necessary for continued enrollment will be suspended. All students have the right to appeal prior to the published appeals deadline. (See appeals below.) Students who are granted an appeal will be required to participate in an Academic Action Plan. Students who are suspended are not eligible to enroll at the University during the next regular (fall or spring) semester but may apply for readmission after they have served one semester of suspension.

When students return from suspension, they are placed on academic warning and must have an Academic Action Plan.

Failure to meet the terms of the Academic Action Plan will result in dismissal from the University

Students may withdraw from a maximum of 16 hours of courses during their career at Western Carolina University. Any withdrawal beyond the limit will result in a Withdraw-Failing (WF) which will affect the semester and cumulative GPA as if it were an F.

Students may withdraw from any class for any reason using myWCU before 60% of the term has passed. If a student wishes to withdraw from all courses for a term, that is called a “university withdrawal” and must be initiated with the Office of Student Retention. Please contact us at or 828.227.7171

University withdrawals will affect satisfactory academic progress and course completion rates but will not count towards the student's 16-hour course withdrawal limit.

After 60% of the term has passed, students are not allowed to withdraw from a class and the instructor must assign a grade.

For more details about the Withdrawal Policies, please see the WCU Undergraduate Catalog.

Students may repeat a maximum of 16 (up from 15) credit hours. When a student repeats a course, only the most recent grade will be used in calculation of the student's grade point average and counted in the hours toward graduation. All attempts and all grades will remain on the student's transcript.


Academic Glossary

Below is a partial list of terms that you and your student will come in contact with on campus with brief definitions.

Academic Dishonesty: This can refer to a range of various offenses, but most commonly includes plagiarism (i.e., taking credit for someone else’s work), cheating, and copying assignments.  These are serious charges and may result in failing a course, having a student conduct hearing, and/or being dismissed from the university.

Alt.Pin: A Student’s Alt Pin is a numeric pass code that allows students to register for the upcoming semester courses. Students receive their Alt.Pin after meeting with their primary advisor to discuss program requirements and the student’s degree audit.  

Authorized User:  A person who has been given access to view and receive updates for a student’s financial account.  Students can set up this access through their MyWCU student account.

Catalog: An online resource that provides information about academic policies, procedures, course requirements and descriptions.  It can be found at

Chancellor’s List: An academic honor given to students who earn a 3.8 GPA or higher during the semester.

Course Withdrawal: A process for a student to remove a course from his/her schedule after the drop/add period ends.  The student will receive a grade of W, which will not impact their GPA, but may impact their academic status and/or financial aid eligibility.  Students are encouraged to consult with an academic advisor prior to withdrawing from a course.  The withdrawal deadline is in the middle of the semester.

Dean’s List: An academic honor given to students who earn a 3.5 GPA or higher during the semester.

Degree Audit: An online document that tracks a student’s completion towards fulfilling their degree requirements.  This is accessible through MyWCU and should be checked often to ensure that the student is on track for completing their degree in a timely manner.

Drop/Add: A period of time at the beginning of each semester when students can make changes to their class schedule without any penalties.  These changes do not show up on a student’s permanent academic record (i.e. transcript).  This is typically the first week of classes for a regular (i.e., fall and spring) semester.

Electives Courses: that a student takes for credit which do not count towards the specific requirements for a major or minor, but do fulfill hours towards overall completion of the student’s degree.

Emergency Alerts: WCU Alerts is a system that allows students, faculty, staff and parents to receive a message in case of emergency. Messages can be sent to e-mail, cell phone or home phone.  Sign up here!

FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) asks students and parents (of dependent students) to provide information related to personal income and federal taxes in order to determine eligibility for federal grant, loan, and work-study programs, as well as other types of financial aid.

FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  See Release of Student Information for additional information.

Full-time Course Load: A student is enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester.  Before dropping below 12 credit hours, a student should consult with an academic advisor and the financial aid office.

GPA: Grade Point Average (GPA) measures a student’s academic performance.  The calculation is based on the point value of each letter grade.  The total number of points earned is divided by the number of credit hours attempted.  This determines a student’s academic standing, along with Satisfactory Academic Progress (see definition below).

  • Semester GPA: a calculation based on the student’s academic performance for a given term.
  • Cumulative GPA:a calculation based on the student’s overall academic performance for their entire enrollment at WCU.  Note: transfer credits do not calculate into a student’s WCU GPA.

HIPAA: The Health Information and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) federal guidelines refer to the privacy and security regulations concerning the protection of patient health information.  This means that parents and family members may not have access to a student’s health records.

JobCat 2.0: WCU’s on-campus job database.  In addition, it offers job and internship postings, a list of upcoming career and networking events, and other resources for students and alumni.

Liberal Studies: A required set of courses that are part of a student’s bachelor’s degree program.  Liberal Studies requires a total of 42 semester hours, distributed in the following way: The Core (21 hours), The First-Year Seminar (3 hours), and The Perspectives (18 hours).

Engage: An online directory that provides a list of all registered student clubs and organizations.  Students can create an account and sign up online.

Major: A student’s primary field of study.  Students must complete a set number of courses to fulfill their program requirements.

Minor: A secondary field of study or area of specialization.  Some majors require student to have a minor as part of their degree.

Release of Student Information: A six-digit code which is set by a student through their MyWCU account and provides a way for university personnel to verify a student's identity before discussing the student's academic records by telephone.  Student consent is required before any WCU administrative office can discuss most specific issues pertaining to a student’s records with third parties. The student can choose to assign a different six-digit code to another person, so that they can contact university personnel for information.

Residential Instruction vs. Distance Instruction Courses: Students will be classified as either “Residential” or “Distance” based upon their admission to the university and how their academic program is offered. Programs that are entirely online are “Distance” whereas programs that are offered on campus are identified as “Residential.” Residential students are permitted to enroll in On-Line/Web-based courses as long as the course has the attribute “Residential Instruction, ” and the student meets all other course requirements. Students that are enrolled as a Distant student are only allowed to register for courses with the attribute “Distance Instruction.”

ScholarCat: An online system which students use to apply for university scholarships.  It usually opens at the beginning of October and the deadline is at the beginning of February.

Syllabus: An outline of an instructor’s plan of action for a class.  It usually provides the purpose and goals of the course as well as student requirements, grading structure, due dates, and assignment schedule.

Term/University Withdrawal: TA process for a student to remove all courses from their schedule after the drop/add period ends. The student will receive grades of W, which will not impact their GPA, but may impact their academic status and/or financial aid eligibility. Students must complete this process through the Office of Student Retention (email:; phone: 828.227.7171)

Transcript: A student’s permanent academic record which provides an official listing of courses taken and grades received during a student’s college career.  This also includes their major, degree, grade point averages, and academic standing.

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