FAQ on Changes to Academic Requirements

First, have you checked the Academic Requirements summary grid at go.wlu.edu/planning-grid ?

120 credits required for a degree for the classes of 2020, 2021, and beyond. Current sophomores and first-years must accumulate at least 120 credits in order to receive a W&L bachelor's degree. Juniors and seniors (those graduating by May 23, 2019) are required to have at least 113 credits.

Physical Education skills courses for first-years and sophomores only, are now valued at one credit each, effective with the Fall 2017 term, who must accumulate 120 credits to graduate. Juniors and seniors will continue to receive a total of one credit toward their 113 credits for thed degrees. (The courses are shown as flexible credit -- zero to one -- and students will select the appropriate amount during their planning and registration.) The FDR requirement still requires all current students to accumulate 4 of these courses, whether or not they carry any credit. Your PE courses will now count in a more rational way, awarding fair credit for the time involved.

1. I am a junior who has already taken three PEs. How does this affect me?

If your basic question is "how many PE skills courses do I need to take", it is still four required for all students, whether they are 0- or 1-credit courses.

2. As a sophomore, I wonder if I can get retroactive credits for PE skills already completed?

Yes. These adjustments to credits and cumulative grade-point averages will appear slowly during September.

3. I was wondering why playing a varsity sport only counts for two of the four PE credits.

The number of varsity credits which are countable toward the FDR requirement is set by the PEA&R Department (2 for each sport but max of 3, going forward), though we are having discussions about allowing additional varsity credits to count toward degree credits even after the FDR requirement has been completed.

4. As a sophomore or first-year, how do I make my new PE registration for 1 credit?

To do this, you will change the 0 credit to 1 credit in the course details screen in the earliest part of the planning process--when you add the course to your plan.  Please see the screen shots at www.wlu.edu/university-registrar/registration/student-planning-registration-help/variable-credit-courses .

5. I still don't understand the new rules.

Juniors and seniors have always been shooting for only 113 total credits, counting on only one credit for all of the PE skills courses. We also were having problems about fairly accounting for completed zero-credit skills in the cumulative GPA and building the Degree Audit or My Progress logic.

As a result, we have modified the implementation of this part of the requirements as follows:

  • 100- and 200-level PE skills courses will be posted as variable credit (zero or one credit)
  • Juniors (Class of 2019) and Seniors (Class of 2018) will continue to take four PE skills courses for 0 credits and earn 1-credit upon completion of their four required courses toward their 113 credits required for graduation. There is no change to the graduation requirement for juniors and seniors.
  •  Sophomores (Class of 2020) and First-Years (Class of 2021) will continue to take four PE skills courses for one credit each, toward the 120 credits required for graduation.

The change that affects ALL students is that you are now asked to choose the proper number of credits (0 or 1) in WebAdvisor or Self-Service when you plan your course sections. First-Years and Sophomores should pick 1 credit. Juniors and Seniors should pick 0 credit.

See the registration helps for selecting variable-credit classes:

Also, Sophomores who completed zero-credit PE skills courses last year will, in the coming weeks, receive a credit adjustment equal to the number of PE skills completed and including their average grades in their cumulative GPA.

New category of Experiential (EXP) courses, required for the classes of 2020, 2021, and beyond. All students will have access to EXP-designated courses, but current sophomores and first-year must accumulate four credits of EXP coursework. The standards of learning for the EXP designation and the list of these courses is still being developed and will be made available as early as possible. Many of these are already popular with our students, including one-credit courses in the arts, practica, internships, and community-based learning. You will now receive credit for the experiential work that so many of our students pursue. 

1. Will summer research (or PE or music or dance or labs) receive EXP credits?

The student learning outcomes are being developed for the new EXP course designation, which will be presented to the faculty's Committee on Courses and Degrees in mid-September. Many courses already in the curriculum, including those taught in spring term, will be evaluated for the EXP designation. We hope to know more officially by the beginning of October, once the faculty approves, including a first list of courses.

A "normal" full-time course load is 13-15 credits in the fall and winter term, in order to allow students to take a full academic load plus credit-bearing PE and experiential courses. An entering student can easily reach 120 credits without overloading, by averaging term loads of with 13-13-4 credits (30 credits each year for four years), even without AP, IB, or transfer credit. Overloads of 16 credits will be approved easily, with overloads of 17 or more continuing to receive careful review by the associate deans or Faculty Executive Committee. (See the overload policy at go.wlu.edu/overload-policy.) Also, 12 credits will continue to be the minimum full-time course load.  These changes are now in effect for Fall 2017.

A credit hour for undergraduate courses will be defined as 60 minutes of class instruction per week in fall and winter terms, beginning with Winter 2018. A three-credit course would meet for a full 180 minutes each week. That is, if a class typically meets three times per week, it would meet for three, 60-minute sessions; a class meeting two times per week would meet for two, 90-minute sessions; and so on).

1. One credit hour is proportional to one hour of instructional time and I was curious if this wording means that science labs are exempt from this change. 

A credit hour assumes instructional time of 60 minutes per week and two hours of out-of-class work per week. For other academic activities established by the faculty, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, supervised undergraduate research, etc., leading to the award of credit hours, an equivalent amount of work is required. For some laboratory courses, for example, much of the work may be done only in the laboratory space at scheduled times. For others, lab can require extensive time both in and out of the laboratory. Typically, a laboratory is only awarded one credit beyond the credit for the course. This fall, the faculty will consider an expanded definition of Washington and Lee credit, consistent with federal requirements.

The typical undergraduate teaching schedule is moving to 60-minute meetings with 15-minute passing times. The expanded passing time will alleviate some student and faculty concerns which have been expressed in recent years. This adjustment will provide more learning time per course, and the increased passing time should make for a better-paced class day.