Academic Affairs Policies

Georgetown University has developed policies designed to ensure the academic quality and intellectual rigor of the BSFS degree. It is the job of the Academic Affairs Office to uphold and enforce these policies.

The most important policy document governing academics at Georgetown University is the Undergraduate Bulletin. The policies dealing specifically with academic issues are found chiefly in the Academic Regulations section of this document.  

Below is an overview of some of the academic policies that students ask about frequently. Most are detailed in the Undergraduate Bulletin while others are specific to the Georgetown University in Qatar, School of Foreign Service and are only described on the GU-Q website.

Academic Honors

Semester Honors

Every semester, academic honors are noted on full-time students’ transcripts based on their grade point average (GPA) for that semester:

  • First honors are awarded to students who earn a 3.900 GPA or higher
  • Second honors are awarded to those who earn at least a 3.700 GPA
  • Students who earn at least a 3.500 GPA are on the Dean’s list

Semester academic honors are printed on all official transcripts.

Once an academic year, students receiving First and Second Semester Honors will be invited to an awards reception.

Note: “full-time” status for the purposes of computing honors requires that a student be enrolled in at least twelve credits of coursework for which quality points are awarded. Pass/fail grades or cross-registration courses are not awarded quality points.

Final (Latin) Honors

Effective with the graduating class of 2017, final academic honors are determined by the GPAs of the previous year’s graduating class.  August and December graduates are considered part of the subsequent year’s graduating class, (i.e. August and December 2016 graduates are Class of 2017, not Class of 2016), so those students’ Latin honors criteria will be different from the criteria used by the May graduates of the same calendar year.  

  • Summa Cum Laude: The lowest grade point average (GPA) of the top five percent (5.000%) of the previous year’s graduating class will be used to determine the GPA needed by the undergraduate students of the next graduating class to graduate Summa Cum Laude.
  • Magna Cum Laude: The lowest GPA of the next ten percent (i.e., the top 15-5.001%) of the previous year’s graduating class will be used to determine the GPA needed to graduate Magna Cum Laude.
  • Cum Laude: The lowest GPA of the next ten percent (i.e., the top 25-15.001%) of the previous year’s graduating class will be used to determine the GPA needed to graduate Cum Laude.

As the GPAs needed for each category will change each year, these will be announced in the undergraduate bulletin the summer prior to the start of the academic year in which those GPAs apply.  View the most current requirements for Latin Honors here.

Final Latin honors are printed on all official transcripts.  August and December graduates will have Latin Honors awarded and included in official transcripts and diplomas the subsequent May.

Additional Honors in the School of Foreign Service

SFS students may also be eligible for membership in various Honors Societies, or Honors in the Major programs, or for academic medals awarded at the Tropaia ceremony. 


Registration, Add/Drop and Waitlists

Students may add themselves into and drop themselves from courses via MyAccess through the first week of classes of the regular semester (first day of classes in the Summer). Students must have their NetIDs and passwords set to do this. Classes dropped during this period will be removed from official student records and will not appear on student transcripts.

If a class is full, students must add themselves to the waitlist for a class. If students registered for the class drop it, then the next person in line on the waitlist is offered a seat in the class. Professors may not override the waitlist to enroll students into courses.

After the first week of classes (first day of classes in the Summer), students can no longer add themselves into courses, but can withdraw from classes through the withdrawal deadline listed on the Academic Calendar. Courses dropped after the first week of class, but before the last day to withdraw, will remain on student transcripts with a grade of “W” (withdraw). Students cannot withdraw from courses after the last day to withdraw.

Students must maintain full-time enrollment of 12 credits or more. A student who is enrolled in 15 credits may withdraw or drop to 12 credits. Students who are enrolled in 12 credits are not eligible to withdraw or drop classes.

Auditing Courses

GU-Q students cannot audit GU-Q courses. 


GU-Q students have the opportunity to enroll in courses at other institutions within HBKU. Currently, cross-registration is offered at the following universities:

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Northwestern University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Weill Cornell Medicine Qatar

After completing their first year, GU-Q students can enroll in one cross-registration course per semester. The maximum number of cross-registration that a GU-Q student can take during his/her academic career is four.

Cross-registration courses can count towards fulfilling the requirements of the BSFS degree. In order to earn Georgetown credit for a cross-registration course, students must earn a grade of D or higher. The grade earned in a cross-registration course will appear on the Georgetown transcript, but will not be factored into the cumulative GPA.

Ordinarily, cross-registration courses count as free electives. However, a student can petition to have a cross-registration course count as major or certificate credit at GU-Q. To do so, students should present a copy of the course syllabus for review to their academic advisor. If you are interested in cross-registering, please visit this page

Full-time Student Status

GU-Q students are expected to maintain full-time student status unless an exception is approved by their academic advisor.

Full-time academic status requires registration in courses that amount to twelve credits or more in a fall or spring semester. Students are also considered full-time if they are registered for a University approved overseas study program.

Part-time academic status is based on registration in courses amounting to between one and eleven credits. The designation of half-time status is given to students who are registered for at least six credits. Part-time registration is usually only allowed in the final semester prior to graduation. 

Sixth Course

GU-Q students normally take five courses each semester. Under certain circumstances, it is possible for a student to take a sixth course in a semester. To do so, the student must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a sophomore, junior, or senior
  • If a student meets these criteria, then he/she can submit a petition to take a sixth course to his/her academic advisor at least two weeks before the beginning of the semester in which the sixth course is being requested. This petition should take the form of a short essay in which the student identifies the course he/she wishes to take and presents a compelling reason for why he/she needs to take it as sixth course.

Sixth courses must be free electives. Core, major, and certificate courses will not be approved as sixth courses.

All sixth course requests are considered by the academic deans during the first week of courses. Students will be notified the same week of the deans’ decision. The deans’ decision is final. Once approved, students are only able to enroll in a sixth free elective course if seats in that course are available during add/drop. 

Exams and Grading

Conflict Exams

The conflict exam policy applies to exams given during final exam week only. Furthermore, it applies only to in-class, written final exams. It does not apply to final papers, take home final exams, or take home papers.

In order to qualify for a conflict exam, a student must have:

  • Two exams scheduled for the same time slot; or
  • Three exams in the same calendar day; or
  • Three exams that start and end within a 24 hour period.
  • Students with academic accommodations qualify for a conflict exam if they have been given time and a half or double time to complete exams, and this creates one or more of the above-noted final exam conflicts

Conflict exams are the only instances in which a faculty member is obligated to offer a re-scheduled final exam. The exam that creates the conflict, or which is approved as a conflict exam, will be taken on the conflict exam day, noted in the exam schedule. A dean will administer the conflict exam. Students considering requesting a conflict exam need to adjust their travel plans accordingly.

If a student approaches a faculty member directly to request a rescheduling of the final exam for another reason, the faculty member is free to decline the request since all students are expected to be available for exams until the official end of term indicated on the Academic Calendar. If an instructor decides to accommodate the student request, it is up to the instructor to arrange for an alternate time during which he/she can proctor the exam him/herself. Please note that this time should not conflict with any other exam and should not occur on a study day.

To request a conflict exam, students must fill out the conflict exam request form which is available in the Academic Affairs Office. Professors whose exams are being rescheduled must sign the conflict exam requests and deliver a copy of the final exam to the Office of Curricular and Academic Advising. Completed request forms should be returned to the student’s academic advisor for approval by the last day of classes. 

Grade Appeals

When a student thinks that a given course grade is not justified, he/she has the right to file a grade appeal. There are, however, very strict rules governing the circumstances under which a student can file a grade appeal.

  • An error in grading procedures is sufficient grounds for an appeal.
  • Inequity in the application of policies stated in the course syllabus is sufficient grounds for an appeal.
  • A disagreement with the professional judgment of the professor is not sufficient grounds for an appeal.
  • If, after careful consideration, a student believes he/she has sufficient grounds for a grade appeal, then he/she must follow the directions and chronology for grade appeals outlined in the Undergraduate Bulletin very carefully.  


After the first year, students may take one elective course each semester on a pass/fail basis up to a total of six pass/fail courses during sophomore, junior, and senior years.

The procedure for selecting a pass/fail course is as follows:

  • Students choose an elective course on a pass/fail basis during the add/drop period by completing a pass/fail course registration form available in the Academic Affairs Office. Students dropping a pass/fail course may not add another pass/fail course for that semester. The Academic Affairs Office will notify professors of those students taking courses on a pass/fail basis.
  • The pass/fail option is restricted to free electives and must be exercised only for courses within the normal course load for a given semester. A faculty member, or the Office of Academic Affairs, may designate certain courses as unavailable to the pass/fail option.
  • Pass/fail courses will be marked S (Satisfactory), equivalent to letter grades of C or better, and U (Unsatisfactory). Neither the S nor the U will affect the student’s average. Only courses noted as S receive credit.
  • Once a student has decided to take a course on a pass/fail basis, it is not possible, under any circumstances, to record a letter grade for that course.  

Student Absence Policy

Faculty members have the right to set attendance requirements for their classes as well as to excuse any student from class on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with University policy and their own best judgment. The BSFS deans have the responsibility of verifying on behalf of students when their absences are caused by legitimate circumstances that warrant the professors’ consideration and accommodation if possible.

For religious holy days, Georgetown University has a separate policy which states that students shall be excused from classes without penalty, provided they give their professors notice at the beginning of the semester. This policy is stated below with a link to the website listing all religious observances covered by this policy. Absences are considered caused by legitimate circumstances, either in advance or after the fact, when students present documentation for the following reasons:

  • an illness severe enough to require a doctor’s consultation;
  • a medical or personal emergency;
  • medical exam required for Qatar residency permit (QF – sponsored students only)
  • a death or a serious medical emergency in the immediate family;
  • a family situation over which the student has limited or no control

Medical notes must be presented to the advising dean within seven days of the initial date of the absence. Medical notes presented after this time will not be considered as legitimate reasons for missing class. The deans DO NOT consider any of the following legitimate reasons for a student’s absence:

  • minor illnesses for which a student would not normally consult a doctor;
  • routine or scheduled medical tests or appointments;
  • family trips or vacations;
  • conference attendance;
  • working hours for jobs;
  • internships or internship-related events;
  • job interviews

If a dean determines that a student has a legitimate reason for an absence, he or she notifies all of the student’s professors immediately and in writing. In these cases professors are asked to make every reasonable accommodation to help the student make up the work. These accommodations may include:

  • waiving this particular absence in light of an attendance requirement as stated in the syllabus
  • allowing the student to make up quizzes, tests, and midterms, if practicable, within a reasonable time frame
  • allowing a reasonable extension for turning in written assignments

Even when an absence is judged to be legitimate, it is the responsibility of the student to make up any missed work. Students must therefore speak with their professors as soon as possible so that they begin catching up.

In some cases, professors may not be able to accommodate or excuse an absence. If no reasonable accommodation is possible, or if a student has accumulated too many absences (even ones with legitimate causes), then the student may be asked to consider withdrawing from courses or taking a leave of absence for the remainder of the semester.

Absences for religious holidays

Georgetown University promotes respect for all religions. Any student who is unable to attend classes or to participate in any examination, presentation, or assignment on a given day because of the observance of a major religious holiday (see below)* or related travel shall be excused and provided with the opportunity to make up, without unreasonable burden, any work that has been missed for this reason and shall not in any other way be penalized for the absence or rescheduled work. Students will remain responsible for all assigned work. Students should notify professors in writing at the beginning of the semester of religious observances that conflict with their classes. The Office of the Provost, in consultation with Campus Ministry and the Registrar, will publish, before classes begin for a given term, a list of major religious holidays likely to affect Georgetown students. The Provost and the Main Campus Executive Faculty encourage faculty to accommodate students whose bona fide religious observances in other ways impede normal participation in a course. Students who cannot be accommodated should discuss the matter with an advising dean.

*For a complete list of religious holy days to which this policy applies, please visit the campus ministry page

Credits and Progress towards Degree

Advanced and Transfer Credit

GU-Q offers students credit for the following programs: (The below rules are for the current academic year’s entering class. If you need to know a previous year’s rule, please contact your academic advisor.)

Advanced Placement: Students who take AP exams may be eligible to receive credit for certain core requirements and for elective courses. Students need to bring an official AP score report to their academic advisor in order to complete a credit evaluation. AP credits may not be applied for major credit. Click here to see how the most common AP exams translate into SFS credits.

International Baccalaureate: Students who earn scores of 6 or 7 in higher level (HL) subjects may be eligible to receive credit for certain core requirements and for elective courses. Students need to bring an official IB score report to their academic advisor in order to complete a credit evaluation. Click here to see how the most common IB subjects translate into SFS credits.

13th Year Programs: GU-Q recognizes a number of 13th year schooling programs and students may be eligible to receive credit for certain core requirements and for elective courses. Students need to bring an official score reports to their academic advisor in order to complete a credit evaluation. Click here to see a list of 13th year programs.

College Courses: Credit toward Georgetown degrees may be given for work done at other accredited institutions. Please note that transfer credit is determined by the Office of Curricular and Academic Advising at GU-Q and NOT the Admissions Office. If you have specific questions regarding the transferability of classes you have taken and/or are currently taking, please contact us.

Credit awarded from other institutions are subject to the following limitations:

  • Credit for required courses will be given if the course is similar to the one required at Georgetown. (Click here to access the Course Catalog)
  • Credit for electives will be given if the course is similar to courses offered at Georgetown. Credit for courses not offered at Georgetown will be considered on an individual basis.
  • Grades earned must be at least one level above minimum passing level, (e.g., C). Passing grades on a Pass/Fail system are acceptable if defined as C or better.
  • The maximum number of transferable credits is one-half of the total required for the degree (60 credits). All transfer students must enroll as full-time students. They must spend a minimum of four full semesters in residence at Georgetown to earn a degree. Summer sessions and study abroad programs will not count toward fulfilling the residency requirement.  

Summer and Transfer Course Policy


No more than 20 courses/60 credits total may be transferred to Georgetown. Students who brought 20 courses/60 credits into Georgetown when they first matriculated are not eligible to take additional transfer courses in the summer.

If students have not already transferred in the maximum 20 courses/60 credits to Georgetown, students can transfer up to a total of four non-Georgetown summer courses into their Georgetown degrees. Courses can be regularly offered courses (in-person) or online courses from an accredited university. We encourage students to only transfer courses into Georgetown as free elective courses, but transfer courses can count as core, major and certificate courses with pre-approval (see below).

If students have not used their allotted four non-Georgetown summer transfer courses, they may take up to four courses in the summer term in which they are graduating.

Summer Transfer Course Pre-Approval

  • Transfer courses must be pre-approved by GU-Q. Students who take courses without pre-approval and request transfer afterwards will have their requests denied.
  • To receive transfer pre-approval, students must submit a request in writing/email, attach the course description and syllabus, and submit these to their advising dean by the last day of spring semester classes prior to the summer term in which they plan to enroll.
  • If students ask to apply transfer courses to core, major or certificate requirements, the GU-Q faculty in charge of those programs or courses must approve the syllabi.
  • Courses must be taken for a letter grade (not Pass/Fail) and must be equivalent to a minimum of three U.S. credits. Students must earn the equivalent of a C grade or higher in order for the credit to transfer.
  • Grades for transfer classes will not be factored into the Georgetown GPA, but the course and credits will appear on the Georgetown transcript and count toward graduation.

Official Transcripts Required for Transfer Credit

  • Upon completion of the course(s), students must submit an official transcript to their advising dean to complete the transfer request.
  • An accredited college or university must issue the official transcript. Transcripts issued by coordinating or intermediary agencies will not be accepted.
  • Students are solely responsible for ensuring that official transcripts for non-Georgetown summer courses are sent to, and arrive at, GU-Q in a timely fashion. Under no circumstances will transfer credit for non-Georgetown summer courses be posted to a student’s Georgetown University record until the official transcripts are received.
  • Taking courses at other Education City universities in the summer is considered transfer credit and counts toward the four-course summer transfer course limit. These are treated the same as other non-Georgetown summer transfer courses.

Internal Transfer Policy for GU-Q Students

GU-Q students interested in applying as internal applicants to another school or college within Georgetown University become eligible only after completing two years of study at GU-Q. Students may only apply to one school for consideration and must adhere to the admissions process of the respective school or college to which they apply. During their second year of study, students must have a discussion with their advising dean and petition for a letter of eligibility from GU-Q to accompany their application to the respective school or college. The letter of eligibility, nor any supplemental materials guarantee successful transfer.

Core Curriculum – “Good Progress” Benchmarks for Academic Standards

The curriculum is designed to be completed in four years of full-time enrollment.  In order to do this, students must make good progress toward completing their graduation requirements.  Good progress benchmarks are as follows:

  • Completion of all or most of core curriculum (especially economics) in first two years
  • Completion of non-HALC writing course(s) in first year
  • Completion of Proseminar in fall semester of first year 
  • Completion of Map of the Modern World in spring semester of first year
  • Enrollment in language courses every semester — if not already proficient in a second language other than English, or if there is no other language plan approved by advising dean
  • IECO majors must complete specific courses by the end of the second year to gain entrance to the IECO major. (see IECO major page)

Students who are not hitting these good progress benchmarks may find themselves subject to academic standards review as well as needing to extend their time to graduate.