Student Success

Details Worth Knowing

See the Academic Policies section of the USM Registrar's Office for more details on each of the following.  sign post

  1. Academic Forgiveness – You can apply for this as an undergraduate only one time and there are restrictions. Three years must have passed since the semester you want forgiven. You must have taken a minimum of 15 credit hours and have a 2.50 cumulative GPA. All courses in the semester to be forgiven go away and are not counted in your GPA. You cannot get a waiver for a course you had forgiven if you need that course to meet any requirement. The forgiven semester stays on your transcript, but there is a notation that says this semester is not counted in your GPA.

  2. Appealing a Grade – If you believe you have just cause to appeal a grade you need to follow the Student Academic Appeals Policy in the USM Catalog. The process may be different for undergraduate and graduate students. In any case you should first contact your professor to determine if there is an error in calculation or if some of your work was not received. Don’t wait to begin this process. You have 30 days to begin an appeal. Checking your grades at the end of each semester will ensure you are aware early if there is a problem.

  3. Assumptions – This is never a good thing. Don’t assume if no one contacts you that everything is fine. This is your degree so you need to be responsible to keep track of everything associated with your degree and check on anything that does not sound or look correct to you. There are people here at USM to help you. If you don’t know where to start ask your academic advisor who should be able to refer you to the right place or person.

  4. Calculating your GPA – You can calculate your GPA or see what grades you will need this semester in order to reach your goal GPA. Use the USM GPA Calculator on the Advising Network. Very cool!

    • Grade Points – These are the number of points awarded for each letter grade. A = 4.0, A- = 3.67, B+ = 3.33, B= 3.0, C = 2.0, D = 1.0 and so on.

    • Quality Points – Take the number of credits for a course and multiply it by the grade points for a particular grade. This will equal your quality points. Sample: 3 credits X A (4 grade points) = 12 quality points.

  5. Dean's List – Your Dean’s Office notifies you when you are on the Dean’s List. You must have a semester GPA of 3.40 or higher and complete 12+ graded credits (not including MAT 101B), or be a part-time student attending both fall and spring semesters and meet the above criteria.

  6. Double Major vs Double Degree – A double major is when you complete requirements for two majors with a minimum of 120 credits. Both degrees are listed on one diploma. A double degree is a second degree (you will have one diploma for each degree) that is completed with a minimum of 150 credits. In either case you only complete one set of general education requirements. You need to let the Registrar’s Office know if you want to declare either of these options.

  7. Grades – Always check your grades at the end of each semester. This is available online through MaineStreet. Checking your grades at the end of each semester will ensure you are aware early if there is a problem.

    • What is an MG grade? – An MG, missing grade, means a faculty member did not post a grade for you. If the MG grade has not been changed to a valid grade within two weeks after grades are posted for the semester you should contact your professor to resolve the issue. It is possible your professor is waiting for you to pass in a missing assignment. If these grades are not resolved they will be changed by the Registrar at the end of the following semester to an *MG which equals an F in your GPA – not good. Be sure to follow up until this is resolved.

    • Incompletes – Incompletes are occasionally approved by a faculty member to allow a student to have a bit more time to complete an assignment or perhaps to take a test. You have to have completed the majority of the semester to be granted an I grade. It is up to you to contact and follow up with the professor to confirm what is due and how much time you will be allowed to turn in the work. The professor does not have to give you an incomplete if you ask, and can give you anywhere from an additional hour to as long as the end of the semester. Most times I grades should be resolved within a couple of weeks. If the I grade is not resolved it will be changed by the Registrar at the end of the following semester to an F  which will impact your GPA negatively – not good.
  8. Graduation with Distinction – If you’ve completed 60 credits (with at least 45 credits graded A – F) and have a GPA of 3.80 for summa cum laude, 3.6 for magna cum laude, or 3.4 for cum laude. Very good! You get to wear a gold, blue or white cord respectively at graduation for each of these honors.

  9. Independent Study – This option is available to qualifying junior and senior students to encourage supervised research related to their major or minor. Usually four credits or less are earned in a semester with a maximum of 12 credits of Independent Study earned toward an undergraduate degree. Students must apply to the department and be approved prior to the start of the semester.

  10. Pass/Fail Option – This is a great way to try a new subject area with a reduced risk to your GPA. You can take a maximum of 18 credit hours pass/fail, BUT, cannot take any course pass/fail if it is required for your major, minor or to satisfy a general education requirement. If you fail a pass/fail course it does hurt your GPA.

  11. Prior Approval to Take Courses at Another Institution –  Do you want to take one or more of your courses elsewhere? Be sure to receive PRIOR approval before taking courses at another institution. Why? Most importantly, because you want to be sure the course you take will transfer and satisfy a requirement. Titles of courses at other institutions may lead you to believe they will be equivalent to a particular course, but unfortunately, may not be accepted as what you think. Be sure to contact your Dean’s Office for more information and submit the Prior Approval Form to your major advisor. Another reason to request prior approval is so you won’t violate the University’s Residency Requirement which requires you take 30 of your final 45 credits at this institution.

  12. Repeating Courses – When repeating courses the most current grade counts. You may repeat USM courses at another institution if you meet certain requirements. You must meet the General and Senior Residency Requirements, and courses use to repeat a USM course must be approved as a direct equivalent of the course you took at USM. Check with your Dean’s Office for more information.

  13. Residence Requirement  – For all baccalaureate degrees at the University a minimum of 30 credits hours of the last 45 hours completed, including at least 9 hours in the major field, must be completed while matriculated in the school or college from which the degree is sought. A student may earn no more than six of these 30 credit hours at another campus of the University of Maine System.  Under extraordinary circumstances and with supporting documentation, students may request a waiver of this requirement from the dean of the school or college from which the degree is sought. Waivers are not automatically granted, and shall not be granted until at least 30 credits hours, including at least 9 hours in the major field, have been completed while matriculated in the school or college from which the degree is sought.

    Exception: CAHS allows students who have already met the General Residency requirement to take some of their final credits through national or international exchange. If you are not a CAHS major check with your Dean’s Office to request permission.

  14. Transferring from a quarter-system school – If you transferred a course to USM from a school on a quarter system (USM is on a semester system), your transfer credits are pro-rated based on the number of credit hours. A 4 credit course from a quarter system school equals 3 semester credits. A 3 credit course equals 2.67 semester credits. If this course was used to satisfy a USM course a 2.67 course will be allowed to satisfy a 3 credit requirement, BUT, you still only get 2.67 credits toward your total credits.