Academic Terminology

The Office of the Registrar uses many special terms to refer to specific Simmons University concepts that may need further definition.

3 + 1 Program: A collaboration between the undergraduate and graduate colleges. This program allows students to earn a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in four years.

Academy: The honor society of Simmons University. Senior students who have demonstrated superior achievement according to the rules of the faculty and who have not been found guilty according to the Honor Code of Responsibility may qualify for admission after completing at least 48 semester hours of Simmons credit using the letter grade system. Students are considered for Academy at least three times during their senior year. Usually as a result of this process, the number of students admitted into Academy equals about 10 percent of the senior class by the end of the academic year.

Ad Board: The Administrative Board is a governing body at Simmons which rules on cases regarding academic exceptions. The Simmons Administrative Board consists of: six faculty members who vote on decisions; several administrators who serve in an advisory capacity; the Dean for Student Life or her designee; the Director of Disability Services; and a faculty member from the nursing department. The Associate Registrar serves as secretary to the Administrative Board. The purposes of the board are twofold: to consider petitions from students requesting exception to University policy and to review the records of students in academic difficulty. The board also votes to choose the winners of three all-University awards: the Palmer Award, the Alumnae Honor Award, and the Alumnae Achievement Award.

Adjunct Professors: These professors are not regular faculty members. They are hired on a part-time basis and often do not have offices on campus.

Audit: A formal audit may be elected by any full-time undergraduate student after the first semester, provided that she has her instructor's permission and agrees to abide by the instructor's conditions for the audit. A student may formally audit no more than one course each semester. A formal audit will appear on the student transcript, but no credit is given. A formal audit may not be used to satisfy any of the all-University requirements. More information on the formal audit option is available on the Auditing/Grading Options page.

Consent: Upper level courses sometimes require consent in order for students to register for them. Learn more on the Instructor Consent page. Instructors and heads of departments can email consent to [email protected].

Colleges of the Fenway (COF): Colleges of the Fenway is a collaborative effort of five neighboring Boston-based colleges in the Fenway area. These colleges include: Simmons, Emmanuel, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Students can register for courses across these colleges. Learn more about the Colleges of the Fenway.

Credits for Prior Learning (CPL): The Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) program for degree-seeking Dix Scholars offers an opportunity to receive college credit for knowledge gained through life experience. CPL students can apply for up to 24 credits for learning attained through employment, volunteer work, hobbies, travel, or other activity. Credit is not granted for the experience itself but for the university-level learning that resulted from the experience. IDS 227, a seminar for Dix Scholars applying for CPL, is taught each fall and spring semester by the CPL coordinator. This course grants two credits in addition to the credits awarded through CPL. CPL credits do not count toward Simmons residency or independent learning requirements.

Cross Registration: See the Cross-Registration page.

Declaration of Major: Students may elect a major any time after completing 32 credit hours, but not later than completing 80 credit hours. Students failing to declare their majors upon the completion of 80 credit hours will not be permitted to register for further course work. Declaration of Major forms are available in the Office of the Registrar.

Declaration of Minor: A student may elect to minor in a subject area in which the University currently offers a major; although not all departments and programs offer this option (a number of interdisciplinary minors are also available). A minor consists of 20 semester hours. Declaration of Minor forms are available in the Office of the Registrar.

Dean's List: The Dean's List was established to recognize undergraduate students' academic excellence. To be included on the Dean's List, which is compiled each semester, a student must have obtained a semester GPA of at least 3.50, have earned at least 12 credits using the letter grade system, and shall not have been found guilty of violating the Honor Code of Responsibility during that semester. Dean's List status will appear on student transcripts for each term they meet these criteria.

Degree Audit: This is a tool on Workday where students can monitor their progress through their program. The Degree Audit shows the requirements students have completed and what they still need to complete to graduate. If there are any issues with your Degree Audit, please email [email protected].

Department Chair/Head: Each academic department has a chairperson who is well acquainted with the faculty in his/her department, the course offerings in the department, the requirements for completion of the major, as well as the career opportunities in his/her field.

Dix Scholar: The Dorothea Lynde Dix Scholars program, designed for students who are 24 years or older, provides adult students with the opportunity to benefit from the unique combination of liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional study, that Simmons undergraduate programs offer.

Dual Degree: Simmons offers a growing number of dual-degree programs that provide the opportunity to expand an area of specialization or join cross-disciplinary interests. Dual degree study offers students the opportunity to combine programs requiring intensive theoretical study with programs that offer practical applications of that theory. Students in a dual degree program will have both degrees conferred at the same time once program requirements for both programs are completed.

FERPA: FERPA is a federal law that governs and protects your rights to your individual educational records. As a student over the age of 18 years or enrolled in a post-secondary institution, your primary rights under FERPA are:

  • Your right to review and inspect your educational records;
  • Your rights to have your educational records amended or corrected;
  • Your rights to control disclosure of certain portions of your educational records.

You can find more information about FERPA on the U.S. Department of Education's website.

Financial Empowerment: This is a graduation requirement for undergraduate students. All students must attend a seminar once before they graduate or complete the online SALT program.

Grade Scheme: The grading symbols are defined as follows:

A = ExcellentP= Pass
B= GoodI = Incomplete
C=FairW= Approved Withdrawal
D=PoorAU=Formal Audit
F=FailRW=Required Withdrawal

In determining the general quality of a student's work, the following valuations are used to calculate a grade point average:

A= 4.00C-= 1.67
A- = 3.67D+ = 1.33
B+ =3.33D = 1.00
B = 3.00D- = 0.67
B- = 2.67F = 0.00
C+ = 2.33RW= 0.00
C = 2.00 

Honors Program: The Honors Program provides an opportunity for students with distinguished high school academic records who are newly entering the University. The program combines a four-year curriculum, co-curricular activities, and community for its members.

iComps: The Simmons technology competency requirement is a graduation requirement that cannot be transferred in. It is an online exam that is offered at least twice a year through the Center of Academic Achievement. This requirement must be completed by all Transfer and Dix Scholar students, and any undergraduate students admitted before Fall 2015.

Independent Learning: Campus-Based Independent Learning (at least 8 semester hours): independent study, thesis, integrative seminar. Field-Based Independent Learning (no more than 16 semester hours): internship or fieldwork/practicum.

Language Requirement: Transfer students and all undergraduate students admitted before Fall 2015 must take up to three semesters of a modern language (through 201) or place into level 202 or above on the Placement test in order to fulfill the requirement (Dix Scholars are exempt from completing this requirement). Students admitted Fall 2015 and after must take two consecutive semesters of a language to complete the requirement.

Latin Honors: Summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude are granted to graduating seniors who achieve grade point averages at a distinguished level, have earned at least 48 semester hours of letter grades, and are not in violation of the honor code.

The levels are as follows:

  • Summa Cum Laude 3.9 - 4.0
  • Magna Cum Laude 3.75 - 3.89
  • Cum Laude 3.55 - 3.74

Leave of Absence: A student may apply for a leave of absence at any time after enrolling at the University. Students who are not registered for classes in a term but who do wish to complete their degrees at Simmons should request a Leave. Learn more on our Leaving Simmons page.

Math Competency: All students must fulfill the all university requirement of math competency. Students can do this by passing the Mathematics Competency Test, achieving a grade in the 75th percentile or higher on either the Math SAT or Act exam, or a score of 3 or higher on an AP Calculus exam, or by passing MATH 101 or 102 at Simmons or an equivalent course at another institution.

Modes of Inquiry: Undergraduate students entering before Fall 2015 and all Transfer students and Dix Scholars who entered prior to Fall 2017 must complete the Modes requirements. There are six modes that Undergraduate students must complete to graduate (one course from each mode is required). The modes are as follows:

  • Mode 1 — Creative and Performing Arts
  • Mode 2 — Language, Literature, and Culture
  • Mode 3 — Quantitative Analysis and Reasoning
  • Mode 4 — Scientific Inquiry
  • Mode 5 — Social and Historical Perspectives
  • Mode 6 — Psychological and Ethical Development

Pass/Fail: If a student using the pass/fail option receives a "P" in a course, they will receive credit for the course, but the "P" will not be averaged into the GPA. If they receive an "F" in a pass/fail course, they will receive no credit for the course, and the "F" will be averaged into their GPA as 0.00. Students can take a class pass/fail by filling out the pass/fail form. Learn more on the Auditing/Grading Options page.

Petition to Graduate: This form is required for Graduate students preparing to graduate to notify the Registrar's Office of their intent to graduate.

Registration Priority: Each student will automatically receive a date and time after which they can register for classes. Students can find their individual time on Workday. Registration Priorities are assigned based on completed credits and then randomly assigned in each grouping.

Registration Guidelines: Registration Guidelines are the set of deadline for students to change their registration. This includes adding, dropping, auditing, and taking a class pass/fail.

Senior Audit: The audit form is required for Undergraduate students to complete during their juniors year to notify the Registrar's Office of their intent to graduate. This form also allows students to monitor the completion of the all university requirements.

Student Status: Full, Half, Less Than Half
Based on the credits the student is registered for currently.


  • 1-5 credits is less than half time
  • 6-11 credits is half time
  • 12+ credits is full time


  • 1-4 credits is less than half time
  • 5-8 credits is half time
  • 9+ credits is full time

Transfer Credit: Any course taken at a different college (outside of the Colleges of the Fenway) must be approved for transfer credit. Students must complete the appropriate petition to transfer credit prior form to taking the course and have an official transcript sent to Simmons University upon completion. Credit is not transferred for any course completed with a grade of less than C. In some disciplines such as nursing, a grade of C+ is required. Grades received in these courses are not included in the GPA. Learn more on the Transferring Credit page.

Transfer Credit Evaluation (TCE): A TCE assesses the number of credits students have already taken that will transfer toward your Simmons degree, and also defines coursework you may be required to complete to fulfill the Modes of Inquiry (or general education requirements required to earn a Simmons diploma). Undergraduate students may transfer up to 80 credits.

Verification: An Enrollment Verification is for current students to show the number of credits registered for each semester and the corresponding status, as designated by number of credits. This form also lists the anticipated graduation date and anticipated degree to be earned. A Degree Verification is used to show that a student graduated from Simmons University and lists the conferral date and the type of degree earned. Learn more on the Verifications page.

Workday: An online registration and student information system, where students can manage their personal and profile information, register for courses, order transcripts, and monitor their progress in completing their university and degree requirements. Workday is accessible for current students and recent graduates with their Simmons login information at

Withdraw: If a student withdraws from all of their courses, fails to return from leave of absence after the date approved by the registrar, or fails to register for any courses by the end of the fourth week of classes, they are considered to have withdrawn from the University.