Information for New Instructors

Arts & Sciences by the Numbers

  • ~4400 ArtSci undergrads, ~7000 total
  • Freshman class (2018) 1222/1803
  • Credits to graduate: 120
  • Typical credits in major: 30-40
  • Target semester load: 15 credits
  • Lecture class: 3 credits; Lab class 4-5 credits
  • Maximum semester load w/out special permission: 21 credits
  • Minimum load for full time student: 12 credits
  • Classes start: At scheduled time (typically on the hour or half-hour)
  • Classes end: 10 minutes before the hour or half-hour
  • ~~50% of students enter interested in Biology and/or pre-health
  • ~28% apply to med school
  • 74% complete more than one major (+ minor, + second major)
  • Largest majors: Anthropology, Psychology, Biology
  • ~1/3 go straight to grad school, ~1/3 go to work force, return to school w/in 7 years, ~1/3 stay in work force
  • Grad rate (4 yr): 89%, (6 yr): 95%

Guidelines & Info

Prepared by Jennifer Smith
Revised August 2018


What they mean (e.g., what’s an A?)

It’s up to you! No guidelines from us. We just ask that the method of grading is transparent to the student.

Grades other than letter grades

You may choose whether it is possible for students to take your course CR/NCR (pass/fail) or as an audit. [You can’t change retroactively—if the option was available at the time a student registered, you can’t take it back!] YOU CHOOSE what constitutes a pass, or a successful audit. Please communicate this on your syllabus.

Midterm grades 

If possible, please submit for: all first year students, anyone heading towards a C- or lower. *Helpful to let students know what this midterm grade represents. You will get a reminder.


If a student experiences medical or personal problems that make satisfactory completion of course work difficult or unlikely, s/he may request a grade of Incomplete (I) from one or more instructors. In such a situation, the student should take the following steps:

  1. Meet with the instructor before the final examination or due date for the final paper to discuss the request.
  2. If the instructor consents, agree on the work remaining to complete the course and on a date when it will be submitted.

If these steps are not followed, the instructor is under no obligation to award a grade of I. Failure to submit completed work by the last day of classes of the next full semester will result in the I grade being changed automatically to a grade of F.  For spring semester courses, this will be the last day of summer classes, typically mid-August.

You can change a student’s grades via egrades for several weeks after grades are due; you can change grades through a paper form (ask your department/program admin) until the student’s degree is granted.


Students whose performance in a course has not met their expectations are permitted to retake the course, receive a second grade, and have the symbol R, denoting the retake, placed next to the grade for the first enrollment. The course should be retaken for the same grade option as that for which the course was originally taken. All registrations will show on the transcript; however, only the grade and units of the final enrollment will be used to calculate the GPA.


Students enrolling/leaving classes

Students register for classes in the previous semester (mid-November for spring semester classes, mid-April for fall; incoming first years register by mid-July). There is a tradition of shopping; students typically enroll in more than they will take (or as backup for a waitlist). The add/drop deadline is the Thursday of the second week of class (Sep 6, 9 pm). After the add/drop deadline, they may only add the course *with your permission*, and if they wish to leave the class, they must withdraw, which will appear on their transcript (with a W, doesn’t impact GPA). They may withdraw until the end of the 12th week (November 16, 9 pm). After that, only medical reasons will allow a student to withdraw (direct student to: Assistant Dean Sean McWilliams,

Students wanting exceptions to these deadlines can file an exceptions petition :

In order to provide consistency for all students, the drop and withdraw deadlines are not at a faculty member’s discretion. Only the College can grant an exception to these. We do so only with significant extenuating circumstances (i.e., not, “I really thought the deadline was tomorrow.”).


Final exams

The date and time of the final exam was provided to the students at the time they registered for classes. Any cumulative final assessment should be given on that scheduled date, not during the last week of class, or during reading days. It is the *student’s* responsibility to know those dates and to plan their travel accordingly. You are not obliged to move your final exam to accommodate their travel. There is an unkillable urban legend that if a student has three exams on one day that a faculty member is obliged to move one. This is not true.  


Academic integrity

For an overview:

Contact Assistant Dean Sean McWilliams with

Cases are heard by a student/faculty panel. The faculty member will present their case, the College can support with evidence gathering if needed. The panel will decide whether or not a student is found in violation, but grade sanctioning is up to the professor. We’re a “three-strike” institution—first offense is typically failure of the assignment or course, second is suspension, third, expulsion. There is an appeal process that can be invoked which involves the University Judicial Board.


Proposing new courses

Course proposal forms can be found here: 

Departments and programs have their own procedures which would need to be followed prior to submission to the ArtSci curriculum committee.


When you’ll hear from us/someone about a student in your classes

If a student is having significant health problems, or a traumatic event and has engaged their advisor, their advisor may reach out to inform you and coordinate accommodations. If we learn a student is hospitalized, you will hear from the College (we don’t always hear). Student Health Services doesn’t provide standard “doctor’s notes”—students can get verification that they have been seen at Student Health, but that won’t contain “please excuse so-and-so because of problem y”.

Someone in the college will check in midterm (or sometimes earlier) asking about any students we are concerned about.

You may hear from someone (likely Kim Webb) associated with the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center. Please be as accommodating as you can be.


When you should contact us

Whenever you’re concerned about a student. You’re welcome to contact me directly, or the student’s advisor(s)—you can find the advisor info through WebFAC.

If you are concerned a student is a danger to self or others, call WUPD; 935-5555 (on campus) or 911 (off campus)

You can also report a significant concern about a student to WashU Cares, who will follow up. 


Students receiving disability accommodations

Overview here:

You are not obliged to provide accommodations for anyone who hasn’t given you a VISA form from Cornerstone. It is worth reading any forms you get as soon as you get them, and if anything on the VISA is ambiguous (“flexible attendance” has caused us problems in the past) you should have a conversation with the student and/or Heather Stout about how any accommodations will work.


Course evaluations

We are trying to build a culture where students are more likely to complete semester-end course evaluations—current response rates average only 50%. Please encourage students to complete in any way you are comfortable. The most effective practices we’ve seen: offering students 10 minutes during class in the last week to pull out smart phones, devices, etc., and complete the evals, professors discussing the changes they have made in their courses as a result of past evaluation responses, and building course eval participation into a student’s participation grade, or as extra credit (even a miniscule amount that has effectively no chance of changing a final grade seems to boost participation rates significantly).

To see what students can see—go to

[You can see this plus individual comment text].


Costs associated with your courses  

Inasmuch as the world of academic publishing allows, please keep required expenses (texts, etc.) for your course low. Your subject librarian may be able to help you find open source or other cheap texts. Providing information as early as possible to students (through completing bookstore orders) will help them shop around. If your course has additional costs which are not term-billed (lab fees are term-billed), please give students as much advance notice as possible. Talk to your department and/or the college (me) about covering additional costs (e.g., performance tickets) for students.