Planning and Managing a Course Load

Planning and managing course load

Placement tests

All students entering a degree or certificate program are required by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to take assessment tests in order to ensure appropriate placement in classes. The tests assess students’ skill levels in reading, writing, and mathematics. The results of the assessment, in conjunction with academic background information, are used by College advisors to help students choose courses prior to registration. Should developmental work be necessary, you’ll receive help to select the courses you need.


Satisfactory performance on the English placement test or in ENG 090, Basic Writing Skills, is necessary to enroll in ENG 101, College Writing. Those students whose scores indicate that they need additional work in writing will be placed in ENG 090.


Students who perform below the required level on the reading skills test must successfully complete RDG 080, Fundamentals of Reading Development; and/or RDG 090, College Reading and Learning Strategies; before the end of their second semester.


Students who perform below the required level on the arithmetic test must successfully complete the Arithmetic Competency, MTH 011, Foundations of Mathematics. Students who score below the required level on the elementary algebra test must successfully complete the Introductory Algebra Competency, MTH 021 and/or the Intermediate Algebra Competency, MTH 031, depending on their math background and academic program.

English as a Second Language

Students who enter the College through the English as a Second Language program must complete appropriate placement tests administered by the director of placement testing upon completion of the ESL program. Those who perform below the required level on the assessment tests will be required to complete ENG 090 and/or RDG 090 as appropriate.

Course load

A full-time course load is 12 credit hours or more a semester. Students on academic probation can register for no more than 13 credits. A load of five courses (15 to 17 credit hours) is considered to be the normal load, although in some programs more credits may be required in some semesters to complete the program within two years. Honor students (3.2 or higher average) may register for six courses (18-20 credit hours). Requests for exceptions may be made in writing to the Academic Standing Committee.

Plan for at least two to three hours of study for each class hour. A student carrying 15 credits, for example, should schedule 30 to 45 hours for study each week.

Final examinations

Final examinations, including projects and other evaluation activities, are given during the week following the end of classes each semester. Final examinations can be made up only for compelling reasons, such as accidents or sickness, and with the permission of the instructor.

A physician’s certificate may be required if the reason is medical. A student who misses a final examination is responsible for contacting the instructor and arranging to take the exam during the scheduled make-up and conflict period or at another time. If the instructor is not available, the student should contact the appropriate divisional dean.

Registering for courses

Students may register for classes at any time during the registration period. All students are to be registered in courses by the end of the first week of classes. No course changes will be permitted after that time, except with written approval of the faculty member concerned. Course change forms may be obtained in the Advisement Center or the Enrollment Center.

Dropping a course

Students who need to adjust their schedules may do so during the registration period and through the first week of classes. After the first week of classes, students cannot add a class without instructor authorization. Students may drop any course through the second week of classes without penalty. After the second week of classes, any student who drops a class will receive a grade of “W” (see “Withdrawal Policy & Procedure”).

To receive a “W,” students must submit a course withdrawal form by or before the tenth week of classes.  Students should consult with the instructor or an advisor before withdrawing from a course.  

A grade of either “W” or “F” may be assigned at the discretion of the instructor to any student who withdraws from a course or from the College after the tenth week of classes. Course withdrawal forms are available in the Enrollment Center, the Advisement Center or the Attleboro and New Bedford campuses.  Withdrawal forms must be forwarded to the Enrollment Center.

Auditing a course

A student may audit a single course for no credit with the consent of the instructor. A student may register for audit one week prior to the start of class through the Drop/Add period. No grade is given, but the notation of “L” is made on the permanent record.

A student may repeat a course for credit the next semester after auditing a course. An audited class is not eligible for financial aid. Students may change from audit status to a credit status with approval of the instructor/department chair/divisional dean. Students would be responsible for the difference in cost from the audit status to the credit status.

Repeating a course

Students receiving a passing grade for a course may repeat the course once with permission of the Department Chair, Program Coordinator or Dean of the department or division in which the course resides. The grade received on the second attempt becomes official. Students may repeat a failed course (F, W, U) as many times as it takes to pass, provided they can complete their program in 150% of the credits required to graduate. (For example, a program with 60 credits must be completed within 90 credit attempts.) Students who wish to repeat clinical courses must apply for readmission to the program. Students may retake the developmental courses that they have failed or failed to meet a prerequisite in as often as necessary, but the total number of developmental credits may not exceed 30. A student with extraordinary circumstances may use the appeals process to request allowing the first attempt grade to be used and/or the grade received following an additional attempt to repeat a course.
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