To be eligible for the Associate in Arts degree (A.A.), the Associate in Science degree (A.S.), or Associate in Applied Science degree (A.A.S.), students are recommended by the faculty if they:

  • Complete at least 60 credits (excluding developmental courses) of passing work.
  • Fulfill course requirements established in the selected program of study.
  • Earn a G.P.A. of at least 2.0 in work taken at the College applicable to their program.
  • Complete at least 30 semester hours at the College.
  • File an application for graduation. Intent to graduate forms are available in the Enrollment Center and at the administrative offices in New Bedford and Attleboro.
  • Students may transfer back up to 34 credits with approval of the pertinent academic program/department in order to complete a degree, the Continuous Enrollment Policy notwithstanding.


Each year, the College confers the honor of Valedictorian for one graduating student who demonstrates    academic and service excellence.  S/he gives the Valedictory address at the Commencement ceremony and is a member of the Commencement Platform Party.  Students who will graduate with the highest grade point averages among all graduating students will be notified and invited to apply for the honor during the spring semester. Those who are interested in applying will be asked to submit an essay and a list of College activities and services.  These submissions and the candidate's academic record at Bristol Community College are used to select finalists for consideration.


Graduation honors

Associate degree students who maintain a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.2 to 3.49 will graduate “Cum Laude,” a G.P.A. of 3.5 to 3.79 “Magna Cum Laude,” and a G.P.A. of 3.8 or higher “Summa Cum Laude.” “Cum Laude” designations at graduation are based on academic performance through the Fall semester prior to the June graduation ceremony. Final “Cum Laude” designations include all coursework and are printed on the student’s official College transcript.

Graduation as a Commonwealth Honors Scholar

Students who successfully complete the Commonwealth Honors Program will be designated a “Commonwealth Honors Scholar” at graduation and will be recognized by the president at Commencement. Students will be distinguished by the wearing of the gold honors cord. “Commonwealth Honors Scholar” will be printed on the student’s transcript.

Community Service Leaders

Students who participate in service-learning or community service, attend leadership training, plan a community service project that meets a real need in the community, and recruit, help train, mentor, and supervise peers performing service for the project are designated as Community Service Leaders. They wear a red cord and are publicly recognized at Commencement.

Academic Achievement Awards

Students who maintain a cumulative G.P.A. of 4.0 will receive an Academic Achievement Award when all program requirements are met.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society

Phi Theta Kappa is the national honor society of American community and junior colleges. BCC’s chapter is known as Beta Eta Phi. The purpose of this society is to recognize and encourage scholarship among community college students. Candidates are selected in the fall and spring of each academic year. They must be currently enrolled in a degree program at the College and have accumulated 24 or more BCC credits with a 3.5 or better cumulative average. Membership qualifies students to apply for special scholarships at many four-year institutions.

These area colleges and universities offer PTK scholarships to transfer students:

Boston University Mount Holyoke College
Bryant University Mount Ida College
Clark University Northeastern University
Endicott College Regis College
Harvard University Extension School Roger Williams University
Johnson & Wales University Smith College
Lasell College Suffolk University
Lesley College Wellesley College
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Western New England College

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.


Attending every class meeting is important to your success in college. Guidelines for attendance are established by the faculty within a department or program, with the approval of the divisional dean. Instructors provide students with that attendance policy in writing by the end of the first week of classes, including how excused and unexcused absences will affect grades. In the absence of an individual attendance policy stated on the syllabus, the following will be enforced:

Any absences in excess of six hours from a face-to-face course may result in withdrawal from the course, unless otherwise specified in the current course syllabus. In an eLearning course, the lack of any email contact, postings, or assignments for a one-week period may also be considered a three-hour absence, and will usually be handled the same way as the face-to-face class.

Please note that individual faculty, departments, and/or programs may enact more strenuous policies as specified in the course syllabus. Faculty members take attendance for each class session. It is the student’s responsibility to know the attendance policy in each class and laboratory.

Unless an announcement is made to the contrary, a class is considered dismissed if the instructor does not appear within fifteen minutes of the beginning of a class period. Students who expect to be absent for an extended period due to illness, accident, or other unavoidable problem should notify the vice president of Enrollment Services.

Students who attend a field trip should make arrangements with their other course instructors to make up any assignments missed on that day. Those who cannot attend classes, take an exam, study, or fulfill class assignments on a particular day because of their religious beliefs will be given an opportunity to make up their work at the convenience of the instructor. Students cannot be penalized for taking advantage of this right.  

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.

Planning an academic program

Length of program

Full-time students with appropriate high school credits can complete the requirements for an associate degree in two years. However, some students may need to make up deficiencies in certain areas. Others change their concentration or major or withdraw from one or more courses. Students who work may take fewer courses per semester. Any of these reasons may make it necessary for a student to spend more than four semesters at BCC. Courses may be taken in the summer for students who wish to shorten their time at BCC.

Changes of program

Students may change their program or areas of concentration by completing a change of program through the Enrollment Center or at the administrative offices at the other campuses. A change of program will result in an update of academic requirements to the current academic catalog. Students changing their concentration within a program may retain their original catalog year. International students attending BCC on an F-1 visa must receive approval for program changes from the Registrar’s office.

Grades already received in courses not applicable to the new program remain when computing the student’s G.P.A. on the permanent record. Students may request Academic Forgiveness (see page 140).

Transferring into certain programs, such as Culinary Arts, Clinical Laboratory Science, Complementary Healthcare, Dental Hygiene, Medical Assisting, Healthcare Information, Histology, Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Phlebotomy, Pre-Radiology Technology, and Therapeutic Massage may be limited by space available as well as by the competitive nature of these programs. Please refer to the description of the program of interest for additional information on admission requirements and the academic background of competitive applicants. All programs will be filled on a space-available basis.


Transferring from a certificate program

Students who complete a certificate program and who wish to enroll in a degree program must complete a change of program form available in the Enrollment Center and administrative offices at the New Bedford Campus and Attleboro Center.

Transferring credits into BCC programs

Students who transfer into BCC from another regionally accredited college or university usually receive credit for courses that apply to their program with a grade of “C-” or better. Students may meet up to 34 credits of degree program requirements with credits transferred from another accredited college or university and/or credits earned through Prior Experiential Learning. 

Students may also request to receive credit for military training and experience. In accordance with the Valor Act, Bristol Community College uses the ACE Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services as the primary method for evaluating and awarding academic credit for military occupation, training, experience, and coursework.  Any questions related to the transfer of military credits can be directed to the Registrar’s Office at 774.357.2240.

To qualify for a BCC degree, a transfer student must complete at least 30 credits required at the College and fulfill graduation requirements in the selected curriculum. Exceptions may be granted by petition. For certificate programs, half the required credits must be earned at BCC.

To receive credit for courses taken at any other institution while enrolled at BCC, students must obtain approval in advance. Forms are available in the Enrollment Center. Completed forms should be accompanied by the catalog from the other institution. The student must arrange to have transcripts of approved courses sent to the Registrar’s office within six weeks of completing the course(s).

Active Duty Military Leave Policy

Bristol Community College will allow military personnel called to active duty (not to include National Guard or Reservist training) to withdraw from their courses without academic or financial penalty. Written or verbal notice of departure must be given to the Office of the Registrar or the Office of the Vice President of Students; however, a copy of the order to active service must be provided to either office noted above within three months of release from active service. Readmission to the matriculated program of study at the point of departure is guaranteed, provided the student returns within two semester of discharge from active duty. To maintain eligibility for all other benefits, the cumulative length of absences cannot exceed five years.

Earning a second degree from BCC

To qualify for a second associate degree, a student must complete a minimum of 15 credit hours beyond the first degree and meet all specific degree requirements of the second program. Students may earn one degree in an academic program of study. Students that have earned a degree in a program concentration cannot be awarded a second degree in the same program with a different concentration.


The Service-Learning program at BCC offers students a unique opportunity to combine classroom theory in any discipline with community practice in a non-profit agency and, at the same time, to develop a sense of social responsibility. While some community colleges require a minimum of 20 hours per service-learning experience over a semester, BCC requires a minimum of 10 hours.

Along with performing the service itself, students complete one or more reflective exercises chosen by their instructor to enhance understanding of course content, appreciation of the discipline, and sense of civic engagement. Some BCC faculty incorporate service-learning into their syllabi as a requirement; others offer it as an option.

If a student has a particular service-learning experience in mind but cannot find a course for it, s/he may be able to do it via Contract Learning. Many four-year colleges and universities require or strongly encourage service-learning, and prospective employers also look favorably on service-learning and other experiential learning activities.

Students who successfully complete service-learning will receive recognition of the activity on their academic transcripts by the notation “Service-Learning Component Course” following the course title and grade.

Commonwealth Honors Program

The Commonwealth Honors Program at BCC offers intellectually challenging experiences to highly motivated and gifted students in every discipline. It allows students to customize their experience in the Honors Program to their own individual needs and desires. The honors student works one-on-one with dedicated faculty members crafting intellectually stimulating experiences appropriate for the individual student. This independent work and the experience of one-on-one work with a faculty member will better prepare the honors student to continue his or her education at a four-year institution. The Honors Program also engages students in activities that will encourage them to become independent thinkers and lifelong learners.

Graduation requirements for Commonwealth Honors Scholars

To graduate with an associate degree as a Commonwealth Honors Scholar, a student must:

  • Meet all requirements for an associate degree in major/program.
  • Earn a minimum 3.5 cumulative G.P.A. while at BCC.
  • Earn a minimum of 30 credits completed at BCC.
  • Participate in a minimum of four honors experiences (10 honors credits), with a grade of at least “B.” These honors experiences could either be honors courses or honors component courses. At least two of these honors experiences (6 honors credits) must be taken at BCC.

In the honors credits, a student must:

  • Take at least one interdisciplinary honors course (3 credits), for honors-level students only.
  • Take a minimum of one writing-intensive honors experience (3 credits).
  • Complete an honors project (or possibly a thesis), directed by a faculty member, involving independent research.
  • This one-credit culminating experience could grow from one of the three honors experiences, but it does not have to follow that path. Students may be required to present their projects as part of an honors day seminar.
  • Earning credit outside the classroom

Cooperative Education

Cooperative Education combines classroom learning and work-based learning related to the student’s field of study. Students enroll in classes, work at their co-op jobs at least 15 hours per week, and earn 3 credits for their work. Students may also participate in co-op in the summer. To enroll in co-op, students must be at the sophomore level and participate in a weekly co-op seminar.

The Cooperative Education office will help students find appropriate positions. Those currently working in a job related to their program of study may apply to convert that job to a co-op work experience. Each co-op student and his/her faculty advisor and employer will develop a learning agreement with specific objectives to assess the student’s performance on co-op. This agreement will relate classroom theory and personal career goals to the co-op experience.

Contract Learning

For students who want to investigate personal academic interests or pursue more experimental methods of learning, the College offers a flexible credit format where students can create part of their own study program. Advisors work with the student to determine plans, identify appropriate resource people, and write a learning contract. The contract includes the student’s goals, how and when s/he intends to accomplish them, and how that work will be evaluated. The credits earned are determined by the work proposed and may not total more than one-eighth of total credit hours required for graduation.

Students register with the Enrollment Center. Tuition is based on the number of credits determined through the learning contract. Proposals must be signed by the student, the advisor, the appropriate divisional dean, and the associate vice president of Academic Affairs. Credit will be awarded only if approval is granted before the student starts the project.

Directed study

A directed study is an independent study or group study course, under the sponsorship of a faculty member, that meets the objectives of a regular course offering. If a required course or its equivalent is not available, directed study permits a matriculated student to enroll in a course needed to graduate or to complete a prerequisite for another required course. The Academic Affairs office may also approve other requests based on special student and/or programmatic needs.

A directed study course requires the approval of the instructor, the appropriate divisional dean, and the associate vice president of Academic Affairs. Credit for a directed study course is equivalent to credit for a regular course offering. Approval forms are available in the Enrollment Center. Students with approved directed study forms must register through the Enrollment Center. Tuition based on the number of credits approved will be charged at that time.

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