Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

Academic and Library Regulations for Students

Academic and library regulations are established by the faculty. Students who wish to discuss academic legislation should consult the appropriate dean. Violations of the regulations concerning the integrity of academic work are handled by the Academic Panel, composed of three members of the faculty and three students, and chaired by the dean of studies. Violations of all other academic and library regulations are handled individually by members of the faculty, librarians, and deans.


Each student, in signing the matriculation pledge and in renewing that pledge each year with the registration card, voluntarily enters into a liberal agreement based on freedom and recognition of responsibility to this community. Under the Governance of Vassar College, the Vassar student is accorded freedom of inquiry, freedom of expression, and freedom of action. In return, each student accepts the responsibilities of consideration for others, regard for the reputation of the college, and knowledge of and adherence to the following academic and library regulations. In addition, each student must supplement this knowledge with familiarity with the Vassar College Catalogue and each semester’s Schedule of Classes.


A. Residency Requirements

1.   Beginning of the Term: All students are required to be in residence by the times designated at the beginning of the academic year and again at the opening of the second semester. At the beginning of a semester, students who have failed to attend the first two scheduled meetings of a class without a reasonable excuse may be dropped from the class by the instructor upon notification to the registrar.

2.   Attendance in Class and Meeting Deadlines: The educational plan of Vassar College depends upon the effective cooperation of students and teachers. The student bears full responsibility for class attendance, for completing work on schedule, and for making up work missed because of absence. Students who miss tests or other scheduled exercises during the semester may, at the discretion of the instructor, be permitted to make up such work at a later time. In cases of severe lack of attendance, the instructor, with the approval of the dean of studies, may refuse the student the opportunity to make up work or to take the final examination, or may exclude the student from the course. In such cases, the student is not graded according to the work he/she has completed, but has, in effect, failed the course. Generally, in introductory and intermediate level courses, some form of written work shall be assigned and returned to students, and students will receive some indication of academic progress by the midpoint of the semester.

3.   Study Periods: Students are expected, although not required, to be in residence during the study periods in December and May. In general, all papers, except for papers in lieu of examinations, are due no later than the last day of study period.

B. Absence from College during Term Time

Students are expected to be present in scheduled classes and otherwise to meet their academic appointments promptly. When a student misses academic appointments and work without an acceptable excuse, he or she does so on her/his own responsibility. Students who expect to be away from the college for an extended period of time are advised to notify the dean of studies, who will inform appropriate members of the faculty and administration of the student’s absence. A student who must be absent for more than three weeks during the term may be obliged to withdraw from work that term. Arrangements in such cases must be made with the dean of studies, who will, in most cases, grant a personal leave of absence.

C. Absence from Commencement Exercises

Graduating seniors are expected to attend commencement exercises. However, if attendance is not possible, the senior shall notify the dean of studies in writing.

D. Examinations

By faculty legislation, the instructor in each class will announce within the first week of the semester what the requirements of the course will be and whether there will be a written final examination. In general, all courses at Vassar must be “examined” by some sort of written work. This “examination” must consist of the written work during the term or a final exercise. There are four types of final exercise:

1.   Regularly Scheduled Examination: Departments request that certain courses be included in the schedule prepared by the registrar. The examinations are assigned to one of 14 periods during the examination period. Once a course has been assigned to a period, it may not be changed without the express permission of the registrar or dean of studies. Grades are due in the registrar’s office no later than 72 hours after the examination.

2.   Self-scheduled Examination: May be taken by the student during any examination period (9:00am-11:00am or 1:00pm-3:00pm) during the study period and the first three days of examination. Specific classrooms are designated by the registrar for this purpose. As in a regular examination, the self-scheduled examination must be completed in one sitting; a student fails the examination if this is not done. Grades are due no later than 72 hours after the fourth day of the examination period.

3.   Take-home Examination: May be assigned any time after the last day of classes. It should be recognized as a final examination, not a term paper. It should be due during the examination period at some time prior to the end of the third day and should not be a research paper.

4.   Paper in Lieu of Examination: This exercise should not be confused with the final of a series of papers in a course. It is, rather, a paper that actually replaces a final examination, which is assigned during the last week of classes and due prior to the end of the third day of the examination period. Thus, the assignment should require approximately the same time in preparation and execution as an examination.

Students may not be given final examinations apart from the regularly scheduled and self-scheduled examination system, except by permission of the dean of studies. A student having three or more regularly scheduled final examinations occurring in three consecutive examination periods may request that the Dean of Studies Office arrange to reschedule one of them.

Only the Dean of Studies Office can certify and excuse a student’s absence from a final examination. If a student is ill, he or she must report to the Health Service. A student who is absent from a final examination for urgent reasons must submit an explanation to the Dean of Studies Office as soon as possible after the examination unless the student has already been reported as ill. A student whose absence is not excused receives an F in the examination. The grade for the course as a whole is determined by the instructor. A student who comes late to an examination while it is still in session may be allowed, at the discretion of the instructor, to take the examination.

If a student’s absence from an examination is excused, the student may take the examination at any time suitable to the instructor and the student or as stipulated by the Dean of Studies Office. A student taking either a self-scheduled or a scheduled examination after the regular examination period will be given a new examination. Seniors who fail a course examination at the end of the second semester may be permitted by the department to take a reexamination before commencement, if they fail only one course. If they fail two examinations, they must wait until September to take the reexaminations except in unusual circumstances with the approval of the department concerned and the dean of studies.

Any student with specific questions regarding examinations should consult the dean of studies.

E. Deadlines for Delivery of Papers

It is expected that written work will be handed in at class time or personally delivered to the instructor unless the instructor has permitted alternative arrangements. It is the student’s responsibility to complete delivery of written work. Delivery of work submitted electronically or left for an instructor (in a department box, for example) is completed only when the instructor receives the work. Electronic delivery is completed only when the work is received in a format readable by the instructor. It is strongly suggested that students back up their files and retain copies of their papers.

F. Incompletes and Extensions

Students are expected to meet their academic obligations in accordance with the schedule specified by the instructor and by the college. When students are unable to complete their academic work for reasons of health or serious emergency, grades of Incomplete may be granted. Grades of Incomplete are granted only by the Dean of Studies Office. (Refer to the Vassar College Catalogue for further information.)

If a student requires a slight adjustment in due dates for written work at the end of the term because of an unusually demanding schedule of obligations and if this will delay the reporting of the student’s grade, the Dean of Studies Office may, with the agreement of the instructor, grant the instructor a short-term extension to allow the student’s work and the instructor’s course grade to be submitted after the scheduled date. If an extension of library materials is needed, the Dean of Studies Office should make arrangements with the Head of Access Services.

G. Special Academic Permission

Requests for special academic permission are submitted to the Committee on Leaves and Privileges, which consists of the dean of studies and four members of the faculty. As the year progresses, specific deadlines for exchanges, leaves, Junior Year Abroad permissions, and other special considerations will be announced and posted. When a student is in doubt about academic regulations, he or she should ask the Dean of Studies Office for accurate information.


A. Academic Standing

Standing in college and the requirements for graduation are determined by a dual standard of quantity and quality. The quality of the work is measured by the quality points and the grade average; the quantity, by the units completed. The semester and cumulative grade averages are based on the ratio of the number of quality points received to the number of units of letter-graded work elected. Each unit with a mark of A counts 4 quality points; A–, 3.7; B +, 3.3; B, 3.0; B–, 2.7; C +, 2.3; C, 2.0; C–, 1.7; D +, 1.3; D, 1.0; F, 0.

B. Grades

The evaluation and grading of a student’s work is solely the responsibility of the instructor. “Evaluation of work” is explained in detail in the Vassar College Catalogue. According to faculty legislation, instructors may not report course grades to students in advance of the official report from the registrar. No mark may be changed after it has been reported in the Registrar’s Office unless authorized by the dean of studies. The dean will authorize changes only in cases of errors in computation or transcription.

C. Deficiencies and Continuance in College

The status of students whose academic records are unsatisfactory is reviewed periodically during the year by the Committee on Student Records with the advice of each instructor and others who may give pertinent information. Students may be placed on probation, required to change their majors, advised to take a leave, required to take a leave, advised to withdraw, or required to withdraw from the college. A student’s record will be reviewed at the end of any semester if the grade average is deficient (below 2.0), if the student has received an F or two Ds or two D+’s, if the grade average in the major is deficient, or if the student’s number of units completed indicates a lack of progress toward the degree.

D. Academic Probation

Students who fail to maintain the required academic standards are placed on academic probation by the Committee on Student Records. Students on probation may expect academic reports to be made to the Dean of Studies Office during the semester of their probation. The student will remain on probation until he or she reaches standard grade.

E. Recommended Leave or Withdrawal

Students who are advised to take a leave of absence or withdraw, but who choose to return, are permitted to do so but warned that they are placed on review after the end of the following semester, at which point they may be required to take a leave or withdraw after reconsideration by the Committee on Student Records. Students who withdraw or go on leave are responsible for any library materials and/or fines on their library accounts. Unresolved fines and replacement costs for unreturned books will be sent to Students Accounts.

F. Required Leave

When the Committee on Student Records believes that a student is unable to continue work in the subsequent semester but does not wish to require him or her to withdraw from the college, the committee may impose upon the student a required leave of absence.

The committee may require that the student successfully complete coursework at another institution before returning from the leave; otherwise, the student is permitted to return to the college at a stipulated time.

G. Required Withdrawal

The withdrawal of any student for academic deficiencies is required after the most careful consideration of reports from instructors and other factors that bear on the quality of the student’s work and the overall progress toward the degree. The decision of the committee to terminate the college’s relationship with the student is final except in cases where important new evidence is offered after the decision has been reached. In such cases, a student may ask the committee for reconsideration. The Governance, finally, provides for appeals to be made to the faculty members of the Academic Panel, with the senior member of the panel acting as chair and reporting recommendations on appeals to the dean of studies and the president for final decision.

H. The Academic Record

A student’s academic file is recognized in general as her or his own property. While students are encouraged to discuss their academic progress with parents or guardians and to share with them their record, the dean of studies, the dean’s staff, and the registrar do not disclose the contents of a student’s file or of a student’s academic record without the student’s permission.


The Vassar degree should represent not only a high quality of intellectual achievement but also the performance of all work in the pursuit of that achievement in accordance with the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. The basic principles inherent in such honesty and integrity are as follows:

1.   Each student’s work shall be the product of the student’s own effort.

2.   Each student shall give due and appropriate acknowledgment of the work of others when that work is incorporated into the writing of papers.

3.   Materials used in the preparation of academic work must be obtained in a manner that is consistent with the standards of Vassar’s Institutional Review Board and with the policies of any laboratory setting, including the Wimpfheimer Nursery School, community agencies, or fieldwork positions.

4.   No student shall infringe upon the rights of others to have fair and equal access to library or other academic resources.

5.   No student shall submit the same work to more than one instructor without prior approval of the instructors involved.

In accordance with these principles the following regulations have been set up concerning:

A. Examinations

In presenting themselves for examinations, students are expected to take into the examination room only pen and pencil, unless the instructor specifically prescribes additional material. No examination books are to be taken from the room. The back pages of the examination book are to be used for scratch work or trial answers. Pages should not be torn out or inserted. No student shall give or receive any assistance whatsoever in an examination of any kind or in a written quiz or hold any communication with another student. Students are expected to occupy alternate seats unless otherwise specified.

B. Plagiarism

Any form of plagiarism violates the integrity of the student’s work. Students should consult Originality and Attribution: A Guide for Student Writers, which discusses these matters. In cases of doubt, students should ask instructors, and instructors are requested to be definite and explicit in explaining the proper procedure for the work involved. The following are, however, general rules which apply in all cases:

1.   Quotations must be clearly marked and sources of information or of an idea or opinion not the student’s own must be indicated clearly on all written work, including examinations. This applies to paraphrased ideas as well as direct quotations.

2.   Unless otherwise directed, every student working in a laboratory is expected to make all necessary measurements, drawings, etc., independently, from her or his own observations of the material provided. All records, including numerical data for working out results, are to be used by the student independently and as initially recorded. Unless otherwise indicated, all laboratory materials are to be kept in the laboratory.

3.   Collaboration in preparation of written work may take place only to the extent approved by the instructor. This applies to prepared examinations as well.

C. Library Offenses

The unauthorized removal, destruction, defacement of, or tampering with library material of any kind is an infringement of the rights of others and, for that reason, a violation of academic integrity. Failure to respond to overdue notices for recalled material and failure to return overdue reserve material are considered infringements on the rights of others. Abuses of this kind may be reviewed by the Academic Panel and subject to penalty, accordingly. (See Library Regulations.)

D. Forgeries

The unauthorized use of the signature of another person is a significant violation of Vassar’s community spirit and, in particular, of the trust that faculty and students have in one another. Forgeries, whenever they occur, reflect a breakdown of the academic process at Vassar College. Therefore, they are legitimately viewed as serious academic offenses which involve one innocent person in the illegal actions of another.

E. Other Academic Misconduct

Any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for oneself or an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member or members of the academic community may be a violation of academic integrity. These include (but are not limited to):

Sabotaging or stealing course materials and/or another student’s work

Interfering with the course of instruction to the detriment of other students

Failing to comply with the instructions or directives of the course instructor

Furnishing false or misleading information to a course instructor or other college official

Altering a previously graded exam or assignment for the purpose of a grade appeal


A student charged with a violation of the preceding regulations will be required to be examined by the Academic Panel.

A. Procedures

1.   The dean of studies, as chair of the Academic Panel, shall receive all reports of conduct subject to action by the Academic Panel. The faculty member making the complaint shall prepare a written statement of the charge and shall give the dean all relevant material.

2.   The dean shall confer with the student and inform him or her of the charge, of the time and place of the panel meeting, and of the procedures followed by the panel. The student may request to be accompanied by a member of the college community of her or his choosing.

3.   The members of the panel shall be notified in advance concerning the identity of the student involved, and any panel member who feels incapable of giving the case unprejudiced consideration shall excuse himself/herself.

4.   At the beginning of the hearing, the chair shall read the written charge to the respondent and the panel. The respondent shall plead responsible or not responsible and shall have the opportunity to make a statement and to explain any mitigating circumstances.

5.   The Academic Panel shall have an opportunity to question both the respondent and the faculty member who made the allegation, after which the panel shall determine by majority vote whether it considers the respondent responsible based on the preponderance of the evidence, and if so, what sanction or sanction(s) to impose. The chair shall not vote on the matter of responsibility. The chair shall not vote on sanctions except in the case of a tie.

B. Sanctions 

When a student is found responsible for any breach of academic integrity, a notation is placed on the student’s internal record (for dean’s use only). In addition, the Academic Panel may impose any sanctions that it considers appropriate, including (but not limited to) the following: 

1.   Invalidation of the piece of work. The panel may, at its discretion, recommend that the instructor permit the invalidated piece of work to be redone.

2.   A grade penalty or a grade of F for the course, with the approval of the instructor.

3.   A recommendation to the president that the student be suspended from Vassar College for a specified period of time (current instructors to be notified of the suspension and asked not to permit the student to attend class).

4.   A recommendation to the president of expulsion from Vassar College.

5.   Require that the student work with the Learning, Teaching, and Research Center or other relevant resources of the college.


General library privileges are fully described on the Vassar College Libraries home page ( Following is a summary of regulations and penalties for infringement of these regulations.

A. Food and Drink Policy

Food and drink pose a risk to library collections, equipment, and furnishings.

1.   Main Library: To minimize damage to collections and maintain a clean environment conducive to quiet study, library users are expected to act responsibly when consuming food and drink in the Library; to be considerate of others studying nearby; and to dispose of trash. The Library reserves the right to ask any user to remove her/his food and/or beverage from the library if the above guidelines are not observed.

2.   Archives and Special Collections Library: To minimize damage to collections and maintain a clean environment conducive to quiet study, no food or beverages are permitted.

3.   Music Library: To minimize damage to collections and maintain a clean environment conducive to quiet study, no food or beverages are permitted.

B. Fines for Overdue Library Materials

1.   Circulating books, browsing books, scores, floppy disks, government documents, Main Library audio cassettes, and CDs: Three overdue notices will be sent after the due date has passed. Library privileges, except for the borrowing of reserve materials, will be suspended if materials are not returned within four weeks of the due date. At that point, students will receive a bill, payable at the Circulation desk, for replacement cost plus a processing fee, for each overdue item. Replacement and processing fees are dropped upon return of the item if it has not been reordered. Unpaid bills will be sent to Student Accounts. Borrowing privileges will be restored upon return of the material, payment of the bill, or transfer of charges to Student Accounts.

2.   Music Library circulating sound recordings: Failure to return these materials by the due date results in fines of $.20 a day per item. No fines will be charged by the Music Library if the materials are returned within three (3) days after the due date. After this three-day grace period, fines will be computed from the due date. If a circulating sound recording is not returned within four weeks, the student is sent a bill as for other overdue items. Replacement and processing fees are dropped upon return of the item if it has not been reordered.

3.   Music Library Reference CDs and video recordings: Failure to return these materials by the due date results in fines of $1.00 a day per item. If these materials are not returned within 10 days, the student is sent a bill as for other overdue items. Replacement and processing fees are dropped upon return of the overdue item if it has not been reordered.

4.   Main Library Reserve: Most reserve materials have a four-hour loan period; however some faculty set three-day or two-week loans. Students are responsible for checking their circulation records ( to verify the exact time materials are due. Overdue notices are sent after the due date has passed. Fines for four-hour materials, including visual media (DVDs, VHS, or laserdiscs) are $.50 for the first hour and $1.00 per hour thereafter until the material is returned. Fines for three-day and two-week loans are $2.00 per day.

5.   Main Library DVDs, VHS, and laserdiscs: These items circulate from the Circulation desk. Non-reserve films circulate for three days and must be returned to the Circulation desk by the date due. Students are responsible for checking their circulation records ( to verify the exact time materials are due. Overdue notices are sent after the due date has passed. The fine for overdue non-reserve films is $2.00 per day. Students will be billed for replacement costs, payable at the Circulation desk, for damaged films or those not returned within fifteen days. The bill will include replacement charges plus a processing fee. Replacement and processing fees are dropped upon return of the item if it has not been reordered. Unpaid bills will be sent to Student Accounts.

6.   Art Library and Music Library Reserves: Art Library Reserve fines are $1.00 per hour per item; Music Library reserve materials are due at the end of each day; however some books and scores may be borrowed overnight just before closing. Students are responsible for checking their circulation records ( to verify the exact time materials are due. Music Library Reserve fines are $1.00 per hour per item.

7.   Recalls: If materials, including those on Senior Loan, are recalled and are not returned by the new due date, the borrower is fined $1.00 per day per item.

C. Blocking and Billing for Outstanding Fines

1.   Blocking: Students will be blocked from taking out library materials if 50 or more fines are outstanding. Students must come in to speak with the circulation supervisor during daytime business hours to resolve charges before their patron record is cleared.

2.   Billing: Periodically throughout the year, unpaid charges (overdue charges and replacement costs) will be transferred to Student Accounts.


D. Fines for Lost or Damaged Library Materials

1.   Lost material: If library material is lost, the student under whose name it is checked out is responsible for paying the replacement cost of the item plus a processing fee (which varies by material type). Overdue items that have reached BILLED status are considered lost and are subject to replacement charges.

2.   Damaged materials: All library materials are assumed to be in good condition when borrowed unless poor condition is reported at that time. Borrowers will be held responsible for any damage to library materials while these materials are in their possession, and may be subject to charges for replacement computed on the basis used for lost library materials.

E. Interlibrary Loan Fines

Late fees, charges for damages, or replacement costs for materials borrowed through the Interlibrary Loan service are at the discretion of the lending library. Replacement charges for materials borrowed through Connect NY are set at $100 per item.

F. Fair and Equal Access to Library Resources

Depriving other students of fair and equal access to library resources by abusing library privileges may be considered academic dishonesty. Included are such actions as unauthorized removal of library materials; destruction of, tampering with, or defacement of library materials; abuse of student-faculty assistant library privileges; failure to return a reserve item when it is due; or failure to return an item that has been recalled. Abuses of this kind may be reviewed by the Academic Panel and subject to penalty, accordingly.

G. Graduation Requirements

All library materials must be returned or paid for (cash only is accepted the last week of the semester) by 3:00pm the Friday before Commencement. Charges for unreturned library materials will be sent to Student Accounts.