Exemption from Prerequisites
To explore advanced- level courses, you may go to ISIS and review courses at any level (100 through 300 level). If the course carries prerequisites and you have completed related work or want to enter the course without the stated prerequisites, you will need to seek approval from the instructor before attempting to register for the course. Please remember that not all courses are certified to meet a distribution requirement, so if you are hoping to meet a distribution requirement through any course, it is critical to check its listing in ISIS to make sure it meets the requirement you expect.
To seek approval to register for a class despite not having met the prerequisites of the course (or having met them through some route not recognized by ISIS), it is usually best to send an email to the instructor of the course, describing any work you've done that may qualify you for admission to the course and describing the nature and level of your interest in the course. If the instructor agrees to allow you to attempt to register for a seat in the course, she or he will enter a permission into ISIS that will then be visible to you through the ISIS "Approvals, Holds..." display. You must then attempt to register for the course through the usual registration process during one of your usual registration times and, if space is available and barring any other issues, ISIS will allow you to register for the course.
Please also discuss with your advisor any courses you plan to enter without the usual prerequisites.
Many first-year students arrive at Mount Holyoke having successfully completed work on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and A-level (and other international) examinations, and/or some college course work completed while in high school. Mount Holyoke welcomes such advanced preparation and, in many cases, awards credit for advanced work. All students must complete 128 academic credits to graduate from Mount Holyoke. At least 64 of these credits must be earned at Mount Holyoke or through the Five College interchange.
Please consult the registrar's transfer credit information for further details.
First-year students, in their first semester, who wish to take more than 19 credits (20 and up) must complete a Request for Excess Credits form and obtain approval from their academic advisor and the class advisor for first-year students in the Office of the Academic Deans, Mary Lyon Hall (for appointments call 413-538-3610). Thereafter, students will need approval for more than 20 credits (21 and up).
Students who have not yet declared a major may take any course pass/fail (“Credit/No Credit”), as long as they are not taking the class to meet a requirement. If the student later declares a major and wants to use the "CR" course for her major, she may do so, although she will no longer be allowed to elect the Ungraded Option in any subsequent courses in her major field. Students may take a total of 4 courses pass/fail during their time in college, and may take only one each semester. The philosophy of the ungraded option is to allow students to explore new areas of study with less risk. Students must submit the Ungraded Option form no later than the fiftieth academic day of classes (last day to withdraw from a course). Ungraded option can be elected in the first-year seminar, although the course could not then satisfy any Multicultural, Language, distribution nor any minor requirements.
Most final examinations at the College are self-scheduled. This permits students to take exams during any of the morning, afternoon, and evening sessions of the examination period, which usually lasts four or five days. The Dean of First-Year Studies hosts the Panel on Self-Scheduled Exams each fall (near the last day of classes), to familiarize first-years with procedures and strategies for taking the exams.
Self-scheduled examinations are an unusual privilege derived from our common honor code. The system depends on student volunteers to staff the examination centers. Information about volunteering will be distributed in advance of early registration. Every student is encouraged to donate one block of time toward running the examination center.
The College honor code governs academic conduct in taking exams. Every student is expected to have read the section of the Student Handbook on the honor code, as well as A Guide to the Uses and Acknowledgment of Sources (available from the Dean of the College's Office or the Office of Academic Deans) and to avoid all forms of plagiarism and cheating, whether knowing or inadvertent. Misuse of library materials or someone else’s work on an exam violates academic responsibility.