ice of the Registrar

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Frequently Asked Questions

Courses and Credits

PE Credits

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PE credits are only posted twice per year, at the end of the Fall Semester and at the end of the Spring Semester. This means that what is listed on your Academic Progress Report may not have caught up to what you have actually done.

  • At the beginning of the Fall Semester, the PE credits listed should be accurate through the end of the previous Spring Semester.
  • At the Spring Course Change Period (late October/early November), any PE activities completed during the first half of the Fall Semester will not yet be posted.
  • At the beginning of the Spring Semester, any PE activities completed during Winter Study will not yet be posted. They will be posted once Winter Study grading is completed.
  • At April Preregistration any PE activities completed during the first half of the Spring Semester will not yet be posted. They will be posted at the end of the Spring Semester.

If your PE credits still seem incorrect, please check with the PE office in Lasell, x2141.

Course Unit versus Credit Hour System

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Prior to 1967-68, Williams College followed the traditional two semester calendar. 
Beginning with the year 1967-68, the 4-1-4 plan has been followed.  Williams has no summer session.


The semester course is the unit of credit. 
Prior to 1967-68, 40 semester courses were required for the degree.  Each course may be considered the equivalent of three semester hours.  The 401-402 course and certain other courses carried double credit.

Starting with 1967-68, 32 semester courses and four winter study projects are required for the degree.  If it is necessary to convert course unit credits to credit hours, we suggest that each full semester course be considered the equivalent of 3.75 credit hours.

Course Numbers         

In general, 100 level courses are introductory or elementary courses, 200 level are intermediate and of a general nature, 300 level are intermediate usually requiring a prerequisite or are of a special nature, and 400 level are intended primarily for majors.  Courses at the 500 level are graduate level courses.


A 12 point grade system was used from 1953-54 to 1979-80 with A+ equal to 12 and E (failing) equal to a -1.

From 1980-81 to 1983-84, the 12 point system was used with an A+ equal to 12 points, but the E (failing) equal to 0 points. 

Since the 1984-85 academic year, the college grading system has been on a 4 point system.


Awarded by the major department at the end of the senior year, if, in its judgment, its criteria of excellence have been met.

Summer School Transfer Credit

Williams students may not earn credit toward the degree for courses taken elsewhere unless the course is being used to make up an academic deficiency (a failure or course withdrawal); courses used to make up deficiencies must be approved in advance by the Registrar's Office (summer school form).  If an approved course is passed with a grade of at least C minus, transfer credit will be awarded upon receipt of an official transcript.  The grade will not be used when calculating the GPA and the course may not be used toward the distribution requirements.  With permission of the appropriate department or program, the course may be used as a prerequisite or toward the major or concentration.

A department or program may allow a course taken elsewhere to be a prerequisite or count toward the major or concentration, even if the course is not being used to make up a deficiency.  In these cases, the student should notify the Registrar's Office of the plan and have an official transcript sent as soon as the course and grade have been recorded.

Questions about these matters should be directed to

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