Frequently Asked Questions
Courses and Credits
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.
If your PE credits still seem incorrect, please check with the PE office in Lasell, x2141.
Course Unit versus Credit Hour System
Williams College uses the 4-1-4 calendar. Students are required to take 4 courses in the fall semester, 1 project during Winter Study, and 4 courses in the spring semester. Therefore, in order to earn a B.A. from Williams, a student must pass at least 32 regularly graded semester courses and 4 Winter Study Projects.
There are two important features of our system that affect comparisons with other systems. The first is that all courses are valued the same. Unlike a credit hour system that differentiates between courses with and without laboratories, for instance, our course unit system considers all courses to be of equal weight toward completing degree requirements. The other feature is that our Winter Study Projects are all graded as Honors, Pass, Perfunctory Pass, or Fail by the instructors so no regular grades are available for them.
Converting credits from one system to another is likely to be more of an approximation than an absolutely accurate replication. If you are converting our system to someone else's, we suggest that you consider each year completed at Williams to be the equivalent of a full year completed at the other institution. If it is necessary to convert credits on a course basis, we suggest that you consider each of our courses or projects to be the equivalent of one-ninth of a year's credit at the other school. If, for example, the college requires 120 credits, or 30 per year, for the B.A., then each course or project would be the equivalent of 3.33 credits; if 128 credits are required, then each of our courses or projects would be the equivalent of 3.55 credits; if 180 are required, then we suggest you consider each of our courses or projects to be the equivalent of 5 credits.
Year courses are designated by an odd number and an even number joined by a hyphen; the work of the two semesters constitutes an integral, indivisible course. Therefore, if a student does not pass the second half of a year-long course, he or she forfeits credit for the first half and incurs a deficiency as a result of the forfeiture. Students who register for a year course are required to do both semesters of that course within the same academic year.
Additional information on this topic is available at the Office of the Registrar.
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 Mary.Morrison@Williams.edu