Programs, Courses & Credits

Academic Definitions:

  • Academic Definitions
  • Rules for Attaining Multiple Credentials
  • Modality Definitions

Programs:

  • Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's Programs
  • Undergraduate Certificate Programs
  • Minors

Course INFORMATION:

  • Abbreviations Used in Course Listings
  • Course Number Guide
  • Common Course Numbers and Descriptions
  • Eligibility to Enroll in 500-Level Courses
  • Graduate Credit via Senior Petition
  • Independent and Directed Study Classes
  • Final Exams
  • Last Week of Classes

Credits:

  • Classification of Students
  • Course Overload
  • Credit Hour Definition
  • Credit by Exam
  • Experiential Learning

In this section:

Academic Definitions

The following definitions are applicable to West Virginia University, WVU Potomac State College, and WVU Institute of Technology. 

Degree Designation

The degree, which is an award signifying a rank or level of educational attainment and which is conferred on students who have successfully completed a degree program, is represented by the official degree designation, e.g. B.A. - Bachelor of Arts, B.S. - Bachelor of Science, A.A. - Associate of Arts, etc. The degree designation is noted on the student’s diploma and transcript.

Degree Program

A degree program is defined by the combination of its degree designation (e.g., Bachelor of Science) and a program title that represents the overarching content areas the program's major or majors covers (e.g., Chemistry). Degree programs are approved by the institution and the Board of Governors (BOG) and listed on the official inventory of degree programs. An associate’s degree program requires a minimum of 60 credits. A bachelor’s degree program requires a minimum of 120 credits.  A master’s degree program requires a minimum of 30 credits. For a doctoral degree, the minimum number of required graduate credits is set by the program. A degree program must include at least one major.

Major

A major is a field of study within an approved degree program with its own curriculum. Typically, an undergraduate baccalaureate major requires a minimum of 30 credits with the majority of credits at the upper-division level. WVU includes majors on the student’s diploma and transcript.

Minor

Minors are only available at the undergraduate level. A baccalaureate minor is an area of study outside of the major that encourages students to pursue a secondary field. A minor comprises at least 15 credits, 9 of which must be upper-division level. Minors are noted on the transcript but not on the diploma.

Area of Emphasis

An area of emphasis is a focused curriculum within an approved major. An area of emphasis adds a specialization within a major area of study. Undergraduate areas of emphasis comprise 12-18 credits, 9 of which must be upper-division level. Graduate areas of emphasis comprise 6-15 credits. Areas of emphasis associated with certification or licensure requirements may exceed the credit limit.  Areas of emphasis are noted on the transcript but not on the diploma.

Track

A track serves the purpose of allowing students to select among different pathways to complete their major. Tracks are not included on the transcript or on the diploma.

Undergraduate Certificate Program

A baccalaureate certificate program (as distinguished from the one-year Certificate Degree Program offered by community and technical colleges) is a specialized curriculum designed for students seeking a specific body of knowledge for personal/career development. A certificate is awarded with the degree and comprises 12 to 18 credits, which may overlap with other degree requirements.  The certificate appears on the student's transcript and the institution issues an official certificate of completion. 

Graduate Certificate Program

A graduate certificate program is a specialized curriculum designed for students who have previously earned a baccalaureate degree or who are enrolled in a WVU graduate or professional program and who are seeking a specific body of knowledge for personal/career development.  A graduate certificate program can be completed either independently or along with a degree program and comprises 12 to 21 credits.  See the Academic Certificate Policies page for credit limitations applicable to earning a certificate.  The certificate appears on the student's transcript and the institution issues an official certificate of completion.

Teacher Specialization

A teacher specialization is a state-approved curriculum that prepares students to meet teaching certification standards in a specialized content area and at a specific programmatic level. Teacher specializations may be an area of emphasis, minor, or major.  Teacher specializations are added to a student's transcript only at the time of graduation.

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Rules for Attaining Multiple Credentials

Undergraduate Multiple Curricula

Multiple curricula refers to the completion of minors, areas of emphasis, or majors in addition to the primary major. If these areas of study are related, some of the credit hours must be unique to each major or minor.

Requirements for multiple curricula include:

  • Each baccalaureate major must have a minimum of 50% unique credit hours. Students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree after the conferral of a first bachelor’s degree must complete a minimum of 30 additional credits.
  • Each associate major must have 15 unique credit hours.
  • A maximum of 6 credits may be shared between multiple areas of emphasis.
  • Each minor must have a minimum of 9 unique credit hours.

Graduate Multiple curricula

Graduate and professional students may simultaneously or sequentially pursue more than one degree or major (although no more than one PhD degree), one or more certificates in addition to degrees or majors, or more than one area of emphasis within their major(s) according to rules specified below and elsewhere in the Graduate/Professional Catalog. Applicability of courses and credits to degree, major, certificate, or area of emphasis requirements is the decision of the program offering the curriculum. Individual course credits may be applied to no more than two degrees, majors, or certificates.

Students pursuing multiple curricula are urged to consult with their advisor(s) to ensure adherence to credit sharing limitations.

Credit Sharing Limitations for Graduate Degrees and Majors

No more than a total of 12 of the credits required for a graduate degree (other than PhD degrees, which are not dependent on credit accumulation) can be:

  • earned prior to admission to the degree program,
  • earned prior to graduation with another WVU degree,
  • earned at another institute, OR
  • simultaneously applied to other degree programs or certificates (e.g., while enrolled in the degree program).

Students who simultaneously earn credits toward two or more WVU degrees must, in most cases, graduate with all degrees in the same term to ensure that all credits, including up to 12 credits shared by the degrees, can be applied. Once a student is awarded a graduate degree, only 12 credits earned to that point in time can be applied to a subsequent degree or major. 

Exceptions: Doctoral programs that require or allow students to earn a master's degree in the same discipline may count the courses earned in the master's degree program toward the doctoral program without credit limitations.  In addition, some approved dual degree programs are allowed to share more than 12 credits.

Credit Sharing Limitations for Graduate Certificates

See Academic Certificate Polices for credit limitations applicable to earning a certificate.   See Credit Sharing Limitations for Graduate Degrees and Majors for limitations on applying credits earned as part of a completed certificate to a graduate degree or major. 

Credit Sharing Limitations for Areas of Emphasis 
Normally, students may share a maximum of 3 credits between areas of emphasis with the same major. 

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Modality Definitions

https://online.wvu.edu/

Distance and Extended Education Program Definition

At WVU, Distance Programs are categorized in one of the following three ways:

• Fully Online – (100% distant) – No residency requirement - All required credit- bearing and any non-credit bearing courses and activities are conducted at a distance with NO required campus attendance and/or visits to designated locations. Optional campus visits and/or visits to designated locations are permissible.

• Low residency (75-99% distant) – Limited residency requirement - A majority of the credit-bearing and non-credit bearing courses and activities are either entirely online or mostly online. Some credit- or non-credit-bearing activities may require campus visits and/or visits to designated locations. Example activities could be program orientations or cohort-based site visits.

• Blended (50-74% distant) - Extensive residency requirement - More than 50% of the credit-bearing and non-credit bearing courses or activities are delivered entirely online. The remaining credit-bearing courses may be offered as face-to-face, partially at a distance, or as distance delivery courses.

Distance Education course delivery

Distance Education Courses are credit-bearing courses in which 50% or more of the course is delivered through distance learning technologies.

• Entirely Online Asynchronous – (100% online + asynchronous only) 100% of class sessions are delivered via distance education technologies. There are no campus visits or visits to designated sites. No synchronous events can be required.

• Entirely Online Synchronous – (100% online + synchronous events) 100% of class sessions are delivered via distance education technologies. There are no campus visits or visits to designated sites required. Synchronous learning events may be required throughout the course.

• Mostly Online – (75-99% online) More than 75% of class sessions are delivered via distance education technologies. A course may require students to travel to campus or other designated sites to attend an orientation, take exams, or participate in other on-site experiences.

• Hybrid- (50-75% online) More than 50% and less than 75% of class sessions are delivered via distance education technologies, but some visits to a classroom or designated instructional site are required.

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In this section:

Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's Programs

Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's degree programs (ABM programs) offer WVU students the opportunity to pursue both a bachelor's and a master's degree in the same discipline or in related disciplines in an accelerated time frame. Students in these approved programs are able to begin taking courses for the master’s degree prior to completion of the bachelor’s degree.

Students in ABM programs complete all requirements for both degrees. Students are conferred both degrees simultaneously following completion of the requirements for both degrees.

Students enrolled in a master’s degree program as part of an ABM program may enroll in 500-level courses approved for their program without completing a Senior Petition.

Unless given specific permission by the relevant dean, students admitted to an ABM program must maintain full-time continuous enrollment during fall and spring terms. Enrollment requirements in summer term are determined by individual programs.

Students who are admitted to an ABM program may not pursue a dual degree, double major, or certificate unless approved by the appropriate dean(s). They may pursue minors and areas of emphasis, as approved by their advisor. In addition, students admitted to an ABM program will not be approved for course overloads (more than 17 credits in any term that includes more than three graduate-level credits, or more than 20 credits in any term that includes three or fewer graduate-level credits).

Approved ABM Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  • Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Physical Education Teacher Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Immunology and Medical Microbiology/Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences
  • Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Sport Management
  • Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Journalism

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Undergraduate Certificate Programs

For a complete list of certificates and information on WVU's undergraduate certificates, please see our Undergraduate Certificates page.

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Minors

For a complete list of minors and information on WVU's minors, please see our Minors page.

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In this section:

Abbreviations Used in Course Listings

Abbreviation Description
HR credit hours per course
Lec lecture period
Rec recitation period
Lab laboratory period
GLAB graded lab
WEB web-based course
CONC concurrent - listed with PR meaning the course may be completed at the same time as enrollment in the course for which it is listed
PR prerequisite - course must be completed in a term prior to enrollment in the course for which it is listed
Coreq co-requisite - courses must be taken in the same term
Consent consent of instructor required
CR credit but no grade

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Course Number Guide

For convenience, each course of study is designated by the name of the department in which it is given and by the number of that course. The guide for numbering courses is as follows:

Courses 1–99 Developmental and community college certificate courses (does not require WVU Faculty Senate approval) and undergraduate professional development courses (courses that are designed for professional development and require students to possess a high school diploma. These courses do not count toward graduation).

Courses 100 Freshmen/Underclassmen: Intended primarily for freshmen, although upper-division students may take them if needed to complete degree requirements.

Courses 200 Sophomores/Underclassmen: Intended primarily for sophomores. These courses may have 100 or 200-level prerequisites.

Courses 300 Juniors/Upperclassmen: Intended primarily for juniors. These courses may have extensive prerequisites or be limited to specific majors.

Courses 400 Seniors/Upperclassmen: Intended primarily for seniors and graduate students. These courses are typically limited to advanced undergraduate students and graduate students  within a particular major or degree program.

Courses 500 Undergraduate Seniors and Master’s Level: Courses intended for advanced undergraduate students and graduate students. Undergraduate students must receive approval to enroll in 500-level courses.

Courses 600 Master’s Level: Courses intended for master’s degree students (no undergraduates permitted).

Courses 700 Master’s and Doctoral Degree Level: Courses intended for doctoral students and advanced master’s students (no undergraduates permitted).

Courses 800 Master's and Doctoral Degree Level: Courses intended for students in graduate-level professional programs (no undergraduates permitted).

Courses 900 Professional Development: Courses intended for professional development. Students must possess a bachelor’s degree. These courses do not count toward graduation and are not applicable towards a graduate degree. Grading is S/U only.

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Undergraduate Common Course Numbers & Descriptions

199. Orientation to [subject/field]. 1-2  Hr. Orientation to degree programs and requirements, departmental resources, curriculum options, student responsibilities, and opportunities.

293. Special Topics. 1-6 Hr. PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

298. Honors. 1-3 Hr. PR: Students in Honors Program and consent by the honors director. Independent reading, study, or research.

393. Special Topics. 1-6 Hr. PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

490. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hr. PR: Consent. Teaching practice such as a tutor or assistant.

491. Professional Field Experience. 1-18 Hr. PR: Consent. (May be repeated up to a maximum of 18 hours.) Prearranged experiential learning program to be planned, supervised, and evaluated for credit by faculty and field supervisors. Involves temporary placement with public or private enterprise for professional competence development.

492. Directed Study. 1-3 Hr. Directed study, reading, and/or research.

493. Special Topics. 1-6 Hr. PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

494. Seminar. 1-3 Hr. PR: Consent. Presentation and discussion of topics of mutual concern to students and faculty.

495. Independent Study. 1-6 Hr. Faculty-supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

496. Senior Thesis. 1-3 Hr. PR: Consent.

497. Research. 1-6 Hr. Independent research projects.

498. Honors, 1-3 Hr. PR: Students in Honors Program with consent by the honors director. Independent reading, study, or research.

499. Global Service Learning. 1-3 Hr. PR: Consent. Theory and practice of global service-learning. The main objective will be to pair the experiential aspects of meaningful and sustained service in the host community with work from the student’s anchor course by offering a methodological framework for cultural immersion and community service as well as adding to the content of the anchor course.

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Eligibility to Enroll in 500-Level Courses

Advanced undergraduate students may request permission to enroll in a graduate course numbered 500-599. Undergraduate students may not enroll in 600 or above level courses unless they are enrolled in a master’s degree program as part of an ABM program. To qualify, students must be classified as either a Junior or Senior and have a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale. To enroll in 500-599 courses, students must complete an Undergraduate Application to Enroll in 500-Level Courses, found on the Office of the University Registrar’s website, and have it approved. Non-WVU students will also be required to submit an undergraduate application for admission and have his or her official transcripts sent to the Office of Admissions from all of the colleges and universities previously attended; the transcript cannot be one sent to the student or by facsimile (fax).

Graduate Credit via Senior Petition

Students classified as seniors may begin graduate study early through the University’s senior petition policy. Senior petition applies only to courses numbered 400–599, and students can receive only 15 graduate hours through the senior petition process. If a student is permitted to receive graduate credit, that credit cannot count toward the undergraduate degree. To qualify, students must be classified as seniors and have a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale. To be granted permission to earn graduate credit as an undergraduate senior, students must complete the Senior Petition to Earn Graduate Credit, found on the Office of the University Registrar’s website, and have this approved. Students enrolled in a master’s degree program as part of an ABM program may enroll in graduate-level courses approved for their program without completing a Senior Petition.

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Independent Study Classes

Independent study classes are offered to students in order to provide opportunities for content exploration not typically offered via the normal course rotation.

Students interested in pursuing independent study should contact their academic advisers to determine if independent study is a viable option for them and to identify the process specific to their college and major.

Directed Study Classes

Directed study classes may occasionally be contracted when:

1. The student has achieved good academic standing (GPA of 2.0 or higher),
2. The course requested for directed study is a requirement for graduation under the student's major, and

  1. There is no possibility of taking the course by the expected graduation date, or
  2. Unavoidable schedule conflict between required courses that are part of a sequence for which a real hardship would occur for the student to be able to complete their program within the expected time frame.

Students should consult with their academic advisers to see if directed study is a viable option for them. All requests for directed study classes require official approval.

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Finals

The last week of each semester of the academic year is designated as finals week. Final examinations for the summer term are given on the last day of classes. The Office of the University Registrar's website gives the dates and times for final examinations.

Students who take a section of a multi-section course may be required to take the departmental final examination, given during the regular final examination period.

Last Week of Classes

Practical laboratory tests, make-up examinations, and regularly scheduled short quizzes are the only tests permitted for day classes during the week of classes preceding finals week.  If an examination needs to be given during that week, a faculty member may petition the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs and must have the petition  approved by the beginning of the second week of the semester in which the final exam is to be given. Evening classes have their final exams on the last meeting of the class preceding finals week. 

Final Examination Policy

No substantial examinations may be given during the last week of classes or during the prep days preceding the final examination period. An examination is considered to be substantial if it counts for more than 30 percent of the final course grade. The only examinations permitted during the last week of classes are final examinations for evening classes (classes meeting at 6 p.m. or later, or classes meeting at 4 p.m. or later if the class meets once a week), quizzes or non-substantial examinations, and bona fide make-up examinations.

The study days preceding final examinations are not to be used as dates on which papers are due, quizzes or examinations are administered, or for any other class-related activity, other than office hours

The final examination period is reserved for scheduled final examinations. No other class-related activity, with the exception of office hours, may be scheduled during the final examination period. No final examinations may be given before the examination period begins, and no change in time from that published in the official examination schedule is permitted without approval. An instructor with a compelling reason to change the time of an examination must obtain the approval of the dean of the college or school and the Associate Provost for Graduate or Undergraduate Academic Affairs at the Morgantown location, Dean of Academic Affairs at WVU Potomac State College location or the Campus Provost at WVU Institute of Technology location before announcing an alternative examination procedure to the students.

In a course extending over two semesters, when the subject matter is continuous, the second-semester final examination may include the subject matter of the first semester.

The final examination schedule for each academic term is determined by the Office of the University Registrar. The final examination date and time for a class is determined by the class meeting time.  Common examinations are scheduled for certain courses that administer examinations at the same time for all students enrolled in the course. Common examinations may only be administered during the specified common examination time slot in order to minimize conflicts in the students’ schedules and help ensure room availability. No courses other than those listed on the final examination schedule may use a common examination time. Common examinations may only be administered for courses in which the total course enrollment exceeds 500 students or there are more than 20 sections of the course. Finals are held in the location of the regularly scheduled class meeting unless students are otherwise notified.

If a student has more than three final examinations on any one calendar day of the final examination period, the student may make arrangements to take the last examination of the day during the make-up examination time period. If a student has two final examinations scheduled during the same common examination time period, the student must contact the departments administering the common examinations to make arrangements for a make-up examination.

A student may address complaints related to the final examination procedures in a course to the dean of the college or school in which the course is offered, or to the Associate Provost for Graduate or Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

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In this section:

Classification of Students

WVU undergraduates are classified as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors. These classifications are based upon the number of hours completed. The classifications are as follows:

Classification Hours
Freshman 1-29 Earned Credit Hours, Inclusive
Sophomore 30-59 Earned Credit Hours, Inclusive
Junior 60-89 Earned Credit Hours, Inclusive
Senior 90 or More Earned Hours

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Course Overload

Undergraduate students are not permitted to enroll in more than 20 credits in a fall or spring semester or 14 credits in a summer semester without approval. The student's dean or dean's designee may approve requests of 21 credits in the fall or spring semester or 15 credits in the summer semester. Requests to enroll in 22 credits or more must be approved by the student's dean or dean's designee and the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

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Credit Hour Definition

West Virginia University courses offered for credit are based on semester hours. Semesters are fifteen weeks long plus one week for final exams. A single credit hour is equivalent to fifty minutes per week of guided instruction within the classroom. An hour of preparation, or related activity outside of the classroom, is equivalent to sixty minutes per week.

Face-to-Face Classroom Learning

One credit hour is equivalent to one hour of guided instruction (fifty minute class) and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time such as during the summer academic term, when courses may vary in duration. One credit hour in other academic activities, as established by the institution, such as laboratory work, internships, practicums, studio work, study abroad, experiential learning opportunities, and online learning, must include an equivalent amount of required work.

Online Learning

One credit hour of online learning is equivalent to a total of fifteen hours of direct instruction and thirty hours of additional student work. Direct instruction can occur via computer-assisted (modules), multi-media interaction, discussions, and/or completion of exams/quizzes/assessments as documented in the course syllabus and approved to meet best practices in online learning. Student work includes activities like readings and supplemental home work. Students must fulfill these hours to complete the course requirements as set forth by the course instructor. Online courses developed from existing face-to-face instruction adhere to the defined learning outcomes and assessments of the original face-to-face format for the course. All WVU online programs are reviewed for nationally accepted standards for online learning.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning, includes opportunities associated with laboratory/lecture courses, undergraduate research (with or without laboratory), professional development internships, clinical experiences,and service learning. Three hours of experiential learning per week over a period of fifteen weeks receives one credit hour.  Students are required to document progress during the course and completion of the stated learning objectives for each experience. Experiential learning courses are expected to adhere to and follow the institutional policy for reporting midterm and final grades. All credit-bearing courses require a syllabus. 

Study Abroad

One credit hour is equivalent to fifteen hours of guided instruction and thirty hours of cultural, linguistic or other types of engagements as described by the syllabus and approved by the faculty, department Chair, Dean, and Associate Provost. Exceptions to this general rule would need to be justified and approved on an individual basis.

Studio/Ensemble Work

In studio courses in the arts, design, and theatre, one credit hour is equivalent to one and a half hours of guided instruction and three hours for studio class practice or projects each week for fifteen weeks as defined by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). In accordance with the National Association of Schools of Music standards, one credit hour of ensemble work in the music field represents three hours of practice each week, on average, for a period of fifteen weeks plus the necessary individual instruction as defined by the major subject.

Variable Credit Offerings

Variable credit courses often represent student experiences that range in credit hours based on the focus and discipline of the experience. Practicums (teaching and research), field experience, undergraduate and graduate research and laboratory rotations and credit, and independent studies offer a range of contact. One credit hour is equivalent to fifteen contact hours of guided instruction (e.g., student progress meetings, mentoring) and thirty hours of student work to complete the requirements set forth by the advisor or course instructor (e.g., team meetings, review sessions, thesis/dissertation preparation) over a 15 week period. Instructors/mentors and students should discuss the appropriate number of total credit hours for a given course based on the time needed to attain outcomes of the particular endeavor.

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Credit by Exam

A student who is currently enrolled may receive credit for a course or courses upon demonstration of competency in the course content at the discretion of the department. The department offering the course determines evaluation standards for the student’s competency. If skill and cognitive abilities are components of the course, then both are evaluated. A college, school, or department may ask a student to prepare a self-evaluation statement. The purpose of the statement is to determine competency and the methods by which the student achieved it. Students interested in pursuing credit by exam should begin by consulting with the department offering the course. A fee is required to pursue credit by exam.

Credit is given only when a satisfactory degree of competency is shown. While WVU administered credit by examination and placement credit will be excluded from WVU residence credit, it does not interrupt the final thirty credit hours in residence if earned during this period.

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Experiential Learning

Each academic unit has a policy of general applicability controlling the allocation of credit for ad hoc experiential learning. No credit shall be granted for ad hoc experiential learning that is not sanctioned by an approved policy. At a minimum, each discipline shall adhere to accreditation standards of that discipline with respect to credits given toward student advancement based on experiential learning. There should be an equivalence in quantity and quality of ad hoc experiential learning effort and conventional academic effort for a set amount of credit within a discipline. Credit awarded for experiential learning will be posted as transfer work to West Virginia University with the course number of three zeros (000). The course prefix will vary by department granting credit. Credits applied to a student’s record through experiential learning will count in degree (or earned) hours. No formal grade will be entered. While WVU administered experiential learning credit will be excluded from WVU residence credit, it does not interrupt the final thirty credit hours in residence if earned during this period.

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