Policies and Procedures


Luther's academic year consists of a fall semester, January Term, and spring semester (see the Academic Calendar). A Luther semester lasts approximately 14 weeks (13.5 weeks of classes and a 4-day final exam period).

The January term at Luther alters the pace of the academic year by creating opportunities for students to engage in focused exploration of a single subject. January study is often experiential and/or experimental, and it offers students both greater freedom and greater responsibility for their learning. Students are required to complete two January terms while enrolled at Luther, one of which is the first-year seminar.

Two four-week summer sessions are offered, one in June and the other in July. Students normally take one four-hour course each session. These sessions, as well as special institutes not offered during the regular school year, are open to Luther students, students from other colleges and universities, teachers in elementary and secondary schools, and other special students. Some courses are open to high school students who are in the top quarter of their high school class academically and will be entering their junior or senior year the following fall. A special bulletin for the summer school with detailed course information is available online each March.

The summer term is a 12 week term that begins coincident with the first day of the June summer session.  Offerings in the summer term are limited to internships and study away courses and programs.

Regardless of term, a four-credit course includes, at minimum, thirty-eight instructional hours.  Students are expected to devote a minimum of 3 hours outside of class for every instructional hour. Some courses (e.g., laboratory, studio, and off-campus courses) may have additional instructional time that may alter expectations for out-of-class work. 

Registration of Full-Time Students

All students are expected to register during the official registration days which are scheduled on the college calendar. Students who fail to complete financial arrangements by the first day of classes are charged a late registration fee.

Each student has a faculty advisor who gives aid and counsel in the selection of a course of study. The advisor is assigned in the first semester of enrollment. When a student has decided on a major, that student should select as advisor a member of the department of that major. Each student arranges a course schedule in consultation with the advisor and is invited to counsel with him or her on academic and related matters during the course of the semester.

Registration does not go into effect until the student has made settlement for the semester charges at the Financial Services office. Until such settlement has been made, the student is not entitled to participate in any class or any individual lesson.

Registration of Part-Time Students

A student who has not been formally admitted to Luther College, planning to take courses on a part-time basis, registers on the first day of classes at the registrar's office, and is allowed to select courses from the full range of courses offered for the term, provided all prerequisites associated with the courses have been met. Registration is on a space-available basis. Until formally admitted, a part-time student may enroll in consecutive semesters, but must wait to register at the start of each semester.

Class Load

The average annual class load for full-time students is 33 semester hours. This annual average includes courses taken during the fall semester, the January Term, and the spring semester. Normally, a student will register for three or four courses (four hours each) in a semester and one course (4 hours maximum) during two of the four January Terms. Only a student with a grade point average of 3.00 or above should consider a semester class load in excess of 17 hours. Any student who wishes to register for more than 17 hours during the fall or spring semester, or more than 4 hours during the January term or summer sessions, may be required to first secure permission from the registrar.

An extra hours fee is charged for each hour of credit in excess of an annual load of 36 hours. Extra credit hours are determined based on the total number of credit hours a student has registered for in the academic year, which includes fall, January, and spring terms. Credit hours for courses dropped without academic record are excluded from this calculation. Additional information on the extra hours fee can be found on the Financial Services website.

The minimum class load for full-time students is 12 semester hours. Under special circumstances, with the permission of the registrar and the dean for student engagement, a resident student may be permitted to register for fewer than 12 semester hours.

Class Attendance

Regular class attendance is expected at Luther. Each instructor determines the attendance policy for his or her classes. If an instructor requires attendance, he or she has the authority to excuse the student. It is the responsibility of the student who is absent from class, whether excused or unexcused, to take the initiative to contact the teacher to learn about work missed and about upcoming assignments. When a student's absence from class jeopardizes his or her class standing, it may be reported to the Center for Academic Enrichment (CAE).

Academic Transcript

A permanent academic record is prepared for every student registered at Luther College. The record is maintained in the registrar's office, and administered in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

Changes in Registration

Changes in registration are to be completed using the college's online registration system (norsehub.luther.edu). Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor before any changes are made.

Refer to the college academic calendar for a listing of the course add and drop dates in each semester.

In 1985, the faculty approved a "no-drop" policy for Paideia 111 and 112. Therefore, a student cannot withdraw from Paideia 111 or 112.

Auditing Courses

Full-time students wishing to attend a class without taking examinations or receiving college credit may do so with the consent of the instructor and the registrar. The student must have a cumulative average of 3.00 or above, register for the course as an audit, and attend classes regularly. There is no charge to full-time students for auditing a course.

Area residents wishing to attend class without receiving college credit may do so by registering for the course as an audit. This requires the consent of the instructor and the registrar. The charge to area residents for auditing one course is listed on the Financial Services Fee Schedule. Additional fees may be required for the course (i.e., music lesson charges, specific course fees, etc.) Registration for area residents occurs on the first day of classes, if space is available in the course. Area residents are limited to auditing one course per term.

Students may complete the application for auditing a course on the Registrar's Office website.

Repeating Courses

Students who repeat courses for the purpose of improving their grade point average cannot receive credit for the course every time it is taken. The grade that stands is the one for the most recent time the course is taken. No change is made in the grade point average for the semester in which the course is repeated, nor is the course (and grade) removed from the transcript, but the cumulative grade point average is changed to show the reduction of hours and grade points repeated.

Courses repeated at another institution will not be accepted for transfer when credit has already been earned, with a grade of D- or above or grade of credit, at Luther.

Independent Study

Students may register for individualized courses of study for independent study credit in each department (specific requirements may vary by department). Types of independent study include:

285: Directed Study. An opportunity to pursue individualized or experiential learning with a faculty member in the January term, at the sophomore level, either within or outside the major.

295: Directed Study. An opportunity to pursue individualized or experiential learning with a faculty member in the fall, spring, or summer term, at the sophomore level, either within or outside the major.

375: Directed Readings. An opportunity to pursue a specialized area of the discipline for which course offering are limited by following a prescribed reading list under the direction of a faculty member. Prerequisites and requirements vary by department.

389: Directed Research. Involvement in a research project under the supervision of department faculty. Recommended for students who expect to attend graduate school. Prerequisites and requirements vary by department.

395: Independent Study. Used by the student who wishes to design a course of independent study not otherwise available in the curriculum. Prerequisite of 12 semester hours in the department of study. Requires detailed proposal of study written in consultation with instructor.

## Course by Arrangement. Method of taking a regular curricular offering (same course number, description, and credits as listed in the catalog) by special arrangement or under special conditions outside the typical classroom setting. Note: Course by arrangement does not satisfy the J-Term II requirement.

The J-term II requirement can be completed with a 285, 375, 389, or 395 for 2 or 4 credits ONLY when completed in January. Can be graded CR/NC.

The student who wishes to design a course of independent study should outline a proposal on the official application form, obtain written approval from the instructor who will direct the course, his or her advisor, and the head of the department in which the study is done. A student may take no more than four hours of independent study in one semester.


Departments which offer internship credit for majors provide a list of appropriate internships normally under course number 380 (graded credit/no credit) or 381 (graded A-F). Prerequisites and requirements vary by department. Internships normally should be used to acquire experience in the application of knowledge rather than substitute for the academic content or methods taught in a major. Students wishing to register for internship credit should obtain application materials from the Career Center.

Credit/No Credit Grading

Courses which are not taken to satisfy all-college requirements and are outside the requirements for the major or minor may be taken for credit/no credit grading by sophomores, juniors, and seniors in good standing with the following provisions:

  1. Not more than one course in a semester and not more than two courses per academic year may be taken for credit/no credit; the maximum number of courses is six.
  2. The work of a student enrolled on a credit/no credit basis is treated in all respects like the work of regularly enrolled students.
  3. The student must authorize credit/no credit grading for a full-semester course in the first eight class days of the semester or in the first four days for a seven-week course. He or she may cancel the authorization at any time up to the final day of classes in the semester or half-semester and receive the earned letter grade. If the authorization is not canceled, grades of A, B, and C are recorded on the transcript as CR; grades of D and F are recorded as NC. A student who receives a grade of D in a course where credit/no credit grading has been authorized may elect to have the D recorded on the transcript in place of the NC within 30 days of receiving the grade report.
  4. The number of courses permitted on a credit/no credit basis is exclusive of any courses offered on a credit/no credit basis only. Further, any student, including first-year students, may also register for one-credit physical education activities on a credit/no credit basis. Such courses taken on a credit/no credit basis may be used to fulfill graduation (but not all-college) requirements.
  5. Internships and other individualized courses (directed study, directed readings, directed research, independent study) may be taken to fulfill the J-term II requirement on a credit/no credit basis, without effect on the number of other electives a student may choose to designate as credit/no credit in any given academic year.

Students may complete the application for authorizing credit/no credit on the Registrar's Office website.

Credit by Special Examination and Advanced Placement

In order to provide a means whereby a mature student may obtain credit in a subject in which he or she has attained mastery through intensive private study or experience, the college has instituted a system of credit by comprehensive examination. For credit earned by special examination the charge is $50 per course. Each academic department is responsible for establishing eligibility requirements for the examinations and for administering them. Credit by examination is available for most courses offered on campus but the student should discuss the course requirements with the department head.

Some academic departments will award advanced placement credit based on successful completion of coursework in the department. Additional information can be found in the catalog under specific disciplines.

Student Classification

Students are classified according to the number of semester hours and grade points they have earned as follows:

Sophomore: 27 semester hours, 54 grade points

Junior: 60 semester hours, 120 grade points

Senior: 94 semester hours, 188 grade points

Students who register for fewer than 12 hours are classified as part-time students.


The transcript of a student's academic record will include all courses from which he or she has not withdrawn prior to the deadline to drop without record. The following notations and grade point values are used:

A 4.0 grade points
A- 3.7 grade points
B+ 3.3 grade points
B 3.0 grade points
B- 2.7 grade points
C+ 2.3 grade points
C 2.0 grade points
C- 1.7 grade points
D+ 1.3 grade points
D 1.0 grade points
D- 0.7 grade points
F 0.0 grade points
Cr For courses taken on a credit/no credit basis (refer to regulations concerning registration on a credit/no credit basis) in which the student earns no less than a C- grade.
No Cr For courses taken on a credit/no credit basis in which a student earns less than a C- grade.
W For courses from which a student withdraws after the last day to add a course for the respective semester, term, or session, and before the last day to withdraw from a course for the respective semester, term, or session, as published on the academic calendar. Also for courses from which a student withdraws as part of a withdrawal from the college after the eighth week of the semester with the approval of the dean for student engagement and the associate provost. Discontinuing a course without an approved withdrawal results in a grade of F.
WR For courses from which a student withdraws within the first four weeks of the semester.
I An Incomplete grade is meant for students who are doing passing work or better but fail to complete the remaining course requirements due to circumstances beyond their control (e.g., illness). It is NOT meant for giving a failing student an opportunity to redo unsatisfactory work or to allow more time to complete the work when the reasons for the delay have been within the student's control. In cases where an incomplete is appropriate, the instructor, in conversation with the student, establishes the deadline for completed work to be submitted (typically before the end of the subsequent semester; if the deadline needs to extend beyond that, the instructor should communicate with the Registrar). An instructor may recommend to the registrar an extension of this deadline in cases of special hardship. If no grade is submitted, an Incomplete grade will be replaced by an F at the conclusion of the subsequent semester.

Grade Point Average

  1. All courses for which a grade of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+ , C, C-, D+, D, D-, or F is recorded are computed in the grade point average.
  2. The grade point average is determined by dividing the total number of grade points a student has earned in courses graded with A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, or F by the number of semester hours of work for which he or she received such grades.
  3. Credits and grade points for work transferred from other schools are not counted in determining the Luther College grade point average.

Final Grade Appeals

If a student feels that his or her grade in a course is inconsistent with explicit standards, then he or she should first make an effort to resolve the matter by registering a complaint with the instructor. In the event that this fails to produce a resolution, the student may submit a formal petition to the head of the department in question, unless the head is the person in question, then it should go directly to the associate provost. This petition should express the grievance and give just cause for the department to intervene. Should the department support the actions of the instructor, then the matter is closed with no further institutional recourse to the student. A department may wish to refer the issue to the associate provost for final resolution.

When a student feels that his/her academic evaluation has not been fairly rendered, he/she has 30 days after the release of the final grades by the Registrar's Office to file an appeal.

Honor System

The student-initiated honor system, administered by the Honor Council, applies to all aspects of the academic life of the student, including, but not limited to, written tests, quizzes, examinations, and assigned written or oral work. Violations of the Honor Code come under the jurisdiction of the Honor Council, composed of and elected by students, and a faculty advisor.

From the preamble: "We, the members of the student body of Luther College, believe that one of the basic functions of an institution dedicated to the Christian faith and engaged in higher education is the development of academic integrity and responsibility. We therefore hereby resolve to uphold individually and collectively the honor of the college by doing all that is within our power to prevent any form of dishonesty in our academic work and our college life. We manifest our conviction in this Honor Code for all students at Luther College."

View the Honor Code in it's entirety on the Academic Integrity website.

Financial Aid and Academic Progress

Federal regulations and college policy require students to maintain academic progress in order to receive financial aid. See the Consumer Information section of the Financial Aid website to review the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy document.

Academic Warning, Probation, and Dismissal

Graduation at Luther College requires a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 for 128 hours of course work. Academic records are reviewed at the conclusion of the fall and spring semesters.  Any student whose Luther GPA falls below 2.00 will either be issued an academic warning, placed on academic probation, or dismissed from Luther College. The Academic Standing Board will issue a written notice of academic warning, probation, or dismissal to the student and the academic advisor.

Students on probation who improve their cumulative GPA to the minimum level or higher will be removed from academic probation.  In addition to the reviews at the end of each semester, the academic records of students on probation are reviewed at the conclusion of January Term and the Summer Term.

Academic Warning: Students will be issued an academic warning when they have one of the following: (1) A Luther GPA of less than 2.00 but above the minimum level for academic probation; or (2) a Luther GPA of 2.00 or higher but have obtained a semester GPA of less than 2.00 and higher than 0.99. The academic record of students who receive an academic warning for more than one semester will be reviewed for possible placement on academic probation.

Academic Probation: The following table indicates the minimum GPA needed in order to avoid being placed on academic probation. Both hours and GPA are based on Luther work only.

Hours Minimum Cumulative GPA
0–26 1.75
27–59 1.90
60–93 2.00
94– 2.00

Students will also be placed on academic probation when their Luther cumulative GPA is at or above these minimum GPA guidelines and they obtain a semester GPA of less than 1.00.

Students who are placed on academic probation must meet with both their academic advisor and an advisor from the Center for Academic Enrichment to develop an academic success plan.

In compliance with NCAA Division III rules, students on academic probation may not compete on any intercollegiate athletic team. The faculty board that monitors the academic progress of students may restrict participation in recognized campus organizations or activities for any student on academic probation. 

Academic Dismissal: Students will be dismissed from Luther College when their cumulative GPA falls below 1.00. Students on academic probation also risk dismissal from Luther College. Full-time students on probation will be dismissed

1. if they earn a semester GPA of less than 2.00, unless the semester GPA raises the cumulative GPA above the minimum level for academic probation;

2. if their academic performance would have warranted being placed on probation for a third consecutive semester at Luther College; (NOTE: A student who successfully appeals a dismissal is readmitted on probation, and that probationary readmission is included in the consecutive semester count. College work completed at another institution during a semester or more away from Luther does not interrupt the consecutive semesters of probation at Luther.)

3. or, if they fail to adhere to the conditions of enrollment established by the Academic Standing Board.

The time period of dismissal will be for at least one semester (fall or spring). Students requesting to return to Luther after the dismissal period must have approval from the Academic Standing Board. Students who wish to apply for readmission begin the process by contacting the Registrar's office and Center for Academic Enrichment.  Applications for readmission are reviewed twice a year, in January and June.  Students should contact college offices at least one month in advance to begin the process.

Itinerant Status

An itinerant student is defined as a Luther College student who intends to participate in an off-campus academic program under the auspices of an accredited college or university other than Luther College, provided prior approval has been granted. Such a program may be a foreign study program or a course of study at another American university, used to enhance the major program at Luther. This is normally done during the sophomore or junior year.

See the registrar for an application for itinerant status. A student with itinerant status is considered an enrolled student of Luther College. This status is important for the purposes of being eligible for student loan deferments and for consideration of financial assistance under federal regulations. Itinerant students are not required to apply for readmission.


Students who wish to withdraw from the college, or withdraw from all courses during the semester, must take formal action to do so. The appropriate form is available at the Student Engagement Office. This procedure applies whether the decision to withdraw occurs during the semester, or at the conclusion of the term. Completion of the form and the approval of the dean for student engagement and the associate provost allows the appropriate offices to terminate the enrollment status of the student according to a specific date.

Tuition and fees are refunded as shown under refunds in the section on college costs. Students who wish to return to Luther must reapply for admission by contacting the Student Engagement Office. Please see "Readmission Requirements after Withdrawal" for additional information.

Administrative Withdrawal

Students are expected to be properly registered for courses and abide by drop/add and late registration changes according to all existing procedures in the Luther College catalog and all officially posted deadlines; and to attend all courses in which they are enrolled.

In certain circumstances, a student may be administratively withdrawn from his/her courses. While the college reserves the right in each instance to determine when administrative withdrawal appears appropriate, normally this process will be initiated when a student is not attending the courses for which he or she is registered, or attendance and work for over half of those courses are erratic, and after one or both of the following conditions have occurred:

  • The student does not respond appropriately to reasonable requests from faculty instructors, his/her advisor, the Registrar, the Dean for Student Engagement, the Associate Provost and other College personnel for explanation of nonattendance;
  • The student is on academic probation and is not following through with expectations for academic recovery.

If the student has authorized disclosure of educational records to his/her parent(s)/guardian(s) under FERPA, the student's parent(s)/guardian(s) may be notified.

Student Presence on Campus While Separated from the College

Students who have been separated from the college through academic dismissal, suspension for disciplinary reasons, or for medical reasons do not have the rights and privileges accorded to full-time enrolled Luther students. Such students are expected to absent themselves from campus and to visit only with permission, given in advance, by the Student Engagement Office. Failure to abide by this expectation may adversely affect the decision to readmit a student.

Readmission Requirements after Withdrawal

Students who wish to return to Luther must reapply for admission by contacting the Student Engagement Office. Reapplication requires a statement of intent to return and supporting evidence for readiness to rejoin the college. The Academic Standing Board will review the requests from students who were on probation at the time they withdrew, or who were academically dismissed from the college. Applications for readmission are reviewed twice a year, in January and June. The dean for student engagement and the associate provost will review the requests from other students who were not on probation at the time they withdrew and who were not academically dismissed from the college.