Academic Regulations

Transfer Credit Policy

Transfer courses are evaluated individually. Credits for all courses passed with a letter grade of C or higher at regionally accredited institutions and recorded on official transcripts will be evaluated and may be accepted for applicability to specific Tompkins Cortland degree or certificate requirements. College-level courses completed outside the United States and recorded on official transcripts will be evaluated for transfer credit, provided that the institution where the courses were taken is accredited by the Ministry of Education in that country.
Grades and credits earned at another institution are not calculated into a student’s grade point average at Tompkins Cortland.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts bear the College seal and must be received by the addressee in a sealed envelope. You may request that an official copy of your permanent academic record be sent directly to the college or agency designated.

All requests for transcripts must be made in writing as required by law, through the College's website, by letter, or on the form provided by an enrollment services specialist. Anyone who has not paid his or her financial obligations to the college will not receive transcripts from Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Because of the large volume of transcripts, the College requires at least two business days to send out transcripts requested online. Written requests may take 4-5 business days to process.

Change of Program

You may change your degree program if you find that your abilities and interests are better suited to another program of study. Such a change should be discussed with your academic advisor.

A change of program form must be filed in the office of Student Success: Advising, Career & Transfer, at which point you will be assigned a new academic advisor. Students who change their program will be bound by the current graduation requirements at the time of the program change.

Waivers and Substitutions

Under special circumstances, program requirements may be waived or other courses substituted for a requirement by completing a waiver request form available in the enrollment services center. New York State Department regulations, such as the minimum number of credits required for graduation and the required number of Liberal Arts and Science credits, may not be waived.  

Examples of when a requirement may be waived include: when a course scheduling problem has made it impossible for you to meet a graduation requirement or when you need to meet a specific requirement of a four-year college to which you intend to transfer.

The waiver form should normally be approved before you enroll in a substitute course. The approval process is initiated by your academic advisor, reviewed by the appropriate department chairperson, and finally acted upon by the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. It should be noted that waivers are never automatic.

Waiver of any particular course does not reduce the credit requirements for graduation. Any student requesting a substitution (waiver) for a course that has a minimum grade of C or C- must meet this requirement for the course being substituted.

Credit/Contact Hours

Following State University of New York (SUNY) regulations, Tompkins Cortland has adopted the following definitions and practices regarding credit and required contact hours.

A semester credit hour is normally granted for satisfactory completion of one 50-minute session of classroom instruction per week for a semester of not less than fifteen weeks. This basic measure may be adjusted proportionately to reflect modified academic calendars and formats of study. Semester credit hours are granted for various types of instruction as follows:

I. Lecture, seminar, quiz, discussion, recitation

A semester credit hour is an academic unit earned for fifteen 50-minute sessions of classroom instruction with a normal expectation of two hours of outside study for each class session. Typically, a three-semester credit hour course meets three 50-minute sessions per week for fifteen weeks for a total of 45 sessions.

II. Activity supervised as a group (laboratory, field trip, practicum, workshop, group studio)

A semester credit hour is awarded for the equivalent of fifteen periods of such activity, where each activity period is 150 minutes or more in duration with little or no outside preparation expected. Forty-five 50-minute sessions of such activity would also normally earn one semester credit hour. Where such activity involves substantial outside preparation by the student, the equivalent of fifteen periods of 100 minutes duration each will earn one semester credit hour.

III. Supervised individual activity (independent study, individual studio, tutorial)

a) One credit for independent study (defined as study given initial guidance, criticism, review and final evaluation of student performance by a faculty member) will be awarded for the equivalent of forty-five 50-minute sessions of student academic activity.

b) Credit for tutorial study (defined as study which is given initial faculty guidance followed by repeated, regularly scheduled individual student conferences with a faculty member, and periodic as well as final evaluation of student performance) will be awarded on the basis of one semester hour credit for each equivalent of fifteen contact hours of regularly scheduled instructional sessions.”

Credit/Contact Hour Source:  SUNY Policy
Document Number: 1305
Effective Date: June 30, 1976

Directed Study Course Section

Directed Study is an independent study instructional format for a section of a regular course required for a student’s program of study that is not available in a particular semester. The material covered in such courses is the same as what is covered in the traditional course. The directed study option is used only in unusual circumstances and is not an alternative to inadequate planning or inconvenient timing. It is expected that only instructors who normally teach the course will be responsible for a directed study course. Regular tuition and fees will be charged for each directed study credit. Approval of the Provost is required. 

Independent Study Courses

Independent Study is intended to expand a student’s learning experience beyond the normal program curriculum.  It provides the student with an opportunity to pursue/ research a subject in more depth, and in a more independent manner than would be possible in a traditional course. A supervising Tompkins Cortland faculty member and the student cooperatively design a written contract equivalent to college-level study within a specific discipline. Each hour of credit should reflect a minimum of 45 hours of work. Approval of the Provost is required.


Application for Degree

A student must be matriculated into a degree program and file an application for degree in order to graduate. This application, available in Self-Service, must be submitted by the deadline dates. Records will be reviewed and the student will be notified by the Academic Records Office regarding degree status. A student who applies for a degree but who does not meet all of the requirements must reapply during the semester prior to when they will meet the requirements. In order for applications to be accepted, the student must be matriculated in a degree program.

Graduation Requirements

All students who are degree candidates must meet these general requirements for graduation.

Satisfactory completion of all courses prescribed in the curriculum to which the student has been accepted/matriculated.

A minimum of 15 academic credits in residency successfully completed at Tompkins Cortland Community College. (These credits must be exclusive of experiential learning or proficiency credits.)

A cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher.

Up to three fitness credits may be applied toward unrestricted elective requirements in any degree program.

Students must submit a final high school transcript documenting graduation or a high school equivalency diploma (GED) prior to receiving their degree.

Settlement of all financial or other obligations to the College.

Graduation with Honors

To qualify for honors recognition at graduation, the student must have completed at least 30 hours at Tompkins Cortland Community College. Honors will be awarded when students meet the following requirements:

Honor               GPA = 3.20 - 3.49
High Honor       GPA = 3.50 - 3.79
Highest Honor   GPA = 3.80 - 4.00

Multiple Degrees

Consistent with the policy of the NYS Department of Education, you can earn more than one degree or certificate at Tompkins Cortland Community College, with some conditions.  

All required courses must be successfully completed for each degree or certificate program.

A minimum of 15 unique credits beyond those required for the first degree must be completed at Tompkins Cortland Community College. Any courses applied to previously earned degrees cannot be counted as part of these additional 15 credits.

If the degrees are to be awarded simultaneously, the student should submit a separate application for graduation for each degree and the $20 fee.

If the degrees are not to be awarded simultaneously and enrollment is uninterrupted, the student should submit an application for graduation for the first degree. Then, at the beginning of the next semester after the degree has been awarded, a program change form must be filed with the office of Student Success: Advising, Career & Transfer changing from the first degree program to the second degree program. A second application for graduation must also be submitted. There is an additional matriculation fee of $20.

If the degrees are not to be awarded simultaneously and enrollment is interrupted, then the student should reapply for admission to the college and indicate the second degree program on the application form. A second application for graduation must also be filed along with the $20 fee.


Multiple degrees will only be awarded for individual degree programs. A student may not receive an additional degree in a degree’s concentration, sequence, or option.

Religious Holidays

New York State Education Law section 224-A mandates that the college, like all educational institutions, ensures students the opportunity to observe religious holidays without penalty. Students are required to notify faculty of their impending absence at least one class session in advance so arrangements can be made for making up assignments.

Guidelines for Research Involving Human Subjects

The College guidelines for research involving human subjects recognize that the primary responsibility for protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects rests with each individual who initiates, directs, or engages in research. Research shall be defined to include any surveying, questioning, testing, or other involvement of another person to obtain information for use by a student, faculty or staff person, or any external person.

All projects proposing to recruit student participants must make clear the voluntary nature of their participation. Under the SUNY Board of Trustees policy, students may not be required, as a course requirement, to participate as subjects in any research project or in the pilot-testing of any research instruments. The full written policy is available in the president's office. Students wishing to conduct surveys or other research must obtain approval from appropriate college staff. More information is available through the Office of Institutional Research.

Alcohol Policy

Curriculum Exemption

A person under 21 who is a student in a curriculum licensed or registered by the State Education Department may taste or imbibe alcoholic beverages in courses that are a part of the required curriculum, provided such alcoholic beverages are used only for instructional purposes during classes conducted according to course/curriculum outlines.