Academic Standards and Regulations

Credits A credit is an academic unit of measure used for recording progress in the program of study and in meeting the academic requirements of the degree. In studio and lecture courses, one (1) credit represents a minimum of three (3) hours of work during each week of a 15-week semester dedicated solely to that course. These criteria apply to each course in which the student is enrolled.

Example in studio courses:
Drawing, 3 credits, equals 9 hours of work per week (i.e., 4 hours in class and 5 hours outside work [studio or home] or 3 hours in class and 6 hours outside work).

Example in techniques courses:
Casting Techniques, 2 credits, equals 6 hours of work per week (i.e. 4 hours in class and 2 hours outside work).

Example in a lecture course:
English Literature, 3 credits, equals 9 hours of work per week (i.e., 3 hours in class and 6 hours of outside work).

The number of credits awarded in each course represents the fulfillment of an agreement by the student to satisfy the course requirements as defined by each instructor, on time, and in accordance with the definition of credit.

Additional Credits in an Advanced Studio Course Permission to add credits to individual course commitments may be granted only under special conditions and must receive the written approval of the instructor and the dean of the School of Art (or the academic adviser) during the registration process.

Juniors and seniors in good academic standing (defined as having earned a minimum 3.0 G.P.A. in School of Art studio courses for the previous semester) may add credits to their individual course commitment under the following conditions: no more that two (2) additional credits in one course and no more that a total of three (3) additional credits in any one semester.

Additional Credits in a Semester Normal progress towards a degree is 16 credits per semester. Students may register for up to 19 credits only if they earned a minimum 3.0 G.P.A. overall for the previous semester. Under special conditions, students may register for more than 19 credits only with the permission of the dean of the School of Art (or the academic adviser). Students who wish to register for less than 16 credits must do so in consultation with the Office of Academic Advisement of the School of Art.

Independent Study Independent study is an alternative to classroom study and may be taken only with a member of the resident faculty (defined as full-time or proportional-time faculty members or adjunct faculty members who have taught at the School of Art for at least seven semesters). Only juniors and seniors in good academic standing (defined as having earned a minimum 3.0 G.P.A. overall for the previous semester are eligible for independent study. Independent study may be taken only once during a semester in an advanced subject for one (1), two (2) or three (3) credits. One (1) credit of independent study represents a minimum of three (3) hours of work during each week of a 15-week semester.

The major consideration in approving proposals for independent study is the educational value of the study project within the structure of the degree requirements. Permission to undertake study off-campus can be given only when it is required by the nature of the specific project and when the experience has been evaluated to be valid by the instructor and approved by the dean of the School of Art.

Transfer Credits All incoming students (freshmen with advanced standing and transfer) may apply for transfer credits to be counted toward the B.F.A. degree requirements. These credits must be approved by the dean of the School of Art, after the evaluation by faculty based on official transcripts from other schools. The transfer credits will be officially recorded only after one semester of satisfactory work is completed at The Cooper Union.

Transfer credits may be granted specifically in lieu of the School of Art’s foundation, prerequisite or elective courses. A maximum of 60 credits may be transferred toward the B.F.A. degree, at the time of admission only. An accepted applicant who has previously earned a baccalaureate degree in a discipline other than art will be treated as a transfer student for purposes of evaluating completion of degree requirements and length of time allotted at The Cooper Union to complete the B.F.A.

The required 10 credits of free electives, however, must be completed during the student’s stay at The Cooper Union. No previously earned credits may be transferred into this category. Exceptions to this rule may be granted by the Admissions Committee, with the approval of the dean of the School of Art, at the time of admission only. (See School of Art Transfer Requirements)

Attendance Attendance at classes is mandatory. Unexcused absences and excessive lateness will be cause for probation or dismissal.

Registration Only those students who are officially registered in a course (i.e., by approval of the dean of the School of Art) will have the grades and credits entered on their records. Students are required to register for each semester through the online registration system, during the announced registration period.

A student who receives a grade of F, W or WU in the first semester of a one-year course will not be allowed to register for the second semester of that course. In such a situation the student will be called before the Academic Standards Committee for individual review and/or counseling in order to determine a future program of study. Students whose records by mid-semester indicate a possible failure to meet required standards may be so informed.

Grades At the end of every semester each student receives a grade for his or her semester’s work in each subject.

The grades, expressing the faculty’s evaluation of students’ work in School of Art courses, are: A (4.0), A- (3.7), B+ (3.3), B (3.0), B- (2.7), C+ (2.3), C (2.0), C- (1.7), D+ (1.3), D (1.0), D- (.7), F (0).

The numbers in parentheses give the assigned numerical equivalents of the letter grade for each course. These are used in computing semester index and cumulative index ratings by multiplying the numerical equivalent of the grade for each course by the credits assigned to that subject. The sum of such multiplications for all the subjects carried by a student is divided by the total credits carried by him or her for that period to determine the index or grade point average.

The meanings for the letter grades are as follows:
A Outstanding performance
B Above average performance
C Requirements completed; average performance
D Passing, but unsatisfactory
F Failure to meet the minimum requirements of a subject
I  Incomplete (see below)
W Withdrawn (see below)
WU Withdrawn Unauthorized (see below)

I The designation I indicates that the work of the course has not been completed and that assignment of a grade and credit has been postponed. An I will be given only in cases of illness (confirmed by a physician’s letter ) or documentation of other extraordinary circumstances beyond the student’s control. The designation of I will be granted only with the approval of the dean of the School of Art.

The deadline for removal of an I designation will be determined by the instructor and recorded at the time the designation is given, but will not be later than two weeks after the start of the next semester. If the I is not removed within the set time limit, either by completing the work in the subject or by passing a reexamination, the I will automatically become an F unless the dean of the School of Art extends the time or the student withdraws from school before the deadline date.

W Indicates that the student has received permission from the dean of the School of Art and the instructor to withdraw from a course while passing the course requirements at the time of withdrawal. This permission must be obtained no later than the end of the eighth week of the semester. The grade is not included in the calculation of the student’s semester rating.

WU Indicates that the student has dropped a course without permission of the dean of the School of Art and the instructor after the end of the eighth week of the semester. This grade is not included in the calculation of the student’s semester rating.

When appropriate, certain courses may be designated as Pass/Fail courses.

Pass Requirements completed. This designation is not included in the calculation of the student’s semester rating.

Fail Failure to meet the minimum requirements of a course. This grade is included in the calculation of the student’s semester rating; its numerical equivalent is 0.

A change in an official grade of record, other than the I designation, cannot be made by the dean of Admissions and Records without the express written consent of the instructor and the dean of the School of Art. Grade changes will not be accepted after one year has elapsed from the completion of the course.

Change of Program

Adding a Course A student is permitted to add a course only during the first week of a semester, during the drop/add period, and only with the adviser’s approval.

Dropping a Course A student may drop a course during the first week of the semester, during the drop/add period, with the adviser’s approval. A student who wishes to drop a course may be required to add equivalent credits in another course as needed to maintain satisfactory progress towards the degree.

A course dropped during the first week of the semester will be deleted from the transcript.

Withdrawing from a Course After the drop/add period a student may withdraw from a course through the eighth week of the semester, with the dean’s and instructor’s approval. If the student is passing the course at the time of withdrawal, a grade of W will appear on the transcript. A student who stops attending a course without permission of the instructor and the dean of the School of Art will receive a grade of WU; however, the instructor is free to record a grade of F in such a case.

If, in the opinion of the instructor, a student’s presence is hindering the educational progress of the class, the student may be dropped from the class at the request of the instructor. A grade of W will be recorded for the course.

Academic Probation and/or Dismissal from The Cooper Union A semester rating of all courses, (i.e., School of Art and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences) below 2.5 places students on probation and makes them subject to dismissal by the Academic Standards Committee. Students with unexcused absences and those excessively late to class are also subject to probation or dismissal. Students must maintain normal progress toward the degree. Failure to observe this standard is grounds for probation or dismissal.

Appeal Students may appeal to the Academic Standards Committee of the School of Art in person and/or in writing when notified of their unsatisfactory academic performance. Students have on-line access to their grades. Please contact the Registrar’s Office for more information.

When students are called to the Academic Standards Committee meeting, they are strongly advised to take this opportunity to communicate/explain/defend their unsatisfactory academic performance. The student should appear in person. If this is not possible the student may address the committee in writing.

After the hearing and deliberation the Academic Standards Committee shall either determine a probationary period or vote for dismissal. The decision of the committee is final.

Students on academic probation who do not improve their academic standing during the probationary semester or who fail to meet minimal academic standards during any subsequent semester may be called to the committee and are subject to probation or dismissal from The Cooper Union.

Leave of Absence

See Cooper Union’s regulations governing leaves of absence. In the School of Art, discretionary leave is available only upon completion of the first-year Foundation Program. Before taking such a leave, all financial obligations to The Cooper Union must be satisfied.

All requests for leaves of absence should be made through the Office of Academic Advisement. Note that this office is closed between June 10 and August 15 each year.

Students must request all leaves of absence in writing. A written request for reinstatement is also required. A student on leave is inactive and does not have access to the facilities of The Cooper Union.

Withdrawal from School Written requests for withdrawal from school should be addressed to the dean of the School of Art.

Readmission Students who have been dismissed or who have withdrawn from the school and wish to be considered for readmission must reapply through the normal admissions procedures.

Such applicants may be asked to appear for an interview with a representative of the Admissions Committee as part of this process.

Graduation To be eligible for graduation students must complete the minimum number of credits required for the B.F.A. degree or the Certificate and must have been enrolled for a minimum of four semesters at The Cooper Union as a full-time student for the B.F.A., or a minimum of four semesters as a part-time student for the Certificate in Art.*

All candidates for the B.F.A. degree must satisfactorily complete the requirement for a senior presentation.

Students must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better in order to graduate from The Cooper Union School of Art.

Students eligible to graduate and participate in commencement exercises must be approved by the Faculty of the School of Art.

Students who have not fulfilled the requirements for graduation will normally not be permitted to participate in commencement exercises.

Graduation requirements as outlined here are guidelines that are subject to change.

Students are responsible for their total accomplishment and for being continuously aware of the standards defined in the preceding paragraphs.

Residence A candidate for a degree must have been enrolled during two academic semesters preceding the granting of the degree and in residence during the last semester.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.