Degree Progression Policies

There are multiple policies at USF related to the expectation that students intend to graduate in four years. Some policies are designed to ensure students receive timely information and support. Others are designed to prevent a student from making a decision which will put them off track. Here is a short list of the most common policies which impact CAS students:

USF Degree Progression Policy

USF Midterm Grades

Withdrawal Limit

D/F Policy (for Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Physics, and Psychology majors)

Transfer Admission Criteria (for Natural Sciences and Mathematics majors)

Excess Credit Hour Legislation

Academic Advising Registration Holds

  • First Year Student Mandatory Advising (AA) Registration hold
  • Academic Probation Mandatory Advising (AP) Registration hold
  • Former Student Returning Mandatory Advising (AF) Registration hold

Why it is important to Finish in Four

To declare a major at USF, students must be able to graduate on time as outlined in the USF Degree Progression Policy. The goals of this policy are to ensure students can graduate timely with the lowest overall costs. This allows our students to more rapidly progress through their degree programs and move into the work force without a large student load debt. Students who finish in four, are also unlikely to receive the heavy Excess Credit Hour Surcharge!

Ways a student can Finish in Four

Take 15/30

Most degrees require 120 credit hours. It is possible to complete 120 hours in four years, by taking 30 credit hours each year. Most students will select to take and earn 15 credit hours at USF in both Fall and Spring semesters to earn the 30 hours. By doing so, students will meet the majority of financial aid and/or scholarship requirements for full-time students. 

There are many reasons why some USF students decide to take fewer than 15 hours each semester - our students are individuals with many other responsibilities! Some need to work full-time, and some of our students are caretakers of family members. For students who are unable to take 15 semester hours in each semester, USF offers Winter Session, Maymester, and multiple Summer terms to provide additional opportunities to earn 30 hours in an academic year. Additionally, the Student Accessibility Services office will provide recommendations for appropriate course loads based on a student's health needs. 

8 Semester Plans

The faculty and advisors created sample 8 semester plans to provide an example of how the entire degree can be completed in four years. The 8 semester plans are published in the USF catalog.

Since some students come to USF with many credit hours already earned through exams or dual enrollment, and because each semester provides unique challenges and opportunities, these sample plans are not specific maps for each of our students. Instead, they represent a basic framework so our students can create their own personalized paths. To ensure your plan will meet all graduation requirements, we recommend that you meet with your advisor at least once per year to check your plan and its progress.

Early Career Exploration and Goal Setting

Degree programs are designed to have electives, which means choice in course options. This allows students to pursue an area of interest to expand their knowledge and understanding of an academic area. It also allows the student to complete courses which will build their resume or meet minimum criteria for their future goals.  For some examples, please see a recent article published by Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) regarding research related to "The Competencies Students Need for Workforce Success."  

Knowing in advance what and how many classes are needed for career preparation is necessary to create a plan that can be completed by graduation. For some, their career path will include graduate or professional school preparation before heading into the work force. Some careers require certification which can only be earned if the appropriate undergraduate courses are already complete.

USF Career Services, Academic Advisors, Faculty members, and Student Organizations are great resources for students who either are still identifying their future goals or need help selecting the best classes for their plans.