2021-2022 Catalog and Student Handbook 
    May 19, 2024  
2021-2022 Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Academic Information

Student Classifications

Undergraduate Degree Students

All undergraduate students admitted as credit students pursuing a degree or certificate are classified as undergraduate degree students. These students are either freshmen or sophomores based on their level of progress or placement within a program of study.

  1. Freshman: A student with less than 30 semester hours earned toward a degree.
  2. Sophomore: A student with 30 or more semester hours earned toward a degree.

Non-Degree Students

Students earning credit but who are not presently pursuing a degree or certificate are classified as non-degree students. The classifications for these students appear under Admission to the College  .

Non-Credit Students

Students enrolled in non-credit courses through Workforce and Continuing Education are classified as non-credit students.

Student Records

Permanent Student Records

The permanent record of a Columbia State Community College credit student shall consist of: student name, social security number or student identification number, courses enrolled each term, cumulative grade point average (GPA), term GPA, hours attempted, hours earned, grades, quality points earned, degrees and certificates earned, academic program(s), honors, academic status, and transfer credit. The permanent record is maintained Online and is available on campus in the Records Office and viewed Online at various Columbia State locations by authorized personnel. Online processes are backed up nightly.

The permanent record of a Columbia State Community College non-credit, continuing education (CEU) student shall consist of: student name, student social security number or student identification number, courses enrolled in each term by course title, and number of continuing education units. The permanent record is available through the Workforce and Continuing Education.

Social Security Number Use

Columbia State requires assignment of an individual student number for internal identification of each student's record. The College began using the social security number as the student identification number prior to January 1, 1975 and the federal law allows continued use of this number. However, the primary internal identification for student records is a randomly selected eight digit number beginning with the letter "A" and assigned to students, faculty, and staff to protect the individual's social security number. Students must disclose their social security number on the application form when applying for admission on the application form. The social security number is then converted to the random number for privacy. If at the time of application, a student wishes not to disclose the social security number, the institution will assign a unique social security number for the student's use. Please note that if the student expects to receive federal and/or state financial assistance, the student may be required to disclose the social security number. For prompt and accurate retrieval of records, students and alumni may be required to give their social security number. While in most cases, current students can complete their business with the College through myChargerNet by use of a user id and password, occasionally the social security number is required. Student identification numbers, whether a social security number or an assigned number, are for internal use within the College and not given to third parties without the express consent of the student.

Acquiring Credit

Unit of Credit

The College offers instruction and awards credit on the semester hour basis, with the scholastic academic year consisting of two semesters, fall and spring. Semester hour credit is also awarded for classes offered during summer terms. One semester hour of credit is based upon 750 minutes of class instruction per semester.

Prior to fall 1988, the College awarded credit on a quarter hour basis. In fall 1988, the quarter hours earned were converted to semester hours. One semester hour of credit is equivalent to one and one-half quarter hours.

Transfer Credit

Credit may be granted for courses completed at other institutions of higher education. Decisions concerning transfer work are based on (1) equivalence of course content and level of instruction to that provided by Columbia State and (2) appropriateness and applicability of credit to the student's program at Columbia State.  Refer to Columbia State Policy No. 02:19:00 Transfer Credit for complete information.

Once students are admitted to Columbia State, transcripts are evaluated and transfer credit is assigned. After students receive their acceptance letter, they can review information regarding the awarding of transfer credit by logging into their myChargerNet account and clicking on "View Transcript" to see their academic transcript.

For coursework completed that has not already been approved as equivalent by academic administration, such as coursework at non-regionally accredited institutions, additional information will be required. If the student did not receive credit upon initial review by the Records office for a course applicable to the program of study, the student must meet with an advisor to determine if a Course Substitution and/or Waiver of Graduation Requirements Form should be submitted.

The student must provide a copy of the course description or syllabus of the course and attach to the Course Substitution Form or Request to Grant Credit from Non-Regionally Accredited Institution Form. It is the student's responsibility to make the case that the coursework meets the criteria outlined in the Policy Section prior to submission of this form. If denied, the request will be be reevaluated.  If approved the classes are posted as transfer credit on the student's record. The student will receive notice as to the outcome of the request.

Effective Summer 2015, all courses appearing on transfer transcripts are posted with the letter "T" in front of the grade (i.e. transfer grade of "B" would appear as a "TB").  Transfer credit counts for all courses in which passing grades are achieved, including the grade of "D". For students enrolled prior to Summer 2015, only grades of "C" or higher can transfer.  These transfer grades were posted as a "TR". 

All grades of transfer courses are entered on the student's Columbia State permanent academic record. Grades of transfer courses are not included in the calculation of the student's grade point average at Columbia State.

External Credit (Columbia State Policy 02:10:00)

At least 25% of the credit hours required for a degree as identified in this policy or technical certificate program must be earned at Columbia State.  A maximum of 75% of total semester credit hours of a credential may be earned through any combination of external and transfer credit.  Sources of external credit are: (1) credit by examination, (2) military service/armed services schools, (3) specific high school courses, (4)  credit for occupational and workplace training.

The student must meet all of the following conditions:

  1. Be currently admitted to Columbia State.
  2. Consult with an advisor about the possibility and feasibility of seeking external credit.
  3. Declare an academic degree program or technical certificate or enroll as dual enrollment student.
  4. Have received no grades, with the exception of a "W" in similar courses for which credit is awarded.
  5. Submit documentation or complete an assessment to verify that all college course requirements have been met successfully.

The College will award credits under the following conditions:

  1. Credit will only be awarded toward current degree programs or technical certificates. Awarded credit must be applied toward the requirements of the student's declared degree program or technical certificate.
  2. Credit is awarded only for those learning experiences in which all outcomes for specific courses in an approved degree program have been met and documented.
  3. Dual credit for high school courses and certificates.

A change in major necessitates a reassessment of applicability of the external credit awarded. External credit toward graduation is awarded on the basis of the conditions outlined in this policy, but grades and quality points are not awarded. Awarded external credit will not affect the academic grade point average.

Transfer of external credit to other institutions is at the discretion of the receiving institution.

Credit by Examination

  1. External Credit by Exam
  1. Students may earn college credit by examination for acceptable scores on College-Level Examination Program (CLEP®) Examinations, the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB®) Advanced Placement Examinations (AP®), American College Testing Program (ACT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP®), Cambridge International Examinations (CIE®), International Baccalaureate (IB), comprehensive subject examinations, or industry standard examinations.
  2. To receive credit by examination, official documentation must be received directly from the testing agency.  If a Tennessee public institution has previously transcripted credit for CLEP®, ACT, SAT or AP for a transfer student that credit will be awarded without additional documentation.  Credit will be posted to the student's record after they have been admitted to the College.
    1. CLEP®:  Acceptable test scores reported after 2001 will be reviewed for applicability to comparable Columbia State courses.   See College-Level Examination program (CLEP®) Examinations Table.
    2. Advanced Placement (AP®): Columbia State will award credit for selected courses to eligible students who present an official record of a score of 3 or above on certain AP® examinations.
    3. ACT: Students who earn an approved total score or above as outlined in the Columbia State Community College Catalog and Student Handbook on the ACT English test may receive credit for ENGL 1010 English Composition I  and ENGL 1020 English Composition II  . Students who earn the score as outlined in the Columbia State Community College Catalog and Student Handbook on the ACT Mathematics test may receive credit for MATH 1710 Precalculus Algebra .
    4. SAT: Students who earn a total score for both the SAT Essay and the SAT Reading & Writing tests that is equivalent to the approved total score or above on the ACT English and ACT Reading tests as determined by the College Board's most recent ACT-SAT Concordance Table may receive credit for ENGL 1010 English Composition I  and ENGL 1020 English Composition II  .  Students who earn a SAT Mathematics score that is equivalent to the required ACT Mathematics score may receive credit for MATH 1710 Precalculus Algebra .
    5. IAAP®: Students who successfully passed sections of the IAAP® examination are eligible to receive credit at Columbia State.
    6. Defense Subject Standardized Test (DSST): Students may earn college credit for acceptable scores on the DSST based on Columbia State or TBR policy, or credit can be awarded based upon the semester credit hours recommendations and minimum scores suggested by the American Council on Education (ACE). To receive credit, students must submit an official DSST (or DANTES) transcript for review.

   B.  Columbia State Credit By Examination

  1. Examinations and other evaluations may be available for courses as determined by the appropriate division dean(s).  This applies to examinations and evaluations that are developed, validated, and regularly reviewed by academically qualified Columbia State faculty. These examinations will only be developed if an external examination is unavailable.
  1. Procedures are as follows:
    1. The Student must have completed 12 semester credit hours of resident credit at Columbia State (not including learning support courses).
    2. The Student must contact the instructor of the course to (1) discuss the course syllabus and text, (2) decide whether it is reasonable to attempt the examination, and, (3) if deemed reasonable, schedule an appointment to take the examination.
    3. Prior to taking the examination, the student must seek approval from the appropriate division dean and obtain the dean's signature on the Application for Permission to Take Credit by Examination Form.
    4. The student must submit this form and payment to Business Services. As of Fall 2019, all students seeking "Credit by Examination" are required to pay the appropriate evaluation fee.
    5. After the examination is administered to the student, the instructor shall submit the Credit by Examination Grade Report and a copy of the receipt of fee payment to the appropriate division dean.
    6. Upon approval by the division dean, the Credit by Examination Grade Report and a copy of the receipt of fee payment are submitted to the Records Office.
    7. Credit will be awarded provided the student's performance on the test is at least a "C".  Grades or quality points are not awarded and the academic grade point average is not affected.
    8. Credit awarded prior to the last day of final exams will be posted to the student's record in that semester. Credit awarded after the last day of final exams will be posted to the student's record in the following semester.

External Credit for Military Service/Schools

Credit awarded for educational experiences successfully completed in the armed forces is governed by recommendations from the current Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experience in the Armed Services.  Military transcripts must be presented to the Records Office. Upon presentation of a separation (DD Form 214) and a completed Request to Grant Credit for Military Service Form, the following credit may be awarded:

  1. Up to six semester credit hours in health and physical education or physical education and military science is granted for a minimum of three years, eleven months, and twenty days of reserve or National Guard service in the armed forces of the United States. Veterans who have fewer than three years, eleven months, and twenty days will be awarded one semester credit hour for each year of reserve or National Guard duty.
  2. Credit may be awarded for attendance at military schools and job classifications based upon recommendations from the Office of Educational Credit of the American Council on Education (ACE) after consultation with an academic advisor. Military service credit is awarded if proper documentation supporting service-related educational experiences is presented to the director of records before the end of the second term of enrollment and that documentation is submitted to the Veteran's Affairs certifying official.
  3. Veterans with less than one year of continuous full-time service who have completed basic training while on active duty will be awarded credit as recommended in the Guide to Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services.

Dual Credit for Specific High School Courses

A student may receive credit for a course of study and/or those courses as determined by a current Columbia State Dual Credit (LDC) or Statewide Dual Credit (SDC) Agreements.

Columbia State Dual Credit (LDC)

  1. To receive credit a student must:
    1. Be enrolled in a program/course approved through an LDC Agreement with a high school or School District at the time of completing the Columbia State course.
    2. Have received a regular high school diploma.
    3. Provide official transcript of work completed at the high school.
    4. Attend the Columbia State testing day or designated time for the evaluation of credit.
    5. Pass the assessment requirements for each course for which credit is requested.
    6. Be enrolled in Columbia State within the time specified from the date of graduation from high school per Columbia State LDC Agreement with that School District or high school(s).
    7. Contact the appropriate division dean to request credit to be applied to the student's record.
  2. Postsecondary credit will be granted for the credit course taken at Columbia State upon successful admission to Columbia State.
  3. Credit awarded must be for a specific course or course sequence and must be based on the student successfully passing a challenge examination or assessment that evaluates each student learning outcome for the corresponding Columbia State course in which credit will be awarded.  
  4. Transfer of articulated credit from Columbia State to other institutions is at the discretion of the receiving institution.

College - High School LDC Agreement

  1. An LDC Agreement outlining completion and evaluation requirements must be developed for each course or program and be approved by the College and the High School or School District.
  2. The vice president for academic affairs, or their designee, will work with the deans who are responsible for initiating and drafting the articulation agreement.
  3. The division dean will determine that the course of study or certain other high school courses align and address all learning outcomes for the corresponding Columbia State course in which credit will be awarded. The vice president for academic affairs will approve the alignment and ensure that all learning outcomes are addressed in the course of study or other high school courses under consideration.
  4. All Columbia State Dual Credit (LDC) agreements must follow the approval process as determined by the TBR chancellor. 
  5. Consult the Dual Credit Guiding Principles for additional information and procedures.

Statewide Dual Credit (SDC) Agreements must include:

  1. A high school course taught by high school faculty aligned to Tennessee postsecondary standards set by a statewide consortium of college faculty
  2. A required exam provided by the Tennessee department of Education to earn credit upon matriculation to any Tennessee postsecondary institution.
  3. To receive credit a student must:
    1. Be enrolled in a career/technical secondary program at the time of completing the Columbia State course.
    2. Have received a regular high school diploma.
    3. Pass the required exam to receive post-secondary credit at TN institutions.
    4. Be enrolled in a postsecondary institution within the time specified from the date of graduation from high school as stipulated in the SDC Agreement.
    5. Contact the Records Office to request credit to be applied to the student's record.

External Credit for Occupational and Workplace Training

Credit awarded for completion of workplace (e.g., corporate, volunteer, government) training may be awarded based on recommendations by nationally recognized college credit recommendation services (e.g., American Council on Education, ACE) or the individual evaluation and determination of Columbia State. A letter grade of "TP" will be assigned for this type of credit granted. Because no grade is assigned other than "TP," no quality points are awarded to count toward GPA.

Transcript of Credits

Students who attend Columbia State may request a copy of their permanent academic record (transcript). There is no charge for transcripts; however, the Records Office may set a limit on a reasonable number of copies that may be processed at any time and may also establish a nonrefundable charge for the cost of producing transcripts in excess of that number. All transcript requests must be made in writing by mail or fax or through the online transcript request found here on the Office of Records webpage. Telephone requests are not accepted and electronic mail (e-mail) requests are only accepted if the student scans and emails the signed request form. No transcripts will be released for or to a student who has any financial obligations with the College or who has not completed all admissions requirements.

The Records Office does not issue or reproduce transcripts from other institutions of higher or secondary education. Requests for transcripts or work taken at other colleges, universities, or high schools must be directed to the originating institution concerned.

Registration for Courses

Full-time Student Semester Hour Load

To be classified as a full-time student, students must register for at least twelve (12) semester hours credit. Sixteen to eighteen (16-18) credit hours is the regular or normal load per semester.

Nineteen (19) hours is the maximum load. Any student desiring to register for more than 19 credit hours must have:

  1. completed all Learning Support course requirements, and
  2. have earned a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.

To request an overload, complete the Overload Request form which is located on the Office of Records webpage and obtain an advisor's signature and the approval of one of the following: an academic division dean, extended campus coordinator, vice president for Williamson Campus, associate vice president for faculty, curriculum and programs, or the regional services and southern campuses dean.

Registration Procedures

Students must observe registration procedures and complete registration on the dates posted (see Important Dates ) in the catalog or on the Columbia State website. Students who register after the official registration period must pay a late registration fee. Registration following the period established as the last date to register and last day to add a class (adjustment period) is permitted only in exceptional cases and requires the approval of the instructor, curricular coordinator or the division dean. Students are not officially enrolled until all registration requirements are completed and all fees are paid.

For eligible students, online registration is available through myChargerNet, which is accessed from www.columbiastate.edu. Columbia State conducts Priority Registration (pre-selection of classes) for current students. Registration information is emailed to all current students to inform them of their day to priority register. Students have an assigned advisor who will assist in course selection. Registration for first-time and readmitted students occurs during the open registration period as listed (see Important Dates ) Student orientations are scheduled before the Fall and Spring semesters to assist new and transfer students in registering for classes. Each semester the Columbia State website also has information on applying for admission or readmission, testing requirements, paying fees, and dropping or adding classes.

Change of Registration Status

Students are advised to carefully read the following regulations and procedures applicable to drop, add or withdrawal. Registration for courses implies that the student has entered into a contract to complete each course's requirements. Should conditions make it necessary for the student to leave any class or leave the College completely, the student must officially change his or her registration status. Failure to do so will result in a failing grade, "F" or "FA" on the student's permanent record. The "Dropping a Class" and "Adding a Class" procedures apply when a student wishes to change one or more class(s). If the student wishes to drop all classes, the "withdrawal" procedure applies. A student who only informs an instructor that he or she can no longer attend class without also completing the required procedure has not officially dropped or withdrawn.

Cancellation of Scheduled Classes

Columbia State reserves the right to cancel any scheduled class. When cancellation occurs, students are responsible for checking their schedules by accessing their myChargerNet accounts or the emailed canceled class listing.

Dropping a Class

Dropping a class can occur through the "last day to drop a class or withdraw" for the regular/full semester. (See Important Dates ) Additional drop dates apply for other short term session courses and appear on the Columbia State web page at www.columbiastate.edu/refunds-drops-withdrawals.

Students may drop most classes by using myChargerNet. However, to drop under the following circumstances students must email records@columbiastate.edu from their student email account or come in person to the Records office or to one of the College's campus locations:

  1. to drop a course after the last official date to drop (includes TN eCampus courses).
  2. to drop any course which the student is auditing.
  3. to drop when the student's account has a hold flag or encumbrance.

Students who need to drop any course after the last official date to drop must complete a form and follow these procedures:

  1. Obtain the Late Drop/Withdrawal form and enter required information. This form is available at all College campus locations, and on the college's web page, www.columbiastate.edu/records/forms.
  2. Acquire applicable signatures:
    1. instructor if dropping after the last official date to drop (includes TN eCampus courses) or an email from the instructor for TN eCampus courses.
    2. TN eCampus Contact if dropping after the last official date to drop.
    3. Division Dean
    4. Financial Aid
    5. Records

Adding a Class

Adding a class is permitted through the "Adjustment Period for Registered Students," for the regular/full semester. (See Important Dates ) Additional add dates apply for other short term session courses and appear on the Columbia State web page at www.columbiastate.edu/refunds-drops-withdrawals. Students may add most classes by using myChargerNet. However, to add a course under the following circumstances students must email records@columbiastate.edu from their student email account or come in person to the Records office or to one of the College's campus locations:

  1. to add a course when the student's account has a hold flag or encumbrance.
  2. to add a course which the student wants to audit.

Change To or From Audit

Qualified credit students who register for audit may change to credit prior to the end of the adjustment period. (See Important Dates ). Change by emailing records@columbiastate.edu from the student's Columbia State email. Students must include their names and student numbers along with the course(s) that are to be changed from audit to credit. Students cannot change from audit to credit after the adjustment period.

Any time prior to the deadline for dropping or withdrawing, students may change from credit to audit in lieu of dropping a course. Change by emailing records@columbiastate.edu from their Columbia State email account with information that includes name, student number, and the course(s) to be changed from credit to audit.


Students who stop attending all classes without officially dropping all courses have not withdrawn from the College and will receive a failing grade in each class. Withdrawal through the "last day to drop a class or withdraw" is permitted when the student has met all financial obligations to the College.

Most students may drop all classes (withdraw) by using myChargerNet account. However, to withdraw under the following circumstances students must email records@columbiastate.edu from their student account or come in person to the Records office or to one of the College's campus locations:

  1. to withdraw after the last official date to drop (includes TN eCampus courses).
  2. to withdraw when enrolled in an audit course.
  3. to withdraw when the student's account has a hold flag or encumbrance.

Students who need to drop all courses (withdraw) after the last official date to drop are required to complete a form and must follow these procedures:

  1. Obtain the Late Drop/Withdrawal form and enter required information.
  2. Acquire applicable signatures:
    1. instructor if dropping after the last official date to drop (includes TN eCampus courses).
    2. TN eCampus contact if dropping after the last official date to drop.
    3. Division Dean
    4. Financial Aid
    5. Records

Students who are unable to process their withdrawal in person may submit to the Records office a signed letter requesting withdrawal. In the event a student is incapacitated, a designee should provide proper documentation for withdrawal of the student.

Grades for Withdrawals and Drops

Following the last day of the registration adjustment period, and not later than two-thirds into the semester. (See Important Dates ) a students may officially drop a course(s) or withdraw from the College and receive a "W" which means that no hours are completed and the grade point average not affected. Students who drop a course or who withdraw from the College after two- thirds of the semester is complete will receive with appropriate signatures a "W" in the course(s) they are passing. Students will receive a failing grade, "F" or "FA" in the course(s) they are not passing unless it can be clearly demonstrated that an unusual circumstance or hardship exists. (See below)

Guidelines for Permitting Late Withdrawal

Circumstances which directly hinder a student's pursuit of a course and which are judged to be out of the student's control may be a justifiable reason for permission for late withdrawal from the College.

Students who leave the College under mitigating circumstances without officially withdrawing may later appeal to the instructor for a late withdrawal. This option will be permitted only if students can provide documentation showing that withdrawal was under conditions where they could not have been expected to officially withdraw and if the students have no encumbrances on their financial records.

Following are some general categories of mitigating circumstances (this list is not all inclusive):

  1. Serious illness of the student.
  2. Serious illness or death in the student's immediate family.
  3. Immediate family or financial obligations which require a change in terms, hours or place of employment which prevents completion of a course.

Class Participation Policy

Instructors determine and publish in the syllabus their class attendance policy. Beginning with the first class, faculty record attendance to verify enrollment and eligibility for financial aid. Unless prevented by circumstances beyond their control, students should regularly attend all classes for which they are registered . Regardless of the cause or nature of an absence, students are responsible for all class work covered or assigned during the absence. Policy for evaluating attendance as a part of the course grade and the procedure for making up class work missed during an absence is developed by each instructor. Whenever possible, students should make arrangements in advance for scheduled examinations or class work that will be missed during an anticipated absence.

Institutional Absence

Students may be granted administrative or "institutional" absence when they represent the College at a public event which is in the interest of the College or is engaged in an activity such as a field trip which contributes to the students' education. In granting an administrative absence, the College disclaims any liability which may occur from the loss of instruction.


Grading System

At the end of each semester the quality of students' work is evaluated by the instructor. Grades are indicated by letters and based on a four quality point system. Interpretation and quality points for each letter grade are as follows:

Grade Interpretation Quality Points Per Semester Hour Credit
A* Excellent 4
B* Good 3
C* Average 2
D* Inferior but passing 1
F* Failure 0
FA Failure due to nonattendance/non participation 0
I* Incomplete 0
P* Pass 0
W Withdrew (not a grade). 0
X Not a grade. Used only when grades are turned in too late to meet processing deadline. (Later changed to reflect a grade). 0
AU Not a grade. (assigned to official audit) 0
NR*/** Grade not awarded 0
PR** Progress (not a grade).  Awarded only in Learning Support courses. 0
TR** Transfer grades posted prior to Summer 2015 0
WD** Withdraw (Developmental) 0

*Grades awarded by faculty member.
**Grades not currently used but can appear on student transcript.

The grade point average (GPA) is determined by dividing the total number of quality points acquired by the total number of grade point hours. Repeated courses are excluded from this calculation. (See "Course Repeats".) Credit hours in courses from which a student officially withdraws in good standing. (See "Change of Registration Status".) are not considered quality hours attempted.

Incomplete Grade

An incomplete grade is given when a student fails, due to extenuating circumstances, to complete all of the requirements for a course. It is interpreted as an "F" until the "I" is replaced with a passing grade.

An incomplete must be removed during the following semester, excluding the summer term. If the incomplete is not removed, the "I" will continue to be computed as an "F". Students must request and complete the assignments required to change the "I" to a grade. Should this not occur in the following semester, the instructor is no longer obligated to accept the work. The instructor may, at his or her discretion, accept the work later and forward a grade change to the division dean for approval, but there is no obligation under policy to do so.

Academic Standing

Transfer and Transient Students

All transfer/transient students must be eligible to reenter the college from which they are transferring. Students who are on active/current academic dismissal/suspension at another college will be admitted to Columbia State on probation.

Since Admission policy allows transfer students to be admitted with a "partial" transcript and transient students to be admitted with a "Transient Student Approval Form" (i.e. not all final grades are present or known), students continuing beyond the initial academic term with Columbia State must provide the final transcript from the home institution. Students who were in fact dismissed/suspended will be held to the following retention standards.

At the end of the term with Columbia State, the student must have achieved a 2.0 semester GPA (cumulative GPA does not apply) otherwise, the student will be placed on retroactive academic suspension from Columbia State for one year. Students may not appeal this suspension from Columbia State.

After having successfully completed the term with a 2.0 semester GPA, the student will be placed in academic good standing with Columbia State. Should the student wish to continue with Columbia State, the student must comply with the retention standards listed below.

Retention Standards

Dual Enrollment students should see "High School Students" for retention policies related to the Dual Enrollment program.

To remain in academic good standing, students must earn a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 for all the credit hours attempted each term.

Academic Probation: A student who fails during any term to attain a cumulative combined GPA of at least 2.0 for the credit hours attempted will be placed on academic probation for the subsequent term.

Academic Suspension: Any student on academic probation who fails to attain a 2.0 combined GPA for the next term will be suspended for a minimum of one term, not including summer.

Failure to meet one of the above retention standards following academic probation will result in academic suspension from the College.

Academic Suspension

Students placed on a first academic suspension are suspended for one term (not including summer) and are eligible to reenroll on probation as follows by completing an Application for Admission/ Readmission:

  1. first suspension at the end of fall semester: eligible to reenroll the next summer semester
  2. first suspension at the end of spring semester: eligible to reenroll the next spring semester
  3. first suspension at the end of summer semester: eligible to reenroll the next spring semester

Students placed on academic suspension for the second or more times will be suspended for a period of one year (three terms including summer). Students who have served the designated terms of suspension will be readmitted to the College on probation with no need to appeal.

Early Readmission for Students on Academic Suspension

All students (including transfer/transient students) who have been dismissed or suspended for successive (back to back) terms are not eligible for early readmission and may not appeal. They will remain on suspension for a period of one year.

Current Columbia State students with first or non-subsequent suspensions who wish to return early have the following options:

  1. Students who believe that their circumstances have improved, and they can now be academically successful may continue on probation and register for a maximum of 8 semester hours. They must notify the Records office in writing of their intention to continue by signing and returning the statement at the bottom of the suspension letter they receive at the end of the term.
  2. Students who wish to take more than 8 semester hours must email an appeal to records@columbiastate.edu. The appeal will be presented to the Admissions Policies and Appeals Committee. Students should explain and must provide documentation for any unusual hardships that they wish the committee to consider and must outline the actions they will take to ensure their academic success. The committee may either sustain the 8 hour limit or allow registration for more hours with one or more of the following stipulations:
    1. require the repeat of courses in which the student earned a failing grade.
    2. recommend academic or career counseling.

Permission to take more than eight hours will be granted only under extraordinary circumstances. The committee's decision is final.

If the Registration Calendar is such that a student registers before the official suspension notices are communicated to all concerned, the student's current registration will be canceled and all paid fees refunded.

Course Repeats

Students are permitted to repeat courses in which their final grades are "C" or lower. Students may be permitted to repeat a course in which a grade of "B" or higher was earned only with the approval of the vice president for academic affairs as an exception to this policy.

Upon repeating a course, the original credit earned and any quality points acquired are excluded from the cumulative totals on the next grade report. In the event that a student repeats all grades received in the third and all subsequent times will be included in the grade point average.

Time in Course Grades included in Computation
1st Original grade earned
2nd Only the grade earned the 2nd time
3rd and subsequent Grades earned in the 3rd and all subsequent times are calculated in the grade point average.

The student's record will continue to reflect all grades earned even if a course has been repeated and excluded from grade/hour totals. When transfer coursework involves course repeats, awarding of transfer credit will follow the above process. The most recent grade earned must be a passing grade for coursework to be considered for acceptance.

Official Audit of a Course

Students may register in a course for the purpose of audit. Permission to audit is given on the basis of space available and/or discretion of the division dean and can not be processed through Self-Service but requires entry by Records Office personnel. However, Learning Support may not be taken for audit. Audit students may or may not be required to do all the work assigned; however, they do not take the final examination. Students auditing a course do not receive credit for the course, and a grade is not assigned. Grade reports will carry the symbol "AU" reflecting no credit attempted and no quality points earned. Students enrolling in regular college classes on an audit basis are required to pay the same fees as those enrolling for credit, except those 60 years or older and/or totally disabled persons. (See, Expenses ).

Academic Fresh Start

Any person who has not been enrolled in a college or university for a period of four years may, upon enrolling or re-enrolling at Columbia State or transferring to Columbia State, petition to have failing grades on all prior Columbia State coursework disregarded in calculating his or her cumulative grade point average. Courses with "D" grades can be excluded if the major specifies a grade of "C" is required for the course. Previously satisfied Learning Support courses will not be forfeited.

  1. Retained grades will be calculated in the Fresh Start QPA/GPA.
  2. Courses with "D" or "F" grades must be repeated at the institution when they are required in the student's current major. All remaining courses for the current degree objectives must be completed at the institution. No transient credit will be accepted after invoking Academic Fresh Start.
  3. The application of retained credit toward degree requirements will be determined by the requirements currently in effect at the time the academic renewal status is conferred on the student. Specific program regulations must be met.

If the request is granted, the earlier coursework will not count toward meeting requirements for graduation but will appear on the student's transcript. A student will be approved for the academic fresh start only one time. For information on applying for a fresh start, contact a college success advisor, division dean or extended campus coordinator.

A student who plans to transfer to a non-TBR college or university should contact that institution to determine the impact of academic fresh start prior to implementing the program at Columbia State. Also, this policy is independent of financial aid regulations. Financial Aid requirements at the time of application will apply. Therefore, a Fresh Start applicant should check with his/her financial aid counselor for guidance.

Availability of Grades

Students may review grades for a particular semester by accessing their myChargerNet account on the Columbia State home page at www.columbiastate.edu.


President's List and Dean's List

At the end of the fall and spring semesters, lists of honor students known as the President's List and the Dean's List are published to recognize scholarly achievements.  The Honors GPA is calculated based only on college level courses taken during the semester.

President's List - To qualify for the President's List, students must earn 15 credit hours for the semester (excluding Learning Support) with a semester GPA of 3.90 - 4.00.

Dean's List - To qualify for the Dean's List students must earn 12 or more credit hours for the semester (excluding Learning Support) with a semester GPA of 3.50 or higher (not to include those on President's List).

Graduation Honors

Degree students graduating with the following grade point averages will receive the corresponding honor designations on their diplomas and Columbia State transcript:

3.90 - 4.00 Summa Cum Laude
3.70 - 3.89 Magna Cum Laude
3.50 - 3.69 Cum Laude

Students who graduate Cum Laude and higher are awarded gold cords to wear at Commencement. Certificate students are not eligible for Summa, Magna, and Cum Laude honors.

Graduation honors are based on degree credit courses only.

Policy on the Awarding of Degrees

Columbia State awards four degrees: the Associate of Arts (A.A.), the Associate of Science (A.S.), the Associate of Science in Teaching (A.S.T.), and the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.).

Students may not earn a degree or certificate before completing all Learning Support competencies as required by their program of study.

The College will not award the A.A. or A.S. degree to persons who already hold an A.A., A.S., A.S.T., A.F.A. degrees. Individuals holding a Baccalaureate degree or higher without an A.A., A.S., A.S.T. or A.F.A. degree may be awarded an Associate degree designed for transfer if the degree sought has a different concentration from the major of the advanced degree(s). 

Multiple Degrees and Certificates

Students may be awarded the A.S.T. if they have been awarded an A.A. or A.S. degree previously; however, students previously awarded the A.S.T. degree are not eligible for the A.A. or A.S. or degree.

Students who hold advanced degrees or a transfer Associate's degree may be awarded the A.A.S. degree or Technical Certificate provided they meet the stated requirements.

Students who have been awarded an A.A.S. degree who complete a different major which includes 16 semester hours over and above those required for the first A.A.S. degree will earn a second degree.

Students completing a degree must take a general education exam, as well as any other examination required by the College or the Tennessee Board of Regents.  Students who fail to do so will not graduate.  Students who have previously graduated from Columbia State or who have earned a Bachelor's degree are exempted from the general education exam.

Students may earn multiple technical certificates as long as 25% of the required hours were not required for previously earned certificates.


The certification of graduates and posting of degrees and certificates is the responsibility of the Records office.

Students are encouraged to monitor their progress towards graduation by consulting with an advisor and by accessing the online degree audit on the college's Web page under myCharterNet.

Students are allowed to graduate by the requirements of the catalog under which they entered or any subsequent catalog, provided the catalog containing the program being followed is not more than six years old based on the date of completion of graduation requirements. Students may not elect a catalog from years that they were not enrolled at least one term. Students who have been separated from the College for at least six years but wish to complete their degree by transfer credit or by reenrolling must follow the current catalog.

All students who plan to graduate with a degree must take a general education examination, as well as any other examination required by the College or the Tennessee Board of Regents. Students who fail to do so will not graduate and their diplomas will be withheld. Students who have previously graduated from Columbia State Community College or who have earned a bachelor's degree or higher are exempted.

Columbia State hosts three commencement ceremonies annually to celebrate student success and program completion; one ceremony in December and two in the spring. The spring exercises in May are for students who complete degree requirements in May. Both ceremonies are held on the same day. The College holds two ceremonies to accommodate all of the students, as well as their families and visitors. Students who finish in summer or fall participate in the December ceremony. Even though students participate in the ceremony, the degrees will not be awarded until all courses are satisfactorily completed and all graduation requirements are met.

Students who plan to complete the requirements for graduation must file the Intent to Graduate or Request for Technical Certificate form prior to the published deadline (See Important Dates ).