Academic Policies & Requirements

Degrees and Majors

It is possible to receive only one undergraduate degree from Bucknell at a time; that is, each degree requires the fulfillment of all requirements and the full 32 (for College of Arts & Sciences and Freeman College of Management), 34 (for College of Engineering), or 42 (for the combined Engineering/Arts degree) course credits. It is possible, however, to formally declare a second major, even if that major is from another degree program. If declared, the pursuit and successful completion of the second major, even if from another degree program, will be noted on the student’s academic record (transcript). If the two majors are in different degree programs, the student may choose which degree to receive, but can receive only one degree.

Many classes at Bucknell University meet for three scheduled hours of instruction per week. A number of classes also have scheduled contact hours beyond three per week. Courses are equivalent to four semester hours or six quarter hours because they include scheduled, faculty-supervised activities (such as labs, service learning, common hours, etc.) and/or intensive, iterative faculty involvement in student performance and achievement with independent or small-group student work (such as writing assignments, problem sets and problem-solving activities, student performances in the arts, student creative work, etc.). Courses at Bucknell that receive one unit of academic credit have a minimum expectation of 12 hours per week of student academic engagement. Student academic engagement includes both the hours of direct faculty instruction (or its equivalent) and the hours spent on out-of-class student work. Half and quarter unit courses at Bucknell should have proportionate expectations for student engagement.

Second Degree

As noted above, normally only one undergraduate degree may be received. However, students who have received one baccalaureate degree, whether at Bucknell University or elsewhere, may seek a subsequent, second baccalaureate degree in a different curriculum by applying to the dean of admissions; acceptance requires the approval of the dean of the college and the dean of admissions. To be accepted as a candidate for a second baccalaureate degree, the new program must be fundamentally different from the first and must be judged by the University to be educationally necessary. The second degree program must require at least two years of academic work (16 course credits). All requirements for the second degree, including the major and general education requirements, must be fulfilled if the appropriate courses were not taken previously; coursework for the second degree must include the number of courses required by the major (which may include electives in the major if some of the requirements were taken previously); all additional course credits must be taken in residence. Second-degree applicants must follow the transfer application process described under Admissions Information elsewhere in this catalog. Bucknell aid is not available for second-degree students, but eligibility may remain for federal loans if the maximum has not already been borrowed. Inquiries regarding second-degree admission should be directed to the Office of Admissions.

Eight-Semester Requirement

Students are expected to meet all degree requirements within eight semesters (including semesters on approved programs off campus and semesters elsewhere for transfer students) and ensuing summers. Only in exceptional circumstances will the dean of the student’s college approve an extension to nine semesters of study. In some degree programs, a fifth year of full-time study may be required if a student fails to earn passing grades in all required courses and achieve the minimum GPA necessary for graduation at the end of his or her senior year.

Course Loads and Full-Time Status

The normal course load is four course credits. Special permission from the associate/assistant dean of the student’s college is required for enrolling in less than 4.0 credits or more than 4.75 credits. Permission for underloading (less than 4.0 credits) is granted when the student provides a legitimate academic rationale. Permission to enroll in more than 4.75 credits, or overload, is granted when the student has demonstrated superior performance (typically a 3.5 GPA) in a normal course load.

All degree candidates, including seniors, are expected to be enrolled each semester as full-time students, carrying a minimum of 3.0 credits, regardless of the number of course credits previously earned or planned for the future.

Exceptions for part-time status (less than 3.0 credits) are made only in most unusual circumstances, such as severe health difficulties or nontraditional status such as that of a regular full-time University employee. All underloads or overloads must be approved by the associate/assistant dean of the student’s college.

Residence Requirement

All candidates for a degree are required to be in residence for a minimum of two semesters during the junior and senior years, including the final semester. Transfer students must be in residence for a minimum of three semesters, earning a minimum of 12 Bucknell course credits, regardless of the number of credits earned elsewhere previously.

“Double Counting” Courses Toward Requirements

In some limited instances, a course may be used to fulfill two College Core Curriculum requirements. (See the College Core Curriculum summary.)

Courses that fulfill general education requirements (the College Core Curriculum requirements in the College of Arts & Sciences and Freeman College of Management) also may be used to fulfill major or minor requirements. However, courses may not be counted in more than one major or minor; where one major or minor course satisfies the requirement in another major or minor, it must be replaced by an elective in the second major or minor. Major related requirements may be counted toward another major or minor.


Faculty advisers and administrative staff stand ready to consult with each student regarding the academic program. (The faculty adviser’s signature is required for the initial course registration each semester and for most subsequent changes.) In addition, the registrar periodically provides the student with an Academic Progress Report. However, it remains each student’s responsibility to fulfill all requirements for the major and the degree.

Preferred Name & Diploma

The university recognizes that many members of the Bucknell community use names other than their legal names to identify themselves. Generally, the preferred name may be used except where the legal name is required, such as payroll records and student transcripts. 

Bucknell offers the opportunity to use a preferred first and/or middle name out of respect for the identity of our students. Preferred names deemed inconsistent with that goal, including when used to avoid a legal obligation, may be refused or removed.

Students have the opportunity to display a legal name or a preferred name on their diploma. Bucknell considers the diploma to be a ceremonial document, and thus will allow a preferred name to be used in lieu of the legal name of record. However, be advised that in some situations the diploma may need to be used as a legal document, requiring that the name on the diploma match other legal documents. Please contact the Registrar’s Office for further information. Students who have changed their legal name may note that change on University records by presenting appropriate documentation to the Registrar’s Office (e.g., a court order or Social Security card).

*Please note that a fee may be charged when a name change requires a diploma reorder.