2020-2021 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 18, 2024  
2020-2021 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVE]

Academic Policy

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Academic Catalog

A student’s program is governed by the catalog under which the student was admitted. Should a student break matriculation for two consecutive regular terms (or two consecutive Summer sessions for M.Ed. students), the catalog in effect at the time of readmission to Columbia International University must be used to satisfy the requirements for the degree. Students may request a degree change by submitting a Degree Change Application form.

Academic Credit

An academic unit of credit at CIU is based on several criteria based on federal, institutional, and accreditation standards. These criteria are based on instruction and learning activities, instructional time, assessment, etc. See CIU Policy Library (www.ciu.edu/policy) for complete policy and procedures.

Academic Dean’s List

Any full-time undergraduate student (12 credits or more) who completes a semester of study with a minimum of a 3.5 GPA during a semester will be identified and honored as a student on the Academic Dean’s List. Any undergraduate student who completes a degree program maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above and has completed a minimum of 48 credit hours in residence will qualify for graduating with scholastic honors. Grades from a student’s last semester in the student’s degree program are not included in the determination of scholastic honors.

Academic Load

At the undergraduate level, students registered for at least 12 credits within a term are considered full time; those registered for 8 to 11 credits are considered three-quarters time; and those registered for 6-7 credits are considered half time. At the graduate level, students registered for at least 9 semester hours within a term are considered full time; those registered for 6 hours are considered three-quarters time; and those registered for 4.5 hours are considered half time. Full-time student status in the Doctor of Ministry, Education Specialist, and Doctor of Philosophy programs is defined as 3 semester credit hours within any of the three terms: Fall, Spring, and Summer.

Academic Petitions

Students seeking exceptions to program requirements or academic policies may submit an academic petition. Graduate-level students seeking to transfer credit from another institution after matriculation must seek prior permission through an academic petition. Courses taken without prior approval through petition may, in some cases, not be applicable as transfer credit to the student’s CIU program. For details regarding academic petitions contact the Office of the University Registrar.


Each student is assigned a faculty advisor or a professional advisor according to the student’s program. Academic advising is intended to foster developmental relationships between faculty members and individual students as a context for helping students progress toward the academic, spiritual, and vocational goals of their program. Undergraduate students meet with their academic advisors during two to three chapel periods each semester, during pre-registration periods, and when counsel is desired. The advisor approves the courses the student selects and keeps a record of the student’s progress. Students are encouraged to contact their academic advisors whenever they desire academic or spiritual advice. Students in non-standard online programs will be assigned a professional advisor that will help facilitate open communication with the university.


Students are expected to attend all class sessions for all registered courses. Professors will provide their specific attendance policies, including penalties for absences, within their course syllabi. Students will receive a failing grade for any course in which they have missed more than 25 percent of the class sessions in any case. See CIU Policy Library (www.ciu.edu/policy) for complete policy and procedures.


An auditor is one who registers to attend a class, but not for academic credit. Permission to audit is at the discretion of the instructor; no more than 25 percent of students registered for any course may be auditors. Auditors are observers in the classroom and are not expected to participate in class discussions or submit work except as authorized by the instructor. Online courses are not available for audit. No course may be added for audit and dropped for credit, or vice versa, after the drop/add period.

Auditors must register as an auditor (form available from the Office of the University Registrar) and pay the audit fee (Tuition and Fees). Please note that additional course fees may apply. Audited courses are entered on the student’s transcript with the symbol “AU.” Auditors also receive access to the course website associated with an audited course.

Courtesy auditors must register as an auditor (form available from the Office of the University Registrar), but are not required to pay the auditing fee. Please note that additional course fees may apply. Courtesy audit status is available only to CIU graduates, CIU employees or employee dependents, the spouse of a student currently registered for the same course, or a student who has taken the course formerly. No more than one courtesy audit is permitted in a single semester. Courtesy audited courses do not appear on the student’s transcript.

Classification of Students

The undergraduate student body is divided for class organization on the basis of academic classification:

Freshman: a high school graduate or one who presents satisfactory scores on equivalency examinations
Sophomore: a student who has completed 30 to 59 semester hours
Junior: a student who has completed 60 to 89 semester hours
Senior: a student who has completed at least 90 semester hours

Commencement Participation

The University holds commencement ceremonies in Fall and Spring of each year. Any 30 hour certificate, associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree seeking student should meet all degree requirements in order to participate in commencement. For the Spring ceremony, a student may request permission to participate in commencement prior to completing graduation requirements under the following stipulations:

  • Students must have all degree requirements met by the August degree conferral date of the same year they wish to participate.
  • Students must have no more than nine credits left to complete their degree requirements.
  • Students must complete a “Commencement Participation Appeal” form that includes an advisor-approved completion plan/advising worksheet identifying and articulating how all courses will be completed with anticipated completion dates.

Permission to walk across the stage at commencement does not constitute the conferral of a degree. Doctoral degree candidates must have successfully completed all required coursework and met all program requirements as defined by the department in order to participate in the commencement ceremony. All doctoral candidates must have met the appropriate graduate application deadline.

See “Graduation” for additional information.

Competency/Proficiency Examinations

Competency examinations at the undergraduate level correspond to proficiency examinations at the graduate level.

Undergraduate-level: A student, when authorized by the student’s advisor, the instructor of record, and the dean, may prove competency in the knowledge and/or skills of designated courses within the curriculum, similar to the structure established for CLEP or DSST. If the student passes the instructor’s comprehensive “competency” exam with a minimum of a 2.0 (“C”) grade or above, the student may either accept the credit for the course based on established proficiency or have the course waived so that a more advanced course or a Faculty Directed Study may be substituted within the program. For a list of qualified courses students should contact their academic dean’s office. Students will pay a testing fee whether or not they are granted credit. All examination scores and documentation must be submitted to the Office of the University Registrar before credit can be granted. No credit can be earned through a competency examination if the student has started a designated course and/or finished and failed said course at CIU. No more than 12 semester hours of Competency Exam credit can be used in an undergraduate degree program (see “Standardized Testing” for information regarding CLEP and DANTES exams).


CoE, CICS, and SSM Clinical Counseling: Competency/proficiency exams are not accepted.

Columbia Biblical Seminary: Although the CBS does not accept transfer credit from unaccredited institutions without special approval, a student may request advanced standing with credit through a proficiency examination for courses completed at an unaccredited institution. See CIU Policy Library (www.ciu.edu/policy) for complete policy and procedures.


Graduates are issued a diploma bearing the corporate name “Columbia International University.” Diplomas, certificates, and final transcripts will not be issued if the student has any remaining financial obligations to CIU. Graduates, upon request, may receive a Columbia International University replacement diploma, dated with the original graduation date and containing a marginal subscript indicating “Replacement Diploma: [date of issue].” (A diploma with the new school name is also available for pre-1994 graduates.) There is a fee for a replacement diploma.


See “Academic Probation” and Plagiarism in this section.

Degree Changes

Students desiring to add a degree(s) or change concentrations within a degree must request approval through a Record Change form, which is available at https://my.ciu.edu/ICS/Registrar/Forms.jnz.

Dual Graduate-level Degrees

Students may apply a maximum of 50 percent of one graduate degree to another graduate degree at CIU as long as requirements for both degrees are met. The required number of credits for completing both degrees may be less than if the two degrees were completed separately; however, students must satisfy all requirements for both degrees, including program admission and completion requirements. Students may pursue multiple degrees sequentially or simultaneously.

Enrollment in Courses Outside of Undergraduate Division

Graduate-level courses numbered 5000-6999 are open to undergraduate upperclassmen for undergraduate degree requirements. Junior or senior undergraduate students may enroll for up to 15 semester hours of graduate credit. See “RAMP” in this section of the catalog for more information.

Juniors: A student classified as a junior having a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 may register for graduate-level courses numbered 5000-5999.

Seniors: A student classified as a senior may register for graduate-level courses numbered 5000-5999. A student classified as a senior having a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 may also register for graduate-level courses numbered 6000-6999.

Extracurricular Activities

Any student desiring to participate in a university-sponsored extracurricular activity (e.g. sports, music group, performing arts group, student leadership) or representing the university must be a student in good standing. Good standing means that the student meets 1) minimum GPA requirements, 2) is not on any form of character probation, 3) has status as a full-time student, and 4) if admitted provisionally, has successfully demonstrated academic success for one semester at CIU with the minimum GPA requirement.

Faculty-directed Study

A Faculty-directed Study (FDS) provides the student an opportunity to pursue topics of in-depth research beyond the stated curriculum under the direction of a faculty member.

Undergraduate-level: Juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.0 are eligible to request an FDS. Students wishing to register for an FDS must obtain an FDS request form online and discuss the proposed study with their advisor and the faculty member who would direct the study. A maximum of 12 semester hours of an undergraduate student’s program may be taken by FDS.

Graduate-level: Students must discuss the proposed research with their academic dean before approaching a possible instructor. Students may not elect to take a regularly scheduled course through FDS unless the course has been changed and has created the need for program completion through this alternative.

Grading Policies

Columbia International University is committed to fairness and transparency in assessment of students’ work and grading practices. The University’s grading policy charges each department and program with articulating well-defined and meaningful grading standards for work within its discipline. Faculty, grading in accordance with those standards, shall use grades and substantive feedback to give students clear and detailed information about the quality of their work. See CIU Policy Library (www.ciu.edu/policy) for complete policy and procedures.


Because of the life training character of CIU and its basic objective, “To know Him and to make Him known,” earning a degree at CIU involves more than merely meeting academic requirements. Students must reflect adequate achievement of CIU objectives (including non-academic areas such as personal morality, positive interpersonal and family relationships, and local church involvement). Although non-academic objectives cannot be measured with complete objectivity, we believe valid and useful assessment is possible and necessary. All programs provide significant training for vocational Christian service. Criteria for granting a degree are designed to reflect the student’s character and competency in both general and professional areas. To qualify for a degree doctrinally students must demonstrate an accurate understanding of basic biblical doctrines and be in agreement with the institution’s doctrinal statement (with the exception of section 8). Students must also demonstrate an accurate understanding of the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Scriptures and affirm belief in that doctrine.

Students will not be accepted as candidates for a degree who affirm error in Scripture or who believe in the ultimate salvation of all people.

Applying for a Degree: Although advisors assist students in planning their courses of study, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all requirements for graduation have been met. CIU has three graduation dates per year on which diplomas and certificates are issued: one at the end of the Summer term, one at the end of Fall semester, and one at the end of Spring semester. Students planning to receive a degree or certificate at any of these graduations are required to submit to the Office of the University Registrar a completed application for graduation and pay a non-refundable graduation fee by the deadline specified. If a student fails to complete all requirements by the date set, the degree or certificate will not be issued. A new application to graduate must be filed and another graduation fee must be paid by the deadline for the new term of expected graduation.

Scholastic Honors: Students graduating from undergraduate four-year programs will receive diplomas with scholastic honors according to the following:

Summa cum laude (highest honor) for a GPA of 3.85 or above
Magna cum laude (high honor) for a GPA from 3.71 to 3.84
Cum laude (with honor) for a GPA from 3.5 to 3.7

Transfer students must have completed at least 48 semester hours at CIU to be eligible for scholastic honors. Grades from a student’s last semester in the student’s degree program are not included in the determination of scholastic honors.

Delta Epsilon Chi Honor Society: The undergraduate faculty has established a chapter of Delta Epsilon Chi, the Honor Society of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). No more than 7 percent of the graduating class for any given year may be nominated to this group by the faculty. ABHE minimum criteria for nomination by the faculty include a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or above, positive demonstration of Christian character, and clear exhibition of leadership ability following a biblical model.

Grievance Procedures (Academic)

See the “Academic Grievance Procedure” located in the Student Life  section.


The purpose of internships is to provide supervised experience in ministry in line with the student’s vocational objectives (see specific programs for internship details). Such an experience allows the student to engage in professional activities while receiving feedback and supervision from an experienced mentor. All internships have as their principle component – the practice of ministry. Internships promote personal growth as the intern integrates the academic and the experiential with the student as an individual. Internships are planned around specific objectives. Supervision of students before, during, and after the internship is common to all internships, along with evaluation from a variety of sources. CIU personnel work along with field personnel to ensure that students receive maximum benefit from their internships.

Ministry Skills Development (Undergraduate Program)

Christian Service Learning (CSL): All undergraduate students are required to register for CSL for three semesters during their freshman and sophomore years. To this end, the focus of the first two years of a student’s bachelor degree program emphasizes biblical studies, general education courses, and CSL opportunities. The goal in these three semesters of CSL is to encourage students to build service-oriented relationships within the local church, and at least 80 clock hours of Christian service is required.

Practical Skill Development: All undergraduate students during their third and fourth years are required to complete at least three semester hours of practical skill development. Each program will determine the requirements within the professional programs and students should consult with their academic advisors to plan appropriate practical skill development requirements within a professional major or minor. At least 50 clock hours of practical skill development are required for each semester hour of credit. Programs may require students to complete multiple credit practicum and internship experiences built upon prerequisite character, knowledge, and skill requirements as determined and approved by their advisors and/or program directors. Professional programs may waive field experience requirements, provided the student demonstrates proficiency of the necessary knowledge, dispositions, and competencies within a practical skill development program.


To plagiarize is to present someone else’s work as your own. This occurs when sources are not cited properly and can involve words, lines of thought and ideas. In short, plagiarism occurs when information that can be considered the intellectual property of someone else is used without acknowledging the original source properly.

Levels of Plagiarism

All levels of plagiarism are unacceptable at CIU. Unless an instructor specifies otherwise, the following general definitions apply.

Minimal plagiarism is defined as doing any of the following without attribution:

  • Inserting verbatim phrases of several distinctive words.
  • Substituting synonyms into the original sentence rather than rewriting the complete sentence.
  • Reordering the clauses of a sentence.
  • Using a source’s line of logic, thesis or ideas.

Substantial plagiarism is defined as doing any of the following without attribution:

  • Inserting verbatim sentences or longer passages from a source.
  • Combining paraphrasing with verbatim sentences to create a paragraph or more of text.
  • Repeatedly and pervasively engaging in minimal plagiarism.

Complete plagiarism is defined as doing any of the following without attribution:

  • Submitting or presenting someone’s complete published or unpublished work (paper, article, or chapter).
  • Submitting another student’s work for an assignment, with or without that person’s knowledge or consent.
  • Downloading or purchasing a term paper from a web site or other source.
  • Reusing or modifying a previously submitted paper (e.g., from another course) for a present assignment without obtaining prior approval from the instructors involved.

Consequences of Plagiarism

Intent is not a factor in determining whether plagiarism has occurred. A writer is responsible for knowing and using the rules for accurate and honest writing and pleading ignorance of the rules does not prevent receiving consequences for breaking them.


  • Information about plagiarism, why it is unacceptable, and how to avoid it through proper handling and acknowledgement of others’ ideas is available to students via multiple means.
  • Any offense which results in a failing grade is reported to the relevant dean’s office (i.e., the dean of the school in which the course resides).
  • When determining a consequence for plagiarism, previous offenses in other courses by the student are relevant.

Minimal Plagiarism

An instructor may use an instance of minimal plagiarism as an educational opportunity to discuss with the student the nature of plagiarism and the values of a scholarly Christian community. The assignment should be rewritten and resubmitted, with or without a grade penalty, at the discretion of the instructor. Repeated instances of minimal plagiarism in a course should be treated as substantial plagiarism.

Substantial Plagiarism

First offense: Ordinarily, the student receives a failing grade on the assignment that has been plagiarized, and a Report of Plagiarism is submitted to the relevant dean’s office (i.e., the dean of the school in which the course resides). Students who are in their first year at CIU may be allowed to rewrite an assignment that is the first instance of substantial plagiarism. They would receive a reduced grade on the assignment.

Second offense: Ordinarily, the student receives a failing grade in the course, and a Report of Plagiarism is submitted to the dean of the school in which the course resides.

Third offense: The student may be recommended for expulsion from the university. Action is taken at the discretion of the Provost.

Complete Plagiarism

First offense: The student receives a failing grade in the course, and a report is submitted to the dean of the school in which the course resides.
Second offense: The student is expelled from the university. Action is taken at the discretion of the Provost.

Delay in Detection of Plagiarism

If plagiarism is discovered after a course or degree is completed, the level and frequency of plagiarism will be evaluated by the Provost in consultation with relevant deans and faculty members. Consequences may include changing the grade awarded in a course or courses, delaying the awarding of the degree, withholding the degree, or rescinding the degree.

Procedures for Dealing with Plagiarism

An instructor who believes plagiarism has occurred should document it to the degree possible, including citations for or copies of the sources that were plagiarized. The instructor should then meet with the student to discuss the incident. In this meeting, the instructor should describe the evidence for the plagiarism, allow the student to respond, review what plagiarism is, why it is unacceptable in a scholarly community, and how to cite sources properly and then review the university’s plagiarism policy and procedures.

If the plagiarism cannot be firmly established, the instructor should meet with the student to obtain sources or to determine the student’s familiarity with the assignment that was submitted.

After meeting with the student, the instructor should determine the consequences with the assumption that this is the student’s first offense. The instructor should then inform the student of the consequences and, in cases of substantial or complete plagiarism, submit a Report of Plagiarism form to the dean of the school in which the course resides, including the assignment and the plagiarized sources. The student should also receive a copy of the report. After receiving a copy of the Report of Plagiarism, a student may comment on it and submit those comments to the dean’s office. After receiving any comments, the dean will forward a copy of the Report to the Dean of Student Life and to the Provost.

If the dean determines that this is not the student’s first offense, the instructor will be contacted and can determine, in consultation with the dean, whether other penalties are warranted.

Students wishing to appeal a decision relating to plagiarism may do so by submitting a written request for review of the case to the Provost within 5 business days of being notified of the penalties. The Provost will review all materials relating to the appeal, but the student may not provide new or additional material at this time. Within 5 business days the Provost will render a decision, which is final and binding on all parties

Privacy Rights and Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, with which CIU fully complies, protects the privacy of educational records, establishes the rights of students to inspect these records, and provides guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data through informal hearings. Student records include financial accounts and financial aid records, practicum and internship assignments and evaluations, grades, Veteran Affairs, and Student Life files. Students have the right to file complaints concerning alleged institutional failure to comply with this Act. Copies of the institutional compliance policy are available in the Office of the University Registrar and in CIU Policy Library (www.ciu.edu/policy).

Probation (Academic)

See Policy 121 at www.ciu.edu/policies.

Residence Requirements

Undergraduate-level: Associate degree students, regardless of previous undergraduate credits earned, are required to complete a minimum of 15 semester hours of coursework at CIU. Bachelor degree students, regardless of previous undergraduate credits earned, are required to complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework through CIU. While no statutes of limitations for undergraduate degree completion exists, CIU requires that the final 15 semester hours of coursework must be CIU credits unless defined otherwise in a cooperative program.

Graduate-level: A majority of credits toward a graduate degree must be earned at either CIU or a CIU site. SSM programs* permit a maximum of 2/3 of the degree to be earned through online courses. (This limit also applies when two degrees are earned concurrently.)

*All Columbia Biblical Seminary programs are exempt from this restriction.

Standardized Testing

Undergraduate-level: All standardized testing must be completed within one calendar year of a student’s matriculation to CIU. CLEP and DANTES credit must be earned prior to the student’s graduating semester. For additional information regarding Advanced Placement Exams (AP Exams), Foreign Language Proficiency Testing Program, College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), see the “Standardized Test Acceptance and Test Score Criteria” available from the Office of the University Registrar.

CoE, CICS, SSM Clinical Counseling: Standardized test credit can be utilized to satisfy prerequisite requirements for graduate-level programs if documented on the student’s undergraduate transcript. Scores of 3-5 on AP courses, a score of 50 on the CLEP or 55 on the DANTES examinations can be credited to satisfy M.A. in Counseling, M.A. in Teaching, and Master of Education undergraduate prerequisites. Standardized test credit is not accepted for SSM graduate-level programs.

Student Assessment for Institutional Improvement

In order to assess and improve our academic programs, periodic measurements of student perceptions and intellectual growth must be obtained. Students may be required to participate in one or more evaluative procedures, including examinations in general academic development and/or a major field of study. Data obtained through evaluative measurements are collected and used solely to improve the quality of the educational experience of future students.


(See “Probation” in the Student Life  Section)


Official transcripts are maintained by the Office of the University Registrar. Students must provide written authorization for the release of transcripts, even to themselves. Transcript requests and payment are made online through National Student Clearinghouse. Unofficial transcripts can be printed by current students on My.CIU.edu with no associated cost.

Transfer Credit

Applicants who have completed work in an institution that is accredited regionally or nationally (CHEA recognized) may receive transfer credit for courses in which they received a grade of “C” (2.0) or above. Transfer credit may apply to a student’s program at CIU. For complete policy, please see Transfer Credit Policy in CIU Policy Library (www.ciu.edu/policy).


Courses for which students are registered at the close of the Add/Drop Period, will appear on the transcript, calculate as attempted hours, and may result in a grade penalty. Failure to attend classes does not constitute withdrawal; failure to follow withdrawal procedures (below) will result in an “F” grade for the course. A student is financially responsible for courses from which he/she has withdrawn under any and all circumstances (excluding military withdrawal) according to the published Student Tuition and Fees Refund Policy. For complete policy and withdrawal procedures, please see Withdrawal Policy in CIU Policy Library (www.ciu.edu/policy).