Academic Policies

Georgetown University and the School of Foreign Service in Qatar have developed policies designed to ensure the academic quality and intellectual rigor of the BSFS degree. It is the job of the Academic Affairs Office to uphold and enforce these policies.

The most important policy document governing academics at Georgetown University is the Undergraduate Bulletin. The policies dealing specifically with academic issues are found chiefly in the Academic Regulations section of this document. Since the policies contained in the Bulletin represent the rules to which students will be held as they earn their degrees, it is strongly recommended that they familiarize themselves with it.

Below is an overview of some of the academic policies that students ask about frequently. Most are detailed in the Undergraduate Bulletin while others are specific to the School of Foreign Service in Qatar and are only described here.

Auditing Courses
Conflict Exams
Full Time Student Status
Grade Appeal
Sixth Course
Student Absence Policy
Transfer Credit


Students may add themselves into and drop themselves from courses through the first week of classes of the regular semester (first day of classes in the Summer). Classes dropped during this period will be removed from official student records and will not appear on student transcripts. After the first week of classes (first day of classes in the Summer), students can no longer add themselves into courses, but can drop them through the last day to withdraw listed on the Academic Calendar. Courses dropped after the first week of class, but before the last day to withdraw, will remain on student transcripts with a grade of “W” (withdraw). Students cannot withdraw from courses after the last day to withdraw in any given term.

Auditing Courses

SFS-Q students cannot audit SFS-Q courses.

Conflict Exams

Please note that this policy applies to exams given during final exam week only. Furthermore, it applies only to in-class, written final exams. It does not apply to final papers, take home final exams, or take home papers.

In order to qualify for a conflict exam, a student must have either:

  • Two exams scheduled for the same time slot; or
  • Three exams in the same calendar day; or
  • Three exams that start and end within a 24 hour period. For example:
    • The following exam schedule would qualify for a conflict exam: Wednesday from 12:30-2:30 p.m., Wednesday from 4-6 p.m., and Thursday from 9-11 a.m. These exams start and end within a 24 hour period (12:30 p.m. Wednesday – 11:00 a.m. Thursday)
    • The following exam schedule would not qualify for a conflict exam: Wednesday from 9-11, Wednesday from 12:30-2:30, Thursday from 9-11. These exams start and end within a 26 hour period (9:00 a.m. Wednesday – 11:00 a.m. Thursday)

Conflict exams are the only instances in which a faculty member is obligated to offer a re-scheduled final exam. If a student approaches a faculty member directly to request a rescheduling of the final exam for another reason, the faculty member is free to decline the request since all students are expected to be available for exams until the official end of term indicated on the Academic Calendar. If an instructor decides to accommodate the student request, it is up to the instructor to arrange for an alternate time during which he/she can proctor the exam him/herself. Please note that this time should not conflict with any other exam and should not occur on a study day.

If a student qualifies for a conflict exam, he or she can request that one of the “conflicting” exams be postponed until the last day of the final exam week. Conflict exams will not be scheduled at other times. Students considering requesting a conflict exam need to adjust their travel plans accordingly.

To request a conflict exam, students must fill out the conflict exam request form which is available in the Academic Affairs Office. Professors whose exams are being rescheduled must sign the conflict exam requests and deliver a copy of the final exam to the Office of Academic Affairs. Completed request forms should be returned to the student’s academic adviser for approval.


SFS-Qatar students have the opportunity to enroll in courses at other institutions with in HBKU. Currently, cross-registration is offered at:

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Northwestern University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Weill-Cornell Medical College

After completing their first year, SFS-Qatar students can enroll in one cross-registration course per semester. The maximum number of cross-registration that an SFS-Qatar student can take during his/her academic career is four.

Cross-registration courses can count towards fulfilling the requirements of the BSFS degree. In order to earn Georgetown credit for a cross-registration course, you must pass it with a grade of C or higher. The grade you earn in a cross-registration course will appear on your Georgetown transcript, but will not be factored into your cumulative GPA.

Ordinarily, cross-registration courses count as free electives. However, a student can petition to have a cross-registration course count as major or certificate credit at SFS-Qatar. To do so, students should present a copy of the course syllabus for review to their academic adviser.

If you are interested in cross-registering, please see:

Full Time Student Status

SFS-Qatar students are expected to maintain full-time student status unless an exception is approved by their academic adviser.

Full-time academic status requires registration in courses that amount to twelve credits or more in a fall or spring semester. Students are also considered full-time if they are registered for a University approved overseas study program.

Part-time academic status is based on registration in courses amounting to between one and eleven credits. The designation of half-time status is given to students who are registered for at least six credits.

Grade Appeal

When a student thinks that a given course grade is not justified, he/she has the right to file a grade appeal. There are, however, very strict rules governing the circumstances under which a student can file a grade appeal.

  • An error in grading procedures is sufficient grounds for an appeal.
  • Inequity in the application of policies stated in the course syllabus is sufficient grounds for an appeal.
  • A disagreement with the professional judgment of the professor is not sufficient grounds for an appeal.

If, after careful consideration, a student believes he/she has sufficient grounds for a grade appeal, then he/she must follow the directions and chronology for grade appeals outlined in the Undergraduate Bulletin very carefully.


After the first year, students may take one elective course each semester on a pass/fail basis up to a total of six pass/fail courses during sophomore, junior, and senior years.

The procedure for selecting a pass/fail course is as follows:

  • Students choose an elective course on a pass/fail basis during the add/drop period by completing a pass/fail course registration form available in the Academic Affairs Office. Students dropping a pass/fail course may not add another pass/fail course for that semester. The Academic Affairs Office will notify professors of those students taking courses on a pass/fail basis.
  • The pass/fail option is restricted to free electives and must be exercised only for courses within the normal course load for a given semester. A faculty member, or the Office of Academic Affairs, may designate certain courses as unavailable to the pass/fail option.
  • Pass/fail courses will be marked S (Satisfactory), equivalent to letter grades of C or better, and U (Unsatisfactory). Neither the S nor the U will affect the student’s average. Only courses noted as “S” receive credit.
  • Once a student has decided to take a course on a pass/fail basis, it is not possible, under any circumstances, to record a letter grade for that course.

Sixth Course

SFS-Qatar students normally take five courses each semester. Under certain circumstances, it is possible for a student to take a sixth course in a semester. To do so, the student must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a sophomore, junior, or senior
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher

If a student meets these criteria, then he/she can submit a petition to take a sixth course to his/her academic adviser at least two weeks before the beginning of the semester in which the sixth course is being requested. This petition should take the form of a short essay in which the student identifies the course he/she wishes to take and presents a compelling academic reason for why he/she needs to take it as sixth course.

Sixth courses must be free electives. Core, major, and certificate courses will not be approved as sixth courses.

All sixth course requests are considered by the academic deans during the first week of courses. Students will be notified the same week of the deans’ decision. The deans’ decision is final.

Student Absence Policy

Faculty members have the right to set attendance requirements for their classes as well as to excuse any student from class on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with University policy and their own best judgment. The BSFS deans have the responsibility of verifying on behalf of students when their absences are caused by legitimate circumstances that warrant the professors’ consideration and accommodation if possible.

For religious holy days, Georgetown University has a separate policy which states that students shall be excused from classes without penalty, provided they give their professors notice at the beginning of the semester. This policy is stated below with a link to the website listing all religious observances covered by this policy.

  • Absences are considered caused by legitimate circumstances, either in advance or after the fact, when students present documentation for the following reasons:
    • an illness severe enough to require a doctor’s consultation;
    • a medical or personal emergency;
    • a death or a serious medical emergency in the immediate family;
    • a family situation over which the student has limited or no control
  • The deans DO NOT consider any of the following legitimate reasons for a student’s absence:
    • minor illnesses for which a student would not normally consult a doctor;
    • routine or scheduled medical tests or appointments;
    • family trips or vacations;
    • conference attendance;
    • working hours for jobs;
    • internships or internship-related events;
    • job interviews

If a dean determines that a student has a legitimate reason for an absence, he or she notifies all of the student’s professors immediately and in writing. In these cases professors are asked to make every reasonable accommodation to help the student make up the work. These accommodations may include:

  1. waiving this particular absence in light of an attendance requirement as stated in the syllabus
  2. allowing the student to make up quizzes, tests, and midterms, if practicable, within a reasonable time frame
  3. allowing a reasonable extension for turning in written assignments

Even when an absence is judged to be legitimate, it is the responsibility of the student to make up any missed work. Students must therefore speak with their professors as soon as possible so that they begin catching up.

In some cases, professors may not be able to accommodate or excuse an absence. If no reasonable accommodation is possible, or if a student has accumulated too many absences (even ones with legitimate causes), then the student may be asked to consider withdrawing from courses or taking a leave of absence for the remainder of the semester.

Regarding absences for religious holy days:

Georgetown University promotes respect for all religions. Any student who is unable to attend classes or to participate in any examination, presentation, or assignment on a given day because of the observance of a major religious holiday (see below)* or related travel shall be excused and provided with the opportunity to make up, without unreasonable burden, any work that has been missed for this reason and shall not in any other way be penalized for the absence or rescheduled work. Students will remain responsible for all assigned work. Students should notify professors in writing at the beginning of the semester of religious observances that conflict with their classes. The Office of the Provost, in consultation with Campus Ministry and the Registrar, will publish, before classes begin for a given term, a list of major religious holidays likely to affect Georgetown students. The Provost and the Main Campus Executive Faculty encourage faculty to accommodate students whose bona fide religious observances in other ways impede normal participation in a course. Students who cannot be accommodated should discuss the matter with an advising dean.

* For a complete list of religious holy days to which this policy applies, please visit:

Transfer Credit

The School of Foreign Service in Qatar offers students credit for the following programs. The below rules are for the current academic year’s entering class. If you need to know a previous year’s rule, please contact your dean.

Advanced Placement: Students who take AP exams may be eligible to receive credit for certain core requirements and for elective courses. AP credits may not be applied for major credit. Click here to see how the most common AP exams translate into SFS credits.

International Baccalaureate: Students who earn scores of 6 or 7 in higher level (HL) subjects may be eligible to receive credit for certain core requirements and for elective courses. Students need to bring their original IBO issued official score report or diploma to the Dean’s Office in order to complete a credit evaluation. Click here to see how the most common IB subjects translate into SFS credits.

13th Year Programs: SFS-Qatar recognizes a number of 13th year degree programs and students may be eligible to receive credit for certain core requirements and for elective courses. Students need to bring official score reports to the Dean’s Office in order to complete credit evaluations. Click here to see a list of 13th year programs.

College Courses: Credit toward Georgetown degrees may be given for work done at other accredited institutions. Please note that transfer credit is determined by the Academic Affairs Office at SFS-Qatar and NOT the Admissions Office. If you have specific questions regarding the transferability of classes you have taken and/or are currently taking, please contact

Credit awarded from other institutions are subject to the following limitations:

  • Credit for required courses will be given if the course is similar to the one required at Georgetown. (Click here to access the Course Catalog)
  • Credit for electives will be given if the course is similar to courses offered at Georgetown. Credit for courses not offered at Georgetown will be considered on an individual basis.
  • Grades earned must be at least one level above minimum passing level, (e.g., C). Passing grades on a Pass/Fail system are acceptable if defined as C or better.
  • The maximum number of transferable credits is one-half of the total required for the degree (60 credits). All transfer students must enroll as full-time students. They must spend a minimum of four full semesters in residence at Georgetown to earn a degree. Summer sessions and study abroad programs will not count toward fulfilling the residency requirement.