2016-2017 College Catalog 
    Apr 19, 2024  
2016-2017 College Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Information

Pellissippi State offers a variety of educational opportunities to meet the needs of students with diverse backgrounds and interests. Each program of study is built on a set of broad educational goals. Academic and student support services are provided throughout the student’s educational career to encourage academic achievement and personal growth. The College is especially committed to providing new students with experiences that recognize their unique and diverse needs and maximize their opportunities to succeed. This commitment is articulated in Pellissippi State’s Statement of Philosophy for the First Year of College.

Philosophy for the First Year of College

The faculty and staff at Pellissippi State Community College believe that the first-year experience is critically important, as it provides the foundation for college success and lifelong learning. To best serve the unique needs of first-year students, we commit to the following:

  • Facilitating new student transition to the college campus
  • Providing high-quality instruction
  • Establishing positive mentoring and advising relationships with beginning students
  • Supporting a vibrant college culture where students experience and express diverse world views
  • Offering a comprehensive range of activities and opportunities to enhance learning and personal growth
  • Evaluating the results of our efforts in addressing first-year student needs

In providing first-year students exceptional opportunities for growth and involvement, we believe they will connect more deeply with the college community, achieve their academic goals and gain a clearer, fuller vision of their lifetime direction.


Pellissippi State operates on the semester system, with the standard academic year consisting of two terms of 15 weeks each. The standard credit is the semester hour.

General Academic Policies

Attendance policy. Pellissippi State expects students to attend all scheduled instructional activities. As a minimum, students in all courses (excluding distance learning courses) must be present for at least 75 percent of their scheduled class and laboratory meetings in order to receive credit for the course. Individual departments/programs/disciplines, with the approval of the chief academic officer, may have requirements that are more stringent. In very specific circumstances, an appeal of the policy may be addressed to the dean of the department in which the course was taken. If further action is warranted, the appeal may be addressed to the chief academic officer.

Attendance recording. Attendance must be reported by the instructor for each course in which the student is enrolled before any eligible financial aid is applied to the student’s account balance and the student, if eligible, can receive a financial aid check. Attendance for veterans receiving benefits is reported during the add period and monthly thereafter. Students enrolled in distance learning courses must meet instructor requirements for communication and completion of assignments to be reported as attending. (See also Return of Title IV Funds  in the Financial Aid section of this Catalog and Handbook.)

Grading system. Grades become available as they are received and processed. However, official transcripts cannot be generated for mini-term courses until the end of each semester. Letter grades are used to indicate quality of work achieved by a student, knowledge of the subject, ability to apply this knowledge, and work habits and practices.

Grade Quality Points Awarded Per Semester Hour
A 4.0
B+ 3.5
B 3.0
C+ 2.5
C 2.0
D 1.0
F 0.0

The academic standing of a student is expressed in terms of a grade point average (GPA). The GPA is determined by dividing the total number of quality points by the total number of credit hours attempted. Grades described below are not included in the standard calculation of GPA.

I (Incomplete). An Incomplete or I grade indicates that a student was passing a course at the end of the semester but was unable to complete all the requirements due to uncontrollable circumstances. It also indicates that the instructor approved the student’s request to complete the remaining requirement(s) on or before instructor-specified dates. In corequisite courses in English, reading and math, an I grade may be assigned in the college-level course only. Instructors elect to assign I grades only in highly unusual situations; I grades cannot be assigned to allow students to raise deficient grades by submitting additional work or by repeating any part of a course.

Incomplete grades are replaced with earned course grades when students fulfill instructors’ expectations for course completion; otherwise, students whose academic performance is judged as unsatisfactory by the instructor or who do not submit required assignments in a timely manner are assigned F grades. Unless the I is changed by the instructor prior to the date published in the Catalog and Handbook, the I converts to an F grade. Spring and summer Incompletes must be removed by midterm of the following fall; fall semester Incompletes must be removed by midterm of the following spring. The instructor has the prerogative to limit the time allowed for completion. Incompletes also become F grades if students enroll in the same course in the semester after an I is received unless the course is dropped before registration ends. An I grade is not counted in the student’s GPA at the time it is received. The grade replacing the I is included in the GPA. Warning to financial aid recipients: The I grade is considered an F in determining financial aid eligibility.

AU (Audit). This grade indicates the student elected to enroll in the course for no grade and no credit. Audits do not replace grades previously issued, and in corequisite courses in English, reading, and math, only the college-level course may be audited. Audit students are expected to attend class. A student can change from audit to credit or credit to audit through the last day to add a course for each semester. (See the Academic Calendar  in the front of this Catalog and Handbook.) To audit a course, the student must so indicate on the registration or drop/add form.

W (Withdrawal). A grade of W indicates a student has officially withdrawn from a course after the deadline to drop a course without a grade of W as published in the Academic Calendar. A student may officially withdraw from any course during the first two thirds of the term. The deadline to drop a course with a grade of W is also published in the Academic Calendar. A W grade will not be computed in the GPA, but it does count in attempted hours. (See Drop, Add and Withdrawal Standards  in the Admissions and Registration section of this Catalog and Handbook.)

P (Pass). This grade indicates a student successfully completed and has been awarded credit for a course. This grade is not computed in the GPA.

NP (No Pass). This grade indicates a student did not successfully complete a course and was not awarded credit. This grade is not computed in the GPA.

Repeat. This indicates the student is repeating a course for the purpose of increasing the mastery necessary for successful performance in a later course or for the purpose of increasing his/her GPA. In computing the GPA of a student who has repeated one or more courses, Pellissippi State will count only the last grade received in the repeated course and count hours attempted only once, provided the number of repeats in any single course does not exceed two (three attempts). In the event a student repeats a course more than twice, the grade in the third and later attempts shall be used in determining the GPA. Students may be permitted to repeat a course in which a grade of B or higher was earned only with the approval of the chief academic officer.

Veterans Affairs students repeating courses for which they have passing grades (D or higher) are advised to speak with the College’s VA school certifying official concerning eligibility for benefits, since the VA typically does not pay to repeat a course that has been passed.

Academic awards and honors. Students graduating with the following grade point averages in college-level courses will receive an honors designation on their diplomas:

  • 3.90-4.00
  • 3.70-3.89
  • 3.50-3.69

Summa Cum Laude
Magna Cum Laude
Cum Laude

In addition to graduation honors, Pellissippi State recognizes outstanding college-level students through the dean’s list (3.50-4.00 GPA). Students are eligible for the dean’s list upon completion of 12 college-level hours per term of Pellissippi State coursework.

Other significant recognition is presented to outstanding graduates as selected by faculty. Only college-level courses are considered in determining eligibility for academic awards, honors or dean’s list.

Course waiver and substitution. Under special circumstances, a course may be waived by the dean with approval from the chief academic officer (except corequisite courses for English, reading and math). Waivers and substitutions are not permitted for Tennessee Transfer Pathways. Waivers are granted when necessitated by course deletions or other curriculum changes. Since no credit is awarded for a course waiver, a course of equal or greater credit must be substituted for a course that has been waived. The student’s academic advisor gives primary consideration to courses from the same discipline as the course waived in identifying an appropriate substitute.

Maximum load. The normal load for a full-time student per semester during the academic year is 15-20 credit hours, with 20 credit hours being the maximum. Any student requesting a course load above 20 hours must have dean approval. Students in Career Programs should see the dean responsible for their major. Students in University Parallel programs should see the academic department dean for the overload course.

Independent study. Generally only courses that are not offered in the regular class schedule and are required for graduation within one term may be considered for independent study. Students who can prove to the satisfaction of faculty that they are capable of independently mastering the content of a course may be eligible to enroll in a course on an independent study basis. Permission must be granted by the instructor and the dean responsible for the course. Fees for independent study courses are the same as those assessed for traditional courses. Students are given one semester to complete a course taken as independent study.

Examinations will be given by the faculty member as the student progresses through the assigned material. It is the student’s responsibility to meet with the faculty member to provide progress reports and to arrange examinations throughout the semester to complete the course material.

If the independent study course is passed, the student is awarded full course credit. If the course is failed, the student may not subsequently request another independent study of that course. Grades of A, B+, B, C+, C, D, F, W or I are assigned.

Student Complaints

Pellissippi State Community College strives to provide the best instructional atmosphere and level of service to students. At times, however, students may have an issue, concern or complaint regarding their educational experience. In such cases, the College strives to resolve issues as quickly as possible and at the level closest to the issue.

Students should follow the procedures listed below to resolve their concerns or complaints.

Filing a Complaint

Informal Resolution

The first step a student should take in resolving a concern or complaint is to directly address the faculty member, staff member or student in question. In some cases a student may feel uncomfortable directly addressing the faculty or staff member. If this is the case, the student should speak to the academic dean in the case of a faculty member or to the supervisor in the case of a staff member. If the issue is with another student and the student with the concern is uncomfortable addressing the other student, he or she may contact Safety and Security or the dean of students at the Hardin Valley Campus or the campus dean at the relevant site campus. If there is no resolution at that level, the student may file a formal, written complaint.

Formal Resolution

A student who has attempted informal resolution to a complaint and needs further resolution may file a formal complaint. The student should fully complete and submit the electronic student complaint form, located at www.pstcc.edu/complaint. This form will be submitted to the appropriate vice president over the area in which the student has a concern. The vice president (or designee) will conduct an investigation within 10 working days of receiving the complaint. The vice president (or designee) will communicate the outcome of the investigation to the student in no more than 30 working days of receiving the complaint.

Students or prospective students who wish to file a complaint related to accreditation or regarding violations of state law not resolved at the institution may submit a student complaint form by mail to the Tennessee Board of Regents at 1415 Murfreesboro Road, Suite 340, Nashville 37217, or by going online and filling out the form electronically at www.tbr.edu/contacts/contact-tbr. Under Tennessee’s open records law, all or parts of complaints will generally be available for review upon request from a member of the public.

Complaints regarding accreditation also can be made by contacting the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, (404) 679-4500 (www.sacscoc.org).

Complaints of fraud, waste or abuse may be made by email at reportfraud@tbr.edu or by calling the Tennessee Comptroller’s Hotline for Fraud, Waste and Abuse at (800) 232-5454.

Complaints regarding discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct should be directed to the College’s executive director of Equity and Compliance, who serves as the Title IX coordinator, Title VI officer, ADA officer, and equity officer. The executive director’s office is in Room 259 of the Goins Administration Building on the Hardin Valley Campus, and the telephone number is (865) 539-7401.

Corequisite Courses/Learning Support

In order to be successful in college-level courses, students must have adequate foundational knowledge and skills. Pellissippi State provides embedded learning support in specially designed corequisite courses in reading, English and math. Students are placed into these courses based on the results of a placement test. First-time degree-seeking students who are under 21 years of age must present valid ACT or SAT scores for placement decisions. First-time degree-seeking students who are over 21 years of age must provide valid ACT or SAT scores or take an entrance test. Transfer students who have not successfully completed equivalent English and mathematics courses at another approved higher education institution also must provide valid ACT or SAT scores or take an entrance test.

Any student with ACT or SAT or entrance test scores below college level in reading and no college credit is required to take a placement test. Placement testing must be completed before the first day of classes. Students whose scores are below college level in math or English must enroll in corequisite college-level courses. (See Mandatory Placement of Degree Admission Students  for additional information.)

Students experiencing difficulty in college-level courses may see the dean of the Mathematics or English department to request enrollment in a corequisite course.

It is recommended that any student enrolled in at least one corequisite course take COLL 1500  College Success. All students who test into reading courses will take COLL 1500 as a corequisite. Any student may elect to take COLL 1500.

English as a second language. If their assessment results indicate the need, students whose first language is not English enroll in the same corequisite math courses as do native speakers. However, to help those students acquire the particular skills needed to write English effectively, the College offers learning support in specially designed corequisite courses in reading and writing. To enroll in these courses, students must submit minimum TOEFL scores.

For additional information about corequisite courses, call (865) 694-6556.

Academic Retention Practices

Academic support services. Pellissippi State is committed to providing services needed to support students’ academic success. Students who are experiencing difficulties in meeting the requirements of their program of study are encouraged to meet with Counseling Services. Counselors can identify available resources and services to assist students in achieving their educational goals by (1) making referrals to appropriate offices or agencies to address students’ individual needs, (2) helping with the selection of a major based on career interests and abilities and (3) providing personal counseling and personal development workshops. There is a Counseling Services office on each campus. In addition, tutoring services are available free of charge in the Academic Support Center at each Pellissippi State campus.

Academic Probation Standards

Academic probation. A student who fails during any term to attain a cumulative GPA at or above the level indicated below for the hours attempted will be placed on academic probation for the subsequent term:

Total Hours Attempted Minimum Required GPA
14 and under No minimum
Over 14 to 26 1.0
Over 26 to 40 1.4
Over 40 to 48 1.7
Over 48 to 56 1.9
Over 56 2.0

(I, P, NP and W grades are not used in calculating GPA.)

Academic suspension. At the end of the probationary term, a student on academic probation who has failed to attain either the above cumulative standard or a 2.0 GPA for that term will be suspended for one term. For the student who is suspended at the end of the spring term, the following fall term is considered to be the term of suspension. The second occurrence will subject the student to a three-term suspension.

Appeals. A student who has been suspended may request continuance because of special circumstances through Counseling Services. A student allowed to continue will receive academic counseling and will develop an academic intervention plan that could result in a reduction in course load; redirection in program selection, testing and/or course placement; and required attendance at workshops on topics relating to academic planning and goal setting.

Graduation Requirements

Requirements include the following:

  1. Minimum residence for associate’s degrees. At least 25 percent of the credit hours for an associate’s degree must be completed at Pellissippi State. In addition, at least 12 hours of coursework in the major preceding graduation with an Associate of Applied Science degree must be completed at Pellissippi State.
    Minimum residence for certificates. Thirty percent or more of the total credit hours required for certificate completion must be completed at Pellissippi State.
  2. Minimum credit hours. Each candidate must complete at least 60 credit hours to be eligible for the associate’s degree.
  3. Minimum grade point average. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 on all college-level coursework at Pellissippi State is required for graduation.
  4. Major studies. Completion of the curriculum for the chosen major is required for graduation.
  5. Degree application. Each prospective candidate must apply to graduate by the announced deadline in the semester of anticipated graduation. Students should meet with an academic advisor in order to apply to graduate through myPellissippi and sign up for the exit exam.
  6. Catalog option. A student must meet the requirements for graduation under any one catalog in effect during the student’s attendance at Pellissippi State, provided that the catalog used is within six years of the date of graduation for degree programs. Articulation agreements may specify shorter completion periods. This option does not exempt anyone from the general requirements of Pellissippi State.
  7. Exit testing. Each graduating student is required by the Tennessee Board of Regents to take a test of general competency (exit exam). The exam is a test of college-level skills in reading, writing, critical thinking and mathematics. It is designed to measure the academic skills developed through general education courses, rather than the subject knowledge specifically taught in those courses. This test does not affect the student’s graduating status; it is a measure of how well Pellissippi State educates its students. Students are encouraged to do their best, since Pellissippi State’s evaluation and future funding are based on student performance. Major testing also may be required in selected fields.
  8. Candidates for the Associate of Science in Teaching degree must attain a 2.75 grade point average, successfully complete the Praxis Core exam and achieve satisfactory disposition evaluation ratings. All A.S.T. students must meet the requirements of state law (TCA 49-5-413) by submitting to a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation criminal history records check and supplying a fingerprint sample.
  9. Candidates for a second associate’s degree must meet the following requirements:
    1. The first degree must have been awarded by Pellissippi State or another associate’s degree-granting institution of higher learning.
    2. A minimum of 15 semester hours of coursework must have been completed at Pellissippi State beyond requirements for the first associate’s degree.
    3. All curriculum requirements for Pellissippi State must be met.
    4. A 2.0 grade point average must be attained on all college-level coursework.
    5. A second degree cannot be awarded under the same Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code as the first degree.

Commencement exercises are scheduled at the end of the fall and spring semesters of each academic year.