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College of Nursing

Academic Regulations

Good Standing

A student in good standing is defined as a student who: 

  • Maintains the proper GPA
  • Maintains the proper course load (without incompletes)
  • Is not on academic probation
  • Does not have two consecutive semesters of non-enrollment
  • Is on an approved leave of absence
  • Is not on financial hold nor carrying past due balances
  • Has completed the immunizations, background check, and drug screening processes with no identified problems 

A student must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 to remain in good academic standing and to graduate from the College of Nursing and the University. 

Academic Probation 

A student will be placed on probation if they 

  • Has a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0 (B) at the end of any semester student is allowed one calendar year to raise the cumulative GPA to at least 3.00.
  • Has a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0 due to conversion of grades of incomplete at end of semester in which the grade is posted. Student is allowed one major semester of probation dating from the semester in which the Incomplete conversion grade is received by the Registrar to raise the cumulative GPA to 3.00 or above.
  • Has earned less than a minimum grade of 80% (B) in any graduate course work.  If a grade lower than B is earned, this course must be repeated in order to enroll in subsequent nursing courses. However, the initial below B grade remains on the student record and counts toward the “Two C Rule” (see Academic Dismissal).  

Academic Dismissal and Appeals for Reinstatement  

A student will be dismissed from the College of Nursing if they: 

  • Receive two grades of 79.99% (C+) or lower in the same NURS course or in any two NURS courses.
  • Fail a required graduate course twice or withdrawing from the course on the first attempt and failing the course on the second attempt or vice versa.  A student may only attempt a specific graduate course twice in the graduate program.  An attempt is any grade or W received in a course.  
  • Have a grade of ‘U’ in two courses
  • Have a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0 at end of one calendar year of academic probation.
  • Have a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0 at end of major semester of probation dating from the semester in which the Incomplete conversion grade is received by the Registrar.
  • Are banned from a clinical agency because of unprofessional, unethical, or illegal behavior.  
  • Have a professional (RN or APRN) licensure suspension or revocation. 
  • A student in a post-license program who becomes no longer licensed or has any form of restriction/probation as a registered professional nurse by any license granting authority, no longer meet the admission criteria of the program and are no longer eligible to progress. The student will need to notify the program director immediately of the change in their licensure status.  An academic record hold will be placed on the student’s records. The hold may be released upon becoming licensed or restriction/probation removed. 

Appeals for reinstatement from students should be reviewed first by the Executive Director of Student Affairs. If the appeal is approved, then the Student Petitions Committee must forward it to the Dean of the Graduate School for action. (see Student Petitions Committee).  

Grading Policies 

The College of Nursing uses a 10-point grading scale with no grade rounding.  

  • A   = 90-100
  • B+ = 87-89.99 
  • B   = 80-86.99 
  • C+ = 77-79.99
  • C   = 70-76.99
  • D+ = 67-69.99 
  • D   = 60-66.99 
  • F   = 59.99 or lower 

The Grade Point Average (GPA) is tabulated at the end of each semester.  The University of South Carolina grades on a standard 4.0 grading system.  

Graduate School Academic Forgiveness 

The Graduate School Academic Forgiveness Policy is outlined in the Graduate Student Bulletin in the Academic Regulations section.

Course or Clinical Failure 

If a required course is failed, it must be repeated at the next available offering and a satisfactory grade must be achieved. The repeated course may not be taken with the Pass/Fail Option. Any courses for which the failed course is a prerequisite may not be taken until a satisfactory grade in the prerequisite course has been achieved. However, the failing grade remains on the transcript even though the student has repeated the course and obtained a passing grade or above. The failing grade is still calculated into the cumulative GPA. 
Failure to earn a satisfactory evaluation in the clinical component inclusive of the faculty evaluation will result in a course failure regardless of other grades earned in the course.  Clinical failure may occur at any time during the semester.  Students will receive an “D” or F” in a clinical course if they fail to meet objectives or if they are removed from the clinical setting for unsafe practice or unprofessional activities at any point during the course.  Violation(s) of the Nurse Practice Act will be reported to the Board of Nursing.  
Failure to achieve a B or greater will result in repeating the entire course including clinical hours.  A student who is failing a clinical course for unsafe practice may not withdraw from the course. In the event of a failure for unsafe clinical practice, the ADGS will define the conditions under which the student may repeat the course.   

Unsafe Clinical Practice and Clinical Evaluation 

Nursing Department faculty members are academically committed to preparing students who are competent in the skills of nursing practice: technical, diagnostic and interpersonal.  Faculty members have an ethical and legal responsibility and accountability for the protection of others within the health care and larger community from unsafe, unethical, or illegal nursing practice on the part of University of South Carolina students and graduates. All students are expected to be familiar with the principles of safe, ethical, and legal practice and are expected to perform accordingly.  Therefore, students may be disciplined or dismissed from the nursing major for practice or behavior, which threatens, or has the potential to threaten, the safety of a client, family member, authorized representative, student peer, faculty member, healthcare provider, and/or self, or is unethical or illegal. Unacceptable practice may be a one-time event or a series of events.  Clinical practice may be considered unsafe when a student fails to use the nursing process effectively by engaging in one or more of the following activities.  

  1. You understand that should it be determined that if you are considered unsafe and fail to use a nursing process effectively, you will receive an academic penalty (including but not limited to:  clinical failure, course failure, suspension, expulsion from the College, or other penalties) and be referred to the Office of Academic Integrity for additional disciplinary action.  (Please note that this list is not all-inclusive.) 
     Unsafe clinical practice is at the discretion of each individual professor: 
    1. Unacceptable practice is defined as: An act(s) or behavior(s) of the type that violates the Nurse Practice Act. An act(s) or behavior(s) that violates the American Nurse Association (ANA) Code [of Ethics] for Nurses, the ANA Standards of Clinical Practice, or the College of Nursing Core Values. 
    2. An act(s) or behavior(s) that threatens, or has the potential to threaten, the physical, emotional, mental, or environmental safety of a client, family member or designate, student peer, a faculty member, health care provider, or self. 
    3. Attending clinical with active infectious disease process or when lab results are in critical range. 
    4. An act(s) or behavior(s) that is unethical, dishonest or illegal, e.g., lying or deliberately giving inaccurate information. 
    5. An act(s) or behavior(s) that constitutes nursing practice for which the student is not authorized to perform, or has not been taught, at the time of the incident. 
    6. Unauthorized entry(s) into the computer or misuse of clinical records or misuse of computer technology to violate patient, faculty or staff rights.” 
    7. A trend of behavior often characterized by being unprepared or inadequately prepared for clinicals, the classroom or in simulation. 
    8. Continued inability to perform safely, ethically, or legally without immediate/close instructor supervision (in this case, there may not be a single isolated incident of unacceptable practice, failure to progress). 
    9. A use of prescribed/non-prescribed or other substances that alter the ability to clinically reason in the classroom, simulation area or clinical environment. 
    10. Failure to recognize the need for assistance when unfamiliar with advanced practice nursing action. 
    11. Failure to take advanced practice nursing action when such action is essential to the health and safety of the client. 
    12. Failure to recognize the influence of own attitudes and behaviors on care of client. 
    13. Failure to assume responsibility for completing nursing action. 
    14. Violation of laws or rules relating to patient record confidentiality. 
    15. Classroom (online) or College behavior that is threatening or potentially harmful towards peers, instructors, advisors or others. 
    16. Unsatisfactory attendance/tardiness in clinical, simulation, advisement or classroom.  

All clinical grade determinations are completed by the course faculty in conjunction with the clinical faculty and student preceptors.  
 Determining unsafe or unsatisfactory clinical practice. An evaluation with any area of the clinical evaluation considered unsatisfactory, the course faculty will contact the preceptor and remediation may be required by the student or if warranted a clinical failure may be assigned. Clinical practice that is considered unsafe must be evaluated as such by more than one faculty member involved in the course, usually the faculty member serving as the student’s clinical instructor and the Course Director or Program Director. 
If students are found to have unsafe or unsatisfactory clinical practices faculty will then consult the ADGS who may choose to meet with the student and will consult with the faculty about potential processes to improve student performance. If it is determined that the student’s clinical practice is so unsafe that she/he must be removed from clinical, the faculty will determine if the student has failed the course. The ADGS will be consulted and will review documentation leading to the determination of unsafe practice and course failure. In collaboration with the faculty, the ADGS will determine if the student will be permitted to re-take the course or if the student is to be dismissed from the College. 

Students whose clinical performance would benefit from additional clinical exposure in order to demonstrate the expected competencies are, with course faculty and faculty advisor approval, eligible to register for NURS 769A. This experience will be allotted credit hours based on the number of clinical hours needed for remediation (1 credit = 112 hours) and must be completed in a time frame not to exceed one academic semester.  A course may be remediated only one time. 
NURS 769A will be graded on a pass/fail basis and will not be factored into the student’s cumulative grade point average. Completion of NURS 769A may not be applied to program elective requirements. 


  1. Approval to register for the remedial experience must be obtained from the faculty responsible for the course and from the Program Director as well. If the course involves activities in the simulation lab, the Director of the Simulation Lab must be involved in the planning of the remedial experience. 
  2. The student, in collaboration with course/program faculty, will design an individual experience that addresses the areas of deficit and which affords the student sufficient time and clinical exposure so that expected course outcomes are achieved. This experience will be detailed in a contract format, using the Independent Study Contract (ISC) Form, that will be signed by both student and faculty.
  3. Specific objectives for the experience should fully address the areas of deficit and be congruent with the course in which the clinical difficulties were encountered. Additionally, the student will be held to the objectives that are detailed on the course clinical evaluation form that correlates with the specific course involved.
  4. The course/program faculty must approve the plan for remediation before the student can proceed to the clinical area for practice.
  5. The course/program faculty will determine the credit allotment for this remedial experience. The tuition will be determined based on this credit allotment and will apply to the costs associated with personnel costs necessary to oversee this experience.
  6. Total hours completed during the remediation experience is not to exceed the number of hours originally assigned to the course.
  7. At the conclusion of the experience, the student will complete the clinical evaluation tool as part of the self-evaluation process.  Additionally, in narrative form, the student will evaluate his/her success in achieving the goals that were set for this individualized experience.  All work must be accomplished with the grade of “pass” in order for the student to progress to the next level and for the successful completion of the course to be noted on the transcript.
  8. A copy of all materials related to the completion of this course will be maintained in the student’s file. 

Current Competence in Advanced Physical Assessment Policy 

Time away from clinical learning experiences is essential in determining whether the student needs to demonstrate current competence in advanced physical assessment. If more than two semesters have lapsed since the student was active in advanced clinical learning, current competence in advanced physical assessment must be demonstrated before progression in the clinical sequence begins. 

Components assessed in demonstration of current competence are: 

  • Demonstration of a comprehensive physical assessment (mandatory);
  • Comprehensive documentation of physical examination findings (mandatory);
  • Written comprehensive history of present illness (HPI) (completed at the discretion of the Program Director). 

Successful demonstration of current competence as described above depends on adequate preparation for this examination. Faculty assistance in preparation for the examination is an additional educational activity. As such, faculty time and additional resources are directly billable to the student. The amount billed is calculated based on time and resources required. 
A maximum of two attempts to demonstrate current competence is allowed. Demonstration is graded on a pass/fail basis. Demonstration, pass or fail, is not calculated in the student’s GPA.  Failure to demonstrate current competence requires repeating NURS 704 at the student’s expense and achieving a passing grade. Failure to demonstrate current competence also delays re-entry into the clinical course sequence. The student may need to take a leave of absence until she or he is able to rejoin the clinical course sequence. 

Incomplete Policy

 A student who fails to complete a course within the prescribed period and does not withdraw from the course will receive, at the instructor’s discretion, either a grade of I (incomplete) or F (failure). If an I grade is granted but not completed in the time period outlined the grade will revert to a F or faculty determined grade. 

A grade of incomplete in a non-clinical course is assigned by the instructor only under the following conditions: 

  • The student has academic good standing in the course with a passing grade average.
  • The student has no more than two outstanding course requirements unmet in the course.
  • The student and instructor have completed an Assignment of Incomplete Grade Form (AS-5).
  • The student and instructor have an agreed date of submission for all outstanding course requirements. The student has up to 12 months to complete the work unless the instructor has given an earlier deadline.  

Any grade of incomplete which remains after one calendar year from date of assignment automatically converts to either an “F” or the backup grade assigned by the instructor.

A grade of incomplete in a clinical (theory and practice) course is assigned by the instructor only under the following conditions: 

  • The student has academic good standing in the course with a passing grade average.
  • The student has clinical good standing in the course with no record of clinical practice errors risking patient safety in the course.
  • The student has no more than two outstanding course requirements unmet in the course
  • The student has completed the majority of any required clinical hours (e.g. more than 50% of clinical hours are completed) in the course.
  • The student and instructor have completed an Assignment of Incomplete Grade Form (AS-5).
  • The student and instructor have an agreed date of submission for all outstanding course requirements. The student has up to 12 months to complete the work unless the instructor has given an earlier deadline.  

Carrying this grade may hold severe implications of failure to progress to next term with delay in the student’s academic and clinical progression of an academic term or full academic year.  
Any grade of incomplete which remains after one calendar year from date of assignment automatically converts to either an “F” or the backup grade assigned by the instructor. 

Prescriptive Authority and APRNs 

The South Carolina Board of Nursing accepts the USC College of Nursing curricula and pharmacology hours as meeting the minimum of 45 contact hours of education for prescriptive authority licensure designation.   

  • The 45 didactic hours taken in NURS 702 are also sufficient for initial approval of prescriptive authority in accordance with the Laws Governing Nursing in South Carolina, section 40-33-34, if the application is made within two years of graduation from either the MSN degree program or a Certificate of Graduate Study in Advanced Practice Nursing degree program.
  • Students must maintain continuous enrollment in their program of study or must repeat Nursing 702 Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics to meet the Board of Nursing application requirements for prescriptive authority. The University defines continuous enrollment as 2 or 3 major semesters per academic year Fall, Spring and Summer.  
  • If students do not remain continuously enrolled or do not apply for their license within 2 years of graduation, they will have to meet the Board of Nursing requirements for additional continuing education in pharmacology.
  • Any student who will be looking to be certified outside of SC should check with their intended state Board of Nursing to determine the specific requirements.   

Examination Policies 

  1. All exams must be completed by the due date/time. Failure to complete any exam by the due date/time will result in a grade of 0 for that assignment. In case of emergencies and/or extenuating circumstances, please notify the faculty in advance.
  2. Point deductions will be incurred for failure to complete the exams in the designated time frame.  If you exceed the time limits for the exams, 2 points per minute will be subtracted from the grade.
  3. Discussion or reproduction of any online assessment (e.g. exams or quizzes) in any form is a violation of academic integrity and, if it happens, will be reported.
  4. All exams must be proctored. Students have 2 options for taking proctored exams: 
    1. Testing center at USC Columbia. No Fee.
    2. Proctor U. Per exam fee paid by the student. 

Degree Completion 

Application for a Degree 

To be eligible for graduation a student must meet all University and College of Nursing standards for receiving a degree.  Candidates for degrees must file a formal application during the last semester before graduation prior to the deadline set by the Registrar’s Office.  Deadlines are posted for each term on the official academic calendar of the University Registrar.  Applications filed after the deadline result will not be accepted and will delay receipt of diploma.  At the time of graduation, the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) must be at least 3.00. Additionally, the student’s average on all grades recorded on the program of study for courses numbered 700 or above must be at least 3.00 and all courses listed on the program of study must be at least 3.00. 



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