Undergraduate student resources

Entry codes

Entry codes are sometimes required for restricted courses or during certain registration periods. You may a request an entry code for an IAS course via our online form. Requests are processed in the order they are received.

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Staying informed


We have a number of ways to communicate with our students. One way is through our email lists, which provides relevant information about the IAS program or a specific major. You can sign up for the list that best serves your needs.

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Registration tips

You can learn more about registration policies applicable to all UW Tacoma students. If you need help determining which classes to take, getting registered or are having trouble enrolling in a class, contact your advisor in Academic Advising Center.

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Independent Study and Internship Options


We offer students the opportunity to work one-to-one with faculty in an area of shared scholarship or earn credit gaining real world experience in the work world through independent study and internships options.

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Portfolio requirements

Students in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Tacoma are expected to develop and demonstrate their abilities in writing, critical thinking, oral communication and collaborative learning through the campus' emphasis on reading and writing across the curriculum. In order to help students accomplish these goals, you may be required to compile a confidential portfolio of student work completed during the course of the your residence at UW Tacoma. The portfolio is a requirement of your major and may become a permanent part of the your record at UW Tacoma.

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Multiple majors policy

If you wish to pursue multiple majors with a bachelor of arts degree, you must complete 45 unique credits in each IAS major. If a course can count in more than one major, you may choose which major it should count under. A single course cannot count for both majors. For more information on double majors or double degrees, please see the University of Washington Tacoma catalog, Undergraduate Policies and Graduation.

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Graduation requirements

Each major or concentration has specific course requirements that can be found under the Academics section. Once you have declared your major, you may also access your specific graduation requirements through DARS.

The following graduation requirements apply to all degree-seeking IAS students:

  • Completion of all admission deficiencies
  • A minimum cumulative UW GPA of 2.0
  • A minimum of 180 quarter credits or 225 quarter credits for a double degree
  • 45 of the last 60 quarter credits taken in residence and matriculated status at UW Tacoma
  • Completion of:
    • All major or concentration requirements
    • 45 quarter credits of upper division classes (300 and 400-level)
    • 5 quarter credits of English composition with a grade of 2.0 or higher
    • 5 quarter credits of Quantitative/Symbolic Reasoning (QSR)
    • 10 quarter credits of Writing (W)
    • 20 quarter credits of Visual, Literary and Performing Arts (VLPA)
    • 20 quarter credits of Individuals and Society (I&S)
    • 20 quarter credits of Natural World (NW)
    • Minor requirements (optional)
  • Completion of Graduation Application

NOTE: You can apply for graduation as soon as you have 135 credits and are within one year of graduating. You must apply for graduation no later than the first two weeks of your final quarter. Most students apply earlier than their last quarter for two reasons:

  1. to take advantage of the two quarter "graduating senior priority" (GSP) during registration and
  2. knowing exactly what classes must be taken to complete the degree.

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Commencement

Like all of the University of Washington campuses, UW Tacoma has one commencement ceremony per year, held at the end of spring quarter. Currently, commencement is on the last Friday of finals week, and the ceremony takes place in the Tacoma Dome. The program runs about two hours.

All students who graduated in the previous summer, autumn and winter are eligible to participate, as well as those students who are going to finish their degrees in spring and the coming summer. If you expect to be a summer graduate, you have a choice which ceremony you would like to participate in, but you can only "walk" once.

Information about the ceremony and what you need to do to prepare for it can be found on the UW Tacoma Commencement page. Only students who have applied to graduate by the second week of the spring quarter are eligible to participate in commencement.

Notes about commencement and graduation

There is some confusion about the differences between these two similar concepts:

Graduation

  • Graduation is that moment which occurs when an individual audit of your particular record is finished, and you are entered in the computer as having graduated in the month you finished the requirements. Once your degree has been granted, within a few days to a few weeks after grades are submitted, your name is included in a batch to be printed on a diploma, and it takes six (6) weeks to a few months for you to receive it in the mail.

Commencement

  • Commencement is a formal ceremony. We work with the best available information we have to construct an accurate and meaningful event; however, it is not the official moment of degree granting. You do not receive your actual diploma during the ceremony.

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Academic honors and societies

Quarterly Dean's List

The quarterly high scholarship list includes the names of matriculated students who have attained a quarterly GPA of 3.50 for at least 12 graded credits. Notation of high scholarship is made on the student's permanent academic record. More information about the Dean's List is available in the UW Tacoma Catalog.

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Graduating with Honors

  • Baccalaureate honors (cum laude, summa cum laude and magna cum laude) are awarded only to the recipients of a first baccalaureate degree. These honors are earned by those students who have completed no fewer than 90 residence credits at this institution. At least 60 of the 90 credits must have been on a graded basis. The University's Honors Committee determines annually the grade-point requirement for each baccalaureate honor. In recent years, approximately 10 percent of the students have been awarded baccalaureate honors. Credits earned by extension courses are not counted toward honors eligibility. For further information on honors thresholds, check with your IAS advisor. Students with baccalaureate honors wear golden cords at commencement.
     
  • Faculty honors are awarded to those students who have met the GPA criteria for baccalaureate honors (cum laude or higher), but who have fewer than 90 credits in residence at UW Tacoma. Students with faculty honors wear purple cords at commencement.

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IAS Honors Thesis/Project


The Honors Thesis/Project is available to IAS seniors who would like to graduate "with honors." To qualify, a student must:
  1. have earned a 3.7 cumulative GPA at the time of application and at the time of graduation;
  2. submit a formal application to the IAS office;
  3. meet all program and major requirements; and
  4. write a graded senior honors thesis (10 credits, typically over 2 quarters - research in the first and writing in the second). Students must register for the Honors Thesis/Project using this Independent Study Form.

All work on an honors thesis/project must be arranged between the student and a full-time faculty member. When all requirements have been completed, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Honors will appear on the student's transcript. No honor cord is linked to IAS honors.

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Honorary Societies at UW Tacoma

  • UW Tacoma is the home of the Alpha Theta Gamma chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society. Students eligible for Phi Alpha Theta must have completed five (5) college-level history courses (including those taken at other institutions) in which they earned a 3.3 and carry a cumulative GPA of 3.3. Contact the faculty advisor, Mike Allen, for more information.
     
  • The Golden Key International Honor Society on the Seattle campus welcomes Tacoma students. The criteria for joining Golden Key is the completion of 35 credits with a cumulative GPA of 3.58. Golden Key sends out invitations in winter quarter to eligible UW Tacoma students.

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Keys to success

Study habits

Most students who earn good grades study 20 to 30 hours a week, depending on the courses they carry that quarter. Professors have an expectation that you will study two hours for each hour you are in class. The pace of a quarter system schedule demands that you keep up with your homework and plan ahead to handle the large assignments. If you haven't already done this type of planning, you need to learn the skills of time (and project) management. By breaking large assignments down into manageable pieces and scheduling intermediate deadlines, you will get your homework done on time and it won't be a "rush job," but something you can be proud of. You also will be learning something even more important — how to tackle a big job. Once you have an academic track record of doing this, you can convince a future employer that you have the experience they are looking for.

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Manage your time and study effectively

There is enough time to study, work and play hard, if you handle your day in the right way. Many good study skills books are available at the University Book Store. The Teaching and Learning Center offers brief workshops in study skills and time management.

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Faculty advising

There are a lot of activities going on at a university, and UW Tacoma is no exception. Keep in mind that the primary relationship is between you and your instructors. That is where the bulk of the learning takes place. Take advantage of faculty office hours. Declare your major early so you become a part of a faculty member's advising group. The more contact you have with faculty, the better your educational outcome will be.

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Academic advisors

Most students benefit from advising by the IAS academic advisors. This is a two-year program for full-time students, so everyone should have some initial advising to get them on the right track. We are here to explain the majors, which major will meet your educational goals, how you can earn a degree, what courses may be best suited to you in any particular quarter. There is always a lot of change going on in the program-new instructors, new courses and changes in requirements. The academic advisors are charged with keeping up with the rules and regulations-if an exception can be made, we know how to do it. You have to see one of us to apply for graduation, but if you wait until then, chances are you may have taken a course or two you did not have to take because you were following outdated rules.

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Writing

One of the most valuable skills you can develop during a university education is the ability to write well. It is a skill universally valued by employers as well as graduate and professional programs. Writing well is more than one skill, it is a set of skills which come together with the purpose of allowing you to communicate your ideas in an effective way.

In IAS, much of your education will not occur in the classroom but in the researching and writing of papers required by your courses. It is where you will develop your own ideas and interpretations, and where you will practice organizing your thoughts into logical, persuasive arguments. Writing can be difficult for one simple reason: when you are writing, real learning is taking place. Don't avoid it. Practice it, work at it. If you need help getting started, the Teaching and Learning Center is the place to go. They can provide resources for organizing your thoughts, how to conduct research and proofreading.

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Investigate independent study options

After a few quarters at UW Tacoma, you may be interested in doing an internship, independent research or a one-on-one directed reading with your favorite professor. These independent study experiences can help you prepare for both work and graduate school by developing self-management skills.

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Finish your incomplete courses

Students in good standing may be able to have a faculty member agree to submit a grade of "I" for "incomplete." This usually happens when the student has a small amount of work left to do and some kind of emergency arises towards the end of the quarter. The rule is that a student must submit the rest of the work by the last day of classes in the next quarter. (Summer quarter does not count-so students earning a spring incomplete have until the end of the autumn quarter to finish the outstanding coursework.)

If you choose this option, be aware that the deadline often approaches quickly and the resulting grade of "0.0" is automatically posted to your record, with a resulting drop in your GPA. If you think you might need an extension beyond the one quarter allowed, check with your faculty sponsor.

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Career counseling

Students tend to think of an IAS degree as a valuable educational experience, but not much help in getting a job. Think again... IAS students have the very job skills most employers are interested in: you have proven again and again in different courses that you can start and finish projects, write well, research topics, speak effectively, work in groups, absorb knowledge and explain concepts. You may have proven that you can juggle home responsibilities including childcare and working full time while you went back to school to improve yourself. That's a powerful statement about who you are and what you can do. The students who do an internship find that it is an invaluable aid to finding employment after college.

Start thinking about your career and your goals. Your IAS advisor, faculty advisor and the staff in the Career Development and Education office are all here to help. See the section on Career Options for more details.

Be realistic about your limits

At UW Tacoma, most of the students have some sort of job, many work full time. Some are also parents or have outside obligations to their families. Be aware of the time requirements for in-class and out-of-class work and balance those with your personal and work commitments. Consider decreasing your course load so that you have time to meet all of your obligations. Trying to do more than is reasonable for you may land you in a no-win situation. If you already feel in over your head, talk to your instructors and an IAS advisor about your available options.

Address personal and health problems immediately. One of the worst mistakes students make is to deny that they are overloaded or unable to cope. You may need to lighten your load by dropping a class; you may decide to leave school for a quarter; or you may have a frank talk with your instructor about alternatives. If a personal problem is keeping you from concentrating on your studies, discuss the situation with a counselor and work out a solution. No one can make these decisions for you.

The university has policies restricting class drops after the second week of the quarter. You are permitted only one class drop per year after the second week through the seventh week of the quarter, unless you can document true "hardship" (usually a medical reason). You must finish the quarter with all your courses once the annual drop is used. This can mean a grade of "0.0" appears on your transcript if you stop attending class. This can have a devastating effect on your GPA.

When contemplating putting too much on your plate, ask yourself, "What's the point?" Are you really trying to just get a degree at any cost, or do you want to take the time to savor the experience and come out with a degree and a GPA you can be proud of? A meaningful degree bolsters your confidence that you can take on challenges and meet your other responsibilities in an organized way.

Students receiving financial aid should remember that any changes in their status from full time to part time (under 12 credits) need to be discussed with a financial aid advisor. They are willing to help you understand the system and get you back on your feet.

At UW Tacoma, our goal is to help you get a meaningful education, not just a degree. Although one quarter may be an acceptable amount of time to feel a lot of pressure from work, home and school, two years is not. Be realistic in your planning and allow for some free time. It will take a little longer to complete your degree, but the experience will be worth it.

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Academic honesty

Cheating and plagiarism

There can be a tremendous amount of pressure on students at a university to get good grades and finish a degree. With the proliferation of web sites that peddle research papers to students, and the competitive admissions of many graduate programs, students have more temptations than ever to forget what education really means. The faculty at UW Tacoma takes academic honesty very seriously. It is at the core of our ethics and we expect students to behave accordingly. The following serves as a guideline for both students and faculty. This statement was prepared by the Committee on Academic Conduct of the College of Arts and Sciences at the UW Seattle campus. It amplifies the Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-120). We have modified it to refer to the UW Tacoma processes and resources.

Students at the University of Washington are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic conduct. Most UW students conduct themselves with integrity and are disturbed when they observe others cheating. The information on these pages should help you avoid unintentional misconduct and clarify the consequences of cheating.

Cheating harms the university community in many ways. Honest students are frustrated by the unfairness of cheating that goes undetected and therefore unpunished. Students who cheat skew the grading curve in a class, resulting in lower grades for students who worked hard and did their own work.

Cheaters also cheat themselves of a real education. They rob themselves not only of general knowledge, but also of the experience of learning how to learn, the very experience that makes a bachelor's degree so valuable to employers. The reputation of the university and the worth of a UW degree suffer if employers find graduates lacking the abilities their degrees should guarantee.

Finally, most professions have codes of ethics, standards to which you will be expected to adhere when you are working. At the university, you practice the integrity you must demonstrate later. For all of these reasons, academic misconduct is considered a serious offense at the UW.

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What is academic misconduct?

You are guilty of cheating whenever you present as your own work something that you did not do. You are also guilty of cheating if you help someone else to cheat.

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Plagiarism

One of the most common forms of cheating is plagiarism; using someone's words or ideas without proper citation. When students plagiarize, they usually do so in one of the following six ways:

  1. Using another writer's words without proper citation. If you use another writer's words, you must place quotation marks around the quoted material and include a footnote or other indication of the source of the quotation.
  2. Using another writer's ideas without proper citation. When you use another author's ideas, you must indicate with footnotes or other means where this information can be found. Your instructors want to know which ideas and judgments are yours and which you arrived at by consulting other sources. Even if you arrived at the same judgment on your own, you need to acknowledge that the writer you consulted also came up with the idea.
  3. Citing your source but reproducing the exact words of a printed source without quotation marks. This makes it appear that you have paraphrased rather than borrowed the author's exact words.
  4. Borrowing the structure of another author's phrases or sentences without crediting the author from whom it came. This kind of plagiarism usually occurs out of laziness: it is easier to replicate another writer's style than to think about what you have read and then put it in your own words. The following example is from A Writer's Reference by Diana Hacker (New York, 1989, p. 171).
    • Original: If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists.
    • Unacceptable borrowing of words: An ape who knew sign language unsettled linguists and startled animal behaviorists.
    • Unacceptable borrowing of sentence structure: If the presence of a sign language- using chimp was disturbing for scientists studying language, it was also surprising to scientists studying animal behavior.
    • Acceptable paraphrase: When they learned of an ape's ability to use sign language, both linguists and animal behaviorists were taken by surprise.
  5. Borrowing all or part of another student's paper or using someone else's outline to write your own paper.
  6. Using a paper writing "service" on the web or elsewhere, or having a friend write the paper for you. Regardless of whether you pay a stranger or have a friend do it, it is a breach of academic honesty to hand in work that is not your own or to use parts of another student's paper.

You may think that citing another author's work will lower your grade. In some unusual cases, this may be true, if your instructor has indicated that you must write your paper without reading additional material. However as you progress in your studies, you will be expected to show that you are familiar with important work in your field and can use this work to further your own thinking. Your professors write this kind of paper all the time. The key to avoiding plagiarism is that you show clearly where your own thinking ends and someone else's begins.

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Exams

Another common form of cheating involves exams. Copying from someone else's paper, using notes (unless expressly allowed by the instructor), altering an exam for regrading, getting an advance copy of the examination, or hiring a surrogate test-taker are all flagrant violations of university policy.

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Collaboration

Educators recognize the value of collaborative learning; students are often encouraged to form study groups and assigned group projects. Group study often results in accelerated learning, but only when each student takes responsibility for mastering all the material before the group.

Group projects require careful division of responsibility and careful coordination to control the quality of the final product. Collective work quickly degenerates when some students see it as a way to get through an assignment with the least amount of effort. Group work calls for a different kind of effort, not less of it. Students make a mistake when they think of the finished product (presentation or paper) as the outcome of the group. When group projects are assigned, the instructor is usually interested in your mastery of group process as well as the subject. Ask the instructor to clarify individual responsibilities and suggest a method of proceeding.

In summary, when a professor says, "Go ahead and work together," don't assume that anything goes. Professors often don't state the limits of collaboration explicitly. It is your responsibility to avoid crossing the line that turns collaboration into cheating. If you are not sure, ask.

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What happens in a case of suspected misconduct?

Instructors are advised to discuss the matter with the student and the Program Director. If the issue is not resolved within the department, the instructor will submit a Student Conduct Incident Report to the Chancellor's Office. Instructors who believe they have discovered cheating and have not resolved the issue before grades are due will submit a grade of X (the equivalent of an unreported grade) for the course until the academic misconduct charge is resolved. The Informal Hearing Body for Academics will review the allegation of academic misconduct. Students have the right to appear before this Hearing Body to offer testimony.

If the allegation of academic misconduct is found to be true, the student will receive one of the following punishments, listed in order of increasing severity.

  1. Disciplinary Warning: verbal or written notification that the student has not met the university's standards of conduct, and that a repeated offense will result in more serious disciplinary action.
  2. Reprimand: a written statement censuring a student for violating the university's regulations, and stating that another offense will result in more serious action.
  3. Restitution: requirement that the student compensate the university or other persons for damages, injuries or losses.
  4. Disciplinary Probation: an action that places conditions on the student's continued attendance at the university, including the statement that further violation of university policies will likely result in dismissal. The Hearing Body fixes the term and conditions of academic probation.
  5. Suspension or Dismissal: a written statement notifying a student that his or her attendance at the university has been terminated for violating university policy. The statement includes the term of the dismissal and conditions for re-admittance, if any.

All actions are reported to the Vice President for Student Affairs in Seattle. A student may, by written request to the V.P. for Student Affairs (usually at time of graduation), request that the disciplinary record be expunged.

NOTE: Review the Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-120) for complete details on the student judicial system.

Although the prospect of dismissal may seem the most serious consequence of dishonesty, there are others. If you apply to a medical, law or other professional school, you may be required to provide a statement from a UW official attesting to your good conduct. Furthermore, the process of being brought up on charges of dishonesty, of having one's character and integrity questioned, is invariably a deeply embarrassing and troubling experience for a student, and a very painful memory.

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Suggestions

The temptation to cheat can be eliminated by learning good time and stress management skills and sound study habits, by making good use of the academic support resources at the university and by engaging in educational planning with the help of academic counselors. Certain common patterns in student behavior increase the temptation to cheat: falling behind in coursework or leaving large projects until the last minute; working too many hours to keep up with courses; taking too many difficult courses at once; encountering emotional or health problems that distract from studies and interfere with concentration. Get in the habit of planning your education. Academic counselors can help you determine your educational goals, plan your classes, keep your quarterly load manageable and find a reasonable balance between work and school. Advising sessions are confidential and the privacy of your student record is guaranteed by federal law.

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In conclusion...

You will be expected to live up to the university's standard of academic honesty no matter what temptations you face. The good news is that this standard is not hard to maintain. It only requires that you clarify assignments and procedures with your instructors, study diligently and seek help when you need it.

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Grading

  • The University of Washington Tacoma catalog contains the academic policies that are employed in all academic programs. You may find information on grading in Section 5: Academic and University Policies of the UW Tacoma catalog.

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