Jun 25, 2024  
2023-24 Catalog 
2023-24 Catalog

Instructional Policies and Procedures

Instructional Policies and Procedures

Academic Freedom Grades and Transcripts
Academic Honesty Graduation
Academic Standards Honors
Attendance Instructional Cycle
Auditing A Class Instructional Grievance Process
Catalog Information Military Credit Acceptance
Course Requirements Progress Standards for Financial Aid Recipients
Credits Student Complaint Policy
Examinations Veterans Credit
Final Examinations for Courses  

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom allows all faculty to seek and present knowledge in their respective disciplines. Faculty members are free to explore problems and issues, without fear of interference from administrators, the Board of Trustees, governmental agencies, the public, students or parents of students. Faculty members have a basic responsibility to promote freedom of thought, expression and the pursuit of knowledge.

Faculty members have an obligation to protect students’ rights to freedom of inquiry. In using potentially controversial materials, the faculty member has the obligation to ensure the material meets the valid educational objectives of the class. Faculty members have the responsibility to exercise reasonableness and good judgment in their presentations and to function within the ethics and standards of their respective disciplines and the teaching profession.

Academic Honesty

Students are expected to maintain a high standard of honesty in their academic work. Cheating and plagiarism are specifically prohibited under the college’s Student Rights and Responsibilities provisions.

Acts of cheating may include submitting for credit work that is not the student’s own, copying examination answers from fellow students or other sources or assisting other students in acts of these kinds.

Plagiarism, the presentation of another’s writing or ideas as one’s own, can take a number of forms - failing to cite sources, copying source texts or online sources without quotation, or inadequately paraphrasing or synthesizing source materials.

Students who are unsure of what might constitute plagiarism or cheating are encouraged to consult their instructors, class materials and other college resources for guidance.

Academic Standards

The Academic Standards Policy (ASP) applies for students who have either a quarterly and/or cumulative GPA below 2.0. The goal and purpose of ASP is to provide support for students so they can examine their educational journey while working with the college to pave a successful road ahead to their educational goals.

Since the 2019-2020 academic year, the Academic Standards Policy implementation has been placed on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other related matters. Starting April 2023, Highline College is phasing in the Academic Standards Policy. A full implementation is expected during the 2023-2024 academic year.

Types of Academic Status

  • Satisfactory Academic Standing: Satisfactory Academic Standing is a status indicating a student is meeting the academic standards policy requirements by maintaining a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above.
  • Early Notification: Early notification is provided to students who are meeting the academic standards policy, but whose quarterly GPA is below a 2.0. This emphasizes the importance of academic standards and the availability of campus support services. Students on early notification are encouraged to utilize campus resources and services to maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher.
  • Academic Probation: Academic Probation is a status indicating a student is not meeting the academic standards policy requirements. Students are on Academic Probation if both their cumulative and quarterly GPAs are below a 2.0. Students on Academic Probation receive notification about campus resources and services to increase their GPA to 2.0 and above.
  • Academic Alert: Academic Alert is a status indicating a student is not meeting the academic standards policy, but making quarterly progress to increase their cumulative GPA. Students are on Academic Alert if their cumulative GPA is below a 2.0 and quarterly GPA is 2.0 or above. Students on Academic Alert are encouraged to utilize campus resources and services to increase their GPA to 2.0 and above.
  • Academic Suspension: Academic Suspension is a status indicating a student has repeatedly not met the academic standards policy. Students are on Academic Suspension if their cumulative and quarterly GPAs are below 2.0 for two or more consecutive quarters. A registration block is placed on Academic Suspension students, preventing the enrollment of courses. Students are required to complete a Student Success Plan to have the block lifted.

The Student Success Plan provides an opportunity for reflection and planning for future quarters. In addition, the Retention and Completion Services department staff will reach out to the student to provide additional resources and services in response to the submitted Student Success Plan.


Students are expected to attend all sessions of their classes. Some instructors may require class attendance as part of their grading criterion. Only students in a valid enrollment status may attend classes.

Auditing a Class

Students may enroll in a course and choose the audit option if they meet the course prerequisites.  This option allows students to participate in courses to explore or review a subject and not receive a grade.  An audit does not calculate into the quarterly or cumulative GPA and is not included in the number of credits attempted or completed.  A grade of “N” will be reflected on the transcript.  Regular tuition and fees are charged.  Students interested in auditing a class must have their instructor sign a Registration Add/Drop Form approving the audit.  This form must be submitted to the Registration and Records Office by the Friday of the first week of the quarter (or the Thursday of the first week of summer quarter).  Students who choose to audit may participate in the course to the extent that they desire, and are encouraged to discuss their desired outcomes with the instructor early in the quarter.  Courses approved for audit may not be changed to credit classes.

Audits may not satisfy the requirements of various special funding, visa status and dual-enrollment programs including Running Start, High School Completion, Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language and is not an option for students who utilize funding from Veteran’s Affairs (VA), Financial Aid, Workforce Education and/or Workfirst.

Catalog Information

Highline’s catalog contains general information about the college and its programs, courses, services, staff and policies. Information is subject to change between catalog updates. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with all academic and administrative regulations and procedures that relate to their course of study.

Course Requirements

Students are responsible for meeting the requirements of any course in which they are enrolled. Instructors will inform students of course requirements in the course syllabus.


College Credits

Highline College operates on quarter credit hours.  Courses offered during the instructional year are assigned credit values of one or more credits. In general, a class that meets two hours a week awards two hours of credit per quarter; one that meets five hours a week awards five credit hours. Some classes, such as laboratories, may vary from this pattern.

Necessary preparation time will also vary according to the class and the student’s background.

Credits are earned only for courses in which students are officially enrolled.

One semester credit hour is equivalent to one and one-half quarter credit hours.

Credit Load

Students intending to enroll in more than 18 credits must meet the following conditions:

•   Have completed at least 15 credits of college level (100 or above) coursework
•   Have a 3.0 or better college-level GPA

The maximum enrollment is 23 credits per quarter.

Students seeking an exemption from the policy must submit a written request to their advisor of record.   When the advisor of record is a faculty member, the request may be approved by that instructor or that instructor’s division chair.  When there is no assigned advisor or the assigned advisor is a Student Services staff member, the request may be approved by the Vice President for Student Services (or designee).  In either case, the decision of the reviewer is final.

Examination or Challenge: A currently enrolled student who believes previous professional, business or educational experience has provided the skills and knowledge required for passing a course offered by Highline may be permitted to challenge that course by examination or other evidence that meets course learning outcomes. This process is called Prior Learning Assessment.

Courses that may be challenged and procedures for challenging can be obtained from the department that schedules the course.

Credit for this type of learning may be used for distribution or elective credit and is limited to 15 credits for the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees. For details, For details, visit https://pla.highline.edu.

Transfer Credits

Highline College grants academic credits toward its degrees for courses completed at other regionally accredited institutions. To have other colleges’ transcripts evaluated, an official transcript must be sent to the credentials evaluator along with a “Request to Evaluate Official Transcripts from Other Institutions” form.


All examinations must be taken at the times scheduled by the instructors. A request to take an examination at any other time must be approved by the instructor.

Final Examinations for Courses

A final examination or evaluation is part of each course. Students are required to take the final examination or participate in the evaluation at the scheduled time in order to complete the course and receive credit. A final examination schedule is included in the quarterly class schedule.

Grades and Transcripts

Highline College is committed to integrity and transparency in our grading practices. This policy provides the following system of grading and grade point averages for reporting attainment of course learning outcomes.

Grade Report

Grades are available approximately five days after the quarter ends at https://registration.highline.edu/registration/dates-and-deadlines/

Grading System

Highline uses a numerical grading system to measure and evaluate student performance. Instructors are responsible for measuring and evaluating the performance of their students and must provide a course syllabus that clearly defines the grading requirements for each course.

Instructors may report numerical grade points within a range of 0.7 to 4.0, in 0.1 increments. The grade of 0.0 does not satisfy minimum academic standards for earning credit.

Numerical grades measure achievement according to the following standards:

4.0 Highest achievement
2.0 Satisfactory achievement
0.7 Minimum achievement for credit
0.0-0.6 No credit

Note: Students are responsible for checking with appropriate departments for minimum grades required for certificate program completion or as prerequisites for higher-level courses.  Per the college’s General Degree Requirements, any course taken in an AA, AS, or AAS degree must be a D (1.0 GPA) or better.

CR: Credit. A grade of Credit (CR) may be granted for completion of course requirements at the 2.0 level or above. A CR grade must be initiated by the student at the time of registration or by the 11th instructional day of the quarter (an equivalent date is listed in the quarterly class schedule for summer).

Only 15 CR credits are applicable toward the Associate of Arts Option A degree. CR credits may or may not be recognized by other institutions. Other degrees and programs will designate the maximum number of applicable CR credits. Divisions may designate specific courses which are only graded CR/NC.

I: Incomplete. An instructor may issue an I when the following conditions apply:

  • A student was still registered for the class after the official withdrawal date;
  • A student satisfactorily (grade of 2.0 or higher) completed at least 80 percent of the total coursework but was not able to complete all coursework due to extenuating circumstances;
  • A student and instructor have agreed on a date of completion to occur within the following 12 months;

The I will be converted to a numerical grade or CR/NC upon completion of the course requirements. If the I is not removed through the completion of the requirements after 12 months, it will be converted to the grade earned, as shown on the “Incomplete Grade Contract.” This converted grade may not be changed.  If an I grade is submitted and the instructor and student fail to file an Incomplete Grade Contract within one quarter, the I grade will be convert to a 0.0.

N: Audit. Students may enroll for a course on an audit (N) basis. Regular tuition and fees are charged. The N does not carry decimal points.

NC: No Credit. NC indicates a student did not satisfactorily complete course requirements at the 2.0 level to receive credit. The NC grade is used only for courses designated by an instructional division as CR/NC, and carries no GPA calculation.

R: Repeated Class. The symbol R, “Repeat-Excluded” or “Repeat-Included” indidates a course has been repeated.

W: Withdrawal. The W grade indicates that the student withdrew from the course, in keeping with college withdrawal policies. The W carries no credit, indicates neither passing nor nonpassing work at the time of withdrawal and does not affect GPA. Some courses, identified in the catalog and/or quarterly class schedule, require group participation and are not eligible for a W without the instructor’s permission.

If a withdrawal to the registrar’s office is submitted on or before the 10th instructional day of the quarter (an equivalent date will be listed in the quarterly class schedule for summer) the class will not be reported on the transcript.

First-week nonattendance. In order to accommodate students waiting to register for a course, instructors have the discretion to initiate a withdrawal at the end of the first week of the quarter (or its equivalent for summer). This withdrawal may be authorized when students do not attend at least 60 percent of the class time during the first week. Students should contact their instructors to request an exception to this policy so that in the event of unavoidable absences they will not be withdrawn.

Missing Grade A grade that is missing is indicated by a blank or an asterisk (*) when no grade was received from the instructor.

Repeating a Course

A student may enroll in a course no more than three times (the original enrollment plus two repeats). If a course is repeated for a higher grade, students will receive credit for the course only once. Only the highest grade will be included in the calculation of the Highline GPA. 

The repeat course rule is automatically applied to repeated courses in which a grade is earned, including classes in which a “W” withdrawal is earned.

Grade replacement in GPA calculations cannot be applied retroactively once degree or certificate credentials are posted to the transcript.

Exceptions may include: 

A. Extenuating Circumstances—At the discretion of the college, students with extenuating circumstances may receive permission to enroll in a course for a fourth attempt. These extenuating circumstances may include, but not limited to, medical or military withdrawals as defined in state statute, course required for a certificate or degree with limited or no substitute option, significant break in enrollment, grade forgiveness process, or mandated training for employment. 

B. Variable Credit Courses - A student may enroll in a variable credit course as many times as necessary to complete the entire curriculum and credit value of the course. However, a student may not repeat any portion of a variable credit course that has already been completed.  A student cannot earn duplicate credits for the same variable-credit course, but they can take the course to

 earn a higher GPA

Students who retake a previously passed course more than once may become ineligible for federal or state financial aid. Students who receive veteran benefits cannot be certified for or receive compensation for repeating a course they have previously passed.

Grade Forgiveness Policy

(Approved by Faculty Senate, June 2, 2010)

This policy provides an option for qualified students to set aside or exclude quarters previously attempted or completed from the GPA, when the coursework does not reflect their true academic ability.

With written approval of the advisor, students who meet the conditions outlined below may petition the Registrar to exclude grades from their transcripts that negatively affect their cumulative credits and cumulative GPA. All courses and credits prior to the selected quarter will be excluded.

Option 1

  1. Student has not been enrolled for at least 1 year.
  2. Student must have completed 15 credits with a 2.5 GPA or better (since returning to Highline).

Option 2

  1. Student has less than a year’s break in enrollment.
  2. Student must have completed 30 credits with a 2.5 GPA or better (after the most recent quarter to be excluded)

Further conditions:

Students cannot select individual courses or quarters for forgiveness. For example, if a student wishes to exclude courses in which failing or poor grades were received during the fourth quarter at Highline, all work taken during the first four quarters would be excluded.

Credits and grade points for excluded courses will be changed to zero (0) and will not be included in the Highline credit total and GPA. The course number, course title, and original grade will remain on the transcript.

Once forgiven, courses and credits may not be reinstated, may not be used as prerequisites, and may not apply toward degree requirements. Students will be allowed to have Grade Forgiveness applied once.

Financial Aid does not honor Grade Forgiveness.

Although Highline College makes provisions for Grade Forgiveness, students should not assume that other colleges to which they transfer will compute the GPA in the same manner. Only the Highline record can be set aside; the College cannot set aside records from other colleges.

Grade Forgiveness Request” forms are available at the Registration Office, Building 6, lower level.


An official transcript is a grade report of academic achievement and carries the signature of the registrar and the college seal. Institutions receiving a transcript will interpret it according to their own policies.

Official transcripts can be ordered online through https://registration.highline.edu/student-records/official-transcripts/. A fee for each transcript is payable at the time of the request. Current fees are available at registration.highline.edu/fees.php.

For an unofficial copy of a transcript, visit https://registration.highline.edu/student-records/unofficial-transcript-request/


Transcripts from Other Schools

Highline does not release or certify copies of transcripts from other institutions. Transcripts that have been submitted to Highline from previously attended secondary schools and colleges become part of Highline’s official file and may not be returned to the student or the college.


June commencement is a ceremony for those students who have completed or plan to complete their degree or certificate during fall, winter or spring of the current academic year, or the summer quarter immediately following. Participation is not required. Ceremony participation does not guarantee degree completion.

Highline encourages all students to apply for graduation through ctcLink once a student has registered for their final quarter of classes. 

Submission of the application for graduation form initiates an evaluation of all coursework applicable to the degree indicated. Upon completion of this process, students are notified of the results. 

The Graduation Review Board considers requests for substitutions and waivers to degree requirements. Such requests must be submitted in writing to the Graduation Review Board.


Highest Scholastic Achievement Award

The Highest Scholastic Achievement Award is presented each commencement to the graduating student(s) who has attained the highest GPA and who has completed all degree requirements by the end of the spring quarter of the academic year of graduation. “Highest Scholastic Achievement Award” will be printed on the transcript.

Honors at Graduation

A student completing an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree who achieves a college-level cumulative GPA of 3.5 to 4.0 is eligible for honors at graduation. The transcript will indicate “Honors”. Winter quarter GPA is used for students who are scheduled to complete degree requirements during spring or summer quarter.

Honors Scholar

Students with a 3.5 GPA or higher, who have completed the 35 required honors credits, will graduate as Highline Honors Scholars. For information, see “Honors Scholar” in the Other Instructional Programs  section.

Quarterly President’s and Vice President’s Lists

A student completing 12 or more credit hours of courses numbered 100 and above during any quarter at Highline College with a term GPA of 3.5 to 3.99 and with no grade below 2.0 or an incomplete (I grade) is placed on the Vice President’s List for the quarter. A student with a 4.0 GPA will be placed on the President’s List. The transcript will indicate’ “Vice President’s List” or “President’s List” for the quarter(s) involved. Honors are generally posted to the transcript the third week of the following quarter.

Instructional Cycle

College Year: The college instructional year consists of fall, winter and spring quarters of approximately 11 weeks each and a summer quarter of about eight weeks.

During the instructional year, class sections are offered during the early morning, late afternoon and evening hours at the college and at other sites throughout the district. Transfer, professional-technical and basic skills courses are offered during summer quarter, as well.

College Quarters: Highline offers classes on a quarterly schedule. Fall quarter classes begin in late September, winter quarter begins in January and spring quarter begins in late March or early April. Summer quarter begins in June.

Instructional Grievance Process

Highline College provides a process through which students can seek resolution of complaints about instructional matters. Typically, these matters include grades and classroom practices. Complaints must be initiated within 120 days of the end of the quarter in which the precipitating incident(s) occurred.  Excluded from this process are those complaints for which other specific remedies are provided such as Title IX discrimination claims. 

An attempt should be made to resolve all instructional complaints in an informal manner. The interests of all are best served when complaints are resolved at the lowest possible level of the administrative structure.

Step 1: Discussion with Faculty Member

The student should first discuss the situation with the faculty member involved, before meeting with anyone else. Any employee of the college receiving a complaint concerning a faculty member shall encourage the complainant to meet with the faculty member involved.

Step 2: Discussion with Department Coordinator and/or Division Chair

If the student has already discussed the matter with the faculty member or refuses to do so, and desires to pursue the complaint, the student will be directed to meet with the division chair if the complaint is against a full-time faculty member, or with the department coordinator if the complaint is against a part-time faculty member.

Upon hearing the complaint, the chair or department coordinator should attempt to facilitate resolution by encouraging further discussions between complainant and the faculty member, using a third-party intermediary if necessary.  If after all attempts at an informal resolution have failed, the following steps must occur.

Step 3: Written Grievance to Division Chair and Faculty Member

If all attempts at an informal resolution have failed, the student must submit in writing to the chair and the faculty member involved the complaint and a chronology of the attempts at resolution. The interests of all are served by dealing with complaints in a timely manner.  The division chair will promptly forward a copy of all these materials to the faculty member.  In the exceptional case where the division chair feels that the interest of satisfactory resolution is best served by temporarily delaying processing of the complaint, the chair may delay forwarding the materials to the faculty member by a maximum of 12 months from the date of submission of the written complaint.  After receiving the materials from the division chair, the faculty member may choose to send the chair a written response to the complaint.

After reviewing the complaint with the parties involved, the chair will provide, in a timely manner, a written response to the complainant and faculty member, which includes the chair’s resolution to the complaint. Failure of the faculty member to comply with the resolution, if applicable, will be considered the same complaint and will be appealed to the chair.

Step 4: Appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs

If the student wishes to pursue the matter, they must provide to the Vice President for Academic Affairs all written materials initially provided to the chair and the response from the chair.

Upon reviewing the complaint with the appropriate parties, the Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) will provide an opportunity for the faculty member and the complainant to submit additional materials related to the written complaint. The Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) may consider other related complaints in reaching a resolution.

Prior to issuing a written response, the faculty member will have the opportunity to review all written materials the Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) has considered in resolving the complaint(s). Copies of the Vice President for Academic Affairs’ (or designee’s) resolution will be sent to the complainant and the faculty member. 

Military Credit Acceptance

The following procedures ensure that each active duty military service-member and veterans receive the maximum amount of college credit for military training possible:

  1. Highline College evaluates every military transcript received from the service member and/or veteran pursuing an education at Highline.
  2. Highline uses the American Council on Education (ACE), “A Guide to the Evaluation on Educational Experiences in the Armed Services” as a guide.  ACE translates all military and occupations into academic credit recommendations, and provides guidelines to interpret and recommend credit for college courses.
  3. Highline accepts ACE military course recommendations for both the amount of credit suggested, and the level of the credit recommended (upper or lower division credit) under the following circumstances where the military course must match a required course listed in the student’s area or degree or pursuit.
  4. ACE credits that do not match any courses in any degree of pursuit may be accepted as elective credits when possible (subject to limits of the degree program).
  5. Prior Learning Assessment credit can also be attained from military training and experience.
  6. This policy and resources will be widely and easily available to veterans and active duty military seeking enrollment at Highline College.

Progress Standards for Financial Aid Recipients

Students applying for or receiving financial aid should review the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy in order to ensure continued eligibility for financial aid. Copies of the policy are available in the Financial Aid office in Building 6 or online at https://financialaid.highline.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2022/09/Financial-Aid-Satisfactory-Academic-Progress-Policy.pdf?x62831

Student Complaint Policy

The Student Complaint policy and process is published in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 132I-310, which is available online at apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=132I-310-010.

Veterans Credit - see Military Credit Acceptance above