The Bacc Exam

The baccalaureate examination is typically the final requirement for graduation

The Baccalaureate Examination

The baccalaureate examination, conducted by the baccalaureate committee, is an oral defense of the student’s performance in three areas: senior thesis, Area of Concentration, and the undergraduate education in general. It is typically the final requirement for graduation, coming in the final semester and presupposing completion of the senior thesis and substantial completion of the requirements for the Area of Concentration.  

No student may graduate until the quality of her/his educational achievement has been closely examined and approved by three faculty members. The ability to express ideas and information orally is assessed as part of the baccalaureate examination process.

The baccalaureate examination usually is held two or three weeks prior to the semester’s end, but examinations can be scheduled earlier. The dates reserved for baccalaureate exams, are the first three days of the 12th week and the last two days of the 14th week, are announced in the academic calendar.

The procedure for announcing baccalaureate examinations, which are open to the College community, is as follows:

Not later than one week before the baccalaureate examination, the student who is to be examined shall apply to the Division Office of his or her thesis sponsor for a room in which to hold the examination. He or she shall provide the Division with the following information:

  1. Name of student
  2. Title of thesis or project
  3. Area of Concentration
  4. Members of baccalaureate committee
  5. Date and time of examination

A Division staff member shall assign a room for the examination and the student then posts an announcement of the examination (consisting of all of the preceding information) on the Baccalaureate Announcement website, found on the Office of the Provost portal page. The student may also post paper announcements in any or all of the following places:

  1. Division Offices
  2. Library
  3. Office of the Registrar
  4. Office of Student Affairs
  5. Any available student publication

A student’s senior thesis project committee, which is also the baccalaureate committee, includes a senior thesis sponsor and at least two other faculty members, all of whom have signed the Thesis Prospectus/Area of Concentration Form on file in the Office of the Registrar.

In the event that a student wishes to change the membership of the committee, a new Thesis Prospectus/Area of Concentration Form, signed by the new committee members, must be filed in the Office of the Registrar two weeks before the baccalaureate examination.  The Office of the Registrar will notify previous committee members of the change. A baccalaureate examination may be held only with the approval of the thesis sponsor.

A satisfactory Baccalaureate Examination Report signed by all of the members of the committee must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar no later than 5 p.m. of the Friday preceding graduation week. A satisfactory Senior Thesis or Project Evaluation must be submitted online, through the Student Evaluation System by 5 p.m. of the following Monday. In addition, the student is responsible for delivering the final copy of the thesis to the Library that same day. If a baccalaureate is held and one or more members of the committee refuse to sign the baccalaureate examination form, then the student may:

  1. Fulfill conditions set by the committee to the satisfaction of the thesis sponsor;
  2. Request another baccalaureate examination with the same committee;
  3. Reconstitute the thesis committee. If the committee is reconstituted, then a new Thesis Prospectus/Area of Concentration form, signed by all of the members of the new committee, must be filed in the Office of the Registrar; the baccalaureate examination may not be held sooner than two weeks after the new form is filed. The deadlines in the previous paragraphs remain in effect.

The faculty members of the Student Academic Status Committee review the list of potential graduates and make their recommendation(s) to the New College faculty as a whole, in its executive session at the last faculty meeting of the academic year. The New College faculty, in that executive session, votes conferral of all degrees. If a student has not met the requirements for the degree by the time of the faculty meeting, the student cannot graduate in that academic year. The student may fulfill the requirements by some later time agreed upon with appropriate faculty members and be presented to the faculty as a whole no sooner than three months after the year’s degree-granting faculty meeting and no later than five years after that meeting.

Enrollment of Thesis Students (The “Langston Rule”)

Students who hold baccalaureate examinations between the first day of classes of the fall semester and the end of the January Interterm ISP period must be enrolled for that fall semester to hold their baccalaureates. Students who hold their baccalaureates between the first day of classes of the spring semester and two weeks after graduation must be enrolled for that spring semester. Baccalaureates held later than two weeks after graduation and before the start of classes of the fall semester require registration for that fall semester. If during the semester, the student encountered an extreme circumstance, which prevented the student from completing the thesis, a student may wish to petition an exception to this policy with the Office of the Provost.  This rule is based on a memorandum from Interim Dean and Warden Douglas Langston on May 8, 1998. The memorandum was discussed in Faculty Meeting of 03/11/1998; a full text of the memorandum is appended to the minutes of that meeting.