John Witherspoon College Christ Centered Education

Academic Policies

John Witherspoon College is firmly committed to a model of classical and Christian education that values real-time student-professor interaction. Teaching and learning at John Witherspoon are inextricably linked to close faculty-student relationships, local Christian culture, and the Rapid City community. Therefore, while many courses include online or media components, almost all of JWC’s courses require students physically to attend the main campus or one of the distance-learning teaching-sites. A limited number of online courses may be available to serve special needs. (Students will be notified by the Registrar of the maximum academic credit which can be earned at the teaching site and options for earning remaining needed credit.)

U. S. Federal Government defines a credit-hour as follows:

Except as provided in 34 CFR 668.8(k) and (l), a credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than – (1) One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

Whether a credit-hour consists of an actual 60 minute meeting or a 50 minute meeting (giving 10 minutes for students to change classes) varies by state. South Dakota law has no ruling on the matter, and most institutions in South Dakota have defaulted to a 50-minute credit hour. JWC has therefore adopted the 50-minute credit-hour as its official definition. Thus, a typical 3-credit course on a 15-week semester (or, in the case of JWC and other universities, on a 16-week semester that includes regular vacations such as Thanksgiving and Spring Break) consists of forty-five 50-minute sessions (typically meeting M/W/F), or thirty 75-minute sessions (typically meeting Tues/Thurs), or fifteen 150-minute sessions (typically meeting once a week in the evenings). That same 3-credit course will also have 300 minutes of homework per week (given the homework guidelines above and the definition of an hour as 50 minutes). The table below combines this data, along with the typical reading load of 300 pages/credit. (Individual courses may vary.)

Credits 1 2 3 4
Sessions/Semester 15 30 15 45 30 15 60 30
Sessions/Week 1 2 1 3 2 1 4 2
Session Duration (min.) 50 50 100 50 75 150 50 100
Meetings/Semester 15 30 30 45 30 30 60 30
Meetings/Week 1 2 2 3 2 2/3 4 4
Meeting Duration (min.) 50 50 50 50 75 50 50 50
Total Actual Time/ Semester (hrs) 12.5 25 37.5 50
Homework Time/Wk (hrs) 1.67 3.33 5 6.67
Homework Time/ Semester (hrs) 25 50 75 100
Total Time Requirement (hrs) 37.5 75 112.5 150
Typical Session Schedule Varies T/Th or W/F M/W/F T/Th Varies M-Th T/Th or W/F
Typical Reading Requirement /Semester (pages) 300 600 900 1200
Average Pages/Week 20 40 60 80

As noted in the table, there is a difference between a “session” and a “meeting.” These terms are used to distinguish between physical gatherings and periods of teaching at each gathering. A “session” occurs whenever a class gathers together in a given week. A “meeting” is simply a subset of a session, and therefore might occur more frequently in any given semester than sessions. For example, a 3-credit class that gathers every Monday night for a “session” may be divided up into two 75-minute lectures (“two meetings”) with a small break in between, or into three 50 minute lectures (“three meetings”) with two small breaks in between.

*Bold entries indicate JWC preferred format.

John Witherspoon reserves the right to evaluate a student’s proficiency, knowledge, or skills gained from transfer courses prior to accepting them for transfer.

Generally, credit courses will be accepted from regionally or nationally accredited colleges if they parallel courses offered by John Witherspoon. The minimum grade for acceptance of any transfer credit is “C.” No more than fifteen (15) semester hours will be accepted toward a degree at John Witherspoon College from colleges not nationally or regionally accredited. Grades of courses from other institutions do not transfer.

Upon admission of a transfer student to John Witherspoon College, the Admissions and Scholarship Committee together with the Registrar will evaluate transcripts of all previous college-level coursework to determine the applicability of any transfer credits to the student’s program of study at JWC. A student has the right to appeal the Registrar’s decision to the Academic Dean. All course equivalencies, transfer credits, and academic conditions are recorded on the student’s permanent record after matriculation. Transfer courses and credits are not used to determine a student’s academic standing or GPA at John Witherspoon.

Because of its educational vision, John Witherspoon courses are distinctive in content, form, and pedagogy.  For that reason, JWC limits course credit through examination.

However, the College accepts CLEP testing for a limited number of JWC courses (listed below), providing that (a) the student achieves a minimum score of 60; and that (b) the appropriate Program Director approves.  Final decisions on JWC course credit through examination are made by the Chief Academic Officer.

No more than eighteen (18) credits may be transferred from CLEP examinations, and no more than twelve (12) elective credits.

JWC Parallel/Substitute
Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics ECON 201 (3 credits)
Intermediate or College Algebra MAT 100/102 (3 credits)
All Other CLEP Electives (12 credits worth)

John Witherspoon grants advanced placement only under rare circumstances. Those wishing consideration must petition the Registrar for approval in writing.

Maximum Duration of Matriculation and Expiration of Credit

Matriculating students must complete degree requirements within seven (7) years of initial matriculation. After seven (7) years, such students may become subject to the degree/diploma requirements that are then current. As a rule, students may not apply coursework completed more than ten (10) years earlier toward degree or diploma requirements.  Any exceptions must be requested in writing and approved by the Chief Academic Officer.

Limitation of Credits Earned Prior to Matriculation

Matriculating students who had previously completed John Witherspoon coursework as a non-matriculating student may apply no more than sixteen (16) such credits toward their degree requirements.

Residency Requirements for Degree Completion

No less than twenty-five percent (25%) of coursework required for the diploma, the associate’s degree or the bachelor’s degree must be completed in residence at John Witherspoon College.

Student Registration and Enrollment Status

Students are responsible for registering themselves for courses each term they are enrolled at the College. Prior to each term, the Registrar will announce the period of open registration, at which time students will be able to initially register for courses by downloading and completing the registration form on the College website. Final registration is not complete until the students have met with their advisors for help with academic planning, their tuition is paid, or a payment plan has been established.  A student will not be permitted to attend class(es) if their tuition is not paid or a payment plan established by the Registrar.

Students are considered enrolled in a course once registration has been completed and signed by their advisor. Students are considered matriculating only if they have been admitted to full degree seeking status and are currently pursuing a diploma or degree at the College.  Credits will be applied only for students who are matriculating.  Matriculating status is normally granted upon regular admission to the College.  Students are considered non-matriculating if they have been admitted provisionally or are enrolled as a Non-Degree Seeking student.

Lapsed Enrollment

Matriculating students who have not enrolled for credit for two consecutive terms are subject to automatic discontinuation from their diploma/degree program. Discontinued students must reapply for admission to the College.

A student withdrawing from school, dropping all courses from a current semester or term, must complete a Withdrawal Form, available in the Registrar’s Office. Students will be allowed to withdraw through eleven (11) weeks, or its term equivalent, and will receive notation on their permanent record. Billing to a student’s account stops once the Withdrawal Form is submitted. Voluntary withdrawal does not guarantee readmission to the College, nor does it automatically exclude the student from enrollment at a future date. Students who have withdrawn must check with the Office of Admissions regarding reenrollment.

A former John Witherspoon College student having less than a 2.0 cumulative GPA from the College or less than a 2.0 cumulative GPA from all institutions attended will be considered for readmission by the Admissions and Scholarship Committee. The student may be denied admission, readmitted with conditions, or readmitted under their prior academic standing at John Witherspoon College.

Extra Course Loads

Students wishing to enroll in more than fifteen (15) hours in a semester may do so only if they have earned a combined GPA of 3.0 or better in the previous semester or if they have received written permission from their academic advisor or the Chief Academic Officer.

Late Registration

To add a course, either to audit or enroll, after the published registration deadline, the student must submit a completed Drop/Add form to the Registrar along with a $25.00 fee. Late enrollment is subject to space availability. No student may add a course after the Friday of the second week into a term.

Auditing Courses

Students may audit courses for personal enrichment. Registration must occur during the published period. Auditing students are charged $135 per credit hour plus any applicable course fees. Full-time JWC faculty and their spouses, as well as full-time students and their spouses may audit courses without charge, provided space is available and the instructor approves the audit request. Part-time faculty, part-time staff, full-time staff and their spouses may audit courses by paying $10 per credit hour plus applicable student fees. Audited courses do not apply toward a degree but will appear on the transcript without assignment of grade. The auditor may participate in the course as minimally or as fully as he/she chooses with permission of the instructor. A student auditing a course may process drop/add forms to earn credit in the class no later than the “Last Day to Add” for the semester/term. A student enrolled in a course for credit may change to audit during the period allowed to drop a class. Deadlines are noted in the academic calendars for each semester published in the General Catalogue.

Schedule Changes

After registration, a student may change his/her schedule by submitting proper forms to the Registrar. A fee of $10.00 will be charged for adding or dropping a course after the deadline to add/drop.  Exceptions will be made by the Registrar in instances beyond a student’s control. See the College Calendar for the last date for changes in schedules.

Changing Course Sections

In order to change course sections after the published registration deadline, a student must submit a completed Drop/Add form to the Registrar, along with the required $10.00 fee. Section changes require the instructor’s approval and may be denied for administrative reasons.

Dropping Classes

A student may drop a course without academic penalty after the period allowed only under circumstances of serious illness, in which case a physician’s certificate must be submitted and approved by the Registrar. Additionally, the Registrar may approve a waiver to policy for other circumstances beyond the student’s control.  In these cases, students may receive a grade of Incomplete (I) and the opportunity to make up missed work for a grade.  (See “Grades and Quality Points” below for further details.)  A student who discontinues class attendance without permission of the Registrar to drop will receive an “F” in that course.

Concurrent Enrollment

Enrollment in another college or university concurrent with John Witherspoon College enrollment must be approved in advance and in writing by the Registrar.

Class Attendance

Regular attendance is expected of all students enrolled in all courses. Teaching Faculty will establish procedures for administering the attendance policy for their courses and include them in the syllabus. Each faculty member is to counsel with any student whenever absences are affecting the student’s grade.

Academic Probation

The only acceptable level of work for graduation at John Witherspoon College is 2.0 or above. Those who fail to achieve that level will be placed on Academic Probation. If the student achieves a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0, Academic Probation status will be removed. If the student fails to achieve the 2.0 GPA, the status of Academic Probation lasts for two full semesters and the short term(s) that immediately follow.

While the student is on Academic Probation:

  1. An official notice will be sent to the student.
  2. The Academic Advisor will counsel the student individually toward GPA improvement.
  3. The Academic Advisor will monitor the student’s progress during semesters when he/she is repeating courses in which D’s and F’s had been earned.
  4. The academic load will be limited to not more than fourteen (14) hours.

If by the end of the two probationary semesters a cumulative GPA of 2.0 has not been attained, the student will be suspended from the College for one full semester. There is no appeal permitted for this suspension. The suspension will be a full semester; no combination of short terms will substitute. Credit earned at another institution while the student is suspended from JWC is not applicable toward a degree at John Witherspoon.

After serving the period of suspension, the student is eligible to return upon application for readmission. The student re-enters on academic probation and is again given two semesters with the short term(s) that follow to achieve the required cumulative 2.0 GPA. If the satisfactory standing is not achieved, the student will again be suspended from the College. After a full semester suspension, the student desiring to return will be required to reapply through the Admissions and Scholarship Committee.

Retake Policy to Improve G.P.A.

Students who earn a grade of D or F in a course may request to retake the course in its entirety to improve their grade. (Note: As with all replacement grades, the original D grade will continue to be recorded on the student’s permanent academic transcript but not calculated in the student’s GPA). Students wishing to replace a D grade with a grade higher than a C, or students who wish to replace a grade of F earned in a course, may do so only by re-taking the original course in its entirety.

Academic Integrity

John Witherspoon College expects high standards of integrity from all students. By enrollment at John Witherspoon College, students agree to refrain from the use of unauthorized aids during testing (including, but not limited to, devices such as digital cameras, cell phone cameras, pen-based scanners, translation programs, and text-messaging devices), to refuse to give or receive information about examinations, and to submit only work that is the result of their own efforts and research.

Plagiarism is a serious offense that compromises academic integrity. The MLA Handbook defines plagiarism as follows: “A writer who fails to give appropriate acknowledgement when repeating another’s wording or particularly apt term, paraphrasing another’s argument, or presenting another’s line of thinking is guilty of plagiarism.” Breaches of these standards warrant academic and disciplinary consequences. Policies and procedures, including appeal procedures, are found in the Student Handbook.

Readmission Policy

Students who have been expelled from John Witherspoon College for academic reasons or for violating college policies may apply for readmission within two years of the date of dismissal by petitioning the Admissions and Scholarship Committee in writing. A student seeking readmission after two (2) years from the date of dismissal must complete the same full application process that prospective new students complete. For more information of the College’s Readmission Policy, contact the Registrar.


Both Progress Reports and Final Grades are reported by letter which may be interpreted in percentage figures:

  • A (93-100) – For performance that is definitely superior in quality.
  • B (86-92) – For consistently good work that is above average.
  • C (78-85) – For satisfactory performance.
  • D (70-77) – For minimal passing.
  • F (69 and below) – Indicates failure.
  • A, B, C, and D are passing grades; F is failure.

Other Grade Reports

  • N – Given for audited courses.
  • I – For incomplete work (when pre-approved by professor and/or registrar)[1].
  • IP (In Progress) – Interim grade for courses extending into following semester.
  • P – Indicates a passing grade in a Pass/Fail course.
  • FF – Indicates a failing grade in a Pass/Fail course.
  • W – For withdrawal from a course either before or after course drop deadline[2].

[1] Incomplete work must be made up within the first five weeks of the Fall/Spring semester following issuance; otherwise, the course is graded to reflect the incomplete work.

[2] Withdrawal may be granted by the Registrar if the student meets conditions as stated above under “Dropping Classes.”  A temporary grade of X is inserted to indicate no grade has been reported.

Quality Points

Quality points are used to calculate Grade Point Averages (GPA). The following are the grades with their corresponding quality credits:

  • A – 4 quality points per hour of credit.
  • B – 3 quality points per hour of credit.
  • C – 2 quality points per hour of credit.
  • D – 1 quality point per hour of credit.
  • F, FF, I, IP, N, X – 0 quality points per hour.

To determine the Grade Point Average (GPA), the quality points earned are divided by the semester hours attempted. The grade of P (Pass) will not be included in the GPA, but the credit will be included in the hours for graduation.

Students are allowed to repeat courses to improve the grade and cumulative GPA. Repeat of D and F grades is strongly encouraged. The most recent grade earned is the grade calculated in the cumulative GPA and in consideration for graduation.

Transfer credits and credit-by-testing do not apply quality points to the institutional GPA and are not factored into current academic standing or into the graduation GPA. (Note: These grades may be considered, however, in the admission process for specific programs at John Witherspoon College, or by other subsequent transfer institutions.)

Academic Good Standing

Academic Good Standing is defined as the minimum acceptable cumulative GPA for graduation—2.0. Policies regarding students who fail to meet this standard are detailed above under “Scholastic Regulations.”

Academic Honors


To honor academic achievement, the College publishes an Honors List at the close of each regular academic term.  To qualify for the Honors List, students must be enrolled full-time in a degree program and earn a GPA of 3.50 or better for the term.

Additionally, students who earn an average of 3.5 or above in courses taken at John Witherspoon College are graduated with Latin Honors as follows:

  • 3.50-3.66                Cum Laude
  • 3.67-3.83                Magna Cum Laude
  • 3.84 and above      Summa Cum Laude

To qualify for these honors, a student must complete at least thirty (30) hours at John Witherspoon College.

Graduation Requirements

Students may be graduated under the course requirements specified in the General Catalogue of the year of admission or those at the time of their application for graduation. If five (5) years have elapsed since a student’s latest enrollment in John Witherspoon College, he/she may elect to be graduated either under the course requirements of the Catalogue of his/her re-admission or those in force at the time of his/her application for graduation.

Application to Graduate

Students who are nearing completion of their studies must submit the Application to Graduate form to the Registrar by the posted deadline in order to participate in the May commencement. A graduation fee of $50 must accompany the application.  The Registrar, Chief Academic Officer, and the student’s Degree Program Director will review the student’s record and certify that he/she is on track to satisfy all requirements for graduation.  Additionally, the list of Candidates for Graduation will be presented to the full Faculty for their approval.

Recognition at Commencement

To be recognized at Commencement as a member of the graduating class, students must either (a) meet all graduation requirements, or (b) have no more than four credits remaining for graduation (unless approved by the faculty) and be registered and paid for the remaining coursework prior to Commencement. Such payment is non-refundable. Additionally, students that are completing course work in the summer term will be listed in the Commencement Program as a “Summer Graduate.”

The John Witherspoon College Library advances the college’s academic mission by supporting students with books, space, technology and other learning resources.


The Library has a computer with internet access and a printer/copier/scanner for student use. The cost for copied or printed pages is $.10/page payable to library staff.

The Library has approximately 5,000 volumes with especially strong collections in theology and biblical studies. Catalogued holdings are visible from the “library” tab in Populi (https://jwc.populiweb .com/library/catalog/index.php). Library staff can provide assistance finding resources not yet catalogued. Email the Director of Learning Resources ([email protected]) to schedule a visit with Library staff.


Library hours are currently 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mon–Thurs, and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Fridays. The DLR or course instructor can make arrangements for Library use at other times.


Students can self-check-out Library materials with a sign-out sheet that must include student name, ID number, and check-out/due dates. The check-out sheet can be found near the door to the Library. Students may have no more than seven (7) resources checked-out at one time. Resources may be checked out for fourteen (14) days, then renewed for seven (7) days.  Renewals need to be requested by email from the DLR.

The fine for late returns is $.25 per resource per day. Fines can be avoided by renewing the loan. Fines may only be reduced or canceled for extenuating circumstances by the DLR. Unpaid fines may result in a hold on the student’s final grades and/or transcript. At the DLR’s discretion, a fee may be charged for damaged or lost books, up to the full price of the book. The college expects students to use the library’s physical and virtual resources according to principles of Christian stewardship.

Other Resources

JWC students who are South Dakota residents may borrow from the Rapid City Public Library and the E. Y. Berry Library at Black Hills State University (Spearfish). Both have extensive humanities collections, online-searchable catalogs, and the RCPL offers interlibrary loan services. Any student, regardless of residency, may use the Deveraux Library at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, for a small yearly fee and $3/book for interlibrary loan.  See the JWC Library page in Populi for more information.

The JWC Library provides access to various online databases, e-libraries, and other online resources, such as:

  1. provides a number of resources such as magazines, newspapers, reference databases, and teaching materials for educators.
  2. Galaxie Publishing ( hosts over 30 academic theological journals.
  3. South Dakota State Library Online Reference Collection provides access to many resources including EBSCOHOST (for online books and journals). Connect to this tool at Use the barcode and password provided in the SD Library Bookmark document saved to the Faculty folder of the Office 365 Team Site.

See the “links” tab on the library page for more information, or contact [email protected].

Area Resident Users

As part of our goal to serve the community, John Witherspoon College Library is pleased to offer its resources to greater Rapid City area residents. User policy is as follows:

  1. Users must pay a $5 library card fee and present their card when borrowing.
  2. Borrowing limit is 5 items. Term is 2 weeks.
  3. Off-campus users should be aware that some materials may be recalled at the discretion of the DLR, in the event they are needed for student or faculty use.


John Witherspoon College does not operate a bookstore. Students are encouraged to procure books and other materials through online resources or through local community bookstores or libraries.

Copyright Laws

Students and faculty may copy library resources, but copyright laws prohibit extensive duplication. For more information, see the statement on plagiarism in this Catalogue or policies in the Student Handbook, as well as these web pages:


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