Jul 18, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Academic Policies and Procedures: College of Optometry

Colleges  > College of Optometry  > Academic Policies and Procedures: College of Optometry



Grading Policies

Final course grades are determined by the instructor of record.  All final grades are reported by the course master and displayed on the student’s MyUH account.  The faculty of the college has a responsibility of determining a student’s qualifications to practice optometry.  Personal integrity, initiative, motivation, and a professional attitude are essential attributes of optometrists.  Therefore, while the grading of written, oral, and practice examinations represents the basic source of evaluating performance, these additional factors may be considered in determining the final grade in a given course.

Scholastic Honors

Students who earn a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) between 3.75 and 4.00 for optometry course work are eligible to graduate summa cum laude.  Those who earn a cumulative GPA between 3.50 and 3.74 are eligible to graduate magna cum laude.  The University of Houston chapter of Beta Sigma Kappa, the national optometric honor society, offers membership to students who maintain at least a 3.50 GPA through the first year, a 3.40 GPA through the second year, a 3.30 GPA through the third year, and a 3.20 GPA through the fourth year.  Phi Kappa Phi is a national university honor society that offers membership to students meeting its academic and personal standards.  Each year, the college awards honors based on excellence in various aspects of academic performance and patient care.

Dean’s List

The Dean’s List is determined at the end of each semester.  The dean’s office will award and publish a list of those students in each class whose grade point average during the preceding semesters was 3.50 or above.  To qualify for this recognition, the student must be enrolled as a full-time, degree seeking student during the semester.  Students who earn a grade of I, D, F, W, or U duringthe semester are excluded from consideration for the Dean’s List.  Individual petitions will be completed and submitted by an OOR team member so UH can add to the Dean’s List for the designated semester.

Calculation of GPA

Grade Point Averages (GPAs) are calculated and recorded at the conclusion of fall, spring, and summer semesters.  If any course in the professional program is repeated for any reason, both grades in the course are used in calculating the GPA.  While grade earned for courses completed at another university are not used to calculate GPA, course credit may be accepted at the discretion of the Associate Dean for Professional Studies or recommendation of the Admissions Committee.

Grades in the College of Optometry are awarded in each course at the end of the semester as follows:

 A  EXCELLENT: Demonstration of consistent outstanding performance in the comprehension and interpretation of the subject.
 B  GOOD: Demonstration of comprehensive knowledge of the subject and marked ability to interpret it.
 C  FAIR: Demonstration of comprehensive knowledge of the subject.
 D  UNSATISFACTORY: Demonstration of an unacceptable level of understanding in some important area of the subject.
 F  FAILING: Failing work or withdrawal while doing failing work.
 S/U  SATISFACTORY/UNSATISFACTORY: The grades of S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory) are awarded for most instances of clinical performance.
 I  INCOMPLETE: The grade of I (Incomplete) is a conditional and temporary grade given when a student is passing a course but for reasons beyond his/her control, has not completed a relatively small part of all requirements.  The grade of I must be changed to a letter grade by fulfillment of course requirements within one academic year of the date awarded, or it will be changed automatically to a F.  An I may be changed to a W only if an administrative withdrawal is granted by the Dean.
 W  WITHDRAW: The Grade of W (Withdrawn) indicates that (a) the student was passing, or (b) no evaluation data was available at the time the student dropped the course.  It is the responsibility of the student to initiate the action to drop or withdraw from a class.  A student who fails to do so will be retained on the class rolls even though he/she may be absent for the remainder of the semester.  In such instances, a grade of F will be awarded unless the conditions for a grade of I have been met.
  •           This symbol may be used to indicate that a student is performing satisfactorily in a course that continues beyond a given grading period.

The GPA is the quotient obtained by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the number of semester hours in which a student is enrolled.  Required courses awarded a grade of “F” must be repeated until they are passed, and all of these grades must be used to calculate the GPA.  In computing the grade point average, decimals beyond two places are truncated, not rounded.

A = 4.00 B - = 2.67 D+ = 1.33
A - = 3.67 C+ = 2.33 D =1.00
B+ = 3.33 C = 2.00 D - = 0.67
B = 3.00 C - = 1.67 F = 0.00

Grades of S, U, I, W and (•) are not assigned grade point values, and are not used in the computation of the GPA.

Some courses are graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory scale.  These grades are not used in the calculation of the GPA, but will be used in the consideration of appeals of academic suspension or probation.

If a student receives an incomplete (I) during the semester that he/she is placed on probation or suspension, the Academic Committee will not consider the final grade received for the course, even if the course work is completed prior to the date the student files an appeal for reinstatement.

Academic Probation and Suspension

A full-time student in the professional program will be placed on academic probation at the end of a semester or summer session in which his or her semester grade point average falls below 2.00.  A student will be suspended from the professional program for academic reasons under any or all of the following conditions:

  • The student is placed on academic probation for two consecutive semesters or three nonconsecutive semesters, including any full-time summer session;
  • The student earns a grade lower than a “C” (i.e., grading of C - or lower) in four or more courses in any semester;
  • The student’s cumulative grade point average falls below a 2.00 in any semester after the first semester of the program; or
  • The student earns a semester grade point average of 1.00 or below in any semester.

The placement of students on academic probation or suspension is carried out automatically and does not require initiating or confirming action by the Dean, the Academic Committee, or any other administration unit.  Every effort will be made by the college’s Associate Dean for Professional Students to notify students placed on academic probation or suspension.  However, failure to provide students with notification of their academic status does not nullify academic probation or suspension.  Each student is responsible for knowing his/her academic status before attempting to enroll for the subsequent semester.

Besides the conditions for automatic academic probation or suspension, the Academic Committee may recommend that the Dean place or continue a student on academic probation when the student’s academic performance is unsatisfactory.  The committee may also recommend that the Dean suspend a student from the professional program when the student’s academic performance suggests that he or she will not be able to successfully complete the program.  A student may also be placed on probation or suspended if the associated clinical course master recommends either of these actions based upon the criteria outlined in the clinical manual and summarized in the appended document, “Criteria for Clinic Probation and Suspension.”  If a recommendation for probation or suspension which is not automatic is made by the committee and accepted by the Dean, the student will be notified by the Dean’s Office within five (5) working days of the Dean’s decision.

Removal from academic probation or suspension may be granted on appeal.  Students must initiate all appeal procedures.  Appeals of these actions within the college will be filed with the college Academic Committee.  A student considering an appeal must consult with the Executive Director of Optometry Relations and may select additional advisors.  Appeals must be stated in writing and delivered to the chair of the Academic Committee within two weeks after the last final examination as posted on the University Calendar.  Appeals will ordinarily be granted only in the presence of extenuating circumstances and when subsequent improvement seems likely.  A student who has been suspended and is involved in the appeals procedure within the university is permitted to continue in school as long as the appeals procedure is in progress.  A student who has been placed on academic probation and who fails to raise his or her cumulative grade point average above a 2.00 in the subsequent semester, but who nevertheless achieves a semester grade point average of 2.50 or better, and who has no individual course grade below a “C,” may be retained on academic probation.  Students placed on suspension for academic reasons may continue in the professional program only with the recommendation of and under the conditions specified by the Academic Committee and approved by the Dean.  These conditions may exceed those demanded of students at the same level who are not on probation or suspension.  Students on suspension who fail to matriculate for a particular semester either because they did not file an appeal in a timely manner or such an appeal was denied, must apply to the Admissions Committee for readmission to the College of Optometry.  The suspension must stand for a period of at least one year.  These students can only be readmitted by the Admissions Committee in competition with other current applicants.  They may only be readmitted following consultation between the Admissions Committee and representatives of the Academic Committee.  The Admissions Committee will then determine whether admission will be granted, while the Academic Committee will determine the level at which the student is to be readmitted.  Any student readmitted at a level other than the Fall semester first year will be on probation for a minimum of one semester.  During this time, his/her class schedules must be approved by the Associate Dean for Professional Studies.  The Academic Committee will recommend which courses, if any, must be repeated.  Suspension does not require two semesters below a 2.00 but may occur at any time the student fails to satisfy any of the stipulated requirements, fails to slow sufficient improvement in coursework, or fails to perform in a satisfactory manner in the clinic.

Immunizations and CPR Certification

The Texas State Board of Health requires all students to have vaccinations before they engage in health-related higher education programs.  Per admittance into Optometry School, students receive the UHCO Immunization Memorandum specifying requirements.  Registered students must be in compliance with the immunizations required by UH System and UHCO.  Additional policies will be provided during student clinic orientation and again at extern rotation orientation.

CPR cards must be completed demonstrating competency in resuscitation techniques prior to completing the first semester of second year to advance to clinic rotation.  Online courses are acceptable, but ONLY if there is an additional hands-on portion/certification where the student physically demonstrates competency in appropriate rescue breathing techniques, placement of AED electrodes, etc.  CPR cards are valid for 2 years and are up to the individual student to obtain and maintain certification.

Clinical Probation, Failure, and Suspension

The University of Houston College of Optometry is committed to producing competent clinicians who can render appropriate vision care and therapeutic treatment to their patients.  In order to achieve this goal, students must successfully complete and achieve a grade of “Satisfactory” for their clinical rotations.  Failure to do so results in Clinical Probation, Failure, or Suspension, as described below.

Failure (Unsatisfactory Clinical Performance)

Students who demonstrate serious deficiencies (perform well below expected level) in examination skills, assessment and/or treatment planning - thus potentially jeopardizing the patients’ health, comfort and/or visual efficiency - will receive a grade of Unsatisfactory.  Other reasons for an unsatisfactory rating include, but are not limited to, failing to observe and/or record obvious ocular abnormalities, consistently maintaining inadequate records, unprofessional conduct, or entering false data.  Students must repeat any clinical semester for which they receive a grade of Unsatisfactory.

Clinical Probation

Students demonstrating consistently marginal performance will be placed on clinical probation.  Students placed on clinical probation must demonstrate “Satisfactory” performance in all rotations (perform at the level expected of a student at that particular point in the program) by the end of the next semester or he/she will receive a grade of Unsatisfactory.  A failure (“Unsatisfactory”) generated in such a manner will result in a recommendation of suspension by the clinical course master.

Clinical Suspension

Students placed on Clinical Probation must demonstrate “Satisfactory” performance in all rotations (perform at the level expected for a student at that particular point in the program) by the end of the next semester or he/she will receive a grade of Unsatisfactory for both semesters and, thus, be suspended.  Any combination of two semester grades of Clinical Probation OR Unsatisfactory will result in suspension from the College of Optometry.  Clinical assignments, if any, for students on suspension awaiting appeal will be determined by the Dean of the college in consultation with the clinic director and the appropriate course master.

Procedures for Clinical Probation, Failure, and Suspension

If a student is placed on Clinical Probation at the midterm evaluation, he/she has until the end of that same semester to successfully complete the semester’s clinical work.  If the student is not at the expected level by the end of the semester, a grade of Unsatisfactory for that semester’s clinical work will be given.  Students placed on Clinical Probation at the end of a semester will receive an “I” for that semester and must demonstrate Satisfactory performance (be at the level expected for a student in that semester) by the end of the next semester.  If the student does not achieve Satisfactory performance by the end of the next semester, he/she will receive two semester grades of Unsatisfactory (one for the semester in which he/she received an “I” and one for the current semester).  A student cannot advance to the next clinical year while on Clinical Probation.  In the third or fourth year, probation or failure of any clinical rotation will result in a semester grade of Probation or Unsatisfactory for theentire semester’s clinical course.  If a student is placed on Clinical Probation for two or more rotations in a semester, he/she will automatically fail that semester’s clinical course.

Optometry II

Optometry II clinical rotations include interpersonal skills workshops, primary care clinic, dispensary, and vision screenings (fall and spring semesters only).  Students placed on Clinical Probation at the end of the spring OPT II term will repeat a semester of clinical work during the first seven weeks of the summer term following the spring OPT II term.  If successfully completed, the student will then progress to OPT III clinics which he/she will complete during the second seven weeks of the summer term.  Should that same student now fail or be placed on Clinical Probation for an OPT III clinic session, the student will be suspended from the clinical program due to the accumulation of two Probations and/or Unsatisfactory grades.

Optometry III

If a student is placed on Clinical Probation for a summer session, he/she will enter the fall semester on probation.  The student cannot register for the second summer session for the purpose of removing Clinical Probation.  If a student receives an unsatisfactory grade either the first or second summer session, he/she must repeat the summer semester’s work during the fall semester.  Any student placed on Clinical Probation or Unsatisfactory for the last semester of OPT III clinics must successfully complete another semester of all OPT III clinics prior to entering OPT IV.  That student cannot register for OPT IV clinics prior to successfully completing the OPT III clinical year.

Optometry IV

Students who have previously received a grade of Clinical Probation or Unsatisfactory in any prior semester will not be allowed to begin an externship during the first semester of OPT IV.  The student may appeal this provision to a committee composed of the clinic course masters, Clinic Director, and Director of Externships.  This appeal must be presented in writing to the Associate Dean for Professional Studies.


The status of Clinical Probation and Unsatisfactory performance will be monitored by the appropriate clinical course master.  The course master will notify the student in writing concerning his/her clinical status.  The course master will also inform the Academic Committee chair and place a letter in the student’s academic file concerning the student’s status of Probation, Unsatisfactory Performance, or Suspension.  The Academic Committee chair will be notified by clinic course masters at the end of each semester regarding each probationary student’s clinical status.  Letters of suspension will be sent to the student through the Dean’s office.  The student may appeal the suspension by notifying the chair of the AcademicCommittee within two weeks of notification of the suspension.

College Academic Committee

The Academic Committee acts as advisor to the Dean on academic or student issues.  The Dean may seek advice from the Committee and may then accept, reject, or modify the Committee’s recommendations.  The Executive Director of the Office of Optometry Relations serves as advisor and resource person to the student involved.  The advocate is not a voting member of the Academic Committee.  The Academic Committee serves as the standing committee of the faculty to hear appeals of the following academic issues:

  • Academic Probation:  Probation is automatic under the rules described elsewhere; it does not require action by the Committee.  The Committee will hear appeals of this administration action.
  • Academic Suspension:  Same as above.
  • Disputes Regarding Course Grades:  The awarding of grades is the responsibility of the course instructor.  If a student wishes to appeal a course grade, he or she should first discuss the matter with the responsible instructor.  The student may wish to arrange a joint consultation with the instructor and the concerned department chair.  Finally, if not resolved to his/her satisfaction, the student may appeal to the Academic Committee.
  • Requests For a Leave of Absence:  Requests for a Leave of Absence should initially be presented to the Associate Dean for Professional Studies, who may recommend to the Dean the granting of the request and may outline requirements for return to the college.  If the circumstances surrounding the request are complex, or if the student is not in goood academic standing, the Associate Dean for Professional Studies will refer it to the Academic Committee for a hearing.  The Committee will consider issues which, in the student’s opinion, justify a leave of absence from the professional program.  Students wishing to receive this type of consideration must submit written requests to the Associate Dean for Professional Studies.  Should the student be denied a Leave of Absence, he/she may appeal that decision to the Academic Committee.
  • Charges of Academic Dishonesty:  The objective of an academic dishonesty hearing is to determine whether or not an accused student violated college and/or university policy and, in the event of a violation, to assess an appropriate consequence.  In the event of a charge of dishonesty, the Chair of the Academic Committee handles all notices from faculty members and students.  Unless there is a specific rule governing the particular matter, the Chair of the Committee may adopt any reasonable procedure, including order of proceedings, to carry out the objectives of the hearing.
  • Extension of Educational Program:  Students in good standing may develop a plan for extending their educational program beyond the minimum time of four years.  This is typically done for students who have significant health problems or life issues and need to take a reduced load.  Such plans should be submitted to the Associate Dean for Professional Studies.  The Academic Committee will then be asked to judge the academic feasibility of the student’s plan.  Approval to the plan will be given by the Associate Dean upon receiving the Committee’s positive recommendation.

Academic Dishonesty

The information below is a summary of the college’s Dishonesty Policy.  A complete description of the college’s Academic Policies and Procedures may be obtained through the Dean’s Office or the Office of Optometry Relations and is also available on the intranet (http://intranet.opt.uh.edu/).  Academic dishonesty is a serious breach of ethics and professional conduct.  A student who engages in academic dishonesty will be expelled from the college.

The following are examples of academic dishonesty:

  • Stealing tests or grade books from faculty offices or elsewhere;
  • Using notes to aid in answering questions during examinations;
  • Getting another student to take a test;
  • Plagiarizing;
  • Changing answers or grades on a test after the test has been returned;
  • Giving or receiving aid during an examination;
  • Using another person’s laboratory result as one’s own;
  • Mis-shelving books with the intent of reducing access by other students;
  • Using mail-order or Internet term papers;
  • Seeking information about exam questions by a student who is taking the exam after the rest of the class;
  • Falsifying clinic data, records, or results in laboratory experiments;
  • Any conduct which a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would recognize as dishonest or improper in an academic or patient care setting.

College Dishonesty Hearings

A faculty member who has reasonable grounds to believe that a student has engaged in academic dishonesty is required to:

  1. Notify the student about the accusation, specifically identifying and describing the alleged offense; and
  2. Notify the Chair of the UHCO Academic Committee or, at his/her discretion, consult directly with the Associate Dean for Professional Studies, the person designated by the College as the investigator in cases of alleged academic dishonesty.

A college hearing is investigative rather than adversarial.  The Chair of the Academic Committee will give the accused student written notice of the time and place of the college hearing.  College hearings will be audio-recorded in accordance with university regulations.  Any evidence that the Committee considers relevant may be received at a hearing.  Students have the responsibility of reporting alleged academic dishonesty to either the appropriate faculty member involved or to the Associate Dean.  The Academic Committee will send a comprehensive report, complete with enforcement recommendations, to the Dean, who has final jurisdiction in the case.