Teaching - Information & Resources (A-Z)

If you will be establishing a new course or managing an existing course within William & Mary and School of Marine Science administrative systems, or if you're looking for information on current SMS and university policies that relate to teaching and the curriculum, you should be able to find almost everything here.  If you don't, let us know!

Visit VIMS/SMS Course Design if you are looking for information and resources related to designing or improving a course. 

William & Mary's Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation (STLI) provides diverse resources and a broad array of teaching-related professional development opportunities.  They also offer one-on-one consultations.   

This table provides information and resources related to teaching.
Academic Calendars (W&M and VIMS/SMS)

Quick link: Academic Calendars (W&M)VIMS/SMS Academic Calendar

William & Mary operates on a semester basis. The academic calendar consists of Fall and Spring semesters that last approximately 15 weeks and a condensed Summer semester. Semesters may include several shorter sessions (see Modular and Summer Courses).

Academic Calendars (W&M) for the current and future years are available on the University Registrar website.  VIMS/SMS generally follows the dates given in the undergraduate calendars for the start and end of classes, holidays, breaks, and reading and exam periods.  Refer to an undergraduate calendar for the appropriate year if you need to project dates for course planning or leave past the current academic year. 

Most SMS courses are offered during a Fall or Spring semester. SMS core courses must be taught during a Fall or Spring semester. Depending on enrollment demands and faculty workloads, courses may be offered every year, every other year, or "as needed."  

Heavy summer field work schedules may make it difficult for MS and PhD program graduate students to take classes during summer sessions. Undergraduate and MA program students are not required to register during the summer and will incur additional tuition charges if they wish to enroll in a course that is offered during a summer session. 

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Add/Drop & Wait Lists

Quick link: Add/Drop Procedures & Deadlines for Students; Course Registration Waitlist for Students

Students may add and drop courses during the first 15% of classes (8 days during normal Fall and Spring semesters).  They use PATH according to procedures and deadlines published on the website of the the University Registrar. Instructor permission is not required for schedule adjustments during add/drop, but pre-requisites and level restrictions remain in place to restrict registration unless instructor permission is granted. You may be asked to provide overrides during the add/drop phase of registration. 

A graduate student may add a course after the add period only in unusual circumstances, and must have the consent of the instructor and permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. A student may not drop a course or courses subsequent to the Add/Drop period and prior to the end of classes except in exceptional circumstances, and then only with approval of the associate dean. Requests should be submitted in writing.

Wait lists: We were told that a system-level Wait List functionality will be enabled for undergraduate registration beginning with Registration for Fall 2024. Stay tuned!

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.


Quick link: Faculty & Staff Support (How to use Banner Self-Service; W&M)

Enrolled students, visiting students and scholars, senior/seasoned citizens from the community, and William & Mary/VIMS employees will occasionally seek permission to audit courses. Permission is given if there is space available in the class and with your approval. Enrolled students use the Audit Request Form (pdf) and others use the Non-Degree Seeking Application Course Enrollment Form (pdf).  Auditors are not expected to participate in class, complete written assignments, or take exams. They are expected to keep up with reading assignments and to attend class regularly.

All auditors will be charged tuition unless the appropriate waiver forms are submitted and approved (note: waivers apply only to senior citizens and VIMS/W&M employees). There is no mechanism to waive tuition for visiting students and scholars.

Students who are officially auditing the class will have an audit (A) grade mode and a final grade (O or U) must be submitted in Banner at the end of the term. Note: Asking a VIMS/W&M employee to register as an auditor is important for tracking enrollment and does not impose a financial hardship. Eligible employees are permitted to register using the Employee Educational Assistance Benefit

The University Registrar website provides detailed information on registration processes for students. For information on how to use Banner for course support, visit the Faculty & Staff Support page on the University Registrar website.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Related policies:

Employee Educational Assistance Policy
W&M's Senior/Seasoned Citizen Enrollment Policy


Quick link: Faculty & Staff Support (How to use Banner Self-Service; W&M)

Banner is a university-wide (enterprise-level) administrative software application. Banner Self-Service is used to access course enrollments, grant registration overrides, and access class rosters and basic student information.   

For information on how to use Banner or other university processes to support student registration and course administration, visit the Faculty & Staff Support page on the University Registrar website.  W&M also provides detailed registration support for students.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Blackboard Ultra - Course Management System

Quick links: Blackboard UltraHow to Use Blackboard (W&M), Blackboard for Faculty (W&M), Technology Tips for Faculty (W&M)

Blackboard (Bb) is William & Mary's university-wide (enterprise) course/learning management system and is approved for managing sensitive student data while other platforms may not be. It's a convenient way to provide students easy access to course materials such as the syllabus, assignments, reserve readings and class recordings. Content may be organized into folders, learning modules, or lesson plans.

As of summer 2024, W&M is using Blackboard Ultra.  There are on-demand tutorials and supporting resources to help you get started.  

Blackboard for Faculty is a treasure trove of tips and links to additional resources.

Blackboard Ally allows you to gauge the web accessibility of your content, manage assignments and grades, and provides other features that expand your options.

Blackboard Course Generator is used to create a course within Blackboard.  

To access Blackboard, Login to Blackboard using your W&M credentials.  The "Institution Page" link within Blackboard provides links to the Course Generator and the help page for faculty.

Top tip: Don't wait until the last minute to create your course using Blackboard Course Generator.  The system generally only runs overnight and there will be a lag before you can begin adding course content.

If you can't find the answer to a question using the resources above, or need technology support on the VIMS campus, contact Bob Polley, VIMS' Instructional Technology Specialist (x7078).

Class Rosters

Quick link: Faculty & Staff Support (How to use Banner Self-Service; W&M)

Class rosters available in Banner Self-Service reflect real-time registration/class enrollments. Official auditors will have an audit (A) grade mode and should have the appropriate permission to audit form on file with the VIMS/SMS Registrar (see Auditors). As early as possible, faculty members should verify the class roster and indicate to the Registrar (SMS for grads, University Registrar for UGs) any discrepancies between the class roster and class attendance.

For information on how to use Banner to access class rosters, visit the Faculty & Staff Support page on the University Registrar website.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Classrooms & Classroom Scheduling

Quick links: VIMS Classroom Guide, VIMS ITNSW&M Classroom Guide

Academic classrooms are reserved through the VIMS/SMS Registrar using the W&M Event Management System (EMS). Classes at VIMS are usually scheduled in Watermen's Hall, Andrews Hall or Chesapeake Bay Hall. Public classroom requests for the Williamsburg campus are also submitted through the VIMS/SMS Registrar, in December (for summer and fall classes) and in early September (for spring classes).

VIMS Classroom Guide - with basic information on capacity and technology
Instructional Services & Technology (VIMS ITNS) (intranet) - more information on services and technology on the VIMS campus
W&M Classroom Guide

For any questions about classroom scheduling on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.
For assistance and requests related to classroom technology on the VIMS campus, please submit a VIMS help request.

College (COLL) Curriculum

Quick links: College Curriculum (W&M, A&S; for students); College (COLL) Curriculum (W&M, A&S; for faculty)

All W&M undergraduate students share the College Curriculum experience, a set of specially designed courses that connect and integrate knowledge across the academic disciplines.

Information on the College (Coll) Curriculum for faculty is available on the A&S EPC website.

For questions about the COLL curriculum, contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or one of the marine science program co-directors.

Compliance Requirements Related to Teaching

Quick link: W&M Faculty Affairs & Development - ComplianceOffice of Compliance & Equity (W&M)

William & Mary Faculty Affairs & Development and Compliance & Equity will help you navigate applicable university compliance policies. The sections below highlight specific compliance requirements that relate to teaching. 

compliance-related resources
Classroom Recording

Quick links: Faculty & Staff Support (FERPA and Student Data; W&M),  Protecting Student Data and Student Privacy (FERPA)

When using technology in the classroom for lecture capture, recording student presentations and other activities, be mindful of student privacy rights and follow university guidelines to ensure that you remain in compliance with FERPA and other W&M requirements.  Review the W&M Classroom Recordings Guidelines (pdf).

Learn more about how to use technology in the classroom in the section Instructional Services & Technology.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Copyrighted Materials

Quick link: Policy on use of copyrighted materials for teaching (W&M)

All members of the William and Mary community must be aware of and adhere to the provisions of the United States Copyright Law. The W&M policy webpage includes a useful table of examples towards the bottom of the page.

Mandatory Reporting

Quick link: Mandatory Reporting (W&M)

William & Mary's Code of Ethics obligates all members of the university community to report any illegal or unethical conduct that comes to their attention, "so the university can investigate and take corrective steps." The Code of Ethics is focused on illegal or unethical conduct by members of the W&M community relating to the W&M community.

If you haven't already, please review the full list of mandatory reporting obligations.

All members of the William & Mary community are encouraged to report concerns, misconduct or violations of the Code of Ethics or other policies. The university's Whistleblower Policy prohibits retaliation against someone for filing a report.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the VIMS Assistant Director for Administration.

Protecting Student Records & Student Privacy (FERPA)

Quick links: FERPA tutorial (W&M); Faculty & Staff Support (information on FERPA; W&M)

The university protects the privacy of student records in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Virginia Health Records Privacy Act, and other state laws. FERPA is a federal law that affords students certain rights with respect to their education records and defines situations in which the university may release information from student records with student consent. All VIMS faculty should complete the FERPA tutorial. Students serving as Teaching Assistants, Graders and Teaching Fellows are required to complete the tutorial.

The Faculty & Staff Support page on the University Registrar website provides detailed information on FERPA and university guidelines for protecting student records and student privacy.  

Please remember that if you are communicating with more than one student in your class, you must place all student email addresses in the BCC line in order to provide privacy.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Student Accommodations & Accessibility

Quick link: Student Accessibility Services (W&M)

The Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require that all courses, programs, and facilities be made accessible to students with disabilities. Accommodations are defined as any reasonable adjustment required for a student to have equal access to the university's programs and activities, inside or outside the classroom. W&M's Student Accessibility Services (SAS, Dean of Students Office) offers reasonable accommodations upon request on an individual basis through an interactive process. Instructors are notified directly when a student is granted a formal accommodation for your course.

You may grant an accommodation if you normally would (that is if you would grant it regardless of a disability). For example, VIMS faculty have often granted accommodations for distant ship-board field work obligations and conference attendance. If the accommodation is not one you would normally make, please say "This is not a change that I would normally make. If you are asking for a disability accommodation, please contact Student Accessibility Services." Only that office can approve accommodations.

Teaching Assistants & Graders

To ensure compliance with FERPA, W&M has established the following general policy:

  • No undergraduate student may have access to grades or other protected academic information for any other student in any course.
  • No graduate student may have access to grades or other protected academic information for any other student enrolled in the same course or enrolled in the same graduate program.

All VIMS students, regardless of degree track, are considered to be in the singular graduate program of the School of Marine Science.

Exceptions to these rules must be specifically authorized by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and communicated to the University Registrar. The University Registrar's Office will work with W&M Information Technology to audit compliance with this policy. Although the above is a general policy, it should be specifically applied to the use of Blackboard.

Individuals added to a course in Blackboard as an Instructor, Teaching Assistant, or Grader have access to view and edit the grades of all students in the course. Therefore, as a general rule, Teaching Assistants (whether graduate or undergraduate) should not be given one of these designations if they are participating in managing your course through Blackboard (or any other course management system). You should use the Blackboard roles “Builder” or “Student” or “Guest” for non-enrolled students who are helping you with a course.

Students who will serve as Teaching Assistants, Graders or Teaching Fellows are required to complete FERPA training before they will be given access to a Blackboard course.  They are also Mandatory Reporters for compliance purposes.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Concern About a Student

Quick link: Care Concerns (W&M Dean of Students Office), Faculty Information (W&M Dean of Students Office)

Faculty and staff are encouraged to contact the VIMS/SMS Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs (804 684-7256) or W&M Dean of Students Office (757 221-2510) promptly with any significant concerns about an individual student, such as general welfare concerns (multiple class absences, personal or family crisis, disturbed/disturbing behavior), suspicions about hazing, conduct/honor violations, signs of substance abuse, or any other matter that raises concern. The Dean of Students website has an online Care Concern Form, and the Dean’s professional staff will follow-up promptly based on the information provided. 

The W&M Dean of Students Office's Faculty Information page provides brief summaries of topics related to student success for instructors at William & Mary. The relevant topics are Academic Struggles and Illness/Unusual Circumstances.  More extensive information about Student Accessibility Services and Community Values & Restorative Practices is also recommended for faculty partners.

The Haven is a confidential, welcoming and inclusive resource center for those impacted by sexual violence and harassment, relationship abuse and intimate-partner violence, stalking and other gender-based discrimination.

In cases of an imminent safety concern on either campus, call 911.

On the VIMS campus, a 911 call will notify the Gloucester County Sheriff's Office.  To facilitate a rapid response, a 911 call made from a VIMS landline phone will also send an alert and the location of the call to the VIMS Chief Operations Officer, VIMS Facilities Management Director and VIMS Safety Office. For the Williamsburg campus, all area police and rescue departments use the 911 system for emergencies. 

Core Courses

The School of Marine Science graduate core courses are: MSCI 501A-F, MSCI 503, MSCI 504  and MSCI 515. MSCI 521 may be taken in lieu of MSCI 501C. MSCI 554 or MSCI 556 may be taken in lieu of MSCI 504.

Course Approvals

Quick links: VIMS/SMS Educational Policy Committee (intranet only), W&M Arts & Sciences Educational Policy Committee (EPC), Submit a Proposal to W&M EPC (A&S)

All new MSCI courses offered by VIMS faculty must be approved by the VIMS/SMS EPC.  Likewise, approval is required for any changes in the course number, title, or credit hours and/or substantive changes to course descriptions of an existing course.  At this time, all undergraduate MSCI courses are offered through W&M Arts & Sciences and they must be approved by the W&M EPC (A&S) after they have been approved by the VIMS/SMS EPC.  Contact the SMS Registrar for information on how to create an undergraduate research/independent study section of MSCI 490.

A request for course approval by VIMS/SMS EPC is submitted online through the VIMS/SMS EPC webpage. This applies to new and modified courses.  Requests for a new permanent course or modification of an existing course must be received by the VIMS/SMS EPC Chair prior to the start of the semester preceding the one in which the course is to be offered.

Proposals to W&M EPC for undergraduate courses are submitted through Curriculog.  Be aware that the lead time for approval can be a semester or more.

Problems (MSCI 697) and Special Topics (MSCI 548/698) course requests must be received by the EPC Chair at least two (2) weeks prior to the last day of the add/drop period of the semester in which the course will be offered. These course numbers may be used during course development, but once a course has been offered twice, it should be converted to a regular course offering with a stand-alone catalog number using the New Course Request form, which is available through the EPC web portal.

Updates to the current course catalogs should be submitted to the SMS Registrar by April 1 for inclusion in the new catalog, which is published annually on July 1.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Course Catalogs

Quick links: SMS Graduate CatalogW&M Catalogs (all) 

All approved courses offered by VIMS/SMS faculty are published in the SMS Graduate Catalog or W&M Undergraduate catalog. The catalogs provide course descriptions, prerequisites and credit hours for each course. They also serve as the official record of courses offered, degree requirements and policies in effect at the time a student matriculates to the program. 

Updates to the current course catalog should be submitted to the SMS Registrar by April 1 for inclusion in the new catalog, which is published annually on July 1.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Course Evaluations

Quick Link: Access your course evaluations (log in with W&M credentials)

Teaching evaluations can help faculty improve their classroom performance through reflective practice and they also provide information for decisions about re-appointment, promotion, tenure, salary, and awards.

Student evaluation of all courses takes place toward the end of each semester, using a standard form that is distributed through the course evaluation platform. Evaluations are administered online beginning during the last week of classes through the exam period. Faculty members may also choose a convenient day during the last two weeks of the course to set aside 10 to 15 minutes at the start of class for the completion of evaluations, but should not be present in class during completion of evaluations.

Instructors have the option to add up to seven personalized questions to the evaluation form one week before the evaluation window opens for students. Co-instructors should coordinate in advance to avoid duplicate questions on the evaluation form.

Instructors may review evaluations for their courses only after they have submitted their final grades for the semester. This excludes classes with 3 or fewer students enrolled. However, low enrollment course evaluation reports are included in the distribution of reports to Section Chairs for faculty development and annual evaluation purposes. Faculty access to evaluations is available through the course evaluation platform dashboard.  Faculty will receive email notifications after final grades have been submitted.

Course Schedules

Quick links: Course Schedules (W&M); Class Search & Registration (via PATH)

These websites offer useful tools for searching course offerings, enrollment, schedules and other course-related information. A list of Marine Science courses offered in a particular semester will include the instructor(s), class day and time and actual enrollment.

Visit the Course Catalogs & Schedules page on the University Registrar website for more information.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Course Subject Code and Numbering System

Marine Science courses have the subject code MSCI.  For undergraduate courses, VIMS/SMS follows the W&M Arts & Sciences numbering system (1XX - 4XX level). VIMS/SMS graduate courses are numbered 5XX or 6XX.  At the present time, courses numbered <550 are lower-level graduate and those with course numbers > 550 are advanced graduate courses.

Undergraduate courses that fulfill College Curriculum requirements and are approved by A&S EPC also receive a COLL designation.

Course Withdrawals

Quick links: Change in Registration for SMS Graduate Students (pdf); Withdrawal from a Course (W&M, undergraduates)

Students may withdraw from a course without penalty through about the ninth week of classes (or 60% of a shorter term) and a grade of “W” is assigned. To inform student decision making, faculty are urged to assign and grade some substantial course work prior to the end of the ninth week of classes.

For undergraduates, withdrawal from a course after the ninth week will require a petition to the Committee on Academic Status (A&S).

An SMS graduate student who wishes to withdraw from a course must complete a Change in Registration form.  A graduate student may not drop a course or courses subsequent to the Add/Drop period and prior to the end of classes except in exceptional circumstances, and then only with approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for graduate students. Requests should be submitted in writing.

In cases of personal emergency, usually medical, a graduate student may petition the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs who may decide to assign a retroactive withdrawal from all courses. All medical withdrawals require a detailed approval process and are finalized through the W&M Medical Review Committee. 

The University Registrar website provides information on registration processes for students.  The SMS Registrar provides support for students and faculty on the VIMS campus.

Credit Hour Policy

Quick link: W&M Credit Hour Policy

Course credit hours are determined based on classroom contact hours and the number of hours students are expected to spend on out-of-class work.  As defined in the W&M Credit Hour Policy, "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: 1) not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time, or, 2) at least an equivalent amount of work as required outlined in item 1 above 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.” 

Delinked Courses: At William & Mary, some courses diverge from the traditional definition of a credit hour.  In such courses, the ratio of contact hours to out-of-class hours is different from the traditional 1:2 ratio required in the definition of a credit hour above. In such cases, credit hours and contact hours are considered to be “delinked.” 

Before proposing a delinked course for approval, please review the VIMS/SMS policy on delinking credit hours on the VIMS/SMS Educational Policy Committee website (intranet only). 

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Cross-listed and Cross-level Courses

In some cases, and with the concurrence of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, it may be appropriate to cross-list or cross-level list your course. 

Cross-listed courses are set up to include an MSCI course plus sections listed in other Schools or Departments, such as BIOL or GEOL.  Cross-listed courses that are listed through another department or school track with the instructor for course administration and course evaluations, but track with the School or Department that "owns" the course code.  

Cross-level listing is used when undergraduate and graduate students will share a classroom.  As an example, the MSCI course Fundamentals of Biological Oceanography is listed for undergraduates as MSCI 401D and for graduate students as MSCI 501D.  It is W&M policy that, in general, academic units should offer distinct undergraduate and graduate courses. However, when cross-level listings of undergraduate and graduate courses are deemed appropriate and necessary, academic units must adhere to the certain requirements of accreditors.  Most important, there must be a syllabus for each level and syllabi must demonstrate that there are progressively advanced expectations for the more advanced level.

If you are interested in one of these options for a course, you will need to discuss the options with the VIMS/SMS Associate Dean for Academic Affairs before you submit the course for approval.


Quick link: Tips for Using Curriculog (W&M, Arts & Sciences)

Curriculog is a curriculum management system used by the W&M Arts & Sciences Educational Policy Committee to manage their workflows related to course proposals.


DegreeWorks is a web-based tool for students (and advisors) to monitor academic progress toward degree completion through degree audits.  For information on how to use DegreeWorks to support advising, visit the Faculty & Staff Support page on the University Registrar website.

Educational Policy Committee (VIMS/SMS and W&M)

Quick links: VIMS/SMS Educational Policy Committee (intranet only), W&M Arts & Sciences Educational Policy Committee (EPC)

These committees review and approve graduate (VIMS/SMS EPC) and undergraduate (W&M A&S EPC) course proposals.  See also Course Approvals, above.

Emergency Notifications

Quick link: Emergency Information (W&M)

The university, including VIMS, has a number of ways to communicate to the campus communities during an emergency situation. It's important that you take an active role in staying informed.  Visit the W&M Emergency Information webpage for important details.

Keep Banner Updated. Staying informed starts with keeping your emergency contact information updated so the Emergency Management Team (EMT) on either campus can contact you through our mass notification system in the event of an emergency. This system, which sends out notifications through text messages and email, is utilized to inform you about campus-wide emergencies, natural disasters and closings for inclement weather. Students, faculty and staff can easily update this information through Banner.  As appropriate, the VIMS EMT sends VIMS-specific notifications to VIMS faculty, staff and students.

If you need to notify someone of an emergency, call 911. On the VIMS campus, a 911 call will notify the Gloucester County Sheriff's Office. To facilitate a rapid response, a 911 call made from a VIMS landline phone will also send an alert and the location of the call to the VIMS Chief Operations Officer, VIMS Facilities Management Director and VIMS Safety Office. For the Williamsburg campus, all area police and rescue departments use the 911 system for emergencies. 

Evaluation of Students

Each faculty member has a responsibility to evaluate the quality of student work carefully, using the documented evidence of papers, tests, reports, projects, classroom participation, presentations, and examinations, as appropriate. Ultimately, this evaluation should be consistent across students and based on the student learning objectives for the course. The quantitative approach to grading and grade scale used to convert to letter grades from numeric grades should be made clear on the syllabus. 

Faculty/Instructor Responsibilities - Class Attendance

In accordance with the Credit Hour Policy, students are required to have one (1) hour of classroom instruction and two (2) hours of outside classroom time for every credit of graduate level coursework in which they are enrolled. Thus, instructors are expected to meet their classes at the time and places designated in the schedule of classes for every class period unless extenuating circumstances such as illness arise. If legitimate reasons such as research cruises, conference travel, or field work arise during the semester, then the instructor must provide equivalent classroom coverage of instructional material as noted in the syllabus without disruption. For example, an instructor may arrange for a colleague or advanced graduate student to substitute as a lecturer during their absence, with approval from the Office of Academic Affairs.

For courses taught in a hybrid mode with a synchronous online component, instructors are expected to meet their classes at the time designated in the published schedule of classes and in the context designated in the syllabus. When a course has a designated synchronous online component, instructors are expected to state in the syllabus requirements for participation as well as preferred methods of communication. Any changes in the regular schedule must be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. 

If an emergency, illness, disability, or anticipated absence should prevent an instructor from teaching a class, they shall notify the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and make appropriate provisions consistent with the course syllabus.

The university does not cancel classes for religious holidays, but an individual instructor may cancel or reschedule a class if it conflicts with a day of religious observance in his or her faith. The instructor, in consultation with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, should determine whether the class should be rescheduled.

For out year planning purposes - SMS generally follows the undergraduate academic calendar with respect to start and end of classes, holidays and Fall and Spring Breaks. For planning purposes, undergraduate calendars are available through AY 2030.

Related information: Inclement Weather

Faculty/Instructor Responsibilities - Office Hours

Instructors are expected to be available to students through regular office hours and by appointment. Best practice guidelines suggest that 1 to 1.5 hours of time weekly in person within the office for a 3-credit course is sufficient to meet the needs of most students. Distributing office hours across a couple of days and times will better accommodate student schedules. Especially critical times are at the beginning and end of each semester/session when registration occurs, grades are reported, and decisions on academic or degree status are made. Generally, regular office hours shall be held at a campus location and the schedule of office hours shall be listed on course syllabi and posted on the office door or otherwise made available to students. Instructors should also be available to students for consultation by appointment. These appointments may be virtual.  

To gain access to the Marine Science office on main campus for meeting with undergraduates, contact one of the program co-directors.

Final Exams (Scheduling)

Classrooms for final exams are not reserved unless requested. Instructors should submit final exam room requests to the SMS Registrar in March (for spring exams) and November (for fall exams). Announcements are included in the Academic Digest.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Final Grades (How to Submit)

Quick links: Grading Procedures (W&M), Grading System

Instructions for entering grades into Banner are available on the University Registrar website. If a course is team taught, the lead instructor (first instructor listed) is responsible for submitting grades.

Non-graduating MS and PhD students should be assigned a “G” grade (or a "U" grade under exceptional circumstances) each semester if they enrolled for Thesis (MSCI 599) or Dissertation (MSCI 699). You can read more about "G" grades and guidelines for "U" grades in the Grading System section.

Grades are available to students soon after they have been submitted. 

Deadlines for Grading: Near the end of every semester, the University Registrar’s Office will send instructions, including deadlines, for submitting semester grades for regular students, for submitting semester grades for graduating seniors and graduate students, for resolving deferred grades (“I” & “G”) for regular students, and for resolving deferred grades (“I” & “G”) for graduating seniors. All four of these may have separate due dates. Grades for graduating students will have earlier due dates. Instructors are required to meet these deadlines so that students can be graduated, transcripts can be generated, and records can be reviewed for academic continuance in a timely fashion. It is the responsibility of each instructor to submit final course grades in Banner Self-Service before the deadline.

Once final grades are submitted, they may be changed only for demonstrable error, and only when approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. 

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Financial Support for Courses

Contact Office of Academic Affairs for information.

Grade Appeal

A student who believes that a final course grade has been unfairly assigned may request a review of the grade. The policy for SMS graduate students is available in the Academic & General Policies section of the SMS Graduate Catalog. The policy for undergraduates is available through Arts & Sciences.

Grading System/Transcript Key

Quick links: Transcript Key (W&M)
Guidelines and Consequences for Unsatisfactory Grade in Thesis or Dissertation Research

W&M uses a four point grading system that ranges from A to F. Other grading options may include: for Pass/Fail: F Failure, P Pass; I Incomplete; G Deferred Grade; W Withdraw; WM Medical Withdraw; S Satisfactory; O Satisfactory Audit; U Unsatisfactory Audit or Unsatisfactory Progress in Research.

Letter grades earned are A (4.0 quality points), A- (3.7 quality points), B+ (3.3 quality points), B (3.0 quality points), B- (2.7 quality points), C+ (2.3 quality points), C (2.0 quality points), C- (1.7 quality points), D (1.0 quality points), and F (0 quality points and no credit).

Important Note: For SMS graduate students, the lowest passing grade in a graded core course is B-. The core courses are: MSCI 501 A-F (MSCI 521 may be taken in lieu of MSCI 501C), MSCI 503, MSCI 504 (or MSCI 554 or MSCI 556) and MSCI 515. MSCI 515 Marine Science Seminar is graded Pass/Fail.

For SMS graduate courses, P/F is only available when set up in advance and is not allowed for core courses. 

The letter ‘G’ is given to research work in progress towards an M.S. (MSCI 599) or Ph.D. (MSCI 699) degree because there is insufficient evidence upon which to base a grade. Unlike the deferred grade ‘I’, ‘G’ does not automatically revert to ‘F’ after one semester. A "U" grade may also be given under exceptional circumstances to indicate unsatisfactory progress in thesis or dissertation research. For more information, refer to the Guidelines and Consequences for Unsatisfactory Grade in Thesis or Dissertation Research.

‘I’ indicates that because of illness or other major extenuating circumstances the student has postponed, with the explicit consent of the instructor, the completion of certain required work. ‘I’ automatically becomes ‘F’ at the end of the next semester if the postponed work has not been completed, unless the instructor requests an extension for another semester. An ‘I’ may not be extended more than once without the approval of the SMS Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

No numerical equivalents (100 point scale) have been set by SMS for letter grades in undergraduate or graduate courses and there are no general grade distribution requirements for MSCI courses. A course graded D+, D, D-, or F is included in the student's quality point average but carries no credit towards the graduate degree.

For more information on the W&M Grading System, refer to the Transcript Key on the University Registrar website.

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Inclement Weather - W&M, VIMS

Quick link: W&M Inclement Weather Policy, Stay Informed!

The W&M Emergency Notification System is used to announce weather closures and delayed openings via e-mail and text.  Decisions to close the Williamsburg versus VIMS campus are made independently. You will be notified of campus closures based on whatever preferences you select in Banner Self Service. Weather closures are also announced or posted on some of the local television and radio stations. The main phone line at VIMS (804) 684-7000 will have a message regarding inclement weather or emergencies of any kind that affect the operations of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. This message will normally be updated by 5:30 a.m. if delayed openings or all-day closings are required. 

Inclusive Excellence & Belonging

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Quick links: VIMS Director of Inclusive Excellence & BelongingDiversity & Inclusion at VIMS

Quick links to example resources available from W&M's Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation: Accessibility and Inclusivity in Assessment, Building Community in the Classroom, Creating an Inclusive Learning EnvironmentCulturally Affirming Pedagogy, Inclusive Teaching Strategies, Universal Design for Teaching

All instructors should be mindful of all barriers to students feeling a sense of inclusion and belonging such as social exclusion, accessibility issues, explicit and implicit bias, and microagressions. To ensure that all students feel a sense of belonging, faculty should teach in accessible spaces, facilitate opportunities for peer and faculty mentoring, use inclusive teaching and assessment practices, and remind students about available support services.

Instructional/Delivery Modes

Quick link: Delivery Mode Survey Tool (W&M)

Most classes are taught in a traditional mode with the instructor and students in a classroom for scheduled class sessions. If you are interested in including online, synchronous* or asynchronous components in your course (e.g. "flipped classroom"), you will need to adhere to certain university guidelines and also work with the SMS Registrar to determine the correct instructional mode code. The university is required to report these codes to state and federal agencies.

The W&M Delivery Mode Survey, available on the University Registrar website, will help you determine the correct code for your course. The default code is "A" for approved on-campus**, synchronous, or synchronous, hybrid where, for formal instruction, the instructor and learner share the same physical space more than 50% of the time (understood in terms of Carnegie credit hour equivalency, see Credit Hour Policy for more information). SMS is not approved to offer distance education courses (synchronous or asynchronous) at the present time. Any exceptions must be reviewed by Office of Academic Affairs in advance of submitting a course request through the VIMS/SMS Educational Policy Committee (EPC).

*synchronous = the teacher is present at the same time as the learners; **on-campus includes: Williamsburg, Gloucester Point, W&M DC Center, Eastern Shore Lab (ESL), or field trips and courses departing from and returning to campus. 

For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Instructional Services & Technology in the Classroom

Quick links: VIMS ITNS, W&M IT

VIMS and W&M provide instructional services and technology to support teaching. Details on classroom resources and support services on each campus can be accessed using the quick links above.

Panopto Lecture CapturePanopto is an easy-to-use tool for recording multiple events including in-class lectures, events, presentations, and tutorials that can be easily distributed to students through Blackboard. You can record from any computer equipped with a microphone and (optionally) a webcam. With Panopto, you can record what is on the computer screen, audio, as well as video from a web cam. All recordings are automatically uploaded to the Panopto service and integrated with Blackboard, where they can be easily shared with your students.

Zoom Video ConferencingZoom is a cloud-based conferencing solution that provides both video and audio conferencing, mobile collaboration, screen sharing capabilities and online meetings. It works well for hosting guests speakers who are at remote locations and for virtual meetings with students.

Using Zoom and Panopto in the Classroom (W&M, pdf)

If you can't find the answer to a question using the resources above, or need technology support on the VIMS campus, contact Bob Polley, VIMS' Instructional Technology Specialist (x7078).

Learning Objectives & Methods of Assessment

From W&M's Studio for Teaching & Learning (STLI): Clear learning objectives are beneficial to both instructors and students because they communicate the intent and benefit of instructional activities. For example:

  • Learners can see the learning path clearly to reach their learning goals.
  • Learners can track and monitor their learning progress and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Instructors can align the learning goals, activities, and assessments.
  • Instructors can ensure course design that is engaging and inclusive.

Building Your Course Around Design Principles (STLI, W&M)

Understanding by Design (Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University)

Developing Learning Objectives (STLI, W&M)

Bloom's Taxonomy (Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University)

Assessment (STLI, W&M)

Modular and Summer Courses

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Quick links: PATH portal for students; About PATH

William & Mary uses CourseLeaf PATH to support student course planning and registration. Read more about PATH on the W&M website.

Reflective Teaching

From W&M's Studio for Teaching & Learning (STLI): Reflecting on successful and unsuccessful teaching experiences can improve teaching and help instructors feel more effective as they plan, deliver, and evaluate their instruction.

Reflective Teaching (STLI, W&M)

Create a Continuous Improvement Cycle (University of Illinois Chicago, Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence)

Reflective Teaching (Poorvu Center, Yale University)

Teaching-as-Research (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, CIRTL)


Quick link: Faculty & Staff Support (How to use Banner Self-Service; W&M)

Registration occurs in early November for the Spring semester and mid-April for the Summer and Fall semesters. Graduate and undergraduate students enrolled as degree candidates in other programs at William & Mary may take SMS courses for credit with your permission, provided they have obtained permission through their department, and if the credit earned in the School of Marine Science course will be applied toward their degree program. There will be a form involved.  Instructors teaching very large undergraduate classes may want to consider setting up tiered enrollment. Contact the SMS Registrar for details.

Registration - Undergraduates for Graduate Courses

With the permission of the instructor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, an undergraduate that has a GPA of at least 2.5 overall and 3.0 in the course's subject field (or another STEM field) and has taken the prerequisites, may register for relevant MSCI courses > 500. Generally only very well-prepared undergraduates are granted permission to register for courses numbered 550 or greater. Be aware that the approval process requires multiple steps and must be completed before the end of add/drop.

The University Registrar website provides detailed information on registration processes for students.  The SMS Registrar provides support for students and faculty on the VIMS campus.

Registration Overrides

Quick link: Faculty & Staff Support (How to grant registration overrides; W&M)

Course instructors may grant the following overrides that allow a student to enroll in a course:

Instructor Override

Overrides Pre-requisites, Special Approval, Major, College, Level, Class, Degree, and Program restrictions. It does not give the student permission to enter a closed course

Maximum Capacity Override

ONLY overrides the maximum capacity of a course, or closed course; instructors should also verify approved overrides do not exceed the max seating capacity of the classroom.

COLINK Override

Overrides links and co-requisites

Maximum capacity overrides may be temporarily disabled by the University Registrar to ensure equal access to available seats during undergraduate registration events (for example, when there will be two registration groups and each will have equal access to available seats).

Be aware that you may be asked to provide overrides during the add/drop phase of registration. For any questions and support on the VIMS campus, contact the SMS Registrar.

Student Academic Success

The SMS is deeply committed to the success of all students in its various educational programs, both in classroom learning and research endeavors. Academic support may be offered to any student who is experiencing difficulty in one or more courses. Instructors and advisors are instrumental in referring students who could benefit from academic assistance.

For more information, please contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Student Class Attendance & Participation

Effective classroom instruction is predicated on the concept of regular class attendance. An instructor should clearly convey the attendance expectations for their class and be clear about the expected mode of communication regarding attendance/participation/illness etc. (e.g. email, text, blackboard post, etc.)

A faculty member, where feasible, should be alert to a student’s frequent or prolonged absences and should contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or W&M Dean of Students office to ensure that the student may receive support and assistance if they are experiencing unexpected or difficult circumstances.

Student Classifications

Undergraduate and graduate students are usually classified as degree-seeking or unclassified (non-degree-seeking). Some degree-seeking students may also be VIMS/W&M employees. Unclassified students may include senior citizen auditors, VIMS/W&M employees, and non-W&M UG and grad students who are enrolled in MSCI classes at VIMS. Instructor permission is required before unclassified students are permitted to enroll in graduate classes.  Also see Auditors.

Student Conduct - Community Expectations & Honor Code Violations

Quick links: W&M Community Expectations (W&M Dean of Students Office), Faculty Information (W&M Dean of Student Office), W&M Honor Code

Community Expectations

William & Mary has developed technical and behavioral standards for current students. These standards provide a consistent objective framework to help guide conversations around behavior and community expectations inside and outside of the classroom. Standards are provided in the following areas: Intellectual & Conceptual Skills, Time Management Skills, Attendance & Exam Policy, Communication Skills, Organizational Skills, Behavioral Skills, Academic Integrity (also see Honor Code, below), and Residential Life (for students living on campus). Refer to the website for details.

Information For Faculty

The W&M Dean of Students Office's Faculty Information page provides brief summaries of topics related to student success for instructors at William & Mary. The relevant topics are Disruptive Behavior and Honor Code violations.  More extensive information about Student Accessibility Services and Community Values & Restorative Practices is also recommended for faculty partners.

Honor Code

All W&M students are bound by the W&M Honor Code: "As a member of the William & Mary community, I pledge on my honor not to lie, cheat, or steal, either in my academic or personal life. I understand that such acts violate the Honor Code and undermine the community of trust, of which we are all stewards."

Refer to the W&M website for information on the W&M Honor Code and the process for addressing Honor Code violations.


Instructors are required to create and distribute a syllabus at the beginning of every course. The syllabus serves as a "contract" between the instructor and the student and sets the foundation for mutual expectations of the student and instructor. To create a syllabus that meets the guidelines for undergraduate syllabi (from Arts & Sciences) and SMS graduate syllabi, your syllabus should:

  • be in an accessible format (i.e. readable by assistive technology)
  • provide an overview of the intellectual content of the course and the educational goals
  • list specific student learning objectives
  • explain expectations for self and students
  • provide class meeting days and times, a schedule for the course and details on any class sessions that will be taught online or at any location other than the classroom assigned by the Registrar
  • provide office hours and explain how to schedule an appointment or contact the instructor(s) outside of regular office hours
  • include the add-drop deadline; the withdrawal deadline; and the time and date of the final examination or project
  • clearly outline your policy regarding attendance; if your policy is that you do not take attendance, just state that. The Health Center does not issue "notes" for students when they visit the health center for short-term illnesses. If a student reports that short-term illness led to a class absence, please work with them to get access to missed class matters (from class presentations, classmates, and office hours, for example). For students who are managing long term illnesses, the Dean of Students Office will provide clear documentation to faculty.
  • provide detailed information about all assignments (including deadlines and guidelines for the use of AI writing tools)
  • explain your policy on technology use in the classroom (eg laptops, cellphones)
  • explain grading policies (including for late or missed assignments); W&M does not have an official numerical system that aligns with letter grades, but many students will find this useful, and if you use the grading function in Blackboard, you will need it. You may devise your own scale as long as you include it in your syllabus and use it consistently. The usual numerical scale in American education is A range=90-100, B range=80-89, C range=70-79 etc. 
  • contain W&M language regarding student accommodations, and information about religious accommodations, the Writing Resource Center (especially for undergraduates) and Library Research Services
  • include an Inclusive Academic Community/Classroom Affirmation (adopted by the SMS Core Course Instructors for their syllabi): VIMS instructors and teaching assistants are committed to deliberately cultivating a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and feel valued and supported in their learning. Such teaching attends to social identities and seeks to change the ways systemic inequities shape dynamics in teaching-learning spaces, affect individuals’ experiences of those spaces, and influence course and curriculum design. 
  • include a reminder about the Honor Code which prohibits plagiarism and the submission of the same material in assignments for more than one class (except with instructors’ permission)
  • explain factors that will be taken into consideration in assigning a grade including grading equivalences, attendance policy, and to the extent feasible, the general weight that will be given to each of the factors
  • Please remember that you may not add or change a major course assignment later in the semester. You may make incremental adjustments to your syllabus, but please give students as much advance, written notice as possible. Changes to the syllabus may not involve a major increase in course responsibilities. 

For cross-level listed courses: The accrediting body for W&M (SACSCOC), requires that graduate courses be “progressively more advanced” relative to undergraduate courses.  This is their exact wording:

“Graduate education builds upon the foundation of undergraduate education. Hence, there is an expectation that postgraduate professional degree programs and graduate programs demand more rigor and higher-order learning than undergraduate work on the same subject. Post-baccalaureate degree programs are progressively more complex than similar undergraduate programs. This expectation for graduate education also implies that requirements in courses not exclusively designed for graduate credit, but that allow both undergraduate and graduate enrollment, ensure that there is a clear distinction between the requirements of undergraduate students and graduate students.

This is accomplished by having two different syllabi (undergraduate vs. graduate) that state different expectations.

Teaching Assistants & Graders - Financial

contact Office of Academic Affairs for information

Teaching Assistants & Graders

Quick links: Blackboard Course Generator, W&M Arts & Sciences Resources for Teaching Assistants & Teaching Fellows 

If your course has a Teaching Assistant or Grader, first and foremost, you must be aware of university and FERPA policies (under Compliance, above).  You will be using Blackboard Course Generator to add a student as a TA or grader and initiate the approval process.  For instructions, refer to the webpage section called "Add User / Elevate Roles in Academic Courses" on the Blackboard Course Generator webpage.

As the supervisor of a Teaching Assistant or Grader, you will have an opportunity to contribute to their professional development and responsible conduct.  Although the School of Marine Science does not maintain a manual for students in these roles, we encourage you to share W&M Arts & Sciences Resources for Teaching Assistants & Teaching Fellows with them.


Quick link:

The bookstore sells both new and used textbooks, and also offers textbook rentals. Students can rent or buy their textbooks online. The bookstore also buys back eligible used textbooks from students.

William & Mary faculty should access the Adoptions & Insights Portal through Blackboard to submit course and book information, review previous course books and select new titles.  To access the portal:

  • Log in using your W&M credentials,
  • Click on "Institution page" on the menu, and then
  • Click 'BNC AIP Textbook Portal' under Faculty/Staff Links.

Top tip (from A&S): You should order your books as much in advance as possible, and make sure that any reading assignment you give during the first week of classes is also available in an alternative form (i.e., BlackBoard posting, copy of text in the library, web-source). Even when undergraduate students order books for overnight delivery, it can take some time for them to be distributed through campus mail once they reach W&M.

Undergraduate Marine Science Program & Minor

Quick links: Undergraduate Marine Science Program, Undergraduate Marine Science Minor

William & Mary undergraduates can get involved in all aspects of marine science through a collaboration between William & Mary's Arts & Sciences and School of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). Students complete coursework, conduct research, engage with policy, and can complete a Minor in Marine Science

The undergraduate Minor in Marine Science addresses the growing national demand for undergraduate education in earth, marine, and environmental sciences and prepares students for graduate programs, state and federal agencies, and industry positions throughout the country. 

Universal Design

Quick link: Learn how to make your course accessible to everyone.

The purpose of Universal Design is to make everything from spaces and objects to information and services more accessible to everyone, and in so doing, make a more welcoming, accessible environment for all, and minimize the need for individual accommodations.

page last update: 05/14/24 by LCS