“Good Standing” in the American Language Program

A student in good standing at the American Language Program is one who:
— regularly attends class (90% of class hours)
— regularly completes in-class and out-of-class work at an average level or higher
— respects University behavioral standards and academic discipline
— makes progress in English
— receives a final grade of “C” or better

Grounds for Academic Probation and Dismissal

A student is not in good standing if one or more of the criteria stated above is not being met during the term or by the end of the term. The student may be given a First Warning and may be placed on Academic Probation.

First Warning means that the student is referred by the Level Leader to the Interim Director for advisement. The student’s progress is then monitored for the rest of the term.

A First Warning may be given to a student who fits one or more of these criteria:
— has missed more than 10% of the classes
— is not regularly completing in-class and out-of-class assignments
— is making little or no progress in English

Academic Probation means that the student’s case is referred by the Program to the Dean of Students. If the student does not make significant progress in that semester, Academic Dismissal may result.

A student may be placed on Academic Probation if:
— No improvement is made in the two weeks following the First Warning.
— By the end of the semester, the student fits one more of these criteria:
  o Has missed 15% or more of classes
  o Has not completed in-class and out-of-class work at an acceptable level
  o Has made little or no progress in English, resulting in no promotion
  o Receives a final grade of “D” or “F”
— After two consecutive semesters*, the student fails to make significant progress in English.  ‘Significant progress’ is taken to mean a level promotion at the end of the semester.  If there is no significant progress in the third semester, the student may be asked to Withdraw or may face Academic Dismissal.
* 2 consecutive semesters = Spring + Full Summer; Full Summer + Fall; Fall + Spring.

At any time, a student may be placed on Academic Probation and may face Academic Dismissal if the student demonstrates disrespect for University behavioral standards and academic discipline.

Academic Dismissal means that the student is required to leave the university and may not enroll in any future courses at the American Language Program. The dismissal will remain on the student’s permanent university record and may affect acceptance into any other program at Columbia University.  If you are dismissed and have an F1 student visa, your SEVIS record and I-20 will be terminated immediately. 


Students are expected to attend all classes. Certificates of Attendance are given to those full-time students who attend 90% or more of the classes. (Part-time students are not eligible for certificates.) For full-time students who arrive later than the first day or class or enter at midterm, absences are counted from the day the student begins. These students are eligible for Certificates of Attendance.

Attendance is reported on the midterm and final grade reports.

Students are expected to arrive on time for all classes. If a student is more than 10 minutes late, the student may join the class but is marked absent for that hour.

Students may miss up to 10% of classes and still receive a certificate (see below for numbers). Whatever the reason, an absence is an absence: there are no 'excused' absences. Every absent hour counts toward the 10%, so use them carefully.

Lack of attendance = violation of visa status.
If you do not attend classes and maintain your immigration status, you may be dismissed from the ALP, and your I-20 and visa may be cancelled.

The number of permitted absences depends on the session.
14 weeks = 25 hours
   4 weeks = 7 hours


Some ALP courses have a “Pass/Fail Only” designation in the University Registrar’s system. For these courses, it does not matter in which school the student is registered. ALP courses for which P/F is the only option are:

Listening and Speaking for International Students
International Teaching Fellows Training

Two ALP courses have a “Letter Grade Only” designation in the University Registrar’s system. For these courses, it does not matter in which school the student is registered. The ALP courses for which a letter grade is the only option, no matter the student’s home school of registration, are:

1. Z1007, Advanced Academic Writing for General Studies
2. Z1003, College Composition for International Students

Non-ALP registrants (in GS, CC, SEAS, GSAS, Law, Business, SIPA etc.) must take their ALP courses for a Letter Grade Only, with the exceptions for “Pass-Fail only” courses listed above. Non-ALP registrants must take Letter Grade Only if they are in:
Academic Writing for International Students
Intensive classes year-round: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

ALP registrants in our Morning, Evening, Summer Evening Part-time and Intensive classes have a choice of Letter Grade or Pass/Fail. Letter grades are considered the default setting— teachers always submit letter grades. However, if students want Pass/Fail, they have to officially, formally chose to do so by completing a Registration & Add/Drop Form, receiving approval from the Student Affairs Office (203 Lewisohn Hall), and then finally submitting the form to the Registrar's Office (205 Kent Hall). In that case, the letter grade submitted by the teacher will automatically be changed to Pass/Fail by the Registrar.

For more information on grades, visit:

A means excellent.
B means good.
C means fair.
D means poor but passing.
Fail, or “F,”
means the student has failed to meet attendance, work, and/or progress requirements for the class.

Unofficial Withdrawal, or “UW,” means that the student has not attended any teacher’s class for two weeks or more, without explanation. The last date of attendance is given.


1. Promotion decisions are based solely on each student's proficiency in the various language skills. In general, oral fluency and listening comprehension are the most important skills to consider at the lower levels, while writing becomes increasingly critical from Level 5 or 6 upward. (Promotion decisions are not based on a student’s effort, attitude, attendance, or participation, which tend not to be good indicators of the student’s ability to handle the academic challenges of a particular level.)

2. A “typical” promotion in the intensive program is considered to be one full level (4b to 5b, for example) after 14 weeks of solid progress. For part-time students in the 6-point program, Academic Writing for International Students, a half-level promotion might be considered “normal” and a full-level move possible, but anything more than that is highly exceptional. Students in Pronunciation or Tutorials will receive grades, but not promotions.

3. A “typical” promotion in a four-week session is considered to be one letter within the level (4b to 4c, for example) after 4 weeks of solid progress. It is not uncommon for a student to receive no promotion. It is very rare for a student to jump two letters (e.g., from 3a to 3c). Also, it is rare to receive even a one-letter promotion if this would result in a change of level (e.g. 5c to 6a). After only 4 weeks on one level, it is extremely unlikely that a student will have made enough progress to handle a new level.

4. Promotions are provisional. At the beginning of each term, students’ levels can be adjusted, either upward or downward, depending on the individual’s performance on intake assessments performed by the course instructors.

Program Completion

1. Intensive language program applicants who, upon arrival at the ALP, test into ALP Level 10 may study for one term only in the highest intensive level available at that time; normally, this is a class at Level 8-9. 

2. Students who are taking the Fall or Spring ALP Intensive Program or part-time Academic Writing course at Level 7, 8, or 9, and who are not current Columbia degree candidates must take the ALP’s end-of-term Qualifying Exam. The promotion score on that exam will determine the ALP level the student may take in the subsequent term of study.

3. Columbia University degree candidates referred to the ALP for language instruction in the ALP Intensive Program or part-time Academic Writing course regardless of current level must take the ALP’s end-of-term Qualifying Exam. The promotion score on that exam will determine whether the student has met the English proficiency requirement set by his or her degree program, or whether a subsequent term or terms of study will be required.

4. Students who are promoted to ALP Level 10 at the end of an intensive class have completed the ALP program. This is a great achievement and demonstrates a very high level of English proficiency. Students who have completed our program may not repeat intensive level 8-9. Such students must either transfer to another program or begin their university studies.

Behavioral Standards and Academic Policies
Columbia University expects students to act with honesty and proper behavior and to respect the rights of others at all times, both on campus and off. Any academic dishonesty in any form, or any personal behavior that disrupts the life of the University hurts members of the University community will not be accepted and will result in serious action.

Because the School of Professional Studies takes matters of intellectual honesty very seriously, academic dishonesty is not tolerated. Acts of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:

•    Cheating on examinations, including the American Language Program’s  English Placement Test and ALP Essay Exam.
•    Making up (inventing) information in any course or laboratory work.
•    Misrepresenting (giving incorrect information) about one’s academic record at Columbia or elsewhere.
•    Plagiarizing (copying) another’s work or one’s own, including the submission of work prepared or purchased (bought) from another.
•    Helping others in plagiarism.
•    Lying in connection with any academic matter, including applications for admission or financial aid.
•    Creating, changing or misusing University documents.
•    Improperly using libraries or the materials they contain.

The School also prohibits behavior that interferes with the operation of the University or with the activities of other members of the University community. Examples of these behaviors include but are not limited to:

•    Harassing (annoying) or intimidating (scaring) others.
•    Making rude, abusive, or insulting comments about another person’s gender, race (skin color), nationality/ culture, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation.
•    Interfering with research or instruction.
•    Improperly using (not using correctly) University services, equipment, or facilities, including University e-mail and telephones.
•    Failing to follow (not following) a legitimate order of the University authority.

Academic and behavioral misconduct carry severe punishment. Plagiarism (copying someone else’s writing or one’s own writing), whether or not it is intentional, results in a failing grade on the assignment and in the course. For degree candidates in the School of Professional Studies, it also means immediate dismissal from their program of study. Students enrolled through other divisions of the University, if accused of any of the offenses mentioned above, may be referred to their home schools for disciplinary hearing and possible suspension or dismissal.

Ignorance of, (not knowing) the School’s policy concerning academic dishonesty is not a defense in any situation. The American Language Program and the School of Professional Studies hold each member of the community responsible for understanding these rules and for following them.