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Academic Policies and Procedures

Academic Freedom

The right to academic freedom is the right of every faculty member. Academic freedom is defined as the freedom of thought and expression as it applies to teaching, publication, oral presentation, and extramural activities. It includes the right of faculty members to choose and use materials that they deem appropriate to program or course goals in their classes without interference.

Institutions of higher education exist for the common good. The welfare and strength of United States University and of society at large depend on the uninhibited search for truth and its free expression. Academic freedom is based upon the premise that scholars are entitled to immunity from coercion in matters of thought and expression, and on the belief that the mission of United States University can be performed only in an atmosphere free from administrative or political constraints and tolerant of thought and expression. Academic freedom is fundamental for the protection of the rights of both the faculty in teaching and the student in learning. Academic freedom is also essential to protect the rights of the faculty to freely discuss and debate all ideas, however controversial or unpopular, within United States University or before the broader community. The exercise of academic freedom cannot serve as cause for discipline, dismissal, or non-reappointment. Academic freedom does not include communication or material presented in class that constitutes discrimination, sexual harassment, illegal behavior, or encourages students or others to engage in criminal or unethical behavior.

In the event a faculty member’s choice of course materials are challenged, the burden will be on the challenger to establish by material evidence that the challenged material is academically inappropriate for the course. The Provost’s Office will be the academic administrator charged with oversight of this process. Determination as to the appropriateness of the course material in question will be made within 60 calendar days of the date that the Provost’s Office receives written challenge to the academic appropriateness of the material in question.

Notwithstanding the broad right of faculty members to select and use academically appropriate materials for their courses, faculty members should be sensitive to the possibility that some students in a course may find certain materials to be personally offensive. Faculty members can elect to alert students at the beginning of their courses to any potentially controversial course materials.


Credit Hour Policy

United States University offers credit bearing programs and courses in semester credit hour system. A semester is composed of two sessions of 8 weeks (a total of 16 weeks). At USU, one credit hour is defined as 15 hours of direct faculty instruction and a minimum 30 hours of out-of-class student work for the 8 weeks session.

USU’s definition of a credit hour is consistent with the federal regulation (CFRs 600.2 and 600.4), which defines the credit hour as “the amount of work represented intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:

  1. One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
  2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.”

One hour of direct faculty instruction is equal to 50 minutes of classroom time. In courses in which direct instruction does not apply, a credit hour may be measured by an equivalent amount of work, as demonstrated by student achievement.

For nursing laboratory and clinical courses, one credit is awarded for 48 hours of supervised laboratory or clinical instruction.


Student Complaint and Grievance Policy

The Grievance Policy and Procedures are designed to support and foster a fair, objective, respectful and ethical set of policies and procedures for resolution of disputes. The policies and procedures are designed to provide students with a process in which to protect the University and its students.

Students with complaints/grievances relating to classroom issues are encouraged to do the following:

  1. Discuss the issue with their instructor. Every attempt should be made by both the student and the faculty member to resolve the issue at this level.
  2. If it is not resolved at the instructor level, unresolved complaints/grievances should be submitted in writing to the Program Director/Dean for the program of enrollment.
  3. If it is not resolved at the Director level, unresolved complaints/grievances should be submitted in writing to the Office of the Provost.

Students with complaints/grievances for all other matters should discuss the issue with or submit in writing to their Academic Advisor.

A thorough review of the complaint/grievance and USU associate response as well as any additional information will be conducted within 10 days of receiving the complaint/grievance.

If a student does not feel that the University has adequately addressed a complaint or concern, the student may consider contacting external agencies such as:

WASC, Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100
Alameda, CA 94501

Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE)
A student or any member of the public may file a complaint about this institution with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education by calling 888-370-7589 or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the bureau’s Web site

Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education
If the complaint cannot be resolved after exhausting the institution’s grievance procedure, the student may file a complaint with the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. The student must contact the State Board for further details.
The State Board address is:
1740 W. Adams, Ste. 3008
Phoenix, AZ 85007

California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN)
If a nursing student does not feel that the University has adequately addressed a complaint or concern, the student may consider contacting the following respective agency:
1747 North Market Boulevard, Suite 150
Sacramento, CA 95834

Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (GNEP)
A student in the State of Georgia may appeal any final decisions made by the University to:
Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission
East Exchange Place, Suite 220
Tucker, GA 30084-5305

New Mexico Higher Education Department
A student in the State of New Mexico may file a complaint by contacting New Mexico Higher Education Department. No adverse action shall be taken against the complainant for registering the complaint.
New Mexico Higher Education Department
2044 Galisteo Street, Suite 4
Santa Fe, NM 87505


Complaint Process

The name of the complainant and all details with respect to the complaint and its resolution shall be maintained in a confidential file. All such information shall be kept confidential; provided however, that such information may be disclosed when administratively required, required to complete the investigation, and/or required by legal compulsion, or when the University believes it is obligated to report the matter to employers or potential employers, educational institutions or agencies seeking information as to complainant or to otherwise take independent formal
action. In cases of academic dishonesty, the Dean or Program Lead Faculty may consult with the instructor in finalizing the academic actions that may be taken. The University may post or describe specific conduct complaints and their resolutions, as long as individuals’ names are redacted from any such posting or communication.

A person wishing to file a complaint should submit a written statement to the Title IX Coordinator. It is recommended that as much information as possible be provided regarding the offending incident or conduct. The written statement should include:

  • The name of the individual(s) against whom the complaint is made
  • The nature of the alleged offense
  • The specifics of the offending incident(s) with precise details (what happened, who was present, when, where, any reasons why they believe the action was taken)
  • The date and signature of the person making the complaint

Informal Resolution
Some complaints may allow for an informal resolution. Informal resolution will not be used to resolve sexual misconduct complaints. If informal resolution is appropriate, a resolution of the conflict that is agreeable to all parties will be pursued. Under the informal process, the University is required to only conduct such fact finding as is useful to resolve the complaint, and to protect the interests of the parties, the University, and the community. If a satisfactory resolution is reached, the matter will be considered closed, and both parties will be provided written
notification of the outcome. A formal investigation can be requested at any time by the parties, or as initiated by the University.

Formal Investigation and Resolution
If investigation is to commence, the Respondent will receive a Notice of Investigation as notification that a report has been filed, and will have the opportunity to review the written compliant or otherwise be informed of the substance of the allegation. If the Respondent cannot be located, attempts at notification will be documented and additional University actions may take place to ensure a documented response to the notification.


Student Code of Conduct

The University is committed to upholding a learning environment in which all members of the community are held to the highest standards of conduct consistent with respect for the law, fulfillment of contractual obligations, consideration for the rights of others, and a high level of personal integrity. All members of the University may face sanctions when not behaving in a manner consistent with the mission and policies of United States University both on- and off-campus.

Students should refer to the Student Code of Conduct Handbook for more information.


Copyright Infringement Policy