Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Four-year Pledge right for me?
The Pledge is designed for students who will be enrolled full time and have a good idea about their academic plans. At St. Mary’s, we understand that not all students can or should graduate in four years. You will be entering college at a time when many young people are still maturing and asking questions about their careers and other aspirations. Sometimes acquiring the best educational outcome may require that you adjust your plans change a major or alter the pace at which you proceed to obtain a degree.

Sometimes students have grown up thinking they wanted to pursue a particular profession only to find out that the details and the work in that profession do not appeal to them. Regardless of whether you sign the Pledge or stay on the Pledge, we will work with you to help you find the best field of study for your situation. About 60 percent of our students obtain their degrees in six years. This is among the best six-year graduation rates in Texas. The expertise, community and commitment to our students’ success that helped to produce this six-year graduation rate will remain available to you during your course of study whether you choose the Four-Year Pledge or not.

Who must sign the Pledge?
If you are 18 or older you may sign the Pledge on your own behalf. If you are under 18, you and a parent or guardian must sign the Pledge.

Where can I sign up for the Four-year Pledge?You may review information and download the Pledge agreement at the Four-year Pledge website. You will submit the signed form to the Office of Academic Advising during the first week of your first semester at St. Mary’s.

What happens if a student does not graduate in four years?
A student who does not graduate in four years experiences no penalty. The student simply is responsible for all additional costs (after financial aid eligibility) associated with obtaining the undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s University.

Are transfer students eligible for this program?
No. Because the program is designed for students to graduate in four years from the start of their first semester in college, in general, transfer students are not eligible. However, if you have earned college credit prior to high school graduation and are a first-time college student, you are eligible for the Four-year Pledge.

Can a student enrolled in classes prior to Fall 2011 sign up for this program?
No. However, you can contact your academic adviser to work and develop a four-year plan, including current enrollment and previously completed courses. In essence, you will still benefit from having a plan and completing a degree in four years.

Does the Pledge apply to all majors?
No. Only those designated as eligible majors are included in the Pledge.

Can I complete a minor (along with the major) under the Pledge?
The Four-year Pledge applies only to your major. However, if the credits required for the minor fit within the elective credits of the major, you can complete both the major and minor in the plan. However, the Pledge applies only to the major.

Can I complete a double major under the Pledge?
You may choose to double major. However, the Four-year Pledge is designed to help you complete one undergraduate degree within four years. While double majors may be desirable to some, pursuing a double major introduces potential scheduling conflicts that prevent the University from fulfilling its obligation to make necessary courses available for you to stay on track to graduate in four years. If you choose to double major you may designate one (but only one) of those majors for coverage by the Pledge. The designated major must be an eligible major.

What if a student needs to take developmental courses or prerequisite courses?
Developmental courses such as Intermediate Algebra (MT0301) and Non-Departmental (ND) courses do not count toward graduation credit; therefore, they do not count toward the credit requirements for the Four-year Pledge.

What happens if I elect to participate in an exchange program, study abroad and/or internship?
Students are encouraged to participate in St. Mary’s sponsored or approved exchange programs, study abroad and internships. Such credits approved by St. Mary’s University may count toward academic progress under the plan, but must be completed within the four-year agreement period. You need to contact your adviser to discuss feasibility as early as possible.

What about summer classes at St. Mary’s?
Students are allowed to enroll in summer sessions, which may allow for some adjustment in the fall and/or spring credit load.

What if a student takes summer courses at another institution?
Summer transfer credits may count toward academic progress provided you take courses accepted by St. Mary’s University. You are responsible for discussing your plans with your adviser as early as possible to determine how anticipated transfer credits will fit into your degree plan. Transfer coursework must be reported to St. Mary’s in a timely fashion. Keep in mind students must complete 30 of their last 36 credits at St. Mary’s University. (Note: You must obtain approval on a permission form in the Registrar’s Office prior to taking courses at another institution.)

How will I know if I am on track?
You will have access to your entire academic record and degree plan 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the degree audit found on the student portal, Gateway.

What is the procedure if a student asks to have the clock stopped?
The Four-year Pledge clock may be stopped during a student’s enrollment at St. Mary’s in the event the student must leave the University temporarily due to a serious health problem or the fulfillment of required military service. All stop-out situations must be documented and approved by the Dean of Students in consultation with the Dean for the student’s academic program.

Can I graduate in less than four years?
Yes! You may complete your degree requirements as quickly as you wish. Students who enter the University with AP, CLEP, (some) transfer and/or concurrent enrollment credits may participate in the program. It’s likely they will find their advanced standing to be an advantage.

Can first-time freshmen who start attending St. Mary’s University during the spring semester sign up for this program?
Eligibility varies by major. For more information, contact Graciela Lopez, Director of Academic Advising.

Will I be notified if I am no longer eligible for the Four Year Pledge?
No. To determine outstanding degree requirements, you will have access to your degree evaluation 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the student portal, Gateway. You can also use the St. Mary’s Four Year Pledge Eligibility Checklist to determine your eligibility status.

If I have questions regarding my eligibility, who should I contact?
For questions, please contact Graciela Lopez, Director of Academic Advising.

Where should questions, not addressed in this document, be referred?
For more information, you should contact Graciela Lopez, Director of Academic Advising.