This question geared towards STEM but can definitely be expanded for courses in the arts as well.

Imagine the following scenarios:

  • A student has taken a course, but passed the course with barely a 60
    over the 50 percent required to pass the course.

  • A student has taken and passed a course with a project component, but found that
    it would be beneficial to explore other topics if given another
    opportunity, in particular, using the expertise of the instructor and
    the resources provided in the course.

  • A student has taken and passed a course, but due to family
    issues/illness/personal issues/financial issues/job/internship, etc.
    the student takes a break of one or two years; when the student
    returns to school, he or she would like to take the course again as a

  • A student has taken and passed a course, however due to change of instructor, textbook, and other circumstances the course material was presented in radically different way, the student feels that the material presented has been inadequate or non-standard and would like to take the course again.

In each of these cases, from a student’s perspective, I do not see why it makes pedagogical sense to prevent the student from taking the course again. The student could improve over his or her previous poor performance, explore alternative topics in a guided way, refresh his or her knowledge or be taught
the material in a different way, perhaps by a more experienced instructor.

However, I suspect that most schools do not allow students to retake courses they have already passed, no matter how poorly the student performed, or how long ago the course was taken, etc.

My question is: what would be a sound reason for this?

From the school’s perspective, one reason may be that the student would be at an unfair advantage over the other students. This reasoning however, assumes that there was some measure of fairness to begin with. It is difficult to claim this given the vastly different backgrounds the students have prior to enrolling in a particular course. Even then, the transcript would quickly reveal to a potential employer or an potential supervisor that a course was taken twice or several times. It can probably be said that a course that is passed with a high score/mark the first time is better than a repeated course.


Since the most common response to my question is: “But I was able to retake courses”, please read some of the different policies for various schools and related discussions:,,,,

I have to give a presentation about progress in my PhD after the first six months. I am not sure what is expected from a PhD student at this stage. I have done mostly literature review and a few initial experiments with the existing technology.

I am planning to divide the presentation into different sections such as background/importance of the research work, problem that needs to be addressed and possible approaches.

It would be nice to get some ideas about such presentations.

Morris Kline’s Why The Professor Can’t Teach mentions many problems in current mathematical education in university. The author said the D.A. in mathematics degree was born to solve these problems. But I noticed that there are only three universities that have this degree in the U.S. (even in the world). They are

  1. Carnegie Mellon University,
  2. University of Illinois at Chicago and
  3. Idaho State University.

I even heard an associate professor in CMU said they want to halt this degree. So my question is, has the D.A. degree in math been taken seriously?

I am facing a problem in excluding bibliography from the similarity index report of the my PhD thesis’ PDF file generated by LaTeX. I’m using Turnitin to check similarity index. In our country, we have a requirement that similarity index be below 18%.

In the Turnitin settings I checked “exclude bibliography” but that doesn’t work for this file only. It works fine for the rest of the files I have tried on my account and of a friend’s. I tried changing bibliography style, renaming bibliography to references but that still doesn’t work. I cropped out the bibliography manually from the PDF and ran a Turnitin check and the similarity index was well-below my requirement.

I did a Google search and couldn’t find anything relevant other than the fact that this sometimes doesn’t work but there were no suggestions particular to LaTeX. I need to get this to work because it won’t be feasible for me to state this problem explicitly to the administrative employees who will be handling my case after I submit my thesis.

Can anyone tell its reason and possible solution?

Apologies in advance if this topic is LaTeX-related.

When entering my MS I had an advisor assigned to me because I didn’t finish undergrad in the university I’m now in. I want to research graph theory but my advisor researches in computational geometry, and every problem I proposed to him he dismissed as being too difficult (without really explaining why) and proposed an optimization problem with metaheuristics instead. As I’m approaching the end of the first semester now, I need to have an advisor confirmed and a topic semi-defined, so I half-heartedly accepted one of the problems he proposed just to get on with it.

Now it is about 3 days later and I’m already regretting the decision I made: I’m 22 years old and really like researching, but the thought of dedicating 2 years of my life on something I’m “meh” about does not make me happy. I think it is clear my advisor isn’t going to open his mind to new ideas but is it too late to switch advisors? Since dropping out is not an option, as I moved from a different city and just settled in here, what should I do about it? Should I give him an ultimatum and try to find a new advisor in a month? Is it “normal” for people to take a research topic they don’t really like for a masters program?