Your catalog year is the academic year you started at GVSU. Academic years are different than calendar years. Academic years encompass the fall, winter and spring/summer semesters. For example, the Fall 2008, Winter 2009 and Spring/Summer 2009 semesters are all in the 2008 catalog year.
Why should you care? Good question. Both your university requirements (general education, basic skills and themes) and your major and minor requirements are tied to your specific catalog year. University general education requirements in the 1999 catalog year are substantially different than those for 2008. Major requirements may change yearly. You must meet the requirements for your particular catalog year to be able to graduate.
Can you change your catalog year? Yes you can, within limits. You can change to any catalog year between when you began, and when you graduated. You can't, however, choose a catalog year before you began at GVSU. When might you need to consider changing your catalog year? Catalog Limitations: There are limitations on catalog requirements. The policy states that: "A student may graduate under the catalog in effect at the time of his or her initial registration as a degree-seeking student at Grand Valley or under any succeeding catalog. However, no student may graduate under the requirements of a catalog that is more than eight years old. A student may not pursue a course, program, or degree that has been discontinued by the university regardless of the student's entry date."
In plain language, this means that all students must graduate within 8 years of when they started at GVSU to be able to graduate based on the requirements that were in place when they started. If you are not able to graduate within 8 years, you must change your catalog year to a more recent catalog year that will allow you to meet the 8-year limit. If you are in this situation talk with Records or with an advisor in the CLAS Academic Advising Center to make sure that you understand all changes in requirements that might affect you. Remember, too, that University requirements as well as major/minor requirements may change. Returning to GVSU after an absence: If you return to finish your degree after a time away from GVSU, the requirements may have changed. In these cases, students often update their catalog year to the current year. It is highly recommended that you discuss your situation with an advisor before making any changes.
In some specific instances, substitutions may be able to be made to apply previously required courses in place of newer requirements. Talk to your faculty advisor or the department chair about possible substitutions in the major or minor.