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Case Study: How to Apply Inter-Term Hours

November 14, 2017
By Alan Grosbach, NAIA Associate Director of Athletic Communication

This week, we will be looking at how to apply inter-term hours and how they correlate to eligibility requirements. We will look at students who are identified with the same school and those who are identified with different institutions. We have touched on this in the past and those briefs are listed out below.

  • The first brief defines how an inter-term can be applied in terms of certification for continuously identified students. Meaning, the inter-term can stand alone between the terms, be attached to the fall term, or be attached to the spring term. How Inter-Terms are Treated for Certification
  • The second brief builds off of the first brief as a part 2. However, this time we are considering how the inter-term applies for certification of transfer students and establishing identification. How Inter-Terms are Treated: Part 2
  • The third brief discusses how credit hours are applied for eligibility certification. Sometimes institutions will list their inter-term hours as “inter-term”, while others list their inter-term hours as Spring or Fall hours. To see how these are applied to the core eligibility rules, check out the brief. Credit Hours Used for Eligibility Certification

Please note: Students should be aware that regardless of when the “interterm course" is begun or completed or however the course may be advertised, the NAIA will apply the course for eligibility purposes as it is shown on the transcript from the institution from which the course was taken. Students are responsible for contacting that registrar to ascertain where the course will appear prior to enrolling. 

The bylaws that are involved in the following scenarios are: the 24/36-Hour Rule (Article V, Section C, Item 6); the Progress Rule (Article V, Section C, Item 9); the GPA Requirement (Article V, Section C, Item 8); the Inter-Term bylaws, (Article I, Section M); representing two institutions in competition in one academic year (Article V, Section F, Item 9); definition of Transfer (Article V, Section B, Item 21); and the definition of Identification (Article V, Section B, Item 8).

Scenario 1:

Casey is identified for the fall semester at Jebsen University, an NAIA institution. Casey is a softball player who is preparing for her third season of competition in the spring and is considered a junior academically by JU. Casey has struggled in her major her first two years at Jebsen but has worked in an effort to raise her GPA. Unfortunately, she is going to be just short of reaching the 2.000 cumulative GPA she will need in order to be eligible for the spring semester. Casey enrolls in an inter-term class at a local junior college and earns three institutional credits and an A. Will she be able to use this class to help her reach the 2.000 cumulative GPA requirement?


It depends on how Jebsen will treat the transfer course. If they will accept the course and apply the quality points and GPA hours earned to her cumulative GPA, then Casey may be able to use the junior college course in order to be eligible. It is up to the institution’s policy on how they will accept transfer institutional credit and the course’s corresponding quality points and GPA hours. As explained in Article V, Section C, Item 9, it states: “The GPA for students with continuing identification at your institution shall be calculated according to the official institutional policy for all students”.  

Scenario 2:

Mack is a basketball player who competed for Arlo University in the fall and wants to transfer to Blue University for the spring semester. Since she represented Arlo in competition during the fall term, she will be charged her third season of competition. Going into the spring semester, Mack is subject to being charged her fourth season of competition due to representing two institutions in competition during one academic year (as written in Article V, Section F, Item 9). This means that she will need to have accumulated 72 institutional credit hours to meet the Progress Rule and to be certified as eligible for the spring term. Mack has received a release from Arlo University so she is able to compete immediately upon transferring. However, she found out she will be two credits short in meeting the Progress Rule when the fall semester ends at AU. If Mack enrolls in a three credit hour class in a stand-alone inter-term at a junior college, would she be able to use those hours for the Progress Rule?


Yes! By transferring to Blue University for the spring term, Mack will meet the definition of a transfer student per bylaw Article V, Section B, Item 21. Therefore, according to Article V, Section C, Item 9, a school shall use institutional credit hours as certified by the previous institutions for the first term of attendance. This means that once the stand-alone inter-term is completed and recorded on an official transcript per the junior college’s policy, Mack could be certified to compete.

Scenario 3:

Don is not going to meet the 24/36-Hour Rule for the upcoming spring semester. He needs four more credit hours and finds a four-hour intersession class at another local NAIA institution, RSU. Unbeknownst to Don’s current school and to him, RSU categorizes the winter inter-session course as a course earned under the spring term as noted on the official transcript. Don enrolls and successfully completes the class. Upon receiving the official transcript, Don notices the spring term notated on the transcript. Can Don’s NAIA institution utilize this course to certify him for the 24/36-Hour Rule for the spring term?


NO! Don would not be able to use the credits earned at RSU because the credits do not show to be earned prior to the spring academic term per the official transcript. It is a long standing interpretation of the bylaws that credits must be applied in the manner in which is reflected on the official transcript. In this case the class is listed as earned in the spring term. Regardless of when the student actually enrolled in the course and regardless of how Don’s current NAIA institution will transfer the course, since it is officially recorded as a spring course, it has to be utilized accordingly.  

Applicable Bylaws:

Article V, Section C, Item 6

After completion of the second semester term or third quarter term of attendance and from then on, a student must have accumulated a minimum of 24 institutional credit hours in the two immediately previous terms of attendance in a semester system or 36 institutional credit hours in the three immediately previous terms of attendance in a quarter system...

No more than 12 institutional credit hours earned during summers and/or during non-terms may be applied to meet the 24/36-Hour Rule. Such credit must be earned after one or both of the two immediately previous terms of attendance.

Article V, Section C, Item 8

Upon reaching junior academic standing as defined by the institution, a student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.000 on a 4.000 scale. The 2.000 cumulative GPA or higher must be certified each grading period in which the student wishes to compete after junior academic standing is reached.

Article V, Section C, Item 9

To participate a second season in a sport, all students must have accumulated at least 24 semester/36 quarter (or equivalent) institutional credit hours. Transfer students shall use institutional credit hours as certified by the previous institution(s) to meet this requirement only for their first term of attendance at a member institution. Thereafter, only institutional credit recognized by the student’s current institution and submitted to the registrar for posting on the transcript shall apply.

Article I, Section M

1.  Institutions having an inter-term that occurs between two regular terms may use the inter-term in one of three different ways in determining eligibility for students. The options are as follows:

a. The inter-term shall stand separate. Eligibility shall be determined at the end of the first term, again at the end of the interterm (if the inter-term falls between the terms), and again at the end of the spring term.

b. The inter-term (if it falls between the two regular terms) is attached to the first term for eligibility purposes. This would, in effect, make the 4-1-4 calendar into a 5-4 calendar in determining eligibility.

c. The inter-term (if it falls between or at the end of two regular terms) is attached to the spring term for eligibility purposes. This would, in effect, make the 4-1-4 or the 4-4-1 calendar into a 4-5 calendar in determining eligibility.

The institution must notify its eligibility chair, in writing, as to which option it chooses. This notification is to be signed by the athletics director, registrar and faculty athletics representative. The written notification must be received by the eligibility chair, prior to September 1 of the academic year. Once decided, the option cannot be changed for the school year.

If an institution uses an inter-term and does not notify its eligibility chair as to which option it selects, the school shall be treated as allowing the inter-term to stand separate as in option a (Article I, Section M, Item 1a of the NAIA Bylaws).

2.  The inter-term shall be treated as follows in determining eligibility:

a. Hours earned during the inter-term shall be applied toward eligibility.

b. A separate term of attendance shall not be charged for the inter-term.

c. Identification during an inter-term (unlike summer school) does identify the student with the institution provided the student is enrolled for at least three fourths (or two-thirds, if three-fourths is not appropriate) of the normal academic load and either participates in athletics or begins to establish residency. In this instance, the inter-term would not, however, be charged against the allotted 10 semesters of attendance but would count in meeting the institutional credit-hour rules of the NAIA.

NOTE: Two-thirds would be used if the normal inter-term load is divisible by three, otherwise the fraction three-fourths will be used.

d. Should a student previously identified with an institution then attend an inter-term at another institution and return the following term of attendance to the preceding institution, the inter-term shall be treated as a summer session.

Article V, Section F, Item 9

A student charged with a season of competition in one sport by different institutions in the same academic year shall be charged with two seasons of competition. A student could amass two seasons of competition within one academic year.

Exception: A student competing at a junior college who meets the requirements for graduation from that junior college andtransfers to a member institution during the same sport season and is otherwise eligible to compete at the member institution in the same sport shall be charged with only one season of competition.

Article V, Section B, Item 21

Transfer: A student who becomes identified with an NAIA institution after having previously been identified with a two- or four-year institution of higher learning. Transfer students must complete the official NAIA Transfer Player Eligibility Statement prior to their first participation at the NAIA institution no matter how long ago the transfer occurred. Once the student has completed the transfer form and has been in attendance for one term, the student is no longer considered a transfer student at the institution.

Article V, Section B, Item 8

Identification: Representing an institution in an intercollegiate contest or enrolling in 12 or more institutional credit hours with a minimum of nine institutional credit hours at the NAIA member institution in any given term (excluding summer session) as reported by the institution’s registrar on an official transcript based on the institution’s official census date.

Please tune in at noon central time on Tuesday, as Brenda White and Jared Shafer will dive into this scenario even further.