School Policies

The Administrative Committee formulates policy in matters pertaining to quality of work and standards of performance in the School. It deals with the awarding of diplomas, rules of conduct, and student appeals. In these matters, communication with the Committee should be made through the Director. Student progress in academic and practical work is measured by grades and other evaluations; all students will receive progress reports on their work.

I. Academic Policies

A. Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Students must maintain a cumulative weighted average of 70% on a 100% scale, or 2.0 on a 4.0 scale, and must pass all courses with a minimum grade of 60%. All students are required to complete a minimum of 85% of their cumulative registered clock hours. Students who do not meet the 85% cumulative completion percentage will be placed on probation. Courses for which a student receives a letter grade of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, and P (passing) are included in the calculation of cumulative clock hour completion percentage as courses successfully completed. Courses for which a student receives a letter grade of INC and F will be treated as courses attempted but not successfully completed. Students are required to meet these minimum standards at each point of their program evaluation.


Grade GPA Percentile
A 4.0 94-100
A- 3.7 90-93
B+ 3.3 87-89
B 3.0 83-86
B- 2.7 80-82
C+ 2.3 77-79
C 2.0 73-76
C- 1.7 70-72
D+ 1.3 67-69
D 1.0 60-66
F 0 0-59-FAIL
W Withdraw

B. Examinations
(course finals, skills testing, and Plant ID Examination) Re-examinations: Plant ID and/or skills testing students who have failed the Plant ID and/or the skills tests will not graduate with their classmates. Re-examinations will be required when the next class is scheduled to take the examination.

Course Finals: If the course instructor approves, the Director agrees, and the student’s overall class review is favorable, a retest option is possible. The student MUST achieve a C or better on the retest. The decision to allow one retest only per student is made on a case-by-case basis and is not available for every required academic course.

C. Time limit on program completion

In specific cases (e.g., a prolonged absence due to sickness), students have up to one (1) year after the graduation date to complete all School requirements as long as the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of the program. If the student does not fulfill all requirements as outlined on the School agreement one (1) year after graduation, the student will be administratively withdrawn.

D. Probation Policy:

When a student fails a course or the student’s weighted GPA falls below 70%, he/she will be notified by the School and placed on academic probation. A student on probation is considered to be making satisfactory academic progress as long as no more than two (2) classes are failed. A student will remain on probation until all failed courses are repeated and passed and the cumulative weighted average is raised to 70%. (The grade for repeating the course replaces the failing grade.) The student is responsible for the cost of retaking the course. A student failing more than two (2) classes, or continuing on probation for more than one (1) year will be dismissed from the School.

E. Attendance Policy

Attendance is required at all classes, work assignments, field trips, and other School-sponsored activities. Unexcused tardiness and absences are not accepted; excused tardiness and absences will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Makeup quizzes and exams must be requested by the student and may be scheduled at the instructor’s convenience.

Deficiency in any required work resulting from absence from class must be made up to the satisfaction of the instructor. A student who is absent from a class without adequate reason may be assigned a failing grade. A pattern of excessive absence or lateness will result in disciplinary action and may result in suspension. Any absence must be fully explained to the Director and will be excused only for sufficient cause. Absences due to serious illness or death within a student’s family are recognized as excused absences. To validate such absences, the student should present evidence to the Director, who will then provide a letter of verification to all of the student’s instructors for the term.

In accordance with the N.Y. State Education Department’s Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision, section 126.4(e)(2): Any student who is absent more than 15 percent of the total number of instructional hours offered during each marking period of the student’s program, excluding approved leaves of absence, and who has not maintained satisfactory academic progress, shall be dismissed or placed on academic probation. Any student who fails to meet satisfactory academic progress at the end of any marking period, regardless of attendance, shall be dismissed or placed on academic probation. Satisfactory progress means a cumulative average of 2.0 (grade of C) for the curriculum or course, unless otherwise approved by the Director. A student who misses 14 or more calendar days from the School without any explanation is subject to immediate dismissal.

F. Tardiness Policy

Students are expected to be in class, on plant walks, field trips, horticulture rotations, and all School events on time and ready to perform the duties of that position. Education relies on the dependability of students being at work on time and prepared to perform the duties of their position. Any student who is tardy more than three (3) times shall be subject to progressive discipline. Tardiness is defined as a student failing to report for any event at the time scheduled and/or failing to return to duty promptly at any point during his/her normal schedule.

G. Leave of Absence Policy

In the case of a prolonged illness or accident, death in the family, or other special circumstances that make attendance impossible or impractical, a leave of absence may be granted to the student if requested in writing by the student with the specific reason for the leave request. It should include the approximate length of the requested leave. The approval of such leaves of absence shall be in writing by the School Director. No monetary charges or accumulated absences may be assessed to the student during a leave of absence. When a student returns from an approved leave of absence, the student shall be placed in the instructional program at the point commensurate with the skill level retained by the student at the time of his/ her return in accordance with the following:

  1. for leaves of absence less than 30 calendar days, the School shall assess the student’s retention level either through a counseling session with the student or by employing a written or oral evaluation instrument designed to measure a student’s level of retention in the instructional program; or
  2. for leaves of absence 30 calendar days or longer, the School shall assess a student’s retention level either through a written or oral evaluation instrument designed to measure a student’s level of retention in the curriculum, and document that such evaluation took place.
  3. the leave of absence is limited to 180 calendar days in one calendar year, or one-half the program length, whichever is shorter. Multiple leaves of absences may be permitted provided the total of the leaves does not exceed this limit.

H. Dropping Courses Policy

All students who wish to drop a course must submit a written request to the Director at least ten (10) working days ahead of the start date for that class. Failure to do so will result in the student incurring a $25 drop fee for that class. Sufficient and reasonable excuse must be given. A “W” will be placed on the transcript for withdrawal from the course.

I. Course Exemptions Policy

The Director will evaluate any student’s formal post-secondary education and award an appropriate course exemption if, in his discretion, the coursework is comparable to that of the School of Professional Horticulture and was earned at an institution accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Requests should be made in writing within thirty (30) days of enrollment to permit adequate time to set the student’s schedule. The School will not grant exemptions for more than three (3) courses, or for coursework earning less than a “B.”

To ensure that the competencies attained in the prior coursework are comparable to those covered in the School curriculum, the student or applicant is asked to provide the following information:

  • Official transcript, sent under seal from the institution that originally awarded the credit.
  • Catalog and catalog description of the course to be considered for exemption.
  • Copies of course syllabi or outlines.

To request consideration for course exemption, the student or applicant should contact the Director by e-mail. A decision will be rendered within seven calendar days or receipt of the official transcript and catalog description and any other appropriate supporting documentation. Course exemption decisions are made jointly by the Director and the Program Coordinator and are final. A student may take a comparable number of hours in electives for any School-required course that he/she has been granted an exemption.

To facilitate transfer of the School’s course hours to another institution, the School provides the following to graduates:

  • Official transcript, sent under seal from the institution that originally awarded the credit.
  • Catalog and catalog description of the course to be considered for exemption.
  • Copies of course syllabi or outlines.
  • A completed Course Exemption Request form.

To request consideration for course exemption, the student or applicant should contact the Director by e-mail. A decision will be rendered within seven (7) calendar days or receipt of the official transcript and catalog description and any other appropriate supporting documentation. Course exemption decisions are made jointly by the Director and the Adult Education Program Coordinator and are final. If a student is exempted from the courses, he/she is required to take an equal number of hours of approved personal enrichment courses to complete the diploma. Please e-mail or call the Director for assistance.

J. To Transfer Course Hours:

To facilitate transfer of the School’s course hours to another institution, the School provides the following to graduates:

  • Official transcripts, sent under seal to the institution requested by the graduate.
  • Course description (found in the catalog).
  • Detailed course syllabus.

The School cannot control the transfer of course hours to other institutions, and makes no guarantees or promises that the graduate will be successful in this endeavor. Please e-mail or call the Director for assistance.

K. Program Evaluation:

Students will be evaluated in June and November of their first year. In their second year, students will be evaluated in March (prior to leaving on their six-month internship), in October (upon return from their internship), and in February, just prior to graduation in March.

II. Horticulture Rotation Policies


Rotation Evaluations and Student Exit Survey

All students are evaluated while on their horticulture rotations. In order to be evaluated, a student must have worked 85% or more of the hours for that rotation. If a student has worked less than 85% of the scheduled hours, the student must first make up the hours before he/she can be evaluated. All students must work the total number of assigned rotation hours in their first year in order to graduate.

Students evaluate their rotation through the Student Exit Survey. The Student Exit Survey must be promptly handed in to the School upon completion of the rotation. Students are also evaluated by the rotation supervisor on Professional Development, Quality of Work, and Attitude. All students are to maintain an average rating of 2.0 “Good” at each rotation. Failure to do so will place the student on probation for the next rotation. If the student does not improve his/her performance by the next rotation, he/ she will be suspended from the School. Upon graduation, the student possessing the highest rotation GPA will receive the Horticulture Book Prize.

Quality Grade GPA
Excellent 4
Very Good 3
Good 2
Needs Improvement 1
Needs Significant Improvement 0

Excellent: Performance at this level far exceeds the expectations of this rotation. Duties and responsibilities are exceptionally met and consistently exceeded.

Very Good: Performance is very good and the required skills are completed in an above average manner. Duties and responsibilities are well met and usually exceeded.

Good: Performance at this level is good and the required skills are completed. Duties and responsibilities are met consistently and in a satisfactory and acceptable manner. Performance is average.

Needs Improvement: Performance at this level is at the minimum of acceptable requirements for the rotation. Duties and responsibilities are marginally met. Student should spend more time in practicing the appropriate skills and/or re-evaluate his/her approach.

Needs Significant Improvement: Performance at this level is below the minimum level of acceptable requirements. Duties and responsibilities are not met in an acceptable manner. Student should re-evaluate his/ her approach immediately and review skills mentioned with the guidance of the contact person.

Skills List Skills lists for each horticulture rotation are provided in the Student Manual.

III. General Policies

A. Program Dismissal and Withdrawal

The School requires the notice of withdrawal or termination be submitted in writing to the School. The School reserves the right to dismiss students who: a) fail more than two (2) classes; b) have falsified information required by the admissions process; c) are dishonest involving assignments or examinations; d) have repeated disruptive behavior; e) have delinquent accounts; and f) fail to sign and return a Notice of Academic Probation.

Upon dismissal or withdrawal, the student’s tuition obligation to the School is calculated based on the refund policy as published in this catalog and in the student enrollment agreement. Refunds, when due, are made to the student within 30 days of dismissal or withdrawal.

B. Disciplinary Actions

Students are expected to establish good working relationships with their supervisor, fellow students, and all other members of the Garden’s staff.

It is the policy of the School to treat all students equitably and to administer all policies, procedures, and rules and regulations consistently. When a student’s performance is unsatisfactory (refer to academic policy), or when students violate the policies and procedures of the School, appropriate corrective disciplinary action may be taken.

Whenever a student’s actions, or academic or work performances, are unsatisfactory, the Director may administer the forms of discipline set forth below. Naturally the type of discipline selected will depend on the severity of the offense. Not all improper conduct will be met with progressive discipline. Where warranted, the Director may elect to impose a suspension or termination whether or not there has been prior disciplinary action.

  • Oral Reprimand and/or Student Counseling
  • A Written Reprimand
  • A Final Written Reprimand
  • Probation (one term)
  • Dismissal

A student who wishes to appeal may present his/her case to the Administrative Committee. The School will not tolerate the following misconduct and students will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal: cheating, consumption of alcohol, dangerous conduct, disturbing the peace, profanity, harassment, physical abuse, plagiarism, property damage, sexual harassment and/or assault, arson, theft, unauthorized use of Botanical Garden property, using or possessing fire arms, use and/or possession of drugs or drug-related paraphernalia. For more information on alcohol or other substance abuse problems, or if you just want to learn more about these diseases, there are a number of local centers and agencies that can provide you with the help, information, and support that you need. Some of the local rehabilitation and treatment centers are listed below. You may also contact the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to request a listing of local rehabilitation and treatment centers: New York City office, 501 7th Avenue, New York, NY, 10018-5903, 877.846.7369, or visit

C. Holidays and Vacation Days

The School regularly observes the following 12 holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Election Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The week of Memorial Day and the last two weeks of August and December are class breaks. Rotation days are not scheduled on holidays.

D. Graduation Requirements

To qualify for graduation, students must:

  • Successfully complete all required academic courses (minimum GPA of 2.0), as measured at each evaluation period.
  • Complete a minimum of 85% of cumulative clock hours, as measured at each evaluation period.
  • Complete all horticulture rotation assignments (minimum GPA of 2.0 and 2,621 hours).
  • Pass the skills tests and plant exams.
  • Attend all scheduled horticultural activities and events such as lectures, field trips, and plant identification walks.

Since 2005 the School has had an annual completion rate greater than 85%.

E. Privacy

The School of Professional Horticulture complies with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. FERPA (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. The following categories of information concerning individual students and former students may be made available to the general public: name, attendance dates, telephone listing, date and place of birth, field of study, previous education institutions attended by the student. Any student may request that any of the above information not be released without his/her prior consent.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.”

F. Copyright Infringement Policy

Students must adhere to the following copyright and software license infringement standards. “Copyright infringement occurs when a person reproduces someone else’s copyrighted items without permission. This would also include public display of a copy of copyrighted work. If it is determined that a person is guilty of copyright infringement, penalties could include a court order to stop producing that item, confiscation of the items, fines, and attorney’s fees. In addition, penalties for students found in violation of copyright laws may be as severe as expulsion from the School. Use of copyrighted material for reference purposes must be bookmarked as indicated by the author/publisher of the material and following generally accepted grammatical rules of reference.”