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policy and procedure books

Academic Procedures

As long as a student is in good standing with the University of Maryland, the student can register for Gemstone courses. Gemstone students need to be aware that they should register for the appropriate Gemstone courses EACH semester. Each team is given a specific section number. This section number never changes for the team. Be careful-- register for your designated team section for 200-level and above Gemstone courses.

Students should make sure they add the Gemstone credits by the DROP/ADD deadline of the respective semester. Students who wait beyond this deadline have to get their department's approval for the schedule change. This takes time and involves getting multiple signatures. Furthermore, timely registration assures that you will receive proper credit for your Gemstone courses.

Undergraduate students are generally limited to registering for 16 credits prior to the first day of classes. Afterwards, students can register for a maximum of 19-21 credits.


  • They would like to register for more than 16 credits PRIOR to the first day of classes.
  • They plan to take more than 19-21 credits.
  • They want to make adjustments to their schedule (DROP or ADD) AFTER the official DROP/ADD deadline.

The Gemstone Assistant Director for Operations checks Gemstone seminar and course rosters at the start of each semester. If a student is not listed in a course, the Assistant Director for Operations will contact the student directly. It is the student's responsibility to follow up on this matter. If the student does not respond, the assumption is that the student does not intend to add the credits in question. The student will be dropped from the Gemstone Program if the credits are not added by the DROP/ADD deadline.

SOPHOMORE STUDENTS will not be able to add GEMSTONE credits until they know which team they are on. As soon as the team is assigned, register for the GEMSTONE credits (each team is assigned a SPECIFIC section).


Although time conflicts are generally not permitted, there are exceptions. ALL exceptions require college approval (the student's ADVISING COLLEGE also has to sign off with approval when resolving conflicts). If conflicts arise with a Gemstone course/seminar, please let us know by contacting the Gemstone team at When registering for a GEMS course, if you receive a message that you need permission of the Gemstone department, please fill out the Gemstone Course Override Form.

Schedule Conflicts

Although time conflicts are generally not permitted, there are exceptions. ALL exceptions require college approval (the student's ADVISING COLLEGE also has to sign off with approval when resolving conflicts). If conflicts arise with a Gemstone course/seminar, please let us know by contacting the Gemstone team at

Registration Permission

If you have earned college credit and/or completed Advanced Placement (AP) and have more than 30 credits when registering for GEMS100, please fill out the Gemstone Course Override Form for permission. If you receive an error message for any of the GEMS courses, such as having fewer than 60 credits when attempting to register for GEMS396, please also visit for permission.

College Credit Limits

Generally, students are allowed to register a maximum of 17 credits for fall and spring per semester, depending upon their home college. If this is the case, Gemstone is unable to grant you permission to add this course, though typically credit maximums are waived on the first day of class. You may also complete an exception to policy request with your home college if you would like to register sooner than the first day of classes.

Waitlist or Full Section

If you are attempting to register for a Gemstone section that is filled and you receive a message that you must contact the Academic department offering the course, you should contact the Gemstone team for further instructions. You may also add to the waitlist and wait to see if seats open. If you are otherwise unable to take the course, please reach out to for further guidance.

Participation in Gemstone requires the completion of a set of courses aimed at teaching students fundamental knowledge about the academic research endeavor, developing research ideas that will become each cohort's research portfolio, placing students on to teams, and how to function well as a team in a research environment. All of these courses are required. They include:

  • GEMS 100, Introduction to Gemstone. This course serves as an introduction to the Gemstone program, to the University of Maryland, and to research and scholarship as an enterprise. This course is taken in the fall semester of the freshman year.
  • GEMS 102, Research Topic Exploration. This course is taken in the spring semester of the freshman year. This class is first aimed at generating research problems and topic ideas and then narrowing down the pool of ideas. Through a voting process, a number of teams (made up of approximately 8-14 students) are formed. Students are placed in these teams based on their research preferences and in their first week together as a team.
  • GEMS 104, Topics in Science, Technology, and Society. This is a three-credit course offered in the spring of the freshman year. It is designed to examination of how cultural, economic, political and social forces shape scientific and technological systems and, conversely, how scientific and technological systems have affected the culture, economies, organization and politics of societies.
  • GEMS 202, Team Dynamics and Research Methodology. This course is taken in the fall semester of the sophomore year. This experiential course is designed to foster an understanding of the dynamics of group behavior and basic research methodology. It teaches skills applicable to Gemstone team research and the writing of a team thesis.
  • Gemstone Project Seminars (GEMS 296, 297, 396, 397, 496, and 497). From the fall semester of the sophomore year through the spring semester of the senior year, students register for 11 credits through a series of Team Project Seminars. These courses represent the working component of the team research activity, including team meetings with faculty mentors, conducting the research, and writing and presenting research findings. The focus in GEMS 296 (fall of sophomore year) is the development of a team research proposal, which is defended early in the spring semester of the sophomore year. The remaining courses focus on completing and documenting the research itself.

To learn more about these required Gemstone courses and the team formation process, please visit the Curriculum page.

Each team may decide when they would like to schedule their team project seminar and must give this information to the Gemstone Associate Director by the deadline prior to the semester in which the seminar takes place. The team must find a time between the hours of 8 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday unless the mentor agrees to meet outside of these hours. This information will be added to the Schedule of Classes so that when team members register for the next semester, their team project seminar will be listed on their course schedule.

Changing teams disrupts the flow of the research and the team process and will not be considered unless an exceptional circumstance exists. Team assignments made on team formation night are final.

Gemstone highly encourages students to enrich their academic experience while at the University by studying abroad, participating in a co-op opportunity and taking advantage of other opportunities that may require a semester away from the University. Because of the nature of team research, there are appropriate and inappropriate times for students to take advantage of such opportunities. Please reference the Four Years At-A-Glance, as it highlights the semesters that Gemstone would anticipate students studying abroad, participating in a co-op opportunity or being away from the University for other reasons. The junior year (either semester) is an ideal time for students to expand their horizons, spending a semester away from campus. Gemstone students are not permitted to study abroad, co-op or otherwise be away from the University until after they have completed GEMS 202 in the fall semester of the sophomore year and in the spring semester of senior year when writing the team thesis and participation in the Team Thesis Conference is mandatory. Only one semester away is permitted, but it can be combined with a summer and/or a winter term in order to extend the stay.

  • The Gemstone Program should be aware of a student's intention to study abroad, to co-op or to take advantage of other opportunities that may require a semester away from the University.
  • The student must complete a Learning Contract with their team and mentor ONE SEMESTER PRIOR to planned time away, in which the student agrees to continue to significantly contribute to the team's research and the nature of that contribution is specified.
  • The fully completed Learning Contract must be signed by the student AND the mentor AND the team members. The student is responsible for turning the contract in to the Gemstone Associate Director the SEMESTER PRIOR to planned time away.

The Learning Contract is kept in the student's file with the Gemstone Program. The student should make sure that they are registered for the special EA Gemstone research seminar listed under the Gemstone Associate Director's name when they are abroad. There are special sections of GEMS 297, 396 and 397 that students should make sure are on their schedule by the schedule adjustment deadline DURING THE SEMESTER THEY ARE ABROAD. If a student does not follow the outlined steps to assure that the Gemstone Program has a record of the student's agreement with the team and mentor, it is possible that the student will not be able to continue in the Gemstone Program.

A student can withdraw from the Gemstone Program if the student feels it is necessary. The Gemstone Program encourages students to make this decision PRIOR to beginning team research due to the disruption such departures can create for a team in progress. Any student considering this action is encouraged to seek an audience with the Gemstone Director or Associate Director, in order to fully understand the circumstances behind the decision, and to make sure the student is aware of all of their options. If it is decided that a path other than Gemstone is best for the student, Gemstone staff will work with the student to make the transition seamless and facilitate their new path to the extent possible.

Students who choose to depart Gemstone and are in good standing with the Honors College may apply to be considered for transfer to another LLP within the Honors College. In some cases, Gemstone coursework completed prior to the transfer can be applied to credit requirements in the new LLP. Students should note that LLP program space is limited, and most LLPs have other requirements that may not be satisfiable. Therefore, transfer options are based on availability and other constraints, and require approval of the receiving LLP. For more information, visit the Honor College's academic policies

When a student has determined that it is necessary to withdraw from the program the student should:

  • Communicate this desire to the team, mentor and the Gemstone Director or Associate Director.
  • Withdraw from registered GEMS courses. If this occurs after the drop/add deadline, then the student will need to get permission from the Dean of the college that governs their major. Be aware that students receive a "W" at this point for withdrawing from a course.
  • If the student intends to apply for transfer to a different LLP, please contact the Honors College for further guidance.
  • If the student intends to withdraw from the Honors College, complete the Withdrawal from Honors College form below.


Withdrawal from Honors College form

If students elect to temporarily withdraw from the University for health or other reasons, they should discuss this with their mentors and notify their teams and the Gemstone Associate Director.  A student who temporarily withdraws may still fulfill the citation requirements under the following conditions.

To continue in the Gemstone Program after a temporary withdrawal, a student who withdraws during the spring semester of the freshman year must repeat GEMS 102. A student who withdraws during the fall semester of the sophomore year or who withdraws for more than a semester after the freshman year must repeat GEMS 102 and be assigned to a new team in the normal process. Alternatively, the student can be assigned to a new team in which there is space if he or she forgoes repeating GEMS 102. Either way, the student must become a member of a new team and must fulfill the full three-year research requirements of the Gemstone Program. Students who withdraw during the spring semester of the senior year may not continue in the Gemstone Program.

If students choose to return to the University and continue in the Gemstone Program, they need to complete a Continuation Agreement with their teams and mentors to outline their responsibilities and to ensure they receive proper credits to fulfill citation requirements. This agreement must be filed with the Associate Director upon return to the University.  The agreement must show how the student will make up the missed credits and fulfill his or her responsibilities to assist the team with the research (in its present state).

Gemstone follows the University of Maryland's academic policies regarding satisfactory progress toward a degree. In addition, earning a grade lower than a "C-" in any of the required Gemstone courses (see Curriculum) will result in a student being dropped from the Program. The Gemstone Program also reserves the right to remove a student found in violation of the University's Student Code of Conduct and/or the Code of Academic Integrity. In order to earn the Gemstone Citation, students must have at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA. Exceptions may be granted for students below this GPA who file an appeal with the Gemstone Director.

It is possible for Gemstone students to graduate early from the University of Maryland AND satisfy the Gemstone Citation requirements, but it is typically only permitted to graduate one semester early, i.e. after completing GEMS 496 during the fall semester of the student's fourth year in the Gemstone Program. Gemstone is a four-year program, yet we recognize that talented students can fulfill degree requirements in less than four years. Gemstone works with students and their major college to assure that students get the most of their educational experience as a Gemstone student. If a student plans to graduate early, the student should communicate this to their team, mentor, and Gemstone Associate Director. If the student continues at the University of Maryland as a graduate student, the student can add the necessary research seminars to his or her schedule to acquire the relevant credits. If the student is leaving the University, then the student will not be able to add the relevant credits, but this will be taken into account when auditing the student's records for the Gemstone Citation. In both cases, the student HAS to assist the team with writing the thesis AND be physically present at the Team Thesis Conference in the spring of their fourth year.

To receive credit (grade and/or the Gemstone Citation notation) for recognition of contributing significantly to the team’s research and thesis writing/editing process, the student must submit an Early Graduation Agreement to the Associate Director three weeks prior to early graduation.  The mentor will hold the student accountable for this agreement and will confirm with the Associate Director that the student has fulfilled their responsibility outlined in the Agreement. 

The Timeline for Team Success shows the courses students should be taking, each year's major milestone, and the expectations of the team for each semester. It should be used as a resource for keeping students on track throughout their research process.

Honors College Statement on Academic Integrity

The Honors College is an intellectual community that engages high-achieving undergraduates in the pursuit of knowledge in an atmosphere of honesty and trust. We support the University’s commitment to academic honesty and responsibility. Students are responsible for upholding the university’s Code of Academic Integrity. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity, please contact the Office of Student Conduct.

Please visit the Honors College policies page, for a complete listing.

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