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Grading System

Assessment Policy GCAC-401

Purpose: to define the grading system used for graduate courses.

Academic Goal: to insure a common evaluative standard is applied to all graduate students.

Scope: all graduate programs.

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 Background

An assigned grade in a course of study represents the student’s scholarly achievement as determined by the instructor’s judgement.

Policy Statement

  1. A grade is given solely on the basis of the instructor’s judgment as to the student’s scholarly attainment.
  2. The following grading system applies to graduate students:
    1. A (EXCELLENT) indicates exceptional achievement;
    2. B (GOOD) indicates substantial achievement;
    3. C (SATISFACTORY) indicates acceptable but substandard achievement;
    4. D (POOR) indicates inadequate achievement and is a failing grade for a graduate student.
      1. A course in which a D has been obtained cannot be used to meet graduate degree requirements and will not count toward total credits earned.
    5. F (FAILURE) indicates work unworthy of any credit, and suggests that the student may not be capable of succeeding in graduate study.
    6. The grade-point equivalents for the above marks are: A, 4.00; B, 3.00; C, 2.00; D, 1.00; F, 0. A +/– grading system is also in effect which includes A–, B+, B–, and C+. The grade-point equivalents are A–, 3.67; B+, 3.33; B–, 2.67; and C+, 2.33.
  3. In addition to the quality grades listed above, three additional grade designations, DF (Deferred), NG (No Grade), and R (Research), may appear on a student’s transcript.
    1. DF (Deferred): If work is incomplete at the end of a semester because of extenuating circumstances, the instructor may report DF in place of a grade, which will appear temporarily on the student’s record.
      1. It is not appropriate to use the DF either casually or routinely to extend a course beyond the end of the semester or to extend a course for a student who has failed so that the individual can do extra work to improve the grade.
      2. Required work should be completed and the DF resolved as soon as possible once assigned, but must be resolved (i.e., the course must be completed) no later than 12 weeks after the course end date as noted on the Registrar's Schedule of Courses, unless an extension of a specific duration to a specified date is agreed upon by the instructor and student and approved by the Graduate School that allows for a completion deadline longer than 12 weeks.
      3. A DF grade that is not resolved before the end of this period automatically converts to an F and cannot be changed without approval by the Graduate School.
      4. No DF grades may remain on the record when a student reaches an academic benchmark. Benchmarks include completion of a degree program (e.g., master's completed for a student continuing through for a doctoral degree) and the doctoral qualifying and comprehensive examinations, and final oral examination/final performances. Graduate programs may add additional benchmarks.
    2. NG (No Grade): If an instructor does not submit a grade (including a quality grade, DF, or R) for a graduate student by the grade-reporting deadline, the designation NG (no grade) appears on the transcript. An NG that is not reconciled within 12 weeks following the posting of the NG automatically becomes an F.
      1. An NG that has converted to an F may not be changed without approval from the Graduate School.
      2. No NG grades may remain on the record when a student reaches an academic benchmark. Benchmarks include completion of a degree program (e.g., master's completed for a student continuing through for a doctoral degree) and the doctoral qualifying and comprehensive examinations, and final oral examination/final performances. Graduate programs may add additional benchmarks.
    3. R (Research): In the case of thesis/dissertation work, either in progress or completed, and in certain courses (e.g., 590, 594, 595, 596, 597, 598, 599, 894, 895, 896, 897, 899, and a few others) approved by Graduate Council, the instructor may report the symbol R in place of a grade.
      1. An R does not influence the grade-point average. It indicates that the student has devoted adequate effort to the work scheduled but gives no indication of its quality. The symbol may be used, for instance, in courses that are officially designed to extend over more than one semester or in courses for which a quality grade is not appropriate.
      2. An R in an approved graduate course need not be changed later to a quality grade. Graduate courses approved for R grading may be credited toward fulfilling graduation requirements. However, if the instructor deems it appropriate, the R grade may be changed to a quality grade when the course work has been completed. Normally, if a quality grade is to be assigned, the grade must be reported no later than the end of the following semester.
      3. When reported for thesis/dissertation work, an R will not influence the grade-point average and remains on the student’s transcript if not converted to a quality grade.
      4. Graduate Council has established limits on the total number of research credits (600 or 610) that can be assigned quality grades in a students’ program: 6 credits for master’s candidates and 12 credits for doctoral candidates. (See GCAC-215 Common Course Numbers). The remaining credits must be assigned Rs except in the case of academic or disciplinary sanctions, in which case an F or XF grade may be assigned, as appropriate, up to the total number of thesis research credits on record. (See GCAC-802 Procedures for Resolution of Problems).
  4. Pass-Fail (P/F) grading can only be used in certain graduate courses where it has been requested by the graduate program and approved in advance by the dean of the Graduate School.
    1. To be eligible for pass/fail grading, the course should meet one or more of the following conditions:
      1. Require cooperation among students to the extent that individual performance cannot be graded apart from the ensemble or that quality grading will promote undesirable competition for grades of high quality (which may result in less learning for some students).
      2. Involve application of knowledge or skill in such a manner that a reliable differentiation of grades is quite difficult beyond noting effective participation.
      3. Other circumstances that cause the program faculty to find that P/F grading is the preferred system for academic quality reasons.
    2. A grade of P does not influence the GPA, but an F does.

Process

  1. DF (Deferred) Grade
    1. Extension to complete the work. To request an extension of a DF to complete the work, a memo with a justifying statement, including an extension of a specific duration to a specified date agreed to by the instructor and student, must be submitted by the instructor to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services.
    2. Change of a DF that automatically converted to an F. To request a DF that has automatically converted to an F grade be changed, a memo with a justifying statement for changing the F grade must be submitted by the instructor to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services.
  2. NG (No Grade)
    1. Change of a NG that automatically converted to an F. To request a NG that has automatically converted to an F grade be changed, a memo with a justifying statement for changing the F grade must be submitted by the instructor to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services.
  3. P/F (Pass/Fail) Grading
    1. To request a course be designated P/F the graduate program head must submit a request in advance to the Dean of The Graduate School.

Revision History

Revised by Graduate Council, March 2014
Revised by Graduate Council, April 2011
Adapted from Graduate Bulletin, June 2018

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