Grades-Academic Advisory Center (AAC) - Carnegie Mellon University


Mid-semester grades provide valuable feedback for you. They give you an idea of your performance in your courses. Furthermore, mid-semester grades and the QPA's they generate are used by Deans and advisors in identifying and dealing in a timely way if you are in academic trouble. Your AAC advisor will review your mid-semester grades and touch base with you regarding your performance thus far. This is a good opportunity to discuss the grade options for a course that you feel you may not succeed in.

Mid-semester grades are not permanent and are kept only until final grades are recorded. Because mid-semester grades are not permanent, changes of mid-semester grades as a rule will not be accepted.


Final grades are awarded to each student, in each course scheduled, at the end of the semester, mini-semester or summer session. All students taking a course at Carnegie Mellon must be assigned grades. Final grades are generally posted within a week of the completion of the semester. The final grades are what determines your status as an H&SS student: honors, probation, suspension.

If you believe that an assigned grade is incorrect, you may request that a final grade be changed. Final grades will be changed only in exceptional circumstances and only with the approval of the instructor and, for undergraduates, with the approval of the dean's office of the college/school offering the course. The intention of this policy is to insure that, under normal circumstances, all students in a class are treated equally and no student is unduly advantaged.


Carnegie Mellon has adopted the method of stating in “units” the quantity of work required of students. In each subject of study, the college catalog tells how much time per week is expected of the average student for each kind of work (e.g., recitations, laboratory, studio, study). For the average student, one unit represents one work-hour of time per week throughout the semester. The number of units in each subject is fixed by the faculty of the college offering the subject. Three units are the equivalent of one traditional semester credit hour.

A subject requiring 9 hours of the average student's time per week for a semester is known as a 9-unit subject. For example, Chemistry might require 3 hours in the laboratory, 3 hours of lecture/recitation and 3 hours of preparation, a total of 9 work hours. Mathematics might require 3 hours of recitation plus 3 hours of preparation for each recitation, a total of 12 work hours.

Final grades are given “Quality Point Values” as follows:
Grade    Meaning    Quality Point Value
A    Excellent    4
B    Good    3
C    (satisfactory)    2
D    Passing    1
R    Failure    0

Units earned for a course multiplied by the Quality Point Value of the grade given for that course equals the Quality Points for that course. For example, a 9-unit course assigned a “C” grade is awarded 18 quality points (9 units x 2 quality points = 18 quality points). Total Quality Points divided by Total Units Factorable equals the Quality Point Average.

For example, your record in one semester might be:
11 units in Mathematics “A”         
11 units x 4 quality points     =    44 quality points
10 units in Physics “R”        
10 units x 0 quality points    =    0 quality points
9 units in Chemistry “B”        
9 units x 3 quality points    =    27 quality points
9 units in History “C”        
9 units x 2 quality points    =    18 quality points
9 units in English “D”         
9 units x 1 quality point    =    9 quality points
Total Units = 48        
Total Quality Points = 98         
Quality Point Average (98 divided by 48) = 2.04        

“I” (incomplete), “P” (pass), and “W” (withdrawal) grades are not awarded quality points and are not considered as “factorable” units when calculating the QPA.

The same procedure is applied to all grades earned at the university to establish the Cumulative Quality Point Average.

This section was adapted from the Undergraduate Catalog. Please see the catalog for the complete listing of grading policies.