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POLICY TITLE: Carnegie Mellon University Grading Policies: Incomplete Grades; X Grades; Assigning Grades; Pass/Fail Policy for Undergraduates; Drop/Withdrawal Policy for Undergraduates; Exceptions; Undergraduate and Graduate Grading Standards

DATE OF ISSUANCE: This policy was issued on February 21, 1995 as a memo from the vice provost for education titled New Grading Policies. It was most recently modified on November 19, 2001.

ACCOUNTABLE DEPARTMENT/UNIT: Questions about this policy content should be directed to Enrollment Services, x8-8186.

ABSTRACT: Details university grading standards for graduates and undergraduates.

MISC: See also:


Policy Statement

This policy offers details concerning university grading principles for students taking courses, whether those students are undergraduates, non-degree students or graduate students. This policy covers the specifics of Assigning and Changing Grades (including Final and Mid-Semester grades, Incompletes and Conditional Failures), Grading Options (Audit and Pass/Fail), Drop/Withdrawals, Course Repeats, and defines the undergraduate and graduate Grading Standards.

Questions about grading for a specific course should be addressed to the instructor of the course in question. Graduate students with questions about Pass/Fail and Drop/Withdrawal should contact their individual programs.

Appeals for an exception to any grading policy may be made by the dean's office of the studentís home college.

1. Definitions

Certain terms are used in this document with specific meanings, as defined in this section.

2. Policy Provisions

Assigning Grades

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.

Enrollment Services will query instructors who do not assign a grade to a student. Copies of the query regarding the lack of grade will be sent to the student, to the dean and to the department head. If the instructor does not assign a letter grade or an incomplete grade within one month of Enrollment Serviceís query, the department head will be responsible for insuring that a grade is assigned.

Changing a Grade

A student who believes that an assigned grade is incorrect, 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 deanís office of the college/school offering the course; for graduate students, department approval is required. 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.

Mid-Semester Grades

Mid-semester grades provide valuable feedback to students as they assess their performance in 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 with students in academic trouble. Therefore it is imperative that mid-semester grades accurately reflect student performance and are turned in on time.

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.

Incomplete Grades

Carnegie Mellon students are expected to complete a course during the academic semester in which the course was taken. However, if the instructor agrees, a grade of I (incomplete) may be given when a student, for reasons beyond his or her control, has been unable to complete the work of a course, but the work completed to date is of passing quality and the grade of incomplete provides no undue advantage to that student over other students.

In awarding an I grade, an instructor must specify the requirements for completing the work and designate a default letter grade where no further work is submitted. Students must complete the required course work no later than the end of the following academic semester, or sooner if required by prior agreement. The instructor must record the permanent grade by the last day of the examination period of that following semester, or Enrollment Services will administratively assign the default grade.

Conditional Failures

X grades are conditional failures. They are factored in the student grade point average as a failure in the semester they are awarded and can be replaced by nothing higher than a D. When awarding an X grade, the instructor specifies to the student the requirements necessary to achieve a grade of D. Requirements may be the completion of a proscribed course with a performance of C or better or may be specified work related to the course in which the student received the X. Students must complete the required course work no later than the end of the following academic semester, or sooner if required by prior agreement. The instructor must record the permanent grade of D by the last day of the examination period of that following semester, or Enrollment Services will administratively assign the default grade of R.

Pass/Fail Grades

Undergraduate students may elect to take a free-elective course pass/fail unless precluded by the course, the courseís department or the student's home department/college. Policies for graduate students vary and students should be advised to check with their individual colleges/departments/programs for details. A student must submit a Grade Option Request Form to Enrollment Services indicating the course they are electing as pass/fail before the end of the university's drop period. This decision is irreversible thereafter. No information regarding the student's decision will be passed on to the instructor. Instructors will submit letter grades, which will automatically be converted to pass/fail.

A through D work will receive credit for units passed and be recorded as P on the student's academic record; below D work will receive no credit and will be recorded as N on the student's academic record. No quality points will be assigned to P or N units; P or N units will not be factored into the studentís QPA.

In exceptional circumstances, departments may ask to designate a course pass/fail or request that the course be evaluated only with letter grades. The College Council must approve designating a course as pass/fail only or as graded only. If such a decision will have an adverse effect on the requirements of any other college, Academic Council must review the decision. The decision to designate a course as graded or pass/fail must be made before the add period for the course and is irreversible thereafter.

Audit Grades

Auditing is presence in the classroom without receiving academic credit, a pass/fail or a letter grade. The extent of a studentís participation must be arranged and approved by the course instructor. A student wishing to audit a course is required to register for the course, complete the Course Audit Approval Form, obtain permission of the course instructor and their advisor, and return the form to The HUB prior to the last day to add a course.

Any student enrolled full-time (36 units) may audit a course without additional charges. Part-time or non-degree students who choose to audit a course will be assessed tuition at the regular per-unit tuition rate.

Drop/Withdrawal Grades

Students at Carnegie Mellon may drop a course by accessing on-line registration on or before the drop deadline as published in the official university calendar. This applies to all courses with the exception of mini-semester courses. Policies for graduate students vary and students should be advised to check with their individual colleges/departments/programs for details. The deadline to drop a mini-semester course is the last day of the fourth week of the mini-semester course. When a course is dropped by these deadlines, the course is removed and does not appear on the academic record.

After the deadline to drop, students may withdraw from a course by accessing on-line registration on or before the last class day, prior to the beginning of final examinations. After the deadline to drop, a W (withdrawal) grade is assigned and appears on the student's academic record. W grades do not apply to graduate students except in GSIA and MCS.

Undergraduates who are registered as full-time students as of the 10th day of classes are expected to remain full-time for the duration of the semester. Full-time is defined as registered for a minimum of 36 units. Permission to drop below the 36-unit minimum can only be granted in extraordinary circumstances by the student's home Associate Dean. Undergraduates who are registered as part-time are also subject to the above deadlines to drop or withdraw from a course.

Course Repeats

When a course is repeated, all grades will be recorded on the official academic transcript and will be calculated in the studentís QPA. This is the case regardless if the first grade for the course is a passing or failing grade.

Undergraduate students who wish to repeat a course already passed must obtain approval from the studentís Dean or Department Head. When a student takes a course s/he has already passed, only one set of units will count towards graduation requirements.

3. University Grading Standards

The Undergraduate student Grading Standard is as follows (as of Fall 1995):

Grade

Quality Points

 

A

4.0

Excellent

B

3.0

Good

C

2.0

Satisfactory

D

1.0

Passing

R

0.0

Failure

X

0.0

Conditional failure

P

Non-factorable

Passing

N

Non-factorable

Not Passing

O

Non-factorable

Audit

W

Non-factorable

Withdrawal

I

Non-factorable

Incomplete

AD

Non-factorable

Credit granted for work completed at another institution or by examination credit.

This grading standard is for all students classified as seeking an undergraduate degree and special students taking undergraduate courses. Special students taking graduate courses will be graded on the graduate grading scale (see below).

Any +/- grades received by undergraduate students when taking graduate-level courses will automatically convert to the corresponding letter grade as listed in the scale above.

The Graduate student Grading Standard is as follows (as of Fall 1995):

Grading

Quality Points

 

A+

4.33

 

A

4.0

 

A-

3.67

 

B+

3.33

 

B

3.0

 

B-

2.67

 

C+

2.33

 

C

2.0

 

C-

1.67

 

D+

1.33

 

D

1.0

 

R

0.0

Failure

X

0.0

Conditional failure

S

Non-factorable

Satisfactory

P

Non-factorable

Passing

N

Non-factorable

Not Passing

O

Non-factorable

Audit

W

Non-factorable

Withdrawal

I

Non-factorable

Incomplete

AD

Non-factorable

Credit granted for work completed at another institution or by examination credit

This grading standard is for all students classified as seeking a graduate degree and special students taking graduate courses.

Students who entered Carnegie Mellon (as graduate students) prior to Fall 1995 follow their previous graduate grading standard. Graduate students who take a leave of absence and return to Carnegie Mellon will do so under the 4.33-point grading scale. These students will have their past semester QPAs recalculated at the time of their return.

No A+ may be given in an H&SS or CIT course. No D or D+ may be given in a GSIA course. Pass/Fail policies for graduate students vary and students should be advised to check with their individual colleges/departments/programs for details. Only GSIA and MCS record W grades.

Department and college policy determine minimum passing grades in graduate courses. Any course that a graduate student completes will be graded using this scale. This includes undergraduate courses taken by graduate students, and special students taking graduate courses.

Contact

Questions concerning this policy or its intent should be directed to Enrollment Services, x8-8186.



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