Graduate School Grading Policies
Posting of Grades:
Grades are recorded on SPIRE approximately one week following the date they are due from the instructors; check SPIRE for the precise date grades will be available each semester. As incomplete or missing grades are received and posted, they are uploaded to SPIRE. If you require a printed copy of your grades you can print an unofficial transcript from SPIRE or request an official transcript from the University Registrar's Office.
Course/seminar grades are assigned solely by the course instructor. The following letter grades can be given to graduate students in graduate-level courses:
|A||= 4.0||AUD||- Audit|
|A-||= 3.7||INC||- Incomplete|
|B+||= 3.3||IF||- Incomplete Failure|
|B||= 3.0||IP||- In Progress (for thesis and dissertation courses only)|
|B-||= 2.7||NR||- Not Reported|
|C+||= 2.3||DR||- Drop|
|C||= 2.0||SAT||- Satisfactory|
|C-*||= 1.7||WP||- Withdraw Passing|
|D*||= 1.0||WF||- Withdraw Failing|
|F||= 0.0||Y||- Year Long Course In Progress|
*Graduate students enrolled in undergraduate courses may receive these grades.
The grade of Satisfactory (SAT) may be assigned as an alternative to a letter grade. Students should check with their instructor at the beginning of the semester regarding the instructor's policy about pass/fail grades. The grade of "SAT" is equivalent to "Passing for Graduate Credit", which requires an underlying letter grade of C or higher. A minimum of one-half of the total required credits for a master's degree must be on a letter-graded basis. Any portion of the remaining credits may be graded Satisfactory subject to prior approval by the student's department/program. The decision as to which courses may be taken on a pass/fail basis (graded SAT) rests with the department rather than with the individual candidate.
When the grade of Incomplete (INC) is assigned, the student must contact the instructor to determine what must be done to complete the course and the date by which the work is to be completed.
- Incomplete Failure:
An Incomplete (INC) or blank grade reverts to an Incomplete Failure (IF) one year after initial enrollment in the course, (e.g., a course taken in the Fall 2020 semester reverts to an "IF" on the first class day of the Fall 2021 semester).
- In Progress:
An interim grade of In Progress (IP) is routinely recorded for thesis/dissertation credits until the candidate receives his/her graduate degree. At that time, grades of Satisfactory (SAT) are assigned for all thesis/dissertation credits. Should a student choose not to complete his/her thesis/dissertation after registering for the credit, a grade of Drop (DR) is recorded for each registration.
- Undergraduate Courses:
A graduate student who enrolled in an undergraduate level course (100-499) may receive any grade that is valid for undergraduate students enrolled in the same course. Grades of "C-" and "D+” and “D" are valid only for undergraduate-level courses.
- Course Withdrawal:
Grades of Drop (DR), Withdraw Passing (WP), or Withdraw Failing (WF) are recorded when the student formally drops the course prior to the end of the semester. The instructor must indicate "WP" or "WF" and date last attended when signing the late Add/Drop Form. With instructor approval a student may convert an otherwise passing course to an audit up to the last day of classes.
- Audited Courses:
A grade of Audit (AUD) is recorded for students who register for and successfully complete the course requirements for auditing students. The instructor determines what constitutes successful completion. If an "audit" grade is not reported, the course will not be included on the student's transcript. With instructor approval a student may convert an otherwise passing course to an audit up to the last day of classes. A student may not switch from audit to credit after the end of the add/drop period. Audited courses do not count towards enrollment status and cannot be used to compete any degree or certificate requirement.
- Retaking Courses:
Unless otherwise noted a course may be taken more than once but may be offered only once toward degree requirements. All enrollments and all grades will appear on the transcript and will count in the grade point average.
Transfer Credit Policy & Forms
A limited number of graduate course credits taken at a regionally accredited institution in the United States may be transferred toward a master's program provided the Graduate Program Director recommends to the Graduate Dean that the credits be transferred and that request is approved (See Transfer of Credit Forms). No courses taken outside of the University of Massachusetts Amherst may be transferred toward a doctoral or an Educational Specialist program.
- Course Eligibility Requirements:
- Course credits must be graduate level.
- Course credits must have been earned at a regionally accredited institution in the United States.
- Course credits may not have been used previously to fulfill the requirements for any other degree, certificate or diploma program.
- Grades received for courses requested for transfer must be "B" (3.00) or better.
- Course credits must have been taken no more than three years prior to the student's acceptance into the master's program.
- An official transcript of the course(s) to be transferred is required.
- Use of Courses to Fulfill Requirements:
Non-University of Massachusetts Amherst transfer credits may be used to fulfill elective or departmental course requirements. These courses may not, however, be used to satisfy the 600-800 level requirement, nor can the grade received in a course taken at another institution be used to satisfy the university's requirement for letter-graded credits (see Master's Degree Requirements).
- Number of Credits:
No more than a total of twelve (12) graduate credits may be transferred. Of these, a maximum of six (6) credits may be from any one of the following sources:
- Course(s) taken at another regionally accredited college/university within the United States
- Course(s) taken at UMass Amherst as a non-degree graduate student (also see Non-Degree Students)
- Course(s) taken at UMass Amherst as an undergraduate student over and above requirements for the baccalaureate degree
- Transfer Credits to Another Institution:
- Courses taken as a non-degree student are listed separately from the degree transcript. A course taken while enrolled in a degree program but not applied toward a University of Massachusetts Amherst degree may be transferrable. The Graduate School can, if necessary, certify that a course was not applied to any degree requirement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was eligible for graduate credit when appropriate.
Transfer of Credit Forms
Change of Major/Program
To change from one graduate program to another outside of one's current graduate major, a new application must be submitted to the Graduate Student Service Center along with the appropriate application fee. It will be considered along with all other current applications to that department/program. Admission to one graduate degree program does not ensure admission to another graduate degree program. A change from one area of concentration or specialization to another within the same graduate program requires program approval, but does not require Graduate School approval.
A student admitted solely to a master's level program who later wishes to apply/change to the doctoral or master's/doctoral level in the same graduate program must submit a new application. However, no application fee is required for applications of this type.
Change of Personal Data
Official notifications from the university, the Graduate School and other campus offices are sent by email to your official campus email account. All students are assigned an account without charge.
- To activate your official campus email account, contact Information Technology
- If you choose to maintain an email account other than the official university one, you must still activate the university account, then forward your mail from the official account to your personal account.
- Mailing Address:
Please make sure your mailing address is up to date at all times. Changes to mailing address can be made on SPIRE.
- Students who do not wish to be listed in the online campus directory (People Finder) must submit the FERPA Privacy Form to the Graduate Student Service Center.
- Permanent Address:
The Graduate School also maintains a permanent address for each graduate student. This may or may not be the same as the mailing address. To update a permanent address, use SPIRE or contact the Graduate Student Service Center at email@example.com or 413-545-0722.
- Preferred/Chosen Name:
Students can enter a Preferred/Chosen Name in SPIRE, which will appear only on course rosters, in Moodle, and in the UMass directory (PeopleFinder). To do this, update your name in the Student Services Center in SPIRE under 'Personal Information'. Click on the edit box to add your 'Preferred/Chosen Name'.
- Primary Legal name:
Changes to a student's primary name must be made in writing to the Graduate Student Service Center. The student must indicate exactly how their name should appear on all educational records at the University.
There are two types of transcripts: official transcripts and unofficial transcripts. Unofficial transcripts can be printed by the student. Official transcripts must be produced by the University Registrar.
Please visit the University Registrar's Transcripts page to find out how to order, print, or view transcripts.
Official Transcripts: Order an official transcript for electronic delivery, via mail, or for pickup on the UMass Amherst campus.
Unofficial Transcripts: Read how to request an Unofficial Transcript through SPIRE or through Mail.
Privacy of Records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 protects the privacy of student records, ensuring that the university will not release a transcript or personal information about a student to a third party without the student's knowledge and consent. Only those data items which have been defined by the university as directory information are released without prior student consent.
The university defines directory information as a student's name, local (mailing), home and e-mail addresses, major, local telephone number, date and place of birth, acknowledgment of a student's participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, date(s) of attendance, degrees, certificates, awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. For graduate students who are teaching/assisting credit courses and for graduate students who are employed as assistant residence directors, the work department, office address, and employment category will also be considered as directory information.
The university will make public some or all of this information, unless the student specifically requests in writing that their prior consent be obtained. Requests by individual students to suppress from public distribution the above-mentioned information are to be made annually to the Graduate Student Service Center in person or in writing (see FERPA Privacy Form).
In addition, this Act provides each student with the right to view their academic file and all materials contained within (with the exception of certain letters of recommendation to which the student has previously waived their right of access). Files are kept in the Graduate Student Service Center and in academic department offices. Material cannot be removed from the file; however, if there are any disputed documents, the student may request that a written statement, giving the student's point of view, also be included in the file. Students who request to view their file must complete the appropriate request form and provide proper identification. An arrangement to view one's file can then be made with any member of the Graduate Student Service Center staff.
The Dean of Students website explains in more detail the procedures established by this institution for compliance with the provisions of the Act.