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The aims of the grading system are to measure as fairly as possible the quality of students' work and to assess their overall performance. The system of letter grading is used to encourage evaluation on the basis of total performance. This philosophy recognizes that the measurement of performance is a relatively inexact art. 

A. Grading Notations

Effective Fall 2004, the University’s official grading system for undergraduates in undergraduate courses is:

  • A (4.000)
  • A- (3.700)
  • B+ (3.300)
  • B (3.000)
  • B- (2.700)
  • C+ (2.300)
  • C (2.000)
  • C- (1.700)
  • D+ (1.300)
  • D (1.000)
  • F (0)
  • Inc (Incomplete: 0)
  • NR (No grades submitted by the instructor for the entire class: No effect on cumulative average)
  • P (Pass: No effect on cumulative average)
  • Y (Yearlong course in progress: No effect on cumulative average. Will be replaced by a permanent grade notation at the conclusion of the second half of the two-semester course sequence.)
  • Aud (Audit: No effect on the cumulative average or on credit toward graduation). A blank grade (annotated as __), will be counted as 0 in the calculation of the cumulative average.
  • An IF is recorded when an Incomplete is not resolved within the timeframe detailed in section D below.
  • The designation W (withdrawn) is not a grade; it is an administrative notation, which has no effect on cumulative average. 

Undergraduates enrolling in graduate-level courses numbered 500- 599 follow the regular undergraduate grading rules and are allowed to register for most courses under the elective pass/fail option. 

Undergraduates enrolling in graduate-level courses numbered 600 or above follow the graduate grading rules in which, for most courses, an SAT (satisfactory) grade is available instead of the elective pass/fail option available at the undergraduate level and in which C-, D+ and D are not valid grades. If a student wishes to receive a SAT grade instead of a letter grade, they make arrangements with the instructor prior to the end of the course. 

Five College plus and minus grades factor as follows:

  • A- (3.75)
  • B+ (3.25)
  • B- (2.75)
  • C+ (2.25)
  • C- (1.75)
  • D+ (1.25)
  • D- (0.75)

Prior to Fall 2004, the preceding grading system for undergraduates in undergraduate courses employed the following letter grades: A (4.0), AB (3.5), B (3.0), BC (2.5), C (2.000), CD (1.5), D (1.0), and F (0). The preceding grading system did not employ the IF grade. 

B. Courses Which Do Not Earn Graduation Credit

No course marked F, IF, INC, W, Y, NR, blank (annotated as __) or AUD earns graduation credit. Courses numbered below the 100-level (e.g., MATH 011) earn semester credit (i.e., they act to maintain status as a full-time student) but not degree credit; grades in these courses are factored into the semester and the cumulative grade point averages (see paragraph E. Repeated Courses). 

C. Grade Changes

Grades may not be changed if a proposed change is based upon the additional or re-evaluated work of a single student. (This restriction does not apply to grade changes resulting from appeals or other means of dispute resolution under established procedures.) Grades may, however, be changed if they are based on routine correction of a clerical error. Such grades may be changed only when requested by the instructor of the course and approved by the Undergraduate Dean of the college in which the course is offered. 

Note: After the start of the semester following a student's graduation, the student's academic record cannot be altered, except for instances of documented institutional error. For more information, see the "Preface" at the start of these academic regulations. 

D. Incompletes

Students who are unable to complete course requirements within the allotted time because of severe medical or personal problems may request a grade of Incomplete from the instructor of the course. Normally, incomplete grades are warranted only if a student is passing the course at the time of the request and if the course requirements can be completed by the end of the following semester. Instructors who turn in a grade of "INC" are required to leave a written record of the following information with the departmental office of the academic department under which the course is offered: (1) the percentage of work completed, (2) the grade earned by the student on the completed work, (3) a description of the work that remains to be completed, (4) a description of the method by which the student is to complete the unfinished work, and (5) the date by which the work is to be completed. In the case of an independent study where the entire grade is determined by one paper or project, the instructor should leave with the department information pertaining to the paper or project, which will complete the course. To avoid subsequent misunderstanding it is recommended that the student also be provided with a copy of this information. 

Grades of Incomplete will be counted as F's until resolved. If not resolved by the end of the following semester, they will automatically be converted to an F if taken before Fall 2004, to an IF if taken thereafter. Faculty wishing to extend this deadline must write to the Registrar's Office stipulating a specific date by which the incomplete will be completed. 

Grades of Incomplete recorded prior to Fall 1987 are not subject to the above policy. 

Students are not permitted to re-register for a course in order to clear an Incomplete. 

Requests for grade changes from INC to Y, from INC to a grade, from NR to a grade, or from a blank (__) to a grade require a request from the instructor only. In situations where an instructor has permanently left the employ of the University, the department chair or head (or designee) may change an "INC" to a final course grade after reviewing the information on student performance originally provided by the instructor at the time the "INC" was submitted and completing an evaluation of the makeup work of the student. Changes of an "INC" grade by the chair or head (or designee) require the approval of the Undergraduate Dean in the school or college in which the course is offered. This procedure would be normally used only in cases where the original course instructor cannot be contacted or the instructor refuses to evaluate the makeup work of the student or to provide an opportunity for the student to make up the missing work. 

E. Repeated Courses & Course Substitutions

No course for which a grade of C or higher was earned may be repeated. A course for which a grade of C-, D+, D or F (or CD before 2004) was earned may be repeated one time without permission. A course may be repeated a second time, for a total of three times, only with prior permission of the undergraduate dean of the school or college in which the student is enrolled. Under no circumstances may a student take a course more than three times. Successful registration for a course does not constitute permission. 

All enrollments and all grades will appear on the transcript, but the last grade will be calculated in the GPA unless the dean files an appeal with the Registrar. 

Repeating a UMass Amherst course at another of the Five Colleges, at another campus of the University of Massachusetts, or at any other institution will not result in grade substitution. 

If an academic honesty sanction has been imposed, the grade specified in the sanction will always be calculated in the GPA. 

NOTE: Repeating a course can have negative consequences. For example, if a passing grade of C- , D+ or D (or CD before 2004) was received in the first enrollment, but a failing grade is received when the course is repeated, no credit would be earned for either attempt. Repeating a previously passed course may also have an effect on financial aid eligibility. Students considering repeating previously passed courses should consult their academic advisors and Financial Aid staff. 

Course Substitution Policy 

A student may propose a substitution for a required course. The course content of the proposed substitute must be substantially similar to that of the original required course. A proposal for substitution must be endorsed by the undergraduate dean of the school or college in which the student is enrolled and is subject to final approval by the Registrar. 

F. Practica and Residential Colloquia Courses

Students are limited to a maximum of 18 credits in practica courses (numbered 298 or 398 or 498) that are not required for the major. Students are limited to two residential colloquium credits in any given semester and a maximum of 12 residential colloquium credits during their undergraduate careers. 

G. Courses and Prerequisites

Students who have successfully completed a course may not subsequently take its prerequisite for credit. 

H. Credit by Special Examination

Matriculated students may attempt to satisfy the requirements of a course by taking a departmentally approved examination. Forms governing the administration of such tests may be obtained in the Registrar's Office. A per credit fee will be charged. A student may earn no more than 15 credits in this manner. Grades, including Fs, and credits for courses taken by examination are included in the cumulative average. Credit by examination may not be obtained in courses for which a different examination mechanism exists, such as in Math, Freshman Writing, or foreign languages. Earned credits will be considered residence credits. 

I. University Exemption Tests

Students may earn exemption from certain requirements through tests administered (1) by the New Students Program during the Freshman and Transfer Orientations, (2) during registration periods. Where applicable, credits earned will be considered residence credit. In addition, students may be exempted from the foreign language requirements of the Colleges of Arts & Sciences through tests administered in various departments or by faculty members in accordance with the procedures established by the applicable College. Only these tests of foreign language yield credit. 

J. Advanced Placement Credit

Those students who are awarded advanced placement credit on the basis of a College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or an Advanced Placement (AP) examination administered by the College Board, or on the basis of a local exam, will be granted no grade for these credits. These credits, if appropriate, may be counted toward satisfaction of the University's requirements. CLEP and AP are transfer credits. 

K. University Without Walls Courses

Enrollment in courses offered by University Without Walls during the fall or spring semester requires the payment of University Without Walls course registration fees in addition to the applicable regular University tuition and fees. The use of courses offered by the UWW during the fall or spring semester to fulfill regular University degree requirements is restricted by the Regulations Concerning Enrollment in University Without Walls, listed elsewhere in Academic Regulations

  1. Regular University degree students not subject to suspension or dismissal may enroll in courses offered by University Without Walls during a summer session or intersession. Courses taken during these sessions will be merged into the student's official undergraduate record and transcript. 
  2. Students who have been admitted to a degree program at the University are normally expected to complete their course requirements through enrollment in regular course offerings and courses offered during summer and intersession. After matriculation, enrollment in courses offered by University Without Walls during the fall or spring semester is normally restricted to six credits. Exceptions to these general restrictions are detailed in the Regulations Concerning Enrollment in University Without Walls. If a student enrolls in courses offered by University Without Walls during the fall or spring semester, the credits attempted and grades received in those courses will be merged into the student's official undergraduate record and transcript. 
  3. Students who are on suspension or who have been dismissed may not enroll in courses offered by University Without Walls except with the permission of their undergraduate dean. If permission is granted (not done automatically), students will be classified as non-degree University Without Walls students. Credits attempted and grades earned during this period of enrollment will be factored into the students' undergraduate records and any subsequent re-enrollment decisions. 

L. Stockbridge Courses

For students who have previously been matriculated in the Stockbridge School, Stockbridge courses are treated as residence credit with both credits and grades factored into the undergraduate record. 

M. Five College Courses

Credits and grades attempted and earned through the Five College Interchange program will be factored into the student's undergraduate record exactly as they are sent to the Registrar's Office (i.e., plus and minus grades will be used). Credits completed are considered residence credits. 

N. University of Massachusetts Boston Courses

Effective with the Fall 1995 semester, credits from the University's Boston campus have been regarded as transfer credits according to paragraphs "O" and "P," below. Neither credits attempted nor grades earned factor into the grade point average. Credits attempted and grades earned at the Boston campus prior to Fall 1995 became part of a student's undergraduate records on the Amherst campus only for those students admitted to an Amherst campus degree program in Fall 1995 or earlier. 

O. Transfer Courses Taken Prior to First Enrollment at the University

When a student transfers to the University, credit for courses that are accepted by the Registrar’s office will appear on the student's official transcript. Grades for these courses will appear, but they will not be factored into the student's grade point average. Students who have been awarded transfer credit for courses equivalent to those offered by the University of Massachusetts Amherst may not repeat those courses on campus either for credit or for quality points affecting the cumulative average. Students may, however, officially audit courses for which transfer credits have been granted, or in unusual circumstances may, with the approval of an Undergraduate Dean, re-elect the course for a grade but no graduation credit. Credits completed are not considered residence credits. 

P. Transfer Courses Taken After Initial Enrollment at the University

Students may decide to take courses at another institution during the summer or while on leave from the University. In this instance, students must file a prior approval form to determine which University and/or major requirements will be fulfilled upon completion of the course. Failure to do so may result in the denial of the transferring of the credits. Credits will be factored into the student's undergraduate record and may affect the semester count. Grades will not be factored in to the student’s GPA. Credits completed are not considered residence credits. 

Q. Reports and Transcripts

At the end of the Fall, Winter, Spring, and final Summer term, final grades are available to students for their online review. 

Questions concerning the cost (if applicable) of official or unofficial transcripts should be directed to the University Registrar’s Office. No transcript may be sent outside the University without a student's written or online request.

Sources: Academic RegulationsSen. Doc. No. 12-032, Sen. Doc. No. 05-020