Undergraduate Bulletin Grade Definitions and Policies
The undergraduate grading system for the University will include the following grades: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, E.
The normative grading pattern is A–E. However, students may receive S/U grades in two circumstances:
In sections and/or courses that have been designated by departments or schools as S/U graded;
In courses normally graded A–E in which the student selects S*/U* grading.
The student is limited to receiving optional grades only twice in their undergraduate academic career. Only courses below the 300 level may be S/U opted. These two courses of S/U may be in addition to all S/U grades received in department or school-designated S/U graded sections of courses. See also “Grading Option Deadline,” below.
A–E grades are defined as follows: A–Excellent, B–Good, C–Fair, D–Poor, and E–Failure. The grade of E is a failing grade and cannot be used to fulfill graduation requirements.
The grade of S is defined as equivalent to the grade of C or higher and is acceptable to fulfill graduation requirements. The grade of U (C- or lower) is unsatisfactory and is not acceptable to fulfill graduation requirements.
Other Grades and Indicators
Additionally, the following grades and indicators may be assigned:
- I Incomplete. No graduation credit. A temporary grade requested by the student and assigned by the instructor ONLY when the student has nearly completed the course requirements but because of circumstances beyond the student’s control the work is not completed. The incomplete should only be assigned on the basis of an agreement between the instructor and the student specifying the work to be completed and establishing a general timeline in which the work will be completed. Incompletes may NOT be resolved by auditing or registering again for a subsequent offering of the course. The date for the completion of the work may not be longer than one month before the end of the semester following that in which the incomplete is received. Once the work is completed, the instructor assigns the appropriate academic grade. The instructor may extend an incomplete for a maximum of one semester beyond the original deadline providing that the student has made contact with the instructor to request the extension. Additional extensions are NOT permitted. Any grade of I existing after the stated deadline shall be automatically changed to E or U according to whether or not the student is enrolled for A–E or S/U grading. Except for extenuating circumstances approved by the Office of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, these converted grades may not be later changed. (NOTE: Students receiving financial assistance through state awards should refer to Academic Criteria for State Awards in the expenses and financial aid section of this bulletin before requesting grades of I.)
- N Noncredit.
- W An indicator assigned by the appropriate administrative officer indicating a student withdrew from the University, withdrew from an entire course load for a summer session, or dropped a course after the last day to add. For information and completeness, the W is placed on the permanent academic record. The W is not used in any computation of quality point or cumulative average totals.
- Z An indicator assigned by the appropriate administrative officer indicating a student enrolled in a course, never attended or failed to attend after the last day to add, and took no official action to drop the course. For information and completeness, the Z is placed on the permanent academic record. The Z is not used in any computation of quality point or cumulative average totals.
An instructor may not permit students in an undergraduate course to submit additional work or to be reexamined for the purpose of improving their grades after the course has been completed. Also, The Registrar’s Office may not enter a change of grade without the approval of the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, except, of course, for changes of I to a final grade. A grade of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, E, S, or U may not be changed to a grade of I. On a case-by-case basis and for good cause, the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education continues to have the power to allow grade changes for reasons deemed legitimate.
Grading Option Deadline
Students may change their option (A–E or S/U) for courses not departmentally designated for S/U grading until 15 class days after the midterm point. Changes in grading selections cannot be authorized beyond the date specified. The grading option may be changed by filing the appropriate form with The Registrar’s Office by the date specified in the academic calendar. When discussing with an instructor their progress in a course, students should inform the instructor if they are taking the course S/U.
The grades of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, and E shall be the only grades used to determine an average. Grades shall be weighted as follows: A = 4.00, A- = 3.70, B+ =3.30, B = 3.00 B- = 2.70, C+ = 2.30, C = 2.00, C- = 1.70, D+ = 1.30, D = 1.00, D- = 0.70, and E = 0.00. The student’s academic average is the result of the following calculation:
- The number of credits for courses receiving A–E grades is totaled.
- Each grade’s weight is multiplied by the number of credits for the course receiving that grade.
- The results of these multiplications are totaled to yield a weighted total.
- The weighted total is divided by the total number of credits receiving A–E grades to yield an academic average.
Students must be informed (see section on Course Syllabi) of the criteria for determining final grades at the very beginning of each semester. The criteria may not be changed while the course is in progress. For example, if students collectively do unexpectedly well or unexpectedly poorly on a mid-semester examination, an instructor may not decide that the exam will count only 25 percent rather than the originally announced 50 percent of the final grade. If a final grade is determined using criteria other than those announced at the beginning of the course, students may have legitimate grounds for academic grievances. The following are examples of legitimate considerations in determining a grade: examinations, missed examinations, quality of written and oral assignments, lateness of assignments, attendance, class participation, academic dishonesty, disruptive classroom behavior, etc.
Instructors’ Grading Responsibility
The instructor of record for a course must be fully cognizant of the justifications for all grades recorded over his or her authority. Although teaching assistants play a variety of important and indispensable roles in instruction and assessment, particularly in large classes, final grading decisions are the province of the instructor of record. If a student raises a concern about grading of an exam, the instructor of record is expected to work with the teaching assistant to learn about the grading decision, rather than respond to students’ inquiries about grades by disclaiming knowledge and referring students to teaching assistants.
The Indicators W and Z
Within the bounds set by policy and governance, instructors have exclusive responsibility for grading. The grades of A, B, C, D, E, S, U, and I are assigned by instructors only. The administrative indicators W and Z are technically not grades. A Z indicates that a student registered and never attended, or stopped attending before the tenth class day. A W indicates that the student dropped the course between the tenth class day and the last date to drop listed in the Academic Calendar. These indicators cannot be assigned by faculty, though faculty provide information used in the determination of whether they are appropriate. For example, a statement by an instructor that a student never attended class is relevant to the assignment of a Z indicator.
S/U Grading Option
For undergraduate courses, the grade of S is defined as equivalent to the grade of C or higher (not C minus). In courses normally graded A-E, students may elect S/U grading within the guidelines stated in the Undergraduate Bulletin and according to the deadlines specified in the Academic Calendar. No changes in grading systems can occur after these dates unless authorized by the Committee on Academic Standing. Students who have chosen the S/U option have a “#” noted in the grade column on the class list. Note that students are limited to a maximum of two S/U graded courses below the 300-level. This limitation does not apply to courses for which S/U grading is mandatory, such as internships.
University at Albany policy states that incomplete grades should only be given when requested by the student, when course requirements are nearly completed, and when the instructor feels that there are legitimate circumstances beyond the student’s control for not completing all course requirements on time. Students should be informed what is needed and a firm deadline should be set for completing the requirements. Note that while a grade change form (or a request for an extension) must be submitted by the instructor to the Registrar one month before the end of the next semester, faculty may set a deadline for completion of course material prior to that date. Any unextended grade of I persisting after the stated deadline will be automatically changed to E or U. Any subsequent changes proposed for these grades will be subject to the same grade change policies as all other grades.
An instructor may not permit students in an undergraduate course to submit additional work or to be reexamined for the purpose of improving grades after the course has been completed. Also, the Registrar may not enter a change of grade without the approval of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education except for changes of I to a final grade. A grade of A, B, C, D, E, S, or U may not be changed to a grade of I. On a case-by-case basis and for good cause, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education has the power to allow grade changes for reasons deemed legitimate. The grading process is not, and should not be allowed to become, one of negotiation between faculty and students. For example, students occasionally present arguments to faculty to change a grade for reasons having nothing to do with the specific course in question (e.g., a concern for academic dismissal or for the overall GPA). Clearly, such arguments are irrelevant to the determination of a grade in a specific course.
Patterns of testing, assignments, and examinations vary widely across departments and courses. It is important, however, that students in all courses be provided with assessment of their progress in a timely way. In particular, it is highly desirable that students should receive some formal assessment of their progress well before the last date to withdraw from a course.
Academic Early Warning
The Office of Academic Support Services maintains an early warning system for some lower-division courses in which a significant number of students experience academic difficulty. Study groups facilitated by graduate students recommended by professors in the specific department, along with other campus resources, are available to help all students in these courses who request it. It is crucial that instructors participate in our early warning efforts by responding promptly to requests for information from Academic Support Services. Faculty cooperation in identifying students in academic difficulty is also greatly appreciated. It definitely enhances student success.