Grading Guidelines for Graduate Courses

Formulated by the Graduate Study Committee

The inflation of grades and the widely differing grading levels which characterize different courses, or even different versions of the same course, make determining the ability of a student from his or her grades increasingly difficult.

The graduate study committee recognizes grading as one of the responsibilities of each individual instructor and firmly believes that the right of each instructor to choose the grading policy for his or her course should be preserved and protected. On the other hand, the committee feels that the adoption of drastically different policies for the course offered by the same academic unit, or of polices which tend to make the interpretation of grades impossible, is unfair to the students.

The dilemma between the requirements of academic freedom and those of fairness to the students can be solved, in the opinion of the committee, by proposing guidelines which the faculty should discuss, amend and finely accept not as binding rules, but as expressions of the desires of the majority. The committee therefore proposes the following guidelines for grading in graduate courses.

  1. The requirements of a GPA of 3.5 in the major for the Ph.D degree and of a GPA of 3.0 for all Masters degrees should be reflected in the grading policy as follows:

    1. Grades A+, A, A- should be given when the student's performance in the course is of a quality expected of a graduate student.

    2. Grades B+ and B should be given when the work done is appropriate for graduate student.

    3. Grades B- and below should be given when the work is not of the quality expected of graduate students in the department.

  2. The average grade given in our F'75 graduate courses corresponded to a GPA of 3.47, down from 3.61 in S'75. The committee feels that this decline is beneficial, but that a further reduction would facilitate the interpretation of student's grades. The Committee recommends that instructors try to adjust their grading policies to make the average in a "normal" class be about 3.40.

  3. Class averages less then 3.2 or greater than 3.6 should be considered exceptional. However, they might be justified in certain special cases.