Grading System and GPA Calculation

Grading System and GPA Calculation

Grades are assigned only by instructors and are reported only by letter grade. Plus and minus grades are not accepted.

The university uses the following grading system:
Grade Grade-points per credit
A Excellent 4
AB Intermediate 3.5
B Good 3
BC Intermediate 2.5
C Fair 2
D Poor 1
F Failure 0

The following grades have no associated grade points and are excluded from the graduate Grade Point Average (GPA):
S Satisfactory
U Unsatisfactory
I Incomplete (a temporary grade when work is not completed)
P Progress
PI Permanent Incomplete
DR Dropped
W Withdrew
CR Credit
N No Credit
IN Incomplete in Credit/No Credit Course (a temporary grade when work is not completed)
M Missing – used for audited courses
NR No Report (a temporary grade for a graded course when a final grade has not been submitted by the instructor; a final grade for an audited course when the student did not meet the instructor’s minimum standards)
NW No Work – used for non-attendance in a course
Q Question on Credits

GPA Calculation

  • To calculate graduate GPA:
    • Refer to the grading system table in Appendix 3 above to find the grade-point value of each letter grade on your transcript.
    • Multiply the grade-point value by the number of credits for the course. For example, a three (3) credit AB would be calculated as:
      3.5 grade-points for an AB
      × 3 credits
      10.5 grade-points
    • Continue this calculation for every course numbered 300 and above that you took as a graduate student. Do include independent study courses and seminars. Do not include research courses; each department determines course numbers for their research courses. Do not include courses taken as a University Special student. Add the total number of grade points earned and the total number of credits earned.
    • Divide the total number of grade points by the total number of credits.
      215 grade-points
      ÷ 60 credits
      3.58 GPA
    • This final figure is your graduate GPA.

The UW–Madison Cross College Advising Service GPA Calculator may be a useful tool.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grades

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grades policy

For all courses listed as research, the only permissible grades are Satisfactory (S), Unsatisfactory (U), and Progress (P). Though an Incomplete (I) grade may be assigned, a final grade must be submitted during the following term. If a P grade is assigned, it will remain until the instructor assigns a grade of S or U; all previously assigned P grades should revert to an S or U upon assignment of the final grade in most cases. These courses will not count in the student’s graduate Grade Point Average (GPA).

Research courses are traditionally reserved for graduate students; however, other students (Law, Medical, Undergraduate, etc.) occasionally register for a research course. In these cases the student’s college can decide to have the course count in the GPA with an academic action to the Registrar’s Office.

If a course has been structured to offer the S/U grading option, a grade of S in that course would mean a grade of B or better. S/U courses are not computed into the grade-point average. They may however satisfy the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence, degree, and coursework (50%) credit requirements as well as the minor course credit and in considering the minimum or maximum credit load per term. The S/U grading option is not to be confused with the pass/fail option. Unsatisfactory grades do not satisfy any Graduate School’s minimum credit requirements. Programs and the Graduate School monitor students for unsatisfactory grades. Advisor holds may be placed for students with unsatisfactory grades.

The use of letter grades (A through F) is encouraged and recommended whenever information on performance permits. Courses designated as research require grading on the S/U basis. In certain seminars and advanced topics courses, where lack of examinations and other performance criteria makes the A-F scale inappropriate, use of the S/U option is permissible.

See Grade Point Average (GPA) RequirementIncompletesMinimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementMinimum Graduate Residence Credit RequirementPass/FailProbationProgress (P) Grades

Repeating Courses

Repeating Courses policy

Typically, courses where content can change (such as special topics, seminars, independent studies, and research and thesis) can be repeated within the semester or on a semester basis. Repeated courses may earn course credit and satisfy the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence, degree, and coursework (50%) credit requirements. Sometimes program authorization is necessary for enrollment.

Students are entitled to repeat any didactic course if they or their program feel it is necessary. Both grades will be used in calculating the student’s graduate grade-point average; however, the course will count only once toward the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence, degree, and coursework (50%) credit requirements.

See FailureMinimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementMinimum Graduate Residence Credit RequirementSatisfactory ProgressAppendix 4 – Grade-Point Average Calculation

Progress (P) Grades

Progress (P) Grades policy

The P is an abbreviation for “Progress,” not an abbreviation for “Pass.” It is a temporary grade. Grades of P (except for research and thesis within the program) must be changed before a degree or preliminary exam warrant can be issued.

If a P is assigned for research courses numbered 790, 890, and 990, the grade will remain until the faculty member assigns a grade of S or U. All previously assigned P grades in that instructor’s research course will revert to an S or U upon assignment of the S or U grade. Usually this is upon assignment of the final grade for the course in the semester of submitting the dissertation. (All grades for 790, 890, 990 that are unreported by the end of the grading period will be automatically assigned a P.)

See Grading SystemMinimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementMinimum Graduate Residence Credit RequirementNo Report (NR) Grades

Probation

Probation policy

Students must be in good academic standing with the Graduate School, their program, and their advisor. The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who received grades of BC, C, D, F, or I in courses numbered 300 or above, or grades of U in research and thesis. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment, and the student may be suspended from graduate studies.

The Graduate School requires that students maintain a minimum graduate GPA of 3.00 in courses taken as a graduate student (excluding research, audit, credit/no credit, and pass/fail courses). The Graduate School also considers Incomplete (I) grades to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the subsequent semester of enrollment; however, the instructor may impose an earlier deadline. The Graduate School may also put students on probation for incompletes not cleared within one term. All incomplete grades must be resolved before a degree is granted.

If students were admitted on probation and they satisfy the conditions outlined at the time of admission, probationary status will be removed automatically. Once their studies have begun, students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward their degree.

See Grade Point Average (GPA) RequirementHoldsIncompletesSatisfactory ProgressSatisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grades

Permanent Incomplete (PI) Grade

Permanent Incomplete (PI) Grade policy

If the work is no longer relevant, the instructor of a course is no longer at the university, or a change of program makes completion of the work unnecessary, students may be allowed to receive a Permanent Incomplete (PI) for the course. The instructor of the course or their advisor submits a grade change request with an explanation or reason, changing the grade from I to PI. The Office of the Registrar also converts any incomplete grade over 5 years old to PI. Students may graduate with PI’s on their transcript.

See Incompletes

Pass/Fail Courses

Pass/Fail policy

Pass/fail courses do not satisfy any Graduate School credit, coursework, or degree requirements, nor do they fulfill minimum or maximum credits required each term. Tuition is still charged for pass/fail course. For these reasons, very few graduate students choose pass/fail for courses numbered 300 or above. Seminars, independent study, and research may not be taken pass/fail. The pass/fail option is not to be confused with the S/U grading option.

Students requesting to enroll in a course as pass/fail must first enroll or be enrolled in the course.  The request is made via the MyUW Student Center by submitting an online Course Change Request, changing the course to pass/fail. After the student requests this change online via MyUW Student Center, they submit the pass/fail form to the Graduate School either electronically at gsacserv@grad.wisc.edu or in person in room 217 Bascom Hall where it is reviewed and approved by the Graduate School.  The deadline to request/cancel pass/fail is the drop deadline, which is the end of the 9th week of class during the fall and spring semester. Requests for late pass/fail will not be considered. Specific deadline dates, including those for summer sessions, are posted prior to each semester by the Office of the Registrar.

The instructor does not know that a student is taking the course on a pass/fail basis and therefore reports a letter grade for the course. The Registrar records a grade of S in place of the instructors’ grades of A, AB, B, BC, or C; and a grade of U in place of D or F grades. Neither the S nor the U are computed in the graduate grade-point average.

The enrollment system counts all credits in determining maximum credit loads. A Credit Overload Request is required if a student’s total credit load exceeds the maximum limit per term.

See Dean’s ApprovalEnrollment RequirementsMinimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementMinimum Graduate Residence Credit RequirementOverloadsSatisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grades

No Report (NR) Grades

No Report (NR) Grades policy

A No Report (NR) grade on a student’s record indicates that the instructor for the course has not yet submitted a final grade for the student’s work at the end of the grading period. This grade is not the same as an Incomplete (I), which indicates that the student’s work was unfinished at the end of the term.

All grades for 790, 890, 990 that are unreported (previously assigned an NR) by the end of the grading period will be automatically assigned a P (Progress). The P grades will automatically revert to S grades upon assignment of the grade for the final semester of enrollment in the course. If the instructors had intended a different grade (S, U, or I), they would need to use the electronic grade change process.

See Grading SystemIncompletesProgress (P) GradesSatisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grades

Incompletes

Incompletes policy

Students who are unable to complete coursework by the end of the semester may request from the instructor the assignment of the temporary grade of “I” (Incomplete).  Students making a request for an I grade must have been carrying passing grade until near the end of the term.  If the Incomplete grade is granted the student should complete the missing work as soon as possible.  Students who receive an Incomplete grade will receive a warning message from the Graduate School, reminding them that students are not permitted to graduate with an Incomplete grade on their transcripts. Graduate students are allowed the subsequent semester of enrollment to complete the coursework before the Graduate School will place the student on academic probation. Programs may impose more stringent rules for satisfactory progress.

In consultation with the program, students may be dismissed from the Graduate School for failing to complete coursework and receive a final grade in a timely fashion.

Students with outstanding Incomplete grades may not receive  dissertator status or be granted a degree.

If the work is no longer relevant, the instructor of a course is no longer at the university, or a change of program makes completion of the work unnecessary, students may be allowed to receive a Permanent Incomplete (PI) for the course. The instructor of the course or their advisor submits a grade change request with an explanation or reason, changing the grade from I to PI. The Office of the Registrar also converts any incomplete grade over 5 years old to PI. Students may graduate with PI’s on their transcript.

Unresolved Incomplete grades lapse to a grade of Permanent Incomplete (PI) after five years.

See Permanent Incomplete (PI) GradeProbationSatisfactory Progress

Grading System

Grading System policy

UW–Madison uses a 4.00 grading scale (A=4.00, AB=3.50, etc.). Grades are assigned only by instructors and are electronically reported by letter grade. Plus and minus grades are not used.

Students should check with individual professors about grading scales for specific courses.

All courses taken as a graduate student that are numbered 300 and above in which a student receives a grade of A, AB, B, or S will count toward the Graduate School’s minimum credit requirement.  Courses with grades of BC or C count only if there are equal credits of AB and A respectively in non-research courses to offset the lower grades.  Courses with grades of P (“in progress”) fulfill the Graduate School’s minimum credit requirement only if they are research courses.  Courses taken under the 300 level, or for audit, pass/fail; or in which a  student receives grades of D or F do not count.

For courses listed as research, the only permissible final grades are P (Progress), S (Satisfactory), or U (Unsatisfactory). If a P grade is assigned, it will remain until the faculty member assigns a grade of S or U. All previously assigned P grades in research courses will revert to an S or U upon assignment of the final grade. Research courses (even with grades from terms earlier than Summer 1999) do not count in a student’s GPA. Research courses are traditionally reserved for graduate students; however, other students (Law, Medical, Undergraduate, etc.) occasionally enroll for a research course. In these cases, the student’s college can decide to have the course count in the GPA with an academic action submitted to the Office of the Registrar.

To convert UW–Madison Law School numerical grades to the Graduate School’s grading scale, the Graduate School uses the following scale:
85-100 A
83-84 AB
77-82 B
75-76 BC
72-74 C
67-71 D
65-66 F

International equivalencies may be available in the Wisconsin Directory of International Institutions.

See Grade Point Average (GPA) RequirementPermanent Incomplete (PI) GradeProgress (P) GradesAppendix 3 – Grading SystemAppendix 4 – Grade-Point Average Calculation