Grades

Letter Grades | GPA | Grade Appeals and Changes | Pass/D/Fail
Unofficial Withdrawal | Administrative Referral | Incomplete Work in a Course

All grades are based solely on work completed during the term a course is offered, except in the case of a grade issued to replace an incomplete authorized by the Committee on Academic Standing. (See Incomplete Work in a Course.)

Letter Grades

The letter grading system within Columbia's undergraduate colleges is as follows: A, excellent; B, good; C, fair; D, poor but passing; F, failure (a final grade, not subject to reexamination). Plus and minus grades are also used, except with a D or F. No more than 10% of a student's total number of Columbia credits with the grade of D will count toward the degree; no work with a grade of D will be credited toward the major unless otherwise noted by a department in its official policies.

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Grade Point Average (GPA)

The Registrar calculates semester as well as cumulative grade point averages based on the number of credits per class. The GPA is used to assess a student's academic progress as well as to determine a student's eligibility for certain honors such as the Dean's List or the Honor Society. The GPA is printed on all official Columbia transcripts. GPAs are computed on the following scale:

A+ = 4.33

B+ = 3.33

C+ = 2.33

D = 1.00

A = 4.00

B = 3.00

C = 2.00

F = 0.00

A- = 3.67

B- = 2.67

C- = 1.67

 

When the Registrar calculates the GPA, courses are weighted by the number of credits they carry. Courses that cannot be credited toward the degree are not included in the GPA. For repeated courses, only the grade earned for the first attempt will be calculated into the grade point average.

Grade Appeals and Grade Changes

Assessment of a student's performance in a course is at the instructor's discretion. When a student feels a grade appeal is warranted, the student should first speak with the instructor of the course in order to understand how the evaluation was derived or to clarify other specific concerns. If dissatisfied with the explanation or uncomfortable broaching this matter with the instructor, the student should speak with the director of undergraduate studies or chair of the relevant department.

Deans and GS advisors can counsel a student on whether and how to approach an instructor about a grade appeal; however, they do not arbitrate grade disputes. Students should keep their GS advisors informed of any pending grade disputes or appeals, as the Office of the Dean of Students can help to expedite a response from a faculty member or department.

If the student is unable to resolve the matter to his or her satisfaction and believes that a procedural issue is involved, the student should bring the matter to the attention of the GS Coordinator of Academic Affairs who will work with the student and the faculty to determine whether there has been a procedural breach and, if so, take immediate steps to remedy the matter. If relevant faculty other than the instructor, together with the GS Coordinator of Academic Affairs, decide that the grade or other academic evaluation was appropriate, given class assignments and circumstances, the student will be informed and the decision will be final.

The statute of limitations on final grade appeals is three months from the end of the semester in which the course was taken.

Changes in final grades are subject to the approval of the Committee on Academic Standing once the change of grade and rationale has been submitted by the instructor.

Pass/D/Fail Option

The purpose of the Pass/D/Fail (P/D/F) option is to encourage students to take courses outside their fields of specialization without concern for the grade. Beginning with the Spring 2008 term, students may choose the P/D/F option for only one course per term, including the summer term. Courses given only on a P/F basis will not count toward the six-course limit.

Electing a Course for Pass/D/Fail 

  • Undergraduates within the School of General Studies may elect the Pass/D/Fail (P/D/F) option for up to six courses, but no more than one course per semester may be selected for this option.
  • The grading option for students who register for a course P/D/F when they have exceeded the number of allowable P/D/F will revert to the letter-grade option.
  • When the P/D/F is elected for a particular course, grades of C- or above are converted to a Pass.

The Pass/D/Fail option cannot be elected for the following courses:

  • Courses administered by the Committee on the Core Curriculum:
    • Art Humanities W1121
    • Contemporary Civilization: C/F1101-C/F1102
    • Frontiers of Science C1000
    • Literature Humanities C/F1001-C/F1002
    • Music Humanities W1123
    • University Writing F1010

When considering the P/D/F option, students should be aware that courses with the mark of P:

  • cannot be used to satisfy a GS core requirement;
  • cannot be used to satisfy a major or concentration requirement, including related courses, unless otherwise noted by the department in its written policies;
  • cannot be used to satisfy science or math courses in fulfillment of premedical requirements.
  • are not taken into account when calculating a student's GPA; the grades of D and F will be so used.

Students may elect the P/D/F option during registration. Students may change a P/D/F course to a letter-graded course or a letter-graded course to a P/D/F course by submitting an Add/Drop form noting a grading option change to the Dean of Students Office by the eleventh week of the term.

The P/D/F option, including the opportunity to uncover a Pass, is only available to undergraduate students in the School of General Studies.

Uncovering the Mark of Pass

Beginning with courses taken in the Fall 2007 semester, students are allowed to uncover a grade of Pass within two weeks of the start of the semester immediately following that in which the grade of Pass was received. Students have until the end of the add/drop period in the spring semester to uncover the grade of a fall-term course, and until the end of the add/drop period in the fall semester to uncover the grade of a spring- or summer-term course. Seniors graduating in May who wish to uncover the mark of Pass for their spring-term courses must do so by the Friday of Commencement week.

An uncovered grade may be used to satisfy a core requirement with the exception of courses administered by the Committee on the Core. (See above for complete list.)

In consultation with the major department, an uncovered grade may be used to satisfy a major requirement.

Note: Whether or not a student uncovers the P, the P/D/F option may only be chosen six times.

Note: Once a student has chosen to uncover a grade, the Pass cannot be reinstated.

Unofficial Withdrawal (UW)

The mark of UW (Unofficial Withdrawal) is given to students who have not officially dropped or withdrawn from a course but have not attended class or completed any substantive work. However, for students who have not officially dropped a course but who have completed substantive work, such as a paper or a midterm examination, the incomplete work may be averaged into the final grade as a zero or an F, and the instructor may compute and award a final course grade. A UW is a permanent grade and will remain on the transcript even if the student repeats the course. While not averaged into the grade point average, UWs are treated as unsatisfactory grades. A student with one or more UWs is subject to academic discipline.

Administrative Referral (AR)

The mark of AR (Administrative Referral) is awarded when a final letter grade cannot be assigned. An instructor will submit this temporary mark for any student for whom a final letter grade cannot be assigned. Following the designation of the AR mark, the student’s academic advisor will follow up with the student and instructor to outline the requisite steps to determine an appropriate final grade.

In the event that the student has been approved through petition to the Committee on Academic Standing to receive an Incomplete in the course, the mark of “IN” will then be submitted by the academic advisor. Please note that ultimately the assignment of the final letter grade is at the instructor’s discretion.

Incomplete (INC)

Written Work and Exams

Students must complete all coursework by the last day of exams in a given semester. For students who cannot complete their course work or are unable to take a final examination, an incomplete for a course in progress may be granted by the General Studies Committee on Academic Standing (CAS). (Faculty members, while consulted for approval of specific extensions, are not authorized to grant incompletes beyond the end of term.) Students should contact their advisors first when an exam or deadline is missed. Petitions for official incompletes at the end of term should be based on unexpected circumstances that arise only within the last two weeks of the course which may prevent a student from timely completion of the final coursework or exam.

The only reasons for which an INC will be granted are incapacitating illness, as certified by the University Health Services or a personal physician, serious family emergency, or circumstances of comparable gravity. Students who wish to receive the mark of INC must, in consultation with their GS advisors, petition the CAS in writing. To be granted an INC, it is expected that students will have completed all work in the class with the exception of the final project or exam. Students who are granted an INC are assigned a deadline for completion of the overdue work or a date by which a deferred examination must be taken. Those who fail to meet the assigned deadline or miss the deferred examination will receive the contingency grade provided by the instructor.

Students with more than two incompletes usually cannot enroll in the following semester without the explicit permission of the GS Committee on Academic Standing. When allowed to enroll, students with more than two incompletes will usually be advised to enroll part-time.

Incomplete Written Work

Students must submit a formal petition for an incomplete on written work by the last day of classes. The petition must be accompanied by the syllabus and a copy of the assignment showing the due date for the assignment. This deadline is set because written work is normally due during the last week of classes; if a deadline for written work other than an exam is set for later than reading week, the student has one day from the missed deadline to submit a petition for an incomplete. Students are advised to submit a draft of their written assignment to the faculty member while the petition for an incomplete is being considered by the CAS.

Incomplete Exams

In situations in which an incapacitating illness prevents a student from sitting for a final exam, the student should contact his or her advisor immediately about the missed examination, and must provide to the advisor—within seventy-two hours of the missed exam—certification of the illness by the University Health Services, personal physician, or emergency room. If circumstances warrant a make-up exam, the student will be permitted to sit for the exam on one of the official deferred exam dates published in the GS Academic Calendar. (Students cannot pick the date, but they will be notified of the date, time, and place of the exam).