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The Office of Graduate Studies' Grading policy» governs requirements for the grading of graduate students above those described in Article II» of the University Senate Rules and Regulations.  Additionally, individual schools, departments, or programs may have grading policies that are more stringent than those of Graduate Studies.  Students should see the College-specific grading information below and consult their departmental graduate student handbook, website, or with their adviser for additional information that may affect them.

At minimum, for all graduate students at KU, at least a B average is required on course work counted toward any of the master's degrees at KU, and only courses graded A, B, or C (excluding C-) may be counted.  Course work counted toward a doctorate, including that for a master's degree if obtained at KU, should average better than a B.

College-Specific Grading Policy

Plus/Minus (+/-) Grades

Plus/minus (+/–) grades may be used in the College. The plus or minus sign describes intermediate levels of performance between a maximum of A and a minimum of F. Intermediate grades are calculated as 0.3 units above or below the corresponding letter grade.

SP/LP/NP Grading Scale

Use of the Satisfactory (S) / Unsatisfactory (U) grading scale for thesis or dissertation hours and approved equivalents is prohibited in the College.  Departments may instead use either the traditional A-D/F scale or the SP/LP/NP grading scale.  SP/LP/NP is defined by the following:

  • Satisfactory Progress (SP): Progress is consistent with the goals for the semester as agreed upon with the advisor; supports timely completion of the degree.
  • Limited Progress (LP): Progress is less than what was agreed upon with the advisor; may cause delays in timely degree completion. Academic probation may be warranted.
  • No Progress (NP): The student has provided no evidence of progress on the thesis or dissertation work, or the work completed was insufficient to move the thesis or dissertation project forward.

A grade of SP must be assigned to the final thesis or dissertation hour(s) enrollment.

For departments who choose to use the traditional A-D/F scale for thesis or dissertation hours, or their approved equivalents, it is expected that student are provided, usually via their graduate student handbook or the departments pages in the academic catalog, with details about what constitutes a grade of A, B, C, D, or F in their department.

Participation (P) Grade

Use of the Participation (P) grade is restricted in the College. It is only approved for a limited number of courses for which special permission has been sought. When permission is granted, P is only used to indicate participation in thesis, dissertation, or research enrollments (related to thesis or dissertation), or in the first semester enrollment of a two-semester sequence course. In any semester, the instructor may elect to assign a letter grade of A-D/F when evidence about performance is available. A letter grade (A-D/F) must be assigned in the last semester of enrollment to characterize the quality of the final product.

A-D/F or S/U grades are used in all other courses, including those that are repeated across semesters. The latter include courses in which students are collecting, assembling, or analyzing data; reviewing a research or scholarly literature; or creating portfolios. Students in these courses are expected to develop plans of study with their instructors and to contact these instructors throughout the semester to discuss their progress or changes in their plans. Instructors assign grades each semester based on the quantity and quality of the work students complete that semester. The grades that students receive in the last semester of these courses (e.g., for completing data analyses and literature reviews, exhibiting portfolios, defending theses or dissertations) apply only to that semester.

If a department or program has a course for which the P grading system may be more appropriate than the A-D/F or S/U grading system, it must seek special approval from the College.

Incomplete (I) and Waiting Grade (WG)

The College will not approve an application for graduation if a Waiting Grade (WG) or an Incomplete (I) grade remains on the student’s transcript.  Students may be permitted to take the final examination or to go forward with a thesis or dissertation defense; however a final grade must be entered by the semester grade deadline in order for a student to be approved to graduate.

Graduate Student Exams Grading Policy

Performance is graded Honors*, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory for the following examinations:

  1. The general examination for the master’s degree.
  2. The comprehensive oral examination for the doctorate.
  3. The final oral examination for the doctorate.

*Individual departments may choose whether to utilize the honors outcome.  It is expected that if a department does utilize the honors outcome, student are provided, usually via their graduate student handbook, with details about what constitutes an honors versus a satisfactory pass in their program.

Grades assigned for coursework or thesis/dissertation hours taken the semester of the above oral exams are based on the plan of study or milestones agreed upon by the student and the instructor/advisor; they are not tied to the outcome of the oral exam. For example, a student who receives an unsatisfactory outcome in the oral comprehensive exam may still receive a passing grade for their dissertation hours that semester, provided he or she satisfactorily completed the milestones or expectations for those courses.

Related Policies: