Grading System

Any student taking courses in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (including those students enrolled in other UI colleges) are subject to the following grading policies. CLAS students taking courses in other colleges within the UI are subject to the grading policies of those colleges. For more information about cross-enrollment in other colleges, read the complete cross-enrollment policy.

Instructors may use either of the following grading systems:

  • A, B, C, D, F      or
  • A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F

In either case, the instructor must explain his or her chosen grading system in the course syllabus, must apply it to all the students in the class, and must apply the same grading system in all the sections of a multi-section course.

Grade-point average (GPA)

All letter grades are assigned a grade point value according to the following table.

Grade Grade Points for Each Semester Hour

A+

4.33

A (Superior)

4.00

A-

3.67

B+

3.33

B (Above Average)

3.00

B-

2.67

C+

2.33

C (Average)

2.00

C-

1.67

D+

1.33

D (Below Average)

1.00

D-

0.67

F (Failing)

0

The following grades may appear on your transcript, or permanent record, however they will not affect your grade-point average.

AUS Audit Successful
AUU Audit Unsuccessful
IP In Progress
N Nonpass
P Pass
S Satisfactory
U Unsatisfactory

The following marks may also appear on your transcript, or permanent record.
They are not grades, and (except for the second-grade-only option) will not affect your grade-point average.

H Honors course
I Incomplete
O No grade reported
R Registered
W Withdrawn
# Grade not included in GPA
(see Second-grade-only option)
= Changed grade

You can calculate your grade-point average by dividing the total number of grade points you have earned by the total number of credit hours you have taken, excluding courses with grades of AUS, AUU, IP, N, P, S, or U, or marks of I, O, R, or W. For example, if you are a first-year student who has completed the following coursework and earned the following grades—

  • Biology (3 s.h.): A+
  • Rhetoric (4 s.h.): B
  • Beginning Ballet (2 s.h.): A
  • Elementary Psychology (3 s.h.): C-  

—your total number of grade points would equal 38, because (4.33 x 3) + (3.00 x 4) + (4.00 x 2) + (1.67 x 3) = 38. Your GPA would be 3.17, because 38 ÷ 12 = 3.17.

In other words: for each course you’ve taken, multiply the appropriate grade points you earned by the number of semester hours in each course, then add up all the grade points you’ve earned to date, and then divide this by the number of semester hours you’ve taken to date. See the Office of the Registrar's GPA Calculator or the Tippie College of Business GPA Calculator for help computing a grade point average or predicting a future GPA.

Note: Although grades of A+ have a grade point value of 4.33, the cumulative GPAs displayed at the bottom of students’ transcripts are truncated so as not to exceed 4.00.

Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences may have up to four different GPAs:

  • the University of Iowa cumulative GPA based on courses taken at The University of Iowa
  • the major GPA based on courses taken in the major (as defined by the department offering the major)
  • the transfer GPA based only on courses taken elsewhere and transferred to The University of Iowa
  • the cumulative GPA based on all courses taken, both at The University of Iowa and elsewhere

Mid-semester reports

Halfway through the semester, the College allows (but does not require) instructors to report grades for students whose work is below C-. These reports are sent to the Office of the Registrar, which distributes them to the individual students and their advisors. These grades are not recorded on the students’ permanent records.

Students who do not receive mid-semester reports should not assume that their mid-semester grade is above a C-. (Remember that instructors are not required to submit these reports.)

Audit Successful/Audit Unsuccessful (AUS/AUU)

If you audit a course (i.e., take a course normally offered for credit for zero credit), you will receive a “grade” of “AUS” (Audit Successful) or “AUU.” (Audit Unsuccessful). See Auditing courses.

In Progress (IP)

The mark of IP is used to denote a course in progress.

Pass/Nonpass grading option (P/N)

Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have the option of taking elective courses P/N (Pass/Nonpass) with the permission of the course instructor and/or the department offering the course. You may register for the P/N grading option beginning the first day of classes up to the last day for undergraduates to add a course (date listed on the Registrar’s Academic Deadlines calendar).

To take a class P/N, first ask the course instructor if he/she allows P/N grading. Then, print a grading option form (or pick one up in 120 Schaeffer Hall) and have both your academic advisor and the course instructor sign it. Submit the completed form to the Registrar’s Service Center, 17 Calvin Hall, before the published deadline. You may not change your P/N registration after the deadline.

P/N course policies:

  • You may request P/N grading only in courses you are using as electives, so:
  • You may not use the P/N grading option for any course in the department of your major unless the department approves it. In special circumstances, a department or program may authorize a P/N grading option for a student in a departmental course if it will not be applied toward the requirements of his or her major. For this to happen, the major department or program must send written authorization for the exception to Graduation Analysis, 30 Calvin Hall. Courses required for the major in cognate or related areas may be taken as P/N only if the department offering the major has approved the P/N status for the requirement in question.
  • Instructors and/or departments may deny students the option to register P/N for any course.
  • Hours of P/N coursework are not used in computing GPAs. Hours of coursework graded P count toward graduation, but hours of coursework graded N do not.
  • The College accepts a maximum of 15 s.h. of P credit from The University of Iowa toward the bachelor's degree, and a maximum of 30 s.h. of P and S grades from all sources (UI as well as transfer work) toward the bachelor's degree.

Satisfactory/Fail (S/F) or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) courses

Certain courses use the Satisfactory/Fail (S/F) or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading system. (To check, view a course’s detailed information on ISIS, and look for “Special Grading.”) All students registered for these courses receive a grade of S, F, or U. Special forms or permissions are not necessary to register for S/F or S/U courses.

S/F and S/U course policies:

  • Hours of S or U graded coursework are not used in computing grade point averages, but hours of F graded course work are used.
  • Hours of S graded coursework count as hours earned toward graduation, but hours of F or U graded coursework do not.
  • You may use S graded coursework to fulfill General Education Program Requirements and/or the requirements of your major, minor, or a certificate.
  • The College accepts a maximum of 15 s.h. of S credit from The University of Iowa toward the bachelor's degree, and a maximum of 30 s.h. of P and S grades from all sources (UI as well as transfer work) toward the bachelor's degree.

Incomplete (I)

A student unable to finish a course may ask an instructor for a mark of I (Incomplete). Course instructors may approve or deny a student's request.

You may be granted a mark of “Incomplete” only if

  • you have finished most of the coursework (exceptions may be made for research, thesis, or independent study courses), and
  • you have an reason acceptable to the instructor for not completing the course, and
  • your standing in the course is satisfactory.

Students cannot graduate with an “I” mark on their record. They must either complete the course for a passing grade, or allow the Incomplete to lapse to an “F.”

To complete an “incomplete” course, first consult with your instructor about the due date for the remaining work and to make sure you understand all the course requirements.

You must then complete the unfinished portion of the work, and your instructor must submit a final grade for you, by following the Registrar’s change-of-grade procedure. This grade change must be submitted on or before grades are due for the subsequent spring or fall semester. (Since the summer and winter sessions are not technically semesters, a student with an Incomplete from the spring semester is exempt from completing the work during the subsequent summer session; and a student with an Incomplete from the fall is exempt from completing the work during that winter session.) If the grade change is not submitted by this deadline, the "I" will automatically convert to an "F" (or "U"), even if you do not enroll afterward. If warranted, the instructor may submit a grade change after the "I" has become an "F" or "U."

A course may not be repeated to remove a grade of Incomplete; the grade must be removed by completing the unfinished portion of the work. If you allow an “I” to lapse to an "F" or "U,” you may repeat the course by using the second-grade-only option.

No grade reported (O)

An “O” will appear on your record if an instructor fails to report your grade. It will remain on your permanent record until the instructor submits a valid grade. The College works to ensure that valid grades are reported on time and that “O” marks are changed as soon as possible.

Registered/Withdrawn (R/W)

Some departments offer courses for zero credit only. If you take one of these courses, you will be assigned a “grade” of either “R” (for satisfactory performance and attendance) or “W” (unsatisfactory performance and attendance).

Mark of "W"

A mark of “W” will appear on your transcript beside any course you have dropped after the deadline which is noted in the Academic Deadlines calendar as the “Last day for undergraduates to add courses or drop courses without a W," or on the Course Deadlines look-up as the "Last day to drop without a 'W'".

Note that "off-cycle" courses that start or end at times other than the beginning and end of the semester have drop deadlines different from those of semester-long courses. Deadlines for individual courses, including off-cycle courses, may be found at the Registrar's Course Deadlines look-up.

Second-grade-only option (#)

CLAS students may repeat up to three courses taken at the UI regardless of the grade originally earned in the course. If a student repeats a course and officially requests the second-grade-only option, both grades will be visible on the permanent record, but only the second grade will be used in GPA calculations and counted as hours earned. (Unless and until the second-grade-only option is requested, both grades will continue to be counted in the grade point averages.)

The second-grade-only option (SGO) may be used only for University of Iowa courses.  A course taken at another college or university may not be repeated at The University of Iowa under the SGO, nor may a UI course be repeated at another institution under the SGO.

If you plan to apply to a graduate or professional program, keep in mind that these programs may require a review of all your grades. Because both the first and second grade remain visible on your permanent record, a graduate program might include the original grades in a calculation of your total grade point average.

On the permanent record, the SGO appears as a pound symbol (#), showing that the first grade has been replaced by the second grade in the GPA calculations, and that only the hours from the second registration have been counted as hours earned.

Second-Grade-Only FAQ

How can I request the SGO?
Visit the Office of Academic Programs & Student Development, 120 Schaeffer Hall, the semester in which your second enrollment in the course has begun. Most students request the SGO before the last day of class in order for the second grade to appear on their next grade report. You may also make this request after the close of the semester. However, you cannot request that an SGO be applied to coursework for which you have already been awarded a UI degree.

How many times can I use the SGO?
Once per course, for a maximum of three different courses.

I requested the SGO, but now I don’t want to use it. Can I reverse my decision?
You may reverse your decision before the close of the semester of your second enrollment in the repeated course. Once the SGO is placed on your record, it may not be retracted. (Note: If you drop the course after you have requested the SGO, the SGO will not be applied to your record.)

Do I have to have failed the course the first time, in order to request the SGO?
No. You may repeat the course regardless of the grade you earned.

Can I request an SGO for any course I am repeating?
No. In order to be eligible, both courses must

  • be University of Iowa courses (including regularly scheduled courses, Saturday & Evening offerings, Guided Independent Studies, distance learning courses, and off-campus courses);
  • not be considered an instance of regression;
  • have identical course numbers and titles (if the original course is no longer offered, you may be able to substitute a course, but only if this is authorized by the department);
  • have been taken in or after the 1969 fall semester.

NOTE: The University of Iowa is adopting a new course numbering system. A course may be identified by its legacy (old) number, its new number, or both. A course taken under the old number and repeated under the new number will be considered the same course with respect to use of the SGO.

I took an on-campus course that I’d like to repeat online and use the SGO option. Can I do that?
Yes, if it is the same course. Any UI course taken in any mode of delivery may be repeated in the same mode of delivery or in another mode of delivery.

Can I request a different grading system for a course I want to retake? 
It depends. If you took the course for a grade the first time, you must take it for a grade the second time. If you took it AUS/AUU, P/N, S/F, or S/U the first time, you can take it for a grade the second time, or for AUS/AUU, P/N, S/F, or S/U.

Can I SGO a course I took at another school here at  UI or can I SGO a UI course at another school? 
No. A course taken at another college or university may not be repeated at The University of Iowa under the UI second-grade-only option nor may a UI course be repeated at another institution under the second-grade-only option.

I am not a CLAS student but am enrolled in another college at The University of Iowa. Can I still file a SGO at the CLAS Office of Academic Programs and Student Development?
No.  CLAS cannot file a SGO for a student enrolled in another college even if the student is taking a CLAS course. Student records are governed by the policies of the student’s home college and the SGO must be filed with that office.

Note: If you plan to apply to a graduate or professional program, keep in mind that these programs may require a review of all your grades. Because both the first and second grade remain visible on your permanent record, a graduate program might include the original grades in a calculation of your total grade point average.

Visit the Office of Academic Programs & Student Development if you have questions.