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.

Grade-point average (GPA)

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.

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

Grade Point Average 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.

Grades that may appear on your transcript
Grade Definition
AUS Audit Successful
AUU Audit Unsuccessful
IP In Progress
N Nonpass
P Pass
S Satisfactory
U Unsatisfactory

The following marks also may 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.

Grades that may appear on your transcript
Mark Definition
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W Withdrawn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 for help computing a grade point average or predicting a future GPA.

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 or change to P-N or audit status" as listed on the Registrar’s Academic Calendar for semester-length courses, or the "last day to add without dean's approval" listed on the Course Deadlines page for an individual course.

To take a class P/N, first ask the course instructor if he/she allows P/N grading. Then, print a grading option form and have both your academic advisor and the course instructor sign it. Submit the completed form to the UI Service Center, 2700 UCC, by 4:30 pm on 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 Services, 2700 UCC. 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.

COVID-19 Temporary Procedure - Pass/Nonpass grading option (P/N)

A temporary Pass/Nonpass (P/N) grading option has been adopted for all undergraduate courses taught during spring 2020 semester. This policy applies to courses that were converted from face-to-face to virtual instruction as well as courses that were already being taught online.

  • Students will choose to receive either the letter grade recorded by the instructor, OR a P/N designation. A letter grade is the default if a request is not made for P/N. Students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor prior to making their final decision regarding P/N grading. More guidance on the process for requesting P/N grading may be found at https://registrar.uiowa.edu/spring-2020-grading-options.
  • Faculty will grade students as usual during the semester and submit grades following the standard submission process. Letter grades will then be converted to P/N by the Registrar and displayed on the transcript as such. Final grades will post to the student's grade report in MyUI by Friday, May 22.
  • Students have until May 8 to changed their grading option to P/N, or to reverse that decision, in MyUI. After May 8, CLAS students may submit an online workflow form (https://workflow.uiowa.edu/entry/new/9802) to request a change to or from the P/N grading option. CLAS reserves the right to reject a graduating senior’s P/N grading option request after May 8 if a grade change would make a student ineligible to receive their degree. Students who have submitted a degree application for spring 2020 must complete their grading option selection by 4:30 pm on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. The final deadline for all other students to change a spring 2020 grading option is Friday, June 5, 2020.
  • A grade of C- is needed to pass the class unless a program has asked for an exception due to accreditation or pre-licensing requirements.
  • Courses taken for P/N grades during spring 2020 will count towards curricular, major, minor, certificate, academic progress, general education, and graduation requirements.
  • Grades of P and N will not be factored into a student's grade point average.

COVID-19 Temporary Procedure – Pass/Nonpass grading option (P/N) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for CLAS students

  • How do I request the P/N grading option for a spring 2020 course?  
    • Until May 8, 2020, at 11:59 pm, you may request the P/N option on MyUI. Login to MyUI and choose "Temporary Grading Options" on the Spring 2020 Courses/Registration page, or "COVID-19 Spring 2020 Grading Options" on the Student Information page. After May 8, 2020, this page will become "read only".
  • Do I need to do anything if I want to keep my courses as regular, graded courses?  
    • No, if you do not submit the online grading option form, your courses will retain the default grading system for the course.   
  • What is the deadline to request the P/N grading option for spring 2020?  
    • The deadline to request a change to the P/N grading option in MyUI is Friday, May 8, 2020.   
  • What if I change my mind about the P/N grading option?
    • You may cancel the P/N grading option request in MyUI by May 8, 2020.
  • What if I change my mind about the P/N grading option after May 8, 2020?
    • CLAS students who are not graduating in spring 2020 will have until Friday, June 5, 2020, to submit an online workflow form (https://workflow.uiowa.edu/entry/new/9802) to request a change to or from the P/N grading option for any regularly graded spring 2020 course. Students who have submitted a degree application for spring 2020 must complete their grading option selection by 4:30 pm on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
    • CLAS reserves the right to reject a graduating senior’s P/N grading option request after May 8 if a grade change would make a student ineligible to receive their degree.
    • If you are a student in another College at the University of Iowa, you must contact that College for the late P/N request procedure.
  • If I choose P/N by May 8, 2020, can I change back to graded after final grades post on May 22?
    • Yes, CLAS students who are not graduating in spring 2020 will have until Friday, June 5, 2020, to submit an online workflow form (https://workflow.uiowa.edu/entry/new/9802) to request a change to or from the P/N grading option for any regularly graded spring 2020 course.
    • Students who have submitted a degree application for spring 2020 must complete their grading option selection by 4:30 pm on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
    • CLAS reserves the right to reject a graduating senior’s P/N grading option request after May 8 if a grade change would make a student ineligible to receive their degree.
  • What if I change my mind about the P/N grading option after June 5, 2020?
    • CLAS students must contact Academic Programs and Student Development, clasps@uiowa.edu, 319-335-2633, to discuss how to petition for a late change to the chosen grading option. Please note, approval after June 5, 2020, is not guaranteed.
  • Can I request the P/N grading option for any course I am enrolled in?  
    • You may request the P/N grading option for any regularly graded spring 2020 course (listed in the MyUI course description as "Special Grading Instructions: None").
    • CLAS students must email clasps@uiowa.edu to request the P/N option for courses ending prior to April 24, 2020.   
  • Can I request the P/N grading option for a single course?  
    • Yes, you may request the P/N grading option for one, some, all, or none of your regularly graded spring 2020 courses.   
  • Can I request the P/N option for all of my courses?  
    • Yes, you may request the P/N grading option for one, some, all, or none of your regularly graded spring 2020 courses.    
  • Which letter grades will earn a P and which will earn an N?  
    • A grade of C- or higher is needed to pass the class with a P unless a program has asked for an exception due to accreditation or pre-licensing requirements. Grades of D+, D, D-, and F will earn a grade of N and no credit will be awarded.
  • If I request the P/N grading option for all of my spring 2020 courses, what will my UI Term GPA be? 
    • If you choose the P/N grading option for all courses, you will have a UI term GPA that appears as 0.00, but it will be read as "blank", not as zero. 
  • If I receive an N, do I earn credit for the course?   
    • No, N grades do not earn credit. They also are not calculated into your GPA.  
  • Can I change an S/F course to the P/N grading option?  
    • No, however if you are a CLAS student you may drop any spring 2020 course by the May 8, 2020, deadline, including S/F graded courses. Please email clasps@uiowa.edu if you need assistance.
  • Can I change an S/U course to the P/N grading option?  
    • No, however it is not necessary to change an S/U course to P/N as the both S and P grades indicate credit with no impact on GPA, and U and N grades indicate no credit, with no impact on GPA.   
  • Will courses taken with the P/N grading option in spring 2020 satisfy prerequisite requirements?
    • Yes, if you choose the P/N grading option you will be allowed to register for the next course in the sequence. You will not be removed from subsequent courses as long a you receive a grade of P for the final grade in the prerequisite course.
  • Will courses taken with the P/N grading option in spring 2020 satisfy CLAS major, minor, certificate, and general education requirements?  
    • Yes. Courses taken in spring 2020 with a grade of P will count towards curricular, major, minor, certificate, academic progress, general education, and graduation requirements. Grades of N do not award any credit.   
  • Will courses taken at the University of Iowa with the P/N grading option in spring 2020 satisfy UI, CLAS, and departmental residence requirements?
    • Yes. Courses taken in Spring 2020 with a grade of P will count towards University of Iowa, collegiate and departmental residence requirements. Grades of N do not award any credit.
  • Will English as Second Language (ESL) courses taken at the University of Iowa with the P/N grading option in spring 2020 satisfy the minimum requirement that all ESL course work must be completed with a grade of C or higher?
    • Yes, an ESL course taken in spring 2020 with a grade of P will satisfy the English as a Second Language requirement for that course. Grades of N do not award any credit.
  • Will courses taken at the University of Iowa with the P/N grading option in spring 2020 satisfy requirements for the University of Iowa Honors Program and Honors in the Major?
    • Yes. Courses taken in spring 2020 with a grade of P will count towards the University of Iowa Honors Program and Honors in the Major. Grades of N do not award any credit.  
  • Does my course instructor need to approve the P/N grading option?  
    • No.  
  • Will my instructor be notified if I choose the P/N grading option?  
    • No.  
  • Does my academic advisor need to approve the P/N grading option?
    • No, however a discussion with your advisor about your choice is recommended.
  • If I am on academic probation, how will choosing P/N affect my probationary status?   
  • If I am on academic probation and receive N grades in all of my courses for spring 2020, will I be dismissed?  
    • No. At the close of the spring 2020 semester, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will not be dismissing any student on academic probation during the spring 2020 semester. All students currently on academic probation during the spring 2020 semester will be either restored to good standing or continued on academic probation, depending on the student's GPA after spring semester grades post.   
  • Will I be placed on academic probation if I receive all N grades in spring 2020?  
    • Grades of N will not affect your GPA. If you currently are in academic good standing and receive grades of N in all spring 2020 courses you would remain in good standing.
  • Whom should I talk to if I am unsure about my choices?  
    • Contact your academic advisor to discuss the ramifications of choosing a P/N grading option. You also may contact Academic Programs and Student Development at clasps@uiowa.edu or 319-335-2633 to discuss your options with an associate director.  
  • If I choose P/N am I still eligible for the Dean's List and/or the President's List?  
    • In spring 2020, you must have at least nine (9) semester hours of UI regularly graded coursework (listed in the MyUI course description as "Special Grading Instructions: None") to qualify for Dean's List and/or President's List. Additional hours may be taken as non-graded credit (AUS/AUU, P/N, R/W, S/F, S/U). See https://clas.uiowa.edu/students/handbook/recognition-academic-achievement for additional information.   
  • My grade on ICON shows a grade of D+, D, or D-, why didn't I receive credit?  
    • If you elected to change to P/N grading, you received an N as your final grade in the course. N grades do not earn credit. They also are not calculated in your GPA.  
  • I am retaking a course this semester and applied for a second-grade-only option (SGO). What will happen to my SGO if I change to the P/N option for the spring 2020 enrollment?  
    • P/N graded courses cannot be applied for SGO on a course first taken for a letter grade; if you have a pending SGO, your P/N grading option request will be denied. If you took the course for a grade the first time, you must take it for a grade the second time to use the second-grade-only option.
    • If you are a CLAS student and want to cancel a pending SGO request in order to use the P/N grading option, email clasps@uiowa.edu for assistance.  
  • If I receive an N grade in a course, can I retake it in the future and use the second-grade-only option (SGO)?  
    • If you receive a grade of N in a course you may retake it in the future, but because the N does not impact your GPA, you will not need to use a second-grade-only option for the course.    
  • Will the P grades from this semester count toward the maximum limit of 15 semester hours (s.h.) of P courses that may be applied towards the 120 s.h. required to graduate?  
    • P courses taken in Spring 2020 will not count towards the limit of 15 s.h. of P grades, nor towards the combined limit of 30 s.h. S and P grades, allowed towards the 120 s.h. required to graduate.   
  • How will changing to the P/N grading option affect my financial aid?  
  • How will changing to the P/N grading option affect my scholarship?  
    • For CLAS scholarships, P grades will count towards your full-time or part-time enrollment status. A grade of P or N does not impact GPA, so using the P/N grading option will not impact scholarship renewals. Please review the Office of Student Financial Aid updates found here: https://financialaid.uiowa.edu/resources/covid19.   
  • Will I be able to use P/N grading for my spring 2020 study abroad courses that will be completed? What if my study abroad was canceled?
    • Please contact the Office of Study Abroad to discuss your situation and grading options for spring 2020. 
  • How will changing to the P/N grading option affect my application to a graduate or professional program?  
    • This may vary by university or college. You will need to contact the graduate/professional program(s) that you plan to apply to for specific information. However, a designation will be added to all students' transcripts indicating the extraordinary circumstances encountered during the 2020 spring semester.

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 MyUI, 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 CLAS Core 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 a 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. The work must be completed and submitted to the instructor before the close of the semester following the one in which the course was taken. When you complete the unfinished portion of the work, 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. Because 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 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 - SGO (#)

Online SGO request form for CLAS students

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 (SGO), 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 (SGO) FAQ

How can I request the SGO?
If you are a CLAS student, you may request a SGO online at https://workflow.uiowa.edu/entry/new/662 by logging in with your Hawk ID and password, or by visiting the Office of Academic Programs & Student Development, 120 Schaeffer Hall, between 8 am - 4:30 pm weekdays during 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.

COVID-19 Temporary Procedure – How can I request the SGO? 

If you are a CLAS student, you may request a SGO online at https://workflow.uiowa.edu/entry/new/662 by logging in with your Hawk ID and password during 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 on-campus courses, Guided Independent Study, 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 has adopted a new course numbering system. A course may be identified by its current number, its legacy (old) number, or both. A course taken under the old number and repeated under the current 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, 120 Schaeffer Hall, if you have questions.