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Grading, Graduate Studies


To define the grading scales appropriate to the several types of graduate coursework.

Applies to: 

Graduate Students on the Lawrence/Edwards Campus

Policy Statement: 

General Guidelines

Grading scales are assigned on a course-by-course basis. The grading scale selected for a course must be appropriate to the course type and to the students and programs that the course serves. It is expected that designated thesis, dissertation, and their approved equivalent courses will be graded using either the A, B, C, D, F, P scale or the SP, LP, NP scale. (Use of the P grade is restricted in some divisions: please see the Exclusions and Special Circumstances section below for more information.) Other research and non-research courses for degree- and certificate-seeking students will be graded using the A, B, C, D, F scale, with or without the use of the I grade at the department's discretion.

Once a grading scale for a particular course has been recommended by the department and approved by the Graduate Division, it must be applied to the entire student enrollment in the course or section. This applies to all graduate-level courses.

The individual schools and the College have the option of using or not using the +/-, according to the policy adopted by the particular school.

In courses that adopt the letter-grade scales, C- is not considered a passing grade. C-, D, and F work does not count toward fulfilling degree requirements. Overall, students must earn at least a B average (i.e., 3.0 GPA) on coursework counted toward any master's, specialist, or doctoral degree at KU, and only courses graded A, B, or C (excluding C-) may be so counted. The student's graduate GPA calculation will include any degree- or certificate-seeking graduate coursework completed at KU. Courses graded P, SP, LP, NP, S, U, CR, NC, or I are excluded from the computation of the GPA.

The I Grade: Incomplete Work

The I grade indicates course work that has been of passing quality but which is partially unfinished for good reason. Use of the I grade is optional in some grading scales but is not permitted by others (see below). Generally, the I grade is an appropriate option for enrollments other than thesis, dissertation, research, or the first semester of a two-semester sequence course.

As stated in the University Senate Rules and Regulations, Article II, Section "A student who has an I posted for a course must make up the work by the date determined by the instructor, in consultation with the student, which may not exceed one calendar year, or the last day of the term of graduation, whichever comes first. An I not removed according to this rule shall automatically convert to a grade of F or U, or the lapse grade assigned by the course instructor, and shall be indicated on the student's record."

Grading Scales

Regular Courses

Grading Scale: A, B, C, D, F, (I)

The basic system is an A, B, C, D, F, (I) scale, where:

  • A designates above-average graduate work;
  • B designates average graduate work;
  • C designates passing but not average graduate work
  • D and F designate failing graduate work.
  • Inclusion of the I option is at the discretion of the department (see above).

Research Courses

Departments select one of the two (2) following scales to grade their thesis, dissertation, and approved thesis- or dissertation-equivalent courses. Other research courses are graded using the A, B, C, D, F, P scale. The I grade is not appropriate for enrollment in thesis, dissertation, or research courses and is not allowed by these grading scales. The I grade is discussed separately above.

Grading Scale: A, B, C, D, F, P

In this grading scale, the letter P indicates participation in coursework where evidence of performance may not be available. (Use of the P grade is restricted in some divisions: please see the Exclusions and Special Circumstances section below for more information.)

This grading scale is appropriate in two (2) types of situations:

  • in designated thesis, dissertation, approved thesis- or dissertation-equivalent or research courses;
  • in the first semester of two-semester (2-semester) sequence courses.

In any semester, an instructor has the option to assign a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F, instead of P, when evidence about performance is available. Upon completion of thesis, dissertation, or research hours leading to a master's specialist or doctoral degree, the P remains on the final transcript in all semesters for which it was recorded.

For departments that use this scale, a letter grade (A, B, C, D, or F) must be assigned for a student's final semester of enrollment in thesis, dissertation, or research coursework. The letter grade assigned characterizes the quality of the final product.

Grading Scale: SP, LP, NP

This grading scale is established in USRR 2.2.5. It evaluates a student's work as demonstrating satisfactory progress (SP), limited progress (LP), or no progress (NP). It is appropriate only in designated thesis, dissertation, and approved thesis- and dissertation-equivalent enrollments.

For departments that use this scale, a grade of SP must be assigned for a student's final semester of enrollment in thesis, dissertation, or approved thesis- or dissertation-equivalent coursework. The SP indicates that the final product was of satisfactory quality to earn the degree.

Milestone Examinations

Honors, Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory

Performance on milestone examinations may be graded Honors, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory. These outcome grades are appropriate to the following milestone examinations:

  • the general examination for the master's degree;
  • the general examination for the degree of specialist;
  • the comprehensive oral examination for the doctorate;
  • the final examination for the doctorate.

Use of the Honors designation is at the department's discretion.

Other Grading Scales

Grading Scale: S, U, (I)

The grades of S and U designate satisfactory (S) and unsatisfactory (U) performance. This grading scale is appropriate to three types of course:

  • continuing education courses;
  • workshop courses;
  • institute courses.

No more than six (6) hours total of graduate coursework graded S may count toward a degree. The S, U, (I) grading scale may be adopted at the department's discretion (see above for discussion of the I grade).

In courses numbered 800 or above, and for which specific authorization has been given, an instructor may report a grade of S for students who have satisfactorily attended the course but for whom it has not been possible to evaluate the quality of performance.

Grading Scale: CR, NC

The Credit (CR) or No Credit (NC) option is authorized for graduate students: a grade of CR will reflect work earning a C or better and the grade of NC will reflect work earning a C- or below.

As outlined in USRR, no course graded CR or NC can count toward the satisfaction of the requirements for a graduate degree or a graduate certificate. This prohibition includes any courses taken to meet the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement.

Please see the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship policy for more information.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Individual schools or the College may restrict use of the P grade beyond the provisions of this policy. In such cases, it is expected that the research grading scale of A, B, C, D, F, P described above will be applied as though the P grade were omitted.


Graduate Studies
213 Strong Hall
1450 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-8040

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Effective on: 
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
grading, graduate studies
Change History: 

07/18/2023: Approved by changed to Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, updated links. 
11/04/2016: Corrected typo
10/12/2016: Updated 10/04/2016 RACH statement
10/05/2016: Policy formatting cleanup (e.g. bolding, spacing). Fixed link.
10/04/2016: Substantive revisions approved by Interim VPAA Day- structural overhaul and cleanup for flow and clarity; add SP, LP, NP grading scale as provided by updates to USRR in fall 2016 (effective spring 2017) - ARG
07/11/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
12/06/2016: Policy was updated.

Academic Categories: 
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