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Graduate Grading

All master's and doctoral programs administered through The Graduate School operate under the same grading system. The graduate grading scale in use at UNC-Chapel Hill is unique in that it cannot be converted to the more traditional ABC grading scale. Graduate students do not carry a numerical GPA.

Grade Scale

Grading at the graduate level is intended to offer feedback to students on their performance in a given course, including once students reach the thesis and dissertation stage. Faculty are encouraged to specify course requirements and grading expectations for students. Students enrolled in courses numbered 400 and above must receive one of the following grades.

Graduate Permanent Grades

H High Pass - Clear Excellence
P Pass - Entirely Satisfactory Graduate Work
L Low Pass - Inadequate Graduate Work
F Fail

Special Permanent Grades

F* Fail-Administratively Assigned; equivalent to F
NG No grade assigned; administratively assigned only
FX Fail-Honor Court hearing outcome; equivalent to F

Temporary Grades

AB Absent from final examination
IN Work incomplete

Special Grading Symbols

Administrative F (F*) Grade
The Office of the University Registrar automatically converts the temporary grades of AB and IN to F* when the time limit for a grade change on these temporary grades has expired. Receiving a grade of F* results in the student becoming academically ineligible to continue in The Graduate School.

See Academic Eligibility.

Satisfactory (S) Progress*
* Effective Fall 2013, the S grade is no longer available as a permanent graduate grade. Faculty and instructors should use the permanent HPLF graduate grading scale for all graduate level courses.

No Grade (NG) Assigned
The symbol of NG is recorded for pending Honor Court situations. Should a faculty member need to assign a NG grade, please contact the Registrar's Office, Records Section or the Office of Student Conduct.

Honor Court F (FX) Grade
An Honor Court sanction of a failing grade in a course. Receiving a grade of FX results in the student becoming academically ineligible to continue in The Graduate School.

Temporary Grades

Failure to remove temporary grades of IN and AB by the last day of classes of the term in which a student plans to graduate will prevent graduation. A temporary grade converts to F* unless the grade is replaced with a permanent grade by the last day of classes for the same term one year later.

* Effective Fall 2015, temporary grades will no longer be available as a permanent graduate grade in thesis and dissertation research courses (992/993/994).  Faculty and instructors should use the permanent HPLF graduate grading scale for reflecting academic progress on research in a given term. Exception requests should be directed to The Graduate School.

When extenuating circumstances warrant, The Graduate School may grant a student a time extension to complete a course and replace a temporary grade. The student must first complete the Request for Extension of Time Formpdf icon and receive approval from their academic program, after which time the program's director of graduate studies may forward a petition for extension to The Graduate School.

Absent (AB) Grade
An AB grade must be given to a student who did not take a final exam regardless of the reason, but might have passed the course had they done so. AB is a temporary grade that converts to F* unless the grade is replaced with a permanent grade by the last day of classes for the same term one year later.

An AB must be requested by the student within 30 days following the missed examination.

If the absence is officially excused by the instructor, the student must take the final examination at a reasonable time designated by the course instructor, in no case to exceed one year from the original examination.

Since the grade of AB is given after the deadline to change courses in that semester, a student may not retroactively drop a course where an AB was received. The student must complete the final exam in the timeframe expected or earn F*.

Incomplete (IN) Grade
A grade of IN is given when the course instructor determines that exceptional circumstances warrant extending the time for the student to complete the course. Instructors should assign an IN when the student took the final examination but did not complete some other course requirement. IN is a temporary grade that converts to F* unless the grade is replaced with a permanent grade by the last day of classes for the same term one year later. An incomplete grade may not be submitted when a student is absent from the final examination; in such cases, AB is the appropriate grade.

The instructor may set the maximum allowable period for completing the course, but in no case will this extension exceed one year. If the time allowed is to be less than one year, this information should be transmitted in writing to the student and copied to The Graduate School. It is the sole responsibility of the student to complete the course and initiate the grade change prior to the one-year deadline.

Since the grade of IN is given after the deadline to change courses in that semester, a student may not retroactively drop a course where an IN was received. The student must complete the work in the timeframe expected or earn F*.

Grade Change

Course grades of H, P, L, F, and F* are permanent grades. A permanent grade may be changed upon the initiative of the instructor, only in cases of arithmetic or clerical error, and then only with the approval of the director, chair or dean of the instructor's academic program and of The Graduate School.

Such grade changes may be made no later than the last day of classes of the next succeeding regular semester.

The Graduate School can serve as the Dean's Office authorization for University Registrar forms.

More information about graduate grade changes can be found in the University Registrar's Policy Memo No. 24new window icon.

Grade Appeals

The following summary details the steps involved in a grade appeal, which are elaborated on more fully immediately below the summary:

  1. The student should first address his or her concerns to the instructor who assigned the grade.
  2. If, after consultation with the instructor, a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, the student may lodge an appeal of the instructor's decision, in writing, with:
    1. the chair/director of the academic program which is the home unit of the course instructor, or
    2. the instructor's dean, in cases where the school is the instructor's home unit.

    All appeals must be in writing and signed by the student. They must contain a summary of the evidence and arguments that the student believes supports his or her position in the appeal.

    It is the responsibility of the University official noted above to determine whether the evidence cited by the student warrants further investigation. If the determination is made that the evidence cited warrants further investigation, it is the responsibility of the University official noted above to investigate the complaint.

    The burden of proof falls upon the student to show that

    1. an impermissible element existed in the instructor's evaluation of the student's coursework, and
    2. that element influenced the grade assignment to the detriment of the student.
  3. If the outcome of this first level of appeal is not satisfactory to the student, s/he may lodge an appeal of the chair's/director's decision, in writing, with:
    1. the chair's dean, in cases where the appeal was initially reviewed by the chair of the instructor's home unit, and the chair's school has a process for review at the dean's level
    2. The Graduate School, in cases where the school is the instructor's home unit, or the school in which the chair's academic program is based does not have a process for review at the dean's level.
  4. In cases where the student has appealed to the chair's dean, subsequent to appealing to the instructor's chair (3 (a) above), and the outcome is not satisfactory to the student, the student may lodge an appeal of the dean's decision, in writing, with The Graduate School.

    In appealing an appeal decision (steps 3 and 4, above), the burden of proof falls upon the student to show that

    1. an impermissible element existed in the review of the appeal, and
    2. that element influenced the chair's/dean's determination of the outcome of the review to the detriment of the student.
  5. Decisions of The Graduate School are final and cannot be appealed.

Before filing any appeal of a course grade, the student should first address his or her concerns to the instructor who assigned the grade. Should the instructor detect an arithmetic or clerical error that negatively influenced the grade assignment, a grade change form should be executed reflecting the corrected grade. An instructor may not initiate a change of a course grade as a result of reevaluating the quality of the student's performance or as a result of additional work performed by the student.

If, after consultation with the instructor, a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, the student may appeal the grade to the instructor's chair or dean. Such an appeal should be lodged by the student in writing with the instructor's chair or dean, with a copy to be provided by the student to the instructor, and should cite the evidence by which the student judges (a) that an impermissible element existed in the instructor's evaluation of the student's coursework and (b) that it influenced the grade assignment to the detriment of the student. Appeals should be submitted no later than the last day of classes of the next succeeding regular semester.

For an appeal of a course grade to be considered, it must be based upon one or more of the following grounds and upon allegation that the ground or grounds cited influenced the grade assignment to the student's detriment:

  1. arithmetic or clerical error;
  2. arbitrariness, possibly including discrimination or harassment based upon the race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of the student;
  3. personal malice; and/or
  4. student conduct cognizable under the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance.

The University's Policy on Prohibited Harassment and Discriminationpdf icon prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of an individual's race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Appendix B of this Policy provides specific information for students who believe that they have been discriminated against or harassed on the basis of one or more of these protected classifications.

Students who want additional information regarding the University's process for investigating allegations of discrimination or harassment should contact the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office for assistance:

Equal Opportunity/ADA Office
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
100 E. Franklin Street, Unit 110
Campus Box 9160
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
Telephone: (919) 966-3576
Fax: (919) 962-2562
Email: equalopportunity@unc.edu

Any administrator or supervisor, including a department chair, associate dean or other administrator, who receives a student's complaint about prohibited harassment or discrimination must notify the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office within five (5) calendar days of receiving the complaint. If a student raises a claim of prohibited harassment or discrimination during an academic appeal, an investigation of the student's claim must be performed under the direction of the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office. The school or department must await the results of the harassment or discrimination investigation before deciding the student's academic appeal.

The chair or dean will evaluate the material presented and determine whether the evidence cited warrants further investigation of the charges. The burden of proof shall fall upon the student. The determination by the chair or dean shall be made only after providing the instructor with the opportunity to reply to the charges as cited in writing by the student. If the chair or dean judges the evidence cited by the student to be insufficient to warrant further investigation of the charges, the appeal may be denied by the chair or dean. In this case, the student has the right to appeal the ruling in writing to the Administrative Board of The Graduate School. If the chair or dean, or the Administrative Board (if the ruling has been appealed to that body) judges the evidence cited to be sufficient to warrant further investigation, the chair or dean of the academic program in which the course was offered will appoint a committee of no less than three members of the Graduate Faculty to investigate the charges and to render a written set of findings and recommendations. The findings and recommendations shall be transmitted to the student by the chair or dean, with a copy to The Graduate School. Should a change of permanent course grade be recommended, The Graduate School shall present that recommendation for action by the Administrative Board of The Graduate School. Should change of grade not be recommended, the student retains the right to appeal in writing to the Administrative Board of The Graduate School. A change of grade following these appeal procedures requires a vote of no less than two-thirds of those Administrative Board members who are present and voting. The decision of The Graduate School is final and cannot be appealed.

Other types of official academic decisions, (e.g., evaluation of oral or written examinations, of theses/dissertations, or of student performance or promise), may be appealed according to the above criteria and procedures, with the single exception that protest of non-grade academic evaluations may call for the reevaluation of student performance.

Inter-Institutional Grading

A grade received for a graduate-level course taken by inter-institutional registration that is the lowest non-failing grade for the partner institution will be interpreted as L. F will transfer as F.

Institution Minimum Passing Grade
Duke C
NCSU C
NCCU C
UNC-C C
UNC-G C

For an inter-institutional course to apply towards a UNC-Chapel Hill student's graduate degree, the inter-institutional course may not be taken pass/fail. Grades earned for courses taken via inter-institutional registration do factor into a student's academic eligibility calculation.

Pass/Fail Courses

See the Course Credit section on Pass/Fail Courses for further information on pass/fail courses.