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.
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|
Special Permanent Grades
|F*||Fail-Administratively Assigned; equivalent to F|
|NG||No grade assigned; administratively assigned only|
|XF||Fail-Honor Court hearing outcome; equivalent to F|
|AB||Absent from final examination|
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 was 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 (XF) Grade
A grade of XF indicates an Honor Court sanction of a failing grade in a course. Receiving a grade of XF results in the student becoming academically ineligible to continue in The Graduate School.
A temporary grade of IN, AB and NR 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. Failure to remove temporary grades by the last day of classes of the term in which a student plans to graduate will prevent graduation.
Temporary grades are not available as a graduate grade in thesis and dissertation research courses (992/993/994). Faculty advisors and instructors should set clear expectations and 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. Extensions must be requested prior to the deadlines for temporary grade conversion; retroactive grade changes will not be accepted for permanent grades.
The student must first complete the Request for Extension of Time Form 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 traditional/sit-down 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.
If the exam absence is officially excused by the instructor or University, the student must take the final examination at a mutually 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. 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.
The instructor should set clear expectations for course completion requirements and 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*.
A special temporary grade of CV was established (Spring/Summer/Fall 2020 and Spring/Summer 2021) specific to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Guidelines for the IN grade above apply with the exception that 3 additional months are granted for the student to receive a permanent grade.
Not Recorded (NR) Grade
A grade of NR is administratively assigned by the University when the deadline to assign grades in a given term passes and the instructor has not finalized the grade roster. NR 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.
Since the grade of NR is listed after the deadline to change courses in that semester, a student may not retroactively drop a course where an NR was received. The student must complete the work and work closely with their instructor to ensure a permanent grade is assigned.
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.
The Graduate School serves 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. 24.
The following details the steps involved in a course grade appeal. Other types of official academic decisions (e.g., evaluation of oral/written examinations or of theses/dissertations) may be appealed according to the same criteria and procedures.
These guidelines only apply for students, and their related academic programs, that fall under the academic and administrative jurisdiction of The Graduate School.
Appeals should be submitted no later than the last day of classes of the next succeeding fall or spring semester after the course or other official academic decision occurred.
- The student should first address concerns to the instructor.
Before filing any appeal of a course grade, the student should first address 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 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.
- The student can next submit a first level of appeal.
If, after consultation with the instructor, a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, the student may appeal the grade in writing with:
- the chair/director of the academic program which is the home unit of the course, or
- the dean, in cases where a school is the course’s home unit.
All appeals must be in writing. They must contain a summary of the evidence and arguments that the student believes supports the stated position in the appeal.
The burden of proof falls upon the student to show that:
- an impermissible element existed in the instructor's evaluation of the student's coursework, and
- that element influenced the grade assignment to the detriment of the student.
For an appeal to be considered, it must be based upon one or more of the following grounds and upon an allegation that the ground(s) cited influenced the grade assignment to the student's detriment:
- arithmetic or clerical error;
- personal malice;
- bias, including discrimination or harassment as defined in University policies.
The Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Section V under the Policy provides specific information about Prohibited Conduct 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 and Compliance Office for assistance:
Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
214 W. Cameron Avenue, 2nd Floor
Campus Box 9160
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
Telephone: (919) 966-3576
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 and Compliance Office immediately after 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 and Compliance Office. The academic program or school must await the results of the harassment or discrimination investigation before taking action on the student's academic appeal.
Within 30 days upon receipt of an appeal, the chair/director 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, avoiding the appearance or existence of a conflict of interest, to investigate the charges and to render a written set of findings and recommendations.
A determination shall be made only after providing the instructor with the opportunity to reply to the charges as cited in writing by the student.
The findings and recommendations shall be transmitted to the student by the chair/director or dean, with a copy to The Graduate School. Recommendations should be finalized within 60 days from the receipt of an appeal.
Should a change of permanent course grade be recommended, the instructor shall be directed to enter a grade change in the official class grade roster.
- The student can next submit a second level of appeal. It should be submitted within 60 days of notification of the decision on the original appeal.
If the outcome of the first level of appeal is not satisfactory to the student, an appeal of the chair/director/dean’s decision may be lodged in writing with:
- the chair's dean, in cases where the appeal was initially reviewed by the chair of the course’s home unit, and the chair's school has a process for review at the dean's level, or
- The Graduate School, in cases where 1) the school is the course’s home unit, or 2) the school in which the chair's academic program is based does not have a process for review at the dean's level, or 3) the student has appealed to the chair's dean (step 3a above) and the outcome is not satisfactory to the student.
In appealing an appeal decision (steps 2 and 3a above), the burden of proof falls upon the student to show that
- an impermissible element existed in the review of the appeal, and
- that element influenced the chair/director/dean's determination of the outcome of the review to the detriment of the student.
The second level of appeal may not introduce new evidence or arguments about the original appeal. Rather, it is focused solely on the due process followed in the review of the appeal.
- Decisions of The Graduate School are final and cannot be appealed.
A grade received for a graduate-level course taken by inter-institutional registration that is considered the minimum passing grade for the partner institution will be interpreted as L. F will transfer as F.
|Institution||Minimum Passing Grade (L at UNC)|
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.
See the Course Credit section on Pass/Fail Courses for further information on pass/fail courses.