Grades reflect the quality and quantity of a student’s work submitted throughout the term. Each instructor determines the individual grade components for their course and their percentage value in the calculation of their students’ final grades. Students should check the course syllabus for more information on their instructor’s grading policies. Undergraduate and graduate students who complete the requirements of a course may earn one of the following grades:
- A and A–: Earned by work whose superior quality indicates a full mastery of the subject, and in the case of A, work of extraordinary distinction. There is no grade of A+
- B+, B, and B–: Earned by work that indicates a strong comprehension of the course material, a good command of the skills needed to work with the course materials, and the student’s full engagement with the course requirements and activities.
- C+, C, and C–: Earned by work that indicates an adequate and satisfactory comprehension of the course material and the skills needed to work with the course materials, and that indicates that the student has met the basic requirements for completing assigned work and participating in class activities.
- D+, D, and D–: Earned by work that is unsatisfactory but that indicates some minimal command of the course materials and some minimal participation in class activities that is worthy of course credit.
- E: Earned by work that is unsatisfactory and unworthy of course credit. This grade may also be assigned to students who do not submit required work in courses from which they have not officially withdrawn by the withdrawal deadline. Zero or E grades are assigned to students for missing work. These grades are included in the calculation of the final grade.
Nonletter and noncompletion grades
Students enrolled in courses for credit are expected to complete all coursework on time. Students who do not complete a course by the end of a term may receive one of the following noncompletion grades. Noncompletion grades may affect academic standing. Candidates and potential candidates for degree and diploma programs should check their individual program requirements.
*** is an interim grade notation assigned by the Registrar’s Office to students with cases pending before the Administrative Board.
DE (distance exam) is an interim grade assigned by the Registrar’s Office to distance students whose final grades are not available when grades are posted online. The grade is changed when the instructor submits the final grade.
- EXD (excluded from course) is a permanent final grade assigned to credit and noncredit students who are no longer permitted to continue in a course. An EXD grade is equivalent to a failing grade and does not result in any tuition refund.
EXT (extension of time) is an interim grade that may be requested by credit students who, due to extenuating circumstances that occur toward the end of the term, need additional time to submit a final assignment or a small amount of written work (one or two assignments—not a classroom final exam—after the course has ended). Instructors may approve or deny a request for an extension of time in accordance with their grading policies. Students who owe a major portion of the coursework should withdraw from the course rather than request an extension of time to complete the work after the end of the term.
Students must submit the completed copy of the extension-of-time form to 51 Brattle Street by the start of the final exam period. The latest deadline instructors may set for students to submit outstanding work is:
- January 31 for fall courses
- February 7 for January session courses
- June 27 for spring courses
Students who receive an extension of time do not retain access to the Harvard Libraries electronic resources after the term ends. However, students enrolled in distance courses continue to have access to video lectures until the extension-of-time deadline or their grade is changed, whichever occurs first.
MU (make-up final exam) is an interim grade assigned to students whose appeals for a make-up final exam are approved. This notation is changed to a letter grade when the student takes the make-up exam. Students who do not take the make-up exam as scheduled are assigned an E for that exam. Access to video lectures is extended to the make-up exam date in each term for students whose appeals for make-up final exams are approved.
RQ (required to withdraw) is a permanent final grade assigned to credit and noncredit students who are required by the Administrative Board to withdraw from one or more courses. An RQ grade is equivalent to a failing grade and does not result in any tuition refund.
WA (administrative withdrawal) is assigned to students who are administratively withdrawn in accordance with Extension School policies. WA may be a permanent notation.
- WD (withdrawal) is a permanent final grade assigned to credit students who officially withdraw by the final withdrawal deadline.
- November 29 for fall courses
- January 16 for January Session courses
- April 25 for spring courses
WN (noncredit withdrawal) is a permanent notation assigned to noncredit students who withdraw by the final withdrawal deadline. WN notations do not result in any tuition refund.
Grade changes, with the exception of DE, EXT, MU, or asterisk (***), and in some cases WA, are considered final when they are submitted to Academic Services. Students should ask their instructors for explanations of their grades if they believe errors were made. However, a student may not submit extra work, resubmit work to improve a final grade, or have their work evaluated by a third party.
Requests for grade changes are initiated by the instructor. Letter grades can be changed only if there is clear evidence of a computational or clerical error that is documented in writing by the instructor. Grades cannot be changed after April 1 for fall and January session courses and August 1 for spring courses.
Though students are entitled to an explanation of their grades, they should be careful not to harass instructors. Repeatedly calling an instructor about a grade or a few points on an exam or telling an instructor that a certain grade is needed could be considered harassment.
Institute for English Language notations
Grades are not assigned to students enrolled in noncredit Institute for English Language courses. The following notations are assigned.
AR (met all requirements) is assigned to students with active classroom participation, completion of all assignments, and perfect attendance for the term.
MR (met most requirements) is assigned to students with satisfactory classroom participation, completion of most assignments, and good attendance for the term.
- NM (did not meet requirements) is assigned to students who fail to meet the course requirements
Potential and admitted degree and diploma candidates
A grade point average (GPA) is calculated only for degree program applicants and candidates. The following numerical values are assigned to letter and nonletter grades: A=4.0, A–=3.67, B+=3.33, B=3.0, B–=2.67, C+=2.33, C=2.0, C–=1.67, D+=1.33, D=1.0, D–=0.67, E=0, WD=0, RQ=0, EXD=0.
Potential and admitted degree and diploma candidates should check their program requirements to learn more about how letter and nonletter and noncompletion grades will affect their academic standing, including the limited number of WD grades that can be earned before counting as zeros in the cumulative GPA.
Admitted degree candidates can learn their GPAs by reviewing academic progress reports available through online services. These reports are updated at the end of each semester.
Potential candidates should be aware that minimum GPAs are required for admission to all program and if their GPA is below the minimum, it may not be in their best interest to continue to register for courses in an attempt to raise their GPAs. Students can learn predegree GPAs by logging into online services and choosing Degree Program Admissions, Pre-Admission GPA request.