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General University Grading System

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The following summarizes the current General University Grading System adopted by the Faculty Senate on June 2, 1994. Courses completed prior to that time were subject to previous versions of this system.

The General University Grading System applies to all of Stanford University classes except those offered to students through the Graduate School of Business and the School of Law, and M.D. and M.S. in PAS students through the School of Medicine. Those schools grade courses using their local grading systems, even when your primary affiliation is with another Stanford school. For more details on other grading systems used at Stanford, visit Grades.

Students: Your transcripts and all your grades — excluding those of “I” (Incomplete), “GNR” (Grade Not Reported), “L” (Pass, grade to follow), and “N” (Continuation) — are fixed at the time of graduation. You have one year after your degree conferral to update grades of “GNR”, “L”, or “N” or they are locked in their existing status.

Understanding Grading Basis Types

A (+,-)Represents excellent performance.
B (+,-)Represents good performance.
C (+,-)Represents satisfactory performance.
D (+,-)Represents minimal pass performance.
In courses with optional grading in which the student elected the credit/no credit option instead of a letter grade, “CR” represents performance that is satisfactory or better. “CR” is equivalent to a “C-” or better. 

“I” is restricted to cases in which a student has satisfactorily completed a substantial part of the coursework. No credit is given until the course is completed and a passing grade received. When a final grade is received, all reference to the initial ‘I’ is removed from the official transcript.

See Incomplete Grades for additional information and policy regarding “I” grades.

(Pass, grade to follow)
“L” is a temporary notation that represents creditable completion of a course for which the student will receive a permanent letter grade before the start of the next quarter. “L” is given when the instructor needs additional time to determine the specific grade. A student receives unit credit for work graded “L”.
N“N” represents satisfactory progress in a course that spans quarters but is not yet completed. Continuation courses need not continue at the same number of units, but the grade for all quarters for such a course must be the same.
N-“N-” represents unsatisfactory progress in a course that spans quarters but has not yet completed. The first “N-” grade constitutes a warning. The adviser, department chair, and students should discuss the deficiencies and agree on the steps necessary to correct them. A second consecutive “N-” normally causes the department to deny the student further registration until the student submits a written plan for the completion of the degree requirements that the department accepts. Subsequent “N-” grades are grounds for dismissal from the program.
(No Credit)
“NC” represents unsatisfactory performance in courses taken on a credit/no credit basis. Performance is equivalent to letter grade ‘D+’ or below.
(Not Passed)
“NP '' represents that the student did not pass a course taken for a letter grade.
(Repeated Course)
“RP” indicates that the student has retaken this course and received a new grade (which also appears on their transcript). It replaces the original grade recorded for this course.

“S” represents satisfactory performance for an activity course or a course in which the instructor elects to grade students only on a satisfactory/no credit basis. It is equivalent to a letter grade of “C-” or better. For such a course, no letter grades may be assigned for satisfactorily completed work.

The “satisfactory” options are intended to relieve the pressure on students for achievement in grades. The “satisfactory” option does not imply fewer or different coursework requirements than those required of students if the course was offered for a letter grade.

A “W” represents that a student withdrew from the course.
(Grade Not Reported)
“GNR” indicates that no grade has been reported to the Registrar. It remains on the transcript until a grade is reported. 

Revision of End-Quarter Grades

When submitted via Axess or filed with the Registrar’s Office, end-quarter grades are final; they cannot be changed by the instructor for reason of a revision of judgment or on the basis of a second trial (e.g., a new examination or additional work undertaken or completed after the end of the quarter). Changes may be made at any time to correct an error in computation or in transcribing, or where some part of the student’s work was overlooked (i.e., the new grade is the one that would have been entered on the original report had there been no mistake in computing and had all the pertinent data been before the instructor).

In the event that a student disputes an end-quarter grade, the established grievance procedure should be followed (See the Student Academic Grievance Procedures policy.)


Incomplete Grades

The “I” grade is restricted to cases in which you have satisfactorily completed a substantial part of the coursework. You do not receive credit until you complete the course with a passing grade. When the Registrar’s Office receives your final grade, the “I” notation is removed from your official transcript. 

You must request an incomplete grade no later than the last class meeting. Instructors determine whether to grant the request and, if granted, the conditions under which you complete the remaining work, including setting a deadline of less than one year. Under no circumstances should you re-enroll in a class to complete an “I” grade. Enrolling in the class a second time invokes the Repeated Courses policy for courses that are not repeatable for credit.

An “I” grade must be changed to a grade or permanent notation within one year after you took the course (i.e., prior to the first day of the fifth quarter following the standard completion of the course, including Summer Quarter). If an incomplete grade is not cleared at the end of one year, it is automatically changed to an ‘NP’ (not passed) or ‘NC’ (no credit) as appropriate for the grading method of the course. Leaves of absence or other inactive statuses (e.g., discontinuation or conferral) do not alter the associated timeline.

Graduate students: If you are a graduate student with extenuating circumstances that may warrant an exception to academic policy, you must discuss the need for an extension with your advisor and the course instructor before the one-year deadline to complete the coursework expires. If the instructor agrees an extension is warranted, you may request an extension of one academic quarter to resolve an incomplete by submitting the Enrollment Change Petition - GR. Requests for extension submitted after the “I” grade has lapsed are not considered. You must have an active status (excluding a leave of absence) to petition to extend an incomplete. 

If an “I” grade lapses to an NC or NP with an approved extension on file, the lapsed grade will remain until you have completed the required work and the instructor submits a final grade. 

Note:  Once an ‘I’ grade lapses, depending on the repeatability set up of the course, students may be eligible for their ‘NP’ or ‘NC’ to be replaced by the ‘RP’ notation.  See Repeated Courses for additional information.

Leave of Absence

If you are on an approved leave of absence, you may complete coursework for which you received an “I” grade in a prior term unless doing so places an undue burden on an instructor, department, staff, or another university resource. You are still expected to comply with the maximum one-year time limit for resolving incompletes (i.e., a leave of absence does not alter the associated timeline for resolving incompletes). 

Military Leaves of Absence

Students on an approved Military Leave of Absence are granted the following exceptions to the Incomplete Grading policies:

  • Based on their last date of attendance, students called away to military service will have the option to either take Incomplete grades in all courses or drop all courses without penalty. If a student requests Incomplete grades in their courses, instructors are required to approve such requests. Whether the student may drop all courses or request Incomplete grades will be determined by the student’s last date of attendance: 
    • If the student is called to service within weeks 1-8 of the quarter, the student may complete an LOA request form and receive a full tuition refund regardless of attendance.
    • If the student is called to service within weeks 9-11, the student may take Incompletes in any or all courses; or the student may receive a grade for work completed in the course to date, based on the agreement with each instructor. 
  • In rare situations, the course requirements may not have been adequately met by weeks 9-11 in order to permit an Incomplete grade assignment. If the student was unable to complete the course requirements by the start of their military service and it is not possible for the student to complete the requirements at a later time, a late drop may be permitted. If the student had not been adequately engaging in the course prior to their leave, the instructor may be permitted to assign a grade of “NP” or “NC.”
  • For a student completing work for previous incomplete courses, their timeline to complete the work will be extended by the duration of their required military service.
  • Instructors must set a reasonable timeline for students to complete the work for an incomplete course and may not set a deadline prior to the student’s return from military service. Instructors must allow, at a minimum, a full quarter for the student to complete the work upon their return from military service. Students, in agreement with the professor, must complete the work within 1 year or less after their return from military service to align with the existing Incomplete grade policy. 
  • Should a student be called away to active duty after the last day of classes and unable to sit for final exams, the requirement to request an Incomplete grade in a course prior to finals week is not in effect.

Discontinued Students

You may complete and submit work toward an incomplete while in discontinued status unless doing so places an undue burden on the instructor, department, staff, or another university resource. You must fulfill the Incomplete within one year of the class finishing or risk lapsing to the appropriate failing notation (NP, NC). You must be in an active status to petition to extend an incomplete and are not permitted to make this request while in a discontinued or conferred status. Once an incomplete has lapsed to a failing grade, it no longer is eligible to be updated by the instructor nor can an extension be granted. Discontinuation does not alter the associated timeline for resolving incompletes.


Repeated Courses

Some Stanford courses may be repeated for credit; they are specifically noted in the Stanford Bulletin and ExploreCourses. Most courses may not be repeated for credit. Under the General University Grading System, when a course that may not be repeated for credit is retaken by a student, the following special rules apply:

  • You may retake any course on your transcript, regardless of the grade earned, and have the original grade, for completed courses only, replaced by the notation 'RP' (repeated course). When retaking a course, the student must enroll in it for the same number of units originally taken. When the grade for the second enrollment in the course has been reported, the units and grade points for the second course count in the cumulative grade point average in place of the grade and units for the first enrollment in the course. Because the notation 'RP' can only replace grades for completed courses, the notation 'W' cannot be replaced by the notation 'RP' in any case.
  • You may not retake the same course a third time unless you received an “NC” (no credit) or “NP” (not passed) when it was taken and completed the second time. When you complete a course the third time, grades and units for both the second and third completions count in your cumulative grade point average. The notation “W” is not counted toward the three-retake maximum. Any enrollment instance beyond the third retake, regardless of the grade earned, is not permitted unless by special approval from the Office of Academic Advising or the Registrar’s Office. 

Note:  Once an “I” notation lapses to an “NP” or is updated to a final grade by the instructor, it can be replaced by the “RP” notation. If you are working to complete an “I” notation and enroll in the class a second time, you could run the risk of having the incomplete excluded from the repeat process, eventually lapsing to an “NP” and subsequently frozen on the transcript upon degree conferral.  Additional information on incomplete grades can be found in the Incomplete Grades section of this page.

You can submit questions on the Repeated Courses Policy via a Service Request.

Undergraduates who have questions related to requesting a second repeat of a course should meet with an Academic Advisor.

Temporary “N” Grades

Grading TGR 801 or 802 Courses (“N” Grades)

801 and 802 courses extend past a single quarter into successive quarters. You typically enroll in these courses when working on activities such as projects, theses, or dissertations.

When the instructor/advisor determines you are making satisfactory progress on the activity during the initial quarter(s) of these classes, you receive an “N” grade to indicate acceptable progress in a continuing course. You are given an “S” grade at the end of the final quarter when the instructor/advisor considers the activity satisfactorily completed.

When the instructor/advisor determines your progress is unsatisfactory in these courses, you receive an “N-” grade.  Your first 'N-' grade constitutes a warning. The advisor, department chair, and student should discuss the deficiencies and agree on the steps necessary to correct them. If you receive a second “N-” it will normally result in the department denying you further registration until you submit a written plan for the completion of the degree requirements that is accepted by the department. Subsequent “N-” grades are grounds for dismissal from the program.

When you receive a final grade of “S” or “NP” for the final quarter of the project, thesis, or dissertation, that grade retroactively replaces the “N” grades for previous quarters. After you apply to graduate, the Registrar's Office runs an “N” grade report at the end of each quarter to update temporary “N” grades to their respective final grade. If the final grade is reported, but the previous “N” grades have not been replaced, please submit a SU Services & Support Request. Allow the Registrar’s Office several weeks after the end of each quarter to complete the process before reporting unconverted “N” grades.

Grading Non-TGR Courses (“N” Grades)

Departmental courses requiring enrollment for a number of successive quarters for ongoing research, projects, capstones, or theses that do not fall under the category of TGR status, are also eligible for a temporary “N” grade. To indicate that you are making satisfactory progress on the activity, your instructor assigns an “N” grade. Your final grade is recorded during the final quarter of enrollment in the series when you complete the research, project, capstone, or thesis and it is accepted by the department. If the ongoing project is not completed or accepted by the department, a grade of “NP” or “NC” is recorded as appropriate for the grading method of the course.

The Registrar’s Office does not run a manual “N” grade report for you if you have not applied to graduate. If you have not applied to graduate, or do not yet meet the requirements for degree conferral, your instructor must manually update the grade for each quarter,  replacing the temporary “N” with your final grade. The units of credit awarded for the course do not appear on your transcript or on your student record until the “N” grade is updated (i.e., replaced by the instructor with your final grade).