All permanent grades recorded for first-year students during the first and second terms they are enrolled will be either P, indicating “passed,” or F, indicating “failed.” The temporary grade of I (“incomplete”) may be used as it is for other students. The temporary grade of E may be given to first-year students as described below for other students. It may also be used in a continuing course if the performance of the first-year student concerned is not significantly below the current passing level, and if the student is maintaining a steady and substantial improvement; an E given for this reason will be automatically changed to a P if the first-year student earns a P for the following term, and will change to an F if the student receives an F for the following term. The grade may not be used in this way for two successive terms nor for the last term of the course.
If a first-quarter or second-quarter first-year student is enrolled in a course in which the instructor gives letter grades, the registrar will record P for all passing grades. No grades given to a first-year student during the first and second quarter in which they are enrolled will be used in computing the cumulative grade-point average.
For all students beyond the first and second quarters of their first year (as a first-year student), graduate and undergraduate, letter grades will ordinarily be used to indicate the character of the student’s work: A, excellent; B, good; C, satisfactory; D, poor; E, conditional; F, failed; I, incomplete. P may also be used as described below under Pass/Fail Grading. In addition, grades of A+ and A–, B+ and B–, C+ and C–, and D+ may be used. In any situation in which no grade is reported, the grade shall be assumed to be F.
Failed. Means that no credit will be recorded for the course. The units, however, count in computing the student’s grade-point average, unless the course was taken on a pass/fail basis. The student may register to repeat the subject in a subsequent term and receive credit without regard to the previous grade, the new grade and units being counted as for any other course, but the original F and units for the course remain on the record. Grades other than E, I, and W are assumed to be based on work completed and evaluated at the time of grade submission.
E and I Grades
E Grades. At their discretion, instructors may give students who have not completed their work for a course by the end of the term a grade of E. The grade E indicates deficiencies that may be made up without repeating the course. If the instructor does not specify a date on the grade report sheet for completion of the work, students receiving an E will have until Add Day of the following term to complete their work for that course. Instructors may, however, require the work for the course to be completed by an earlier date. In addition, students should be aware that E grades can impact ability to meet eligibility requirements. If an E grade impacts a student’s academic standing, the grade may be due by the first day of classes. See section Scholastic Requirements for additional information.
If a student receives an E and does not complete the work by the date specified by the instructor or by Add Day (or a different date specified by the instructor), the grade will be changed to an F. Adequate time must be afforded to instructors to grade the work and to submit the final grade to the registrar.
It is the responsibility of a student receiving an E to confirm that the registrar has recorded the terms for satisfying the completion of the work in the course.
With the written permission of the instructor, a student may extend the E grade past Add Day of the following term, but doing so will cause an additional E grade to be registered. Each additional extension of the E will be until the date specified by the instructor or until Add Day of the following term, but in each case will require the written permission of the instructor and the registering of an additional E grade.
E Count Limitations. After an undergraduate student has been awarded the grade of E six times, they are not eligible to receive E grades in any subsequent term. A petition for an E in a subsequent term may be approved by the Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors (UASH) Committee in an exceptional case. Such a petition requires the support of the instructor and the dean or associate dean of undergraduate students.
I Grades. The grade I is given only in case of unexpected sickness or other emergency, occuring near the end of the term, that impedes the completion of the work in the class. An I grade is not intended to allow students to make up missed work from the majority of the term. If a student has not completed the majority of the work, they are not eligible for an incomplete and they will be advised to late drop the class or take a leave. It is given at the discretion of the instructor, after approval by the dean or associate dean of students or the dean of graduate studies. If a student is seeking an I grade due to a severe exacerbation or onset of a disability that occurred near the end of the term, they should contact Caltech Accessibility Services for Students (CASS) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The time period within which the grade of I is to be made up should be indicated on the grade sheet, or students receiving an I will have until Add Day of the following term to complete their work for the course. In addition, students should be aware that I grades can impact ability to meet eligibility requirements. If an I grade impacts a student’s academic standing, the grade may be due by the first day of classes. See section Scholastic Requirements for additional information.
Students receiving grades of E or I should consult with their instructors, and one of the deans, at the time of issue regarding the work required and the time allowed. This time should, in most cases, coincide with the date fixed in the calendar for removal of conditions and incompletes (Add Day), and in fact if no other time is specified, this date will be assumed. However, except under extraordinary circumstances, the time for the completion of the work will not be extended beyond one year after the date in which the grade of E or I was given. In the absence of an earlier deadline, an E will turn into an F one year after the date on which the E was given, and an I grade will turn into a W (standing for “withdrawn”) one year after the date on which the I grade was given. Waiving of this one year rule is done in only the most exceptional of circumstances and requires the agreement, before that one year anniversary, of the dean of undergraduate students, chair of UASH, and executive officer of the department in which the course was taken.
Grades of E and I shall not be considered in calculating a student’s grade-point average.
Petitions and Exceptions
Once recorded, a grade will only be changed on the basis of error. Such a change may be made only with the approval of the Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee or of the Graduate Studies Committee, whichever has jurisdiction.
Petitions by undergraduate students for late drops (i.e., requests to drop a course after Drop Day) will be considered by the UASH Committee, but will only be approved if circumstances beyond the student’s control prevented them from dropping a course or courses by the posted deadline. Such petitions must be submitted before the end of the term following the term when the course was taken, or within the first term of return, if the student is on leave in the term following the term when the course was taken. If approved, a W will be recorded on the student’s transcript in place of a grade for that course. W’s will not be included in the computation of the student’s grade-point average. Courses will be expunged from the student’s record only in exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the UASH Committee.
Petitions from graduating seniors submitted later than the first UASH meeting following graduation (which normally takes place shortly after graduation) will not be accepted for consideration, except to correct an error by the Institute.
Grade-point average is computed by dividing the total number of credits earned in a term or an academic year by the total number of units taken in the corresponding period. Units for which a grade of F has been received are counted, even though the course may have subsequently been repeated. Grades of P or F obtained in courses graded on a pass/fail basis are not included in computing grade-point average.
Each course at the Institute is assigned a number of units corresponding to the total number of hours per week devoted to that subject, including classwork, laboratory, and the normal outside preparation. Credits are awarded as shown in the table below.
Pass/Fail Grading, the following regulations apply
- First-quarter and second-quarter first-year students receive pass/fail grades in all courses by virtue of their classification as first-year students by an admissions committee or, for students whose status after the first year is uncertain, by the Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee.
- All other students, undergraduate and graduate, in courses with numbers under 200 will receive letter grades unless the course is designated “graded pass/fail’’ or unless, when it is allowed, the student submits a change to the course’s grading scheme on or before Drop Day.
- In courses with numbers 200 or greater that are not designated either “graded pass/fail’’ or “letter grades only,’’ the instructor may decide separately for each student what class of grades to use.
- All research courses shall be designated “graded pass/fail.’’ All reading courses, seminar courses, or other courses that do not have a formal class structure shall be designated “graded pass/fail’’ unless the option secures an exemption from the Curriculum Committee or the Graduate Studies Committee and from the Faculty Board.
- A grade on the pass/fail system should be P if it would have been a D or better on the letter grade system. (Note that there is no D– grade.) The standards of failure in courses in which only pass/fail grades are used should be the same as they would be if the course were letter graded.
- Any instructor may, at their discretion, specify prior to registration that their course, if not classified by the above regulations, is to be graded on a “letter grades only’’ basis or is to be graded pass/fail only, subject to possible review by the responsible option. The registrar must be notified of such specification two weeks before the beginning of registration. (Note: If the grading scheme is changed during the term, it is changed for everyone.)
- Each term, any student may select, subject to requirements imposed by the student’s option, two elective courses in which they are to be graded on a pass/fail basis if the course is not designated as “letter grades only’’ and is not specifically required for the degree in their option. To make this election, a student must submit a change to the course’s grading scheme in REGIS, or submit a written request to the Registrar’s Office, on or before Drop Day. This election may be reversed or reinstated at any time before the deadline. Students must resubmit their schedule in REGIS after all changes, and the pass/fail election must be approved by the student’s adviser. The instructor must allow any eligible student to make this election.
- Of the units offered to satisfy the requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree, no more than 90 may be in courses graded pass/fail because of the student’s election (this does not include those courses taken in the first two terms during an undergraduate’s first year (as a first-year student) or those designated pass/fail by the instructor, option, or curriculum committee).
Procedures for Resolving Disputes over Grading
At Caltech, the instructor has full responsibility for assigning grades to students enrolled in a course. On occasion, a student may not understand how a grade was determined and may seek further information. The student should first meet with the instructor or teaching assistant to discuss the grade. If after doing so the student believes the grade is unjustified or capricious, the following procedures are available.
Before the end of the term following the term when the grade was issued, the student should contact the academic mediator, appointed by the provost, who will work with the student and instructor to resolve the problem. If the mediation effort is unsatisfactory to the student, they may request a formal review by an appropriate executive officer or academic officer. The executive officer will review the case and report the decision in writing to the student. If the executive officer decides that a change of grade is warranted, or if the student requests a further appeal, these shall be requested of the division chair. At the discretion of the division chair, a committee may be appointed to review the case. The committee members should interview everyone involved in the case (the student, the course instructor, the teaching assistant, and anyone else with relevant information), and make a written recommendation to the division chair. Only the division chair can authorize the registrar to enter a new grade in the student’s transcript.