Faculty - Plus-Minus Grading for CAS Graduate Students


Motion: The Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences recommends that the departments of the college shall have the option to report grades for graduate studies including designations of "plus" and "minus." Departments may individually decide whether or not to participate in "plus-and-minus grading." Should a department elect the "plus-minus" option, that option must be available to all graduate programs in the department.  (source: Faculty Senate, 11/23/15 approval)

Plus-Minus Grading Questions in Response to Faculty Senate

  • Courses offered at a 300/400 level will require separate grading for undergraduate and graduate students and this should be reflected in the syllabus and submitted as a change for the Bulletin.
  • If the course is cross-listed with another department or outside program, +/- grading will apply to the departmental listings only for those departments that have voted for +/- grading.
  • If the course is not cross-listed, +/- grading will apply to all students registered for the course regardless of their departmental home. The Registrar in recording the grades will convert to the grading scheme of the student’s departmental home. (Note: This is consistent with MSASS’s +/- grading.)
  • The same will apply to students in dual programs.

(source: Memo from CAS Graduate Committee to CAS Executive Committee, 3/17/15)

A departmental decision to opt in is communicated in writing to the Registrar with a copy sent to the College of Arts and Sciences Office of the Dean.

Departments are responsible for communicating opt in (or subsequent opt out) to the new grading policy. Departments are also responsible for updating the General Bulletin accordingly.

Once a department opts in, faculty member will be able to assign plus-minus grades to all graduate students enrolled in graduate-level courses offered by that department, regardless of when the student matriculated. 

The deadline to opt in for Fall 2016 semester grading was January 22, 2016.  Departments must institute grading changes before the Schedule of Classes deadlines for future terms.

No, it is available only at the "departmental" level, not by individual program.

No, all grading options including whole-letter grades are still available for the department’s graduate courses.

Only students registered for the 400-level course can be assigned plus-minus grades.

The instructor will be able to assign plus-minus grades to all students in graduate-level offerings of a course owned by a department which opts in.  The appropriate grade will be recorded when the grade posts to the student’s record based on the student’s department or school, and this is the grade which will appear on the transcript, be calculated into the GPA, etc. The original grade awarded by the instructor, however, will be stored in SIS.

If the student is in a department that has not opted in, the instructor will be able to assign a plus-minus grade to the student, but when the grade is recorded on the student’s record, any plus or minus will be dropped from the grade.  This is the grade which will appear on the transcript, be calculated into the GPA, etc. The original grade awarded by the instructor, however, will be stored in SIS.

IGS students have course work duplicated across transcript careers (i.e., each semester’s courses are copied from the graduate record to the undergraduate record). If the student is participating in a program in a department that has opted in to plus-minus grading, the student’s graduate level plus-minus course grades will be truncated to the whole letter grades when transferred to the undergraduate record. This could result in the undergraduate GPA being different than the graduate GPA for the same course work for the same semesters.  

Yes. In the Schedule of Classes, "Grading" will be displayed as "Grad CAS Plus-Minus."

The transcript key will indicate a web site address that can be used to view a list of departments which have opted to award plus-minus grades.

For a current list of participating departments, see CAS Graduate Plus-Minus Grading.