Grade and Examination Requirements

Grade Requirements

The minimum standard for satisfactory work in the Graduate School is a B (3.00) grade point average in each academic year. A grade of UNS is unsatisfactory. A course in which a student receives an E or a permanent INC or ABS may be retaken for credit at a later time, in which case both grades will appear on the student’s transcript. The pass/fail grading option is not available to graduate students. In many departments, students are expected to maintain an average well above the GSAS minimum (see "Degree Requirements," Chapter VI).

Grade Point Averages

The grade point average is the numerical average of all grades on a 4-point scale: A=4.00; A-=3.67; B+=3.33; B=3.00; B-=2.67; C+=2.33; C=2.00; C-=1.67; D+=1.33; D=1.00; D-=0.67; E, ABS, and UNS=0. The grade point average is weighted for each course based on the number of course credits.

Examination Requirements

To obtain credit in a course for which there is a regularly scheduled final examination, or both a mid-year and a final examination arranged by the office of the Registrar, a student must take such examinations unless previously excused by the department (see "Non-letter Grades," Chapter V).

A student absent from a final examination because of illness must fill out a petition for a make-up examination at Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) within twenty-four hours of the beginning of the examination. In an emergency, if the student is unable to go to HUHS, or is being treated elsewhere, the petition may be requested from the Registrar’s Office. In this case, the student must also file a letter from a physician certifying the date and nature of the illness. Students who are unable to take an examination at the scheduled time due to a documented condition should contact the Accessible Education Office as soon as the need is apparent to discuss make-up examination accommodations and procedures.

Students who must be absent for reasons other than illness, such as a death in the family or a reason of similar gravity, should obtain a make-up petition from the Registrar’s Office. All make-up petitions must be filed with the Exams Office within one week of the end of the examination period. Students who do not take the regularly scheduled final examination in a course receive a grade of ABS (Absent), unless excused by their department (see "Non-letter Grades," Chapter V). A grade of ABS is permanent on a student’s record if a make-up petition is not filed or not granted, or if the make-up examination is not attended. Make-up examinations are given in February for fall term final examinations and in September for spring term final examinations.

Students who, for sufficient reason, cannot be in Cambridge at the time of a final or make-up examination may petition to take the examination in another place. In absentia petitions and information are available at the Registrar’s Office. Completed petitions must be filed thirty days before the regularly scheduled examination date.

In accordance with Massachusetts law, students who are unable to participate in a final examination as a consequence of their religious beliefs shall be provided with an opportunity to make up the examination, without penalty, provided that the makeup examination does not create an unreasonable burden on the Graduate School. Students who anticipate any religious conflicts with exams are required to submit the Religious Out of Sequence Exam Request Form on the Registrar’s website, thirty days before the start of Exam Period. Conflicts reported after that time may not be possible to accommodate or may result in a makeup exam scheduled for the following term.