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USC Department of Grades

Grading and Correction of Grades Handbook


 

  • CAPP Grade Assignment Recommendations
  • Definitions of Grades and Marks
  • Grading Special Cases
  • Grade and Mark Numeric Equivalents
  • Grading Options and Enrollment Status: CR/NC, P/NP, W, and V (Audit)
  • Repeated Course Work
    • Freshmen Forgiveness
    • Other Repeated Coursework
  • Posting of Grades With Names and ID Numbers Prohibited

     


    CAPP Grade Assignment Recommendations

    The Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures (CAPP) recommends the following considerations in the determination of letter grades:

  • Each instructor is responsible for the maintenance of high standards.  The instructor's evaluation of the performance of each individual student is the final basis for assigning grades.
  • Students have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation.  The method of grading by instructors must be made clear to students, and instructors are required to justify disputed grades.  At the same time, students are responsible for maintaining those reasonable standards of academic performance and classroom conduct conducive to the learning process, as established in each course in which they are enrolled.
  • Rigid application of arbitrary percentages in the distribution of grades is not desirable; the size and quality of the class group must be taken into consideration.

    Definitions of Grades and Marks

    [source, University Catalogue]

    Grading policies and practices for the University are described below. Certain professional schools have approved differences in grading practices.

    A
    Work of excellent quality
    B
    Work of good quality
    C
    Work of fair quality for undergraduate credit; minimum passing for graduate credit (except in courses designated by a school or department to have a higher minimum standard for passing; see University Catalogue under individual program requirements.)
    C minus
    Failing grade for graduate credit
    D minus
    Work of minimum passing quality for undergraduate credit (except in courses designated by a school or department to have a higher minimum standard for passing.  See University Catalogue under individual program requirements.)
    F (Failure)
    F (Failure) This grade is awarded to any undergraduate student failing to meet the minimum standards for passing the course.  The grade of F indicates that the student failed at the end of the semester or was doing failing work and stopped attending the course after the twelfth week of the semester.

    In addition, plus and minus grades are used, with the exception of A plus, F plus, and F -.

    Other Marks and Their Definitions:

    CR (Credit) Passing mark for non-letter-graded courses.  Equivalent to C minus quality or better for undergraduate courses and B quality or better for graduate courses; no effect on GPA. Refer to Grading Options and Enrollment Status.

    NC (No Credit) Less than the equivalent of C minus for an undergraduate course and less than equivalent of B quality for a graduate, non-letter-graded course; no effect on GPA.

    P (Pass) Passing grade equivalent to C minus quality or better for a letter-graded undergraduate course when a student elects to take it on a Pass/No Pass basis, and a B or higher in quality in a letter-graded graduate course when a student elects to take it on a Pass/No Pass basis; no effect on GPA.

    NP (No Pass) Failing grade for a letter-graded course taken on a Pass/No Pass basis (equivalent to D plus or below in undergraduate course and B minus or below in a graduate course); no effect on GPA.

    Registrar's Note on P/NP Grades: The Pass/No Pass grading option is available only to those students who officially elect the option through the registration process. Refer to Grading Options and Enrollment Status. An instructor may not assign this option.  A message in the remarks section of the grade sheet will indicate which students have officially chosen the P/NP option.

    W (Withdrawal): Students have until the end of the 12th week of the semester (or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks) to drop courses.  Courses that are dropped by the end of the third week of classes (or third week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks) do not appear on the transcript.  Courses dropped after the third week (or third week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks) result in a mark of W. An instructor may not withdraw a student from a course.  No course may be dropped after the 12th week (or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks); although in exceptional cases students may petition to withdraw from a course after the 12th week (or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks). Such petitions are rarely approved.  The names of students who have officially withdrawn from a course will appear with a pre-assigned mark of W in the Final Grade column.  Also note that students may not withdraw from a course in which they have committed or have been accused of committing an academic integrity violation.

    UW (Unofficial Withdrawal) Is assigned to students who have stopped attending prior to the drop deadline (end of week twelve or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks) without officially withdrawing. The students' names will appear as officially enrolled in the course.  The UW will be computed in the GPA as zero grade points (as in the case of an F) and indicates a failure on the part of the student to assume the administrative responsibility of officially dropping a course.  Refer to Unofficial Withdrawal After The Drop Deadline or Grading Special Cases.

    MG (Missing Grade) is an administrative mark assigned by the instructor.  The mark should only be assigned in unique or unusual situations. Refer to Grading Special Cases and Grading Options and Enrollment Status for those cases in which a student does not complete work for the course before the semester ends. All missing grades must be resolved by the instructor through the Correction of Grade process.

    Time Limit for Resolution of an MG -One calendar year is allowed to resolve a MG. If an MG is not resolved with in one year the grade is changed to UW and will be calculated into the grade point average as zero grade points.

    IN (Incomplete) is assigned when work is not completed because of documented illness or other "emergency" occurring after the twelfth week of the semester (or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks).

    Registrar's Note: Recommended definition of emergency: " A situation or event which could not be foreseen and which is beyond the student's control and which prevents the student from taking the final examination or completing other work during the final examination period."  Also note that as previously defined, a student may not request an IN before the end of the twelfth week (or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks); the rationale is that the student still has the option to drop the course until the end of the twelfth week (or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks). The grade IN exists so there is a remedy for illness or emergency which occurs after the drop deadline. Refer to Grading Special Cases for the appropriate grade in cases in which the students miss work before the drop deadline.

    Arrangements for the grade of IN and its completion must be initiated by the student and agreed to by the instructor prior to the final examination. However, see Grading Special Cases under Unofficial Withdrawal After the Drop Deadline, for exceptions. If an Incomplete is assigned as the student's grade, the instructor is required to fill out an Assignment of an Incomplete(IN) and Requirements for Completion form which specifies to the student and to the department the work remaining to be done, the procedures for its completion, the grade in the course to date, and the weight to be assigned to work remaining to be done when the final grade is computed.  Both the instructor and student must sign the form with a copy of the form filed in the department.

    Time Limit for Completion of Incomplete Work

    Marks of IN must be completed within one calendar year from the date the assignment of the IN.   If not completed within the designated time, marks of IN automatically become marks of IX (expired incomplete) with the exception of thesis, dissertation, and non letter-graded courses, and are calculated in the Grade Point Average (GPA) as a grade of F (zero grade points).

    A student may petition the Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures (CAPP) for an extension of time to complete an incomplete.  Extensions beyond the specified time limit are rarely approved, particularly if the student has enrolled in subsequent semesters, since the removal of the incomplete should be the student's first priority.

    Other IN Completion Policies and Procedures

    Students may complete the IN only by completing the work not finished as a result of illness or emergency occurring after the twelfth week (or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks). Previously graded work may not be repeated for credit.  It is not possible to complete an incomplete by re-registering for the course, even within the designated time.

    When the work is completed, either the student or the instructor should ask the Grade Department, at (213) 740-5586, JHH 106, to send to the instructor an Assignment of Final Grade for Completion of an Incomplete (IN) form, which is to be completed by the instructor and returned to the Grade Department.

    IX (Expired Incomplete) If a grade of IN is not completed within the designated time period, the grade automatically becomes an IX, which is computed in the GPA as zero grade points (equivalent to an F grade).

    IP (In Progress) Interim mark for a course exceeding one semester.

    V (Audit) The appropriate mark for a course in which the student has officially elected the audit option during the registration period (prior to the end of the third week of the semester).  Audit status carries no credit and does not appear on the USC transcript.   Students may not enroll for audit in any courses numbered 390, 490, 590, 594, 690, 790, 794, 990, or 994.


    Grading Special Cases

  • Plagiarism and Cheating
    [source, SCampus]

    If an instructor has reason to believe, based on observation or other evidence, that a student has violated the university academic integrity standards, he/she should make reasonable attempts to meet with the student and discuss the alleged violation and the evidence which supports the charge.  When necessary, such discussion may be conducted by telephone or electronic mail. In this discussion every effort should be made to preserve the basic instructor/student relationship. The student should be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint.

    Because the student may contest the allegation, he/she must be allowed to attend all classes and complete all assignments until the complaint is resolved.  However, students may not withdraw from a course in which they have committed or have been accused of committing an academic integrity violation.

    If the instructor believes that either cheating or plagiarism has taken place during the final examination period, or if an earlier academic integrity matter is still in process, the instructor should assign a mark of MG and select the appropriate comment from the drop down box.  A final grade will be entered when the academic integrity case is resolved.

    Even if the student admits the violation and accepts the punitive grade assigned by the instructor, the matter must be reported to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards so that any pattern of misconduct by a given student can be monitored.  An official form is available for this purpose under the University Governance sections in SCampus in Appendix B, or by calling Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards at (213) 821-7373.

    Instructors should review the publication "Trojan Integrity: A Faculty Desk Reference," available from the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, and should also familiarize themselves with the official definitions of academic integrity, violations thereof, what constitutes plagiarism, and the Academic Dishonesty Sanctions Guidelines also found in SCampus under the section on University Governance.

  • Work Missed Before the Drop Deadline
    [Source, University Catalogue]

    Students who miss class work or examinations prior to the drop deadline should be told by the instructor that they must complete the work before the end of the semester or they must withdraw by the deadline (end of the twelfth week or 12th week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks); the student may not be assigned a grade of IN if the missing work in a semester occurred prior to the drop deadline and is not made up by the end of the semester.  If a student misses earlier work but otherwise completes the course, the weighted grade for work completed is to be assigned, with the missing work counting as zero.

  • Disability Accommodation

    In cases where a student with a disability requires time beyond the normal end of the semester as part of his/her legal accommodation as determined by the Disability Services and Programs Office (DSP), a mark of IP will be assigned by the registrar before the end of the semester, and a final letter grade will be awarded by the faculty member by the date in the accommodation contract prepared by the faculty, student and the DSP staff. The contract will specify the work to be completed and the date by which the work is to be done. The DSP staff will facilitate and monitor this process and remind both the student and the faculty member of the deadline for the completion of the work and submission of the grade. If the student fails to complete the specified work by the deadline, he/she will receive credit only for the earlier work completed by the deadline, and the final letter grade will reflect the absence of the work specified in the accommodation contract.

  • Unofficial Withdrawal before the Drop Deadline (End of the twelfth week or twelfth week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks)
    [Source, University Catalogue]

    If a student stops attending before the end of the twelfth week (or twelfth week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks) of a semester, the appropriate grade is UW.

  • Unofficial Withdrawal after the Drop Deadline (End of the twelfth week)
    [Source, University Catalogue]

    If a student stops attending during the final examination period and does not contact the instructor, the appropriated weighted grade should be assigned, with the work not done counting as zero.  A grade of MG (missing grade) should not be assigned.  If it is later learned that the student had a documented bona fide illness or emergency and was unable to contact the instructor prior to the final, the instructor should use the Correction of Grade Process to change the grade to IN.


    Grade and Mark Numeric Equivalents

    [Source, University Catalogue]

    Letter grades have the following numeric equivalents for each unit:
     
      B+ = 3.3 C+ = 2.3 D+ = 1.3 F = 0.0
    A = 4.0 B = 3.0 C = 2.0 D = 1.0 UW = 0.0
    A- = 3.7 B- = 2.7 C- = 1.7 D- = 0.7 IX = 0.0

    Marks of CR, NC, P, NP, W, IP, MG, and IN do not affect a student's GPA.

     



    Grading Options and Enrollment Status:
    CR/NC, P/NP, W, and V (Audit)

    There are two classifications of grading:

    1.    A Grading Option is a course-specific default which determines one of the three ways in which a course can be graded.

    1. The Letter-Graded grading option is applied to a course approved by the University Committee on Curriculum as one which is to be letter-graded.
       
    2. The Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) grading option is applied to a course approved by the University Committee on Curriculum as one that may only be graded on a CR/NC basis.
       
    3. The In Progress (IP) grading option is applied to a course approved by the University Committee on Curriculum as one that exceeds one semester.
    2.    Enrollment Status may be elected by the student in the form of a request to the Registration Department.  The availability of an enrollment status is governed by restrictions specifically related to that status.
    a. An Audit (V) enrollment status would be elected when a student wishes to be allowed to attend the course but does not wish to be graded or receive credit. The following rules apply:
      • Not available in any course numbered 390, 490, 590, 594, 690, 790, 794, 990 or 994.
      • Available only through the end of the third week of classes (or third week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks) through Web Registration or in-person registration.
      • When elected, the course will not appear on a grade report, grade sheet or transcript.

      b. A Pass/No Pass (P/NP) enrollment status would be elected when a student wishes to take a course for unit credit , but not GPA credit.

      The following rules apply to undergraduate students who select a P/NP option:

      • Not available in courses numbered 390 or 490, WRIT-140 or 340, or to satisfy requirements for a minor.
      • When elected, a maximum of 24 units may be applied toward a degree; a maximum of four of these units may apply to the General Education requirement; no effect on GPA.
      • When elected, may not be used to fulfill major requirements toward a degree, unless the major department gives written permission through the department's exception process.
      • Individual departments may have placed further restrictions on whether a course taken on a P/NP basis can be used to fulfill specific requirements.
      • Available only through the end of the third week of classes (or third week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks) through Web Registration or in-person registration.

      The following rules apply for graduate students who select a P/NP option:

      • Graduate students must receive departmental approval to enroll in a graduate course in P/NP status.
      • Course work taken on a basis cannot be applied toward a graduate degree.
      • If a student later requires the course for a degree program (because of a change in degree objective or a decision to obtain an additional degree), the degree-granting unit can decide to allow subject credit for the course and require a substitute course for the unit credit.
      • Individual departments may have placed further restrictions on whether a course taken on a basis can be used to fulfill specific requirements.
      • Available only through the end of the third week of classes (or third week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks) through Web Registration or in-person registration.

      c. A Withdrawal (W) enrollment status is available in any course and would be elected when a student wishes to drop a course after the third week (or third week equivalent for any course scheduled for less than 15 weeks). The following rules apply:

      • Available in weeks four through twelve only.
      • When elected, only a grade of "W" may be assigned.

    Repeated Course Work
    [source, University Catalogue]

    Freshmen
    First-time freshmen may repeat at USC a maximum of three courses taken during the first two semesters of enrollment at USC in which grades of D+ or below (including UW and IX) were received, and only the subsequent grade, even if lower, will be calculated in the grade point average.  Both courses and the grades received will appear on the transcript.  The same course may be repeated no more than once for the benefit of substitution of grade.

    Other Repeated Course Work

    Undergraduate students may also repeat other courses taken in which grades of D+ or below were received, but in these instances, both grades will be calculated in the grade point average, and the unit credit can only be earned once.

    POSTING OF GRADES  WITH NAMES AND ID NUMBERS PROHIBITED

    [source, Federal Social Security Confidentiality Act]

    • University and federal policies prohibit posting or making publicly available (such as, given orally in class) a student's Social Security number, ten-digit USC ID number, or other personally identifiable information.
       
    • Posting a list of grades with students' names and students' identification numbers is a clear violation of that policy.
       
    • Posting grades in a manner which allows a student's name to be identified with a grade is not allowed.
       

    GRADING POLICIES

     

    GRADING POLICIES