At Penn State, grades are assigned based on the instructor's judgment of the student's scholarly achievements. The following grading system applies to graduate students:
In addition to quality-level grades, three other categories may be used in assigning grades.
- DF grades are assigned to incomplete work resulting from extenuating circumstances. The deferred grade appears temporarily on the student's record.
Required work must be completed and the deferred grade resolved as soon as possible once assigned, but must be resolved no later than 12 weeks after the course end date as noted on the Registrar's Schedule of Courses, unless an extension of a specific duration to a specified date is agreed upon by the instructor and student and approved by the Graduate School that allows for a completion deadline longer than 12 weeks. A memo with a justifying statement and the agreed-upon date must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services in order to request an extension.
A deferred grade that is not resolved before the end of this period automatically converts to an F and cannot be changed without approval by the Graduate School. A memo with a justifying statement for changing the F grade must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services in order to request a DF that has defaulted to an F grade be changed. Please note: Instructors may assign a shorter timeframe for completion of the coursework.
- If an instructor does not submit a grade for a completed course, the University Student Record System assigns an NG (no grade). NG grades must be reconciled within 12 weeks after the end of the semester in which the class took place. If the corrected grade is not received by the deadline, the NG grade automatically converts to an administrative F.
- An R grade may be assigned for pre-approved courses that may require more than one semester to complete, such as a thesis or professional paper.
There are only three situations in which an assigned grade may be changed:
- if there was a calculation or recording error;
- if it is a course in which an R grade was assigned and later changed to a quality grade;
- if a temporarily assigned DF grade is replaced with a quality grade.
Penn State Great Valley -G-10: Grade Mediation and Adjudication
The basis for grades, as stated in Senate Policy 47-20, is "…the instructor's judgment of the student's scholastic achievement..." Occasionally a disagreement arises in the assignment of a grade. A student who wishes to question or challenge the grade assigned in a course must first discuss grading practices and assignments with the instructor. It is expected that the student and instructor will try to eliminate any misunderstandings and will attempt to work out any disagreements over grades. Some examples of the basis for a legitimate disagreement could include, but are not limited to the following:
- The instructor did not inform the student of the basis for calculation of grades as required in Senate Policy 47-20.
- The instructor did not calculate the student's grade in accordance with the instructor's stated policy for calculating grades.
- There was an error in the computation of the grade that was not corrected.
- The student, through no fault of his or her own, was not provided with the same opportunity to complete the requirements for the course in terms, for example, of time, access to materials, or access to the instructor as the other students.
On the rare occasion that a student and instructor fail to resolve the grade dispute through informal means, the student may request that the Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee act as a mediator by emailing [email protected].
If resolution does not occur, the student may request a formal grade adjudication process by completing a Grade Adjudication Petition Form and returning it to the Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee at [email protected]. The request form must be submitted within five weeks of the beginning of the semester immediately following the semester in which the grade was received. The basis for a grade adjudication petition is limited to cases in which a grade assignment does not conform to Senate Policy 47-20. Therefore, the petition must present clear evidence that the assignment of the grade was based on factors other than the academic judgment of the instructor.
The School's Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee will review the petition to determine whether the student's complaint provides evidence that the instructor's assignment of the grade is in violation of Senate Policy 47-20. He or she may decide that the petition does not meet the criteria for grade adjudication. In such a case, the grade will stand.
If the Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee believes that the student's petition does meet the criteria for grade adjudication, he or she will solicit a response from the instructor. If upon review of the instructor's response the Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee concludes that the grade assignment does not conform to Senate Policy 47-20, he or she will determine a course of action that may include a recommendation for an amended grade. The instructor must respond within ten (10) days. The Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee will then provide the student and the instructor with notification of the instructor's response and a brief summary of the reasons for the decision.
If neither the student nor the instructor wishes to appeal the decision, and the grade assignment was found to conform to Senate Policy 47-20, the grade will stand.
If either the student or the instructor wishes to appeal the recommendation, and the grade assignment was found to violate Senate Policy 47-20, the Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee will appoint an ad hoc committee of two to three faculty members with appropriate disciplinary expertise. The ad hoc committee will recommend a grade. The Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee will notify the student and instructor of the recommended grade change and the supporting rationale in accordance with Senate Policy 47-20. The recommended grade change will be provided by the Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee and forwarded to the School's Chancellor for transmittal to the University Registrar.
If either the student or instructor wishes to appeal the recommendation of the Associate Chief Academic Officer, however, the petition and any relevant findings of the Associate Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee will be forwarded to the School's Chancellor.
If the Chancellor finds that the grade assignment does conform to Senate Policy 47-20, the original grade assignment will stand.
If the Chancellor finds that the grade assignment does not conform to Senate Policy 47-20, he or she will appoint an ad hoc committee of two to three faculty members with appropriate disciplinary expertise to determine and recommend a grade. The Chancellor will then determine the grade and transmit it to the Registrar.
Grade Adjudication Petition Form
Senate Policy: 47-20, Basis for Grades
Effective January 22, 2020