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George Mason University
2002-03 University Catalog


Academic Policies and Procedures Affecting Both Undergraduates and Graduates

Final Examinations and Grades

Final Examination Policies

Final examinations are normally given at the end of all undergraduate courses. Except in predominantly laboratory courses, exams may not be given during the last week of classes. Exams may not exceed the scheduled length of 2 hours 45 minutes. Changes in location or time of in-class final examinations must be approved by the appropriate department chair and appropriate dean. A professor who is considering the assignment of a take-home examination or significant end of semester paper or project should inform the students at the beginning of the semester. Such assignments should be distributed by the beginning of the last week of classes so that students can coordinate them with preparation for other examinations. Students must not be required to submit examinations before the date of the regularly scheduled examination for a course. Final re-examinations are not permitted.

Absence from Final Examinations

Absence from final examinations will not be excused except for sickness on the day of the examination or for other cause approved by the student's academic dean/director. The effect of an unexcused absence from an undergraduate final examination shall be determined by the weighted value of the examination as stated in the course syllabus provided by the instructor. If absence from a graduate final examination is unexcused, the grade for the course is entered as F. See Additional Grade Notations below for Absent with Permission.

Grading System

University course work is measured in terms of quantity and quality. A credit normally represents one hour per week of lecture or recitation, or not fewer than two hours per week of laboratory work, throughout a semester. The number of credits is a measure of quantity. The grade is a measure of quality. For grades applicable to graduate courses, see Graduate Academic Standards and Grades section.

The university-wide system for undergraduate grading is as follows:

Letter Grade Grade Points Undergraduate Courses
A+ 4.00 Satisfactory / Passing
A 4.00 Satisfactory / Passing
A- 3.67 Satisfactory / Passing
B+ 3.33 Satisfactory / Passing
B 3.00 Satisfactory / Passing
B- 2.67 Satisfactory / Passing
C+ 2.33 Satisfactory / Passing
C 2.00 Satisfactory / Passing
C- 1.67 Satisfactory* / Passing
D 1.00 Unsatisfactory / Passing
F 0.00 Unsatisfactory / Failing

* NOTE: Although a C- is a satisfactory grade for a course, students must achieve a 2.0 for an acceptable semester. See information on academic standing.

Grades below C- are unsatisfactory and consist of two categories: unsatisfactory passing (D); unsatisfactory failing (F). No credit towards graduation accrues from a failing grade or from an unsatisfactory, passing grade that is replaced by a retaken course. See also Repeating a Course in the section Registration and Attendance.

Additional Grade Notations

S/NC (Satisfactory/No Credit). An S grade reflects satisfactory work (C- or better for undergraduates, B- or better for graduates); otherwise, the student receives no credit (NC). S and NC have no effect on the grade point average. Entire courses normally graded S/NC are annotated in their catalog descriptions. Students may also elect to take credit without grade. See Enrolling for Credit without Grade Points in the section Registration and Attendance.

A/B/C/NC. A student successfully completing English Composition and Introduction to Literature (ENGL 101) or Composition for Non-Native Speakers of English (ENGL 100) is graded A, A-, B+, B, B-,C, or C-; a student not attaining at least C- in these courses receives no credit (NC). NC has no effect on the grade point average.

IN (Incomplete). The grade of IN (incomplete) may be given to a student who is passing a course but who may be unable to complete scheduled course work for a cause beyond reasonable control. The student must then complete all the requirements by the end of the ninth week of the next semester (not including Summer Term), and the instructor must turn in the final grade by the end of the tenth week. Unless an explicit written extension is filed with the Registrar's Office by the faculty deadline, the grade of IN is changed by the registrar to an F. Maximum IN extension is to the end of the same semester in which it was originally due. Students who have filed their intent to graduate have only six weeks from the date of degree conferral to resolve any incomplete grade(s) and have the final grade(s) recorded by the Registrar's Office.

While a grade of IN remains on the transcript, it is treated as an unsatisfactory grade in determining probation, suspension, termination or dismissal. Removal of INs from the transcript may result in retroactive elimination of probation, suspension, termination or dismissal.

IP (In Progress). IP grades may be given in selected courses, including graduate theses, dissertations, practica, and internships. In addition, when the work of BIS 490 or of a course that is graded S/NC or A/B/C/NC is not completed within one semester, a grade of In Progress (IP) may be used. IP has no effect on the grade point average. With the exception of BIS 490, IP remains on the record until the work is completed and a final grade is assigned. An IP in BIS 490 not changed to a final grade by the last day of classes of the next semester (not including Summer Term) is changed by the registrar to F. IP grades will also be awarded in courses numbered 998 and 999 until successful completion, and then they will be changed to S/NC.

AB (Absent with permission). A student who has received permission from the student's academic dean/director to be absent from a final examination for a cause beyond reasonable control may receive a temporary grade of AB. A rescheduled exam must be administered within 10 business days of the original date of the examination or the AB will automatically become an F. Final determination of academic status is not complete while the AB remains on the transcript.

SP (Special Provision). The grade of SP may be given by the student's dean to a student who is unable to complete the course requirements because of extraordinary long-term circumstances, such as major illness or military deployment. SP has no effect on the grade point average and remains on the transcript until the work is completed and a final grade is assigned.

FA (Administrative Failure). For students who appear on the official roster and final grade form for a course, but who never attended or stopped attending a course, a grade of FA is noted on internal documents. Official documents contain the official grade of F.

Grade Reports

Mid-term grades are reported for full semester, 100- and 200- level courses at the mid-point of each fall and spring semester. Students are notified through their university e-mail account that mid-term grades are available to them only through webGMU. Mid-term grades are intended to provide feedback to students on their academic progress. They do not become part of the student's official record: they are not calculated in any grade point average and they do not appear on any official or unofficial transcript.

Semester grade reports are available over the 4GMU telephone system, (703) 993-4468, and on-line through webGMU. Students may print a grade report for their own records, or to issue to a third party, through webGMU. Transcripts of all complete academic work may be ordered at any time with a written request to the Office of the Registrar.

Grade Point Average

Grade point values are assigned to letter grades as indicated in the Grading System table. A grade point score is computed by multiplying the value of a letter grade by the number of credits for the course. For example, a student receiving an A in a three-credit course earns 12 grade points.

Dividing the total grade points earned in a semester by the number of letter-graded credits attempted in that semester gives the current GPA. Current GPA is the measure of academic performance in one semester and affects both the Dean's List and academic standing. The cumulative GPA is computed by dividing the number of grade points earned in all George Mason University courses by the number of normally graded credits attempted at the university. Cumulative GPA is one of several criteria affecting academic dismissal. Degree GPA is computed from graded courses the student completes at the university and that are applied toward the degree. This GPA is noted on the transcript under the degree conferred. Courses not used in this calculation are noted as excluded on the transcript.

Change of Grade

The conditions and time limits for changes from the temporary grades, IN, IP, AB and SP, to final grades appear in the section Additional Grade Notations.

Once a final grade in a course has been recorded by the Office of the Registrar, it can be changed only in cases of computational or recording error, or pursuant to a successful appeal of grade, as described below. Additional work of any type submitted to improve a grade after the final grade has been assigned and sent to the Office of the Registrar is never accepted.

All changes of final grades must be initiated, approved, and recorded by the last day of classes of the next regular semester (spring for fall grades, fall for spring, and summer term grades).

Appeal of Grade

Although faculty members are generally the best judges of the performance of students in their classes, there may be instances when a student believes a grade is unfair. In such cases the student should ask the faculty member to reconsider the grade. If the student is not satisfied, an appeal may be made to the head of the unit offering the course (the department chair, institute director, or his/her designee). The chair (or other recipient of the appeal) should ask the student to return to the faculty member who assigned the grade for further consultation.

If a mutually satisfactory agreement is not reached, the student may request that the chair form a committee of three faculty peers of the faculty member who assigned the grade. If the chair believes the student's complaint is not legitimate, this reservation is reported to the chair's supervisor (usually the dean), and no review is conducted unless the dean believes the complaint has merit.

The faculty member or the student may challenge, and have replaced, one of the three members of the committee without giving a reason for the challenge. The committee meets separately with the faculty member and the student to explore the full particulars of the case. A nonparticipating observer of the student's choice may attend the meeting. Every effort is made to avoid an adversarial relationship.

After the committee has reviewed the case thoroughly, it issues to the chair (with a copy to the faculty member) a written recommendation including the reasons for its findings. At this time, the faculty member has an opportunity to take the recommended action, if any. If the matter is not resolved at this point, the chair considers the committee recommendation and makes a recommendation to the dean. The decision of the dean is not subject to further appeal. If the dean decides that a change of grade is appropriate, and the faculty member refuses to make the change, then the dean may direct the registrar to do so.

Grade appeals are not accepted after the last day of classes of the following semester (spring for fall grades, fall for spring and summer grades).

Pending Grade Appeal

In select cases, a student may request a delay from the dean in imposing academic suspension because of a pending grade appeal that could change the student's status. An approved delay allows the student to register.

If the grade appeal is successful, the official transcript is corrected and the student continues in classes as a student in good academic standing. If the grade appeal is not successful, the student is required to stop attending all classes immediately. No record of registration for the academic period appears on a transcript, and the student receives the appropriate refund as of the date of decision.