2.60 Grades

Revised to 11/09


Grades shall be submitted at or before the end of each term in all subjects given in the term, including thesis. (For partial-term subjects that end within the term, grades shall be submitted within one week after the date of the last scheduled class in the subject.) Each report of grades shall be endorsed by the Faculty member in charge of the subject. Once submitted, grades shall not be changed except to correct errors or to fulfill specific provisions under O, OX, and I grades. Instructors may also submit written comments on forms provided. These comments are addressed to the student and to the Faculty Advisor or Registration Officer. Comments are retained in the student's internal file.


The grades described below are not rigidly related to any numerical scores or distribution function.


The grades to be awarded to students who satisfactorily complete the work of a subject by the end of a term and the definitions of these grades are:

  • A Exceptionally good performance, demonstrating a superior understanding of the subject matter, a foundation of extensive knowledge, and a skillful use of concepts and/or materials.
  • B Good performance, demonstrating capacity to use the appropriate concepts, a good understanding of the subject matter, and an ability to handle the problems and materials encountered in the subject.
  • C Adequate performance, demonstrating an adequate understanding of the subject matter, an ability to handle relatively simple problems, and adequate preparation for moving on to more advanced work in the field.
  • D Minimally acceptable performance, demonstrating at least partial familiarity with the subject matter and some capacity to deal with relatively simple problems, but also demonstrating deficiencies serious enough to make it inadvisable to proceed further in the field without additional work.
  • P When the use of the grade P is authorized, it reflects performance at any of the levels A, B, or C, with grading to be done on a P/D/F basis.

Modifiers of + and - shall be allowed on the grades of A, B, and C. These modifiers are only for internal grade reports. Term and cumulative averages (internal and external) shall be calculated without modifiers.

The grade of P is authorized for use under the following circumstances:

  1. in any subject taken by a first-year undergraduate student in the first semester or during the January Independent Activities Period.
  2. in any of the subjects designated by the Committee on Curricula, the Committee on the Undergraduate Program, the Committee on Graduate Programs, or by vote of the Faculty as subjects to be graded on a P/D/F basis for all students registered in them.
  3. in special programs designated by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program or by vote of the Faculty.
  4. in a total of no more than two subjects elected during the third and subsequent years in an undergraduate program. These subjects cannot be used to fulfill General Institute or Departmental Requirements, and must be elected and the Registrar notified before the end of the fifth week of the term for full-term subjects or the second week of instruction of half-term subjects.
  5. for students registered in a graduate degree program in a total of no more than one elected subject per term. These subjects cannot be used to fulfill degree requirements, and must be elected by the students and the Registrar notified before the end of the fifth week of the term for full-term subjects or the end of the second week of instruction of a half-term subject. Pursuant to the educational goals of their respective programs, individual departments or instructors may restrict how the P/D/F option is exercised by students in their programs or classes.

The factors which determine the award of grades in any particular subject will necessarily be affected by the scope and level of that subject. In relatively elementary subjects the mastery of particular skills will often be of primary importance, whereas in more advanced subjects more complex considerations may enter into the evaluation.

The Faculty wishes to make it clear that in determining a student's grade consideration will be given for elegance of presentation, creativity, imagination, and originality, where these may appropriately be called for.

The transcript of the student's record shall contain the names of the subjects taken, the grades received, and a description of the grades in use at the time the student was enrolled. Transcripts shall not include any reference to the +/- modifiers.


The following notations are to be used by the Registrar for satisfactory completion of work in the circumstances indicated:

  • S notation for credit awarded for work done elsewhere.
  • SA notation for satisfactorily completed doctoral thesis. Doctoral theses are not graded.


The grades and notations to be used for subjects not passed or not completed are:

  • F failed. This grade also signifies that the student must repeat the subject to receive credit.
  • O absent. This grade indicates that the student was progressing satisfactorily during the subject but was either (a) absent from the final examination or (b) absent during the last two weeks of the term (for a full-term subject) or the last week of the term (for a half-term subject), or both (a) and (b). An O grade carries no credit for the subject. Unsatisfactory performance because of absence throughout the term should be recorded as F.
  • OX absence satisfactorily explained to and excused by the Dean for Undergraduate Education in the case of an undergraduate student or by the Dean for Graduate Education in the case of a graduate student. The Faculty member in charge of the subject will be notified when an O is changed to an OX. An OX carries no credit for the subject. However, the Faculty member in charge must provide the student the opportunity to receive a credit-carrying grade. This may be done with or without the instructor requiring a postponed final examination or other additional evaluation procedure.
  • DR a notation to be used only on the student's internal record for a subject dropped after the fifth week of the regular term for full-term subjects, or after the second week of instruction for half-term subjects.
  • I incomplete. The grade of I indicates that a minor part of the subject requirements has not been fulfilled and that a passing grade is to be expected when the work is completed. The work should normally be completed before Add Date of the succeeding term of the regular academic year; however, the Faculty member in charge, in negotiation with the student, has the right to set an earlier or later date for pedagogical reasons or extenuating circumstances. For undergraduates: The completion date is to be entered on the Instructor's Report Form which must accompany the grade of I. This completion date cannot be any later than the end of the succeeding term of the regular academic year unless completion of the work requires facilities or resources which will not be available to the student within that time period. In this latter case, a notation to this effect must be made by the instructor on the form reporting the I grade, along with an indication of the earliest date upon which the necessary facilities will be available to that student and the corresponding expected completion date. If the work is not completed by the agreed-upon deadline, the faculty member in charge must submit a final grade by the last day of the regular term during which the work was to have been completed. This grade is to be based on the work completed in the subject. No grade of I can be assigned to any student in the semester in which he or she graduates. All grades of Incomplete must be resolved prior to graduation.
  • J a notation assigned for work such as Thesis, UROP or At Plant registration (internship or industrial practice), which has progressed satisfactorily but has not been completed. Grade given upon completion of the work in a later term also covers this term.
  • U a notation for thesis work which has not been completed and in which progress has been unsatisfactory. Grade given upon completion of the work in a later term also covers this term. Unless a student's progress improves significantly, the student may expect that grade to be failing.
  • T temporary notation. It is used for subjects which cover the equivalent of one term's work, but are scheduled over parts of two normal grading periods. Prior approval must have been obtained from the Committee on Curricula for undergraduate subjects or the Committee on Graduate Programs for graduate subjects. This notation is recorded only on the student's internal record. A permanent grade must be assigned when the subject is finished.


Special Provisions for First-Year Undergraduate Students:


For first-year undergraduate students: (a) in the first semester and in the Independent Activities Period, the only passing grade permanently recorded by the Registrar shall be P; and (b) in the first semester, in the Independent Activities Period, and in the second semester, the non-passing grades of D, F, O, and OX shall be recorded by the Registrar foruse within the Institute only, and shall not appear on official Institute transcripts.


At the beginning of the sixth week of each term, instructors of first-year students shall notify in writing those students performing at a non-passing level that they are at risk of not passing the subject. Each notification should request that the freshman meet with the instructor immediately and may include additional relevant information about the student's performance. A copy of each such notification should be provided to the Dean for Undergraduate Education and to the student's Freshman Advisor. Instructors are expected to initiate with each student a discussion of the student's performance strengths and weaknesses.

At the end of the fall term (and at the end of Independent Activities Period), letter grades equivalent to the letter grades assigned to upper-class students shall be provided to freshmen through their freshman advisors. Freshman letter grades may not appear on students' official internal grade reports or external transcripts and are to be used in accordance with guidelines established by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program.

The department in which a subject is taught is responsible for ensuring that records of freshman performance are retained for a period of five years. This information may be released only when a student requests a copy of his or her record in the subject.


First-year undergraduates may register for and receive at most 54 credit units in the fall term and 57 credit units in the spring term (excluding ROTC credit units).


Provisions for Alternate Grades in the Event of Significant Disruption:

When a Significant Disruption is declared as set forth in Section 2.102, the Chair of the Faculty may authorize the use of the grades defined below and establish the conditions for their use.

PE    When authorized, the grade of PE reflects performance at any of the levels A, B, or C, under the circumstance of an Institute emergency closure.

NE   When authorized, the grade of NE indicates a performance at the level of D or F for which no record will appear on the external transcript.

IE     Incomplete due to disruption. When authorized, the grade of IE indicates that a portion of the subject requirements has not been fulfilled, due to a major disruption of the Institute’s academic activities. A letter grade may be assigned if the work is subsequently completed. To receive a letter grade, the work must be completed prior to a date set by the Chair of the Faculty.  If the work is not completed prior to the established completion date, the grade will remain an IE on the student’s record and transcript. A grade of IE does not carry credit but need not be resolved prior to graduation.

Whenever possible, instructors should award grades as defined in Sections 2.62 and 2.63. The use of the grades PE, NE, and IE is reserved for situations in which the performance of a student is substantively impacted by a period of Significant Disruption.

The transcript of a student’s record should contain a description of any Significant Disruption of the Institute’s academic activities that occur during the student’s enrollment. These grades will not be included in calculations of grade point average.