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   Plus/Minus Grading

PLUS/MINUS GRADING

In Fall 2005, the University Senate voted to adopt a policy for plus/minus grading, which was approved by the President. A slight revision to the policy was passed by the Senate and approved by the President in Fall 2011. As of Fall 2012, plus/minus grading is the University’s new official grading policy. Under the policy, quality points for each letter grade from A through D reflect plus and minus components of the grade, as shown below. The plus/minus system applies to both undergraduate and graduate courses.

Quality Points for Letter Grades

Quality points (points used in calculating Grade Point Average) associated with each letter grade under the plus/minus grading policy and the previous grading policy are as follows:

Grade Plus/Minus
Grade Policy
Previous
Grade Policy
A+ 4.0 4.0
A 4.0 4.0
A- 3.7 4.0
B+ 3.3 3.0
B 3.0 3.0
B- 2.7 3.0
C+ 2.3 2.0
C 2.0 2.0
C- 1.7 2.0
D+ 1.3 1.0
D 1.0 1.0
D- 0.7 1.0
F 0 0
Note: The grades of D+, D, and D- receive no quality points in graduate courses.

Marking System

The University’s marking system defining the standards for letter grades is as follows:

  • A+, A, A- denotes excellent mastery of the subject and outstanding scholarship
  • B+, B, B- denotes good mastery of the subject and good scholarship
  • C+, C, C- denotes acceptable mastery of the subject
  • D+, D, D- denotes borderline understanding of the subject, marginal performance, and it does not represent satisfactory progress toward a degree
  • F denotes failure to understand the subject and unsatisfactory performance

The marking system defines the standards associated with letter grades under the previous, as well as the present, grading policy.

Minimum Required Grade Standards

To maintain the comparability of grading standards under the plus/minus grading policy with the previous grading policy, all academic programs will continue to accept letter grades that include plus or minus as meeting their current minimum grade requirements.

Graduate School Probation Standard

The Graduate School Probation Standard on academic probation and dismissal retains the GPA requirement of maintaining a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. The Graduate School increases the period of study before the GPA minimum standard is applied: “A student whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 will not be placed on probation until s/he completes 12 credits or two semesters, whichever comes first.” This change was effective as of August 29, 2012.

Degree Requirements Based on Calculated GPA

All existing requirements that are based on any calculated GPA of grades earned in more than one course will continue under the plus/minus policy. For example, the College of Education has a degree requirement that students must maintain an overall GPA of 2.75. This requirement is unaffected by the introduction of plus/minus grading.

University Requirements for Graduation

The University’s current requirements of a minimum overall GPA of 2.0 for bachelor's degrees and 3.0 for graduate degrees are unchanged.

Undergraduate students who matriculate to the University in Fall 2012 and after must earn a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in their major/minor/certificate requirements. All students must also earn an overall cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in all courses in order to graduate. Individual department, college, school or program requirements may exceed this minimum.

Limited Enrollment (LEP) Requirements

Stated grade requirements for LEPs have been changed in the catalog and in other University communications, with current minimum individual course requirements stated as C- and B-. For example, LEP requirements that currently state a minimum grade in a course of 3.0 or B could be met by a grade of B+, B, or B- under the new grading system. Current minimum cumulative GPAs required to enter an LEP remains in effect under plus/minus grading.

Calculation of Cumulative GPA

Students entering the University in Fall 2012 or thereafter will have their cumulative GPA calculated using the quality points earned under the plus/minus grading policy.

For students who have credits under the previous grading policy and the plus/minus grading policy, their cumulative GPA will be based on the quality points received and valued by the official grading policy in place at the time the course was taken. Grades received under the previous grading policy will receive quality points earned for those credits, as awarded under the official grading policy prior to Fall 2012 (A, 4.0; B, 3.0; C, 2.0; D, 1.0; and F, 0). Credits earned under the new plus/minus grading policy will be valued by quality points under the plus/minus policy. Quality points earned prior to plus/minus grading will not be recalculated.

The Registrar will make GPA calculations and report them on student transcripts. Transcripts will include an explanation of the change in the University’s grading policy.

Acceptance of Undergraduate Transfer Credits

In general, credit from academic courses taken at institutions of higher education accredited by a regional association will transfer provided that the course is completed with a grade of at least C- and the course is similar in content and level of work offered at the University of Maryland, College Park. Grades of D- or better will be accepted from appropriate course work completed at a regionally accredited Maryland public institution. The University will accept grades of C- (or D- from Maryland public institutions) from students who matriculate to the University of Maryland in Fall 2012 or after. The University will accept transfer course grades of C- (or D- from Maryland public institutions) from current students for transfer courses completed in Fall 2012 or after.

Acceptance of Graduate Transfer Credits

The policies for acceptance of graduate transfer credits remain unchanged (see http://www.gradschool.umd.edu/catalog/academic_record.htm#10 for current policies). The current requirement of a B would be satisfied by a grade of B+, B, or B- under the plus/minus grading policy.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

  1. When did the new plus/minus grading system become effective?
  2. Will grades received for courses completed prior to Fall 2012 be converted to reflect the new plus/minus grading scale?
  3. How will cumulative GPAs be calculated for students with grades earned under both the previous grading policy and plus/minus grading?
  4. What is the value assigned to each grade for computing GPAs?
  5. Why is there no difference between an A+ and an A in the new plus/minus grading scale?
  6. Is an instructor for a course required to use plus and minus grades?
  7. Will plus and minus grades be listed on University of Maryland, College Park students' transcripts?
  8. If a minimum undergraduate course requirement was a C- in the previous grading policy, will that requirement continue to be a C- under the new plus/minus grading policy?
  9. What is the minimum grade point average that students must earn in majors/minors/certificates?
  10. Will the new plus/minus grading scale impact the Dean's List (academic honors) policy?
  11. Example of GPA calculation for grades earned under both systems.

    1. When did the new plus/minus grading system become effective?
      Fall 2012

    2. Will grades received for courses completed prior to Fall 2012 be converted to reflect the new plus/minus grading scale?
      Grades and quality points received in terms prior to Fall 2012 will not be changed or converted into the new plus/minus grading scale. GPAs for grades earned prior to Fall 2012 will not change.
    3. How will cumulative GPAs be calculated for students with grades earned under both the previous grading policy and plus/minus grading?
      A student’s cumulative GPA will be based on the quality points earned for courses taken under each of the policies. Grades received under the previous grading policy (prior to Fall 2012) will receive quality points awarded under the previous grading policy. Grades received under plus/minus grading (beginning Fall 2012) will receive quality points awarded under the plus/minus grading system. An illustration of the calculation of cumulative GPA appears below (Item 11).
    4. What is the value assigned to each grade for computing GPAs?
      From Fall 2001 through Summer II 2012, courses were graded with plus and minus grades under the following scale:
      A+, A, A- = 4.0
      B+, B, B- = 3.0
      C+, C, C- = 2.0
      D+, D, D- = 1.0
      F = 0.0

      Effective Fall 2012, courses will be graded with plus and minus grades under the following scale:
      A+, A = 4.0
      A- = 3.7
      B+ = 3.3
      B = 3.0
      B- = 2.7
      C+ = 2.3
      C = 2.0
      C- = 1.7
      D+ = 1.3
      D = 1.0
      D- = 0.7
      F = 0.0

    5. Why is there no difference between an A+ and an A in the new plus/minus grading scale?
      The University Senate approved the awarding of 4.0 quality points for A+ and A grades. Many leading public institutions also assign A+ and A grades the same quality points.
    6. Is an instructor for a course required to use plus and minus grades?
      The plus/minus grading system is the official grading policy of the University, effective Fall 2012. Quality points for each letter grade from A through D will reflect plus and minus components. The assignment of grades as defined in the plus/minus grading policy is the responsibility and the decision of the instructor.
    7. Will plus and minus grades be listed on University of Maryland, College Park students' transcripts?
      Since Fall 2001, the University of Maryland, College Park transcript has shown any plus or minus grades earned by the student and will continue to do so.
    8. If a minimum undergraduate course requirement was a C- in the previous grading policy, will that requirement continue to be a C- under the new plus/minus grading policy?
      If the minimum undergraduate course requirement was a C-, it will continue to be a C-. However, the C- was worth a 2.0 in the past. It is now worth a 1.7.
    9. What is the minimum grade point average that students must earn in majors/minors/certificates?
      Undergraduate students who matriculate to the University in Fall 2012 and after must earn a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in their major/minor/certificate requirements. All students must also earn an overall cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in all courses in order to graduate. Individual department, college, school or program requirements may exceed this minimum.

      In order to maintain good academic standing, every graduate student must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 for all courses taken at the university.

    10. Will the new plus/minus grading scale impact the Dean's List (academic honors) policy?
      The Dean's List (academic honors) policy is based on a given semester’s GPA. Beginning Fall 2012, a student’s semester GPA will reflect the grades awarded under plus/minus grading.

      According to our Dean's List (academic honors) policy, “Semester Academic Honors (Dean's List) will be awarded to those students who complete, within any given semester (excluding winter and summer terms), 12 or more credits (excluding courses with grades of P and S) with a semester GPA of 3.5 or higher.”

    11. Example of GPA calculation for grades earned under both systems.
      A student’s cumulative GPA depends on the number of credits earned, the grade awarded in each course, and the quality points awarded for each credit hour. Quality points awarded under plus/minus grading differ from the quality points awarded under the previous grading policy. All credits earned under the previous grading policy will be valued using the quality points stated in the previous grading policy. All credits earned under the plus/minus grading policy will be valued using the quality points in the new plus/minus grading policy. Quality points earned prior to the implementation of plus/minus grading (beginning Fall 2012) will not be recalculated.

      The following example illustrates GPA calculations for a student who has earned one semester of grades under each of the grading policies. The example illustrates how differences in grades and numbers of credits earned in each course are reflected in GPA calculations in the two semesters.

      Semester 1. Previous Grading Policy (Prior to Fall 2012)
      Course
      Credit
      Grade Quality
      Points/Credit
      Total Quality Points
      3 A- 4 (3 x 4) 12.0
      3 B+ 3 (3 x 3)   9.0
      3 B 3 (3 x 3)   9.0
      4 B 3 (4 x 3) 12.0
      3 C+ 2 (3 x 2)   6.0
      Totals 16     48.0
      Semester GPA (48/16)   3.00

      Semester 2. New Plus/Minus Policy (Fall 2012 and later)
      Course
      Credit
      Grade Quality
      Points/Credit
      Total Quality Points
      3 A- 3.7 (3 x 3.7) 11.1
      3 B+ 3.3 (3 x 3.3)   9.9
      4 B+ 3.3 (4 x 3.3) 13.2
      3 B 3.0 (3 x 3.0)   9.0
      4 C 2.0 (4 x 2.0)   8.0
      Totals 17     51.2
      Semester GPA (51.2 / 17) 3.01

      Cumulative GPA. Calculation of cumulative GPA combines quality points earned in each course over all semesters is as follows:
      Course
      Credit
                                Total Quality Points
      Semester 1 16     48.0
      Semester 2 17     51.2
      Totals 33     99.2
      Cumulative GPA (99.2/33) 3.00


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