Grading Policies

Grading System

The following letter grades are assigned in the School of Law: A+, A, A-; B+, B, B-; C+, C; D; and F.  An explanation of the grading policy appears on the student’s transcript.

Grading Scale
Letter GradePointage
A+4.30
A4.0
A-3.70
B+3.30
B3.0
B-2.70
C+2.30
C2.0
D1.70
F1.30

A student must receive a final grade of at least D in a course to receive credit for that course. Grades of F are included in the grade point average, but courses in which the student earned an F are not counted toward the number of hours required for a degree.

When a student repeats a course, the original and all subsequent grades are included in the student’s grade point average.

Grades, except those in seminars, are based primarily on examinations. Grades in seminars are based primarily on individual research as reflected in a paper and, in some instances, an oral report.

Grade Distributions

Following is the faculty policy on grades (effective 2014)

1. The mean grade for a class shall be between 3.25 and 3.35, unless one of the exceptions enumerated below (see 2) applies.

a. Inclusion of Non-JDs Is Optional: All JD students enrolled in the class must be included in this calculation.  The instructor has discretion as to whether to include any enrolled non-JD students in this calculation.  If the non-JD students are not included with the JD students in the mean calculation, no mean requirement applies to the non-JD students.

b. Treatment of First-Year Students in Upper-Class Courses: Professors may calculate separate curves for first-year and upper-class students in courses that enroll both. Each curve considered separately shall be subject to these rules.

2. Exceptions

a. High Incoming GPAs: If the average incoming GPA of the JD students who enroll in an upper-division class is above 3.5, the maximum permitted mean grade for the class rises accordingly (i.e., to the level of the average incoming GPA of the JD students). The minimum permissible mean grade remains 3.25, subject to other exceptions listed below.

b. Small Enrollments: In classes with 20 or fewer students (counting only JDs if non-JD students are graded separately) where relief is not already available under exception 2(a) (“High Incoming GPAs”), faculty may seek relief from rule 1 from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs on either of the following grounds:

(i) the method of evaluation for the class renders it inappropriate to conform to the mean requirement; or
(ii) the class did not generate an appropriate grade distribution.

c. Truly Exceptional Circumstances: In classes with 21 or more students (counting only JDs if non-JD students are graded separately) where relief is not already available under exception 2(a) (“High Incoming GPAs”), faculty may seek relief from rule 1 from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the event of a truly exceptional justification.

d. Seminars: Seminars automatically are exempt from rule 1.

3. Distribution of Grades

a. Mandatory Distribution of Grades in First-Year Large Sections:

  • 30 to 40% of grades must be A+, A, or A-; and,
  • at least 5% of grades must be C+, C, D, or F.

b. Recommended Distribution of Grades in Other Courses:

  • about 35% of grades should be A+, A, or A-;
  • about 55% of grades should be B+, B, or B-; and,
  • about 10% of grades should be C+, C, D, or F.

c. Maximum Percentage of A+ Grades: A maximum of 6% A+ grades (rounded up to the next whole number) may be awarded in most classes.  In seminars, no more than 15% of the grades may be A+.

Grade Deadlines

Fall: First–year course grades must be turned in no later than three weeks after the last day of final exams. Upper-class course grades must be turned in no later than five weeks after the last day of final exams. A financial sanction will be imposed on a faculty member who fails to meet this deadline.

Spring: First-year course grades must be turned in no later than five weeks after the last day of final exams. Upper-class course grades must be turned in no later than four weeks after the last day of final exams. A financial sanction will be imposed on a faculty member who fails to meet this deadline.

* Exception for large number of exams: A professor who teaches two courses in a semester and who has 175 or more essay exams does not have to turn in the final grades for his or her second class until six weeks after the last day of final exams. In such instances, the professor must submit the final grades in accordance with the following priority scheme.

1. Priority for grading

a. Fall: A faculty member who teaches a first-year course and an upper-class course must turn in the final grades for the first-year course no later than three weeks after the last day of final exams. The additional time is granted for grading the upper-class course. A faculty member with two upper-class courses may take the additional time to grade either course.

b. Spring: A faculty member who teaches a first-year course and an upper-class course must turn in the final grades for the upper-class course no later than four weeks after the final day of final exams. The additional time is granted for the first-year course. A faculty member with two upper-class courses may take the additional time to grade either course.

2. Exception for exigent circumstances

In advance, the Dean of the Law School may waive the sanctions for noncompliance in exigent circumstances, such as a serious illness or family emergency that renders compliance with the timely grading schedule impossible and the imposition of a sanction inappropriate.

3. Release of grades

First-year course grades are released after the grade submission deadline.  Upper-class course grades are released at the conclusion of final exams as they are received.

Grade Changes

The following rule for grade changes was approved at the faculty meeting on May 31, 1982:

After a final grade had been submitted to, and recorded by, the Main Office [Student Affairs Office], it shall not be changed except for good cause submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and approved by the Dean of the Law School. Good cause is best exemplified by arithmetical error, but may include other reasons. It is not good cause to change a grade for humanitarian or other reasons merely to affect a student’s grade point average, for example, to achieve honors status, to be eligible for graduation, to be removed from scholastic probation, or to be redeemed from dismissal for academic failure.

It was understood at the faculty meeting that a final grade, while not defined, includes all grades submitted by a faculty member to the Student Affairs Office except a temporary “pass” submitted for some students in a course prior to the time that the entire set of exams for the course has been graded.