Grading, Courses and Credit

Standards of Scholarship

Graduate students must earn a 3.0 cumulative and term GPA in order to maintain good academic standing. In graduate and upper division undergraduate courses, letter grades of A, B, and (in some programs) C, as well as Satisfactory may count towards degree or credential requirements.  Lower division undergraduate courses are not calculated into the graduate GPA.  Programs may enforce more stringent grading in their degree requirements, such as not accepting C grades for required coursework or requiring a term/cumulative GPA higher than 3.0

Good Academic Standing

Graduate students must maintain the following standards to be in good academic standing:

  • Cumulative and term GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Satisfactory progress in the graduate program, as determined by the Graduate Advisor, program degree requirements, and the thesis or dissertation chair (if applicable).
  • No more than 8 combined units of Incomplete, Unsatisfactory, or F grades.

Students who do not maintain a 3.0+ cumulative and term GPA, or who accumulate 9 or more units of I, U, or F grades will be classified on academic probation status until those deficiencies have been rectified.  

Repeating Courses

Graduate students may repeat any course in which they receive a C (including C+), D, F or U, up to a maximum of three courses (DD Reg A540F).  Any repeated course, except for one offered only on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis, must be retaken for a letter grade.

Degree credit for a repeated course is given only once, but the grades assigned for both the first and second time course attempts appear on the student’s transcript. The grade points earned from the second attempt will replace the grade points from the first attempt, even if the second attempt grade is lower than the first.  

Repeated courses are annotated on the transcript as either “REPEATED, EXCLUDED FROM GPA” for the first course attempt, and “REPEATED, INCLUDED IN GPA” for the second course attempt.  

Graduate students may repeat a course more than once with approval from the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grading

If you have not yet advanced to candidacy, you may petition to take one normally graded course per quarter on an S/U basis provided the course is used to explore an area unrelated to your academic discipline. Courses that fulfill program requirements, including prerequisites and deficiencies, may not be taken on an S/U basis. The only exception to this rule is if the Graduate Council has granted prior approval to the program. An S/U course may be used to fulfill unit requirements. To receive an S grade in lower or upper division undergraduate coursework, you must earn at least the equivalent of a C-. To receive an S grade in graduate coursework, you must receive the equivalent of a B- or better. 

Grading Option Change petitions must be submitted to Graduate Studies by the Graduate Coordinator no later than the end of the fifth week of the quarter (25th day of instruction). A petition received after the fifth week may be reviewed, but must include justification for the missed deadline.  Petitions received after the last day of instruction will not be accepted

If you have advanced to candidacy, you may take an unlimited number of courses on an S/U basis with the approval of your Graduate Advisor.

More information is available in the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading Option policy.

Incomplete Grades

(DD Reg A540C) A grade of Incomplete (I) may be assigned when the student's work is of passing quality, but can not be completed during the term of instruction. For example, an incomplete may be appropriate if the student has done well in the course, but is unable to complete the work because of poor health, personal emergency, or a similar reason.  Poor academic performance, missed assignment deadlines, insufficient preparation, and unexcused absences are not appropriate reasons to assign an incomplete grade.  Students who are struggling academically in a course or who feel they are not adequately prepared should consider dropping the course or retaking the course if they receive a C+ grade or lower.  

  • Re-Enrolling - Students may NOT re-enroll in a course for which they received an incomplete grade.  If participation in the course or access to materials is necessary to complete the work, students may request permission from the instructor to audit the course.  Auditing allows the student to attend instruction and access course materials without enrolling.    
  • Retroactive Drop/Withdrawal - Students may not retroactively drop a course in which they received an I grade, but they may petition OUR for retroactive withdrawal from all courses in the quarter.
  • Academic Probation Status - Students who receive nine or more cumulative units of I grades (combined with the total units of U and F grades), will be classified on academic probation status until grades have been changed.

Incomplete Timeline & Replacement

Incomplete grades are active for three registered quarters following the quarter the course was taken (quarters in which a student is on leave or withdrawn from UC Davis are not included).  To replace the incomplete, the course instructor updates the grade using the online Grade Change Tool.  For more information review the OUR Grade Changes website.  If the I grade is not replaced by the end of the third registered quarter, the grade will revert to an F or a U.

Doctoral students must clear any incomplete grades prior to advancing to candidacy, going on filing fee, or graduating.  Master’s students may advance to candidacy, but may not go on filing fee or graduate if they have incomplete grades on any of the required courses included on the master’s candidacy application.  

Considerations for Incomplete Grades

Not all courses and situations may be a good fit for an incomplete grade.  Instructors should work with the student to develop a plan outlining the remaining requirements, timeline expectations, and any needed materials or resources. 

Students considering a request for an I grade should take into account:

  • Their knowledge of the subject and ability to work independently (1-3 quarters after instruction).
  • The amount of work to be completed.
  • The type of work to be completed.
  • Their ability to complete the work while a continuing graduate student.
  • Doctoral students cannot advance to candidacy, go on Filing Fee, or graduate with an incomplete grade on their record.  Master's students cannot go on filing fee or graduate with an incomplete grade in one of the required courses included on their candidacy application.

Incomplete Grade Extension

Students may request an incomplete extension beyond three registered quarters by submitting an Incomplete Grade Extension Request to their Graduate Coordinator for forwarding to Graduate Studies.  Extension requests must include an explanation why the work was not completed, a detailed timeline for completion of the remaining requirements, and documentation/support if available (e.g. a letter from a medical professional or a statement of support from the instructor or your Graduate Advisor). 

Incomplete Grade Extensions must be reviewed, approved, and processed by both Graduate Studies and OUR by the last day of instruction in the final quarter the I grade is active.  It is imperative that students submit Extension Requests as early as possible prior to the last day of instruction.  Approval is not guaranteed, and petitions submitted without sufficient information or time to review may not be approved.  Instructors may submit a grade change request for cause if the I grade has lapsed to an F or U grade.

Credit by Examination

With permission from the instructor, graduate students may audit courses (sit in on the class without registering). If the student later decides to seek credit for that class, they may request credit by examination. Credit by examination is available to registered students in good academic standing. The student does not need to be enrolled in the specific class, nor does the class need to be offered in the quarter the exam is held. The examination must be given by a UC Davis instructor and be for a course listed in the UC Davis General Catalog. See DD Reg 528 for Credit by Examination policy.

To earn credit through examination, the student must first obtain permission for the exam by completing the Credit by Examination Petition, available from the Office of the University Registrar (OUR).  

  1. The student fills the Personal Information, Course Information, and Method for Preparation portions of the petition, and requests signature from the course instructor.
  2. The course instructor or Graduate Coordinator submits the petition to your SAA for Dean’s signature.  
  3. Graduate Studies SAA’s will review, sign on behalf of the Dean if approved, and forward the petition to OUR.  
  4. OUR will issue a permit to take the examination and charge a $5 exam fee directly to the student’s account. 
  5. Following the exam, the instructor reports the grade to OUR (, and OUR staff update the student’s transcript to reflect the earned credit. 

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