Iowa State University

Iowa State University

2009-2011 Courses and Programs

Iowa State University Catalog

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Graduate College

David K. Holger, Dean
George A. Jackson, Assistant Dean
Carolyn Payne, Assistant Dean


Grades are the permanent official record of a student’s academic performance. Iowa State uses A through F grading for most courses. S, P, and NP grades are given in some courses. The standard four-point scale is used to calculate a grade point average.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

All courses (even if they are undergraduate courses) taken as a graduate student will be calculated into the graduate GPA. The GPA is determined by dividing the number of grade points earned by the total number of ISU cumulative hours. The grade given when an incomplete (I) is resolved is figured into the cumulative grade point average, but not into a particular semester’s average. Marks of I, S, P, NP, T, and X are not counted in the grade point average; a mark of F (even if taken S/F) is counted in the grade point average. Creative Component/Research (599 and 699) credits are not used in the calculation of the GPA. In the case of repeated courses, only the grade achieved the last time the course is taken is used in computing the grade point average. (However, grades in courses that are noted as repeatable courses in the catalog, such as certain repeatable seminars, will all be used in calculating the grade point average.)

Grading Research and Creative Component Credits

Creative Component/Research credits may be graded as A, B, C, D, I, S, or F. Plus and minus grades are optional. These credits are not calculated in a student’s GPA.

Pass (P)/Not Pass (NP) Course Credit

Pass/Not Pass courses are those that a student, with the approval of the major professor, may take for personal enrichment, but not for satisfying prerequisites or deficiencies in the undergraduate background. P/NP marks may not be used in a POS, nor do P/NP marks contribute to the student’s GPA. Full credit for P/NP courses is used in calculating tuition assessment and credit load limitations. For more information, see the Graduate College Handbook.

Satisfactory/Fail (S/F) Grading

S/F grading is not the same as P/NP grading. S/F grading is by instructor option; all students in a particular course receive S/F grading. P/NP grading is generally a student option. A P mark is equivalent to at least a D- grade whereas an S mark is equivalent to at least a B grade at the graduate level. No special registration procedures are required for S/F grading. An S mark in a course taken S/F is not counted in the grade point average, but an F mark in a course taken S/F is counted in the grade point average and is equivalent to an F in a regularly graded (A-F) course. No more than 20 percent of the total credits (excluding creative component, thesis or dissertation research) in the program of study may be earned on an S/F basis.

S/F grading may be used only for approved courses offered as seminars, symposia, workshops, special topics, and research. Programs must submit requests for S/F grading to the Dean of the Graduate College. The Graduate College Curriculum and Catalog Committee reviews and approves or rejects all S/F courses.

Grievances about Grades

A graduate student who feels that a course grade has been unjustly assigned, and whose attempts to resolve the matter with the instructor have failed, may appeal through the grievance procedures described in the Graduate College Handbook.


If a graduate student does not maintain a cumulative 3.0 grade point average on all course work taken, exclusive of research credit, he or she may be placed on academic probation by the Dean of the Graduate College. Grades earned by graduate students in undergraduate courses are included in the calculation of the grade point average. Academic probation judgments are made on the basis of grades in course work only. New, first-term graduate students who fall below a 3.0 GPA at the end of their first semester will be given a one term grace period to bring their grades back to a 3.0 GPA. These students will receive a warning letter from the Graduate College.

While on academic probation a student will not be admitted to candidacy for a degree and if appointed to a graduate assistantship, the student will not receive a Graduate tuition scholarship unless approval is given by the student’s academic college. If a student is to qualify for a tuition scholarship, he/she must be removed from probation by the tenth class day of the term.

To insure that registration does not take place without a review by the program, the Graduate College places a hold on future registrations by a student on probation. Before the student registers for each term, the program must review his or her record and recommend in writing if the Graduate College should permit further registration. Before graduation is approved, the student must complete all courses listed on the program of study with a minimum grade of C and have achieved a 3.0 GPA or greater.

Graduate College Degree Requirements-Masters
Graduate Admissions Graduate Minors
Graduate Study, Appointments Degree Requirements-Ph.D.
Registration Graduate Majors
Information for Undergraduates Graduate Certificate Programs
Concurrent Programs Specific Master's Degrees
Master's Double Degree Programs