Grades and Honors

The Grading System

Letter Grades
Non-Letter Grades

The Grading System

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences uses the following system of letter and non-letter grades to evaluate undergraduate student work:

Letter Grades

A, A–   Earned by work whose excellent quality indicates a full mastery of the subject and, in the case of the grade of A, is of extraordinary distinction.

B+, B, B–  Earned by work that indicates a good comprehension of the course material, a good command of the skills needed to work with the course material, and the student’s full engagement with the course requirements and activities.

C+, C, C–  Earned by work that indicates an adequate and satisfactory comprehension of the course material and the skills needed to work with the course material and that indicates the student has met the basic requirements for completing assigned work and participating in class activities.

D+, D, D–  Earned by work that is unsatisfactory but that indicates some minimal command of the course materials and some minimal participation in class activities that is worthy of course credit toward the degree.

E  Earned by work which is unsatisfactory and unworthy of course credit towards the degree.

Non-Letter Grades

ABS  Students who miss a regularly scheduled midyear or final examination are given a failing grade of Absent (ABS), which will be changed only if the student is granted and takes a makeup examination. Unexcused absences are counted as failures (see Final Examinations).

CR/NCR  CR/NCR is used only for certain cross-registration courses. The grade of Credit represents letter grades from A to D–; the grade of No Credit represents the letter grade of E.

EXLD  A notation of Excluded (EXLD) indicates that the student was not permitted to continue in the course by vote of the Administrative Board or Honor Council, and received no credit. Exclusion from a course is equivalent in all respects to failing it and in and of itself makes the student’s record for the term unsatisfactory.

EXT  Instructors may allow students extensions of time to complete course work up to the last day of the Examination Period. After that date, only the Administrative Board may grant extensions of time for undergraduates to complete course work. Until the date of extension, the student is given a grade of Extension (EXT). EXT is only a temporary notation; a final grade must be given if the Administrative Board does not grant additional time or, if additional time is granted, upon the expiration of the extension (see Extension of Time for Written or Laboratory Work). 

PA/FL   The grade of Pass represents letter grades of A to D–; the grade of Fail represents the letter grade of E. Certain courses may, with the instructors’ permission, be taken on a Pass/Fail basis. Independent Study is always graded PA/FL.

SAT/UNS   The grade of Satisfactory includes letter grades from A to C–; the grade of Unsatisfactory represents work below C– and is considered a failing grade. No students enrolled in courses graded SAT/UNS may receive letter grades in those courses. The following junior and senior tutorials must be graded SAT/UNS:

African and African American Studies 99
Applied Mathematics 99r
Chemistry 91r, 98r, and 99r
English 99r
Folklore and Mythology 99
French 99
German 99
Government 99r
History 99
History & Literature 99
History of Art and Architecture 99
History of Science 99a, 99b
Italian 99
Latin American Studies 99
Linguistics 99a and 99b
Literature 98a, 98b, 99a, and 99b
Mathematics 60r
Portuguese 99
Psychology 985, 990, 992, and 993
Religion 99
Romance Studies 99
Scandinavian 99
Slavic 99a and 99b
Social Studies 99
Sociology 99
South Asian Studies 99
Spanish 99
Special Concentrations 99
Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology 99
Studies of Women, Gender, and
Sexuality 99a and 99b

Freshman seminars are always graded SAT/UNS. House Seminars may be graded SAT/UNS at the option of the course instructor and with the approval of the Committee on Freshman Seminars.

Approximately six business days after the end of the final examination period, students can view their final and midyear grades at my.harvard. However, students who complete online evaluations for all courses in which they were enrolled for the term will be provided early online access to their final course grades.

A student may request that the instructor review a grade that has been received and may also ask to consult with the chair of the department or committee of instruction offering the course. However, final authority for the assignment of grades rests with the instructor in charge of the course. Once a grade has been reported to the Registrar, it can be changed only upon the written request of the instructor to the Registrar, acting on behalf of the Dean of Harvard College (or the Dean of the Graduate School in the case of 200- or 300-level courses). The Registrar must be satisfied that all students in the course will have been treated equitably before authorizing any grade change.

Grades of C– or higher, as well as the grades of CR, PA, and SAT, are passing and satisfactory grades. Grades of D+ through D– are passing but unsatisfactory grades. Grades of E, ABS (Absent), NCR (No Credit), FL (Fail), UNS (Unsatisfactory), and EXLD (Excluded) are failing grades.

The grade of INCOMPLETE (INC) cannot under any circumstances be given to undergraduates.