Undergraduate Grading Policy


Columbia College is committed to fairness and transparency in assessment of students' work and grading practices. This policy is intended to provide information on the College’s system for assigning various grades for undergraduate work, computing grade point averages (GPAs), appealing grades, determining incomplete coursework, auditing courses, repeating courses and designating classifications.


This policy applies to all undergraduate College students.


Grades and notations

A Excellent
B Superior
C Satisfactory
D Inferior
F Failing
I Incomplete: Unfinished work to be completed without further class attendance.
N Audit: Did not complete course.
S/U Satisfactory/unsatisfactory: Recorded when the pass/fail option is chosen
U Unsatisfactory. An option that can be used as a grade for MATH 104, MATH 106, and EAPP 100, EAPP 103, EAPP 104, EAPP 105, and ENGL 107.

W Withdraw*
WE Excused from the course for extraordinary circumstances*
Y Audit: completed course. No official credit recorded on transcript

* Please see the Withdrawal Policy for more information.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Grade-point average is determined by assigning point values to letter grades for each semester hour earned at Columbia College. Quality points are assigned as follows: A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0.

For example, if a student completes the following 16 credit hours in a semester, his or her GPA would be calculated as follows:

Course Credit hours Grade Total quality points
English Composition 3 B 9
Biology 5 C 10
American History 3 B 9
Introduction to Business 3 A 12
Art and Ideas 2 A 8
16 48

Divide the total number of quality points earned (48) by the total number of credit hours attempted (16). The GPA for that semester is 3.0 (B). 

If a student fails a course, he/she receives no quality points for the course credit hours attempted. This failure adversely affects total quality points since the hours failed remain part of the formula for computing the GPA.

The cumulative GPA is determined by dividing the total quality points earned by the total credit hours attempted at Columbia College. Courses that are repeated or taken on a pass/fail (S/U grade) basis are not considered when determining a semester or cumulative GPA. See section Repeating a Course.

Grading system

Day students’ academic progress is reported twice each semester, at mid-semester and at the semester’s end. Mid-term grade reports are available for all 100- and 200-level courses to Day students only. All other venues report grades only at the end of the session.

Changes of grade

A change in grade may be made when either a computational error by the instructor or processing error have occurred. A request for a grade change must be made within 60 calendar days of the grade being issued. Requests are honored only when approved by the Dean of the student’s school (Day Campus), or Associate Vice President of Columbia College Global (CC Global) or designee; or Assistant Provost for Online and CC Global Education or designee.

Grade appeal

Main Campus Day

Grade appeals should be filed only when it is possible to demonstrate with substantial objective evidence that an incorrect or an unfair grade has been assigned. If a student believes that the final grade received in any course is incorrect or unfair, he or she follows the grade appeal procedure outlined below:

  1. Discuss the problem with the faculty member (instructor) involved.
  2. If not satisfied with that faculty member’s explanation, seek mediation from the Academic Department Chair.
  3. Failing resolution of the problem at the Academic Department Chair level, the student makes an appeal to appropriate School Dean. This request must be filed in writing within 60 calendar days after grades have been posted by the Registrar. The decision of the School Dean is final and will be communicated to the student within 10 business days of receipt of the appeal by the Dean.
  4. If a change in grade or academic standing results, the Dean notifies the Registrar of the new grade or change in standing.
  5. In the event that new evidence becomes available, a request may be made in writing to the School Dean, who determines if the appeal is to be reconsidered.
  6. If a question arises regarding procedural correctness or impartiality, the issue may be brought to the School Dean, who has the final authority in passing judgment on these matters.

Main Campus Evening, Online and CC Global

A student may appeal any grade given, if it is believed to be in error or in conflict with Columbia College policy and procedures. Initially, location Directors will try to resolve a grade appeal at the location in accordance with policies. If the issue cannot be resolved at the location, the appeal will be transmitted through the Director to the Associate Vice President for Columbia College Global.

The student must state all reasons why the grade awarded is believed to be in error and request a desired remedy to correct the situation. The adjunct faculty member who awarded the grade in question is given the opportunity to comment on all student allegations before the appeal is forwarded to main-campus authority. A grade appeal must be received for review by the Associate Vice President for Columbia College Global prior to the end of 60 days from the date the grade was awarded.

Incomplete coursework

The grade of I (Incomplete) is reserved for “extraordinary circumstances” that prevent a student from completing the requirements of a course by the end of the term. Extraordinary circumstances is narrowly interpreted to mean unforeseen, unexpected circumstances beyond a student’s control that prevent continued attendance in all classes (death of an immediate family member, a change in the student’s employment, mental or physical illness befalling the student or a member of his/her immediate family). The request for an Incomplete must be initiated by the student by filling out the Incomplete Grade Request Form. Only the instructor may grant an incomplete.

If a student receives an Incomplete, he/she must complete all work by the end of the following semester (or by the end of the following two eight-week sessions) unless the instructor requires a shorter completion date. Subsequent extensions must be approved by the academic dean of the school in which the course is housed (Day Campus), the Associate Vice President for CC Global (Evening and CC Global), or the Director of Online Academic Programs. The student is responsible for this deadline. Incompletes that are not finished are to be automatically recorded as an F unless the instructor submits a grade change form.  The student is responsible for understanding the impact of that grade on his or her status at the college should he or she be unable to complete the remaining work.

When incomplete work in a course is completed, the instructor is responsible for processing the grade change form to the earned grade. The instructor who assigns the Incomplete is responsible for grading any work that is completed in the agreed upon timeframe. However, should the instructor be unable to complete the work, the grade will be assigned by a qualified instructor who will be selected either by the Department Chair or the Dean of the school in which the course is housed. In both CC Global locations and Online, program directors will ensure that the responsible instructor grades the outstanding work, or will find a qualified instructor to complete the grading.

Course audit

Students may audit a regularly scheduled class for no grade and no credit. However, participation in the course is noted on their official record. Auditing provides students the opportunity to pursue an interest in a particular subject without being graded. Acceptable performance, attitude, and attendance, as defined by the instructor for the course, are expected. Audit enrollments do not fulfill requirements for coursework for degree completion, requirements for load considerations by the Veterans Administration for educational benefits, or requirements for financial aid awards. If students enroll for an audit course, they are subject to regular enrollment procedures and a $250 per-semester-hour fee. Students are also liable for all course lab fees. All students enrolling under this policy are required to complete the Auditing: Information and Request Form, which is available in the Center for Student Success.

Applicants requesting to only audit a course are subject to the standard admission requirements. Some programs of the College (e.g. Piano, Voice, Nursing and Online Education courses) are not available for audit.


Students may take one course per semester or session on a pass/fail basis. These may not be courses in the declared major or on the Education certification checklists. Certain courses, by program definition, are always taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Students may take one additional course per semester on a pass/fail basis if the course is only offered on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. To receive a grade of S, work must equal the work of other students who earn a grade of A, B, or C. 

Students should designate at the time of registration that they wish to take a course pass/fail. Each term, students enrolling in a course pass/fail may change from pass/fail to the standard grading system (A, B, C, D, or F) or from the standard grading system to pass/fail up to the end of the first quarter (usually 4 weeks for a semester, 2 weeks for an eight-week session) of that term.

Students who take courses that are only offered on a pass/fail basis are not precluded from Dean’s List eligibility. However, students who elect to take a course pass/fail are not considered eligible for Dean’s List.

Please note there is a special exceptions to this policy:

  • Honors students are allowed to take up to two (2) Honors courses or sections pass/fail in completion of Honors Program requirements
  • Students who study abroad with one of our approved exchange partners (For more information, go to the International Programs page)
  • Certain Education certification situations (For more information, go to the Education Certification Exceptions  page)

Repeating a course

Most Columbia College courses may be repeated at Columbia College in an attempt to improve the grade. The grade earned for the second attempt is used to determine grade-point average, and the first grade is identified as R (Repeat) on the transcript. The first grade is not included in total hours attempted or the grade-point average. In all cases, the second grade is the one that is recorded. No duplicate credit is given.

Some designated courses may be taken multiple times for credit. Each enrollment adds hours and impacts the grade-point average. Students who use federal financial aid assistance must check with the Center for Student Success to determine financial liability when repeating a course. A course repeated in transfer will not cause a grade change or a notation of R in a Columbia College course. In most cases, the transfer course will not be accepted as it will be considered a duplication of coursework. If both courses are needed on the record for a specifically approved reason (e.g. ENGL 111 completed with Columbia College for a grade of D and repeated in transfer with a grade of C) the result will be an increase in overall hours needed for degree completion and in residency hours needed.

Once a baccalaureate degree has been awarded the degree GPA is frozen. Subsequent coursework and grades will not be calculated as part of the initial degree GPA. Coursework completed as part of the initial degree may be repeated but the subsequent grade will not replace the initial grade. Both courses and grades will be reflected on the record and both will be calculated into the overall Columbia College GPA. Coursework which repeats credit applied toward an initial degree does not count towards the required 30 additional hours in residence for a subsequent degree.


Students are designated Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors according to the following standard of completed credit hours:

Credit hours Classification
0-29.9 Freshman
30-59.9 Sophomore
60-89.9 Junior
>90 Senior