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Definition of Grades

General University Grading System

The general University grading system is applicable to all classes at Stanford University except those offered by the Graduate School of Business, the School of Law, and M. D. students in the School of Medicine.

The following reflects changes adopted by the Faculty Senate on June 2, 1994 and effective Autumn Quarter 1995-96. All grades/notations for courses taken in 1995-96 or later are to be visible on student transcripts. Effective Summer Quarter 2008-09, the notation '*' was changed to 'GNR' (Grade Not Reported).

Grade Description
A (+,-) Excellent
B (+,-) Good
C (+,-) Satisfactory
D (+,-) Minimal Pass

The ‘CR’ represents performance that is satisfactory or better. In a course with optional grading some students will elect a credit/no credit option instead of letter grades.


The ‘I’ is restricted to cases in which the student has satisfactorily completed a substantial part of the course work. No credit will be given until the course is completed and a passing grade received. When a final grade is received, all reference to the initial ‘I’ is removed.

In courses taken before 1994-95, satisfactory completion of the course work when an ‘I’ has been given is expected within a year from the date of the course’s final examination, but an alternate time limit may be set by the instructor. Students may petition that these courses with an ‘I’ grade be removed from their records.

In a course taken in 1994-95 or later, ‘I’ grades must be changed to a permanent notation or grade within a maximum of four quarters. If an incomplete grade is not cleared within four quarters, it is changed automatically by the Registrar’s Office to an ‘NP’ (not passed) or ‘NC’ (no credit) as appropriate for the grading method of the course.

Students must request an incomplete grade by the last class meeting. Faculty may determine whether to grant the request or not. Faculty are free to determine the conditions under which the incomplete is made up, including setting a deadline of less than one year. A leave of absence does not stop the clock on the time limit for resolving incompletes. Graduate students with extenuating circumstances, that may warrant an exception to academic policy, should discuss the need for an extension to the time limit with their advisor and the course instructor. Students may request an extension of the deadline for resolving an incomplete by submitting the  Petition to Change Course Enrollment (Graduate Students) (pdf).


The ‘L’ is a temporary notation that represents creditable completion of a course for which the student will receive a permanent letter grade before the start of the next quarter. The ‘L’ is given when the instructor needs additional time to determine the specific grade to be recorded, but it is not appropriate if additional work is expected to be submitted by the student. A student receives unit credit for work graded ‘L’.


The ‘N’ indicates satisfactory progress in a course that has not yet reached completion. Continuation courses need not continue at the same number of units, but the grade for all quarters of such a course must be the same.


The ‘N-’ grade indicates unsatisfactory progress in a continuing course. The first ‘N-’ grade constitutes a warning. The adviser, department chair, and students should discuss the deficiencies and agree on the steps necessary to correct them. A second consecutive ‘N-’ will normally cause the department to deny the student further registration until a written plan for the completion of the degree requirements has been submitted by the student and accepted by the department. Subsequent ‘N-’ grades are grounds for dismissal from the program.


The notation ‘NC’ represents unsatisfactory performance in courses taken on a satisfactory/no credit basis. Performance is equivalent to letter grade ‘D+’ or below.


The notation ‘NP’ is used by instructors in courses taken for a letter grade that are not passed.


The notation ‘RP’ (meaning Repeated Course) replaces the original grade recorded for a course when a student retakes a course.


For an activity course or a course in which the instructor elects to grade students only on a satisfactory/no credit basis, the ‘S’ represents performance that is "satisfactory" and equivalent to letter grade of ‘C-’ or better. For such a course, no letter grades may be assigned for satisfactorily completed work.

The “satisfactory” options are intended to relieve the pressure on students for achievement in grades. The “satisfactory” options in no way imply fewer or different course work requirements than those required of students who elect evaluation with a letter grade. A department may limit the number of “satisfactory” courses to count for a major program. For those students admitted as freshmen for Autumn Quarter 1996-97 or later, no more than 36 units of Stanford course work (including activity courses) in which a ‘CR’ or ‘S’ was awarded can be applied toward the 180 (225 if dual degrees are being pursued) units required for a bachelor’s degree. Students who enter Stanford as transfer students in 1996-97 or later are limited to 27 ‘CR’ or ‘S’ units applied to the 180/225 minimum.


The notation ‘W’ (meaning Withdrew) is recorded when a student withdraws from a course.


The ‘*’ symbol appears when no grade has been reported to the Registrar. The ‘*’ symbol remains on the transcript until a grade has been reported. (Effective through Spring 2008-09.)


The notation ‘GNR’ appears when no grade has been reported to the Registrar. The ‘GNR’ notation remains on the transcript until a grade has been reported. (Effective beginning Summer 2008-09.)