Grading at Olin


Standards-based grading: Course grading at Olin will be based on student progress toward defined course goals. Summary metrics (e.g., GPA) will be provided on the student’s transcript, but relative summary metrics (e.g., class rank) are neither published nor tabulated. The Dean of Faculty will annually conduct a review of grade distributions and grading procedures.

Grading rules and regulations

  1. Privacy: Olin will not publicly post either grades or summary metrics (e.g., GPAs) in any form that allows identification of any particular individual’s performance. It is expected that students will respect the privacy of each other’s grades.
  2. Grading clarity requirements: On the first day of instruction, each Olin class will publish the following information:
    1. Learning objectives that specify the knowledge, skills and attitudes that students are expected to develop or attain in the class. The learning objectives should be an effective instrument for students to understand what they will learn and how their learning will be evaluated.
    2. Grading criteria that specify how the final course grade is determined. Some aspects of grading are necessarily based on the professional judgment of instructors, informed by their experience, and are subjective.
    3. Feedback: Olin expects instructors to provide students with feedback on their performance. If an instructor feels a student will not pass a course, or if the instructor is otherwise concerned about a student’s performance, the instructor will issue a notice of academic concern in a timely manner. Copies of this notice will be sent to the student, the student’s faculty advisor and the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Advising. If a course is offered as year-long and utilizes a first semester TBG grade option, the course instructor will issue an end-of-semester notice of concern for any student not making satisfactory progress in the first half of the course. This end-of-semester notice will be considered a deficiency in the student’s overall semester progress and the student will be reviewed at the end of the fall semester Academic Progress meeting of COSAP.
  3. End of semester feedback to the advisor: Olin advisors have real-time access to advisees’ course grades through the Student Information System. In addition, instructors will notify advisors of any significant concerns noted during the semester.
  4. Pass/No Record first semester: In the first semester of the first year, students receive only a grade of Pass (P) or No Record (NR). A grade of No Record does not affect the student’s GPA and does not appear on the student's official transcript. A student who receives a grade of NR cannot use the class to satisfy a course requirement or use it as a prerequisite. Courses where an NR is earned require a repeated attempt at the student's earliest convenience. All repeated attempts of first year, first semester courses at Olin will be graded as pass/no credit and the assessment earned will appear on the transcript, yet will not impact the student's GPA.
  5. Course grades: Course grades at Olin provide students, their advisors, potential employers and graduate schools information about overall performance. Course grades are determined based upon a mix of demonstrated comprehension, skill, participation and effort.
  6. Grading scale: The Olin College grading scheme contains letter grades with a resulting grade point average (GPA) on a four-point scale. Students will be assessed using the following interpretation:
    Grade Assessment Description Point Value
    A Excellent 4.0
    B Good 3.0
    C Fair 2.0
    CR Credit (for non-degree course activity) n/a
    D Poor 1.0
    EG Experimental Grading n/a
    F Failing 0.0
    I Incomplete n/a
    IF Incomplete Failing 0.0
    IL Incomplete/Leave of Absence (temporary grade) n/a
    IP In Progress (temporary grade) n/a
    L/NR Leave/No Record n/a
    MET Objectives of the course have been MET
    NC No Credit for Pass/No Credit Option n/a
    NCR No Credit (for non-degree course activity) n/a
    NG No Grade Reported by Instructor (temporary grade) n/a
    NPP No Passionate Pursuit Recognition (internal designation) n/a
    NR No Record n/a
    P Pass n/a
    PP Passionate Pursuit Recognition n/a
    R Course Repeated n/a
    TBG To Be Graded (represents first semester placeholder for required yearlong courses) n/a *
    TR Transfer Credit n/a
    Objectives of the course are UNMET
    W Withdrew from Course n/a

    *see item 3 related to notice of academic concern for academic progress standings

  7. Experimental grading: The ‘EG’ grade represents an “Experimental Grade” designation, implemented in a small number of courses during a curricular experiment that began in 2009. Each student may undertake no more than one “EG” course per semester. An ‘EG’ grade in a student’s transcript indicates that a student completed the course’s learning objectives and received instructor feedback based upon criteria that do not have direct mapping onto the ABCDF grading system. Students who do not complete the learning objectives will receive a “no credit” designation on their transcript (similar to the “no credit” option for pass/no credit courses).
  8. Repeated courses: If a student retakes a course at Olin the original grade will remain, but will not be factored into the student’s GPA. The new grade will appear on the transcript in the semester in which the course was retaken. There is no guarantee that any course will be offered for a student to repeat, as in the case of, but not limited to, Special Topics courses. For courses in the first year, first semester that require repeat see item #4 above. Repeated courses may be used in Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Pace of Progression calculations. 
  9. Minimally sufficient grades: A grade of D, EG, or Pass is sufficient to earn credit for a course. A grade of D or EG is sufficient to satisfy a course requirement. A grade of C-, EG, or Pass is sufficient to satisfy a prerequisite requirement.
  10. Pass/No Credit: Up to 12 credits of a student’s distribution requirements may be satisfied by taking classes that are usually offered for grades as Pass/No Credit. In such cases, a Pass is given for performance equivalent to a grade of C- or higher. Courses taken Pass/No Credit may not be used to meet course requirements unless the course is not offered for grades or is taken in the first semester of the first year. Courses that are only offered Pass/No Credit, Independent Study and Research do not count toward the 12 credit limit. Students must declare their Pass/No Credit grading option by the drop date of each semester. The Pass/No Credit option does not impact the GPA; either Pass or No Credit will appear on the transcript. Once a student decides to take a course Pass/No Credit, they cannot revert back to receive a letter grade.
  11. Passionate Pursuits: Passionate Pursuits are non-degree credit, and will be listed on the transcript if the nature of the activity and the level of completion are sufficient to merit credit.
  12. The Olin transcript: A student’s academic transcript at Olin includes the following information:
    1. A list of classes the student took in each semester, and a record of the student’s final grades in those classes. First-semester first-year transcripts will show only classes that were passed. Classes taken Pass/No Credit after the first year appear either as a Pass or as a No Credit.
    2. The student’s GPA.
    3. A list of non-degree activities taken each semester with a cumulative total of credits earned. There are no grades associated with non-degree activities.
    4. Co-Curricular offerings in which the sponsoring staff or faculty member reported sufficient student participation for a transcript notation.
  13. Grading and credits of cross-registered courses: Olin students who cross-register for a course at Babson, Brandeis, or Wellesley will receive credit for the course if they receive a passing grade. All grades will be recorded on their transcript and be factored into their grade point average. Credits from these schools will be counted on a one for one basis at Olin. For example, if a three credit course is taken at Babson, it will count as three Olin credits. A one unit Brandeis or Wellesley course is equal to four Olin credits. Courses that use other accounting schemes may be translated into equivalent Olin credits rounded to the closest integer.
  14. Circumstantial grading: is used in a semester of extraordinary disruption (e.g., pandemic), and is authorized by a faculty vote or by the Provost/Dean of Faculty when a quorum of the faculty cannot be met. A grade of MET satisfies course, distribution, and prerequisite requirements. A grade of UNM (unmet) does not satisfy course, distribution, and prerequisite requirements.