Montana State University

Courses, Credits, and Grades


Definitions

Course

A course is a unit of instruction in a subject-matter area offered in a single university semester. Resident courses (courses for which resident credit is granted) are those listed in the Schedule of Classes. Continuing education courses are arranged through Extended University.

Credit

A credit is the unit used in computing the amount of work required for graduation. One credit is equivalent to three hours of work each week for one semester. One lecture hour assumes two hours of work outside of class. In the case of laboratories, library work, or studio classes, the entire time may be spent under the supervision of the instructor.

Credit Load

Undergraduate students who are enrolled for twelve or more credits and graduate students for nine or more credits, will be certified and reported as full-time students.  Completion of a 120-credit undergraduate curriculum in four years requires students to complete an average of fifteen credits each semester.

Curriculum

A curriculum is a combination of courses that constitutes a program of study leading to a degree.

Semester

Montana State University operates on a semester system consisting of two semesters and a summer session. The Term Calendar gives the dates of each semester.

Grades

The quality of the student's work in each course is denoted by a letter grade according to the following tabulation. In computing scholastic averages, each letter grade is assigned a specific number of grade points for each credit. The general quality of a student's work is expressed in terms of a grade point average (GPA). Semester grades indicate when students are on University probation, suspend warning, or suspended.

Passing Grades

                      Quality                   Grade Points
Grades                of Work                 for Each Credit

A ................... Excellent ......................... 4.0

A- ..................  .................................. 3.7

B+ ..................  .................................. 3.3

B ................... Good .............................. 3.0

B- ..................  .................................. 2.7

C+ ..................  .................................. 2.3

C ................... Fair .............................. 2.0

C- ..................  .................................. 1.7

D+ ..................  .................................. 1.3

D ...................  ...... ........................... 1.0

D-....................Passing.............................0.7

N ................... Continuing ......(Math Only)......... 0

P ................... Pass ................................ 0

S (CEU only)......... Satisfactory ........................ 0

W ................... Withdraw ............................ 0

Au .................. Audit ............................... 0

NR .................. Missing Grade ....................... 0

Nonpassing Grades

                     Explanation                Grade Points
Grades                of Grades               for Each Credit

F ................... Failure ............................. 0

I ................... Incomplete .......................... 0



Minimum Competency Requirements (Instituted Fall, 2005)

The Montana Board of Regents has established a common policy on minimum course grades across all campuses in the system. This policy affects only students who enter or were readmitted to the system starting in fall 2005. According to the policy, a grade of C-or better is required to satisfy requirements for pre-requisite and required courses in majors, minors, and certificate programs and for all core requirements. Further, a grade of C- or better is required in all courses that will be counted toward the 42 upper-division credits required in all degrees. Courses with a passing grade of D-, D, or D+ may only be counted toward the overall 120 credit requirement. This policy creates a minimum requirement, which may be superceded by more stringent requirements within specific majors. Any such requirements are explained within the descriptions of those curricula.

Semester Grade-Point Average

The student's semester grade-point average is computed by dividing the number of grade points earned by the number of credits carried. Semester grade-point averages are used in computing fraternity, sorority, and all-university averages.

Cumulative Grade-Point Average

The cumulative grade-point average is computed by dividing the sum of grade points earned by the sum of credits carried, except that neither the credits nor the grade points shall be counted for the following:

  1. For repeated courses, only the credits and grades received the last time the course was taken will be used in the calculation of the cumulative grade-point average, and only the credits received the last time the course was taken will be included in the credits counted for graduation. However, all grades received will be listed on the transcript. Repeat waivers are figured manually and will be reflected in the cumulative totals the next semester after the courses have been repeated.

  2. Courses passed on a pass/fail basis.

  3. Only credits taken at MSU are used to compute the cumulative grade-point average.

W Grade Eligibility

After the 16th day of the semester, students may drop courses and receive a grade of W (withdrawal) only if approved by the academic advisor and course instructor.  Approval is not guaranteed, and no refund is given.  Until the last day of the official registration period for the following semester, students use a Drop/Add form (see advisor, department office, or Registrar's Office) to drop courses with a W. The W grade is non punitive; it counts in credits attempted but not in earned credits or in quality points toward the GPA.  If a student repeats the course in a subsequent semester, the new grade will count in the GPA but the W will remain on the transcript. 

I Grade Eligibility

Instructors may assign a grade of I (Incomplete) when students have been unable to complete their academic obligations because of circumstances beyond their control.

The University takes the position that when students register, they commit themselves to completing their academic obligations as their primary responsibility. Therefore, the instructor may assign an I grade only in cases when students have suffered extreme personal hardship or in unusual academic situations.

An instructor may assign an I grade in cases of personal hardship when students have been unable to fulfill their commitments because of illness, death or illness in the immediate family, family emergencies, or military orders. The Dean of Students will verify personal hardship cases at the instructor's request. The instructor may assign an I grade to a student for personal hardship, provided the student has completed three-fourths of the work of the course with a passing grade. If the student has not satisfactorily completed three-fourths of the course work the instructor must provide written justification for assigning an I grade.

The instructor may also assign an I grade, subject to the department head's approval, in cases when a student has been unable to complete course requirements for reasons such as apparatus or equipment failure, death or disease in experimental animals, delays in material shipments from suppliers, or in other unusual academic circumstances which are clearly beyond the student's control. In these situations, the student must have completed three-fourths of the work of the course with a passing grade. If the student has not satisfactorily completed three-fourths of the course work the instructor must provide written justification for assigning an I grade.

In each instance qualifying for an I grade, the instructor must prepare an I Grade Authorization form. On this form, the instructor will list the make-up requirements and the date beyond which the I will revert to a F grade.

To change the I grade after the make-up work has been completed, the instructor will obtain the proper form from the Registrar's Office, place the grade on the form, and return it to the Registrar's Office. The instructor may specify the time period within which the work must be made up. Unless a specified time is given by the instructor, an I grade shall be made up no later than the end of the following semester (excluding summer session), unless extended by the instructor. An I grade may not be extended beyond one calendar year. An I grade not made up in the prescribed length of time lapses to a failure (F).

Make-Up of I Grades

An I Grade make-up is reported to the Registrar on a Grade Change Form. No fee is charged. These grades are not included on the next semester grades. The student's college dean, academic department, and advisor are notified when I grades are made up.

Pass/Fail Grading

As a general policy, courses at Montana State University are graded by the letter grades, A, A-, B+, B, etc. However, in certain courses, pass/fail grading may be more appropriate. Courses may be offered on a pass/fail basis for all students registered in the course, with the approval of the department head and college dean. Courses offered on a pass/fail basis will be identified in the Schedule of Classes. Permission to offer a course on a pass/fail basis is limited to one academic year; if the permission is not renewed, the course reverts to a letter-grade basis.

In pass/fail grading, passing work will receive a P grade on the student's transcript, but it will not count in the grade point average. However, the course credit will count toward the number of credits required for graduation. Failing work will receive an F grade and will count in the grade-point average.

N Grade

An N grade may be assigned to students enrolled in the Tutor Assisted Courses (TAC) in Mathematics only. This grade indicates that, though students have not completed the course, they have made satisfactory progress. These students must re-enroll in the course immediately in order to continue with the course work and complete the course.

Changes of Grades

Once a grade has been reported by the instructor to the Registrar, it cannot be changed except in case of clerical error or unless it was fraudulently obtained. All grades and credits will stand as recorded in the Registrar's official record if changes are not reported in writing to the Registrar within five years of the last day of the semester in which the course was taken.

A change of final grade does not mean allowing additional time to complete the work of a course or allowing the student to submit work or to take or to retake examinations after the conclusion of the semester. A change of grade is not a substitute for an I grade when an I grade cannot be justified.

A change of grade may be made only with the concurrence of the department head. If the grade being changed was given more than one year prior, the college dean must also approve the change.

All courses taken prior to degree completion are used toward fulfillment of the specific degree requirements, and the permanent record is closed as of the completion date.

Dean's List and President's List

Any undergraduate student who passes twelve or more credits and attains a 3.50 grade-point average or better for any one semester is placed on the Dean's List. A student who receives a 4.00 grade-point average and is taking twelve credits or more is placed on the President's List. The names of the students making the Dean's List and President's List are announced by the Registrar at the end of each semester. These lists apply only to undergraduate students.


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