Grades: Undergraduate Policies

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Amended Date

Key Contacts 

If you have questions, please contact CLAS Undergraduate Programs. 



Policy Purpose and Description  

Grading is a difficult task and departments are encouraged to set aside time each year to share best practices and to discuss grading strategies within the department or program. New instructors should especially be mentored about undergraduate vs. graduate student grades and grading issues while being introduced to best grading practices. 

Students from other colleges taking courses administered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are subject to CLAS policies. CLAS students taking courses offered by other UI colleges are subject to the grading policies of those colleges. 


  • Instructors are obligated to evaluate each student's work fairly and without bias and to assign grades based on valid academic criteria that have been well defined for students. (See the University Policy Manual on professional ethics and academic responsibility, part 2(e) and the University policy on human rights.)
  • Grades should accurately reflect the level of the student’s mastery of the course content and related skills regardless of the performance of other students in the course.
  • The grading scheme should be described in the syllabus and reviewed with students throughout the course. Once the semester begins, a grading scheme may be modified to benefit students; however, it may not be adjusted to lower students’ grades.
  • The college does not support grading schemes that use pre-determined quotas of students receiving each letter grade. Every student should have the opportunity to be successful.
  • Instructors must use ICON to record and share student grades unless the DEO of the course’s administrative home approves an exception.
  • Students from other colleges taking courses administered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are subject to CLAS policies. CLAS students taking courses offered by other UI colleges are subject to the grading policies of those colleges.


Listed below are some examples and descriptions of grading approaches that instructors are using in the college. (This list is by no means exhaustive.) These can be applied at the level of the course or individual assignments. Instructors implementing assessment strategies that do not directly use grades are still required to submit a letter grade for students at the completion of the course. Resources on various grading strategies can be found here.

Collaborative Grading: Grades are a collaboration between students and the instructor - guided by instructor feedback and student reflection and self-assessment. Also referred to as ungrading.

Contract Grading: Students select which assignments to complete, and sometimes the level at which to complete them, to work toward the grade they want to earn. This “contract” between student and instructor is usually agreed upon at the beginning of the course, and final grades are determined by its completion.

Criterion-Referenced Grading: With criterion-referenced grading, students receive letter grades based on the quality of their work in relation to the criteria defined by the instructor against an absolute scale that is provided for each assignment or the course.

Mastery-based Grading: Students are assessed on the degree to which they have mastered or gained proficiency across designated learning outcomes, often completed within a flexible time frame. Also referred to as competency-based grading.

Norm-Referenced Grading: This grading scheme uses set quotas to determine how many students in the class will receive each available letter grade. It is not recommended by CLAS. Final grades are assigned, in part, based on how others in the class perform; this can create a learning environment that is based on strong competition and decreased collaboration among students in the course.

Specifications Grading: Students are required to meet specifications set by the instructor as satisfactory/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory for each assignment or exam. Course grades are based on scaled “bundles” or “clusters” of passing assessments. Students satisfactorily completing all assessments in bundles that require more challenging work earn higher grades.


Strongly Recommended Procedures 

  • Grades should be entered in the ICON grade book as soon as possible so that students know their standing in the course. They should be provided with enough information to understand grades earned on various assignments, quizzes, and exams and how those points are related to their final semester grade.
  • By the mid-point of the course, students should have a clear understanding of their current course grade.
  • CLAS recommends the use of +/- grading since it helps to distinguish students' performance. Include on the syllabus information related to the use of plus/minus grades, including whether an A+ will be used and explicit criteria for earning an A+.

Assignment of Grading Roles

Grading roles align with instructor roles, one of which must be chosen for each instructor assigned to a course section, see The default grading roles for each instructor type are listed below; however, a departmental administrator may change the default grading roles.

  • Course Supervisor: can save grades, can submit grades
  • Primary Instructor (required): can save grades, can submit grades
  • Team Teacher: can save grades, can submit grades
  • Teaching Assistant (TA): can save grades

The role of Instructor Delegate also exists and can be assigned to administrative faculty or staff members in academic units who may assist in submitting grades when needed, for example, when there is a medical or other emergency, and the instructor is not able to enter the grade by the deadline.

Submitting Grades

Midterm Grades: Instructors are expected to submit a midterm grade for each student earning a course grade of D+, D, D-, or F.

Final Course Grades: After instructor submission of grades, grades must be approved by the Departmental Executive Officer (DEO) using MAUI before the grade submission deadline. DEOs are assigned to the DEO Grades Approver role by default. Departments should designate an additional administrative faculty or staff member to the DEO Grades Approver Delegate role for use in emergency situations, but DEOs should have primary responsibility for review and submission of all departmental course grades. Note that if the DEO submits a grade for their own course, it will need to be approved by the DEO Grades Approver Delegate or the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education.

  • Final grades must be submitted by instructors (via MAUI) at least 24 hours before the final deadline, providing time for the DEO to review the grades.
  • All grade reports (including those for independent studies and off-cycle courses) must be submitted by the deadline.
  • If the course has a Course Supervisor, they must approve grades after the instructor and before the DEO.

Guidelines for DEO Review of Grades

  • Check to see that grades have been submitted for each student.
  • If every student has the same grade in an individual course or section, a conversation with the instructor about the circumstances is warranted.
  • Grades assigned should reflect the course level and the role of the course in the departmental/program/GE CLAS Core curriculum.

After the DEO approves each class list, the grades are recorded on the student's permanent record and become available through the student's MyUI account. Grades are essential to the evaluation of students for graduation, dean’s list, president’s list, scholarship eligibility, academic probation, or dismissal.

Specific deadlines may be found on the Registrar's academic calendar. For more information on grading and student records and confidentiality, see Student Records.

Changing a Previously Submitted Grade

Grade changes may be entered after grades have been finalized to correct an error in computing or in transcribing a grade or to change a grade or for similar, justifiable reasons. The DEO evaluates the circumstances and decides whether to approve the change. If the DEO approves the change, it is then routed to the student's primary college of enrollment for approval by a Collegiate Grades Approver.

In some situations where a student has an extenuating circumstance and they have earned a passing grade in the course with only a small amount of work remaining to complete, CLAS encourages an instructor to enter the grade the student earned at the end of the course, then to allow the student a short extension to complete the remaining work. After the remaining work is completed, the instructor may submit a grade change. The remaining required course work should be completed, and the grade changed, within one additional semester (excluding summer or winter sessions). Another option is for an instructor to assign a mark of Incomplete, see Incomplete Policy.

A course instructor or course supervisor should enter the grade change whenever possible. If an Instructor Delegate enters a grade change and is approved by a DEO Grades Approver, the Collegiate Grades Approver may request justification or evidence that the course instructor or course supervisor requested the grade change. Grades or grade changes should not be entered by Instructor Delegates without the instructor’s knowledge.

Grade changes after final grades have been entered on a student’s record (other than a change from an I or O mark) require approval from a Collegiate Grades Approver within the college that manages the student's primary program of study. Note that if a DEO submits a grade change for a student in their course, it will need to be approved by the DEO Grades Approver Delegate or the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education.

If an instructor or course supervisor and the DEO disagree on resolution of a grading complaint, please contact CLAS Undergraduate Programs or the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education for an undergraduate course to discuss the situation and an appropriate resolution.

Questions about grades and grading? Please consult with the associate dean for undergraduate education or the associate dean for graduate education. 



Frequently Asked Questions  


Related Information 

Revision History 
Revised 3/2024