Grading and Evaluation Policy for Undergraduate Programs

Grading and Evaluation Policy for Undergraduate Programs


Office of Academic Affairs and Undergraduate Committee for Academic Policy


Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs





Effective Date:


Implementation History:

This policy supersedes the Policy and Procedures for Undergraduate Student Evaluation and Grading initially approved July 17, 2003, and revised July 2006, Mar. 2012, and Sept. 2015. The Undergraduate Committee for Academic Policy will review this policy periodically and make further recommendations.


Grades, Formative Evaluation, Summative Evaluation, Learning Contract Outcomes, Grade Point Average

Background Information:


This policy establishes formative assessment of student work by an instructor of a course or study as a principle that drives educational activity and achievement at Empire State College and allows for summative evaluation, or grading, of that achievement.

This policy defines the possible letter grades that may be assigned for undergraduate work, as well as their meanings and consequences in terms of an undergraduate student’s GPA, transcript, and academic progress and standing.

Learning and the assessment of student learning, as shown through the assignment of grades based on the evaluation of required student work, are central to academic integrity. The assignment of grades based on the evaluation of student work is at the heart of an institution’s academic integrity. Grades should reflect levels of student achievement on student learning outcomes and standards presented to students at the beginning of a course in a learning contract or syllabus. Because only the instructor of record is placed to judge a student’s work against the outcomes, activities, and evaluative criteria of that contract, in accordance with the SUNY Faculty Senate’s 2013 Memo to Presidents on Grading, this policy grants authority and responsibility for assigning grades to only the instructor of record in a study or course, within the context of institutional policies and procedures and consistent with the academic freedom of
institutions of higher education to set standards. In rare cases in which that instructor becomes unavailable, the policy provides for another qualified faculty member to assign a grade.

This policy also provides an option, the administrative withdrawal (ZW), for instructors to use in cases where there was insufficient academic attendance on the part of the student to allow the instructor to generate any other grade, and defines the consequences of such grades for an undergraduate student’s GPA, academic progress, and transcript.


Summative evaluation is the assessment of a student’s educational development compared to a standard or benchmark at the end of an educational period, such as a semester. A final course grade is one form of summative evaluation.

Formative evaluation is developmental feedback given periodically and/or episodically as part of a study, course, or workshop to determine the type and/or direction of further efforts toward the educational goal of the study or course.

Academic attendance is defined by NYS regulation 34 CFR 668.22(l)7 as a number of forms of student participation in academic assignments, exams, and study groups, online instructional resources and academic discussions, and course-related academic discussions with faculty members. Academic advisement or counseling is NOT considered academic engagement, nor is logging into a course management system without participation in academic activities.

Since 2010 federal regulations have required evidence of “academic engagement” for online enrollments, which is to say, they require documentation of “regular and substantive interaction between the students and faculty.”

Substantive engagement is defined as submitted work that demonstrates sufficient “mental effort, active participation and commitment” as to be gradable.


Once an undergraduate student has enrolled in a study or course with an instructor, both student and instructor have responsibility for the educational results. In consultation with the student, the instructor must provide learning outcomes and evaluative standards that align with them, while the student must provide substantive original work that demonstrates engagement with the learning outcomes and activities of the study or course and thereby the status of his or her progress toward those outcomes. The instructor must respond with timely and thoughtful feedback on this work, addressing both the quality of the current work and directions for further effort and development towards the outcomes. The student should then attempt to apply that feedback to ongoing efforts in the study or course as well as to appropriate subsequent studies or courses.
An instructor can evaluate only that student work that is submitted in a timely way for evaluation and feedback. If a student does not attend academically to a study or course in a regular way, submitting grade-able work for evaluation throughout the term of enrollment, then the cycle of effort, feedback, and development cannot be established, so that the instructor will not be able either to provide formative assessment or to assign a meaningful summative grade.

A grade for a course or study is a final, summative evaluation of the student’s work in a course or study. Grading of a student’s work is based on the learning objectives/outcomes and the methods and criteria of evaluation stated in the learning contract or course syllabus, which according to the Learning Contract Policy each student should have not later than the 4th week of a term.

A grade awarding credit is assigned by the instructor only if the academic expectations of the learning contract or course syllabus have been completed satisfactorily. To support student achievement, Empire State College instructors may afford students opportunities to revise work during a study or course in order to meet performance standards at the minimum or a higher level. Nevertheless, a student who works hard and shows progress but does not meet the stated criteria for evaluation does not earn college credit.


A 4.00 Excellent Performance significantly exceeds college-level expectations for learning outcomes.
A- 3.67    
B+ 3.33    
B 3.00 Good Performance is above expectations
B- 2.67    
C+ 2.33    
C 2.00 Adequate Performance meets expectations
C- 1.67    
D+ 1.33    
D 1.00 Minimally Performance is below expectations
D- 0.67    
F 0.00 Unacceptable Performance does not meet minimum requirements

F Grade

The course/study instructor submits an F grade when a student engages in a study or course throughout the term of enrollment and fails to complete it in a satisfactory and sufficient manner.

Status of C and D Grades

  • Empire State College learning contracts and courses: a grade of D- or better is required for Empire State College to award credit.
  • Cross registration: Empire State College requires a letter grade of C- or better to award credit for courses completed through cross registration at other colleges or universities.
  • For students engaged in Empire State College combined Bachelor’s/Master’s programs, grades of D-, D, D+, or C- will count towards the Bachelor’s degree, but not toward the Master’s degree. See the Grading Policy for Graduate Studies.

Pass/No Pass Option

A student may select a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) option for up to 12 credits of Empire State College study. Under this option, receiving a grade of Pass (P) implies that the student’s work is completed at the C- level or better. The student selects the Pass/No Pass option at the time of enrollment. The college does not later award letter grades for such studies, nor are the results of such studies included in the student’s GPA.


Pass (P): Ordinarily, a course/study instructor submits a letter grade when the student successfully completes a learning contract/course. When a student successfully completes (at a C- or better) a learning contract/course taken on a Pass/No Pass basis, a Pass (P) grade is recorded.

No Pass (NP): The course/study instructor submits a No Pass (NP) when a student engages in a study or course throughout the term of enrollment and fails to complete it in a satisfactory and sufficient manner or fails to complete (at a C- or better) a learning contract/course taken on a Pass/No Pass basis, a No Pass (NP) grade is recorded.

Incomplete (IN): When extenuating circumstances arise, a student may request a grade of incomplete (IN) from the course/study instructor. The course/study instructor submits an IN grade only when the student has consistently engaged in learning activities and has successfully completed at least 50 percent of the work before the end of the enrollment term for the study/course. The course/study instructor is not obligated to grant an incomplete.

A student who is awarded an IN grade is allowed no more than 15 weeks after the study end date to complete the study. The course/study instructor may establish an earlier completion date. The learning contract grade statement submitted by the course/study instructor specifies the remaining work to be completed and the expected completion date.

If the course/study instructor submits no further grade, an IN outcome automatically becomes an F after 15 weeks, or earlier if the course/study instructor has specified an earlier completion date.

If the student has selected the Pass/No Pass option and the grade due date has passed, the IN grade automatically becomes an NP on the date when the IN completion period ends if the course/study instructor does not submit a P grade.
Administrative Withdrawal (ZW): The course/study instructor submits a grade of administrative withdrawal (ZW) if a student registers for a course/study and either does not engage in course/study work at all or initiates participation in the activities of the course study, but then ceases to participate and does not officially withdraw. See definition of substantive engagement for acceptable participation. The ZW grade must include the last date of substantive contact in an academically related activity by the student. A ZW grade should be recorded in a timely manner throughout the term when possible. In no case should a ZW grade be filed any later than the deadline for submitting grades for the term.

Withdrawal (WD): A withdrawal (WD) is a student-initiated grade. It does not result in the award of credit. A student may withdraw from a study until the last day of an enrollment term. The student must officially withdraw from the course. The effective date is the date the student transmits the request. The actual date of withdrawal may affect enrollment status, satisfactory academic process, and financial aid eligibility. See Empire State College policy on Academic Withdrawal.

Implications of Grades

Grades of IN, ZW, NP, and WD have specific implications for financial aid eligibility. For an explanation, see the Empire State College statements on Eligibility for New York State Financial Aid and Eligibility for Federal Financial Aid.

Timing of Grades

The grade for each study should be prepared as soon as possible after the student has completed the study, so that the student has timely evaluative information and an official transcript for the study. Student work is due as specified in the Learning Contract.

Grades are due as follows:

Fall 1 term: Grades are due no later than 14 calendar days after the end of term.

Fall 2, Spring 1, Spring 2, and Summer 1 terms: Grades are due no later than 10 calendar days after the end of term.

Summer 2 term: Grades are due no later than 7 calendar days after the end of term.

Instructors have thirty days to submit a grade at the end of an incomplete.

Grade Point Average (G.P.A.) Calculation

The college registrar calculates the grade point average and includes the GPA in the student transcript. The GPA calculation at Empire State College is:

  • based only on Empire State College studies for which a letter grade is assigned. This includes courses for which a student cross registers at another institution and which Empire State College treats as part of the Empire State College studies for the degree.
  • based only on credit earned at Empire State College, and is not based on prior transfer credit or prior learning assessment components included as part of the student’s official transcript.
  • included as part of the student’s official transcript.

The following grades are included in the grade point average:

GradeQuality Points
A 4.00
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B 3.00
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C 2.00
C- 1.67
D+ 1.33
D 1.00
D- 0.67
F 0.00

The following grades are not included in the grade point average:

IN (incomplete)

WD (withdrawal)

ZW (administrative withdrawal)

NP (no pass)

P (pass)

Minimum Grade Point Average Requirement

Empire State College undergraduate students must maintain an overall 2.00 G.P.A. A student who has completed at least 8 credits at Empire State College and whose cumulative GPA is below 2.00 is subject to Academic Probation and/or Academic Dismissal as detailed in the Academic Probation Policy. A cumulative 2.00 GPA is a requirement for graduation.

These and other criteria apply to eligibility to receive financial aid. See the Policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress and the statements on Eligibility for NYS and Federal Financial Aid.

Assignment of Grades to Credit by Evaluation/Prior Learning Assessment Components

Empire State College does not assign grades to Credit by Evaluation /Prior Learning Assessment components.

Repeated Studies

When a student repeats a study, the more recent grade or outcome for the repeated study replaces the original for purposes of the award of credit and calculation of a grade point average. Both the original and the repeated study must appear on the transcript. The student initiates the Request to Repeat a Study request form. Submission of this form should be done at the time of registration.

A repeated study grade does not replace the original grade:

  • If a student withdraws from the repeated study or
  • if a student is administratively withdrawn from the repeated study or
  • until a grade A through F (or Pass), NP (No Pass) is awarded for the repeated study.

Financial aid may not be available for a repeated study.

Instructor Retention of Academic Records

Instructors should retain the academic records they use to determine grades for two years after a student completes a study or course.

Retroactive Assignment of Grades

Students matriculated at Empire State College before July 1, 2004, may request the assignment of a letter grade to the relevant narrative evaluations. The college will continue to respond to these student requests. For students who matriculated after that date, there will be no later assignment of letter grades to narrative evaluations.

The instructor who wrote the narrative evaluation should assign the grade. If this instructor is not available, another qualified faculty member may be enlisted to assign the grade.

Assignment of Grades by a Faculty Member Other Than the Instructor of Record

In accordance with SUNY faculty guidelines on grading, another qualified and discipline- specific faculty member may assign a grade when the instructor of record is not available to do so in a reasonable timeframe. The faculty member acting in the place of the instructor should base the grade on review of the student’s work in the course or study in comparison to the learning objectives for the course or study.

Grade Changes

An award of a grade is normally final. However, if the instructor of record for a study/course makes an error in computing or entering a student’s grade, that instructor may correct the erroneous grade.

Appeal of Grades

In the event that a student feels that a grade was assigned based on impermissible factors, such as bias, discrimination, or retaliation, that student may appeal that grade as provided in the Academic Appeals Policy.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations


34 CFR 668.22(l)7: (7)(i)

State University of New York Records Retention and Disposition Schedule: Academic Affairs and Instruction

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

Learning Contract Study and Undergraduate Student Policy

Student Academic Appeals Policy and Procedure

Empire State College statements on Eligibility for New York State Financial Aid and Eligibility for Federal Financial Aid

NYSED Regulation

SUNY Guidelines on Grading MTP4 2013