Grading System and Academic Progress

Grading Notations

Grade GPA Equivalent
A+ 4.33
A (Excellent) 4.00
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B (Good) 3.00 (*A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required to remain in good academic standing and to graduate)
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C (Fair) 2.00
C- 1.67
D (Poor) 1.00
F (Failure) 0.00
P (Pass) N/A

SIPA uses a standard A-F grading scale.


Core, concentration, and specialization courses cannot be taken pass/fail.  Students can only opt to take elective courses on a pass/fail basis. There is no limit to the number of elective courses that can be taken pass/fail.1 Please note the regulations below regarding taking a course pass/fail:

  • Instructor's permission is not required to change the grading option to P/F (pass/fail). However instructors can opt to have a course blocked from pass/fail registration.
  • Students can change the grading option for an eligible full semester course at any time via SSOL up to the the "last day to change grading option" noted on the Academic Calendar. Note: Short courses are not subject to the pass/fail deadline. Requests for grading option changes can be submitted for a short course anytime prior to the final course session. After the official pass/fail deadline has passed requests for short courses can be submitted via the registration request form.
  • A grade of Pass is not calculated into a student's grade point average. Certain courses, such as one-point short-courses or Professional Development are offered only on a Pass/Fail basis.

 Students in the MPA-DP program may take a course P/F if it is an elective, however the MPA-DP program only allows for P/F courses to count towards the 54 required credits IF the course does not offer a letter-grade option

Auditing/R credit (registered for the course; no qualitative grade assigned):

SIPA does not officially allow students to ‘sit-in’ on courses (i.e., attend classes without being registered for the course). Students who audit (receive R-credit) a course must be registered for the course in SSOL and appear on the grade roster. If students are not officially registered, they will not have access to CourseWorks.  Students who wish to receive R-credit for a course must request permission from the instructor during the registration period. Registration priority in SIPA courses should be given to students who wish to take the course for full-credit. Instructors are not obligated to grant R-credit; however, if permission is granted, the student must meet course requirements established at the discretion of the instructor. Upon successful completion of the course, the instructor will submit the grade of R for these students. Should students not meet course requirements or fail to attend class, instructors have the option of submitting a grade of UW or F. 

The mark of W (Withdrawal):

Given to a student who drops a course between the end of add/drop and the fifth week of classes. Students cannot drop/withdraw from a course after the date noted on the SIPA academic calendar

The mark of UW (Unofficial Withdrawal): 

  • Given to a student who discontinues attendance in a course, without submitting an official request to withdraw prior to the stated deadline on the SIPA Academic Calendar (fifth week of classes).
  • A “UW” is a permanent grade and will remain on the transcript even if the student repeats the course.

The mark of CP (Credit Pending):

A CP should be posted when a short extension (less than two or three weeks) has been approved for submission of coursework.  Once the work has been submitted, you can change the CP to a letter grade using the web grading system. The mark of CP indicates that the student has made satisfactory progress and that the final mark will be submitted very soon.

The mark of IN (Incomplete):

  • Incompletes are granted or denied at the discretion of course Instructors. Incompletes can be granted in cases of incapacitating illness, serious family emergency, or in circumstances of comparable gravity. Permission can also be granted in order to allow a student to consult research materials not obtainable in the course of the semester.

    Any student who believes that his/her situation warrants the granting of "IN" must complete the Application for Incomplete Form ( and submit it to the Office of Student Affairs by the last day of the final exam period.

  • A student applying for an "IN" should first obtain the approval signature of the instructor before submitting the form.
  • If you are requesting an "IN" in more than one course, you must speak with one of the Deans in the Student Affairs Office.
  • If an instructor grants an incomplete for a course, the instructor and student must agree on a date in which the coursework will be completed. This date must be within three months of the end of the semester. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure a grade is submitted by the agreed upon date. The instructor is not required to submit a grade for the course after the agreed upon date. If a grade is not submitted by this date, the grade will revert to a UW (Unofficial Withdrawal). This means the credits in the course will be forfeited.

    SIPA policy states that if the outstanding coursework is not completed within three months, the grade will automatically revert to Unofficial Withdrawal (UW), defined as "student did not complete attendance and/or assignments, but failed to withdraw." The UW is a permanent grade that cannot be changed. Students with two or more grades of Incomplete “IN” will have a registration hold placed on their account. Students cannot be approved to graduate with a mark of incomplete on their transcript. All grades must be final in order for a student to graduate.

The mark of AB (Absent from the Final Examination):

Granted by the instructor, not later than the day of the examination, to a student whose attendance and progress have been satisfactory and who cannot be present because of sickness or some other extreme emergency, which must be substantiated. The student must make arrangements with the instructor to remove the AB.

The mark of YC (Year Course):

A temporary mark given at the end of the first term of a course in which the full year's work must be completed before a qualitative grade is assigned. The grade given at the end of the second term is the grade for the entire course.

Academic Progress:

Students must maintain a 3.0 minimum cumulative grade point average for all courses applicable to the MIA or MPA degree.  A student whose performance does not meet these standards may not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program and appropriate action will be taken by the School. If at the end of a semester a graduate student fails to meet the GPA requirement, or accumulates 2 or more INC grades, or in other ways fails to meet the standards for progress, the student will receive a written warning concerning the lack of academic progress. The student must remedy the problem within one semester. Failure to re-establish satisfactory academic standing may result in dismissal from SIPA, subject to review by the Associate Dean of Student Affairs. A student who is dismissed must wait a minimum of one calendar year from the date of dismissal before applying for readmission to the graduate program.

Satisfactory academic progress for a full-time student is defined as a minimum GPA of 3.00 and completing a minimum of 9 credits per term toward the degree. Full-time students who do not earn this minimum number of credits will have a Dean's Hold placed on their registration.

A Dean's Hold prevents a student from registering for classes and from receiving the degree. Students with two or more IN or UW or one or more grades of F will have their registration placed on Dean's Hold. In serious cases of unsatisfactory performance, a Dean's Hold may lead to dismissal from the School upon recommendation by the Committee of Deans. Students who are placed on Dean's Hold must be granted permission to register by the Associate Dean.

Effective Fall 2011: Students are required to complete all of the MIA or MPA degree requirements within five years of the first semester of matriculation at SIPA. 

The total number of attempted credits toward the degree should not exceed 90 credits.

Advanced Standing/Transfer credits do not impact the cumulative GPA, but count as both attempted and completed credits.

*Note – students enrolled in the part-time Executive MPA Program (EMPA) are required to complete an average of 6 credits per term instead of the 9 required for full-time students.