Evaluation of Students

The evaluation of students’ work is the responsibility of the instructor or supervisor of the class. It is expected that the assessment methods will include a final evaluative exercise unless the instructor deems it impractical or unnecessary. These exercises may include written or oral examinations, take-home examinations, papers, and/or oral reports. The instructor should inform the students of the methods of evaluation at the start of each course.

Students are required to take the final examinations according to the schedule distributed by the Registrar’s Office. A student who is absent from a final examination and has an authorized incomplete for that absence may take the examination at a later date (see Incompletes, as follows).

A student who misses a final examination and has no authorized incomplete may not take such an examination at a later date, and the instructor shall determine the grade for the course without the examination.

Reports and Grading

Midterm Grades. Each semester, on or before the date designated as midterm in the official academic calendar, faculty are required to submit an Academic Alert for any student receiving a grade of D or F. These interim reports are the basis of advisory action.

Final Grades. Letter grades are assigned grade points as indicated below and are used to denote the quality of a student’s work. All work recorded with these grades (graded credits attempted) is used in the calculation of grade-point averages.

Grade Grade points
per credit
Grade Grade points
per credit
A+, A 4.0 C 2.0
A- 3.7 C- 1.7
B+ 3.3 D+ 1.3
B 3.0 D 1.0
B- 2.7 D- 0.7
C+ 2.3 F (Failure) 0.0

GPAs are computed by dividing the number of grade points earned by the number of graded credits attempted.

The following symbols carry no grade points; work recorded with any of these symbols is not used in the calculation of GPAs:

P: The symbol P is used to designate credit earned for those courses completed under the P-D-F grade option in which the student has received the equivalent of a C- or better grade. Certain courses also may be designated as graded on a P-D-F basis only; such courses are identified on the student’s permanent record.

CR: Denotes that credit is allowed for a course graded on a credit-no credit basis.

NC: Denotes that no credit is allowed for a course graded on a credit-no credit basis. The use of the CR and NC grades is limited to activity courses and other courses specifically designated by the faculty.

X: The symbol X, which is used to designate a deferred grade, may be assigned only if prior approval has been granted by the Board of Review.

I: The symbol I, which is used to designate an incomplete grade pending completion, may be assigned only under the conditions listed in the section which follows.

W: This symbol is used to indicate the official withdrawal from a course after the sixth week but prior to the end of the 10th week of classes. Additional information is provided in the section which follows.

NR: An administratively recorded temporary symbol used when a standard grade has not been submitted by the instructor.

Incompletes. A grade of incomplete (I) may be authorized upon request by a student who has completed at least half of the required work of a course with a passing grade, but who is unable to complete the requirements of the course due to reasons of health or emergency, and for no other reason. Any request for an incomplete must be submitted prior to the end of the semester for which the incomplete is requested.

A student who meets these criteria may initiate a request in the Office of the Dean of Students for an incomplete for reasons which are consistent with the following guidelines:

  1. An absence of not more than three weeks due to: a) the death or serious illness of a member of the student’s immediate family, or b) military orders.
  2. For reasons of health which persist for not more than four consecutive weeks.

The request must include information concerning the duration of the illness or emergency and indicate how the work not completed is related to the period of illness or emergency. The instructor must provide written verification that at least half of the work has been completed with a passing grade, specify what work is required to complete the course requirements, and indicate whether or not he or she regards the completion of the requirements to be feasible.

The Dean of Students will determine the appropriate action after consulting with the Director of the Health Center or the Counseling Center Director.

Any request for an incomplete not covered by these guidelines will be submitted to the Board of Review for consideration.

When a grade of incomplete has been authorized, the instructor shall record a provisional grade. The provisional grade is the default grade that the student will receive if he or she fails to do the work required to complete the course. As such, it should be calculated assuming a grade of zero on all outstanding work. The result of this calculation in many cases will be an F, and under no conditions should the provisional grade be an A.

Work to be applied toward the final grade in a course with an incomplete must be turned in by the deadlines listed in the next section. If the deadlines are not met, the grade of I will be converted to the provisional grade and will stand on the student's permanent record. For the period of time between the authorization of an incomplete and its resolution according to the schedule below, the pending incomplete will appear as the grade of I on the student's transcript.

Deadlines associated with incompletes:

  1. If the student is on probation, a grade change must be reported to the Registrar within three weeks after the last day of final examinations for the semester in which the grade was incurred.
  2. If the student is in good standing, the requirements of the course must be completed by the end of the third week of classes in his or her next semester in residence.
  3. Faculty members shall report the completion of such grades to the Registrar’s Office by the end of the fourth week of the semester. The absence of a report from the faculty member by this time will result in the conversion of the grade of I to the provisional grade.
  4. Students not in residence must complete the requirements for the course no later than six months after the incomplete has been incurred.
  5. Incomplete grades will be converted to provisional grades for students dismissed from the college.
  6. A student may petition the Board of Review to extend these deadlines.

Students with incomplete grades on their academic records will not be permitted to graduate, even if all other degree requirements have been satisfied. Such students may participate in commencement ceremonies. In this context, the deadlines listed above still apply.

The Dean of Students shall provide a memo to students with incompletes that reviews the college's policies on incomplete grades and the applicable deadlines within two weeks of the initial authorization of the incompletes.

Withdrawals. If a student withdraws from a course or from the college after the sixth week but prior to the end of the 10th week of classes, he or she shall receive a grade of W (withdrawal). If the student withdraws or discontinues studies in any course after that date (unless specifically permitted to do so by the Board of Review for reasonable cause such as a family distress, serious illness, or other emergency), he or she shall receive a grade of F. Withdrawal from the college requires the filing of the proper form in the Registrar’s Office and consultation with the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid.

Deferred grades. Grades may be deferred at the request of an instructor in cases where it is impractical to file a grade which is dependent, for example, upon a requirement such as completion of a thesis or special project. Acceptable reasons are normally those which are beyond the control of the student and do not include the inappropriate allocation of time to complete the course or project. The instructor must obtain the consent of the Board of Review prior to submitting deferred grades.

Grade Report. Semester grade reports will be made available to students via the Web, and upon request sent to the student at the home address or other address designated for grades.

Grades for Partner Programs. Off-Campus Study courses on Partner Programs, both study abroad and Whitman’s U.S.-based Partner Programs (AU Washington Semester and The Philadelphia Center), will be recorded on the student’s Whitman record, including all grades reported by the program, but with the exception that these grades will not be used in the calculation of semester and cumulative grade averages, nor will these credits be considered as part of the Whitman College residency requirement.

Correction of a Grade

A grade reported by an instructor becomes a part of the permanent records of the college and may not be changed by the instructor or any other official of the college without the approval of the Board of Review. A faculty member may request a change in grade by submitting a brief written statement to the Board of Review which states the basis for the change requested.

P-D-F Grade Options

Students who register for a class on a P-D-F basis will be assigned a grade of P if they earn a grade of C- or above. If a D or F grade is earned, those grades will be recorded as for any graded course and will be used in the computation of the grade-point average. Students in good standing are eligible to select courses on a P-D-F basis, under the following conditions: credit in P-D-F courses which may be counted toward the completion of graduation requirements is limited to one-third of all credits earned at the college up to a maximum of 40, and with the exception that all students must complete a minimum of 44 credits in regularly graded courses in the on-campus programs of the college. Students initially must register for all courses (except those designated as P-D-F or credit-no credit courses by the faculty) on a regularly graded basis. During the 10th week of the semester, students may, after consultations with their advisers, change their registration for selected classes to a P-D-F basis. The P-D-F option may enable some students to enter areas of study comparatively unfamiliar to them without the potential of lowering their overall GPA so long as the earned grade is at least a C-.

A student must complete a special form, have it signed by his or her adviser, and file it with the Registrar’s Office during the 10th week of classes to be eligible to take a course on a P-D-F basis.

The P-D-F option may not be applied to any course designated as a General Studies course. Courses taken with the P-D-F grade option cannot be used to satisfy Distribution Requirements. In addition, each department or program has formulated a policy with regard to limiting or denying the P-D-F option in courses taken within the major subject. Unless otherwise noted for a specific department or program in the Courses and Programs section of this catalog, courses taken with the P-D-F grade option after declaration of the major cannot be used to satisfy the course and credit requirements for a major.

Note: Users of the P-D-F option should be aware that certain graduate and professional institutions may discount GPAs in which substantial parts of a student’s record include P-D-F grades. They assume that students using this option either choose to be graded in subjects where they will receive higher grades or that they will not make the same effort in P-D-F courses, thus distorting their GPA upward. Students should be conscious of the risks in overuse of this grading option. Program advisers (e.g., medicine, law) should be consulted by students interested in advanced study in the respective areas prior to electing to use the P-D-F grade option.

Correction of Record

Each semester, students receive notification at least twice to verify their course registrations. The first notice appears immediately following final registration, and the second occurs at the end of the 10th week of classes. Both notices provide a link to the appropriate Web page that lists all of the courses which will appear on the student’s grade report and permanent record; that is, those courses for which the student is currently registered.

Credit cannot be granted for courses in which a student has not been officially registered. It is the student’s responsibility to check the registration information reports carefully and consult the Registrar’s Office concerning procedures for correction of errors and omissions. It is the Board of Review’s policy not to approve requests for registration in any course after the close of the semester in which registration was required.

Repeating Courses

Courses may not be repeated for credit unless the course is approved for multiple enrollments because of changing subject matter. If a student elects to re-enroll in a course in which he or she previously received credit with a passing grade in order to improve his or her knowledge of the subject matter, the course for the second registration is marked as a repeat and neither the grade nor the credit for this registration is included in the calculation of the semester, cumulative, or major grade-point averages. However, if a student successfully repeats a previously failed course, the grade and credit for both the failed and completed courses are included in the calculation of the semester, cumulative, and major grade-point averages.