Grades and Grade-Point Average

Semester/session grade-point average and cumulative grade-point average are calculated to represent numerically a student's quality of performance. These averages are used to determine if a student qualifies for certain academic actions (e.g., Dean's List, academic warning/drop, entrance to and changes in college/major, and graduation) and programs (e.g., student aid and study abroad).

Grades and Grade-Point Equivalents

Grades in courses are based on an instructor's judgment of a student's achievement. Students who dispute a grade should follow grade mediation and adjudication procedures.

On grade reports and transcripts courses are reported with both grades and symbols. Grades are defined in Senate Policy 47-60 (link is external). Grades and numerical grade-point equivalents have been established for varying levels of students' academic performance. These grade-point equivalents are used to determine a student's grade-point average.

Grades and Grade-point equivalents.
Grade Grade-Point Equivalent Description and Related Information
A
A-
4.00
3.67
Excellent - Exceptional Achievement
B+
B
B-
3.33
3.00
2.67
Good - Extensive Achievement
C+
C
2.33
2.00
Satisfactory - Acceptable Achievement
D 1.00

Poor Minimal Achievement

Credit for the course is earned and can satisfy a program requirement unless it is a C-required course.

A student may have difficulty in a course for which this course was a prerequisite.

The course may be repeated.

F 0.00

Failure - Inadequate Achievement

Credit is not earned and the course will not satisfy any requirements.

Student Aid: Satisfactory Academic Progress may be affected.

The course may be repeated.

XF 0.00

Failure: Notation for the most serious breach of the academic integrity policy. Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual, G-9.D.

Credit is not earned and the course will not satisfy any requirements.

Student Aid: Satisfactory Academic Progress may be affected.

The course may be repeated.

Semester / Session Grade-Point Average

A student's grade-point average is the weighted mean value of all grade points he/she earned by enrollment, or through credit by examination, in a semester/session of attendance at Penn State. (See Cumulative Credits for information on credits excluded from this calculation.) This calculation is used to determine Dean's List recognition.

Sample Grade-Point Average Calculation

To calculate a grade point average, (1) determine the grade points earned in each course by multiplying course credits by the appropriate grade-point equivalent, (2) add the grade points earned in each course to calculate a semester total, and (3) divide this sum by the number of credits taken to determine the semester/session grade-point average. In the example below, 33.34 grade points ÷ 15 credits = 2.22 grade-point average.

Sample Grade-Point Average Calculation
Course Credits Grade Earned Multiplied by Grade-Point Equivalent   Total
PSYCH 100 3 C x 2.00 = 6.00 grade pts.
CHEM 12 3 F x 0.00 = 0.00 grade pts.
ENGL 15 3 B+ x 3.33 = 9.99 grade pts.
MATH 40 5 B- x 2.67 = 13.35 grade pts.
KINES 48 1 A x 4.00 = 4.00 grade pts.
Total: 15 credits         33.34 grade pts.

Cumulative Grade-Point Average (CGPA)

A student's cumulative grade-point average is the weighted mean value of all grade points he/she earned by enrollment in Penn State courses through any delivery system at any campus. Excluded from this calculation are grades in courses completed prior to academic renewal and grades earned in 800-level courses (formerly required for associate degrees). See Cumulative Credits for more information on credits excluded from this calculation.

Target Cumulative Grade-Point Average

To establish a realistic academic plan and to help motivate a student, calculating what it will take in a given semester/semesters to reach a specific “target” cumulative grade-point average (CGPA) may be helpful.

Use this Target CGPA Worksheet* to determine the grades that a student must earn to reach a desired CGPA.

View this Sample Worksheet* to help guide you on your own worksheet.

Although a desired CGPA might be attainable in theory, students should consider carefully whether their goals are realistic, taking into consideration their academic history and the demands of the course work to be scheduled.

* This is a fillable PDF file that works best when opened with Adobe Reader and not a browser.


Last Update: November 2016

Reference(s): Senate Policy 47-20, 47-60, 51-00, 51-50