Grade Options

Jump to a section:

Pass/D/Fail or P/F Election  |  Incompletes (IN)  |  Administrative Referral (AR)  |  R Credit  |  AB  |  Credit Pending (CP)  |  Make-Up (MU)  |  Unofficial Withdrawal (UW)  |  Year Course (YC)  |  Auditing RG Grade


Pass/D/Fail or P/F Election

Students in certain schools may elect to register for the Pass/D/Fail (P/D/F)  or the Pass/Fail (P/F) option in Student Services Online until established deadlines. After the deadline, students need approval from their academic or student  affairs dean, who can then transmit the request to the Registrar. In general, GSAS, the School of the Arts, and SIPA do not approve requests after the deadline.

Master of Science students in the School of Professional Studies and PhD students in the school of Graduate Engineering cannot elect to take a class P/F.  

Students in Columbia College and the School of General Studies can elect the Pass/D/Fail (P/D/F) option. 

Students in the School of Professional Studies can elect the Pass/Fail (P/F) option.

Engineering masters students should speak with their department before selecting P/F for a course.

Students in the School of International and Public Affairs, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and undergraduates in the School of Engineering and Applied Science may elect the Pass/Fail (P/F) option which converts grades of D and above to P.  For students in these schools, the grade cannot be uncovered.

Instructors will submit a letter grade in in SSOL web grading which will then convert to the Pass, D, or F directly in our student information system. Students may not switch their election after the last day to select this grading option for their school.  The deadlines for each school are listed in the Academic Calendar. Law School and Teachers College courses may not be taken for P/D/F or P/F.

Pass/D/Fail or P/F Uncovering

Students in certain schools may uncover the letter grade in a course given in an academic term up until the end of the Change of Program Period of the following term in SSOL. Graduating students may have earlier deadlines according to school policy.

Please note:

  • The per-term and aggregate number of P/D/F or P/F classes a student may take is determined by his/her school or department.
  • Some classes are not available for P/D/F or P/F; other courses are only offered as P/F. Check your school's bulletin and the Directory of Classes for information on specific classes.
  • Major or core requirements cannot be taken for P/D/F.
Most students on the Medical Center Campus should visit Registration and Financial Services at CUMC to adjust P/D/F selections after the Change of Program Period.

Medical Center

Registration & Financial Services at CUMC
630 W. 168th Street
Black Building, Room 141

School Policies on Pass/D/Fail

To top

Incompletes (IN)

Two notations are used for students who have not met all of the requirements of a course, depending on their school: ABS (absence) and INC (incomplete). In some schools, these may be given at the discretion of the faculty member; in others they can be granted only by the dean or they require the dean’s concurrence.The time limit allowed to make up incompletes varies according to the school of enrollment and the level of the course. Typically, it is one year, although it may be as little as one term or less, or, in the case of some graduate seminars, as long as the instructor chooses. For students who have cross-registered, the time limit is governed by the policies of the school offering the course rather than the school of enrollment. If a student fails to complete the required work within the prescribed time, the grade is automatically changed to F, F*, R, W, or UW, depending on the school. Each school’s policies on incompletes can be found in its bulletin. A faculty member in need of additional information should consult the appropriate dean’s office.

To top

Administrative Referral (AR)

The grade of AR takes the place of the reportable grades of IN, CP, and YC for students in Columbia College and the School of General Studies. The grade of AR and its contingency grade should be recorded for a student only as a temporary grade when the student’s academic performance renders the instructor unable to assign a grade on the A-F scale. An AR grade will alert a student’s advising dean who will follow up with the instructor and Academic Affairs to determine what the permanent grade should be. Instructors in these schools can submit a change of grade request in SSOL to resolve grades of AR.

The contingency grade is the grade that the student would earn if they completed no further work in the course, with any missing assignments counted as an F or zero.

To top

R Credit

R is a non-evaluative grade, not a change in course grading option, that confers credit for registration without designating an A-F letter grade. Enrolling in a class for R credit is not the same as taking a class on a Pass/Fail basis or as an auditor. Students who have received R credit for a course can view the R grade in the grade screen in SSOL.

Registering for R Credit

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

  • The mark of R is awarded in place of a letter grade. A student who elects to take a course for R credit must meet all course requirements other than the final examination, unless the instructor states otherwise in writing, preferably in the form of an email to the student.
  • Before electing to take a course for R credit, students should first consult the DGS or program director to ascertain that the course will count toward their degree requirements. They should also confer with the instructor of the course to obtain permission to take the course for R credit.
  • Requests for R are handled directly between students and instructors any time from the start of the semester until the eleventh week of classes. (See Academic Calendar for the precise deadlines each term). Students should discuss the R credit option with the instructor, and obtain written confirmation of the agreement, typically via email. Instructors will be able to select the R at the end of the semester, when submitting all grades.  The deadline to request R credit for a course in the fall and spring semesters is the same as the deadline to request to take a course Pass/Fail; please refer to the School of Professional Studies website for summer-term deadlines.
  • A course that has been taken for R credit may not be repeated for a letter grade.
  • When a student chooses to take a course for R credit, but does not satisfactorily fulfill the conditions for receiving R credit, the instructor may award the mark of IN, UW, or F, depending on what he or she deems appropriate.
  • If a student receives an Incomplete for a class taken for R credit and does not submit the work by the GSAS deadline, the mark of IN will be changed to an UW, which will not be subject to change at a later date.
  • Courses taken for R credit are applied toward the calculation of Residence Units for billing purposes in the same way as courses taken for a letter grade. The number of points of R credit acceptable for a degree, however, is set by each program in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Students in other schools that offer R credit must discuss this option with the instructor and the academic advisor early in the semester. If approved, the R grade can be assigned by the instructor at the end of the semester.  Columbia College and the School of General Studies do not allow R credit grading through SSOL web grading.  In these cases, the approved R credit grade is recorded manually by the Office of the University Registrar upon approval by the school.

Requirements for Enrolling in a Class for R Credit

Students enrolling in a class for R credit are not required to take the final examination. All other requirements are established at the time the professor grants permission to enroll in the class. If the student performs in accordance with the agreement, the instructor will award an R grade.

Please Note:

  • The student must register and pay for R credit classes.
  • Many courses that require full participation, performance, and interaction are not available for R credit.
  • Most students do not receive academic credit for R grades, with the exception of some GSAS Ph.D. students who may be allowed, in certain circumstances, to receive academic R credit.
  • A student cannot take major or core requirements for R credit.
  • The per-semester and aggregate number of R credits a student is allowed to take are determined by his or her school or department.
  • Classes taken for R credit will appear on the student's transcript.

To top


Excused absence from final examination.

To top

Credit Pending (CP)

Assigned in courses which regularly involve research or projects extending beyond the end of the term. Until such time as a passing or failing grade is submitted, satisfactory progress is implied.

To top

Make-Up (MU)

Engineering only. Student has the privilege of taking a second final examination. Refer to appropriate bulletin for rules governing use of this grade.

To top

Unofficial Withdrawal (UW)

Assigned to students in Law, Public Health, SIPA, School of Professional Studies, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Social Work, whose names appear on the grade roster but who have never attended or have discontinued attendance prior to the due date of substantive work.

To top

Year Course (YC)

Assigned at the end of the first term of a year-long course. A single grade for the entire course is to be given upon completion of the second term to BOTH terms of the course. Instructors who assign a YC to the first semester of a year-long course should use web grading in SSOL to assign a letter grade at the end of the subsequent term.  Note: Changing a YC to a letter grade is done in the grade roster, not in the change of grade tool.

To top


There is no formal audit procedure at Columbia. The only exception is a program within the School of Professional Studies which requires a separate application to that program and permits registration only in certain designated sections or classes. More commonly, students seem to use the term audit to refer to taking a class on an R credit basis. R is a non-evaluative grade which not all schools permit at all levels. Most will not give degree credit for an R grade.

To top

RG Grade

A highly provisional, interim grade notation that represents a definite passing grade in a course where the instructor of record is not yet able to calculate the final, permanent grade. The RG grade will carry full credit for the course and will allow the student to complete requirements toward the degree or certificate program. If used by an instructor, the University Registrar expects it to be changed to a regular, permanent grade at the first opportunity.

To top