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Home » Policies » Graduate School Academic Policies » 4. Coursework, Grading and Academic Standing

4. Coursework, Grading and Academic Standing

Courses taken in fulfillment of Rackham degree requirements must be approved for Rackham graduate credit. Courses at the 300 level or below may not be used for graduate credit. Courses at the 400 level are open to both undergraduates and graduate students but must be approved by the Registrar to carry graduate credit. 400-level courses usually require additional work for graduate students. Approved courses are listed by graduate program in Rackham’s Programs of Study section.

Graduate students may petition to receive graduate credit for a 400-level course not normally approved for such credit and must submit this petition to Academic Records and Dissertations (OARD) before taking the course. Approval of these requests is not guaranteed. Both the course instructor and the graduate chair of the student’s program must endorse the petition, which must be accompanied by a memo explaining how graduate-level work will be accomplished in the course. The Registration Adjustment Request forms are available online under Printable Forms.

Courses not approved for Rackham graduate credit appear on the transcript with the notation NFC or NDC (section 4.5). The course grade will appear but will not be averaged into the cumulative grade point average or the total credits required for the program (CTP) total.


4.1 On-Campus and Off-Campus Enrollment

Most students enroll in coursework for credit on their home campus—Ann Arbor, Dearborn, or Flint. Students must fulfill the minimum credit hour requirement at their home campus. A student in a Rackham master’s program may transfer up to 6 semester hours from other accredited graduate degree-granting institutions to be counted toward the degree requirements. A student in a Rackham doctoral program may not transfer credits toward the doctoral requirements but may transfer credits toward a master’s degree.

As described below and in section 4.2, a student may transfer credit hours for: graduate-level courses offered at the three U-M campuses; graduate-level courses offered at other universities through special agreements with the University of Michigan; and graduate-level courses taken at other accredited graduate degree-granting universities.

Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint Campuses

A graduate student at one of the three U-M campuses may take courses for credit offered at another U-M campus subject to the approval of his or her own graduate program and the availability of space in the courses desired. Courses approved for graduate credit on the Flint and Dearborn campuses are listed under program information on their respective Websites. Students uncertain if a course is approved for Rackham credit should check in advance with the department offering the course. Non-Rackham courses may not be applied toward the degree program.

To register for courses at another U-M campus:

  • Ann Arbor students electing a course at Dearborn or Flint must complete an appropriate guest application available online: for Dearborn courses, for Flint courses.
  • Dearborn or Flint students electing a course at Ann Arbor must complete an Ann Arbor Guest Application form which requires departmental signatures.
  • The student is responsible for arranging to have a transcript of guest credit sent to their home institution along with a “Request for Transfer Credit Form.”

For more information, contact the appropriate graduate studies office: Dearborn Graduate Studies Office, 1055 Administration Building, (313) 583-6321; or Flint Office of Graduate Programs, 251 Frances Willson Thompson Library, (810) 762-3171.

Consortial agreements for courses outside U-M

The University of Michigan participates in agreements under the Michigan Intercollegiate Graduate Study (MIGS) program and the Big Ten Academic Alliance which allow students to take courses or use facilities uniquely available at an institution other than their own.

The Big Ten Academic Alliance, a consortium of the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago, sponsors the Traveling Scholar Program which enables doctoral students to spend up to a full academic year pursuing specialized courses of study, researching library collections, and working in laboratories and facilities at other Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions with no change in registration procedures from their home university or additional tuition. Traveling Scholars pay regular fees to their home institution, where they remain registered. Visits are limited to two semesters or three quarters, and graduate credits earned at the host university are automatically accepted by the home university. The application is available at Rackham's website.

The Michigan Intercollegiate Graduate Study (MIGS) Program creates exchange possibilities for graduate students currently enrolled in Michigan universities. Students can take advantage of course and research opportunities offered at another Michigan university, provided that such opportunities are not available on the home campus. Students in master’s or specialist degree programs may enroll for six credit hours while doctoral students may enroll for up to nine credit hours at a host institution. For students in a Doctorate of Musical Arts program, these credit hours will not count towards the Required Fee Totals (section 2.1). The application is available at Rackham's website.

4.2 Transfer of Credit

Following the criteria below, graduate credits may be transferred to master’s degree programs only for up to half the credits required. All requests for transfer of credit must be approved by the student’s program and by Rackham OARD. While graduate credits from another institution cannot be transferred to a doctoral program, graduate work done elsewhere may be used to satisfy certain degree requirements but will not appear on the University transcript.

Students eligible to transfer credit must:

  • be enrolled in good standing in a Rackham master’s degree program;
  • have completed 8 or more credit hours of graduate-level, letter-graded courses in residence in the Rackham Graduate School and earned a cumulative grade point average of B (i.e., 3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or higher; and
  • have removed all conditions for admission, including submission to Rackham of an official undergraduate transcript and record of bachelor’s degree.

Criteria for transferring credit:

  1. Students may transfer credits for graduate-level courses taken while pursuing an undergraduate degree only if these were not used to fulfill requirements for a degree or certificate and only if Rackham receives confirmation that these courses were at the graduate level and required graduate-level work.
  2. Graduate credit may be transferred from other accredited degree-granting universities with graduate degree programs for up to a maximum of 6 credit hours from universities that use the semester system, or up to 9 credit hours from universities that use the quarter system (the equivalent of 6 semester credit hours).
  3. Graduate credit may be transferred from non-Rackham University of Michigan graduate programs, including those on the Flint or Dearborn campuses, for up to half the credits required for the Rackham degree.

Credits may not be transferred:

  • if they are used or will be used, in whole or in part, to fulfill requirements for a bachelor’s or other degree or certificate;
  • for courses taken at an exclusively undergraduate institution or community college;
  • for courses taken more than five years before admission to the student’s current Rackham master’s program; or
  • for courses for which a letter grade of less than “B” has been awarded.

Students may transfer credits for courses taken at their undergraduate institution only if Rackham receives confirmation that these courses were at the graduate level and required graduate-level work.

Doctoral students may request that graduate credits earned at another institution be used to satisfy the cognate requirement (section 5.2). A student in a Doctorate of Musical Arts program who has earned a master’s degree elsewhere in a field relevant to the doctoral work may request that these credits be used to reduce the Required Fee Totals (section 2.1). A doctoral student who is also enrolled in a master’s degree program may request transfer of credit for the master’s program, but only after the master’s program has been activated for the student.

Transfer course numbers and credits appear on the University transcript, but grades will not be listed and will not be computed in calculating the cumulative grade point average.

For transfer of credit, use the Transfer of Credit Request. Questions may be directed to

4.3 Visiting (Auditing) a Course

With permission of the advisor and the course instructor, a student may enroll in a course as a visitor (auditor) rather than for credit. A notation of “VI” appears on the transcript when the course is completed successfully (section 4.5). After a grade has been issued, a course may not be changed from letter grade to visit (audit) status, or vice versa. A visit (audit) will not be counted toward degree credit requirements.

Full fees will be assessed at the current rate of tuition. After registering for the course online via Wolverine Access, the student must register for this status in person at the Registrar’s Office and present a Drop/Add form with the signatures of both the instructor and the student’s department graduate chair or advisor. Before enrolling, the student must confer with the instructor to reach an agreement on what will constitute satisfactory completion of the course. The student is expected to attend class regularly and may be asked to submit assignments and take examinations. Elections of visited (audited) courses must appear on the class schedule printout provided at registration. Students should check their class schedule printouts for accuracy and completeness.

4.4 Adding, Modifying, Dropping and Repeating a Course

Students should change course selections only after consultation with their advisors. The Registrar’s Office evaluates revised course elections to determine if an adjustment in fees is necessary.

Through the third week of classes in a full term (or the second week of classes in a half term), students may use Wolverine Access to add or drop a course, change status from credit to visit (audit), or increase or decrease the hours for a course within the range listed in the Time Schedule. The Registrar’s Office publishes each year’s Drop/Add deadline on its website. Graduate program approval is necessary to change course elections. Certain graduate programs may have additional deadlines or procedures. A student who seeks to drop the only course for which he or she is registered must follow procedures for a term withdrawal as outlined on the Registrar’s Website. A student in a Ph.D. program who drops the only course for which he or she is registered will be considered to have withdrawn and be discontinued from the program (section 3.2.3).

After the third week in a full term (or the second week in a half term), and until the last day of classes of that term or half term, students must request a drop or add via Wolverine Access. Any course for which a drop is registered after the third week in a full term (or the second week in a half term) will appear on the permanent record as “W” (section 4.5). For any other change of status (credit to visit, etc.) to a course during the term, a student must obtain signed approval from the course instructor and the chair of their graduate program on an election worksheet which is then submitted to the Registrar’s Office before the last day of classes. Students should contact the graduate program administrator for election worksheets or contact the Registrar’s Office at 1210 LSA Building, 500 S. State St.

No changes to a course are allowed after a grade has been assigned. A student who registers for a course and either never attends or stops attending—but does not officially drop the course—receives a notation of “ED” (Unofficial Drop). A notation of “ED” is equivalent to a grade of “E” (failure) (section 4.5). Requests for a retroactive withdrawal after the last day of the term will be considered only for exceptional circumstances in which a student was unable to complete the term and will not be approved for a course for which a grade has been submitted. A request for retroactive withdrawal must be made within 12 months from the end of the term and usually applies to all classes in the term. Applications for retroactive withdrawal require documentation of compelling circumstances why the student was unable to complete the term and unable to request a withdrawal during the term. The student must submit a Registration Adjustment Request to Rackham OARD that includes documentation confirming extenuating circumstances (section 3.8). At no point after the term has ended will a class be removed from a student’s record; if the exception is approved it will remain on the record and noted as “W” (section 4.5). International students should consult with the International Center before dropping courses, as this may affect their immigration status.

Students may repeat a course with permission of the advisor and course instructor. Credits for the course may not be earned beyond the limit set by guidelines of the graduate program. Each election and grade for a course that is repeated will remain on the transcript and will be counted into the grade point average as separate elections.

4.5 Grades and Transcripts

To maintain satisfactory academic standing, graduate students must make satisfactory progress toward their degrees and have a minimum Rackham cumulative grade point average (GPA) of B (3.00 on a 4.00 point scale). Certain graduate programs may have requirements above the Rackham minimum for maintaining satisfactory academic standing. Students who fall below the GPA requirement of their program or Rackham are placed on academic probation. Courses in which grades of D or E are earned cannot be used to fulfill degree requirements.

Instructors enter grades on the student’s permanent academic record. Students may elect courses without letter grades, either as a visit (audit) or for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading. A visit (audit) does not count for credit, but a grade of S does.

The academic transcript is part of a student’s academic record. Other University offices collect and maintain necessary information about students. The transcript and these records constitute the student’s permanent academic record. For more information about the permanent academic record, see Student Rights and Records.

The permanent academic record is the history of a student’s academic progress in the Graduate School and cannot be altered except in conformance with policies governing dropping, adding, and modifying courses, and the achievement of milestones (e.g., receipt of a degree, advancement to candidacy, etc.). This record may not be altered because of dissatisfaction with a particular instance of academic performance.

Coursework is graded with a letter system (A, B, C, D, or E) except for special courses noted below. An instructor may add “+” or “-” to grades. Letter grades for programs on the Ann Arbor campus are converted into numbers, or points, as follows:

  • A+ = 4.3
  • A = 4.0
  • A- = 3.7
  • B+ = 3.3
  • B = 3.0
  • B- = 2.7
  • C+ = 2.3
  • C = 2.0
  • C- = 1.7
  • D+ = 1.3
  • D = 1.0
  • D- = 0.7

These numbers are used to calculate Michigan Honor Points (MHP) and the Grade Point Average (GPA). Michigan Honor Points (MHP) are calculated by multiplying the number of credit hours for which the course was elected by the number of points earned on the grading scale. For example, a grade of B for a 3 credit hour course produces 3 (credit hours) x 3.0 (points for a grade of B), or 9 honor points. The grade point average (GPA) is calculated by dividing Michigan Honor Points earned for a term or more by the number of semester hours (or credit hours) for the courses. A total of 45 MHP for 12 course credit hours produces a GPA of 3.75. For students enrolled in Rackham programs on the Flint and Dearborn campuses, a grade of A+ is converted to 4.0.

Students may access their unofficial transcripts or order official copies of their transcripts through Wolverine Access. Information is available at the Registrar.

Note: The Graduate School does not provide copies of academic records from other institutions. Students must obtain such records directly from the institution.

Other transcript notations include:

Visit (VI)
“VI” appears on the transcripts of students who successfully complete a course which they have elected to visit (audit). These courses do not count for degree credit requirements. Students who do not complete a course to the satisfaction of the instructor and who have not dropped the course may receive a notation of “E” or “ED” (unofficial drop, equivalent to failure) on their transcript. This grade is calculated as part of the student’s GPA.
Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U)
The graduate program designates courses for which S/U grading is used. With permission from the advisor and the course instructor, a student may elect S/U grading in a course that would otherwise be letter graded. Instructors cannot assign letter grades to students electing courses designated as S/U. A grade of “S” indicates that the instructor considers the student to have performed satisfactorily at the graduate level, and is counted toward the credit hour requirements of the graduate program. A grade of “S” is considered to be a grade of “B” or better. A grade of “U” is assigned when a graduate student’s level of performance is not acceptable, and is not counted toward a student’s required credit hours. Grades of “S” and “U” are not converted into numbers, and are not factored into the Grade Point Average or Michigan Honors Points.
Incomplete (I)
A student may receive a grade of Incomplete (“I”) only if the coursework remaining to be done by the end of the semester is small and the instructor approves an extension for completing the unfinished work. The instructor must agree to this arrangement and determine a deadline for finishing the assigned work before a grade is assigned. The notation of “I” remains a permanent part of the academic record. When coursework is completed to the satisfaction of the instructor, the grade will appear on the transcript as, for example, “I B+.” The grade point average is based only on hours of coursework completed.
Drop (W) and Unofficial Drop (ED)
A course that is officially dropped after the first three weeks of a full term (or the first two weeks of a half term), will be recorded with the notation of “W,” and will not earn credit hours toward the degree program or Michigan Honor Points.
A student who registers for a course and either never attends or stops attending—but does not officially drop the course—receives a notation of “ED” (unofficial drop). A notation of “ED” is equivalent to a grade of “E” (failure).
Multi-Term Course (Y)
Graduate programs may designate a graduate course as a multi-term sequence. The instructor may report a “Y” grade at the end of the first term to indicate that the work is still in progress. When a final grade is reported, the grade will be posted for both terms and the “Y” notation will be removed.

4.6 Good Academic Standing

A student in good academic standing:

  • is making satisfactory progress toward the completion of degree requirements and is within the time limits of the degree program, including approved extensions (sections 5.1, 5.5.1, 6);
  • is demonstrating an ability to succeed in the degree program; and
  • has a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (B) or better.

4.7 Academic Probation and Dismissal

Graduate students should periodically discuss their academic progress with their advisors to learn whether they are performing satisfactorily and making sufficient progress toward the degree. Graduate programs should immediately notify students in writing when their performance falls below an acceptable level.

In response to a student’s academic deficiencies, the University may take any of the following actions:

  1. admit a student on probationary status;
  2. place a continuing student on probation;
  3. require a student to withdraw from the University; or
  4. not confer a degree or certificate.

A student whose cumulative GPA falls below a B (3.0 on a 4.0 point scale) in a given term or half term will be placed on academic probation for the following term or half term of enrollment. During the probationary term, the student will not be awarded a graduate degree or certificate and cannot transfer credit to a Rackham master’s program, be advanced to candidacy, or be allowed to change his or her program (i.e., dual degree, degree level, etc.). Upon the recommendation of the graduate chair, and with the consent of the Graduate School, a student may be given an opportunity to correct the scholastic and/or academic deficiency. Graduate programs may also require students to achieve minimum grades in the overall program of study and/or in particular courses.

A student in a Doctorate of Musical Arts program cannot be approved for detached study while on academic probation.

A student on probation when last enrolled in the Graduate School who wishes to be reinstated or change fields or degree level, must petition the graduate program and the Graduate School to modify the conditions of academic standing or discipline. The petition should: provide reasons for the poor academic record; explain how conditions that produced this poor performance have changed; and present specific plans for improvement. The graduate program must approve the petition before a student can be reinstated (section 3.2.4, 3.3.5).

A student may be required to withdraw or be dismissed. A student whose cumulative GPA falls below a B (3.0 on a 4.0 point scale), who is not making satisfactory progress toward the degree, or who is failing to demonstrate an ability to succeed in his or her plan of studies, may be denied permission to register, required to withdraw, or dismissed from the program. Time limits for achieving candidacy (section 5.1), completing the doctorate (section 5.5.1) and finishing a master’s degree (section 6) are defined in this document.

Students may also be dismissed for failing to meet the standards of academic and professional integrity (see Investigating Allegations of Academic and Professional Misconduct by Graduate Students).

A program must provide the student written notification of the grounds for dismissal.

Last updated: June 23, 2017 - 8:34pm