Grading System

This page will introduce you to some of the common questions students have regarding grades. For concerns about how a grade was earned, please see our Other Related Policies.

For a detailed explanation of USF’s policies and procedures, please refer to the catalog. You can find this information under Academic Policies and Procedures – Grading Policies.

Letter Grades (which will include S/U, Incomplete and M grades)

USF uses a plus/minus grading scale. For each letter grade, there are quality points assigned, which are used to calculate a grade point average (GPA). An “A” grade starts at a 4, which is the maximum number of quality points possible. For each plus (+), a third of a point is added; for each minus (-), a third of a point is removed.

There are other grades not used in calculating GPA. One example is an S/U (pass/fail) grade. Most “S” graded courses cannot be used for general education and major requirements. For that reason, DegreeWorks does not automatically place these courses into that place on your audit. If you complete an “S” graded course, which is applicable to your major, you may need to request a manual update to your audit from your advisor.

There are other grades used as placeholders until a final grade is determined. These include “I” and “M” grades. If you receive either of these grades, you should reach out to your instructor to determine what, if any, responsibilities you have to finalize that grade.

“W” grades are indicators that a student withdrew from a course. While withdrawals are not factored into GPA calculations, they have other implications students should be aware of, including delayed graduation, financial indebtedness, and decreased competitiveness for graduate and professional programs.

Calculating GPAs

Your grade point average (GPA) is calculated by multiplying quality points by the total number of graded hours attempted. This average is not rounded up or down. An average is a descriptive statistic that provides a simple summary about a set of data. The GPA describes how well, on average, a student did in a set of courses. An overall GPA is the calculation of all graded courses a student completed.

Subsets of your overall GPA will be important for various reasons both during and after your time at USF.

  • Semester GPA: This is calculated using all the courses attempted in a single term and can have implications as wide-ranging as being academically dismissed to making the dean’s list.
  • General Education GPA: This is calculated using all USF courses applied to your general education requirements. While “C-“ grades will meet these requirements, the GPA for all general education courses must be at least a 2.00 (or “C” average).
  • Major GPA: This is calculated using all USF courses applied to your major requirements. The minimum major GPA required to graduate is a 2.00, though some majors have higher requirements.
  • USF GPA: This is calculated using all attempted, graded USF coursework. When a USF GPA falls below a 2.00, a student is placed on academic probation. A minimum USF GPA of 2.00 is required to graduate.
  • Transfer GPA: This is calculated using all graded coursework taken outside of USF. A transfer GPA of at least 2.00 is necessary for admission to USF.
  • Pre-admission GPA for graduate and professional schools: When applying to graduate or professional schools, there are minimum GPA criteria, which vary based on program requirements. For example, medical schools use a “science GPA,” also referred to as BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math) because those are the courses needed to evaluate your competitiveness in relevant coursework. Consult with your advisor or the Office of Graduate Studies if you need to determine this GPA.

GPA Calculator

Grade Forgiveness

USF has a grade forgiveness policy. When grade forgiveness is used, an unsatisfactory grade is removed from the student’s GPA calculation. Grade forgiveness cannot be used to earn honors at graduation. Instead, it helps students who need assistance in one of the following dimensions:

  • Financial: This can help a student maintain a scholarship or continue receiving federal aid.
  • Student Activity: This can help a student in need of a minimum GPA for clubs and organizations or to meet NCAA eligibility requirements.
  • Academic: This can help a student return to good academic standing. USF Grade forgiveness can only be used three times and only when addressing courses attempted and retaken at USF. For a detailed explanation of the policy, please refer to the USF catalog. To submit grade forgiveness, use the form available on the Registrar’s Forms Library.

Dean’s List

To be eligible for the College of Arts and Sciences Deans’ List, a student with at least one major in CAS must meet the following criteria:

  • Complete 12 hours of graded USF coursework with no incomplete (I), unsatisfactory (U), or withdraw (W) grades during the semester.
  • A student with an SDS-approved accommodation for reduced academic load may be eligible with at least 9 graded hours.
  • Dean’s List is only awarded at the end of the term. Students who earn “I” grades cannot retroactively receive the award.
  • Earn a semester GPA of 3.90 or better.

Honors at Graduation

To be eligible for Honors at Graduation, students must meet the following criteria:

  1. 40+ hours of graded, upper-level coursework completed at USF
  2. USF GPA of 3.50 or higher.
    1. Grade Forgiveness is not used in this calculation.
    2. No academic integrity violations
    3. GPA is not rounded.
  3. Overall GPA of 3.50 or higher
    1. No Grade Forgiveness from transfer institutions is used in this calculation.

The four levels of honors at graduation are:

  1. Cum Laude (with honor) – overall GPA between 3.50 and 3.69999
  2. Magna Cum Laude (with high honor) – overall GPA between 3.70 and 3.899999
  3. Summa Cum Laude (with highest honor) – overall GPA between 3.90 and 3.9999
  4. King O’Neal Scholars – overall GPA of 4.00

Students who anticipate earning honors at graduation can visit USF’s Commencement website to find information on appropriate regalia.