Evaluating Academic Performance

UC Santa Cruz has one of the more comprehensive systems for evaluating students’ academic performance of any research university in the United States. The evaluation system consists of two major components: the assignment of a final grade in the course and an optional evaluation of your performance.

Evaluations

Beginning fall 2010, undergraduate evaluations are at the option of the faculty. In each course for which you receive a grade of D or better (or P) an evaluation of your academic performance may be submitted. An evaluation may:

  • Describe the strengths and weaknesses of your performance in the various areas of class activity (discussion, laboratory work, term papers, examinations)
  • Assess your general understanding of the course content
  • Recognize additional or particularly outstanding work

Evaluations may be used at UCSC in academic advising, reviewing scholarship applications, and awarding Honors in the major. Evaluations are a permanent part of your academic record. All students may request transcripts either with or without evaluations.

Grades

At the end of each course, you will receive one of the following grade notations:

A excellent

B good

C fair

D poor

F fail

P passing

NP not passing

I incomplete

IP in progress

W withdrawal

The grades of A, B, C, and D may be modified by a plus (+) or a minus (-). You will not receive credit for graduation in any course in which you receive a final grade of F or NP. The grades I and IP are temporary grades used in special circumstances. The final notation W indicates that you officially withdrew from the course before completing it.

Grade Points

Grade points are assigned to a letter grade as follows:

4.0 = A+

4.0 = A

3.7 = A-

3.3 = B+

3.0 = B

2.7 = B-

2.3 = C+

2.0 = C

1.7 = C-

1.3 = D+

1.0 = D

0.7 = D-

0.0 = F

The grades P and NP are not included in calculating your GPA and so are not assigned grade points. Courses in which the interim grades I and IP are assigned earn no grade points or credit until the interim grade is replaced by a final letter grade.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Undergraduates have a UCSC cumulative grade point average calculated from UCSC courses, courses taken through the Education Abroad Program, and courses taken at another UC campus as part of the Intercampus Visitor Program.

A grade point average is determined by dividing the number of grade points earned by the number of credits attempted for a letter grade. In calculating your UCSC GPA, the interim grades IP and I are not included in the computation because you do not earn those credits until they are replaced with a final grade. (However, when checking for whether you have satisfied the 2.0 UC GPA requirement for graduation, these interim grades are included and counted as courses with grade F [or NP]).

If you repeat a course in which you have received a C-, D+, D, D-, or F, only the last grade recorded shall be computed in your GPA for the first 15 credits of repeated work. After the 15 credit maximum is reached, the GPA will be based on all grades assigned and total credits attempted.

Undergraduates who entered UCSC for the first time in or after fall 1997 and before fall 2001 have a UCSC cumulative grade point average only if they have elected letter grades in at least two-thirds of the cumulative credits attempted. Undergraduates who entered UCSC prior to fall 1997 cannot have an official UCSC grade point average calculated.

Pass/No Pass Option

Students in good academic standing may request to take specific courses on a Pass/No Pass basis. Students receive a P (Pass) for work that is performed at C level or better. Work performed at below a C level receives a notation of NP on the student’s transcript, and no academic credit is awarded for the course. Requests for Pass/No Pass grading must be submitted and confirmed by the Grade Option deadline printed in the Academic and Administrative Calendar. If you request P/NP grading in a course and you are later placed on academic probation, your P/NP grading request will be canceled.

No more than 25 percent of the UCSC credits applied toward graduation may be graded on a Pass/No Pass basis. This includes any credits completed in the Education Abroad Program or on another UC campus in an intercampus exchange program, but does not include transfer work from community colleges or other institutions. Students must be careful about the use of the Pass/No Pass option. Some courses may only be taken Pass/No Pass, and therefore count against the 25 percent Pass/No Pass limit. Several majors require all or most major requirements to be taken for a letter grade; read the major requirements section carefully before using the Pass/No Pass option for any course in a major you are considering.

Incomplete

The notation I may be assigned, at the discretion of the faculty teaching the course, when your work for a course is of passing quality but for which some specific required work has not been completed. You must make arrangements with the instructor before the end of the course in order to receive an Incomplete. To remove the Incomplete, you must submit the remaining coursework and file a petition by the deadline printed in the Academic and Administrative Calendar (generally the end of the following quarter). If you do not meet the deadline, the Incomplete lapses to a No Pass or an F, depending on the grading option selected at the beginning of the quarter.

Grade changes (except for I as above) are allowed only to correct clerical or calculation errors by the instructor and must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by the instructor in charge of the course within one year of the close of the quarter for which the original grade was submitted.

Student Responsibility

Students are responsible for using the Academic Information Systems (AIS) to set and confirm choices for grading options and for ensuring timely completion of all requirements. Students view their schedule at MyUCSC.

Course Loads

The usual course load for UCSC undergraduates is 15 to 19 credits, most often as three 5-credit courses and associated laboratories and sections. After instruction begins, students with a UCSC GPA of 3.0 may enroll in up to 22 credits without special approval and may seek approval for higher loads from their college advising office. Students in their first quarter or with a lower GPA must seek approval from their college advising office for enrollment in more than 19 credits.

College approval is required to carry fewer than 15 credits.

Academic Progress

Academic progress is a measure of the completion of courses with a D- or better, or Pass. Colleges monitor academic progress to ensure you are progressing toward your degree, which must be earned within 15 quarters of enrollment (five years).

Minimum progress is based on length of time at UCSC. The minimum acceptable progress is completion of 36 credits for each academic year, 12 credits for each additional full-time term, and four-fifths of credits attempted for each part-time term. Progress is measured cumulatively, not term by term. For example, a full-time student must complete 48 credits by the end of the first quarter of the second year.

If you do not maintain minimum progress, your college may require you to take higher course loads, complete Summer Session courses, or make other adjustments to your study plan.

A separate financial aid satisfactory academic progress policy (FASAP) defines the GPA and progress requirements for remaining eligible to receive financial aid. Information can be found on the Undergraduate Academic Progress and Financial Aid Information website.

Academic Standing

Academic standing is a measure of performance in completed courses. You must maintain a 2.0 UCSC GPA in order to remain in good academic standing.

If your UCSC term or cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 at the end of any term, you will be placed on academic probation for the next term. You will need to work with your college and major advisers to determine the best way to return to good academic standing. Be sure to take full advantage of the many learning support services available at UCSC.

If your UCSC GPA for any term falls below 1.5, or if you are on academic probation and your cumulative GPA at the end of a term is below 2.0, you are also subject to disqualification. This means that your enrollment at UCSC may be barred for a specific period of time, or you may be disqualified indefinitely from attending the University of California. In many cases, a specific study plan can be developed with your college that will enable you to remain enrolled at UCSC.

For students who entered UCSC prior to fall 2001, academic standing and progress are calculated differently. Contact your college office or see The Navigator for more information.

Financial aid's satisfactory academic progress policy (FASAP) is separate from the Academic Standing policy, and defines additional GPA and progress requirements for remaining eligible to receive financial aid. Information can be found on the Undergraduate Academic Progress and Financial Aid Information website.

Maximum Credits and Years

Students are expected to complete their degree objective(s) within four years, with maximum enrollment limits of at most 225 credits and five academic years (Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate units are not counted). Upper-division transfer students are expected to complete their degree objective(s) within at most 135 UCSC credits and three academic years.

Colleges may make exceptions to the credit maximum for students in certain cases. Such exceptions are conditional on maintaining academic standing, minimal progress, and progress toward the degree objective(s).

Students in danger of exceeding the credit limit or the five-year or three-year limit may be required to modify their degree objective, such as by completing a major without a minor or double major, or completing a related major with fewer course requirements.

Repeating Courses

Undergraduates may repeat courses in which they earn a C-, D+, D, D-, F, No Pass, or W. For an undergraduate to repeat a course more than once requires approval of the student’s college. A grade of W counts as an attempt. Courses in which a C-, D+, D, D-, or F is earned may not be repeated on a Pass/No Pass basis. Courses in which a grade of No Pass is earned may be repeated on the same basis or for a letter grade. For the first 15 credits of repeated courses, the original grade is excluded from the GPA, and only the grade from the repetition is used. After the 15-credit maximum is reached, all grades are included in the GPA. However, credit is not awarded more than once for the same course. The grade assigned each time the course is taken will be permanently recorded on the official transcript.

Academic Integrity

The university is dedicated to the unhindered pursuit of knowledge and its free expression. It is essential that faculty and students pursue their academic work with the utmost integrity. This means that all academic work produced by an individual is the result of the sole effort of that individual and acknowledges the contributions of others explicitly. It is the responsibility of students and faculty to be absolutely clear about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, or other violations of academic integrity. Violations of academic integrity by students result in both academic sanctions (e.g., failing the course) and disciplinary sanctions (e.g., suspension or dismissal). Consult the campus’s undergraduate academic misconduct policy for more information.

Undergraduate Honors

UC Santa Cruz awards several honors for outstanding academic achievement.

Dean’s Honors

Students will be eligible for quarterly Dean’s Honors if they have earned a minimum of 15 units that quarter, of which at least 10 are graded, with a term grade point average (GPA) equal or higher than that required for University Honors at graduation in their group* for the current academic year. The notation “Dean’s Honors” will appear on the transcript.

*Note: GPA thresholds for Baskin School of Engineering majors are calculated separately from those of majors in all other divisions.

Honors at Graduation

Honors at graduation are awarded by the university and by the separate majors based on a review of their graduates’ academic records. In general, honors are limited to 15 percent of the graduating class. University Honors are based on the cumulative UC GPA. Faculty review of major honors may involve additional criteria.

University Honors

To be considered for University Honors at graduation, students must have completed 70 or more credits at the University of California and have attained in their group* a UC GPA that places them in the rankings as follows: Summa Cum Laude, top 2 percent; Magna Cum Laude, next 3 percent; Cum Laude, next 10 percent. Each year and for each group, the registrar will calculate the GPA thresholds required for these levels of University Honors, based on the GPAs of recent graduates. The notation “University Honors” will appear on the diploma and transcript.

* Note: GPA thresholds for Baskin School of Engineering majors are calculated separately from those of majors in all other divisions.

Honors in the Major

At graduation, the department sponsoring a student’s major program may confer Honors or Highest Honors in the major. This notation appears on the transcript as well as on the diploma. In general, no more than 15 percent of the graduation class in a major will be awarded Honors at graduation.

Deadlines

To ensure consideration for honors in the major, students should apply to graduate by the Registrar’s deadline.

Any student who has a reportable disciplinary sanction for a violation of academic integrity policies may be ineligible for any honors designation, at the discretion of the agency that awards the designation.

Undergraduate Honors Opportunities

College Scholars Program

The UC Santa Cruz College Scholars Program offers a congenial and stimulating academic home for a select group of well-prepared students at UC Santa Cruz. College Scholars can expect to challenge themselves academically, find other students who are similarly motivated, and explore undergraduate research. This enriched program of study includes special courses, seminars, colloquia, and other events during each quarter of the academic year. College Scholars participate in demanding, small-scale, and research-oriented courses that catalyze creative thinking and offer a springboard to other undergraduate research opportunities.

Admission to the Fall Start cohort of the College Scholars Program is by invitation. A select group of UCSC applicants offered admission to the university will be invited to join the program, based on their record of academic achievement. Students can also apply for the College Scholars Program after the fall of their first year ("Spring Start"). In this case, students will join the program during the spring research colloquium. Spring Start students are selected based on applications submitted through their college.

Honor Societies

Many UC Santa Cruz students are members of departmental, professional, local, and national honor societies whose goals are to recognize and improve scholastic standing in an area of interest. Among these are Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national society that advances scholarship and recognizes excellence in the liberal arts and sciences; Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society that recognizes students of distinguished scholarship, exemplary character, and dedication to service; the Golden Key International Honour Society, which provides recognition and leadership opportunities to top-performing students; and Psi Chi, which encourages, stimulates, and maintains excellence in scholarship, and advances the science of psychology.

Awards and Scholarships

UC Santa Cruz has a variety of scholarship and award opportunities that are designed to reward, encourage, and assist students in pursuing academic excellence and leadership roles. Students can find such opportunities through their colleges, departments, divisions, and various external agencies.

UCSC provides support for students for a variety of prestigious scholarships and awards such as the Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Award, Deans’ and Chancellor’s Awards, Steck Foundation Award, Boren Scholarship, Donald A. Strauss Scholarship, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, and Rhodes Scholarship.

Transcripts

Academic records are maintained by the Office of the Registrar, which will issue an official transcript only on your authorized request.

For information on ordering transcripts, please refer to Registrar's Registrar's transcripts website.

If you have outstanding financial obligations to the university, a hold may be placed on your transcript. Students may access their unofficial transcript on MyUCSC.

Transcripts for UCSC Extension courses should be requested from UCSC Extension Records, 3175 Bowers Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95054-3003, (408) 861-3700.

Privacy of Records

UCSC students are informed annually of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and its provisions. This act, which the institution follows, was designed to protect the privacy of education records and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings. Students also have the right to file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with the act.

UCSC policy explains in detail the procedures to be used by the institution for compliance with the provisions of the act. FERPA guidelines are available at Privacy of Student Records. The full text of the University of California policies applying to the Disclosure of Information from Student Records is online: registrar.ucsc.edu/records/disclosure/index.html.

Questions concerning the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act may be referred to the Office of the Registrar, 190 Hahn Student Services Building.