PennDesign Academic Performance and Grading

PennDesign Academic Performance and Grading

Course Attendance
PennDesign reserves the right to withdraw students from courses for failure to attend the first class meeting. Policies regarding absence from classes are determined by the instructor(s) responsible for the course.  A course instructor may choose to base part of the course grade on attendance and participation, or may present material in class that cannot be found in the readings.  If it is necessary to miss a class, the student should seek permission from the course instructor in advance.  Upon request of the instructor, written documentation must be submitted for an excused absence.  Attendance policies do not apply to recognized religious holidays. 

PennDesign instructors, with the exception of the Department of Fine Arts, apply a grading system of letter grades:

A+ = 4.0
A = 4.0
A- = 3.7
B+ = 3.3
B = 3.0
B- = 2.7
C+ = 2.3
C = 2.0
C- = 1.7
F = 0.0 Failure
I = 0.0 Incomplete

Students enrolled in Architecture, City Planning, Historic Preservation and Landscape Architecture degree programs are issued letter grades.  Students enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program are graded on a Pass/Fail system.  When a course is taken as Pass/Fail, the grade of P (pass) is NOT calculated into the grade point average.  However, if an F (fail) is received in a Pass/Fail course, it is calculated into the GPA.

PennDesign students, who receive a grade of F (fail) in a required course, must repeat the course for credit.  If a student receives a grade of F (fail) in an elective course, the course must be repeated or a course of equivalent course units meeting the degree requirements must be taken.  However, the F (fail) remains on the student’s official transcript even if the student has repeated the course and obtained a satisfactory grade.  The F (fail) is still calculated in the cumulative GPA.  Any courses for which the failed course is a prerequisite may not be taken until a satisfactory grade in the prerequisite course has been achieved. 

The Grade Point Average (GPA) is tabulated at the end of each semester.  The GPA is calculated by multiplying the course unit for each course (usually 1 C.U.) by the numerical equivalent for the grade received in the course, adding the told number and dividing by the total number of credits taken.  Averages are tabulated for each semester on a cumulative basis.

The notations of NR and GR indicate that the grade has not been received by the Registrar.  All NRs (instructor did not submit grades for the course) and GRs (instructor did not enter a grade for the student in question) must be cleared from the student’s transcript before graduation.  The notation “W” indicates an approved withdrawal from a course.

Grade Reports and Transcripts
At the end of each term, students can access their grades via PennInTouch.  Through PennInTouch, students can request to receive their grade report by mail from the University Office of the Registrar.  Official transcripts are maintained by the University Office of the Registrar NOT by PennDesign.  The University’s definition of an official transcript is completed (graded) coursework.  In progress coursework will not appear on a student’s official transcript.  Students can request official transcript electronically, by US mail and in person.  For details on how to request an official transcript please consult the University Registrar’s website:

Incomplete Course Work
A grade of “I” (incomplete) shall be given only in cases of illness or family emergencies.  No faculty member is required to give a grade of incomplete.  If a permanent grade is not submitted by the end of the second semester, a permanent “F” (fail) grade will be issued.  It is the student’s responsibility to find out how much time the faculty member requires to review course work and submit a grade.  Students must give the faculty member a minimum of three weeks to read late assignments and submit a grade.  More time may be required by individual faculty members, particularly at the end of the semester.  Faculty are not required to review student work during the summer unless a prior agreement has been reached between the student and the faculty member.

In rare instances where the faculty member believes there are important educational purposes to be served by having the student do further work, and where this will not compromise further studies, a provisional grade of “S” may be given.  If a permanent grade is not submitted by the end of the following semester, a permanent “F” (fail) grade will be issued.  Department chairs may decide in which, if any, courses “S” grades may be given.  The departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture do NOT permit the assignment of “S” grades. For an “S” to be recorded in other department, (1) the student’s work should be substantially complete by the end of the semester, (2) the faculty member must submit in writing to the student and the PennDesign Registrar what work must be done, and (3) the faculty member must agree to work with the student to help ensure its completion, regardless of their location or status during the following semester. 

Grade Appeals
Evaluation of a student’s performance is the responsibility of the instructor.  Should a final grade in a course be disputed, the student must submit a written appeal to the instructor within the first two weeks of the semester immediately following the semester in which the grade was received.  The instructor must respond in writing to the student within two weeks of receiving the written appeal from the student.  If, after receiving the written response to the appeal from the instructor, the student still believes that the grade has been unfairly assigned, the student must submit a written appeal to the Chair of the student’s Department.  If the Chair believes the appeal demonstrates evidence of negligence or discriminatory behavior, an advisory committee will be formed to review the student’s appeal and make a recommendation to the Chair.  The decision of the Chair is final.

Academic Probation
To remain in good academic standing, graduate students are required to maintain a minimum GPA throughout their graduate program and make satisfactory progress toward their program of study.   Students not making satisfactory academic progress may receive a warning or be placed on probation.  The decision to place a student on academic probation is the responsibility of the department chair and is issued based on the student’s overall performance in a given semester.  At the end of a semester of probation, the student’s record will be reviewed to evaluate whether satisfactory academic performance has been achieved.  In the absence of improvement in the subsequent semester, students on probation may be withdrawn from the School of Design.

A student will be placed on academic probation if he/she has:

  • A semester GPA below 3.0, or
  • a cumulative GPA below 3.0, or
  • a “C+, C or C-“ grade in 2 or more course units
  • a “F” in any course

The decision to place a dual degree student on probation is made separately for each degree program in which the student is enrolled.  Should a department chair decide to place a dual degree student on academic probation in his/her department’s degree program, he/she will consult with the department chair of the second degree program in which the student is enrolled, so that the student can clearly understands his/her status and what is required to achieve satisfactory academic performance in both programs.

A student on academic probation is expected to meet with his/her academic advisor to design a performance improvement plan.  If the student achieves a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above at the end of the subsequent semester the student will be removed from academic probation.  If a dual degree student receives a 3.0 or above at the end of the subsequent semester in the program in which he/she was placed on probation, the decision whether to remove the student from academic probation will be made by the department chair in that program in consultation with the department chair of the other degree program.

If the student does not achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, the student is subject to withdraw from the program. Students who are withdrawn for unsatisfactory academic performance are not eligible for readmission.  Withdraw decisions are made by the Dean in consultation with the department chair and the Registrar.

Questions regarding PennDesign Academic Performance and Grading Policies should be directed to Andrea M. Porter, Director of Student Services / Registrar: