Grading Policies

  1. Normally, course outlines should present a clear outline of the topics to be covered, readings to be assigned, and problems/cases to be discussed in every class.
  2. The grading scheme (i.e. kinds and weights of assignments, essays, exams, etc.) should be announced, and be available in writing, within the first two weeks of class.
  3. With the exception of courses explicitly required for certification by a professional body, or other exceptions agreed to by Senate, students pass or fail a course on the basis of their final course average, without the additional requirement of having to obtain a passing grade on a final examination. This policy does not exclude the possibility of a final examination representing more than 50% of the final grade in a particular course or the requirement that a student pass a specific course lab component.
  4. Normally, there should be more than one component contributing to the course grade.
  5. The way in which the final course grade will be computed should be clear to students:
    • the percentage contribution to the final grade of every graded element; multiple elements should not be combined into a single percentage component;
    • the mapping of individual grades into a numeric form for combination into the final grade;
    • the mapping of final numeric grades into a final letter grade;
    • if grades are to be standardized or curved in some way, this should be stated in the outline – the student should be able, after each graded assignment is returned, to understand what the grade on that is worth in terms of a standardized letter grade. Alternately, the course outline should specify what class standing levels will receive what grade – students should be able, after each graded assignment is returned to know their relative class standing.

Every component of the final grade should be reported separately to students (this includes class participation grades).

  1. Normally, class participation should not account for more than 20% of the final grade. Instructors should ensure that students know the basis for the assessment of class participation and should keep appropriate [class-by-class] documentation as the course progresses.* Instructors must retain documentation for twelve months. Participation should be based on more than attendance.
  2. Normally, students must receive graded feedback worth at least 15% of the final grade for 3.00 credit-hour courses prior to the withdrawal date from a course without academic penalty, with the following exceptions: 1.50 credit-hour courses, courses on a compressed schedule, practicum courses and courses where the course work typically consist of a single piece of work.
  3. No examinations or tests (in‐class or take‐home) collectively worth more than 20% of the course grade are permitted during the final 14 calendar days of classes in any Schulich course. Excepted are courses that run on weekends, courses in compressed terms, and courses with 6.0 or more contact hours per week. An assignment is not considered a take‐home examination if students have at least two weeks to complete it.
  4. Sections of required core courses are normally expected to have a mean grade of between 4.70 and 6.10 grade points for core courses in a Masters program, and between 5.20 and 6.20 grade points for Masters-level electives. For Undergraduate courses, the average course grade awarded within a section should be between 5.50 and 7.00. Grade distributions that do not meet the guidelines must be reviewed by the Area Coordinator or appropriate Program/Specialization Director. The Course Director and the approver should be prepared to explain the basis for the grade distributions that do not meet the guidelines.


Grading Scales

Undergraduate students must maintain a 5.0 average (C+) to remain in good standing. The undergraduate grading scheme* is the common undergraduate grading system mandated by the University:

Letter Grade:A+AB+BC+CD+D[E*]F
Index Value:987654320


The Masters-level grading scale contains no “D” grades. Students must maintain a GPA of 4.2 throughout the program and have at least a 4.4 to graduate. The Dean’s List requirement is 7.0 or better. The Masters-level grading system* uses the following 9-point system:

Letter Grade:A+AA-B+BB-C+CC-F
Index Value:9876543210


* Useful Notes

  • This Faculty does not use a standardized percentage grading scale; a cumulative mark of (say) 70% in a course has no automatic letter grade equivalent. However, parts of York and many other Canadian universities often do use standard systems in which (for example) anything above 50% is a pass, and many of your students most likely will be accustomed to such systems. Therefore, if you use numerical marks on your examinations or assignments, be sure to make it clear to the students what those marks mean in letter grades (e.g., if you consider 60% to be a minimum pass, then say so.)
  • Participation grades are frequent causes of grade appeals. If you use participation grades, please be sure that you keep class-by-class records of contribution that can be audited if needed. It is strongly recommended to assess contribution right after each class.
  • Another frequent cause of (successful) grade appeals results from deviating from the grading system as outlined in the course outline. Think of the course outline as your contract with the students. Stick to it if the semester has started already, and change it before the next time you teach the course, if necessary.


Please also see the following pages for completeness:


Exams & Assessments, including
Use of Graders