Grading & Academic Honors

Grading System

Academic standing and eligibility for graduation are determined by both the number of courses completed and the grades achieved. The system used at Barnard is as follows: 

A+, A, A- Excellent
B+, B, B- Good
C+, C Satisfactory
C-, D Unsatisfactory but passing
F Failure
P Passed without a specific grade on student's election of P/D/F option
P* Passed in a course for which only a grade of P or F is allowed
I Incomplete
X Absence from final examination
Y For the first half of a two-semester course in which the grade for the second semester is the grade for the entire course
W Approved withdrawal after "drop" deadline
UW Withdrawal from a course without official notification to Registrar

Pass/Fail grades are recorded for all students in certain courses, e.g., physical education. Pass/Fail grades for individual students are subject to regulations described below.

In the computation of grade point averages, marks for courses are awarded on the following scale:

  • 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 = 1.0
  • F = 0

In order to be recommended for the degree, a student must maintain a cumulative average of 2.0 (C) for 122 (121 for transfer students) or more points completed with passing grades. At the end of each term all records are examined. Normally only those students who have completed 12 points with cumulative averages of 2.0 or above are permitted to remain in college. Students whose work falls below the cumulative average of 2.0 may be permitted to continue at Barnard with probationary conditions at the discretion of the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing.

Courses in which the student receives the grade of D may not be counted toward the major requirement or the minor option. Courses graded D that are retaken for a higher grade will not receive degree credit when repeated. Both enrollments and grades appear on the transcript.

Student Transcripts

Grades are available to students online. Following graduation, a student copy of her transcript is sent to each student at her home address (an unofficial transcript for which there is no charge). If the student wishes additional transcripts, a charge of $3 per copy will apply.

A student may request that her transcript be sent to her parent(s) or guardian by completing the appropriate form online during Registration. Parents who have established their daughter’s status as a dependent may receive transcripts of her grades without her consent by writing to the Registrar and enclosing “evidence that the parents declare the student as a dependent on their most recent Federal Income Tax Form” (FERPA).

Pass/D/Fail Option

A student may elect the Pass/D/Fail option by submitting a Request for Pass/D/Fail online, via myBarnard, before the absolutely firm deadline published in the College Calendar.  Under the Pass/D/Fail option the student is held responsible for fulfilling all course requirements. A grade of D or F is not converted. A student cannot elect the Pass/D/Fail option after the deadline and cannot revoke it after the deadline, but a student can request that a P grade be uncovered (see below). The complete rules and instructions are available on myBarnard and on the Registrar's Office website.

Some courses record Pass/Fail grades for all students enrolled, e.g., Physical Education classes. Of the 122 points required for the degree, a maximum of 23 points of course work may receive a grade of Pass. Mandated grades of P* (e.g., for Physical Education) are not included in the 23-point total; students may elect the Pass/D/Fail option in 23 points over and above mandated P grades. (For transfers, the maximum is 22 points.) The P/D/F option cannot be elected for First-Year English or First-Year Seminar or any course designated to count toward the major or the minor.

No limitation is placed on the number of Pass grades that may be recorded in a single term, except those rules that apply to Dean’s List, to eligibility for financial aid, and to the overall 23-point maximum.

Grades of P are not included in the grade point average. Grades of D or F, whether or not received under the Pass/D/Fail option, are computed. If the total number of points excluded from calculation in the grade point average exceeds 34, a sliding scale requiring higher qualifying averages is used to determine eligibility for general honors at graduation. (Like courses graded Pass, points credited for AP and baccalaureates are not calculated in the Barnard grade point average.)

The request for a course to be graded under the Pass/D/Fail option is irreversible. No request will be honored after the deadline.  No request filed before the deadline can be reversed after the deadline. However, students may uncover their grades in any course that they initially elect to take P/D/F; they must request the uncovering no later than the registration deadline of the semester following the one in which the P/D/F course was taken (i.e., the second Friday of the following semester). Caveats: Graduating seniors cannot uncover P/D/F grades in their final semester. (If a graduating senior elected P/D/F in a course that is required for the major, the Registrar's Office will uncover the grade the month before graduation, but the student cannot uncover any P/D/F grades for her final semester.) The 23-point cap is a cap on points the student elected to take P/D/F. Even if a student has chosen to uncover grades for some of those points, the student still cannot elect P/D/F in more than 23 points (or 22 for transfers). For 10 of them, she can elect only 8 more points P/D/F, even though she has only 5 grades of P on her record. Note: The uncovering policy takes effect in fall 2016, for courses elected P/D/F in that semester. It is not retroactive to earlier semesters.


A student may, for compelling reasons, request from her instructor an Incomplete by means of written approval on forms available at the Office of the Registrar. The deadline for filing the Application for Incomplete is the last day of the reading period. However, in a course without a final examination, the deadline is the day before the final paper is due if that date precedes the last day of the reading period.

There are two Incomplete options. The “Early Incomplete” option requires submission of unfinished work to the Registrar soon after the end of the term by the date designated in the College Calendar and results in the removal of the “I” notation from the transcript. The second option extends the deadline to the first day of classes for the next Autumn term, but the “I” notation remains on the permanent transcript and is joined by the final letter grade. The full regulations that apply to Incompletes are listed on the Application for Incomplete form available at the Office of the Registrar. A student must have the permission of her instructor to qualify for an Incomplete, and she is required to use the form, which is a written guarantee of the terms set forth in it by the instructor.


Transcripts are ordered by written request to the transcript assistant in the Office of the Registrar. An official Transcript Request Form is available at the office of the Registrar or may be downloaded from the Registrar’s website, but the request may also be made by letter, provided that the letter includes the following: student’s name (and her name at Barnard, if different) and Barnard identification number or partial Social Security number, dates of attendance at Barnard, number of copies desired, specifications as to whether the transcript should or should not be delayed until the latest semester’s grades have been entered, name(s) and address(es) to which the transcript is to be sent, the student’s full signature, and payment of $3 (by check or money order) for each transcript ordered. Official copies of transcripts (those bearing the seal of the College) can be sent only to academic institutions, business organizations, and government offices. Unofficial copies of transcripts may be sent to the student. All copies of transcripts, official and unofficial, are sent only at the written request of the student, and are subject to the $3 fee. Transcripts can be sent by FedEx or Priority Mail for an additional fee. Transcripts cannot be sent electronically. Barnard cannot send copies of transcripts from other schools; they must be requested directly from the institutions attended.

Dean’s List

Effective fall 2013: To be eligible for Dean's List, a student must be enrolled at Barnard, on Morningside Heights (or on a Columbia program abroad) and complete at least 12 letter-graded points with a minimum grade point average of 3.60 for the term. (P-graded points are excluded.) The grade point average will be based on all letter grades in the A to F range.

Prior to fall 2013: To be eligible for Dean's List, a student must be enrolled at Barnard for both terms and complete at least 12 letter-graded points each term of an academic year with a minimum grade point average of 3.4 for the academic year. (P-graded points are excluded.) The grade point average will be based on all letter grades in the A to F range.

College Honors

The Faculty awards honors to students who complete work for the degree with distinction (cum laude), with high distinction (magna cum laude), and with highest distinction (summa cum laude). Students whose records include study at other institutions (transfer, summer school, study leave) will be eligible for Latin honors if both the overall and the Barnard grade point average meet the designated requirements. If the total number of points for courses graded P and P*, and for transfer grades that do not have Barnard equivalents, exceeds 34 of the 122 points for the degree (121 for students who enter as transfers), the qualifying averages are computed on a sliding scale.

The values determining Latin Honors will change each year. For 2017-2018:

A student with a final cumulative grade point average matching or exceeding the cutoff average for the top 5% of graduates of the last three years will be awarded the degree summa cum laude.

A student with a final cumulative grade point average matching or exceeding the cutoff average for the top 10% of graduates (and below the cutoff average for the top 5% of graduates) of the last three years will be awarded the degree magna cum laude.

A student with a final cumulative grade point average matching or exceeding the cutoff average for the top 20% of graduates (and below the cutoff average for the top 10% of graduates) of the last three years will be awarded the degree cum laude.

The averages for these three groups of graduates in the three academic years 2014-2015 through 2016-2017 were, in descending order, 3.95, 3.85, and 3.71. Accordingly, these minimum values govern the awarding of the corresponding honors in 2017-2018.

Departmental honors are awarded for distinguished work in the major to no more than 20% of graduates, as nominated by their major departments, and conferred by the Committee on Honors.

Phi Beta Kappa

The Barnard section of the Columbia University chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1901. Election to the national honor society is a recognition of scholarship, and Barnard students of exceptionally high standing are eligible. Junior election will require a minimum of 86 completed points, and senior election, 102. Students do not apply for membership; they are elected by Barnard faculty members who are themselves members of Phi Beta Kappa.

Eligibility for Student Government Offices

To be a candidate for election to a student government office, a student must be in good academic standing and free of disciplinary action for at least one year.

Eligibility for Intercollegiate Athletics

Any student at Barnard College, Columbia College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, or the School of General Studies who is pursuing the undergraduate program or a combined program toward a first degree is eligible for intercollegiate athletics, provided that certain conditions are met. To be eligible for athletic activities, a student must:

  • be a candidate for a bachelor's degree;
  • be registered for at least 12 points of credit per semester;
  • be in satisfactory academic standing;
  • have passed by the beginning of the academic year 24 points if in the second year, 52 points if in the third year, or 86 points if in the fourth year;
  • have attended the University for not more than eight terms;
  • not have completed the requirements for a bachelor’s degree.

An eligibility form must be filed with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, which consults with the Registrar to determine eligibility.