Psychology Department Plus/Minus Grading Policy

Beginning with the Fall, 2006 term, instructors will have the option of assigning grades on a plus (+) and minus (-) scale for undergraduate and graduate courses (see for details from Enrollment Services). Departments were encouraged to develop a policy regarding this option.

The Psychology Executive Committee has considered the potential advantages, disadvantages, and ambiguities of plus/minus grading and recommends the following policy:

  1. Instructors of psychology courses may use plus/minus grading so long as
    1. the course syllabus clearly specifies how all grades (including plus/minus grades) will be awarded,
    2. the instructor assigns grades in strict accordance to the guidelines of the syllabus, and
    3. the syllabus includes the reminder that “Courses or criteria that require a grade B or C will continue requiring the same. Grades of B- or C- will not fulfill the requirement.”
  2. Instructors who elect not to use plus/minus grading for a course must indicate this clearly on the syllabus.
  3. Recognizing issues of academic freedom, no department-wide system for awarding points and grades is prescribed. However, course coordinators, in consultation with instructors, are responsible for ensuring that a uniform procedure for assigning plus/minus grades is used for all sections of each multi-section course each semester.

In this period of transition, clarity and consistency will be keys to implementing plus/minus grading in a way that minimizes student complaints and grade appeals. Each instructor should read the information at and should understand how assignment of plus/minus grades affects students’ qualification of prerequisites, eligibility for Honors or other GPA-based activities, and financial aid.