Satisfactory Progress

Effective Date

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Office of Primary Responsibility

School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Summary of Policy

Students must meet a number of criteria to determine whether they are making satisfactory progress towards their degrees.

Affected Parties

Arts & Sciences Faculty

Policy Statement

Course work and grades are only one component of graduate education, and the grading system is designed to reflect this fact. The following grades will be used in courses acceptable for credit toward a graduate degree and as one criterion for determining satisfactory progress.

  • HP: High Pass, indicating work of quality which is distinctly superior to that normally expected of a graduate student. Denotes high standing and satisfactory progress.
  • P: Pass, indicating work of good quality, worthy of graduate credit. This would be the most common grade denoting satisfactory progress.
  • LP: Low Pass, indicating work which is acceptable for graduate credit, but in which the student exhibited one or more serious deficiencies. Only two LP grades are acceptable for degree credit. A student receiving two LP grades will automatically be placed on probation.
  • CT: Credit, indicating satisfactory work in certain courses, such as research courses, in which assignment of a grade of HP, P, or LP is considered inappropriate. The grade CT is the only passing grade in a course in which it is used.
  • INC: Incomplete, indicating work still in progress. A grade must be assigned to replace the INC by the end of the following term, except with special permission from the Dean of Graduate Studies. If the work is not completed the grade will automatically be recorded as NC.
  • NC: No Credit, indicating work which is not acceptable for graduate credit and automatically places the student on probation.

A graduate student who has received more than one LP grade or has received one NC grade will automatically be placed on probation for one term. (Individual programs may set a standard for course work that is more rigorous than this minimum standard.) The department graduate committee must review the student's progress at the end of the probationary term. The committee will then inform the Dean of Graduate Studies, in writing, if the student has produced course work and/or research at a satisfactory level.

If such is the case, the student will be removed from probationary status.

If, however, the student has not met the departmental standards for satisfactory progress, the student will remain on probation until satisfactory progress is achieved according to the written requirements of the student's graduate committee. A graduate student may also be placed in 'unsatisfactory standing' if the student receives more than two LPs or more than one NC, and may be suspended or permanently dismissed from the program by the department faculty or the Graduate Dean. A student in 'unsatisfactory standing' is not eligible for federal loans or Dartmouth scholarships or fellowships.

In addition to the grade and probation standards set above, the student is also expected to meet quantitative standards by successfully completing coursework in a timely manner. Since there are full-time graduate students (those enrolled for two or more courses per term) and half-time students (those enrolled for only one course per term), the quantitative definition is based upon how many courses the student registers for and completes satisfactorily. Full-time graduate students must complete eight of each consecutive 12 courses for which they register; Doctoral students are further expected to meet all program requirements for graduation within a maximum of seven years and Master's program students are required to complete all requirements within a maximum of six years.

Academic progress (both qualitative and quantitative) is reviewed at the end of the academic year (completion of the spring term) for both full and half-time students and is reported to the Financial Aid Office. Students who fail to meet the requirements for "satisfactory progress," will not receive federal loans or Dartmouth scholarships or fellowships.

Students who have not met satisfactory progress may be able to regain this status for federal financial aid purposes by completing missing coursework in the next term. As an example, consider a full-time student, enrolled for 12 courses in four terms, who had completed only seven courses prior to spring term. During spring term the student requested an incomplete grade for three courses. During the next term of enrollment (summer), the student completed the coursework, which changed the INC grades to P, thereby satisfying the eight-course requirement. Although ineligible for aid during the summer term, the student would regain eligibility for the remainder of the academic year.

Since there are various scenarios as to how a student might regain academic progress for financial aid purposes, each student who is interested should make an appointment with the Graduate Financial Aid Officer who will provide advice according to the individual student's record.

Students who have special circumstances which may have affected their ability to maintain satisfactory progress and who wish to appeal their non-eligible status may do so by providing written details and documentation to the Graduate Financial Aid Officer, HB 6024.

Applicants who are interested in finding out if their situation can be reassessed should make an appointment to see the Graduate Financial Aid Officer by calling 646-2451. (Note: this appeal is for financial aid purposes only. Academic status questions should be addressed to the student's Department or the Dean of Graduate Studies.)