Semester/Academic Year Grading Policy

While Columbia students are abroad, they are graded according to the grading system that their home school uses. For Columbia’s grading system, please visit:

Students from other schools are graded in the same manner as Columbia students. The Columbia grading scale uses letter grades. Plus and minus letter grades may also be used.

Courses taken at a local university will be graded based on the local grading standards. The grades are converted into American letter grades by the program, which are posted to a Columbia or home school transcript.

Consortium/partner member students who remain enrolled at their home institutions and whose grades will be posted directly on their home school transcripts should check with their study abroad office about home school grading options.

Please note the following:


It is expected that most students studying abroad will not choose this option because they must earn letter grades in order to fulfill the requirements of their study abroad program, their major, or their core or general education curriculum.

However, in certain cases, students may request this option if the program is able to accommodate it and if they are adhering to their home school policies. Approval from the home school and the Resident Director must be provided.

The purpose of this option is to encourage students to take courses of interest to them outside of the field of specialization.

The Mark of W (Withdrawal)

All programs have a standard course load that all students are required to maintain.

If, after consulting with the Resident Director, a student withdraws from a course after the drop deadline, the transcript will show a mark of W for that course. This is a permanent mark, and will remain on the transcript even if the student repeats the course.

Students should be aware that, in order to remain in good academic standing, they must successfully complete no fewer than 12 points in a given semester. Students who do not earn at least 12 points in a semester could face academic probation, suspension, or dismissal.

The Mark of AR (Administrative Referral)

Given to Columbia College and General Studies students as a temporary grade in circumstances when a student’s irregular academic behavior in class merits something other than grades A through F, to allow for time for the instructor to consult with the appropriate individuals about the situation. AR is not a permanent grade but, rather, is designed to allow faculty a reasonable default grade for use until an appropriate permanent grade can be submitted. Ultimately, the decision as to what the final grade should be will rest with the individual instructor.


This can only be granted by the Resident Director, in consultation with OGP and the home school, for students who cannot complete their coursework or are unable to take a final examination. The only reasons for which an INC will be granted are incapacitating illness, as certified by a medical professional, serious family emergency, or circumstances of comparable gravity. Students who wish to receive the mark of INC must petition the Director in writing before the last day of classes, in the case of course work, or no later than the day before the final examination when requesting permission to miss the examination. To be granted an INC, it is expected that students will have completed all work in the class with the exception of the final project or exam. Students who are granted an INC are assigned a deadline for completion of the overdue work or a date by which a deferred examination must be taken, usually prior to the start of the next term. Those who fail to meet the assigned deadline or miss the deferred examination will then have the missing work graded as a “zero” and the grade for the course calculated accordingly.

The Mark of R (Registration Credit)

No point credit is given for R credit. Students who take a course for R credit may be required to complete certain work as specified by the instructor. The exact nature of the work should be determined by the instructor when the student registers for the course. An instructor may fail a student who has not completed assigned work.

Registering for R credit is allowed only when:

  • the course is in excess of the program’s academic program requirements;
  • the course is taken in the last two terms of the student’s attendance (for Columbia College students);
  • the course is not used to fulfill a requirement for the undergraduate degree;
  • the student has the permission of the instructor, Director, home school, and OGP.