3.7 Grades and Grading

Grades are posted to your CalCentral academic record each term by the Office of the Registrar shortly after the close of the semester. You may access your final grades via CalCentral once they have been posted. Individual grades are not given out by the School of Social Welfare. 

Grades for work of Berkeley graduate students are issued and reported in accordance with Berkeley Academic Senate Regulation A201 and Graduate Division policies on grades. The University of California, Berkeley, uses a plus and minus letter grade system on a four-point scale. 

  • A course in which the grade A, B, C, or S is received is counted toward degree requirements.

  • A course in which the grade D, F, or U is received is not counted toward degree requirements. To graduate, students must retake any course required for the degree in which they did not receive a passing grade.

In order for students to be in good standing, they must maintain an overall grade-point average of at least 3.0 on the basis of all upper division and graduate courses (100- and 200-level) taken in graduate standing.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grades (S/U)

With the exception of field practicum courses (SOC WEL 410A, 410B, 412A, 412B) and field integration seminars (SOC WEL 290A, 290B, 292A, 292B), which are offered on the S/U grading basis only, Social Welfare MSW students must take all REQUIRED generalist and specialized practice courses for a letter grade. Exceptions may only be granted by the Social Welfare MSW Head Graduate Advisor. As the course in which MSW students complete the Berkeley master’s capstone requirement, there is no exception granted for SOC WEL 282B-Seminar in Social Research. 

For the Social Welfare MSW degree, two-thirds of all course work (unless otherwise excluded) must be letter-graded.

  • Field practicum courses do not count toward the one-third limit on total S/U-graded units.

  • Field integration seminars DO count toward the one-third limit on total S/U-graded units.

 If you elect to take more than one-third of your courses in any given semester on an S/U basis, rather than for a letter grade, you should check with the GSAO to make certain that your total percentage is still within required limits.

 When a course is taken on the S/U grading basis, a Satisfactory grade implies work of B minus quality or better.

Changes in Grading Option

Students may change their grading option directly on Cal Central through the Wednesday of the 4th week of instruction each semester (see the official Academic Calendar for specific dates each term). After this deadline, students must submit a “Graduate Petition to Change Course Schedule” to the GSAO for approval by the Head Graduate Advisor. Students can make grading option changes through the GSAO up through the Friday before RRR Week.

Changes made after the last day of instruction must be approved by the Graduate Division. The Graduate Division will not approve a retroactive petition to change grading option simply because the student anticipates a low grade or wants to convert a letter grade to S/U if the student did not earn at least a B minus in the course.

Incomplete Grades

If your work in a course has been of passing quality but cannot be finalized due to extenuating circumstances beyond your control, your instructor may give you a grade of Incomplete. An Incomplete will not be assigned simply because a student needs additional time to complete course requirements.

In the School of Social Welfare, your instructor must state the reason for the Incomplete in the comment column of the grade report, and inform your Graduate Advisor of your plans for completing the work via a Graduate Student Petition for an Incomplete Grade form approved by your instructor. Notify your GSAO via email when the form has been submitted.

Once you have completed the work and your instructor has graded it, your instructor reports the grade directly via CalCentral. There is no deadline for graduate students for the removal of incomplete grades, but all Incompletes in required courses must be removed in order for you to receive your degree.

Per the Guide to Graduate Policy the following academic penalties apply to graduate students with Incompletes:

  1. MSW students with more than two “Incomplete” grades on their academic record are not considered in good academic standing and may face probation and dismissal.
  2. Students who have three or more Incompletes are academically ineligible to hold a student academic appointment (e.g. GSI, GSR).
  3. A student can have no more than one Incomplete in a non-required course per year of the degree program (e.g., for a two-year Master’s program, two Incompletes in courses not required are allowed) for award of the Master’s degree to be approved.

Grade Grievances

Per University policy, all grades except “Incomplete” and “In Progress” are considered final when assigned by an instructor at the end of a term. Grade changes are not permitted except in the case of clerical or procedural error. Grade changes may not be made on the basis of a reassessment of the quality of the student's work.

The only formal challenge of a grade permitted by University policy is when an instructor assigns a grade utilizing non-academic criteria (such as considerations of race, politics, religion, sex, or other factors not directly reflective of performance related to course requirements) or when sexual harassment or improper academic procedures unfairly affect a student’s grade. For more information please see the Academic Senate's Procedures for Grade Appeals.

Grievances about a grade should first be addressed with the instructor who assigned the grade in question. The student should first meet with the instructor to discuss the grievance and clarify reasons for the grade assignment. Students may also seek mediation assistance and advice from the Social Welfare MSW Program GSAO, Head Graduate Advisor, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Services, or the Campus Ombudsperson. Keep in mind that these advisers do not have the authority to require an instructor to change a grade.

If informal mediation of a grade grievance does not result in satisfactory action, a student may submit a formal appeal to the Dean of the School of School Welfare, subject to the conditions outlined in the School’s Student Grievance and Appeal Procedures. Formal appeals must be directed to the Dean of the School of Social Welfare, 120 Haviland Hall. A written statement indicating the action being appealed, the grounds upon which the appeal is based, the relief requested, and any background information that the student deems pertinent to his or her case, must accompany the appeal. The appeal must be filed with the Dean within two semesters of the alleged offense.