Grades Information

Your Grade Point Average (GPA)

Grades and Repeating Courses

Taking Courses Passed/Not Passed (P/NP)

New Retroactive Grade Option Change Policy

The College of Letters and Science offers two grading options for undergraduate students:  letter grades (A-F) and Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) The grade-point average (or GPA) is the average grade that a student has earned in a group of letter graded courses.See the The General Catalog for detailed information regarding UCSB's grading policies.

The grade-point balance is a measure in grade points of how far you are over or under the minimum standard (2.0 GPA). A negative balance is often called a deficit. If your cumulative GPA falls below 2.0, knowing your grade deficit can help you determine the grades you'll need to return to regular academic standing.  See below for details.

Your Grade Point Average (GPA)

You can find your cumulative GPA by doing  a "Major and GE Progress Check" under the "Progress" tab in GOLD.  You can use the Grade Point Average and Grade Point Balance Calculator  or by the information below to calculate changes in your GPA.

To calculate your GPA, you start by using all courses completed on a letter-grade basis (A+ through F). You do NOT use courses graded P, NP, IP, W, or I. The grade you receive in a course determines how many grade points you receive for that course. For each unit in the course, you earn the grade points as shown in Table 1, below.

Table 1: Grades and Grade-point Values

A+ 4.0
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+ 1.3
D 1.0
D- 0.7
F 0

Therefore, if you earn a B+ in a 4-unit course, you earn 4 x 3.3 grade points, or 13.2 grade points. If you earn a D in a 5-unit course, you earn 5 x 1.0 grade points, or 5 grade points.

Calculating your grade-point average requires relating the grade points you have earned in courses to the unit value of those courses. For example, suppose that in a quarter you receive the following grades and units:

  Units Grade
Course #1 4 B+
Course #2 3 A
Course #3 4 C
Course #4 2 P

The grade points you have earned are calculated as follows:

  Units Grade Grade Points
per Unit
Grade Points
for course
Course #1 4 B+ 3.3 13.2
Course #2 3 A 4.0 12.0
Course #3 4 C 2.0 8.0 
Course #4 2 P 0.0 0.0 

To calculate your GPA, you must divide the total number of grade points earned in your letter-graded courses by the number of letter-graded units you have attempted. Note that Course #4 does not apply to the calculation because you chose P/NP grading.

To calculate your GPA, we extract the following information from Courses 1 through 3:

  Units Grade Grade Points
per Unit
Grade Points
for course
Course #1 4 B+ 3.3 13.2
Course #2 3 A 4.0 12.0
Course #3 4 C 2.0 8.0 
Course #4 2 P 0.0 0.0 
Total 13    (11 letter-graded units) 33.2


Total Grade Points
Letter Graded Units

If you would like more practice in this,

Each letter grade, except C, has an impact on the grade-point balance. For each unit of letter-graded courses, the grade-point balance impact of the letter grade is found by subtracting 2.0 from the grade points you have actually earned. Table 2 summarizes this for each letter grade.

Table 2: How Grades Affect Your Grade-Point Balance

Grades Per Unit Contribution to Grade-Point Balance
A+ 2.0
A 2.0
A- 1.7
B+ 1.3
B 1.0
 B- 0.7
C+ 0.3
C 0.0
C- -0.3
D+ -0.7
D -1.0
D- -1.3
F -2.0


Note that that each grade above C improves the grade-point balance, each grade below C reduces it, and grades of C have no effect on the grade-point balance. Table 3 summarizes the impact on grade-point balance of courses with different unit values for each grade.

Table 3: Summary of Grade-Point Balance by Grade and Unit Value

Grade 1 Unit 2 Units 3 Units 4 Units 5 Units
A or A+ +2.0 +4.0 +6.0 +8.0 +10.0
A- +1.7 +3.4 +5.1 +6.8 +8.5
B+ +1.3 +2.6 +3.9 +5.2 +6.5
B +1.0 +2.0 +3.0 +4.0 +5.0
B- +0.7 +1.4 +2.1 +2.8 +3.5
C+ +0.3 +0.6 +0.9 +1.2 +1.5
C 0 0 0 0 0
C- -0.3 -0.6 -0.9 -1.2 -1.5
D+ -0.7 -1.4 -2.1 -2.8 -3.5
D -1.0 -2.0 -3.0 -4.0 -5.0
D- -1.3 -2.6 -3.9 -5.2 -6.5
F -2.0 -4.0 -6.0 -8.0 -10.0

Using the example above:

  Units Grade Grade Points
per Unit
Grade Point Balance
for Course
Course #1 4   B+ 3.3 5.2
Course #2 3 A 4.0 6.0
Course #3 4 C 2.0 0.0
Course #4 2 P 0.0 0.0
Total 13    (11 letter-graded units) 11.2

Again, each grade above C improves your grade-point balance, each grade below C damages it, and C grades have no effect.

The grade-point balance is particularly useful if your GPA is below 2.0, since it gives you insight into what you have to do to get into good academic standing. For example, if you have a grade-point balance of -16 (deficit of 16 grade points), you must improve your grade-point balance by achieving grades above C in an appropriate number of units. In this case, you could eliminate this negative balance (or deficit) by earning grades of B in 16 units or A in 8 units. Use Table 3 to find other combinations of grades that would eliminate this deficit.

Each letter grade, except C, has an impact on the grade-point balance. For each unit of letter-graded courses, the grade-point balance impact of the letter grade is found by subtracting 2.0 from the grade points you have actually earned. Table 2 summarizes this for each letter grade.

If you would like more practice in calculating grade-point balances, try our our GPA & GPB Calculator.

Grades and Repeating Courses

Most courses can be taken for credit only once, but students can repeat a course if they earn a grade of C- or lower. If they repeat a course with a C- or lower, the most recent grade replaces the previous one in the GPA calculation for up to 16 units from repeated courses. If a student repeats courses beyond 16 units, both the previous and most recent grades are factored into the GPA.

Are "Second Repeats" allowed? To repeat a course for a second time, students need to complete the "Credit and Enrollment Clarification" form found in the Petitions sections. Please note, these petitions are rarely approved. Repeating a course can help improve GPA, especially if it's crucial for your major or serves as a prerequisite for another needed course. However, it's essential to consider whether repeating a course is necessary. Consult with a Letters & Science or major department advisor before making a decision. Detailed guidelines for repeating courses can be found in The General Catalog.

Taking Courses Passed/Not Passed (P/NP).

Many courses offer the option of "optional grading," allowing you to choose between receiving a letter grade or a "passed/not passed" (P/NP) when registering for the course on GOLD. If you opt for P/NP and acheive a grade of at least a C, you will "Pass" the course and earn units. However, if you earn a C- or lower, will have "Not Passed" the course and will not receive units. P/NP courses will have no impact on your GPA.

It is important to keep in mind that:

  • All courses that apply to a major or for a minor must be taken for a letter grade. This includes pre-major courses, course in the preparation for a major, and upper division major courses.
  • 120 or two-thirds of your UCSB units must be taken or a letter grade, the remaining 1/3 may be taken P/NP

What are the potential downsides of taking a course Passed/Not Passed?

  • If you are taking a course Passed/Not Passed, a grade of C- will become a grade of NP on your transcript. With a grade of NP, you may save your GPA but lose units; with a grade of C-, you will earn units but you may harm your GPA.
  • You must complete a minimum of 76 letter-graded University of California units to graduate with honors, high honors, or highest honors.
  • Pre-law students should note that the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) will calculate a grade of NP as an F when considering applicants for admission into their program.We recommend that pre-law students discuss their options with a pre-law advisor before choosing the P/NP option for a course.
  • ICA Athletes should always check with thier Athletic Academic Advisor to ensure there are no eligiblity issues when changing the grading option.

Is there a limit to the number of Passed/Not Passed classes I take in one quarter?

There is no limit to the number of courses you take P/NP in a given quarter (provided that you do not intend to apply the courses to your major or minor). However, remember that at the time of graduation, at least 120 or two-thirds of your UCSB units must be taken for a letter-grade.

If I've completed everything for my major but want to take extra courses in that department, do those have to be for a letter grade too?

Students who take major or minor courses in excess of minimum major or minor requirements may elect the P/NP grading option for those courses.

New Retroactive Grade Option Change FAQ

The Retroactive Grade Option Change policy is an important tool available to students as they transition to UC Santa Barbara. The new policy is intended to help students make a successful transition to UCSB instruction while allowing them some security in knowing that the campus understands that learning to manage UC expectations is a process.

Questions to consider when deciding to retroactively change a C- or lower grade to a Not Passed (NP).

  1. Can I change any grade that I earned a C- or lower to a NP?

    • No – only courses that are offered Optional Grading can be changed. Review the course information tab in GOLD.

  2. Can I change my grade option if I was under Academic Review (i.e. on academic probation) during the quarter?

    • No, students can only change the grading option for a course if they were on regular academic standing during the quarter that they took the course. 

  3. How do I retroactively change my grade option in GOLD.

    • Go into “My Schedule” in GOLD and use the dropdown to select the previous term. If the “Grade Change Option” is available to you, the “Modify” button will be activated. If the change is not available, it will be dimmed / grayed out. 

  4. How long do I have to decide whether I want to change my grade option?

    • New students will have until the end of the next term  (the last day of Finals week) to decide whether to make the change to NP in GOLD

  5. How many terms will I have the retroactive grade change option available to me?

    • Students will have access to the retroactive change option for their first three, regular terms of enrollment, regardless of when those terms start and whether they are completed in succession, not including summer.

  6. Once I make the change, can I change my grade back?

    • No. You will only be able to make one change. Once the change has been made to NP, it will be locked into the system and you will not be able to change the grade option for that class again.

    • It is important that you meet with an academic advisor to discuss your situation and best choices.

  7. Will changing my grading option impact my Financial Aid?

    • Students who receive Veterans Benefits may have to return a portion of their aid if they have a NP on their record. They should consult with the Veterans Benefits officer in the Financial Aid Office before making any change to their record.

    • Though there will not be an immediate impact to Cal and Pell grant awards, there could be an impact to a financial Aid Student’s overall PACE that could result in Financial Aid Suspension. Consult with Financial Aid to ensure you understand your situation.

  8. If I receive a C- in a class should I automatically change it to a NP?

    • No. Consult with an academic advisor. There are many implications you will want to discuss before making such a change. For example, if students have a D- or higher in a course, then they receive credit for the course, but students receive no credit for a NP. So, changing a course grade to NP may result in losing units and GE credit for a completed course.

  9. Should I change my F grades to a NP?

    • Yes. However, if you are on veterans benefits you should consult with the VA Benefits Coordinator to make sure you are aware of any implications to your financial aid. 

  10. If I do not have access to the retroactive grade change option do I have alternatives for addressing academic struggles in a previous term(s)?