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Academic terms and policies

The University uses a lot of different terms to describe its operations, many of which may be new to you. This is a collection of the most common of them with a brief definition to help you get up to speed quickly.

Policy, Procedure, or TermSee Also
Academic Probation
Academic WarningAcademic help, Academic warning/probation
Advanced PlacementPlacement testing
Baccalaureate honors
Class StandingFrequently asked questions
Credit/No Credit (C/NC)Frequently asked questions
CreditsFrequently asked questions, Degree overview
Credits per quarterChoosing your major/courses
Dean’s ListFrequently asked questions
Drop Status/ Dismissal for Low Scholarship
Incompletes (I grades)Academic help
International Baccalaureate (IB)Placement testing
Matriculation requirementDegree overview
Pass/failAcademic help, Frequently asked questions
Pre-Major ExtensionsAcademic help
ReinstatementAcademic help
Repeating coursesRegistration restrictions
Residence CreditsDegree overview
Satisfactory ProgressAcademic help
Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS)Academic help
Transfer creditFor transfer students
X gradesFor transfer students
A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z


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Academic Probation

Students on academic probation are dropped the following quarter unless their quarter GPA is at least 2.50 or they raise their cumulative GPA up to 2.00 or above.

To learn more about this policy, visit the regisrar's website.

To learn about what you should do if you are on academic probation, visit our Academic Warning/Probation website.

Academic Warning

If your GPA falls below 2.00 in your first quarter at the University you will receive an academic warning. If a cumulative GPA of at least 2.00 for courses earned in residence at the University is not achieved by the end of the next quarter, you will be placed on academic probation.

To learn more about this policy, visit the regisrar's website.

To learn about what you should do if you are on academic probation, visit our Academic Warning/Probation website.

Advanced Placement

Students can earn UW credit and placement for their scores on Advanced Placement exams. scores sent directly from the College Board.  Credit and placement awards for the most common AP exams can be found on the UW Office of Admissions website.



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Baccalaureate honors

Baccalaureate honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) are awarded only to recipients of a first bachelor’s degree. Cum laude means with praise, magna cum laude means with great praise, and summa cum laude means with highest praise.

These honors are earned by students who have completed at least 90 residence credits at the UW. At least 60 of the 90 credits must be graded credits. Transfer credit and credits earned through Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) are not counted toward the 90 credit total.

The University Honors Committee determines annually the grade-point requirement for each baccalaureate honor in each college of the University. In recent years, approximately 10% of students have been awarded baccalaureate honors.


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Class Standing

Your class standing—freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior—is determined not by the number of years you have been in college, but instead by the number of credits you have completed.

Your class standing is used to determine your registration priority. Seniors register first, then juniors, then sophomores, then freshmen. For registration, we determine your class standing by your credits completed plus your current credits in progress. If, for example, you have 30 credits completed and are currently taking 15 credits, you’ll register for the next quarter on the sophomore registration days, and you’ll have access to any courses that are restricted to “sophomores and above.”

See the Frequently Asked Questions page or the Registrar Office to learn more.

Credit/No Credit (C/NC)

CR/NC is a pass/fail option selected by the department or by the professor offering the course. Usually in a CR/NC course no grades are issued, and all work is graded either CR or NC. If you earn a CR you receive credit for the course; if you receive a NC you don’t receive any credit. Neither the CR nor the NC grade affects your GPA. Unlike S/NS, CR/NC courses may count toward requirements just like graded courses.

Learn more about the UW grading system on the Registrar's website.


To graduate with a baccalaureate degree, a student must complete a minimum of 180 academic credits.

See Degree Overview page to learn more.

Credits per quarter

Typically, full time students take 12 - 18 credits per quarter. If you complete 15 credits a quarter, and complete three quarters each year (autumn, winter, and spring), in four years you will have 180 credits, the minimum number required for graduation. 15 credits is just an average. There’ll be quarters when you take fewer credits and quarters when you take more. You might also choose to take summer courses. 

See Degree Overview page to learn more.


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Dean’s List

The Quarterly Dean’s List includes the names of matriculated undergraduate students who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree and who have attained a quarterly GPA of 3.50 for at least 12 UW graded credits. A notation is made on your transcript.

The Annual Dean’s List high-scholarship award is recorded on the academic transcript of matriculated undergraduate students who are earning their first undergraduate degree and who have achieved a quarterly GPA of 3.50 in 12 or more UW graded credits each quarter for three quarters of the academic year (summer through spring). 

Students enrolled for four quarters of the academic year (summer through spring) must satisfy the conditions outlined above and attain a quarterly GPA of 3.50 or better in the fourth quarter, if enrolled for 10 or more credits. Note that courses taken S/NS or CR/NC do not count as graded credits.

See the General Catalog to learn more about Dean's List. 

Drop Status/ Dismissal for Low Scholarship

If a student is on Academic Probation and does not raise their cumulative GPA to a 2.0 or above or achieve a 2.5 quarterly GPA then they will be dropped from the University of Washington and will need to petition for reinstatement in order to return.

To learn more about this policy visit the registrar's website.

To learn more about what to do if you have been dropped visit our Reinstatement Page.


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Incompletes (I grades)

If you’re unable to complete the work required in a course before the end of the quarter, you can request an Incomplete from the instructor. You must not expect an instructor to submit an Incomplete automatically; usually, an Incomplete is submitted only if you and the instructor have talked and agreed on how you’ll make up the missing work. The instructor is not required to grant an Incomplete. Generally, an Incomplete is appropriate only if you have a small amount of work to make up. It’s not a good option if you are doing poorly overall in the course, or have fallen behind in the work required, and most instructors won’t grant an Incomplete in such situations.

At the time the Incomplete is granted, you and the instructor agree how the missing work will be made up, and usually agree on a deadline. You should never register for the course again to make up an Incomplete. If you do so, the grade you earn is posted for your second registration in the course, and can’t be used to remove the Incomplete in your first registration.

The expectation is that you will have the missing work completed within a few weeks. If the instructor doesn’t submit a grade by the end of the next quarter, and doesn’t submit a request to extend the Incomplete, the I automatically converts to a 0.0 grade.

If the instructor agrees, you can have up to a year to complete the work required; if a 0.0 has already been posted, it will be erased and the grade the instructor submits will be posted. You can’t make up an Incomplete if more than a year has passed since the end of the quarter in which it was granted; if you don’t make up the work, you’ll receive a grade of 0.0 for the course.

Learn more about the UW grading system on the Registrar's website.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The UW awards credit for IB scores of 5, 6, or 7 in many Higher Level exams. The credit and placement awards for IB exams can be found on the Admissions website.

See the Office of Admissions website to learn more. 


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A matriculated student is one who has been admitted to a UW school or college, as a premajor or declared major.

Matriculation requirement

To be granted an undergraduate degree, a student must complete at least 45 UW credits as a matriculated student. After a student has been admitted to the UW, types of UW credit which count toward this matriculation requirement include "regular" credit courses listed in MyPlan, credits taken at another UW campus, credit courses offered by UW Professional and Continuing Education, and all UW online learning courses.

See Degree Overview Page to learn more. 


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There are two pass/fail systems at the UW: Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS) and Credit/No Credit (CR/NC).

Learn more about the UW grading system on the Registrar's website.


Students who apply to the University of Washington who have already obtained a bachelor's degree are considered postbaccalaureate students. To learn more about postbaccalaureate admission visit the Office of Admissions website.

Pre-Major Extensions

Students who have completed 105 or more credits and 5 or more academic satisfactory progress quarters but have not declared a major will receive a registration hold and will not be allowed to register for the next quarter. In order to register for the following quarter a student would need to either declare a major or work with their adviser to recieve a pre-major extension.

For more information on the satisfactory progress policy see the registrar's website.

To learn about the process of recieving a pre-major extension vising our satisfactory progress policy and pre-major extension page.


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Students who have been dropped for low scholarship will need to submit a reinstatement peition to return to the University of Washington.

See our reinstatement page to learn more about the reinstatement process.

Repeating courses

A UW student is allowed to repeat a course once, with departmental permission. When you repeat a course, the course is recorded again on your transcript with the grade earned. The second grade doesn’t replace the first grade, nor are the two grades averaged together. Both grades remain on your transcript, and both are calculated into your GPA. You don’t earn credit for taking the course a second time unless the first grade was 0.0.

If you are allowed to repeat a course again (you need special permission to register for a course a third time), the grade earned is posted on your transcript but the grade isn’t calculated into your GPA.

See the Registration Restrictions page to learn more.

Residence Credits

To graduate with a baccalaureate degree, a student must complete at least 45 credits in residence at the UW. Residence credits are UW credits earned through the campus granting the degree.

In addition, 45 of the last 60 credits must be taken in residence; this is referred to as the final-year residence requirement. The idea is that in order to earn a UW degree, the majority of your final courses — which are usually upper division courses in your major — should be taken through the UW. These courses may be part of a study abroad program as long as the courses are offered as part of a UW program. Exceptions to the final-year residence rule may be made by each individual college. 

Residence credit includes:
Residence credit does not include:

See Residency for Tuition Purposes page to learn more.


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Satisfactory Progress

Students are expected to declare a major by the time they have earned 105 credits and completed 5 quarters (not including summer quarters). Both conditions need to be met in order for the satisfactory progress rules to go into effect.

In addition, students must graduate by the time they have earned 210 and completed 12 quarters (not including summer quarters).

To learm more about this policy visit the regisrar's website.

To learn what to do if you are approaching 105 credits and 5 quarters, visit our satisfactory progress and pre-major extenstion page.

Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS)

S/NS (Satisfactory/Non Satisfactory) is an optional way for a UW course to be graded pass/fail. When you take a course S/NS, your grade is converted to an S if you earn at least a 2.0 or an NS if your grade is below 2.0. If you earn an NS, you do not receive credit for the course. Neither an S nor an NS grade affects your grade-point average. You can change a course to or from S/NS through the seventh week of the quarter.  Grading style changes are prohibited after the seventh week.

Students are allowed to register for a maximum of 20 S/NS credits at UW. If you want to register for more than 20 S/NS credits, you must email the Office of the Registrar at before the seventh week deadline to explain why additional S/NS credits are necessary. You may count a maximum of 25 S (Satisfactory) credits toward your degree.

S/NS courses count only as electives toward the 180 credits required for graduation.  S/NS graded courses cannot satisfy the following: major requirements, Areas of Knowledge, Basic Skills, or General Education.  A course with an encoded prerequisite or cancellation in place may or may not accept a grade of S in the prerequisite. Students planning on applying to professional schools should use S/NS with care, as these schools prefer numeric grades to pass/fail. Consult an academic adviser to discuss whether S/NS is in your best interest.

Learn more about the UW grading system on the Registrar's website.


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Transfer credit

Any courses you transfer from other colleges will be evaluated and, whenever possible, translated into the equivalent UW courses. Some courses may not transfer, however.  Your Unofficial Transcript, available in MyUW, includes your transfer evaluation. The Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS), available through both the MyUW and MyPlan websites, will tell you how your transferred credits count toward UW requirements; if you have questions about the transfer evaluation, discuss it with an adviser.

If your courses were taken or you plan to take courses at a Washington State Community College, you can see how your credits will transfer using the UW Transfer Equivalency Guide.

Semester credits are multiplied by 1½ to convert them to quarter credits.

3 semester credits = 4½ quarter credits
4 semester credits = 6 quarter credits

See the For Transfer Students page to learn more.


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X grades

A grade of “X”  is recorded if no grade is submitted by the instructor. Usually, X grades just mean that the instructor is late submitting grades for the entire class. Occasionally, an instructor will submit an X grade when s/he wishes to postpone submitting the grade for some reason. If you receive an X grade, you should check with the instructor.

Learn more about the UW grading system on the Registrar's website.