Courses and Grades

Academic Integrity 

The College trusts students who enroll at Earlham to be honest seekers of truth and knowledge. This trust is extended to all students by other students and by teachers, and is manifested in a variety of forms. Exams are rarely proctored, and only after consultation with the class and the Academic Dean’s Office. Unlike many colleges and universities, Earlham does not ask students to sign an oath affirming that they did not cheat on an assignment, since this would imply that people are either inherently dishonest, or will be honest only when they explicitly swear to it. 

Students must be mindful that, although Earlham encourages cooperative and collaborative, rather than competitive, modes of learning, one’s work must still be one’s own, unless explicitly assigned to a group. Giving or receiving aid inappropriately on assignments and tests, or plagiarizing by using another person’s words or ideas without credit, constitutes a serious breach of our trust in one another and in the integrity of the search for truth. 

Those who believe they have witnessed violations of academic integrity should feel the obligation to speak about this to the suspected offender. The witness also should feel obligated to report the suspected offender to the instructor if the person fails to offer a satisfactory explanation and refuses to report him or herself.

Procedures and Penalties for Violations 

Violations of academic integrity, because they undermine our trust in one another and in the credibility of the academic enterprise, are taken very seriously. Penalties for violations range from failing assignments or tests to suspension or expulsion from the College. Students may not retake courses to replace failing grades resulting from an academic integrity violation. As well, students who are suspended as a result of an academic violation may not transfer academic credits to Earlham during the suspension. 

Attendance policy

Students are expected to attend classes on a regular basis. Individual faculty may set specific requirements for their courses as indicated on course syllabi. Students who do not attend classes on a regular basis are reported to the Registrar’s Office. This behavior may jeopardize academic standing, federal financial support and continued matriculation at the College. 

Auditing a course 

  • With an instructor’s consent, a registered, full-time student may audit a course for no additional charge
  • Students who intend to audit a course must confirm this intention before the close of a semester’s registration period.
  • Students who are enrolled in a credit-bearing course may not change their status from credit-bearing to an audit status after the close of registration.
  • Students who have audited a course may not retake the course for a letter grade.
  • Audited courses are reflected on a student’s transcript.
  • Non-Earlham students may request permission from both the instructor and the registrar to audit courses for a fee of $225 per course.
  • Persons 65 and older are charged $100 per course. 

Course cancellation policy 

If a course is canceled due to lack of adequate enrollment, the faculty member will consult with the registrar and academic dean. Upon approval, the faculty member will notify the registered students and copy the registrar. Students should be advised to add another course to maintain full-time status. 

If the College cancels a course, the registrar will notify students and work with the Academic Dean and the faculty member in determining alternate arrangements for the academic semester. 

Course load 

To make normal progress toward the Bachelor of Arts degree, students should earn 30-32 credits each year. Students must be registered for at least 12 credits and up to 18 academic credits during a semester to maintain a full-time status. Registering for more than 18 credits requires both an adviser’s signature and the registrar’s approval, and an overload fee will be charged. Applied music lessons are not considered a part of an overload. Only graduating seniors in their last semesters may apply for part-time status (fewer than 12 credits). Exceptions to this policy are not granted 

Course numbering system 

  • 100-200 level courses: First-year and sophomore courses 
  • 300 level courses: Sophomore – junior courses 
  • 400 level courses: Junior – senior courses; 
  • includes senior research, thesis or projects, and independent studies 

Course by special arrangement 

In rare instances, a student may arrange to take a course at a time when it is not normally offered. This arrangement requires the written approval of both the instructor and a dean from academic affairs. This arrangement requires a fee of the part-time rate multiplied by credit hours. Permission of the instructor must be obtained and the fee paid before such arrangements are added to a student’s schedule and transcript upon completion. 

Credit by examination and credit by evaluation

Students may petition to have the option of studying independently and successfully passing a special examination prepared by the instructor of a course in order to be granted credit for a regular Earlham course. Students pursuing this option are not permitted to sit in on the regular course before taking the examination. 

  • Permission of the instructor must be obtained and the fee paid before such examination is given.
  • Requests for credit by evaluation must be submitted to the registrar. A dean from Academic Affairs and the department review these requests. Such credit is considered if the academic work is determined as equivalent to a regular Earlham College course.
  • Special forms for credit by examination and evaluation are available in the Registrar’s Office.
  • A fee of the overload rate per credit is charged and must be paid before the exam is taken or credit recorded.  

Credit/no credit 

Students may, with good educational reasons, petition to take up to two courses in their Earlham career on a Credit/No Credit basis, in addition to courses that are now offered as CR/NCR. Such registration will require both the approval of the advisor and the instructor in the course, with the instructor’s decision as final. Students must earn the equivalent of at least a ‘C’ grade to be granted credit.  Credit/No Credit grades will be recorded on the transcript, but will not be computed in the GPA.  The petition form must be submitted by the close of the tenth week of the semester.  Once the CR/NCR option is elected, it cannot be changed back to the letter grade option. A student may not take the credit/no credit option in their major or minor. 


The traditional letter grades “A” through “F” may be assigned alone, or with a plus or a minus. 

  • F Grade
    Course requirements are not met and the student receives no credit. The F grade is included is averaged into the GPA as 0. In cases where an F is assessed, the faculty member forwards a written assessment of the student’s work, including reasons for failure to achieve a passing grade. A copy of the F assessment is sent to the student, to their adviser and to the student’s file in the Registrar’s Office. 
  • CR Grade
    A CR grade designation is equivalent to a grade of C or better, courses with CR grades are not computed into the grade point average (GPA). A CR may be given ONLY for an approved Credit/No Credit course and for AWPE activities courses. 
  • NCR Grade 
    No credit earned; this grade appears on a student’s transcript but is not computed in the student’s GPA. 
  • I Grade
    Incomplete (I) is reserved for students who submitted an incomplete petition by the end of final exams and whose petition was approved by the Registrar and the Associate Academic Dean for Students. 
    Incomplete petitions should be sent to the Registrar’s Office. Incomplete petition forms are available during the last week of classes  of the semester only to students who have experienced a medical emergency or some other circumstance beyond their control that prevented them from completing coursework.
    Normally, an extension granted for incomplete work should not extend beyond the beginning of the next semester. Under extraordinary conditions, responsibilities for one semester may be carried over into the next semester. 
    When the student completes the work, a letter grade is recorded. If the work is not completed by the deadline agreed upon with the course instructor the I grade will revert to the default grade submitted by the instructor on the petition form. 
  • W Grade 
    Withdrawal (W) is assigned when a student withdraws from a course by the end of the course withdrawal period (Friday of the tenth week of classes for the Fall and Spring terms and end of the first week of classes for May terms). No credit is given and the student’s GPA is not impacted. 
  • M Grade 
    The M grade is assigned to a student whose work is somehow implicated in a breach of academic integrity. For example, if a teacher is grading papers the week after graduation and discovers two identical papers, then the teacher should assign M grades to those papers. Once the truth about their integrity has been established (which might be delayed until fall semester), the teacher submits a final grade for the work. Teachers must notify the registrar’s office and the associate academic dean before assigning an M grade. 
  • NG Grade
    The NG (no grade) is reserved for those rare  occasions when teachers find they are missing a piece of work from a student, which they believe the student did, in fact, submit. The NG serves as a placeholder on the student’s transcript until the teacher has figured out what happened to the work and is prepared to give the student a final grade. The NG is NOT intended for students who missed the incomplete deadline or for students who have missed deadlines for submitting work. Faculty members must convert all NGs to final grades by the end of the semester following the semester in which the NG was given. An unconverted NG automatically will be recorded as an F or failing grade. 
  • RT Grade
    The RT (retake) indicates that a course has been retaken. Students must complete the petition to retake a course. Petitions are available on the Registrar’s Office website and should be completed in a timely manner. A course may be retaken only one time to improve a grade. The course will be recorded on the student’s transcript each time it is taken and a grade is received. The highest grade will be computed into the student’s grade point average – the other instance of the course will appear on the student’s transcript as 0 credit with a grade of RT (retake). 

Policy for reporting end-of-semester grades to students and parents: 

It is Earlham’s policy to report grades directly to the student. Students are not provided a printed copy of semester grades. Grades are available only via self-service. It is the student’s responsibility to report grades to their parent(s). 

Grade point average (GPA)

The GPA for the semester and the cumulative GPA are calculated by dividing the total number of honor points by the number of graded courses.  Each letter grade is assigned the following numerical value: 

A+, A 4.00   C 2.00
A- 3.67   C- 1.67
B+ 3.33   D+ 1.33
B 3.00   D 1.00
B- 2.67   D- 0.67
C+ 2.33   F 0.00


College Honors are awarded to graduating seniors with cumulative grade point averages of 3.40 or higher.

Departmental Honors are awarded to students at the recommendation of the department, and only if they have met the following criteria: 

  • Earned a 3.40 GPA in all graded courses during the junior and senior years.
  • Earned a 3.65 GPA in all upper-class courses within the major.
  • Passed the Senior Capstone Experience with distinction.
  • Earned honorable individual achievement in research study, creative performance, etc., as designated by the academic department or program. 

The honors listed in the May commencement program will reflect the grade point average at the end of the previous fall semester. Final honors will be posted to the student transcript after the final semester grades are processed.