Academic Policies

Grades, Grade Points, and Credit Hours

Course Withdrawal Policy

    The Course Withdrawal Policy is intended to assist undergraduate students who find themselves enrolled in undergraduate level courses for which they are insufficiently prepared, or for those who initially enroll in majors that they subsequently change. Presidential Policy 196 allows currently enrolled students to designate a course status of "Course Withdrawn." A maximum of six (6) hours of undergraduate level coursework may be dropped beyond the normal six-week drop deadline date during a student's undergraduate academic career at Virginia Tech subject to the following stipulations:

    1. This option may be exercised up through the Friday of the last full week of classes of each term, prior to a student's scheduled graduation.
    2. Students must formally request to apply the Course Withdrawal to a course by the Friday of the last full week of the classes of each term. The deadline appears in the deadlines listing of the online Time Table of Classes.
    3. Courses from which a student withdraws under the terms of this policy will appear on their transcript with a "W" grade, but will not count in the GPA hours nor in any GPA calculations. The "W" signifies that this policy was invoked and does not reach the rationale for its use. The reasons for use remain the student's responsibility.
    4. There are no refunds of tuition and fees as a result of application of the Course Withdrawal policy.
    5. A student decision to invoke this policy is irrevocable and unappealable.
    6. Withdrawals under this policy may not be employed to reduce or obviate any penalty otherwise accruing to students under the University Honor System.
    7. Students may request withdrawal from any course, irrespective of the evaluation earned in it up to the point of their request for withdrawal. However, if a registration hold exists at the time of application of this policy, the student must take action to remove the hold within five (5) working days of the application or the request will be voided. Students are responsible for resolving their registration holds with the appropriate university office.
    8. Students already enrolled when this policy takes effect who have exercised their option to use the previously existing Freshman Rule shall not be eligible to use this policy.

    To exercise this option, interested students should see their academic advisor to obtain a course withdrawal form and submit it to their designated departmental representative and academic dean for approval.

Credit by Examination

    Credit, not to exceed 12 semester hours, may be allowed by special examination where exceptional command of a subject can be demonstrated in lieu of formal course work. This privilege is not available to a student who has previously audited or enrolled in the course, or has previously attempted credit by examination in the course. If credit by examination is deemed appropriate, the offering department shall have full responsibility for determining the type of examination to be given and what constitutes a passing grade.

    Credit established by examination may not be used to satisfy the in-residence requirements for graduation, and no grades or quality credits will be assigned.

    There is a per-credit fee for the examination. The current fee is $10.00 per credit hour and is subject to change at the beginning of an academic year. Only currently enrolled undergraduate students are eligible for special examinations allowing university credit. Official approval must be obtained from the head of the department offering the course.

Credit for ROTC Courses

    In some majors, not all ROTC courses may be applied toward a bachelor's degree. Students should consult their approved major checksheet for specific information on which courses will count toward their degree.

Credit Hour System

    Virginia Tech uses the credit-hour as its unit of credit. To earn one (1) credit-hour in a term, the student is expected to spend three hours each week in the classroom or laboratory, or in preparation and study for a course meeting. Thus, a one-credit lab course generally requires three hours of lab time per week and only a small amount of preparation (or none at all) outside the lab. But, in general, a three-credit course requires three hours in the classroom and about six hours of study and preparation weekly. Course descriptions under the departments of instruction (in the chapters on the various colleges) indicate the number of hours required in formal class and laboratory meetings per week and the number of credits received per term.

Dean's List

    Undergraduate students who attempt at least 12 credit hours graded on the A-F option and who earn a 3.4 GPA for either spring or fall semester will be included on the Dean's List for that term. The Deans' Lists are not compiled for summer sessions. Any notifications or certificates indicating inclusion on the Dean's List for a particular term are issued by the student's academic dean.


    Final examinations are held at the close of each term according to a schedule established by the university. An instructor may not change the date or time of a final exam without the approval of the dean of the college. Students may request permission from their college dean to reschedule a final exam if they have conflicting exams or if they have three final exams in 24 hours. Otherwise, permission to reschedule a final exam is granted by the dean only in very unusual circumstances. Deferred final exams may be authorized only by the student's academic dean or by the Office of Student Health Services.


    Re-examinations are available only for students who are candidates for degree in the specific term.

    After a term is over, a re-examination in one course in which the final grade earned is C- or below may be authorized if the student was enrolled in the course during the final term of his or her senior year and if a satisfactory re-examination in the course will qualify the student for graduation. The student must make the re-examination request to the dean and must complete the exam as soon as possible after the first examination.

    For the student to be granted a re-examination, approval is required by the instructor, the student's department head, and the student's academic dean. In determining the validity of the student's request, consideration is given to class performance and completion of assigned work.

Grade Appeal Procedure

    University policy states that the assignment of a grade is the sole prerogative of the instructor of the class. It is incumbent on the instructor to establish the criteria for grading in the syllabus that is distributed at the beginning of the term. All grades are to be based on established grading criteria and not on personal conduct or opinions unrelated to academic standards. A student may not do extra work to raise his/her grade. If a student feels that a grade has been calculated incorrectly or has been assigned in a prejudiced or capricious manner, the student should discuss the matter with the instructor. If discussion between the instructor and the student cannot resolve the issue, the student should appeal to the department/division head. In the unusual circumstance that resolution does not occur at the departmental/divisional level, the student may appeal to the college dean who will attempt to reconcile the matter by whatever mechanism seems most appropriate for that college and for that case. A grade appeal must be made by the student as soon as possible but no later than the end of the student's subsequent term of enrollment after the grade in question has been assigned.

Grades and Grade Points

    The academic achievement of a student in a specific course is rated as follows:

Letter Grade
Grade Points for each hour
  • A grade of "I" (incomplete) may be given when the requirements of a course other than the final examination have not been completed due to illness or extenuating circumstances beyond the student's control. The "I" grade is the prerogative of the instructor.
  • To remove an "I" grade, lecture course requirements must be satisfied during the student's first subsequent term of enrollment, and laboratory course requirements must be satisfied prior to the end of the first term during which the course is offered and the student is enrolled. Incomplete and "X" grades are automatically converted to "F" if requirements are not fully satisfied during the period of time allowed.
  • An "NR" grade is assigned automatically by the system when a student is enrolled for a class and no other grade is assigned by the instructor. The "NG" is intended to be a grade distinguishable from those initially assigned by the instructor and thus to indicate clearly the origin of the grade.
  • Courses from which a student withdraws under the terms of the policy explained on the following page, will appear on their transcript with a "W" grade, but will not count in the GPA hours nor in any GPA calculations. The "W" signifies that this policy was invoked and does not reach the rationale for its use. The reasons for use remain the student's responsibility.
  • The Grade Point Average (GPA) is computed by dividing the total number of quality credits earned by the total number of hours attempted at Virginia Tech, except courses passed on a Pass/Fail basis and courses with an "X" (Continuing Course). "NG" grades are computed as "F" grades in determining GPA. The GPA is unaffected by the "I" grade, unless or until the "I" is converted to an "F" for failure to complete the course requirements within the allotted time.
  • A student may not repeat courses in order to improve his or "her grade average where a grade of "C or higher has been earned. An assigned grade of "A-D" will be changed to "P" whenever a graduation analysis (DARS report) detects a repeated course previously passed with a "C" or better.
A (Excellent)
B (Good)
C (Fair)
D- (Barely Passing)
F (Failure)
I (Incomplete)
NG (No Grade)
NR (Not Reported)
P (Passing)
RP (Repeated Course)
S (Satisfactory/credits only)
W (Course Withdrawn)
X (Continuing Course)
Grades, Midterm

    Midterm grades are produced for freshmen and transfer students whose first term of enrollment is fall semester. Beginning Fall 1996, students whose first term of enrollment is summer will also receive a midterm grade report during fall semester. "Satisfactory" is given for work earning a grade of C or better and "unsatisfactory" is given for work earning a grade of C- or below. The midterm grade is not part of the student's permanent academic record and is only intended to be an early indication of the student's progress.

Graduation Requirements, Hours Passed or Completed Toward

    The "total credits" figure on the displayed grade report is not necessarily the same as the total hours passed which are effective toward graduation requirements. The latter must be assumed not to exceed the "total credits" figure.

    Listed below are a few examples of typical situations yielding "pass" hours which must be subtracted to determine the total credits useful toward graduation requirements:

    1. Transfer and/or advanced placement credits that have been subsequently duplicated by courses at Virginia Tech.
    2. Credits earned at Virginia Tech that have been duplicated by repeating courses or taking courses ruled to have duplicating credit.
    3. Transfer credits allowed from a two-year college that are in excess of one-half of the total credit hour requirement for the curriculum.
    4. Credits for Physical Education Service Activities courses (now listed under HNFE), which exceed a total of two, the maximum allowed toward a bachelor's degree.
    5. Credits for military science that exceed the total specified by the college for the student's curriculum.
    6. Credits on the pass/fail grading system that exceed 10 percent of the credits completed at Virginia Tech in the student's degree program.
    7. Credits for courses that do not count towards the degree, (e.g. EDCI 1004).
Obsolete Academic Records, Evaluation of

    Under the "Obsolete Academic Records Policy," former Virginia Tech students returning to the university after an absence of at least five years may request in writing to have their academic records evaluated by the appropriate academic dean. Such transcripts will be evaluated in the same manner that transfer student transcripts are considered; credits will be allowed only for those courses appropriate for the degree. The grades for these allowable courses will not be factored into the student's GPA, but all courses will remain part of the student's permanent record.

Pass/Fail System

    A limited pass/fail (P/F) grading system is available to encourage students to enrich their academic programs and explore more challenging courses outside their majors, without the pressures and demands of the regular grading system. The P/F grading option is available to all undergraduates who have completed a minimum of 30 credit hours at Virginia Tech and have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above. These restrictions do not apply to courses that are only offered P/F. No required course or course used for the Curriculum for Liberal Education may be taken on a "P/F" basis (unless only offered on a P/F basis).

    Under the pass/fail system students are allowed to take ten percent of the total number of credits required in their degree program on a pass/fail basis. The number of credits allowed under the pass/fail system is based on the course work completed at Virginia Tech. Since the ten percent limit for pass/fail courses is based on work completed at Virginia Tech, transfer credit may not be used in establishing these limits. The number of pass/fail credits allowed is based on the number of credits required by the student's first degree program, only. Additional degree programs may not be used to increase the number of pass/fail credits that a student is permitted to use toward any degree. No more than two courses per term may be taken P/F, excluding physical education activity courses and required courses offered on a P/F basis only.

    Under the P/F grading system, a "P" is granted for earning a "D" or better in the course; otherwise, an "F" is given. A "D-" is a failing grade under the P/F option. The "P" or "F" is recorded on the student's transcript and credit is given if the course is passed. If the course is failed, the "F" is considered equivalent to an "F" received under the "A-F" grading system and is included in calculation of the GPA. Once credit is received for a course taken under the P/F system, the course cannot be repeated under the "A-F" grading system.

    Any course to be taken under the P/F option should be designated as such upon request for the course. The student may change grading options to P/F until the drop deadline and to A-F until the deadline for resigning without penalty.

Study Week

    Study week refers to the last three calendar days of classes for each semester. All written work, with the exceptions noted below, should be assigned so that it can be graded and returned during a regularly scheduled class meeting of the term. In-class hour-long examinations or other major in-class written assignments or tests shall not be given during study week. The exceptions for undergraduate courses are:

    1. Dates for turning in term papers and project reports may be set at the discretion of the instructor, provided that the student is not to be held responsible on the final examination for the subject matter therein.
    2. In laboratory courses or other courses that do not warrant a final examination during the examination period, an examination, if required by the department and/or instructor, may be given during the last regularly scheduled laboratory or class period.
    3. Regularly scheduled final examinations, when special permission has been granted by the dean of the appropriate college.

    Graduate courses also have specific exceptions which may differ from those for undergraduate courses. Contact the Graduate School for details.

Transfer Credits

    Enrolled students in good standing at Virginia Tech must receive pre-approval from their academic dean's office to transfer credit to Virginia Tech. Students who have been placed on academic suspension by the University are not eligible to transfer credit for terms of enrollment that coincide with their suspension term(s).

    The rules below govern the transfer of credit on a university level. Some colleges at Virginia Tech have additional policies and procedures regarding transfer credit. Students are responsible for consulting with the academic dean's office in the appropriate college to discuss their plans to transfer credit, and to request information on the college's specific policies and procedures regarding transfer.

    1. Courses for transfer must be taken at an accredited college or university.
    2. Courses must be college-parallel, not terminal courses in a vocational program.
    3. Only courses with a "C" grade or better will transfer. Note: A "C-" will not transfer.
    4. Credits will not transfer for students who are classified as non-degree-seeking students.
    5. Course equivalencies will be determined by the Office of the University Registrar.
    6. Credit hours transfer; grades do not transfer.
    7. Of the last 45 semester hours before graduation, a maximum of 18 semester hours may be transfer hours.
    8. Many colleges and universities will require a letter of good standing from Virginia Tech before they will enroll a student from another university who wishes to transfer credits back. Virginia Tech students can request this letter certifying their good standing by completing a "Request for Certification" form in the Office of the University Registrar.
    9. Upon completion of the course(s) and posting of grades, students are responsible for requesting that an official transcript be sent directly to the Office of the University Registrar at Virginia Tech as soon as possible, but not later than two semesters after the work is completed.