Graduate students

GPA (Grade Point Average) Requirements for Graduate Students

Policy Number: 100407

Current Policy

Category: Academic » Grading



Grade point averages (GPAs) are computed using the following point scale.

A — 4 points for each unit of credit

B — 3 points

C — 2 points

D — Does not earn graduate credit

F —  Does not earn graduate credit

Computing the GPA

The university determines GPA by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the number of units of credit attempted. In determining the GPA, NAU does not include courses with grades of "AU" (Audit), "P" (Pass), "IP" (In-Progress), "I" (Incomplete), and "W" (Withdrawal)—or courses accepted as transfer credit. 

Please see Course Repeat, Graduate (NAU Policy 100318) for details on computing a graduate student’s GPA with repeated courses.

Graduate GPA Requirements

Students working toward a graduate degree or graduate certificate, must:

    • earn a 3.00 grade point average (GPA) for all courses taken, including those required in the program of study,
    • earn no more than 6 units of “C” course grades*, and
    • earn no course grades of “D” or “F.”

           *Please note the following exceptions:

    • The Doctor of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Occupational Therapy, and Master of Physician Assistant Studies programs allow 11 units of “C” grades.
    • Some programs restrict the number of units of “C” grades to less than 6 units to meet masters and doctoral program requirements (see individual program handbooks for details).
    • Specific courses for certain academic plans require grades higher than a “C” to meet plan requirements, as stated in the academic catalog.
    • No more than 3 units of "C" grades can be counted toward a graduate certificate.  

Probation Standards

Students will be automatically placed on academic probation by the Graduate College or the academic unit at the end of each regular academic term for any of the following reasons:

  • failure to meet the criteria for “good academic standing” including, but not limited to:
    • earning grade of “D” or “F,”
    • earning an excess number of “C” units allowed in their program,
    • earning a GPA below 3.00
  • earning the maximum number of “C” units allowed in their program
  • failure to meet discipline-specific or departmental academic requirements established in the departmental/program handbook**
  • failure to meet any conditional admission standards*** 

**Academic units placing students on academic probation for failure to meet discipline-specific or departmental academic requirements must notify the student in writing, with a copy to the Graduate College, of specific failures leading to the recommendation of probation. 

*** If a student has been conditionally admitted to a program and fails to meet the requirements necessary for regular admission into a program, academic units may deny the student regular admission to the program without a probationary period. 

A student on academic probation is required to meet and/or confer with their advisor, or other appropriate academic personnel, to discuss steps necessary to remediate problems which led to probation. A written action plan must then be developed, and the academic unit will have the final responsibility and authority to specify the terms of the plan. This plan will then be submitted to the department chair/director and the Graduate College for approval and to release any applicable academic holds on the student’s account. 

If a student has not met the terms of the approved action plan or fails a second time to maintain any of the academic requirements for continuation in a graduate program as outlined in this policy, one or both of the following actions will be taken:

  • The academic unit may initiate academic dismissal by notifying the student and the Graduate College, in writing, of the program’s intent to recommend dismissal.
  • The student will be blocked from future enrollment. 

Please note that “Academic Probation” is a designation based on the criteria of this policy and may not be reflected on the student’s transcript. The designation “Academic Standing: Probation” on a student’s transcript is automatically placed by the Registrar if the student’s cumulative GPA drops below a 3.0. Thus, students may be on academic probation without the designation on their transcript. 

Please see Academic Continuation, Probation, Dismissal, and Readmission - Graduate (NAU policy 100319) for further information.

Unsatisfactory Grades

Admission to a program may be denied or revoked for any graduate student who receives unsatisfactory grades.

Resetting the Cumulative GPA, Graduate Students

Graduate students may petition to have their cumulative GPA reset under either of the following circumstances:

  • The student has graduated with a degree or certificate and begins another degree or certificate program. If approved, the cumulative GPA will be reset on the transcript to reflect the GPA earned within each individual degree or certificate program. NOTE: Simultaneous enrollment in and pursuit of multiple degree and/or certificates are excluded from this consideration. 
  • The student has been discontinued due to lack of continuous enrollment, dismissed from a program, or has not enrolled for a period of two or more years and the student has been newly admitted to either:
    • a degree (including emphasis) or certificate program that differs from the student’s original admission


In either situation, the student will submit a petition directly to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. The petition will include a statement outlining reasons why the GPA should be reset. Requests to reset the GPA are not automatically approved, as a petition to reset the GPA is, by definition, a request for an exception to the rule that all graduate courses are considered in computing the cumulative GPA. 

  • In cases involving completion of one degree and the start of a new degree, the statement should outline which degree/certificate was completed, the date of completion, the new degree/certificate program, and the date of the admission into the new program.
  • In cases involving discontinuation, dismissal, or lack of enrollment, the statement should address all pertinent information involving the student’s situation during the time in the first degree or certificate, obstacles to the student’s success in that program, and resolutions or behaviors to ensure success in their new program. These situations would normally involve, but not be limited to, life-impacting events that prevented successful pursuit of the original degree program. 

The Associate Dean of the Graduate College and the relevant academic unit(s) will review the petition and render a decision. Once that decision is made, the Associate Dean will contact the student with a notification of the decision. If the decision is to reset the cumulative GPA, the Associate Dean will contact the Registrar’s Office approving the GPA reset. 

Students may appeal the Associate Dean and Academic Unit’s decision by submitting to the Graduate College Dean, in writing, a statement outlining reasons why the decision to reset the student’s GPA should be reconsidered. That request must come to the Graduate College Dean within 10 working days from the correspondence date sent by the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. The Graduate College Dean will then respond to the student’s petition within 5 working days of the receipt of the petition. The Graduate College Dean’s decision will be final.

Important Note:

The use of credits earned in a previous degree or progression towards a degree is limited in certain circumstances:

  • In cases involving completion of one degree/certificate and the start of a new degree/certificate, the use of previous credits will adhere to NAU policies that outline use of previous credit for multiple degrees and certificates.
  • In cases involving discontinuation, dismissal, or lack of enrollment, the student will not be allowed to use any previous credits earned. They will be “resetting” their academic record and entering their new degree or certificate program from the start. Additionally, graduate students in this situation will only be allowed to petition for this type of GPA reset once in their entire graduate academic career at NAU.

Special Circumstances

Graduate non-degree students can continue to enroll as graduate students as long as they maintain a cumulative graduate grade point average of 2.5 or better. 

Graduate assistants, in order to continue with an assistantship, must remain in good academic standing, make satisfactory progress toward a degree, and complete at least 9 units of credit in their program each semester. If the student fails to make adequate progress toward a degree, or receives a grade below a "B," employment may be discontinued at the discretion of the unit.

Students can petition for exception

Graduate students may petition for an exception to any academic, non-grade-related, graduate regulation for which no specific appeal or petition process exists. Petitions should be submitted, in writing, to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. When applicable, the student’s advisor and department chair may endorse the petition letter. In some specific instances, utilizing the Academic Appeal Policy and UGCHP (NAU policy 100103) is more appropriate. 

Students should contact the Associate Dean of the Graduate College for clarification on which process to initiate.

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