GPA and Grades
GPA Policy and How to Calculate GPA (below)
The following policies are also located in the College Catalog and are summarized on the TRANSCRIPT GUIDE which accompanies every official transcript sent by the Office of the Registrar.
A means excellent work; B, good work; C, satisfactory work; D, passing but below the average required for graduation; and NC (no credit), uncompleted or unsatisfactory work. Letter grades may be qualified by pluses and minuses.
Letter grades for Credit/No Credit courses, also called "shadow grades," are not a part of the grade record (transcript), and have no impact on the Swarthmore GPA graduation requirement, however shadow grades are used internally for advising and certain other reasons. Students can see their shadow grades on mySwarthmore, under the "Student Records" menu.
For the Spring 2020 semester, as a response to the covid-19 pandemic, grading was mandatory Credit/No Credit without shadow letter grades.
First-year students after the first semester may want to share their shadow grades.
More information about Credit No Credit at Swarthmore, including minimum passing work for the CR (Credit) notation, etc.
Grade Point Average (GPA)
Importantly, CR (Credit) and NC (No Credit) (and some other grades discussed below) do not factor into Swarthmore's graduation GPA requirement. In other words, neither CR nor NC is included in the calculation of the Swarthmore GPA.
Swarthmore College does not rank students in class, nor does it provide GPA outside the College. If you would like to calculate a GPA the way the College does for its graduation requirement (step by step instructions below), please use the following Swarthmore grade point equivalents:
A+ = 4.0
A = 4.0
A- = 3.67
B+ = 3.33
B = 3.0
B- = 2.67
C+ = 2.33
C = 2.0
C- = 1.67
D+ = 1.33
D = 1.0
D- = 0.67
The following grades are not included in the calculation of Swarthmore's grade average degree requirement: CR (credit), NC (no credit), NR (grade not reported by the instructor), INC (incomplete), IP (in progress), R (audit), W (Withdrawal), grades for work done elsewhere (see below), excluded grades (see below), H-style grades for honors theses cuminating in Spring 2020, see below, and * (ungraded credits earned for honors work prior to 1997).
Grades for work done elsewhere are recorded on the Swarthmore transcript but are not included in the Swarthmore calculation of grade averages. Grades followed by an asterisk indicate that the letter grade was earned elsewhere. Swarthmore uses numeric grades for work done elsewhere at Bryn Mawr or Haverford, whose letter point equivalencies are on a 4.0 scale.
Grades for excluded courses are recorded on the Swarthmore transcript but are not included in the calculation of grade averages. Swarthmore normally excludes two kinds of courses: the earlier instance of a repeated course (except for the few courses which may be repeated for credit), and the first semester of the first year of language instruction if the second semester is not completed. Courses excluded from degree credit are indicated with an "E" in the "R" column on the transcript, or, on transcripts without an R column, their grades appear in parentheses, or circled.
Spring 2020: For honors theses culminating in Spring 2020, H-style grades were used (H for honors, HH for high honors, and HHH for highest honors, with pluses and minuses possible). These were awarded by the external examiners in the honors program according to the rules of the honors program. However, these H-style grades are not included in the calculation of the Swarthmore graduation GPA; for the purposes of the Swarthmore GPA, these H-style grades are handled in the same manner as CR (Credit) which was otherwise mandatory for the Spring 2020 semester as a response to the covid-19 pandemic. CR is not included in the calculation of the Swarthmore GPA.
For 1997 and 1998 only, Senior Honors Study, a component of the Honors program, was graded with H-style grades with grade points: HHH=4.0, HH=3.83, H=3.5.
Grade Point Average (GPA) in Law and Medical School application
Students applying to law school or medical school apply through a centralized process that calculates your GPA according to their rules, not ours. Both typically count all letter grades, regardless of whether they have been excluded or not. And both count NC as a fail, with zero grade points for the credit.
How to calculate GPA
Step by Step Instructions and GPA Calculator:
GPA is always the result of a division of two sums. It is the sum of "grade points" divided by the sum of "gpa credits".
First calculate the grade points for each and every course. This can be tricky, see below. Once you have the points per course, add them all up for the sum of the grade points. Now add up the GPA credits for the sum of the credits. Divide the sum of the points by the sum of the credits.
Grade points per course are the product of the grade point equivalent from the list above, times the credits earned in the course. GPA credits are the credits earned in courses for which grade points have been earned.
For example, an A in a 1.0 credit course is worth 1 x 4.0 = 4.0 points. The GPA for that one course would be 4 points divided by 1.0 credits equals 4.0, just what you'd expect. The GPA for two, 1-credit courses in which an A and a B were earned is calculated as follows: (4.0 x 1 credit) + (3.0 x 1 credit) = 7 grade points, divided by 1 + 1 = 2 credits, is 7 / 2 = 3.5.
The only "tricky part" comes when the courses are not 1.0 credit, but a half a credit or 2 credits. In these cases, you need to pay special attention to all the calculations involved. Let's say you have an A in a 2 credit course, and an A in a 1/2 credit course. For the 2 credit course, there are 2 x 4.0 equals 8 grade points. For the 0.5 credit course, it's 0.5 times 4.0 equals 2 grade points. Add 8 + 2, that equals 10. Ten divided by 2.5 credits gives a GPA of 4.0, just as you'd expect.
Note to graduates with split-graded 2-credit seminars: In 1998 we started splitting up those 2 credit "split-graded" seminars so the grades would be explicitly for 1 credit each. Thus I recommend you consider the two grades as two, 1-credit grades.