Academic Standards and Grades

Academic Standards and Grades

The grading system for undergraduate courses at the University is:

 Grade  Quality Points  Level of Performance
 A  4.0  exceptional attainment
 B+  3.5  superior work
 B  3.0  good work
 C+  2.5  above adequate work
 C  2.0  adequate work
 D+  1.5  below average work
 D  1.0  deficient work
 F  0  failure to meet course standards

Science Lab Courses
Laboratory credits assigned to science courses are treated as follows:

  • Grades earned in these courses are calculated in the GPA and the credit is posted on the transcript.
  • The lab is worth one credit, which counts toward the 121-credit graduation requirement.
  • Students pay a lab fee.

Incomplete Grades
The Incomplete Grade (I) is a temporary grade indicating that work in the course was acceptable, though a significant or critical part of it was not completed due to illness or other serious circumstances beyond the student’s control. Itis the student’s responsibility to verify these conditions. The “I” grade may not be used to extend time for course work or for the convenience of the student or faculty member. Incomplete coursework must be submitted to the instructor no later than 30 days after the end of the semester in which the “I” is given. If not completed, the “I” grade is changed to a grade of F. Students who are working on special projects that carry into other semesters or on theses should not register for credit until the semester when completion appears likely. While on the transcript, I grades will carry no academic penalty.

Pass-Fail Option
A student is permitted to declare one course on a Pass/Fail basis. The Pass/Fail option may be chosen for any course that does not fulfill the major or minor requirements. The Pass/Fail option requires the written approval of the advisor or a representative from the Office of Academic Support.

A student must attain a minimum of a C grade to receive a Pass (PA) for the course. Students receiving a D+ or D grade will receive a Low Pass (LP) for the course. The PA or LP grades are not calculated in the grade point average; however, if the student fails the course, the F grade is included in the cumulative grade point average.

Repeated Courses

Students may need or want to repeat a course.  In the event that a student earns a D+, D, F, or other grade that does not meet their academic program requirements, the student may repeat the course as a standard repeat.  If a student chooses to repeat a course that they have successfully completed, they may choose to repeat the course as a repeat-by-choice.

In the case of a standard repeat, students who earn a C or better will be re-grade as a PASS (PA) for the course; students earning a D+ or D will be re-graded as a LOW PASS (LP); and students earning an F will be re-graded as an F.  When the re-grade is submitted, the original grade is converted to REPEAT (R).  A LOW PASS and PASS grade are not calculated in the GPA, but an F grade does count toward the GPA calculations.  Students should consult with their academic counselor or advisor concerning the effect of the repeated course on their graduation requirements.

If a student elects to repeat-by-choice a course that already has a passing grade, they must complete the Repeat-By-Choice form, which includes the signature of an academic counselor and faculty advisor and pay the associated fee (see the fee schedule for information).  In the case of a repeat-by-choice, both the original grade and the re-grade will be calculated in the GPA.  Each student can elect to repeat an individual course only one time.  

Grade Appeals
In all cases it shall be assumed that the grade assigned is correct; the student appealing the grade must justify the need for a change of the grade assigned. A grade may only be appealed if the final grade issued for a class does not reflect what the student has earned according to the grading criteria outlined by the course instructor. Grade appeals may not be based upon a request to have submitted work re-evaluated by the instructor. An appeal must be initiated within 45 days after the close of the semester in which the grade was earned (or 45 days into the fall semester for grades issued during the previous spring semester).

If a student believes that a final grade issued is not reflective of the grading criteria outlined by the course instructor, he/she should first meet with the instructor to discuss the final grade. If this meeting does not resolve the issue, a formal grade appeal may be submitted using the Grade Appeal form to the Office of Academic Affairs for review by the appropriate College Dean.

This is a formal appeal and should be submitted as such. The appeal should include all pertinent facts and should clearly state the basis on which the student is making the appeal. A copy of the course syllabus and copies of all relative assignments and exams should be attached to the appeal. Once the appeal has been received the instructor involved will be informed of the grade appeal and must submit a written statement in response. After considering both statements, the College Dean will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, who will make the final decision. The Office of Academic Affairs will notify both the student and instructor of the final decision. 

Calculating Grade Point Average
Grade points are earned according to the above grading scale for each credit attempted. Under the grading system, a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA) is computed by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credits attempted. The resulting number is the student’s Grade Point Average. 



Grade Points




Total Grade Points































Grade Point Average Formula

25.5 ÷ 11 = 2.32 GPA

Academic Progress
All students are expected and encouraged to sustain satisfactory progress in their studies at the University.

Satisfactory academic progress for a full-time student requires:

  • Successful completion of a minimum of 65% of attempted credit hours in the full academic year. Financial Aid may be affected by lack of academic progress (see section on Financial Aid).
  • Earning a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of a 2.0. However, maintenance of the GPA established by the department/ program in which the student is enrolled is also required.

Students participating in Inter-Collegiate Athletics must maintain academic standards as stipulated (see section on Athletics).

Academic Probation and Suspension
The GPA is used as the foundation for measuring academic progress. Should a student not meet the established minimum GPA standards for academic progress, steps will be taken to alert the student and to more closely monitor his or her academic performance. In addition to the minimum standards established for the University, some departments have more rigorous standards for students than the basic expectation of a 2.0. If a student fails to meet the minimum requirement listed below, the student will be placed on the appropriate Academic Probation level and receive notice thereof.

Academic Probation places a student on notice that satisfactory academic progress has not occurred and that he or she is in jeopardy of being suspended from the University for lack of progress. Students placed on probation are notified of this status by mail promptly after the end of the semester in which performance had fallen below an acceptable level. Students on probation are closely monitored by their Faculty Advisors and Academic Support counselors. 

Academic Probation Process
Academic Warning is issued when a first time, freshman (less than 30 credits) student’s cumulative GPA falls in the 1.75-1.99 range at the end of semester during their first year. This does not apply to transfer students. Freshman on Academic Warning will meet with an Academic Support Counselor to discuss the requirements and create an academic plan of action.

Academic Probation: The first semester when a student fails to maintain good academic standing at the end of any semester, when a freshman student’s first semester cumulative GPA falls below a 1.75, or when a student placed on warning is unable to improve their cumulative GPA to a 2.0 after one semester. The student will meet with an Academic Support Counselor to review and/or discuss an academic plan of action and the probation requirements

Academic Final Probation: Students who fail to achieve good academic standing at the end of their first semester on Academic Probation will be granted another opportunity to meet the University’s academic progress standards. The student will meet with an Academic Support Counselor to review and/or discuss an academic plan of action and the probation requirements.

Academic Suspension: Suspension occurs when a student has clearly shown that his/ her work remains unsatisfactory, and that the minimum GPA for the level of attempted credits has not been achieved. Normally this occurs after a student has been placed on academic probation and does not make satisfactory academic progress during the period of probation. Initial suspension is for one semester. A student has the right to appeal a suspension; this must be done in writing to the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs. A freshman can be suspended in any semester of the first year if a majority of his/ her courses are not passed. The Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, after consultation with the Academic Support Staff, makes suspension decisions.

Students who have been suspended from the University for one semester for lack of academic progress may request reinstatement to the University. However, they may be asked to reapply for admission. A formal letter of request must be sent to the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs before the beginning of the semester in which the student seeks readmission. If the student is permitted to return, the conditions under which readmission is granted will be fully indicated in a letter of readmission.

Academic Dismissal: Students who have been suspended once and have been reinstated to the University will be placed on final probation. If the student continues to earn less than satisfactory academic progress, the student will be dismissed from the University for no less than one academic year. Readmission after dismissal is most unusual and only for compelling reasons.

Definitions of academic progress for the award of financial aid may differ from academic policies. Each student should work closely with the financial aid office to ensure that there is an understanding of those standards and their implications for financial aid eligibility.

Academic Forgiveness
For the student who has not been enrolled at the University for more than five (5) years and who currently demonstrates the ability to do well academically, an Academic Forgiveness policy is available. Essentially, Academic Forgiveness removes the effects of earlier unsatisfactory grades and the cumulative GPA is reset at 0.00. Students who wish to be considered for Academic Forgiveness must make an appointment with the University Registrar to determine eligibility and the impact of invoking the policy. Given the many dimensions of this policy and mindful of the fact that this policy may be applied only one time, consultation with an advisor is recommended.

Dean’s List and Honors
The University recognizes in special ways students whose academic performance warrants special recognition.

Dean’s List
The Dean’s list is for four-year undergraduate students and is computed at the end of each semester. It is based on full time enrollment at Mercyhurst, with a minimum of 12 graded credits. Students who achieve an academic index of at least3.6 for the semester will receive the posting of Dean’s List on their transcript the semester in which the honor is earned. Students who maintain Dean’s List honors for an entire academic year will be invited to attend an event held by the Office of Academic Affairs during the fall semester

Graduation with Latin Honors
A student is graduated with Latin honors from Mercyhurst University if he/ she has achieved one of the following levels in his/her academic index:

3.90 GPA — Summa cum Laude
3.75 GPA — Magna cum Laude
3.60 GPA — Cum Laude

Students who are enrolled in and fulfill the obligations of the Mercyhurst Honors Program (including the successful completion of 8 Honors identified courses) graduate with Mercyhurst Honors. In addition, these and other students graduate with Latin Honors if they have achieved one of the above levels in their academic index

Graduation Awards

To be considered for a graduation award, a student must complete all coursework by the date of commencement, including student ?teaching, internships and externships. Candidates for non?divisional/departmental awards must be cleared by the Registrar’s Office as having no more than one-year of transfer credit counting toward the graduation requirement of 121 credits. Candidates must also be cleared by the Student Conduct Office as having no serious or recent discipline issues. Full-time faculty, staff and administrators nominate students for the top awards of the University and divisional/departmental faculty nominate students for divisional awards. The President’s Senior Awards Committee reviews all nominations and makes the final selection. Winners are presented with their award during graduation weekend.

Carpe Diem Award

This award is the highest student award given to a traditional student. It is given in recognition of intellectual competency, personal integrity and most importantly, leadership impact. It is          presented to the outstanding senior who has made the most positive impact on the life of the Mercyhurst community and who best exemplifies the university motto, “Carpe Diem” – “Seize  the Day”. The student who wins this award will also be the student speaker at the graduation ceremony.

Bishop’s Award for Academic Excellence

This undergraduate award is presented to the graduating senior who is considered the top scholar among the graduating class. Criteria for selection are GPA and program demands. The rigor associated with dual majors and minors is also considered. The Registrar’s Office will provide the President’s Selection Committee with the names of the students receiving the top five highest cumulative GPAs. The President’s Selection Committee will then choose the winner based on these criteria. A cash award is presented by the Catholic Diocese of Erie.

Sister Carolyn Herrmann Service Award

This award is given to a traditional graduating senior who has given unselfishly of time, energy, loyalty and talent in the spirit of Sr. Carolyn Herrmann, who served as the University’s President from 1962 – 1970.

Frank Barry Leadership Award

This award is given to a traditional graduating senior who has exemplified superior student leadership and campus involvement during his/her time at Mercyhurst University. This award is named after Frank Barry, ’75, one of the first male student government presidents.

Mother Borgia Egan Honors Award

This undergraduate award recognizes the model honors student who fully embodies the spirit of a liberal arts education. The winner must have completed the requirements of the Honors Program. The winner also will have demonstrated the following: an appreciation of the cultural environment of the University, academic and scholarly/professional accomplishments, and a dedication to community service.

Alumni Recognition Award

This traditional undergraduate award is presented to the graduating senior who has shown exceptional loyalty and strong ties to his/her alma mater, and whose undergraduate days have been filled with a visible love, spirit and involvement at “The Hurst.”

President’s Award for Excellence in the Academic Colleges

Each of the four Colleges at the University, under the direction and guidance of the respective Dean, nominate three traditional seniors in their respective Colleges. The criteria for selection are GPA and overall contribution to the respective College. The award is given to the student who is considered to be the top scholar in each respective college.

Catherine McAuley Adult Student Award

This award is presented to an adult student in recognition of superior work, as well as personal and professional achievement. The non-traditional student who wins this award will be the student who has been judged to be the most outstanding adult student in the graduating class. The award is based on GPA, but also takes into account professional achievement, family responsibilities and other challenges that can face adult students.

President’s Award for Adult Excellence

Under the direction and guidance of the Deans, each College nominates an adult student for this award. The criteria for selection are GPA and overall contribution to the university. The award is given to one adult student who is considered to be a top scholar at the university.

Sister Eustace Taylor Graduate Student Award

Each of the seven graduate Programs, under the direction and guidance of the Program Director, select the graduate student in their respective Program for this award. The criteria for selection are GPA and overall contribution to the respective College.

National Honor Societies
Mercyhurst has active societies honoring those outstanding students who possess the ideals of the honor society.

  • ALPHA PHI SIGMA: National criminal justice honor society
  • ALPHA SIGMA LAMBDA: Adult honor society
  • BETA BETA BETA: Biology honor society
  • DELTA MU DELTA: National honor society in business
  • ETA SIGMA DELTA: International hospitality/tourism honor society
  • KAPPA DELTA PI: National honor society, Education
  • LAMBDA PI ETA: National honor society, Communication
  • NU DELTA ALPHA: National honor society, Dance
  • PHI ALPHA THETA: History national honor society
  • PHI ETA SlGMA: Freshman national honor society
  • PHI SlGMA IOTA: International Foreign Languages honor society
  • PI SlGMA ALPHA: National honor society, Political Science
  • PSI CHI: National honor society, Psychology
  • SIGMA PI SIGMA: National honor society, Physics
  • SIGMA TAU DELTA: This national honor society confers distinction for high academic achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies.
  • KAPPA GAMMA Pl: National Catholic honor society makes leadership amore tangible reality and pledges to do greater things for its students in the future. Kappa Gamma Pi provides the St. Catherine Medal, which is given to the young woman who has performed some specific outstanding service or has the best record of progressive achievement. The award is endowed by Margaret Anne Mooney Emling, class of 1937, in memory of her sister, Catherine Mooney. It is normally awarded to a sophomore. 

Graduate Programs

Graduate level (500+) coursework and graduate degrees represent advanced study beyond the baccalaureate degree. Graduate courses are discipline-specific integrations of information into knowledge frameworks. Graduate level courses and programs are more rigorous than undergraduate courses, requiring high-level cognitive processes such as critical thinking and evaluation, synthesis, and problem solving.

The grading system for graduate courses at the University is:

Grade Quality Points Level of Performance
 A  4.0  superior work
 B+  3.5  above adequate work
 B  3.0  adequate work
 C+ or C  2.5 or 2.0  inadequate work
 F  0  failure to meet course standards
Degrees & Certificates
Course Descriptions