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Interpreting Transcripts

The following information is provided as a guide to transcripts from the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Registrar of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences oversees student records for Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Radcliffe College. For information about transcripts from a Harvard professional school or the Division of Continuing Education, refer to that school. A list of Harvard schools is available at

As of July 1, 1966, the certification of Radcliffe College transcripts is under the jurisdiction of the Registrar of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Beginning with the academic year 1962, the A.B. or S.B. degree awarded to Radcliffe College students is conferred upon them by Harvard University. The S.B. degree program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

RATE OF WORK – Beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted a credit system whereby a one-semester course is worth four credits and a year-long course is worth eight credits. Prior to 2015-2016, courses in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences were evaluated as either full courses or half courses. A full course was equal to eight credits; a half course to four credits. The normal rate of work is the equivalent of sixteen credits (four half courses) each term or thirty two credits (four full courses) per year. No additional credit is granted for laboratory or discussion sections.

COURSE LEVELS & SYMBOLS - hf indicates half course extending throughout the year; S indicates a course taken in Summer School; # indicates the grade was filed late on account of a makeup examination or extension of time granted by the Administrative Board after 1969; r means the course may be repeated for credit; 1 indicates term; QR is an abbreviation for Quantitative Reasoning.

Most courses are numbered with the following general scheme:

1-99                       Primarily for Undergraduates (lower group)
100-199                  For Undergraduates and Graduates (middle group)
200-299                 Primarily for Graduates (upper group)
300-399                 Graduate Courses of Reading and Research (upper group)

Economics, Government, History, Psychology, and Religion courses have four- digit numbers. There the following general scheme applies:

1-999                     Primarily for Undergraduates (lower group)
1000-1999              For Undergraduates and Graduates (middle group)
2000-2999             Primarily for Graduates (upper group)
3000-3999             Graduate Courses of Reading and Research (upper group)

FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS ONLY - The minimum standard for satisfactory work is a B average in each academic year. A grade of C or INC is offset by a grade of A, and a D by two A's (no account is taken of plus and minus). The grade of INC (Incomplete) is granted only at the discretion of the instructor. A graduate student who receives a grade of INC must complete the work of the course before the end of the term following that in which the course was taken. If the work is not submitted by that time the INC becomes a permanent grade. A graduate student may petition the Dean's Office for an extension of time to complete the work of the incomplete course. Grade point averages are not computed for students in the Graduate School. A unit of “TIME” is ungraded independent work equivalent to one half course or four credits.

GRADE POINT AVERAGES Beginning in September 2003, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences moved to the 4-point scale: A=4.00, A-=3.67, B+=3.33, B=3.00, B-=2.67, C+=2.33, C=2.00, C-=1.67, D+=1.33, D=1.00, D-=0.67. E, FL, ABS, NCR, UNS, EXLD=0 (zero). Grade Point Averages reported on the transcript for students entering the College in September 2003 are based on the 4-point scale. The transcript for continuing students in attendance as of September 2003 reports both Annual Rank (based on the 15-point scale) and Grade Point Averages (based on the 4-point scale) for the semesters the student attended prior to September 2003.

EXPLANATION OF UNDERGRADUATE RANK LIST From 1966 through August 2003, rather than assigning individual rank in class to students, undergraduates were placed in one of six Rank List Groups at the end of each academic year; prior to 1966, various rules were used to define rank list, though the overall approach was quite similar. For computation of the Rank List, the twelve categories of letter grades had numerical equivalents on a fifteen- point scale (A=15, A-=14, B+=12, B=11, B-=10, C+=8, C=7, C-=6, D+=4, D=3, D-=2, E=0). Passing non-letter grades were not considered; failing non-letter grades (ABS, EXLD, FL, NCR, and UNS)=0. Minimum requirements for the several Rank List Groups were as follows:

Group I                        A- average
Group II                       B+ average
Group III                      B- average
Group IV                      C+ average
Group V                       C- average
Group VI                      Any grade average below C
INS                              Record incomplete