Grading Process & Policies

Fall 2023 grades due in Polaris by 3:00pm on Monday, January 8, 2024

Faculty may begin entering grades Friday, December 8 at noon and they will be notified when the portal is available by an email from the Office of the Registrar.

  • Note there is an earlier deadline in spring terms for *Seniors, notated with an asterisk in Polaris Grade Entry, and those grades may be entered without submitting the grades for any non-seniors in the course. 
  • Students who dropped a course through the Recording Committee received a (withdrawn) grade and instructors cannot change that grade.
  • Instructors may only give a grade of NG (no grade) if arrangements are made with the Office of the Dean of Students and the NG grade will be entered by the Office of the Registrar.

Acceptable Grades:

A the student has mastered the material of the course and has demonstrated exceptional critical skills and originality;
B the student has demonstrated a thorough and above average understanding of the material of the course;
C the student has demonstrated a thorough and satisfactory understanding of the material of the course;
D the student has demonstrated a marginally satisfactory understanding of the basic material of the course;
F the student has not demonstrated a satisfactory understanding of the basic material of the course.


Plus (+) or minus (-) modifiers may be added to and grades only; only the minus (-) modifier may be added to the grade. Students taking courses on a Credit/D/Fail basis can only receive a grade of CR (credit), D, or (fail) only. Students taking courses that are graded on a Credit/D/Fail Only basis can only receive a grade of CR# (credit), D#, or F# (fail). A student must have earned a C- or higher to be given a CR or CR# grade. 

Grading an Independent Study/Honors Project:

For an independent study or honors course that will continue into another semester, instructors may choose to submit a grade of (satisfactory) in place of a regular grade. Permanent grades are then submitted at the end of the final semester of work via an "S" Grade Conversion Form sent directly to any applicable faculty. Students must be awarded a letter grade after two consecutive semesters of an independent or honors work.

For an independent study or honors course that will not continue past the current semester, assign a standard letter grade in Polaris for this semester's work. No independent studies or honors courses may be taken on a Credit/D/Fail basis. 

Grade Changes:

With the exception of correcting clerical errors, approval of the Recording Committee is required to change a recorded grade. 

In the case of a clerical error, the instructor should email to receive instructions for submitting the updated grade.

Keep in mind that no additional work may be accepted by the faculty member to change a recorded grade. Bowdoin's policy is that all final work is due by the end of the final exam period which is Monday, December 18 for the fall 2023 semester. 

Directions for Entering Grades in Polaris

Failure Forms vs Comment Cards:

A Failure Form must be submitted to explain the reason for each grade of F.

Questions about Grading Policy:

  • Concerns about possible violations of the Academic Honor Code/Social Code should be addressed to the Associate Dean of Students and Director of Community Standards, Michael Pulju.
  • Questions about Incompletes? Contact the student's dean or Associate Registrar Julie Grossi.
  • Email with any questions about the grading process or timeline.


An INC (incomplete) grade will only be recorded if a signed copy of the Incomplete Agreement Form is submitted to the Office of the Registrar. This agreement is made in unavoidable circumstances (personal illness, family emergency, etc.) and signed by the student, the instructor, and the Dean of Students. Incompletes are typically only approved in the last ten days of the semester due to an episodic event.

Students must initiate their request for an incomplete with their student dean on or before the final class day of the semester: Friday, December 8 at noon. The Incomplete Agreement Form includes a date by which all unfinished work must be submitted. The due dates will ordinarily be no later than the end of the second week of classes of the following semester. If an Incomplete Agreement Form has not been received in the Office of the Registrar by the grade submission deadline (and no grade was submitted), a grade of will be recorded.

Extensions of the date by which all unfinished work must be submitted may only be granted by the Dean of Students in consultation with the instructor. If an extension is granted, the Incomplete Agreement Form must be amended and redistributed. Therefore, if a student asks for additional time to complete course work, direct them to consult their student dean about an extension.

Grades Available to Students:

Students will be able to view their grades in Polaris by Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

Grades and Student Privacy Rights:

Since students may access their grades in Polaris, grades should not be posted in a public place. The 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) governs the handling of student information. The impact FERPA has one students is outlined in Bowdoin’s Code of Community Standards.

Faculty must abide by FERPA when handling student grades and should not post grades by student name or by the Bowdoin student ID numbers; allow grades to be visible if tests or papers are left in a box for students to pick up; cite specific grades in a letter of recommendation or other communications without a student’s permission to do so. Please contact the Office of the Dean of Academic Affairs with questions.