UW School of Law > Students > Academic Policies > Grading & Ranking

Grading & Ranking

Anonymous Grading

Anonymous grading shall apply to all examinations and papers. If a professor chooses to use class performance as a component of the overall grade, he or she shall irrevocably report that component for all students to Student Services for factoring in the overall grade before release to the instructor of the examination grades.

The anonymous grading rule is inapplicable to papers written in courses in which students are writing multiple drafts and/or meeting with their instructor to discuss individual paper topics.

Source: Resolution; Administrative Policy

Class Rank

Class rank shall be computed at the end of students’ 1L year and at the end of each academic year thereafter. Transfer students will receive a UW ranking after completing one academic year (a minimum of three academic quarters) at UW Law.

The ranking is only for the following purposes:

  1. to award academic honors, including graduation awards, prizes, or membership in scholarly societies, including Order of the Coif, legal journals and reviews; or
  2. to define percentile bands of 5% and 10% at the conclusion of the first year; and
  3. to define percentile bands of 5%, 10%, 20%, and 33 1/3% at the conclusion of the second and third years (after the submission and calculation of Spring quarter grades).

Only students who fall within a percentile band will be notified of the percentile band in which they placed. Students who are ranked first through fifth in their class will be notified of an individual rank. Students below the 33 1/3% cut-off will not be ranked. Neither students' individual class rank nor the grade point average (GPA) cut-offs for the percentile bands described above will appear on students’ transcript.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), release of an individual student's placement within the defined GPA percentile bands by the law school requires the written permission of the student. To further preserve student privacy, additional ranking information, including the GPA percentile bands, will not be disclosed by the law school.

Questions related to this policy or FERPA should be directed to the law school registrar at .

Source: 2-26-2014 Faculty Resolution.

Computation of Grade Point Average

Grades assigned in Law 600, Independent Research, shall not be included in the calculation of a student's grade point average after this academic year.

Source: 03-01-1977 Faculty Resolution.

Law School Grading System

Effective September 2003

*The following grading system applies to J.D. students. LL.M. grades are based on the Graduate School Grading System.

Grades to be assigned to all courses for credit toward the J.D. degree, except courses taken on a Credit/No Credit basis , shall consist of the following: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C, D, and E. (Courses taken in Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory option, available for students to choose, will not count toward a law degree.)

1. The significance of each grade is as follows:

Grade Percentage of Class Numerical equivalent
A At least 5% and less than or equal to 15%. 4.0
A- At least 20% minus (% given A) and less than or equal to 40% minus (% given A). 3.7
B+ At least 50% minus (% given A or A-) and less than or equal to 75% minus (% given A or A-). 3.4
B % Discretionary.* 3.0
B- % Discretionary.* 2.7
C % Discretionary. C or D grades are capped at a total of 5% for first-year courses.* 2.0
D % Discretionary. This grade indicates that the level of performance is below that which on average is required for the award of the degree. C or D grades are capped at a total of 5% for first-year courses.* 1.0
E % Discretionary. No credit. This grade indicates unsatisfactory performance and no credit is given for the course.* 0.0
*At least 25% (but no more than 50%) B and below, combined.

2. The significance of each grade is further subject to the following conditions:

  1. These percentage ranges are mandatory for all J.D. courses, subject to the exceptions in (b) or (c) below. There is no discretion outside of these ranges. A faculty member who submits grades for a course subject to the mandatory distribution that fails to comply with the mandatory distribution will have the grades returned to her or him by the Dean, with instructions to re-submit the grades in accordance with the distribution. If the faculty member fails to do so, the faculty member will submit exam scores to the Dean or his designee, and the latter would assign grades at the mid-point of each range (i.e., 10 percent A’s, 20 percent A-’s, 32.5% B+’s, 37.5% B and lower).
  2. The mandatory distribution is not applicable to specialized and individualized courses such as seminars, clinical, experiential, and ‘practice’ offerings, independent study, and workshops, nor to summer quarter courses, courses heavily directed to non-law students, and courses in which most of the enrolled students are candidates for post-J.D. graduate degrees. They would also not have significance for classes of fifteen students or less.
  3. The mandatory distribution is not applicable to designated “mastery” courses. A faculty member may have her or his course designated as a mastery course by submitting the course syllabus and evaluative elements to the Curriculum Committee, and ultimately the faculty, for approval, subject to the following conditions: (a) the course must require significant, periodic written work and feedback during the course, with stated performance standards for achieving specific grades; (b) first-year courses cannot be designated as mastery courses unless all sections of that course are offered on a mastery basis; and (c) mastery courses will be designated as such, in the catalog and course description.
  4. A numerical class rank, based on the numerical equivalencies shown above, shall be computed for the sole purpose of awarding academic honors, including graduation awards, prizes, or membership in scholarly societies, including Order of the Coif, legal journals and reviews. Class rank shall not be disclosed on a student’s transcript or otherwise disclosed except for the purpose of computing eligibility for academic honors.
  5. Effective Spring Quarter 2007, transcripts for law students who began in Autumn Quarter 2005 or later will include a full calculated grade point average, with the following numerical conversions: A(4.0), A-(3.7), B+(3.4), B(3.0), B-(2.7), C(2.0), D(1.0), E(0.0). Students who began earlier than Autumn 2005, will have a transcript that only shows their grade point average in classes taken since Autumn 2005.

3. Students completing course work for classes they were enrolled in prior to September 2003 will be assigned grades under the Law School Grading System in place at the time of enrollment in the course.

4. Academic Difficulty and Disqualification Rules.

A student will be in Academic Difficulty if he or she receives, during any two consecutive quarters, a grade of E or two grades of D. A student will regain good academic standing upon completion of two consecutive quarters with no grade of D or E. A student in Academic Difficulty shall be counseled by a Dean concerning ways to improve his or her performance.

Effective Fall Quarter 2005,a student will be disqualified as a candidate for the J.D. degree and will not be allowed to re-enroll in the Law School if he or she receives:

  1. During any academic year, grades of E for 9 credit hours or grades of E or D for 12 credit hours;
  2. During the first and second years, grades of E for 12 credit hours or grades of E or D for 20 credit hours;
  3. During three years, grades of E for 18 credit hours or grades of E or D for 30 credit hours.

A student who has been disqualified as a J.D. candidate for unsatisfactory grades may petition the faculty for readmission.

Incompletes

The Committee's memo to the faculty of May 28, 1975 also reported that as a part of the same University study which led to the change in the withdrawal policy, the University policy on the use of Incompletes was studied. The existing policy permits the grade of I to remain on a transcript indefinitely. The growth of the number of I grades (tripled since 1966) was regarded by the Faculty Council as a further erosion of the reliability of the University's GPA's. The Incomplete was also used as a withdrawal technique after the final date of the quarter. Hence, correction of the withdrawal policy required a change in the policy on Incompletes.

The recently adopted University policy does not change the grounds for giving an Incomplete. (They remain essentially that the student establish to his instructor's satisfaction that illness or other circumstances beyond the student's control prevent the student's completion of the course.) What is changed is that the grade of I is automatically converted to a failing grade if it is not made up (i.e., the course requirements completed) by the end of the following quarter. The student may petition the Registrar for additional time (up to three quarters) and the Registrar will grant the extension if approved by the Instructor.

It was moved by Professor Cosway, and seconded, that (1) the law school follow the University's newly-adopted policy on Incompletes, with the Associate Dean performing the function assigned the Registrar in the University scheme; (2) the failing grade' assigned in case an Incomplete is not made up be recorded as a [1.9]; (3) Incompletes given to Spring Quarter need not be made up until the end of the following Fall Quarter, irrespective of whether the student is enrolled in the intervening Summer Quarter.

Source: 06-03-1975 Faculty Resolution.

Information Faculty Must Provide to Students on Grading

Each professor should announce during the first week of any course the nature of the grading practice to be followed, including any components of the course grade other than a final examination grade. Such components may include one or more papers, preliminary examinations, class participation. If a final or end-quarter examination is not "closed book," the announcement should so state and should in such case include a statement of what materials may be consulted by students during an examination. If coursebooks are to be permitted, but student notes are not, students should be advised in the announcement that coursebooks should not be annotated with a student's notes.

Precise allocation of course grade to components need not be announced in advance. However, such allocation to the extent possible should be indicated, and each student should have available on request the allocation among all components of any course grade after grading has been completed.

All final and end-quarter examinations should be graded anonymously, with papers identified by student numbers which shall not be released to a professor until grades on examinations have been turned into the Office of Student Services. If any exception is necessary in a professor's judgment, an examination number will be released, but the student whose number is released will be informed of the circumstances as soon as conveniently possible.

After the professor has turned in final and end-quarter examination grades, the names of students and grades will be available to the professor, but not the student numbers unless those numbers are not to be used again in any course by the same students in a subsequent quarter. Course grades should be calculated by the professor after examination grades have been turned in. Course grades and final examination grades will be made available to students by the Office of Student Services. A student's request to the professor for components of the student's grade should be necessary only if the professor uses multiple components of course grades other than final or end-quarter examinations.

Source: 04-04-1978 Faculty Resolution.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

To be eligible for financial aid at the University of Washington students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. The requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress are that full-time J.D. students enroll in a minimum of 12 credits per quarter, and

  • Complete a minimum of 6 credits each quarter.
  • Complete 36 credits for full-time aid received in the autumn through spring quarters.
  • Finish the J.D. program no earlier than 24 months and no later than 72 months after commencing study at the law school or a law school from which the school has accepted transfer credit.
  • Must not be in Academic Difficulty or Disqualified for Low Scholarship.

J.D. students who do not meet these requirements must file an appeal with the Office of Student Financial Aid for reconsideration of continued financial aid.

Academic Difficulty and Disqualification Rules

A J.D. student will be in Academic Difficulty if he or she receives, during any two consecutive quarters, a grade of E or two grades of D or three grades of C.

A J.D. student in Academic Difficulty must meet with the Dean for Students or the Director of Academic Support for counseling each quarter until the student regains good academic standing. Good academic standing requires two consecutive quarters with no grades of C or below.

A J.D. student will be Disqualified for Low Scholarship and will not be allowed to re-enroll if he or she receives:

  • During any academic year, grades of E or No Credit for 9 credit hours or a combination of grades of C,D, E, or No Credit for 12 credit hours;
  • During the first and second years, grades of E or No Credit for 12 credit hours or a combination of grades of C, D, E, or No Credit for 20 credit hours;
  • During any three academic years, grades of E or No Credit for 15 credit hours or grades of C, D, E, or No Credit for 24 credit hours.

Readmission After Disqualification for Academic Failure

A student who has been disqualified as a J.D. candidate for academic failure may seek readmission by petitioning the faculty. ABA Standard 505 permits readmission “upon an affirmative showing that the student possesses the requisite ability and that the prior disqualification does not indicate a lack of capacity to complete the course of study at the admitting school.” Upon receipt of a petition, the Dean will appoint a panel of faculty and administrators to evaluate the candidate’s ability to successfully complete the study of law if readmitted. Factors which may be considered include:

  • The existence, while the student was enrolled, of extraordinary circumstances beyond the student's control (serious illness, unusual hardship or qualitatively similar circumstances) that adversely affected the student's performance or otherwise contributed to his or her failure.
  • The extent of the student's understanding of the reasons for his or her failure.
  • The extent to which the reasons for failure have been alleviated.
  • The nature and extent of the student's experiences since disqualification.
  • Any other factors that positively indicate a substantial likelihood that the student will successfully complete the prescribed study of law.

Mastery Courses

Certain courses have been approved by the faculty as mastery courses. The mandatory distribution is not applicable to designated "mastery" courses. A faculty member may have her or his course designated as a mastery course by submitting the course syllabus and evaluative elements to the Curriculum Committee, and ultimately the faculty, for approval, subject to the following conditions:

  1. the course must require significant, periodic written work and feedback during the course, with stated performance standards for achieving specific grades;
  2. first-year courses cannot be designated as mastery courses unless all sections of that course are offered on a mastery basis;
  3. and mastery courses will be designated as such, in the catalog and course description.

Even though a course has been approved as a mastery course, an instructor has discretion to teach it in a non-mastery format.

Source: Faculty Resolutions dated 2-6-2003 and 4-3-2003.

Repeating Courses

  1. A student in the School of Law in good standing who has failed a required course must repeat the course or take, with the approval of the Dean, a second examination without registration at the time a regular examination for the course is offered. If a passing grade is received upon re-examination, the student receives the same credit for the course that it carried at the time the student was first examined. The failing grade remains on the record, but only the passing grade is computed in the student's grade point average.
  2. A student may also be required to repeat a course or courses as a condition of readmission, at the discretion of the Dean. (See Faculty Policy on Academic Probation and Readmission.)
  3. In no other circumstances will a grade earned in a course which the student has previously audited or taken for credit be computed in the student's grade point average.

Source: 3-6-1979 Regular Faculty Meeting.

Deadline for Faculty to Turn in Grades

The deadlines for faculty to turn in grades to Academic Services are as follows:

  • Autumn Quarter: 14th day of Winter Quarter
  • Winter Quarter: 14th day of Spring Quarter
  • Spring Quarter (upper-level classes): 14th day after the end of the upper-level exam period
  • Spring Quarter (1L): 14th day after the end of the 1L exam period
  • Summer Quarter: 14th day after the end of the exam period

These deadlines are subject to the following exceptions:

  1. Professors who teach both a compressed course and a non-compressed course in Spring Quarter are not required to submit their grades for either course until the 14th day after the non-compressed exam period.
  2. The Associate Dean for Academic Administration has the authority to waive the grade deadline in any quarter for good cause shown. If such a waiver is granted, students will be notified of the fact that a waiver has been granted.

This policy shall be enforced through the following steps:

  1. At the last faculty meeting of each quarter, the Dean reminds the faculty of the grading deadlines, of the importance of grading and of the desirability of leaving word about how the faculty member can be contacted by Academic Services;
  2. Academic Services circulates to all faculty (including the Associate Dean for Academic Administration) and posts openly in the Law School a list of faculty members who are late in turning in grades each quarter or, in the summer, each examination period;
  3. The Associate Dean for Academic Administration confers with faculty members who are late in turning in grades to bring them into compliance;
  4. If the Associate Dean for Academic Administration cannot arrive at a satisfactory resolution, he or she informs the Dean of the problem.

Source: Faculty Resolutions dated June 9, 2004; January 17, 2002; June 4, 2009

Change of Grade

Except in case of error, no instructor may change a grade that he or she has turned in to the Registrar. Grades cannot be changed after a degree has been granted.

Source: UW Grading Procedures

Last updated 10/16/2014