Grade Policy | Columbia Journalism School

Grade Policy

The Graduate School of Journalism has a pass/fail system of grading for its Journalism degree programs. Those in the PhD program in Communications receive letter grades.

In most Journalism courses, students receive written evaluations of their semester’s work from the instructors.

At any time during the course of study, professors and the deans may discuss a student’s progress and performance. If they determine that a student is not performing in a given class at a passable level, the student may be given a written warning or placed on probation for that class by the Dean of Students Office.

The warning or probation remains in effect until the professor of that class determines that the performance of the student has improved.

The purpose of warnings and probation is first to alert students that they are not meeting a professor’s expectations and to provide them with concrete ways to get back on track and second to provide documentation that they were informed about their deficiencies and given the opportunity to correct them.

In most M.S. classes, the instructor has the right to designate up to two students as receiving “honors in class” because of their exemplary performance. This is not a grade and will not appear on a student’s transcript. M.S. students are notified of the designation by the professor who awarded it via the written evaluation. The designation is used by the faculty in determining which students are graduating with honors from the Graduate School of Journalism.

Failing Grades/Appeals

If a student receives a failing grade, he or she may appeal to the Dean of Students Affairs. The appeal must be received within 10 days of the student's being notified about the failing grade. The Dean of Student Affairs will appoint a reading panel of three faculty members who will have 10 days to review the student’s work in the course and determine whether the failing grade was justified. All decisions of the reading panel are final.

If the failing grade is undisputed or is upheld by the hearing panel, the student may appeal to the Dean of Student Affairs for permission to retake the course in a subsequent semester. The appeal to retake the course must be received within ten days of the failure notification or within ten days of notification that the grade was upheld if a grade appeal was filed. If permission is granted, the student will be enrolled for the course by the Dean of Students Office and will retake the course from the beginning, usually with a different instructor, and will be required to pay the applicable, additional tuition for the second enrollment in the course.

M.S. Students who fail the Reporting class (or receive an incomplete that cannot be cleared before the start of the next semester) and M.A. students who fail the Seminar in Discipline class (or receive an incomplete that cannot be cleared before the start of the next semester) will be placed on Academic Suspension pending the resolution of the incomplete, successful appeal of the grade or the granting of an appeal to retake the course.

Students on Academic Suspension may not register to take classes at the Journalism School or elsewhere at the University. They may not apply to other degree or non­-degree programs while on suspension unless it is their intention to withdraw completely from the original program in which they were enrolled.


Professors award the grade of IN (incomplete) when a health problem or other emergency prevents a student from completing the assigned work within the duration of the course. Having an incomplete means that a student is required to finish the work for the class within a time frame specified by the professor and will receive an 'F' if the deadline is not met. The professor can allow no more than a year for the completion before the grade is automatically switched to an F by the grading system, but the professor is not required to give more time than he or she feels is warranted.