Grades in Graduate Courses

The Department emphasizes that faculty are free to assign grades as they see fit.

Nevertheless, to provide guidance to graduate students and encourage appropriate levels of consistency of grading across courses, the Department has approved the following rough guidelines for the meaning of grades given to graduate-level assignments.

The following guidelines mention letters of recommendation to philosophy PhD programs. However, it is important to emphasize that grades are only one of many factors considered when instructors write such letters. Other factors may include but are not limited to: the trajectory of the quality of a student’s work, the quality of the student’s MA thesis, the quality of the writing sample, activity in the profession (e.g., conference presentations), teaching performance, maturity, organizational skills, responsibility, and the student’s future goals. In general, a letter of recommendation to a philosophy PhD program is an instructor’s evaluation of an individual’s promise as a philosophy professor and therefore letters may reflect anything relevant to that evaluation.

In the following, “assignment” refers to a significant course assignment, e.g., a paper or an essay exam.

Students should not take the grade on a particular assignment as a global evaluation of their work. When grading an assignment, instructors evaluate only that particular assignment. For example, when grading a paper, an instructor considers only that particular paper. In contrast to letters of recommendation, the grade on a particular assignment does not consider a student’s other work, a student’s maturity, a student’s teaching performance, etc.

A+     Consistent production of work of this assignment’s quality would be one factor indicating recommendation to any philosophy PhD program, including the most highly-regarded.

A       Consistent production of work of this assignment’s quality would be one factor indicating recommendation to a very highly-regarded philosophy PhD programs.

A-      Consistent production of work of this assignment’s quality would be one factor indicating recommendation to widely-respected philosophy PhD programs, but not the very highly-regarded ones.

B+       Consistent production of work of this assignment’s quality would be one factor indicating that a student’s work was at the minimum level needed for recommendation to a philosophy PhD program.

B          Consistent production of work of this assignment’s quality would be one factor indicating awarding of the MA but not recommendation to a philosophy PhD program.

<= B-     Consistent production of work of this assignment’s quality would indicate that improvement will be required to earn the MA.

 
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