Historically, the School has used a grading scale of A, B, C, D, and F that did not include plus and minus grades.  This scale is as follows:

 

Numerical Grade

Letter Grade

Numerical Equivalent

95-100

A

4.00

85-94

B

3.00

75-84

C

2.00

65-74

D

1.00

0-64

F

0.00

 

Even though this grading scale was once common, most American law schools no longer use it because of concerns that it prevents professors from providing students with more detailed feedback about the quality of their work.

As part of an extensive overhaul of its academic policies, the School has adopted a new grading scale that includes plus and minus grades. This scale is as follows:

 

Numerical Grade

Letter Grade

Numerical Equivalent

98-100

A+

4.00

94-97

A

4.00

90-93

A-

3.70

87-89

B+

3.30

83-86

B

3.00

80-82

B-

2.70

77-79

C+

2.30

73-76

C

2.00

70-72

C-

1.70

65-69

D

1.00

Below 65

F

0.00

 

This new scale will provide a more accurate reflection of differing levels of student achievement in a class and will align the School’s evaluation of students’ performance with methods used at other American law schools.

Most law schools implementing a new grading scale have done so prospectively.  Accordingly, the School’s original intent was to have the new grading scale apply only to students who have entered the School in 2017 or who are entering again this year after a gap in their law school studies. Several students have reached out to the administration expressing their desire for the new scale to apply to more students.

The School has carefully considered these requests of the students.  During this process, the School (1) consulted with other law schools that have made similar changes, (2) analyzed the effects of applying the new grading scale to all students, and (3) considered the technical and administrative obstacles to making large-scale changes in the School’s grading system.  Based on these considerations, the School will make modest changes in the planned implementation of the new grading scale.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, the School will apply the new grading scale in full to all 1L courses. These courses include:

  • Constitutional Criminal Law & Procedure
  • Contract Law
  • Crimes
  • Legal Skills & Values I
  • Torts I

The new grading scale will not apply to the Introduction to Law course because it is graded on a pass/fail basis.

During the 2018-19 academic year, students in all required 2L classes will be graded using the new grading scale. The School also may, at its discretion and after a review of the effects of the new grading scale, update the grading scale for all courses at the School to the new scale. Elective courses taken in the 2018 summer session will be evaluated on the old grading scale, regardless of when a student enrolled in the School. Until further assessments of the new scale are complete, the grading scale for all elective courses will not be changed. The earliest the grading scale for electives will be updated is the 2018-19 academic year, starting in the fall of 2018.  

Grading will continue to be anonymous for professors, who will continue to submit numerical grades to the office.  The School will convert these numerical grades to the corresponding letter grade using the applicable grading scale.

Sample testing of the new grading scale indicates that it may have the effect of increasing grade point averages.  It is not the School’s intent to dilute the academic rigor of the curriculum.  Accordingly, following the completion of the 2017-2018 school year, the School will re-evaluate the continuing appropriateness of requiring a cumulative grade point average of 2.25 or higher to remain in good standing. Increases in grade point averages due primarily to changing the grading scale may prompt the School to increase the grade point average required to remain in good standing. 

The School has identified students who will be affected by this change in grading policy and will be communicating directly with them. If you do not receive an email from the School, you may assume that this change will not affect any grading scale that applies to you at this time.  If you have any questions about the application of the new grading scale, contact either Chip Loser at chip.loser@NSL.law or Beth McDonald at beth.mcdonald@NSL.law.

 

FAQs

Will the grading scale be applied to any courses that are already completed? No. The new grading scale is applied prospectively only. Any student who has successfully completed a course will not have a different grading scale applied to that course.

What if I repeat a course? What grade will be used? What grading scale will be used? The School will apply the grade that gives a student the most benefit to their overall GPA. The student’s performance will be evaluated based on the grading scale in effect for all students in the course when the student enrolls for the course, which may mean a different grading scale is in place on subsequent enrollment.

What GPA is required to stay in good standing? At this time, the School will maintain the requirement that students maintain a 2.25 grade point average to remain in good standing. That standard may change after the School evaluates the effects of the new grading scale. However, any changes regarding the minimum GPA would only be applicable to the results of the 2018-19 academic year and beyond. Any student earning below a 65 in a required course must repeat the course.

How will GPAs be calculated if I have some courses on the old grading scale and some on the new? Each grade will be assigned the letter grade, and then the numerical equivalent on the grading scale that was assigned to the class. For example, if a student earned an 87 (B) in a class that was assigned the old grading scale, it would be valued at 3.00. If the same student earned an 87 (B+) in another class that was assigned the new grading scale, it would be valued at 3.30.

What about transfer credits? Transfer credits are not calculated into GPAs at the School.

How will this change affect my transcript? All transcripts will include an explanation of the grading scale that was applied to any given student and course. For those students who were enrolled at the School prior to July 2017, there will be some additional content-neutral notations on transcripts that will indicate a change of courses to reflect the new grading scale. If you are a student impacted by this, you will receive separate communication with more details. This does not affect any student who enrolled for the first time in the School in 2017 and has not transferred credits from another law school, unless a student chooses to enroll in a summer course in 2018.

Why are D grades not eligible for a +/-? The School’s academic policies provide that D is the lowest passing grade.  The School determined that the greatest value for both assessing and encouraging students’ performance using + or – grades is in the A+ to C- range. A grade of D is considered “less than satisfactory or lacking in consistent understanding” and there are no additional delineations within that.

Will the +/– marks be included on my transcript? Yes. For any work evaluated on the new grading scale, the +/- marks will be included on the transcript.

How will the use of +/- grading scale impact academic honors? To the extent the +/- grading scale affects a student’s GPA, the grading scale could have an impact on academic honors. A+’s and A’s both are worth 4.0, so there may be situations where the School would look to those specifics outside GPA if necessary.