General Grade information

Grade Point Average (GPA) and Grade Point Balance (GPB)

Quarter Unit Minimums and Maximums

Taking Courses Passed/Not Passed (P/NP)

New Retroactive Grade Option Change Policy

Grade Point Average (GPA) and Grade Point Balance (GPB)

College of Letters and Science undergraduate students can choose between letter grades (A-F) and Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) for their courses offering “optional grading”. Your grade-point average (GPA) reflects your average grade in letter-graded courses only. The grade-point balance measures how much your GPA exceeds or falls below the minimum standard of 2.0. If your cumulative GPA drops below 2.0, it creates a deficit. This could result in being placed on “Academic Review”. Understanding your grade deficit helps you identify the grades required to regain “good academic standing.

To find your cumulative GPA, go to the "Progress" tab in GOLD and run a "Major and GE Progress Check." You can also calculate changes in your GPA using the Grade Point Average and Grade Point Balance Calculator or follow the instructions provided below.

To Calculating your GPA

1. Use only courses completed on a letter-grade basis (A+ through F). Exclude courses graded P, NP, IP, W, or I in your calculations.

2. Assign grade points. Each letter grade corresponds to a specific number of grade points, as shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Grades and Grade-point Values

A+ 4.0
A 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
D- 0.7
F 0

3. Calculate grade points earned per course. Multiply the grade points by the number of units for each course. See the example below, if you earn a B+ in a 4-unit course, you earn 4 x 3.3 grade points, totaling 13.2 grade points.

  Units Grade Grade Points
per Unit
Grade Points
for course
Course #1 4 B+ 3.3 13.2
Course #2 3 A 4.0 12.0
Course #3 4 C 2.0 8.0 
Course #4 2 P 0.0 0.0 

4. Add up all the grade points earned from each course.

5. Add up the total number of units completed for all courses.

  Units Grade Grade Points
per Unit
Grade Points
for course
Course #1 4 B+ 3.3 13.2
Course #2 3 A 4.0 12.0
Course #3 4 C 2.0 8.0 
Course #4 2 P 0.0 0.0 
Total 13    (11 letter-graded units) 33.2

6. Calculate GPA: Divide the total grade points earned by the total units completed to get your GPA.

Total Grade Points
Letter Graded Units

Understanding Grade Point Balance (GPB)

When calculating the Grade Point Balance (GPB), every letter grade, except for C, affects the balance. Grades above C improve the grade-point balance, grades below C reduce it, and grades of C have no effect. For each unit of letter-graded courses, you can calculate the impact on the grade-point balance by subtracting 2.0 from the grade points earned. Table 2 summarizes this impact for each letter grade.

Table 2: How Grades Affect Your Grade-Point Balance

Grades Per Unit Contribution to Grade-Point Balance
A+ 2.0
A 2.0
A- 1.7
B+ 1.3
B 1.0
 B- 0.7
C+ 0.3
C 0.0
C- -0.3
D+ -0.7
D -1.0
D- -1.3
F -2.0

Table 3 shows how courses with different unit values affect the grade-point balance for each grade. Use this table to determine the impact of a grade on your GPB.

Table 3: Summary of Grade-Point Balance by Grade and Unit Value

Grade 1 Unit 2 Units 3 Units 4 Units 5 Units
A or A+ +2.0 +4.0 +6.0 +8.0 +10.0
A- +1.7 +3.4 +5.1 +6.8 +8.5
B+ +1.3 +2.6 +3.9 +5.2 +6.5
B +1.0 +2.0 +3.0 +4.0 +5.0
B- +0.7 +1.4 +2.1 +2.8 +3.5
C+ +0.3 +0.6 +0.9 +1.2 +1.5
C 0 0 0 0 0
C- -0.3 -0.6 -0.9 -1.2 -1.5
D+ -0.7 -1.4 -2.1 -2.8 -3.5
D -1.0 -2.0 -3.0 -4.0 -5.0
D- -1.3 -2.6 -3.9 -5.2 -6.5
F -2.0 -4.0 -6.0 -8.0 -10.0

The grade-point balance is helpful if your GPA is below 2.0, as it shows what you need to do to regain good academic standing. For example, a balance of -16 means you need to earn grades above C in enough units to eliminate this deficit. Earning B grades in 16 units or A grades in 8 units would do this. Use Table 3 or the GPA & GPB Calculator to see which combinations you need to improve your overall GPA.

Quarterly Unit Minimums & Maximums

Quarterly Unit Minimum

For undergraduates, the minimum full-time study load is 12 units. To enroll in fewer than 12 units for a regular quarter, students must submit a “Deficit Load” Petition.

Note: International Students on an F-1 Visa should submit the OISS Reduced Course Load (RCL) form through UCSBGlobal in place of this form. The RCL will be signed by the College advisor and OISS. 

Quarterly Unit Maximum

For undergraduates, students in regular academic standing are limited to 21 units per quarter during the regular academic year and 16 units per session during the summer. Students on Academic Review/Probation are limited to 17 units during a regular quarter. To enroll in more than the maximum number of units for a quarter, students must submit a “Excess Load” Petition.

200-Unit Enrollment Limit 

The policies related to the 200-Unit Enrollment limit can be found in the UCSB General Catalog. Below is a summary of the policy that addresses students' frequently asked questions.

Students are expected to graduate by the time they complete 200 units. Students who do not complete their unit requirements within the 200-unit limit need to request approval from the Dean of Undergraduate Education to continue enrollment beyond 200 units. It is important to note:
  • College credit earned before high school graduation does not count toward the 200-unit maximum. This includes credit for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate examinations, and also college or university credit earned while still in high school.
  • Students admitted as freshmen and remain continuously enrolled will be allowed 12 regular quarters at UCSB, and students admitted as juniors will be allowed 6 regular quarters, even if they earn more than 200 units during that period.
  • Summer session does not count as a regular quarter in this calculation, but units earned in summer session apply toward the 200-unit maximum. 
  • If students discontinue enrollment at UCSB and earns a large number of units at one or more institutions while they are away, the number of quarters allowed at UCSB will be reduced in proportion to the number of terms completed elsewhere.
  • Students who think they may exceed both the quarter limitations and 200 units may submit a Proposed Schedule for Graduation (PSG) for consideration by the Dean of Undergraduate Education.

Taking Courses Passed/Not Passed (P/NP)

Many courses offer the option of "optional grading," allowing you to choose between receiving a letter grade or a "passed/not passed" (P/NP) when registering for the course on GOLD. If you opt for P/NP and acheive a grade of at least a C, you will "Pass" the course and earn units. However, if you earn a C- or lower, will have "Not Passed" the course and will not receive units. P/NP courses will have no impact on your GPA.

It is important to keep in mind that:

  • All courses that apply to a major or for a minor must be taken for a letter grade. This includes pre-major courses, course in the preparation for a major, and upper division major courses.
  • 120 or two-thirds of your UCSB units must be taken or a letter grade, the remaining 1/3 may be taken P/NP

What are the potential downsides of taking a course Passed/Not Passed?

  • If you are taking a course Passed/Not Passed, a grade of C- will become a grade of NP on your transcript. With a grade of NP, you may save your GPA but lose units; with a grade of C-, you will earn units but you may harm your GPA.
  • You must complete a minimum of 60 letter-graded University of California units to graduate with honors, high honors, or highest honors.
  • Pre-law students should note that the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) will calculate a grade of NP as an F when considering applicants for admission into their program.We recommend that pre-law students discuss their options with a pre-law advisor before choosing the P/NP option for a course.
  • ICA Athletes should always check with thier Athletic Academic Advisor to ensure there are no eligiblity issues when changing the grading option.

Is there a limit to the number of Passed/Not Passed classes I take in one quarter?

  • There is no limit to the number of courses you take P/NP in a given quarter (provided that you do not intend to apply the courses to your major or minor). However, remember that at the time of graduation, at least 120 or two-thirds of your UCSB units must be taken for a letter-grade.

If I've completed everything for my major but want to take extra courses in that department, do those have to be for a letter grade too?

  • Students who take major or minor courses in excess of minimum major or minor requirements may elect the P/NP grading option for those courses.

New Retroactive Grade Option Change FAQ

The Retroactive Grade Option Change policy is an important tool available to students as they transition to UC Santa Barbara. The new policy is intended to help first-year students make a successful transition to UCSB instruction while allowing them some security in knowing that the campus understands that learning to manage UC expectations is a process.

Questions to consider before retroactively changing a C- or lower grade to a Not Passed (NP).

1.     Who can retroactively change the grading option for some courses under this new policy?

  • Students in their first year at UCSB, including transfer students, who started at UCSB in Fall 2023 and later.

2.     Can I change any grade that I earned a C- or lower to a NP?

  • Only courses that allow “Optional” grading can be changed. Review the “Course Information” tab in GOLD to find course grading option.

3.     Can I change my grade option if I was under Academic Review (i.e. on academic probation) during the quarter?

  • Students can only change the grading option for a course if they were in regular academic standing during the quarter that they took the course. Students on Academic Review do not qualify.

4.     How do I retroactively change my grade option in GOLD.

  • Go into “My Schedule” in GOLD and use the dropdown to select the previous term. If the “Grade Change Option” is available to you, the “Modify” button will be activated. If the change is not available, it will be dimmed/grayed out. 

5.     How long do I have to decide whether I want to change my grade option?

  •  First-year students will have until the end of the next term (the last day of Finals week) to decide whether to make the change to NP in GOLD. For example, changes must be made for the Winter quarter at the end of the following Spring quarter.

6.     How many terms will I have the retroactive grade change option available to me?

  • Students will have access to the retroactive change option for their first three, regular terms of enrollment, regardless of when those terms start and whether they are completed in succession, not including summer.

7.     Once I make the change, can I change my grade back?

  • You will only be able to make one change. Once the change has been made to NP, your record will be updated and you will not be able to change the grade option for that class again. For this reason, you must consult with an L&S advisor to discuss your situation and best choices.

8.     Will changing my grading option impact my Financial Aid?

  • Students who receive Veterans Benefits may have to return a portion of their aid if they have a NP on their record. They should consult with the Veterans Benefits officer in the Financial Aid Office before making any change to their record.
  • There will not be an immediate impact to Cal and Pell grant awards, however, eligiblity for future Financial Aid could be affected by something called "PACE", which measures your academic progress. If your PACE falls below a certain level, Financial Aid could be suspended. to understand how these changes might affect you, consult with the Financial Aid Office.

9.     If I receive a C- in a class should I automatically change it to a NP?

  • Possibly, however, consult with an L&S advisor first. There are many implications you will want to discuss before making such a change. For example, if students have a D- or higher in a course, then they receive credit for the course, but students receive no credit for a NP. So, changing a course grade to NP may result in losing units and GE credit for a completed course.

10.   Should I change my F grade to a NP?

  • Yes. However, if you are on veterans benefits you should consult with the VA Benefits Coordinator to make sure you are aware of any implications to your financial aid. 

11.   If I do not have access to the retroactive grade change option, do I have alternatives for addressing academic struggles in a previous term(s)?

  • Every student’s situation is different. If you encountered circumstances that impacted your academic engagement, consult with an L&S advisor to discuss your options.