Shadow Grading Policy

Shadow Grading Policy

The shadow grading policy for first-year students was voted by Academic Council on December 11, 2013. The policy would be in effect for a period of six years commencing in Fall 2014. The Committee on Curriculum & Academic Policy (CCAP) would be responsible for monitoring the effects of this policy and will make regular reports to Academic Council assessing its impacts. After the six year period the policy would be evaluated and Academic Council would vote to make the policy permanent or discontinue it.

This policy was made permanent effective Fall 2020.

Students in the first semester of their first year will be graded P/NP (Pass/No Pass) in all of their classes. They will also, however, be given a report of the letter grades that they would have received (“shadow grades”), which will not appear on their official transcripts. Following our current practice, a grade of D or above is a passing grade.

This policy provides first-year students with the opportunity to learn about the standards for academic achievement at Wellesley and to assess the quality of their work in relation to these standards. It further enables them to use their first semester to refocus attention from grades to intellectual engagement and inspiration and to learn how to grow as a learner in college.

How Shadow Grading Works

First semester students will be "graded as usual" in their classes, and the faculty will submit those grades to the registrar in the usual way. The registrar will retain those grades for internal use only and will not release those grades outside the College. Official student transcripts will specifically note that all grades in the first semester are mandatory P/NP.

For the purposes of the College’s grading policy, the average grade for a class will be calculated using the shadow grades submitted for first-year students.

In courses that have grading basis Mandatory Credit/Non-Credit (CR/NCR) for all enrolled students, first semester students will receive grades of Pass/No-Pass (P/NP) only and will not be given shadow letter grades.

Initially shadow grading was also applied to first-year students enrolled in first-year writing courses in both the Fall and the Spring semester. Beginning Spring 2018, first-year writing courses taken in the spring semester will no longer be shadow graded.


Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions.