Credit/No-Credit Grading

Recommended By
Academic Senate
David W. Benson, President
Issue Date
Sunday, May 31, 1987
Current Issue Date
Tuesday, August 18, 1998
Effective Date
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Contact Office
Vice President
Policy number

Statement of Philosophy

The definitions which Sonoma State University applies to the letter grades A-F are common and students can expect that other schools and evaluating agencies will understand those grades in the same way that Sonoma State University does. This is not necessarily true of the grades CR (Credit), NC (No Credit), and I (Incomplete). Students should be aware that some graduate and professional schools recompute grade point averages based on a different set of definitions. For example, some schools treat an I as a withdrawal without penalty, the NC may be treated as an F, the CR may be treated as a C.

At Sonoma State University CR/NC grading is an alternative mode of grading in which the grades are not included in the calculation of grade point averages. The faculty has determined that this mode of grading is appropriate when sound pedagogical reasons exist, such as

  1. the nature of the course makes letter-grade evaluation difficult or impossible;
  2. the faculty desires to encourage a student to explore subjects lying outside his or her perceived fields of expertise in order to experience the advantages of a broadened education;c) the student may achieve more by being free of the anxieties sometimes attendant on being assigned a letter-grade in an unfamiliar field.

In the case of the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, the faculty has designated CR/NC with written evaluation as an intrinsic aspect of the program for philosophical and pedagogical reasons closely tied to the program's nature and design. These reasons include a commitment to promoting student self-motivation and independent learning in the seminar context.

It is not the faculty's intention that students use the CR/NC mode as an excuse to do less than their best work or to avoid getting a lower grade than they want in a course. Accordingly, a student is required to select the basis for grading at an early date in the semester.


The nature of grading alternatives in a course is recommended by departments on pedagogical grounds. In the courses of certain types, where letter grading is intrinsically difficult or impossible and where emphasis is primarily on the accomplishment of specific tasks, CR/NC will be the only option for basis of grading. These types are: Internships, Student Teaching, Community Involvement, and Physical Education activity courses. Departments wishing to give letter grades in a course of such a type may request an exemption. Requests for such exemptions should be made to the Educational Policies Committee and should include an explanation as to how letter-grade evaluation will be meaningfully conducted. With the above exception, each department retains discretion to designate a course as being available in A-F only, CR/NC only, or either at the student's option.

For students applying for baccalaureate degrees under catalog years beginning in Fall 1987, courses may be applied toward major and minor requirements only if they have been graded A-F, except for courses not available in the A-F mode. This, a course taken CR/NC when the alternative was available can only be counted as an elective or toward the General Education requirements. This provision is enforced only when the student applies for graduation rather than upon each class enrollment.

As a general rule, the maximum number of CR/NC units that may be used to qualify for a bachelor's degree is 24. The following exceptions modify this general rule:

  • All non-traditionally graded units earned at other institutions that have been accepted for transfer will be accepted toward the bachelor's degree. If fewer than 24 such units are transferred, they will count toward the 24-unit limit. If 24 or more such units have been accepted, no additional CR/NC units will be accepted.
  • All lower division general education units earned in the Hutchins School will be acceptable for graduation, irrespective of their number, up to the 48 units that constitute the Hutchins School General Education program. A student who completes at least 24 CR/NC units in the Hutchins School general education program may not apply other CR/NC units earned at Sonoma State University toward graduation requirements, unless the units are earned in a course available only on a CR/NC grading basis.

The final date for a student to declare Basis of Grading is the census date of the semester in which the course is taken.

Updated August 18, 1998 by