College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Interdisciplinary Self-Designed Program > Student Resources > Course Selection, Registration & Transfers FAQ

Course Selection, Registration & Transfers FAQ

Information about grades and grading for graduate students is found in the online catalog. Whenever you have questions about your academic progress, please contact us and ask for an advisement session. We want you to succeed!

MALS and IDS students should be especially aware of the following:

Taking a course pass/fail or auditing a course

The college catalogue states, "Courses required for the degree cannot be taken to earn a PA grade." This means that students should be very careful before choosing this option, and should consult with the Director or Program Coordinator before commiting to this. Since an IDS student's entire program has been constructed with particular academic goals in mind, it could be said that every course is a "course required for the degree." An exception might be a case such as the following: An IDS student is concentrating in Marketing and Psychology, but wishes to take an Art History course or literature course for enrichment. But not: An IDS student with interests in 19th century literature wishes to take a 19th century history course. In the first example, the course is an "outlier"; in the second case it is not. MALS students often take much more diffuse programs, but they frequently take course clusters which lead to the culminating project. A course in this area should never be taken pass/fail.

Sometimes students choose the pass/fail option because they want the experience of the course but fear they may receive a grade which will be adverse to their grade point average. Often in such situations students end up doing well, and regret the pass/fail choice.

Very few students select the AU or auditing option, because although the course appears on the transcript, it must be paid for and carries no credits at all.

Normally you register in the usual way, and then at some point you request the professor to grade you with PA (or F), or AU.

If you are graded PA/F you will receive course credits, but no quality points. If you are graded AU, you will receive no course credits and no quality points.

For PA/F, the professor expects you to do all the work of the course, but will simply grade you on the PA/F basis. Students in this situation are wise to maintain interest and engagement in the course, since the same intermittent involvement that might result in a D or F if you were being graded on the A through F scale may result in an F on the PA/F system.

For the AU grade, the professor usually simply expects you to be present for class and to be prepared in a basic way.

In every case, you should consult with your professor about the expectations he or she has for students being graded PA/F or AU. It is the professor's prerogative to set his or her own expectations in these situations.

The university discourages this strategy but individual professors may allow it. Some professors insist that students in such an informal arrangement do all the reading and be prepared for discussion so that they are not "dead weight" in the class. Usually students in these arrangements do not do the writing assignments, but again these arrangements are at the prerogative of the faculty member. If the professor agrees to such an arrangement and the course uses D2L, be sure to ask the professor to have you added to the D2L site.


You should request an Incomplete when you have done all the work for the course, attended regularly, but are unable to complete final assignments in time for the professor to grade your project and submit it in a timely fashion with the other grades.

No, you must specifically request an Incomplete. If you have not communicated with your professor, he or she may give you the final grade of F. Some professors may request documentation to support the request, ie. a medical excuse, special family circumstance, etc.

Incompletes turn to F's after a two-quarter grace period.

You may approach the professor about accepting work in completion of the course, but he or she is not required to accept work for completion of the course after two quarters.

If you stop coming to class, your professor is supposed to give you the grade of FX. If it was an honest mistake, and your intention was to drop, you can request that the course be changed to a W (withdrawal). (These requests are made to the College office, but they must come through the Program, since approval of the Program Director is required by the College office.) If the professor believes that you had poor attendance rather than that you stopped coming to class, he or she can give you an F.

The professor is supposed to give you an FX if you stop attending, no matter what the reason. Again, if you attended sporadically through the seventh week of the quarter and did not complete the course, the professor is within her rights to give you a failing grade. If you later attempt to seek a retroactive withdrawal, you will need documentation to demonstrate that you were unable to attend class for some reason. It is always best to be in communication with your professor as well as the ISD Program office if your education is interrupted. Lack of communication from the student is the primary reason that faculty state for giving non-attending students failing grades rather than allowing them to withdraw easily.

Grades lower than B-

In graduate school, grades less than B- are considered quite poor, since graduate schools are considered selective and the students are supposedly much more highly motivated than undergraduate students. In some graduate schools, courses with grades less than B- may not be considered toward graduation credit, but at DePaul the grades of C+, C, or C- are acceptable for credit, though not desirable. At DePaul, graduate courses with a grade of D+ or lower may not be considered toward graduation.

If you were admitted conditionally to MALS or IDS, your condition was probably that you receive no grade lower than a B. The conditional admits are generally reviewed on a yearly basis. If you were admitted conditionally, and are experiencing academic difficulties, please make an advising appointment so that the program may determine what sorts of academic support you need in order to succeed in your graduate program. If you are unable to improve your performance we may suggest that you not continue in your program. The program is also able to discontinue students who have not met the conditions of their admission.

A succession of C grades is not appropriate for a graduate student. If you receive more than one C, you should seriously consider whether it makes sense for you to continue in graduate school. Sometimes C's are the consequence of inadequate writing or research skills. Please remember that the program has many resources to help you develop in these areas, and we are ready to help you by getting you connected with those resources.

For those students wishing to continue their studies beyond the Master’s Degree, be aware that many doctoral programs will not consider applicants who have any C’s on their master’s degree transcripts.

If you take a 400-level course or above, you need to earn C- or higher for the course to be counted toward your degree. If you take a 300-level course as a graduate student, you must earn a B- or higher for the course to be counted toward graduation. In ISD, this applies to our cross-listed 400-level courses whose originally level is 300. Example: A history course is offered as a section of MLS 487: Topics in History, but is actually a cross-list of a 300-level history course. You must earn a B- or higher in the course for it to count toward your degree. If your GPA falls below 3.0, you will be placed on academic warning. If your GPA falls below 2.5 (a C- average), you can be placed on academic probation. If your GPA does not improve to 3.0 within a timeframe specified by the program, you may be removed from the program. You cannot graduate if your GPA is below 2.5.

If you repeat a course the grade for the second course will be added to your transcript and averaged in. It will not replace the old grade. If you have received an Incomplete which has turned to an F, and would like to have the grade improved, you may do the following:

  • Ask the professor if you may complete the work for a grade. If the two-quarter grace period has passed the professor is not required to honor this request, but most do. You will have to make a special request to the College office through the Program Director to allow the grade to be changed.
  • If you feel you did not get enough out of the course to complete it (or if the professor feels this way), you may ask the professor if you may sit in on the class informally the next time it is offered and redo all the work. This is an informal arrangement, and is completely at the professor's discretion. Again, if the two-quarter grace period has passed, you will have to make a special request to the College office via the Program Director to have the grade changed. This is not an officially approved policy; it is strictly something you work out with the professor.
  • Do not assume that you can take any course with the same name and number as the one in which you got your IN and have your IN>F changed to the new grade. It is the professor who taught the original course who gives you the changed grade.
  • Again, be aware that if you repeat a course by registering for it again, the new grade will not replace the old grade. Both grades will contribute to your GPA. Therefore unless the course is central to your program, it does not matter to your grade whether you "retake" it or take another course.
  • If you are a returning student with old Incompletes incurred before the two-quarter IN>F policy was introduced, the old Incompletes may remain. While there is no statute of limitations, it is almost impossible to finish an Incomplete after more than two or three years. You will usually have to accept the fact that there is going to be an Incomplete remaining on your course history, and to take another course to replace it.