Haas raises undergraduate GPA caps on core, elective classes

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The Haas School of Business has raised its mean undergraduate GPA caps to provide more flexibility when evaluating student performance.

In 2011, the mean GPA for Haas undergraduates was capped at 3.2 and 3.4 for core classes and electives, respectively, in order to ensure consistent grading across courses. Effective May 3, the caps have been raised to a mean of 3.4 for core classes and 3.6 for electives.

Prior to 2011, professors would often teach the same courses at the same time but have differing grades by section — an example of grading inconsistency the caps aim to resolve, said Haas associate professor Don Moore.

After 2011, many students expressed discontent over the caps, saying they created a more competitive and stressful atmosphere.

“I certainly saw a few of my fellow students suffer along the perception that it was too much work to go from a B to an A,” said Tyler Wishnoff, a Haas senior and Haas Business School Association president.

Strict guidelines led some students to enroll in classes with perceived lenient grading — ones they might not be interested in — with the expectation that they would get better grades, Moore said.

To resolve issues with the 2011 cap levels, faculty looked at historical average grades at Haas and other departments at the university, job prospects for students and grading policies of comparable institutions, Moore said.

“The entire goal was not to adjust average grades but set the average consistent with historical averages,” Moore said.

The amended policy applies to all current undergraduates, including graduating seniors and incoming students, said Richard Kurovsky, executive director of marketing and communications at Haas.

However, some Haas seniors are petitioning for retroactive application of the new grading policy, saying they have been negatively affected by the strict GPA guidelines since 2011. They are asking Haas to either retroactively reweight GPAs, add notations to outline Haas’ grading policies to their transcripts or allow Haas faculty to make exceptions to the cap at their discretion, according to Moore.

Faculty members will discuss retroactive adjustment of grades under some circumstances, but at this time, the schedule for this discussion has not been set, Kurovsky said.

“Retroactive application on all classes sounds great ideally, but pragmatically, this is really hard to implement,” said Shahryar Abbasi, a Haas senior and current ASUC external affairs vice president. “At academic institutions, policies change — it’s not feasible, every time a policy change occurs, to retroactively apply it.”

Contact Christine Tyler at [email protected].