The faculty at the Haas School of Business developed a grading policy for all degree programs. The policy has three goals:
- To ensure that grading is fair and consistent across courses;
- To encourage students to take their coursework seriously; and
- To hold faculty accountable to the rigorous standards of the Haas School of Business.
All instructors are required to follow this grading policy.
Effective Fall 2012, the maximum mean GPA in any class section will be 3.45. The grade distribution is flexible as long as the mean does not exceed this cap.
For electives with enrollments of 18 or more students, the maximum mean GPA will be 3.50. The grade distribution is flexible as long as the mean does not exceed this cap.
Deviations for classes with fewer than 18 students must be approved in advanced by the Dean’s Office. In the event of such an approved deviation from the policy, the mean GPA of any course should not exceed 3.65.
If you have questions about the Berkeley Haas grading policy, please refer to the FAQ’s listed below.
1) Why does Berkeley Haas have a curve?
Berkeley Haas courses do not have a forced “curve.” There is a grading policy which requires that the mean GPA not exceed the stated caps above. In the past, grading curves were used in Berkeley Haas classes, as is the case across the campus and in large prerequisite courses. The variance of curves used in the Berkeley Haas classes and issues of grade inflation led the faculty to develop a recommended distribution for courses back in 2006, which had a mean GPA of about 3.00. Now, there is no longer a forced curve for Berkeley Haas courses. The grade distribution is flexible as long as the mean GPA does not exceed the cap.
2) Do other business schools use curves/mean GPA guidelines?
Most business schools (and other professional schools) have such policies. Berkeley Haas has a grading policy that is comparable to other peer top-tier business schools.
3) Who created the policy?
The Faculty Policy and Planning Committee (P2), which is an elected group of faculty responsible for long-range planning, proposed the policy at the request of faculty and students. The Proposal was adopted by the Faculty at the Faculty and Academic Planning (FAP) meeting on April 29, 2011. It was later amended on October 21, 2011 and May 3, 2013 for courses to move from a forced distribution to a maximum mean GPA of 3.45 and 3.50/3.65 for core and electives, respectively. This more closely reflects the historical mean for core and allows for evaluation based on the performance of the class.
4) What are the main reasons behind creating a policy?
- To establish clear and consistent academic standards within and across the undergraduate and graduate professional degree programs at Berkeley Haas
- To establish clear and consistent academic standards across multiple sections of the same course, particularly when sections are taught by different instructors
- To establish clear and consistent guidance on grading policy for ladder-rank and professional faculty teaching in Berkeley Haas undergraduate and graduate professional degree programs and to set expectations for students
- To encourage students to come to class, and to come to class prepared
- To be responsive to requests from student leadership for clear and consistent grading standards
- To enforce the existing grading policy in the undergraduate and full-time MBA programs
5) Are there any exceptions to the policy?
The policy states that faculty wishing to violate the grading policy must explain in writing why the course, and the distribution of students who are enrolled, warrant a deviation. Written approval from the Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction and Dean of the Haas School must be obtained to proceed with a different mean GPA for the class. In the event of such an approved deviation from the policy, the mean GPA of any course should not exceed 3.65.
6) Can it be overturned?
The policy was created and approved by faculty who are members of the Academic Senate. Therefore, any changes must be made by the same faculty governing body.
7) Won’t this foster competition? Why should I work collaboratively in teams?
Competition and collaboration have always co-existed at Berkeley Haas, and there is no evidence that students will collaborate less in courses with the policy. In this case, the grading policy is based on the historical average so a significant shift in grades is not expected.
8) Where should I go to express my concerns?
You can share your concerns with the VPs of Academics or you can contact the EWMBA Program Office.