Evaluation & Grading

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Class Ranks

UNC School of Law no longer provides class ranks for individual students, with the exception of the top 10 students in each class. Students and employers will receive information about the grade-point-average cutoffs for the top 10 percent, top third and top half of each class, however.

Dean's List

The top 50% of the class in any semester is eligible for the Dean's List provided he or she has no grades of Incomplete or Absent from Final Exam (AB). Dean's List for first-year students are also awarded, but is not announced for the fall semester until the end of the first year along with the spring semester awards.

Grading Policy

Grading Scale

The grading scale ranges from a high grade of A (4.0), A- (3.7), B+ (3.3), B (3.0), B- (2.7), C+ (2.3), C (2.0), C- (1.7), D+ (1.3), to a low passing grade of D (1.0).

An A+ (4.3) may be awarded in exceptional situations (e.g., an A+ should not be awarded as a matter of course to the top student in each class, but only if the top student's performance is exceptional compared to the next student in the class). There is no D-; a failing grade is F (0.0).

Faculty members will report letter grades (with pluses and minuses, as appropriate) to the registrar. Some designated courses are graded on a pass-fail basis.

First-Year Curve

First-year classes are subject to a mandatory curve. The curve has two aspects: a mean requirement and a distributional requirement. All first-year courses are subject to the mean requirement. In addition, a distributional requirement applies to the large-section first-year courses.

Distributional requirement

Percent Grade
35% (31-39%) A
55% (51-59%) B+
10% (6-14%) C+
  • A deviation of 4 percent is permitted in each letter grade category.
  • A grade of A+ is considered part of the 35 percent of grades to be awarded in the A to A- range.
  • Grades below C will be considered part of the 10 percent of grades to be awarded in the C+ to C range.

Mean requirement

In RRWA sections, the mean has a permissible range from 3.300 to 3.500. In courses other than RRWA, the class grade mean is 3.250, with a permissible range from 3.200 to 3.300.

  • A grade below a C is considered a 2.0 for purposes of determining the required mean.
  • An A+ is counted based on its actual value (4.3) for determining the required mean.

Upper-Class Mean

In upper-class courses, the mean GPA should ordinarily fall within a relatively narrow target band, varying by no more than .1 in order to ensure fair treatment of all students. In small-enrollment upper-class courses (fifteen or fewer students), a variance of .3 is permitted. In upper-class writing courses (WE or RWE), the mean GPA is somewhat higher, and a variance of .2 is permitted. The bands for upper-level offerings are as follows:

Type of Class Target Band
Courses (Small-15 or fewer students) 3.1-3.4 mean GPA
Courses (Larger-more than 15 students) 3.2-3.3 mean GPA
RWEs and WEs 3.4-3.6 mean GPA

Faculty members are permitted to deviate from these bands by ratcheting upwards or downwards if the mean GPA of students in the course is higher or lower than the overall mean GPA for upper-class students. For example, if the average GPA of upper-class students is 3.305, but the average GPA of the students in a Federal Jurisdiction class is 3.390 (.085 above the overall mean), the professor MAY but is NOT required to raise the class mean by .085-awarding grades in Federal Jurisdiction pursuant to a mean of 3.200-3.385, rather than 3.2-3.3. Similarly, if a Corporate Tax course draws a class with a mean GPA that is .085 lower than the overall upper-class mean, the professor MAY but is NOT required to ratchet the mean for that course downwards by .085 (3.115-3.300).

Retention and Graduation

An annual cumulative grade point average of 2.2 is required to continue in the law school at the end of the first year, and a cumulative GPA of 2.25 is required to continue after the second year and to graduate.

Guided Enrollment Policy

Any student who fails to earn a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 at the end of the first year will be required to satisfy any conditions required by the Law School for continued enrollment.  Under this guided enrollment policy, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, or the Associate Dean's designate, will develop mandatory conditions for each student.  These conditions may include, but are not limited to, a requirement that the student take, or not take, certain courses or types of courses; that the student maintain a certain course load; that the student attend, or not attend, one or more summer sessions; or that the student refrain from outside employment or extracurricular activities.


Faculty members may award a grade of "Incomplete" (designated "IN" on a transcript) in instances in which they believe the award of such a grade is warranted. Incompletes should generally be cleared by the end of the semester following the semester in which a grade of Incomplete is awarded. Determinations that a longer period is to be made available to clear the Incomplete may be made justified by special circumstances, and in consultation with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Incompletes that are not cleared within one year are converted to 0.0, although in extraordinary circumstances the faculty member, in consultation with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, may authorize a student to withdraw with a grade of IN. The designation "IN" followed by the grade ultimately awarded, will appear on student's transcript unless the instructor indicates that the original designation "IN" was made based on instructor error.

Pass/Fail Courses

Some courses are designated as pass/fail courses. Students may not change a graded course to a pass/fail course. The 65-hour requirement is not affected by whether a case is graded on a pass/fail course or not.

Grade Changes and Appeals

Except for grade changes secured through the grade appeal process, faculty members may change grades posted by the University Registrar only when an arithmetic, recording, or clerical error is involved.

A student may appeal a grade of 1.7 or below to the dean. Review is limited to determinations of:

  1. A plain error in computation.
  2. The use of clearly unacceptable standards of professional judgment in grading.
  3. Personal bias or prejudice that manifestly influenced the grading process to the student's detriment.

The University's policy on Prohibited Harassment and Discrimination (PDF) prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of an individual's race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Appendix B of this policy provides specific information for students who believe that they have been discriminated against or harassed on the basis of one or more of these protected classifications.

Students who want additional information regarding the University's process for investigating allegations of discrimination or harassment should contact the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office for assistance:

Equal Opportunity/ADA Office
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
100 E. Franklin St., Unit 110
Campus Box 9160
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
Telephone: 919.966.3576
Fax: 919.962-2562
Email: equalopportunity@unc.edu

Any administrator or supervisor, including a department chair, associate dean or other administrator, who receives a student's complaint about prohibited harassment or discrimination must notify the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office within five (5) calendar days of receiving the complaint. If a student raises a claim of prohibited harassment or discrimination during an academic appeal, an investigation of the student's claim must be performed under the direction of the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office. The school or department must await the results of the harassment or discrimination investigation before deciding the student's academic appeal.

All grade appeals must be filed in writing within 60 days of the student's receipt of the grade. A copy of the grade appeals procedure may be requested from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

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