Incomplete Grades

Overview

A grade of Incomplete (noted "I" on the transcript) may be assigned when a student in good standing in a course has completed and passed a majority of the work required for a course but, for reasons beyond the student's control, cannot complete the entire course. Incomplete grades can only be granted by instructors and instructors are under no obligation to grant students an incomplete grade. In cases where an instructor agrees to assign an I grade, it is important to arrive at an agreement about exactly what is required in order to finish the course with the instructor. Review the Office of the Registrar's procedures for Incomplete grades.

No exceptions to deadlines (see below) will be made, so arrange Incompletes carefully. If you need more time to complete your Incomplete grade, your instructor will need to sign forms allowing an extension. 

Do not enroll in the same course in which you have taken an I. Doing so, will result in the I lapsing to an F. 

Guidelines & Deadlines

Students have three possible options to resolve Incomplete grades: 

  • Complete the course and have the instructor submit a final grade to replace the I. 

  • Extend the Incomplete deadline.

  • Retain (Freeze) an Incomplete permanently on the record. 

Each of these have limitations and are explained in depth below. If you receive an Incomplete grade, one of the above actions must be taken by the deadline or the grade will automatically lapse to an F (or NP if the course was taken P/NP in the original semester). 

I Grade Received Deadline to Replace, Extend, or Retain
Fall Semester First day of instruction the following Fall Semester
Spring Semester First day of instruction the following Spring Semester
Summer Term First day of instruction the following Spring Semester

These deadlines have no appeal process. The College cannot make exceptions, even for situations where faculty is not responding to communication. Please contact the department that hosts the course if you need support reaching your faculty member.

Students who have 12 or more units of Incomplete grades active on their record will need approval to continue enrollment into the next semester. See below for more details.

 Incomplete FAQs

Complete & Replace an Incomplete Grade

Students must submit completed coursework in advance of the deadline to give their instructors time to grade. If your instructor has not provided you with a submisison deadline, you must submit your work to your instructor at least 30 days prior to the instructor's grade replacement deadline. Instructors must submit the final grade by the deadline (above). Review the Office of the Registrar's information about Incomplete grades.

Incomplete grades are opportunities to complete missing work for a course, not to re-do assignments that were already completed. Because of this, it’s important to assess whether you feel you can finish a course with a grade you want before deciding on an Incomplete grade.

Request an Extension for an Incomplete Grade

Requests for an extension of a deadline for completion of an I grade are subject to instructor approval and require an instructor’s signature. To make a request, print a copy of the Petition to Extend an Incomplete Grade, complete the student portion, ask the instructor to complete and sign the form, and submit it lspetitions@berkeley.edu by the deadline. Extension of I grades are subject to the approval of the Letters and Science Dean. Requests to extend an Incomplete submitted after the deadline will be automatically denied. 

Once you have extended an Incomplete, you are allowed to extend the deadline again, as long as you submit a new petition to extend by the deadline of your first extension. 

Once you have chosen to extend an incomplete, you cannot decide to retain/freeze that incomplete. 

Retain/Freeze an Incomplete Grade

Up to two Incomplete grades can be retained permanently on the record (this is often called "freezing an incomplete"). (You must adhere to the same completion deadlines noted above.) This means instead of a final grade, or the Incomplete lapsing to an F, you will have a grade of “I” on your record. You will not receive units nor other credit for the course, and will not be able to retake the course. 

To retain an I grade permanently, submit a Petition to Retain an Incomplete Grade Permanently on Record within the deadline for completing the course. No approval is necessary, but consider carefully before choosing this course of action; it is irreversible, and courses with a permanently retained I grade cannot be taken again while at Cal.

Graduating seniors who are on the current degree list and have I grades in classes required for the degree must complete the coursework by the last day of the term in order to graduate. If the course is not needed for graduation, the I will remain on the transcript indefinitely and will never lapse to an F or NP. 

Deadlines for finishing coursework for an Incomplete grade apply even to those who are not currently enrolled at Berkeley and to those participating in the Education Abroad and UCDC programs.

Incompletes & Academic Probation

There are a few important points to note regarding how Incompletes may or may not influence your academic status. 

  • A semester that does not yield grade points will lead to probation. For example, if a student takes all courses on a pass/no pass basis, receives all incomplete grades, earns all IPs or NRs, or a combination of the above will fail to achieve a GPA and will be placed on probation. 

  • If you are placed on academic probation because of a semester or cumulative GPA issue and finish an Incomplete, the final grade has the power to impact your GPA, but will not change your academic probation status. You will still have to clear academic probation.

12 units of Incomplete & Registration

If you have 12 units or more of outstanding incompletes on your record, you will not be allowed to register at Berkeley unless granted permission to do so by the College of Letters and Science. L&S may require that you complete some or all of your Incomplete grades before registering for another term. If you have a high number of Incomplete units, you will likely be emailed about meeting with an L&S College Adviser to discuss your plan so a decision about continued registration can be made. 

Should I take an Incomplete grade?

Incompletes are a useful option if you experience extenuating circumstances during the term, but otherwise plan to complete the coursework. However, Incompletes can be complicated and challenges with completing them can arise. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1) How many Incompletes are you working on and what classes are you taking while trying to complete them? It can be challenging to take on a full course load on top of completing incomplete grades and trying to complete too many Incomplete grades by the deadline can be challenging.

2) How has the instructor been regarding communication? If your instructor is often difficult to reach, working together to arrange how to complete work and get grading in on time may be challenging.

3) Can you and the instructor agree on a clear, timely plan? The clearer your plan and timeline is, the more likely completion of your Incomplete grade will go smoothly.

4) Will you be able to do well on your remaining assignment(s) with the timeline agreed upon? Taking a makeup exam within a month of the class ending versus taking the final exam the next time the course is offered are two very different experiences when it comes to retaining the knowledge you’ll need to do well.