The policies below are relevant for DSc and master's students in the McKelvey School of Engineering. To view policies for PhD students, please refer to the Academic Information section of the Graduate School Bulletin.


Each professor in the McKelvey School of Engineering decides how many absences a student may have and still pass the course. Professors are expected to give reasonable consideration to unavoidable absences and to the feasibility of making up work that has been missed. Students are expected to explain to their professors the reasons for any absences and to discuss with them the possibility of making up missed assignments.

Units and Grades

A credit unit is the equivalent of one recitation or lecture hour a week for one semester or one laboratory of two and one-half hours a week for one semester. A student's work is rated in terms of the following system of grades and grade points:

Grade Points per Unit
A or 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
D 1.0
D- 0.7
F 0.0
P# Pass
F# Failing
S Satisfactory
U Unsatisfactory
I Course work incomplete
X No final exam taken
W Withdrawal
WLA Withdraw leave of absence
R Retaken course
L Successful audit
Z Unsuccessful audit
N No grade submitted

Auditing a Course

A student may register for some courses as an auditor. The criteria for a successful audit are determined by the course instructor, and the student should work with the instructor to ensure that these criteria are understood. Generally speaking, the completion of homework and the taking of exams are not required. The grade L signifies a successful audit, and the grade Z signifies an unsuccessful audit. Neither grade affects a student's grade-point average, nor do the course's units contribute to the student's total cumulative degree-seeking units. Audit courses do not count toward any degree; however, audit units do count toward full-time status determination and tuition. Class attendance is normally required to earn a grade of L; unsatisfactory attendance will result in a grade of Z. Computer science courses do not allow students with auditor status.

Incomplete Grades

The grade I (incomplete) indicates that the work of a student has been generally acceptable but that extenuating circumstances led to certain requirements not having been met. The grade of X is recorded when a student is absent from a midterm or final examination because of illness or other unavoidable reason, provided the work has been otherwise satisfactory.

Grades of X and I must be removed no later than the close of the next full semester a student is in residence. On failure to make up an X or I grade, the student will not receive credit for the course, and the grade will be changed to F unless the student has been explicitly excused by the associate dean.

A student should not re-enroll in a class to complete an I grade. Enrolling in the class a second time invokes the Course Retake Policy.

Course Retake Policy

If an engineering student repeats a course at Washington University, only the second grade is included in the calculation of the GPA. Both enrollments and grades are shown on the student's official transcript. The symbol R next to the first enrollment's grade indicates that the course was later retaken. Credit toward the degree is allowed for the latest enrollment only.

Additional Course Information for Graduate Students

To count toward a graduate degree, courses must be offered at the graduate level, taken for a grade, and approved in advance by the student's adviser and program as eligible to count toward the student's degree. Depending on the program, graduate-level work begins with courses numbered at the 400 or 500 level. Audited courses and courses taken on a pass/fail basis cannot be counted toward the degree. Students should consult their advisers regarding these options.

Communication Tools Course for International Students

International students who are required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score and who have not studied previously for a minimum of three years in a U.S. school will be required to take an Engineering Communication Tools course during their first semester. This course does not count toward degree requirements and does not require any additional tuition; it is graded on a pass/fail basis, so it is not factored into the grade-point average.  

Transfer Credit

A maximum of 6 units of graduate credit obtained at institutions other than Washington University may be applied toward the master's degree. Approved transfer credit for undergraduate course work completed at a different institution cannot be posted until a letter is received from that institution's registrar, which states the graduate-level course work was not used to satisfy undergraduate degree requirements.

A maximum of 24 units of graduate credit earned at institutions other than Washington University may be applied toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree, and a maximum of 48 units may go toward the Doctor of Science degree. Transfer credit must be recommended by the adviser, department or program chair and approved by the appropriate registrar. No graduate courses carrying grades lower than B can be accepted for transfer toward any graduate degree.

No courses will be accepted toward degree requirements if the course exceeds the 10-year maximum time period, unless those courses have the formal approval of the Engineering Graduate Board.

Student Status

All graduate students in Engineering must register each fall and spring semester until all degree requirements are complete. All registrations require online approval by the student's faculty adviser. Students should register in one of the below three categories.  

Graduate students who do not register in one of the below categories may have to apply for reinstatement if they wish to re-enroll at a future time. For reinstatement information, master'​​​​​s and DSc students should contact Graduate Student Services at 314-935-5830, and PhD students should contact the Graduate School at 314-935-6880. Students seeking reinstatement may be required to pay a reinstatement fee, take special reinstatement examinations, and repeat previous work if their previous work fails to meet contemporary standards. Candidates for the DSc degree who apply for reinstatement may be required to repeat qualifying examinations.

Active Status

A graduate student is viewed as having an active full-time status if enrolled in 9 or more units or an active part-time status if enrolled in fewer than 9 units. Graduate students must be authorized by their adviser prior to registration. International master's students on F1 and J1 visas are required to take a minimum of 9 units per semester except during their final semester. In order to have part-time status during their final semester, international master's students must complete a Reduced Course Load form, which is available from the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS).

Continuing Student Status

The Continuing Student Status course option may be used when graduate students are approved to register for fewer than 9 units but still need to maintain their full-time status. When students are registered for the Master's Continuing Student Status (883) course or the Doctoral Continuing Student Status (884) course, they will still be viewed as having a full-time status, even if they are taking fewer than 9 units. Both placeholder courses are 0-unit audit courses with no tuition charges associated with them for engineering students; however, students may be charged health insurance and/or student activity fees associated with full-time status. The Txx or Exx 883 and Exx 884 course options are contingent upon adviser and departmental approval. Note: The 883 status is not available for master's students on F1 and J1 visas; domestic master's students may register under the 883 status only during their final semester and with departmental approval. The 884 course is for DSc students only. Engineering PhD students will register for the LGS 9000 Full-Time Graduate Research/Study placeholder course to maintain full-time status.

Nonresident or Inactive Status

Graduate students who do not need to maintain full-time status and who do not need to register for any course or research units during a given semester should, with departmental and adviser approval, register under the Nonresident/Inactive Status placeholder course option. Graduate students on an official leave of absence should also register under this status but, again, only with adviser and departmental approval. (Note: PhD students in this situation must use Leave of Absence forms or other forms provided by the Graduate School.) A DSc student wishing to register under the Nonresident/Inactive Status should register using the Exx 886 course number. A master's student should register for this status using the Txx or Exx 885 course number. Both placeholder courses are 0-unit audit courses with no tuition charges associated with them for engineering students. Students registered this way are not viewed as full-time students and will not automatically have university health insurance fees or coverage. This registration does not defer student loans, and it does not serve as a legal status for international students. The nonresident/inactive status will ensure that the student's major program will remain open. This option is not available to international students (due to F1 and J1 visa requirements), unless approved by the OISS. A nonresident/inactive status is allowed only for a few semesters, at the department's discretion. Any student contemplating a nonresident/inactive status must be aware of the residency requirements and the total time limitation required for degree completion.

Academic Probation and Suspension

Satisfactory academic progress is a prerequisite for continuation in engineering degree programs. Most financial awards and all federally funded awards are contingent upon the maintenance of satisfactory academic progress. The following are the minimal standards of satisfactory academic progress for Doctor of Science and master's students. Degree programs may set stricter standards, but they may not relax those listed below. Acceptability of grades below B- for the fulfillment of degree requirements is determined by individual departments.

Doctor of Science (DSc) students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.

  • Academic probation occurs if a semester or cumulative GPA drops below 3.00.
  • A DSc student is eligible for academic suspension if any one of the following occurs:
    • Receives an F grade in a course, or
    • Earns a semester or cumulative GPA less than 2.00, or
    • Has been on probation for two semesters and has not attained a 3.00 cumulative GPA.

Master's students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.70.

  • Academic probation occurs if a semester or cumulative GPA drops below 2.70.
  • A master's student is eligible for academic suspension if any one of the following occurs:
    • Receives an F grade in a course, or
    • Earns a semester or cumulative GPA less than 2.00, or
    • Has been on probation for two semesters and has not attained a 2.70 cumulative GPA.

Academic probation represents a warning that things are not going well academically. Students placed on academic probation may continue to stay enrolled in their degree programs but must meet with the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Services. This meeting will serve as an opportunity for the student to identify areas for improvement and to create a strategy for success for the duration of their degree program.

Academic suspension represents being dismissed from the school. Students placed on academic suspension are not eligible to enroll or to continue their degree programs.

Students who are suspended may petition the registrar in the McKelvey School of Engineering for reinstatement. Reinstatement petitions will be referred to the Graduate Board for review. If a student decides not to appeal an academic suspension or if a student's appeal is not successful, registration for the upcoming semester will be cancelled, and the student's academic record will be closed. If this should occur, it may be possible for a student to apply for re-enrollment at Washington University in St. Louis at a future time. Students in this situation will need to show that they have successfully completed challenging full-time course work at a different institution (generally, for at least one year), that they have been employed in a full-time position (generally, for at least one year), or a combination of the two (school and work). There is no guarantee that students who have been suspended will be allowed to return.

A grade of I or X in a course other than research must be removed no later than the close of the next semester; if not, the I or X turns into an F at the end of the next regular semester after the I or X grade was assigned. Students are eligible for suspension after an I or X grade changes to an F grade.

Satisfactory academic progress for engineering students in PhD programs is monitored by the Graduate School as well as the degree program. Please refer to the Academic Information section of the Graduate School Bulletin for specific information related to policies concerning PhD students.

Satisfactory Academic Progress and Title IV Financial Aid: Federal regulations require that students receiving federal Title IV financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP). SAP is evaluated annually at the end of the spring semester. In order to be considered to be maintaining SAP and thus be eligible for federal financial aid, a student must maintain minimum requirements for cumulative grade-point average (>2.70 for master's and >3.0 for DSc) and pace (credit earned for at least 67% of the credits attempted). The degree must also be completed within the maximum time frame allowed for the program (defined as 150% of the required credits). Students who are not maintaining progress will be notified by Engineering Student Services and, barring an approved appeal, are ineligible for aid for future semesters. PhD students should refer to the Graduate School Bulletin for specific information related to SAP. Additional information about SAP is available from Student Financial Services.

Disability Resources

Services for students with hearing, temporary or permanent visual, orthopedic, learning or other disabilities are coordinated through Disability Resources. Identifying oneself as having a disability is voluntary.

To the greatest extent possible, students with disabilities are integrated as equal members of the total student population. Services provided for students with disabilities may include but are not limited to readers, note takers, special parking, tutoring, counseling, appropriate academic accommodations (e.g., alternate testing conditions), and referral to community resources. To receive accommodations or services, students must initiate a request for services and are encouraged to contact Disability Resources upon admission or once diagnosed. For more information, please visit the Disability Resources website.

Leaves of Absence

Engineering students may petition to take a leave of absence. On a leave of absence, students in good standing are assured re-enrollment within the next two years. Before returning, the student is to notify the McKelvey School of Engineering and submit a reinstatement form at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the appropriate term. A student wishing to take a medical leave of absence must have a recommendation for the medical leave of absence from Habif Health and Wellness Center submitted to the appropriate dean in the McKelvey School of Engineering prior to leaving and prior to re-enrollment. The dean will decide whether or not to grant the request for the medical leave of absence and re-enrollment upon reviewing the recommendations from Habif Health and Wellness Center and the student's file.

Academic Integrity

All students in the McKelvey School of Engineering are expected to conform to high standards of conduct. Our statement on student academic integrity is intended to provide guidelines on academic behaviors that are not acceptable. Visit the McKelvey Academic Integrity webpage to review the policy.  

Note: PhD students should refer to the Graduate School Policies & Procedures webpage for a link to the full text of the Academic and Professional Integrity Policy for Graduate Students.