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.

If an engineering student repeats a course elsewhere (i.e., as a preapproved transfer course from another university), the student must take the course for credit and earn a C- or better for the units to transfer to Washington University. After an official transcript showing the final grade for the repeated course is received, the symbol R next to the first enrollment's grade indicates that the course was later retaken. The original grade will no longer figure into the student's GPA, nor will the transfer course grade figure into the GPA. The grade for the transfer course does not display on the student's Washington University record, but the units for the transfer course will count toward the degree program.

Course Descriptions

The McKelvey School of Engineering is subdivided into five academic departments: Biomedical Engineering (E62); Computer Science & Engineering (E81); Electrical & Systems Engineering (E35); Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering (E44); and Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science (E37). Each department may offer courses leading to one or more bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees.

The courses of instruction are numbered according to the following system:

  • 100 to 199 are primarily for first-year students.
  • 200 to 299 are primarily for sophomores.
  • 300 to 399 are primarily for juniors.
  • 400 to 499 are primarily for juniors and seniors, although certain courses may carry graduate credit.
  • 500 and above are offered to graduate students and to juniors and seniors who have met all stated requirements. If there are no stated requirements, juniors and seniors should obtain permission of the instructor.

One unit of credit is given for each hour of lecture, and one unit is given for each two and one-half hours of laboratory. Each course description shows the course's credit. A table of all engineering courses (PDF) and, for each course, the division of its topics units is available and frequently updated on the school's website.

Definition of Class Levels

For classification purposes, a student's undergraduate class level is defined according to the year in which they intend to graduate.

Pass/Fail Option

All undergraduate engineering students are eligible to register each semester for up to 6 units with the pass/fail option, for up to a maximum of 18 units attempted. Some departments require students to take certain courses pass/fail; credits in these courses do not count toward either the semester limit of 6 units or the cumulative limit of 18 units. Other than these courses, only elective courses may be taken with this option, including courses in other divisions of the university but that are still contingent upon and subject to departmental requirements. Humanities, social sciences and some technical electives specifically allowed by individual engineering programs, as well as some engineering courses (both undergraduate and graduate that are not specifically required for the student's major program), may be taken with the pass/fail option. Some programs do not allow any courses (either required or elective) to be taken with the pass/fail option. Graduate courses taken on a pass/fail basis cannot be transferred later for credit toward a graduate degree.

Changes from the regular grade basis to pass/fail or vice versa may not be made after the last dates specified in the current Course Listings. The normal regulations for withdrawal or change to auditor status also apply to pass/fail courses.

It is the student's responsibility to discuss with the faculty member what constitutes a pass in a particular course. Although the general pass mark is a C-, instructors have the discretion to set the pass mark higher in their course(s).

A final grade of P# (pass) will earn degree credit where applicable. A final grade of F# (fail) will not earn degree credit. Neither P# nor F# will affect the GPA.

Academic Probation and Suspension

McKelvey Engineering students are expected to maintain a high level of scholarship during their time at Washington University. At a minimum, students must meet the standards set by the faculty as well as those mandated by the U.S. Department of Education (see section on Satisfactory Academic Progress). A student whose work falls below minimum standards is placed on academic probation and is classified as not being in good academic standing. If a student on probation does not improve their academic record, probation is followed by suspension.

At the close of each semester, each student's semester GPA is computed as the total grade points earned during the semester divided by the total credit units attempted. At the same time, the cumulative GPA is computed as the quotient of the cumulative total of grade points divided by the cumulative total of credit units attempted. The computations are made on the basis of the grade-point scale indicated in the section on Units and Grades. Courses taken on a pass/fail basis are not included in these calculations. Each student's semester and cumulative GPAs are then reviewed along with other probation and suspension criteria.

Students eligible for first or second probation are notified, and their record is updated accordingly. Students eligible for suspension are notified. If the student chooses not to appeal or appeals and the appeal is denied, then the student is suspended, and their record is updated accordingly. The student’s parents are also notified of any academic probation or suspension action.

Academic Probation

Academic probation represents a warning that the school has concerns with a student’s progress. Students placed on academic probation may continue their enrollment, but they are required to meet with their advisers to discuss what they might do to improve their grades and make progress toward the degree. Academic probation cannot be appealed.  

Criteria. Academic probation takes place if any one of the following occurs: 1) a student has a semester GPA below 2.0; 2) a student has a cumulative GPA below 2.0; 3) a student has three incomplete ("I") grades at the end of a semester; or 4) a student drops below full-time student status without adviser preapproval. Students placed on probation due to three or more incomplete (“I”) grades may request to have the probation removed from their records after all of the incomplete grades are replaced with letter grades.

The first time a student qualifies for probation, they are placed on First Academic Probation. The second time a student qualifies for probation (nonsequentially), they are placed on Second Academic ProbationSpecial Academic Probation means that a student was eligible for suspension but was not suspended. A student placed on academic probation is not in good academic standing. 

A student placed on academic probation may have a hold placed on their record and must complete the steps below.

  1. Within two weeks of receiving a probation notification, the student must schedule a meeting with their four-year adviser in Engineering Undergraduate Student Services (Lopata Hall, Room 303). The meeting must take place before the end of first week of classes for the upcoming semester.
  2. The student must prepare a written statement with two sections. In the first section, the student will provide a clear explanation of the circumstances that affected their performance the previous semester. In the second section, the student will describe a plan to improve their academic performance moving ahead. The written statement should be sent to the four-year adviser in advance of the scheduled meeting.
  3. The student must meet with the four-year adviser at the scheduled date and time. The meeting is designed for the student and adviser to determine what might help the student to be more successful. The four-year adviser may recommend that routine meetings take place throughout the semester.

Academic Suspension

Academic suspension represents being dismissed from the school. Students placed on academic suspension are not eligible to enroll or continue their degree programs; however, suspended students may apply for re-enrollment at a future time. Students placed on academic suspension are not allowed to enroll in any division at Washington University. A student placed on academic suspension is not in good academic standing.

Academic suspension is not viewed as a punitive action. Rather, it is an academic pause applied when it is clear that something is interfering with a student’s ability to complete degree requirements. It is not in a student’s best interest to continue unless they are able to make changes that will allow them to make successful academic progress toward graduation.

Criteria. Academic suspension takes place if any one of the following occurs: 1) the student becomes eligible for academic probation for a third time; 2) the student becomes eligible for academic probation two semesters in a row (i.e., two consecutive enrolled semesters); 3) the student fails the same course twice; or 4) the student was enrolled in credit courses and earns no degree credit at the end of a semester. 

If a suspended student would like to return to the university at a future time, the student must apply for reinstatement to the McKelvey School of Engineering. To apply for re-enrollment, the student will need to demonstrate the capacity to work productively at the level required by the school’s curriculum. They must have successfully completed challenging full-time course work at a different institution (generally, for at least one year), have been employed in a full-time position (generally, for at least one year), or a combination of the two (i.e., they have been both in school and working). There is no guarantee that a student who has been suspended will be allowed to return.

Appeal of Academic Suspension

A student who wishes to appeal their suspension should present a written appeal statement setting forth reasons why they believe the situation should be reconsidered. This statement should be addressed to the Undergraduate Academic Standards Committee and forwarded via the associate dean (Lopata Hall, Room 303). In this statement, the student must explain why the unsatisfactory academic performance occurred and, if they are allowed to return, what they would do differently.

The student must then attend an appeal hearing. The student's academic record, written appeal, and any other factors the student may wish to discuss are considered by the committee. Immediately after the appeal hearing, the student is informed of the committee's decision. The committee's decision is final (no other appeals are possible). If the appeal is successful, the student is placed on Special Academic Probation and allowed to enroll in classes. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the student's programs of study will be closed, and the student will be dropped from any course registrations for the next semester. Suspended students may apply for re-enrollment at a future time.

Dual-Degree Students

A student who enters as a Dual-Degree 3-Year Option (3/3) student pursues a McKelvey undergraduate degree for two years and then a McKelvey master’s degree the third year. While pursuing the undergraduate degree during the first two years, undergraduate probation and suspension rules are applied to the student. McKelvey graduate probation and suspension rules are applied during the third year, when the student is pursuing the master’s degree.

Satisfactory Academic Progress and Title IV Financial Aid

Federal regulations require that students receiving federal Title IV financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress. Satisfactory academic progress is evaluated annually at the end of the spring semester. In order to be considered to be maintaining satisfactory academic progress and thus be eligible for federal financial aid, a student must maintain minimum requirements for cumulative GPA (2.0) 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 (no more than 180 credits). Students who are not maintaining progress will be notified by Engineering Undergraduate Student Services and, barring an approved appeal, are ineligible for aid for future semesters.

Additional information about Satisfactory Academic Progress is available from Student Financial Services.

Full-Time and Part-Time Enrollment

Undergraduate degree programs are full-time programs. All students designated with full-time status will automatically be charged full-time tuition. Undergraduate engineering students must take a minimum of 12 units of credit to be considered full-time. Students may not enroll in more than 21 units without special permission. An additional per-unit tuition charge will be assessed for any units over the 21-unit limit. 

Part-time enrollment is not allowed unless serious documented health problems prevent a student from being enrolled full-time. Part-time students take 1 to 11 units and are charged for part-time tuition, along with the standard undergraduate fees. Scholarship support is not normally available for part-time students. Part-time enrollment and partial tuition charges are allowed for seniors who must enroll for an extra semester. For students who enroll as first-year students, this status is allowed after their eighth semester. For dual-degree students, part-time status is allowed after the fourth semester. (Note: Summer semesters are not counted as academic semesters.) 

Special note to senior-level undergraduate students: Senior-level students (those in their eighth semester) will automatically be designated as having full-time enrollment status if they are taking 6 or more units; students are charged full tuition if enrolled in 6 to 21 units.

Leaves of Absence

Engineering students may petition to take a leave of absence. For 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 the Habif Health and Wellness Center and the student's file.

Transfer Credit

A student must get prior approval before taking a course at another university. After completing the course, the student must have an official copy of the transcript sent to the McKelvey School of Engineering for evaluation. If the credit is accepted, the course will appear on the transcript with the units but not the grade. Only units of credit for courses with a grade of C- or better will transfer. No transfer credit will be accepted for courses taken while a student is suspended from Washington University for violations of the University Student Conduct Code or the Academic Integrity policy. The transfer course approval process is outlined on the McKelvey School of Engineering website.

Transfer credit is never accepted for online courses.  

University College Courses

Engineering students may receive credit for a limited number of University College courses that have been approved by the Engineering Undergraduate Studies Committee. The approved courses listed below will display on official transcripts and the course units will count toward engineering degree requirements, but the grade will not be calculated in the students' GPAs. Approved courses must be taken for a letter grade, and students must earn a minimum grade of C- for the course units to count toward engineering degree requirements.

Current approved courses, which may be needed by students seeking admission into medical school, include the following:

  • U29 Bio 322 Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology I (With Lab)
  • U29 Bio 323 Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology II (With Lab)
  • U29 Bio 406 Introduction to Biochemistry
  • U29 Bio 4170 Endocrine Physiology
  • U29 Bio 4241 Immunology

Eligibility to Enroll in Other University College Courses

University College courses that do not appear on the approved list above may be taken under certain circumstances. The courses will display on official transcripts, but the units will not count toward engineering degree requirements, and the grade will not be calculated in the students' GPAs. Eligibility is restricted as outlined below: 

  1. First-year students may take U03 GS 125 College Success Seminar, but the course will not count toward engineering degree requirements.
  2. Undergraduate engineering students may enroll in University College biology courses (U29), but only the above-listed courses will count toward engineering degree requirements.
  3. Undergraduate engineering students in their final year of study may enroll in one University College course each semester. Again, these courses will not count toward engineering degree requirements. 


Exceptions to the above rules may exist for a student's declared degree program when working toward a non-Engineering minor or a joint-degree program.  

Military Training

Army and Air Force ROTC programs are available at Washington University.

A student in the McKelvey School of Engineering who takes an ROTC course will have the course name, number, credit units and grade entered on their official transcript. If the course is numbered 100 through 299, the course's units and grade will not apply toward the student's degree requirements; if the course is numbered 300 through 499 and the grade is D- or better, the course's units will apply toward the student's degree requirements (as a free elective), and the grade will be counted in the student's cumulative and semester GPAs. Credit may be awarded for no more than one course per semester, for a maximum of 16 units.

Course descriptions for Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC can be found in the appropriate sections of this Bulletin.

Sever Institute Courses

Typically, Sever Institute "T" courses taken by engineering undergraduate students will not count toward graduation requirements. Students should speak with their 4-year adviser if they have questions about a specific "T" course. Grades for "T" courses will not be calculated into students' GPAs.     

Online Courses

Online courses taken by engineering undergraduate students will not count toward graduation requirements. Exceptions include only those courses with “E” course numbers offered by McKelvey.