When registering for courses, Brown students must indicate whether they are taking a course for a grade (G) or satisfactory/no credit (S/NC). A small number of courses are designated by their instructors as mandatory S/NC. Students may change their grade option for a course online during the first two weeks of the semester or in the Registrar's Office through the first four weeks of the semester by filing a Course Change Form. No grade option changes are allowed after the first four weeks of any semester.
The founders of Brown's open curriculum implemented the S/NC option to encourage students to sample all areas of the curriculum. Students use the S/NC option for a variety of reasons, some pedagogical or philosophical, some by the instructor's request, but most students agree that S/NC allows for exploration of a particular topic without the stress and pressure that a graded evaluation may impart.
The guidelines below may help students decide whether or not to take a course S/NC.
- Taking one course per semester with the S/NC option will have little or no effect on post-graduation plans. Students will still have 24 courses taken for a grade.
- Concentration courses and pre-med requirements should generally be taken for a letter grade, particularly if a student intends to pursue graduate or professional school.
- No single course, whether taken for a grade or S/NC, will determine a student's admission to a particular profession or graduate program. It is the overall academic record that matters.
- Students interested in earning academic honors such as magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa should be aware that these honors are awarded on the basis of the number of grades of "A" or "S with distinction" in a student's record.
Course Performance Reports
In addition to the two grade options at Brown, students may request a narrative evaluation of their performance from their course instructors. These Course Performance Reports provide valuable information to students about their success in meeting course learning objectives, especially for courses graded S/NC.
Any student regularly enrolled in a course may request a Course Performance Report (CPR) and, at the instructor's discretion, receive one. Instructors of mandatory S/NC courses are obliged to honor such requests. For all other courses, instructors may decline to submit such a form if they believe they have inadequate information to do so. Students must submit CPR requests to their course instructors before mid-semester.
Course Performance Reports are not part of a student's official academic record or transcript, but a student may request that the University send one or more CPRs with their official transcripts. In such cases, students must provide the Registrar's Office with copies of the CPRs when submitting their transcript requests.