Program Policies

Non Recording Option

To support and encourage students who would like to elect courses that may pose greater than usual academic risk, the Faculty offers the Non-Recording Option to students who are not currently on Probation, Warning, or the first term following assignment of Risk. Under this option, students may elect under certain conditions to exclude a grade in one regularly graded course from the record in a given term, in the sense that the grade will not be shown on transcripts or included in the calculation of grade point averages. There is a regular grade, however, that is used internally to the student’s advantage or disadvantage; for instance, a ‘non-recorded’ D will be counted toward the maximum of eight D’s allowable in the minimum course count for the degree and will make the student liable for academic action by the Committee on Standards. The grade of E invalidates the student’s election of the option while constituting the use of an eligibility; the E is recorded, and it is averaged normally.

Since various departments and programs, or instructors, believe certain courses are unsuitable for use of the option, a list of courses that are ‘out of bounds’ is maintained and published on the Registrar’s web site and a link from the Timetable of Classes lists the courses that are to be out of bounds in the corresponding term. Departments and programs may not make any change following the publication of the list for a given term, and are specifically enjoined from granting an exemption from the out-of-bounds status to an individual student. Along with numerous individual courses, all First-Year Seminars, all courses studied off-campus, all beginning language courses (taken in satisfaction of the Language Requirement or prior thereto), and almost all graduate courses are out of bounds for application of the option.

Each undergraduate is allowed a maximum of three uses of the option that result in a standing of ‘Non-Recorded’ (NR); when a student has been assigned three NR’s he or she is no longer eligible to make any further use of the Non-Recording Option.6 It is possible to elect use of the option and do work in the course of such quality that the regular final grade is recorded. The regulations follow:

For exceptions to the limit of three uses, see the section on Language Requirement Waivers.

Within the first fifteen days (usually eleven class days) of a term a student who is not on probation or warning, or in the first term of ‘risk,’ and has elected an eligible course may indicate use of the Non-Recording Option in that single course. (The student indicates which course on BannerStudent including the lowest letter grade he or she is willing to have recorded and used in averaging, or the intention to have a final standing in the course of NR (Non-Recorded). After the fifteen-day deadline the student may neither change the choice of course under NRO nor drop the use of the option unless he or she officially drops the course from his or her record.

At any time after this initial period, but not later than five class days before the last day of classes for the term, a student under the option may revise the choice of lowest acceptable grade or of NR in BannerStudent.

A regular letter grade will be assigned by the instructor, who has not been informed which members of the class are under the option (although instructors are entitled to know how many students elected the option).

There are three possible outcomes for a course under the option:

  1. If the grade actually assigned by the instructor matches or surpasses the student’s final choice, it is entered and serves in all respects as a regular letter grade. The student regains the eligibility for use of the option he or she had temporarily lost.
  2. Should the grade be lower than the student’s final selection (or should the actual choice have been NR), as long as the grade is not E, the entry on the student’s permanent record and on transcripts is NR. The letter grade is not used in computing any recorded grade average, but is available for internal use (e.g., in connection with the limit on the number of D’s allowable). The course is included in the student’s sum of credits toward graduation, but does not serve in partial satisfaction of the Distributive, World Culture, or Major requirement. At most one course in the minor, including prerequisite courses, in which the standing of NR is received may be used toward satisfying the minor. The student will have exhausted one of the quota of three eligibilities available during his or her career at Dartmouth. The standing of NR is permanent: requests to revoke it and reveal the letter grade originally assigned by the instructor must be refused.
  3. Should the assigned letter grade be E, this grade is recorded and averaged in the normal fashion no matter whether the student chose a grade or NR. The student receives no course credit and uses one of three NRO eligibilities. 

    Most students will wish to indicate, for instance, that a grade of B- or higher should become a regular grade, and thereby count in all respects, while restoring the use of the option. If a student wishes during the term, in effect, to cancel a use of the option he or she should file a second grade limit of D; accordingly, any passing grade will have the ‘liberating’ effect of the B- mentioned in the previous sentence; that is, the grade actually assigned by the instructor will be recorded and included in averages. A student may decide that B- is too high a target, but be unwilling to have a grade lower than C posted; in that case the B- should be changed to C.

    Students should note the crucial NRO dates (published on the Registrar website) for selecting the option (or changing the course chosen or withdrawing from the election of the option) and for altering the choice of grade. The Registrar does not grant extensions of either deadline for action for any but the most extenuating and compelling circumstances. Should a student withdraw from the course selected for NRO after the end of the initial fifteen days, he or she does not use the eligibility associated with the designated course, but is not able to make use of NRO in that term.

    The recording of NR is irrevocable. Students sometimes desire the release of the concealed letter grade, e.g., for use in a major, for general education credit, or for admission to a graduate school with possible advanced placement. Under the terms of the Non-Recording Option such is not permissible; requests must be refused. Students are accordingly advised against risking misuse of the option, as in the cases just mentioned. However, they may in effect ‘withdraw’ from the use of the option by changing to a grade limit of D by the published deadline each term.

    Uses of the option resulting in the standing of NR or grade of E (up to the maximum of three) are included in the total of eight courses that may be taken Credit/No Credit, or under the Non-Recording Option with the just indicated results.

Final notes: A standing of NR prevents the course from being used for the Major Requirement, the World Culture or Distributive Requirement. However, prerequisite courses to the major may be taken under the Non-Recording Option and at most one course in the minor, including prerequisite courses, in which the standing of NR is received may be used toward satisfying the minor.


Related Policies

  • High school seniors are eligible to enroll in one course per term during the fall, winter, and spring terms.
  • High school juniors are eligible to enroll in one course per term during the winter and spring terms only.
  • Students are eligible to enroll in four courses maximum over the course of the program.
  • Students must maintain a grade of C+ or better in each course to be allowed to register again without petitioning the Chair of the Advisory Committee.
  • Students may not displace Dartmouth College students in a course.
  • Students are not eligible to enroll in certain courses which include, but are not limited to:
    • Individual music instruction
    • Studio Art courses
    • Writing 2, 3, 5; First-Year Seminars; and Humanities 1 & 2
    • Mathematics 1 and 2
    • Chemistry 3 and 4
    • History 5.03, 72, 74, 95
  • Students may not gain entry into any course with an enrollment limit before all Dartmouth students have registered for the term.
  • Students who have completed requirements for the high school diploma may continue to take courses at Dartmouth only if they are fully enrolled in a high school program during the entire corresponding term.
  • Participating high schools must be within a 30-mile radius of Dartmouth College.