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UW-Madison Incomplete (I) Grade Information

The following section explains what it means to earn a grade of I (incomplete) for an L&S undergraduate student.

What does it mean if my instructor gives me a grade of Incomplete (I)?

An instructor will give a student a grade of Incomplete (I) only if the student was passing the class and is unable to complete the class in the semester it is offered.  In addition, the student can only have a small amount of graded work (e.g., a single paper or test) that needs to be turned in for grading in order to qualify for an incomplete.   It is up to the instructor to decide whether an Incomplete is warranted.  It is also the instructor's responsibility to assign the grade of Incomplete (I) when all grades are turned in at the end of the semester. 
  • An instructor should never grant a student an incomplete if the student has more than 3/4th of the work to complete for the particular course. 
    • An instructor should only agree to offer an incomplete after consulting with the student about the arrangements and the requirements the student will need to meet in order to remove the Incomplete from their records.
  • College policy states that Incompletes should only be given in situations where students are receiving a passing grade in the course, have completed most of the course assignments, and are not able to complete their coursework due to unforeseeable circumstances.
  • Incompletes should only be given when there is a reasonable expectation that a student can and will complete the work in a timely fashion.   
  • It is not appropriate for a student to be advised to retake a course in order to satisfy work for an incomplete.  
    • Repeating a course on a refresher basis for the purpose of satisfying an Incomplete will not remove the prior grade(s) earned for that course from the student's record.  In other words, the incomplete will still lapse into an F.
    • Credit will not be granted for the same course twice.
    • Grades in refresher-basis courses (i.e., courses a student has taken in the past and successfully passed) count only in the university grade point average.
    • Repeated courses do not calculate in L&S requirements for qualify of work (i.e., GPA minimums for Intermediate/Advanced work and GPA requirements in the major).
  • Any course taken by an L&S undergraduate which is graded as an incomplete must be completed by the end of the fourth (4th) week of classes of the student's next semester in residence.  Instructors have the right to set an earlier deadline for finishing up an incomplete (e.g., four weeks after the semester, etc.).
  • If the work for an incomplete has not been completed by the deadline, the grade will lapse into a Failure (F) unless the time limit has been extended by a grade change form [granted an extended incomplete (EI)] signed by the course professor before the end of the fourth (4th) week of classes. 
  • If a student has been awarded an Extended Incomplete (EI), the student must complete the work and have the final grade reported to the Registrar's Office before the last day of classes.  If the EI has not been removed by the last day of classes, it will lapse into a Failure (F).
  •  A grade of permanent incomplete (PI) will replace an Incomplete if it was received the last time a student was registered and has not been removed/resolved within five years.  In other words, a permanent incomplete will replace an I if the student received it at least five years ago when the student was last enrolled at UW-Madison and it has not been resolved within the 5-year period.  For more information, see grades and GPA.  
Additional information can be found on the L&S Student Academic Affairs website at Incompletes and in the Guide under Incompletes.

Resources for Questions: 
L&S Student Academic Affairs: (608) 262-0617,
L&S Academic Advising: (608) 262-5858,

See Also:

Keywords:Incompletes, incomplete, lapsed grades, grade change form, extended incomplete, I, EI   Doc ID:21330
Owner:Tori R.Group:L&S Administrative Gateway
Created:2011-11-17 22:01 CDTUpdated:2020-06-22 14:15 CDT
Sites:L&S Administrative Gateway
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