Skip to Content

Special Grading and Credit Limits for First-Year Students

AY2023-24 rules of Class of 2027


First-year students are graded on Pass or No Record in the Fall semester. 

In the first semester and Independent Activities Period, first-year students receive grades of Pass or No Record: 

  • A grade of “C” or better equals “passing” for first-years. Any subject you pass at the “C” level or greater is noted as “P” on both your external and internal transcripts. 
  • Non-passing grades of D or F only show up on internal transcripts; unofficial grades do not show up on any external transcript. The external transcript will show no record of failed subjects, i.e., those graded D or F). 
  • Will receive internal “hidden” grades of A, B, or C. Hidden grades are neither figured into a GPA nor usable for any purpose other than advising. If a third party requires the internal grades, the student must go to the Department Administrator for each subject to request a letter. Hidden grades will be available on WebSIS for advisors and first-year students at the end of the Fall semester. 

In the spring semester, first-year students will receive “A”, “B”, or “C” grades. These are recorded both internally and on their official transcript; “D” and “F” grades continue to be noted only internally. They will begin to accumulate a grade point average. 

First-year students are graded differently from upper-level students. These policies are intended to help students adjust to MIT’s teaching and grading methods and the increased workload without having to worry about accumulating a grade point average (GPA). 

Students entering in Fall 2020 or later, will not be eligible to use Sophomore Exploratory or Junior/Senior P/D/F grading options. 

Students may choose to use P/NR grading in a total of no more than 48 units beginning with a student’s second regular semester. (Ex. 4 classes of 12 – units or up to 48 units). These units may be used on any subject, including those to fulfill General Institute or Departmental Requirements. These subjects can add up to no more than 48 units, and all of the units that comprise a subject must be taken under the P/NR grading option. Subjects must be designated and the Registrar notified after final grades are submitted and before the end of the fifth week of the student’s next enrolled regular term.


First-year students are subject to a credit limit by faculty rule. The limit aims to help you adjust to MIT’s workload while also learning to live a balanced life with more autonomy than you may be used to. The credit limits for each term of your first-year are: 

  • Fall term = 54 units (plus 6 units of discovery-focused subjects and related exceptions) 
  • Independent Activities Period (IAP) = 12 units (all students are limited to 12 units in IAP) 
  • Spring term = 60 units (plus 6 units of discovery-focused subjects and related exceptions) 

First-semester take no more than 54 units (plus 6 units of discovery-focused subjects and related exceptions). Since most MIT subjects are worth 12 units of credit, this works out to 4 full subjects, plus an additional 6 units and additional 6 discovery-focused units that you may or may not choose to use.  

  • Options for these extra 6 units beyond the main credit limit include an Advising Seminar (3units), or one or more First-Year Discovery subjects. 

In the spring semester, 60 units (plus 6 units of discovery-focused subjects and related exceptions) is the maximum. This credit limit increase allows you more room for exploration. 

While some students might benefit from taking 60 regular units, you should note 48-54 units is still considered a typical load and advisable for most students. 

  • Options for using the extra units in the spring are: one or more First-Year Discovery subjects. 
  • Students placed on Warning by the Committee on Academic Performance at the end of the fall semester have a spring credit limit fixed at 4 subjects, up to 48 units. 

Note: Physical Education classes are based on a point system and do not count toward the credit limit. Further, ROTC subjects, do not count toward the first-year credit limit.