Beginning in the spring semester of the 2017 academic year, Keio University will switch from the current four-letter grading system to a new five-letter grading system. Guarantors were initially notified of the change with an addendum to the 2016 fall semester grade report. In addition, students who enter Keio in the 2017 academic year or later will have a new academic transcript format listing all courses (passed or failed) and a grade point average (GPA).

SFC CLIP interviewed university officials regarding the changes that will be implemented starting next semester.

Academic Affairs Office counter in α building

Academic Affairs Office counter in α building

Currently enrolled students to change to five-letter grading system; relative grading system also to change

Almost all faculties and graduate schools at Keio University will switch to a five-letter grading system. With a few exceptions, the university currently uses a four-letter grading system where grades “A,” “B,” and “C” are considered passing, and a “D” is considered a failing grade giving no credit. Beginning in the 2017 spring semester, almost all faculties and graduate schools will adopt a new grading system using the letters “S,” “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D,” where a grade of “S,” “A,” “B,” or “C” will be considered passing, and the letter “D” will denote failure; any grade above a “C” will continue to be considered a passing grade. However, any classes graded as pass or fail (such as “[2014 rules and regulations] Basics of Data Science / [2007 rules and regulations] Foundation of Mathematics” and “Go”) will not change.

Students enrolled prior to the start of the 2017 academic year will be moved to the new five-letter grading system for all classes taken in the 2017 academic year or later, including students studying under the 2007 Rules and Regulations at SFC.

According to officials from the SFC Academic Affairs Office, Keio opted for the new scale instead of the traditional “ABCD/F” scale commonly found around the world because university officials believe most students are already accustomed to a grading system where a grade of “C” or above is considered passing.

Currently, classes in the Faculty of Policy Management and Faculty of Environment and Information Studies are graded on a relative grading scale where roughly the top twenty percent of students receive an “A.” This system will be changed in the future, but details have not been finalized and will be announced at a later date.

Toward globalization – new students will have a GPA included in their official academic transcript

Both currently and newly enrolled students will be graded according to the new five-letter grading system, but there will be some key differences: presence of grade point average, treatment of failed subjects, and format of academic transcript.

Using GPA for more standardized grading

A grade point average (GPA) is a measurement generally used to summarize a student’s grades during a specific period (usually a semester or year). A GPA for a specific time period can be calculated by multiplying the number of credits for a class by the numeric value of the grade (S – 4.0, A – 3.0, B – 2.0, C – 1.0, D – 0.0), adding the calculated numbers together, then dividing by the number of credits registered in that time. Many universities around the world use GPA as part of their academic transcript, and GPA use is beginning to gain traction in Japan.

In the past, there have been limited cases where a numeric calculation was used to show a student’s average academic performance at SFC, primarily in the 3.5-year early graduation program. However, the calculated number was never included as part of the official academic transcript and was therefore not provided to external organizations. GPA calculations will be included on official transcripts for students entering Keio after the start of the 2017 academic year.

The introduction of the five-letter grading system is one of the university’s most recent pushes toward globalization. Keio has been expanding its globalization efforts continuously, most notably with the GIGA Program conducted in English at SFC beginning in 2011, and with the newly established PEARL Program from the Faculty of Economics in the fall semester of 2016. University officials believe the changes to grading will better reflect current global standards and hope that including a GPA on transcripts will make it easier for Keio students to study abroad and encourage foreign students to study at Keio.

Comparison of grading systems

Students enrolled in AY 2016 or prior Students enrolling in AY 2017 or later
Grading system for courses taken in 2016 or prior 4-letter scale (not applicable)
Grading system for courses taken in 2017 or later 5-letter scale
Grade Report GPA shown on report? No Yes
Failed courses shown on report? Yes Yes
Academic Transcript GPA shown on transcript? No Yes
Failed courses shown on transcript? No Yes
Cancellation of courses taken in other faculties Course registration can be cancelled. Depending on the course, some may not be cancelled.

The grading system applied to currently enrolled students and students enrolling from the 2017 academic year differ. For example, new students will have any failed subjects listed with their calculated GPA on their official academic transcript, but for current students, any failed courses will not be listed. New students may choose to ask for advice about grades and course selection from senior students but should note any subtle differences in rules.

Details on the new five-letter grading system will be released officially in March and sent as part of the 2016 fall semester grade report; details regarding the grade calculation method for students enrolled prior to the 2017 academic year will be published in the SFC Guide 2017.