The days of selecting business courses with exceptionally high GPA distributions are coming to an end. The Smith School is looking to balance their grade distributions and make them more uniform across the board.
"If everyone is getting an A, the best students are still the best, but there is nothing showing this … and for professors, there is a risk of a race to the bottom. The incentive is for every professor to skew their grading." said Dr. Colin Linsley, a professor in the Smith School.
The school is initiating a GPA range for core business courses. According to Gregory Pfeiffer, a Smith School accounting professor, 200-level core courses will now have a target GPA of 2.8 with a range of 2.7 to 2.9. 300 level core courses have a target of 3.1 with a range of 3.0 – 3.2. The only core 400 course, 495, has a target GPA of 3.25 with a range of 3.2 to 3.3.
These GPA ranges were selected by the faculty who teach these courses, and then was agreed upon by the department heads. One of the primary reasons for these ranges is because historically, the grades in higher education have been increasing dramatically, explained Pfeiffer.
BGMT495 was the first course to focus on a target GPA several semesters ago. It was not until this semester that other courses followed. Some professors, like Pfeiffer, have begun to print these guidelines in their syllabi.
Both Pfeiffer and Linsley stressed that these new GPA guidelines are not meant to hurt students. Oftentimes, a course with a 2.8 target GPA will still have around 30 percent A's and 30 percent B's. These guidelines will just provide uniformity between the courses. "The classes will be more or less the same, the grading distribution will just be wider." said Linsley.
Another change coming along with these GPA alterations is that all 300 level core courses in marketing, finance and management will now be taught in smaller sections, which means more professors will be brought in to teach these sections, according to Pfeiffer.
"Instead of classes of 200 or 225, there will be classes of 50." said Pfeiffer.
Does this mean sites like OurUMD are now completely unreliable? It's tough to say, but if you are looking for courses, it would probably be a good idea to focus on the new grade distributions.