Colleges giving more than 4.0 for an A+

I’m curious how many, if any, colleges give more credit for an A+ than an A. My daughter is at UMD and they do NOT give more for an A+. But they do give an extra .3 more for any other plus grade (B+, C+, D+). And they do give .3 less for all minus grades (A-, B-, C-, D-). I think this grading structure is pretty common but I’m wondering if there are any colleges/universities that give a 4.3 for an A+?

This is an annoying pain point for my daughter (well not sure she’s annoyed but I am lol). My daughter has a current gpa of 3.991 due to one A- in a 3 credit course her freshman year (of which there were only 2 graded assignments). Her other grades were all As or A+s (and she got 17 A+s).

The min GPA to receive summa cum laude honors in her college is 3.992. If she gets at least all As in her final semester her GPA will become 3.992 which qualifies her for summa cum laude honors (obviously if she does not get all As she would NOT qualify for summa honors). But since those grades will not be finalized before graduation she will be noted at graduation as having received magna cum laude honors.

And trust me, I get this is the epitome of first world problems. But for the most part, the place where this honors really matters for even half a second is during the actual ceremony. After that it’s nice to be able to have this on your diploma/transcript but no one really sees that.


Our high school, didn’t even have A+’s, none of my kids’ colleges have/had A+’s. Magna/summa depends on the individual colleges. My oldest was summa (the only way to know is to look at her diploma, she had an honors cord that she never bothered to pick up) the next no honors (I have no idea his final gpa), my 21 year old is graduating summa next week, but with just have an honors medal/convocation for being in the honors college. Both #1 and #3 had a B freshman year, the rest A/A-.

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Yea, I’m not sure why they differentiate between A and A+ grades on the transcript when there is no difference in calculating the GPA between the two grades. I guess if anyone cares to look at her actual transcript they would see the individual grades and maybe that is helpful for graduate school admissions.

Wow that is a really high bar for summa. I’m surprised anyone makes it given those rules.

FWIW, both my kids went to the same college and A+=4.0, same as an A.


And it’s not even the highest bar for summa at UMD. If you are in the College of Arts and Humanities you have to have a 4.0 to be summa and in the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences you have to have 3.997.

Just out of curiosity, summa at #1 is 3.85, summa at #3 is the top 1% which will be calculated after graduation so no mention at convocations/commencement, #4 is 3.95 (she has a 4.0 but is only a rising sophomore).

At UMD, Summa represents top 2%, Magna next 3% and Cum Laude next 5%. So top 10% of class gets Latin Honors. Per their website they calculate the cut-off as follows:

To determine the Latin Honors cutoff for each Honor level (i.e., summa, magna, and cum laude) for a given year, the minimum GPA for each Honors designation are calculated, by College or School, based on cumulative GPA averages of the previous academic year’s three graduating terms (Fall, Spring, and Summer).

Students applying to law schools will find that A+ = 4.33 (+/- is generally +0.33/-0.33) when recalculated for law school admission purposes: Transcript Summarization | The Law School Admission Council .

However, medical schools recalculate with A+ = 4.0, the same as A, even though +/- is otherwise +0.3/-0.3 when they recalculate:

These methods may differ from GPA calculation at your college (and they differ from each other).

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Well, law school could be in her future so maybe that’s when those A+s will make a difference.

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Purdue is the same, and most profs don’t give above As, regardless of the GPA in the class. Case in point, my D got a 99% in a course this semester but it’s still listed as an A.

The latin distinctions are based on the top percentage of the class so the GPA threshold changes every year. My D will be right on the cusp next year and it could go either way. No one cares but me ; )

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Many colleges give 4.3 for an A+. You can look up the grading scaling used at different colleges websites to identify colleges that give 4.3 for A+. Examples of colleges where A+ = 4.3 include Stanford, Columbia, and Cornell. Rice recently switched from A+ = 4.3 to A+ = 4.0. Information about why they made this change is at A+ Grade Point Change FAQs | Office of the Registrar | Rice University .


Interestingly, Columbia is a 4.33 - all + and - are .33 and .67.

One challenge is as noted above - if some professors just don’t give A+ grades, it’s not really an even playing field. D17 actually received several (6, iirc) A+ grades at Purdue. But it’s still 4.0 so it doesn’t really matter.

Something to keep in mind is that cutoffs, honors, etc., are done in the context of the grading system. When our high school changed the weighting system, cutoffs for various honor rolls also changed, aimed at keeping the same level of performance, and roughly number of students, qualifying at each level. 3.992 is incredibly restrictive. But if an A+ was 4.3, I suspect the threshold would be much higher.


UMD changes the cutoffs each year to try to have Summa = top 2%, Magna = next 3% and Cum Laude = next 5% within each college. And yes if an A+ was worth 4.3 the cutoffs would naturally shift higher.

I read the Rice motion which explained their reasoning and I can understand the logic behind their decision. It almost seems like if they are going to be + or - used maybe there should be a clear articulation of what constitutes a + or -. E.g., any grade from 98-100 = A+, 93-97 = A, 90-92 = A-.

It does not appear that UMD dictates what constitutes a + or - grade so I assume, like Rice, professors are free to use it or not use it as they please. All I could find documented for UMD re: the grading scheme (outside of how to calculate GPA) was:

  • A+, A, A-** denotes excellent mastery of the subject and outstanding scholarship;
  • B+, B, B-** denotes good mastery of the subject and good scholarship;
  • C+, C, C-** denotes acceptable mastery of the subject;
  • D+, D, D-** denotes borderline understanding of the subject, marginal performance, and it does not represent satisfactory progress toward a degree;
  • F** denotes failure to understand the subject and unsatisfactory performance.

That is incredibly high cut off for summa.

Another school that gives +.33 is Alabama.

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When I was a student at Stanford, the few A+ grades I received involved doing something special beyond just getting high grades on exams or problem sets. For example, one A+ grade involved finding additional exam solutions that the professor hadn’t considered. Another involved winning a final project competition. One involved finding unique and original ways of solving problems in a math class that were in some ways superior to the textbook approach (HS teachers sometimes severely penalized me for this, Stanford instead gave higher grade). Professors used the A+ grade as a way to indicate something special that goes beyond the relatively common A grade.

Some professors probably did not give out an A+ grades, and others probably gave them out liberally; so getting Latin honors for top #% may have a luck component depending on how often the professor gives out A+ grades. However, Stanford does not have Latin honors. It does have a “distinction” list that depends on top 15% type GPA. Personally, I’m not especially concerned if a particular student doesn’t get on the “distinction” list because they randomly happened to get a professor who doesn’t give A+ grades. I’d be surprised if being on this list had any significant impact on future outcome. Similarly I’d be very surprised if an employer or similar is going to care about 3.992 GPA not being as high as a >4 GPA from a college that treats A+ = 4.3.


Oh I 100% know that I am the only one that cares about her being announced as Magna vs. Summa. It’s more the fact that she’s missing it by 1/1000 of a point due to one A- when she has 17 A+s lol.

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Can she write an honors thesis? In my years recruiting new college grads, the Honors designation was a lot more meaningful to us than Summa/Magna/Cum Laude. The distinction between a super high GPA and an extremely high GPA really counts for nothing in the corporate world. But graduating with Honors- at colleges where that means a thesis and everything that goes with it (research using primary sources or actual fieldwork, strong writing and editing skills, complex indexing and citations for secondary sources, and a team of subject matter experts (the professors in the department) to vet/accept the work- THAT’S meaningful! Maybe take the focus off the GPA and move it towards additional academic challenges? You’ll get the thrill of seeing her name in the program with Honors (plus Magna or whatever Latin honors she ends up with) and she’ll have expanded her horizons in an impactful way?

I have opened many an interview with “Tell me about your senior thesis” and the discussion is usually interesting and provocative!


Good to know @blossom! My D will for sure be graduating with her honors designation.

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something interesting to talk about/showcase that isn’t a rehash of what’s already on the resume! And it’s always nice to hear a story that starts with “My advisor told me my topic was a mistake because it would be too hard to find sources/develop the data/find evidence for my argument, but here’s what I did…”

Shows tenacity and focus in addition to all the other skills!