Grading System for Postgraduate Degree

postgraduate diploma
Many postgraduate students and even graduates have asked about the final grading system for postgraduate Degree. In the comment box, you may sometimes find questions like, ‘how does University of Ibadan grade their master degree?’ or ‘Is second class upper, a criteria for admission for PhD?.


It should be noted that postgraduate degrees are given a totally different grading system from the undergraduate degree. By grading, this is not about exam scores in courses, but the final certificate. The postgraduate examination scores grade still remains the same in virtually all Nigerian universities. A score greater the 70 is an ‘A’. 60-69 is ‘B’, 50-59 is ‘C’, 45-49 is ‘D’, 40-44 is ‘E’ and finally, any score below 40 is a ‘F’. These grades also carry points. These examination scores are used to calculate a cumulative grade point, using the weighted average of the course unit.

Undergraduate Grading system

From first year to final year of undergraduate study, the examination grades are used to calculate a cumulative grade point average (CGPA). The CGPA is calculated using the weighted unit of the courses and project done by the student. At the end, a student has a CGPA score. All universities adopts a 5 point CGPA.

A student, for example can graduate with a 3.5/5.0. The final grade shows a class of degree.
– First class degree (1.1) is 4.5-5.0, which is cumulative minimum of 90% in all examination grades.
– Second class upper (2.1) degree begins from 3.5-4.49/5.0. That means a student in this certificate grade has cumulative minimum of 70% in all examination grades.
– Second class lower (2.2) degree is between 2.5-3.49/50. At least, 50% of all cumulative scores
– Third class degree is between 1.5 and 2.49. The pass degree has been scraped. Take note of the difference between examination grade and certificate grade.

Grading for Postgraduate Degree

At postgraduate level, that is Postgraduate diploma, Masters, M.phil and PhD, there is no specific grading on the final certificate. Just like in the professional degrees, everyone who graduates is deemed to have passed. But a special class of exceptional postgraduate students are awarded with a distinction.

Typically, there is not first class, second class degree specification for postgraduate certificate. Although, the CGPA of postgraduate students are still calculated. In fact, some postgraduate students still call their result based on the undergraduate class, after calculation of CGPA. Such is not official or recognized.

Implication of Postgraduate Degree grading

The system of grading postgraduate degree (master, M.phil, PhD) does not in any way affect the pursuit of excellence. At postgraduate level, it is expected that the students are mature and know what they want out of school. The class or postgraduate grade is not written on the certificate, so the academic performance won’t really matter, when the certificate is presented.

To pursue further studies like PhD, Post doctoral and for opportunities like scholarships and grants, the postgraduate transcript is often requested. On the transcript, the true picture of academic performance is revealed.
In Nigerian universities, to be admitted for a PhD, a student must have a CGPA of 3.5 and above. In some competitive universities like University of Ibadan, University of Nigeria etc, a CGPA of 4.0 is the minimum for PhD admission.
So while the class of postgraduate degree is not given prominence, it is still important to graduate with a good grade to get the opportunities that abound.

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