Pass/Fail grade option for spring 2020

The rapid evolution of the COVID 19 pandemic requires Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to accelerate its response to this unprecedented situation. In order to maintain our commitment to student success, we are considering a variety of options to assist students as they move from on-campus instruction to distance education (mostly remote, online) in all of the courses for the Spring 2020 semester. One, of several, options being implemented is to expand the Pass/Fail grade option for students.

Pass/Fail grade option key takeaways

  • Undergraduate and graduate students will have the option to choose between receiving standard letter grades (A-F) or the Pass/Fail grade option for each of their courses this semester.
  • Students will have until May 15, 2020, to decide which courses, if any, they would like to use the Pass/Fail grade option. This means students will be able to see their final grades for each course before making a decision.
  • VCU Records and Registration has created an electronic Change in Grade Mode Authorization form to allow students to select the Pass/Fail grade option for their courses.
  • Undergraduate students should consult with their academic advisors, and graduate students should consult with their faculty advisor and/or program director, before making a decision on these grading options.

Additional details

Detailed information about the Pass/Fail grade option can be found by selecting a header below, or by visiting our FAQ page for students or our FAQ page for faculty and staff.

Why provide a temporary Pass/Fail Option for students?

  • To address challenges of moving to a distance or correspondence modality (remote, online) that students may experience.
  • To create more options for successful completion of a term with minimal barriers.
  • To provide student strategies focused to support successful completion of the semester amid a rapidly changing and stressful situation. Students who withdraw from courses often find themselves off track for timely graduation, and face greater challenges with returning the next semester.
  • This will be one of many other options that we use to assist students.

Undergraduate students

Undergraduate students may request that a letter grade (A-F) received during spring 2020 be converted to a P/F grade mode.

All undergraduate courses provide students the option for the P/F grade option under these new definitions:

  • P: Grade of pass (P) is awarded for certain courses to denote satisfactory completion of requirements equivalent to letter grades A-C. The grade of P is not included in the calculation of the GPA. Grade of P will satisfy the prerequisite to register for courses that require a minimum grade of C. Students should check with their academic departments and advisors to see if a grade of P will be accepted for courses with prerequisites of B or higher, as well as for program requirements that specify a minimum grade of B.
  • PS: Grade of pass-satisfactory (PS) is awarded for certain courses to denote satisfactory completion of requirements equivalent to the letter grade D. The grade of PS is not included in the calculation of the GPA. (This is a new grade that needs to be created).
  • F: The grade of fail (F) is considered not passing and is included in the calculation of the GPA.

Graduate students

Graduate students may request that a course they are enrolled in during spring 2020 be converted to a S/U/F grade mode.

All graduate courses provide students the option for the S/U/F grade option under these new definitions:

  • S: Grade of satisfactory (S) is awarded for certain courses to denote satisfactory completion of requirements equivalent to letter grades A-B. The grade of S is not included in the calculation of the GPA. The grade of S will satisfy course requirements of a minimum grade of B or higher to advance to another course.
  • U: Grade of unsatisfactory (U) is awarded for certain courses to denote satisfactory completion of requirements equivalent to the letter grade C. The grade of U is not included in the calculation of the GPA.
  • F: The grade of fail (F) is awarded for certain courses to denote not passing (earning a letter grade equivalent of a D or F) and is included in the calculation of the GPA.

Records and Registration has created an electronic form that students must complete in order to select the Pass/Fail option for their courses. Before the change in grade mode option is authorized, students are encouraged to have a conversation with their academic advisor (undergraduate) or faculty advisor and/or program director (graduate) before completing the grade change authorization form to ensure they understand the benefits and cautions of exercising this choice.

Before the last day of classes: Conversations/meetings with academic advisor (undergraduate) or faculty advisor and/or program director (graduate) by the last day of classes.

April 6, 2020: An electronic Change in Grade Mode Authorization form is made available for students.

May 15, 2020: Deadline for students to submit grade change authorization to pursue Pass/Fail option (submitted electronically by the student).