FAQ for students

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Video guide for undergraduate students

To help undergraduate students weigh their grading options for spring 2020, VCU's Student Success team has put together a video walkthrough:

Change in grade mode authorization form

The change in grade mode authorization forms can be found at the bottom of the Records and Registration flexible grade option webpage.

Additional FAQ

Students have several grade options available to them for the spring 2020 semester.

In addition to the standard letter grade, students may elect a Pass/Fail grade option, a withdrawal or an incomplete.

Standard letter grade option
Students may receive the standard letter grades (A-F) as outlined in the VCU Bulletin.

Pass/Fail grade option: undergraduate students
All undergraduate courses provide students the option for the P/F grade under these new definitions for Spring 2020 only:

  • 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. The grade of P will satisfy course requirements of a minimum grade of C or higher to advance to another course.
  • 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.
  • F: The grade of fail (F) is considered not passing and is included in the calculation of the GPA.

If students choose the P/F option, a letter grade of A-C will convert to a grade of pass (P) to denote satisfactory completion of requirements for undergraduate students. A letter grade of D will convert to a grade of pass-satisfactory (PS) to denote satisfactory completion of requirements for undergraduate students. Letter grade of F will remain, no conversion required.

Pass/fail grade option: graduate students
All graduate courses provide students the option for the S/U/F grade option under these new definitions for Spring 2020 only:

  • 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.

If students choose the P/F option, a letter grade of A-B will convert to a grade of satisfactory (S) to denote satisfactory completion of requirements for graduate students. A letter grade of C will convert to a grade of unsatisfactory (U) to denote completion of requirements for graduate students. A letter grade of D will convert to a grade of fail (F) for graduate students. A letter grade of F will remain, no conversion required.

Withdrawals
Students may withdraw from a course. The withdrawal deadline has been extended to April 30, 2020. A grade of W is not computed in the GPA.

Incompletes
Students may find that circumstances beyond their control prevent them from meeting course requirements by the end of the semester. In these cases, a student may request the instructor to assign the mark of I for that semester. The awarding of a mark of I requires an agreement between instructor and student as to when and how the course will be completed. Once the agreement is reached, the instructor fills out an incomplete grade assignment form bearing the student’s signature, and the form is submitted instead of a final course grade. The deadline for issuing a grade of I is April 30, 2020.

Students who opt for an incomplete should be cognizant that the maximum time limit for submission of all course work necessary for removal of an incomplete is the end of the last day of classes of the next semester following the semester in which the incomplete was incurred (i.e., an incomplete awarded in the spring semester must be converted by the last day of classes in the fall semester). At that time, an un-removed grade of incomplete is changed automatically to a failing grade. Individual departments and schools may have more stringent time limits. An extension of the time limit is possible, but must be approved, prior to the expiration date stated above, by the instructor and the dean of the school through which the course is offered. For undergraduate and professional students, written approval indicating the new time limit must be filed with the dean of the school through which the course is offered. For graduate students, written approval indicating the new time limit must be filed with the dean of the Graduate School.

Courses assigned the I mark will not be computed into the GPA.

Choosing the Pass/Fail option can be completed in three simple steps:

    1. Seek advice in a timely manner. Consult with your advisor in a timely manner and do not wait until the last minute. Advisors want to give you individual attention so engaging them early allows the time to be devoted accordingly.
      • Undergraduate students should consult with their undergraduate academic advisor. Please use Navigate to schedule a "Flexible Grading Policy" appointment with your academic advisor now.
      • Graduate students should consult with their faculty advisor and/or program director.
    2. Choosing between receiving standard letter grades or receiving the Pass/Fail option for each of your courses. If you choose to take no action for a course, you will receive the standard letter grade.
    3. Complete the Change in Grade Mode Authorization Form by the deadline, Friday, May 15, 2020. This deadline gives you time to decide based on your progress and circumstances up until that date.

Keep going to class! Faculty will be grading this term just like a regular semester and they will submit a letter grade for all work completed/required for the semester. So keep going to class and finish all remaining assignments, tests, projects, and final exams.

Spring 2020 semester presents a uniquely stressful situation. Stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, transition of coursework to a remote/online/virtual environment, lack of student experience in taking courses online, limited access to internet, other technology or academic resources, lack of in person interactions with professors/instructors and concerns of their ability to be successful, create the need for VCU support students in various ways. Utilizing a Pass/Fail grade option allows for flexibility and reduces student stress while encouraging students to do well and complete the semester.

Before a student submits the Change in Grade Mode Authorization Form, they are strongly encouraged to discuss their particular circumstances with their advisor to ensure they understand the benefits and cautions of selecting this option.

Students might wish to retain the standard letter grade mode (A-F) if:

    • They want the grades in these courses to be calculated as part of their GPA
    • They are concerned about admission to graduate or professional school
    • They plan to apply to change their major, which may have additional restrictions thresholds for passing
    • The requirements of their financial aid package require the completion of a specified number of graded credit hours per term
    • Their particular personal circumstances warrants it

Before a student submits the Change in Grade Mode Authorization Form to select the Pass/Fail grade mode option, they are strongly encouraged to discuss their particular circumstances with their advisor to ensure they understand the benefits and cautions of selecting this option.

Students may choose to take no action on the Pass/Fail option. In this case, they will receive the letter grade awarded to them by their faculty.

Students may elect that one or more of their spring 2020 semester courses be converted from a standard letter grade (A-F) mode to a Pass/Fail grade mode. There is no limit on the number of enrolled courses during spring 2020 for which a student may choose the Pass/Fail grade option. Grades earned in the winter intersession are not eligible for a grade conversion.

Grades of P and PS (undergraduate) and S and U (graduate) are not included in calculations of a student’s GPA; however, the grade of F is included in the calculation of a student’s GPA. 

Degree Works has a GPA calculator built in that will allow you calculate your GPA. For a tutorial on how to use the GPA calculator in Degree Works, check out this tutorial video from VCU Student Success.

Yes, since these grades denote satisfactory completion of requirements, you will earn credit for courses with grades of P, PS, S or U.

Your transcript will only show the grade you receive after all conversion requests have been processed. The grades of P, PS, S and U will also be defined on the back of the transcript to aid other institutions in evaluating your credit.

It is important to note the academic transcript will display the following language in the grade legend for grades P and PS:

  • Grades of P and PS denote satisfactory completion of course requirements.

A grade of P reflects grades of A-C. Students should check with their academic departments and advisors to see if a grade of P will be accepted for these requirements prior to submitting the Change in Grade Mode Authorization form.

Students must request to change their grade mode from letter grade to Pass/Fail by completing and submitting the Change in Grade Mode Authorization Form no later than May 15, 2020 (three days after final grades are available).

Students should have a conversation with their academic advisor (undergraduate) or faculty advisor and/or program director (graduate) prior to completing the Change in Grade Mode Authorization Form to ensure they understand the benefits and cautions of selecting this option:

  • How the Pass/Fail option can fulfill general education requirements or electives
  • How the Pass/Fail option can fulfill courses that require a minimum grade of C or higher (for undergraduate courses) or a B or higher (for graduate courses), dependent on student major and post-graduation plans
  • How the Pass/Fail option can fulfill course requirements of a major or minor

There are a lot of nuances with this decision, and it should be made in consultation with an academic advisor. Please make an appointment to meet with your advisor.

Your instructors/faculty members will continue to assess your performance on assignments throughout the semester, as they traditionally do, by assigning standard letter or point-based grades as explained in your syllabus and grading rubrics. When it is time to assign the final course grade in Banner, they will assign you the appropriate letter grade. Final grades are due on May 12, 2020.

You may request that the standard letter grade (A-F) mode be converted to a Pass/Fail (P/F) grade mode no later than May 15, 2020, three days after final grades are submitted.

If you have elected to have a specific course converted to Pass/Fail grade mode the appropriate adjustment will be made to your final grade based upon the conversion below no later than May 18.

Undergraduate students

  • Letter grade of A-C: will convert to a grade of pass (P) to denote satisfactory completion of requirements for undergraduate students
  • Letter grade of D: will convert to a grade of pass-satisfactory (PS) to denote satisfactory completion of requirements for undergraduate students
  • Letter grade of F will remain, no conversion required

Graduate students

  • Letter grade of A-B: will convert to a grade of satisfactory (S) to denote satisfactory completion of requirements for graduate students
  • Letter grade of C: will convert to a grade of unsatisfactory (U) to denote completion of requirements for graduate students
  • Letter grade of D: will convert to a grade of fail (F) for graduate students
  • Letter grade of F will remain, no conversion required

Note: Students have the option to elect the Pass/Fail grade option until May 15, 2020, three days after final grades are due, to provide you with the most updated and relevant information to inform your choices.

Grades 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. A grade of PS will not qualify as meeting a “C” or better.

Academic standing will continue to be calculated as in previous semesters. However, students who elect to convert all grades to P or PS and have no F grades will not have a change to their academic standing at the end of the semester. If a student earns any F grades, the academic standing will be calculated as in previous semesters.

Students should speak with their advisor for a further understanding of how the pass/fail option may impact academic standing.    

If you plan to sit for a professional license, you should check with the state in which you plan to be licensed. Some states do not accept pass-fail courses.

Electing to earn a grade of P/PS/S will not in and of itself negatively affect a student's financial aid package because of two reasons: 1) The student will earn credits for successfully completing the course and 2) there is no change (positive or negative) to a student's GPA by electing to receive a grade of P/PS/S.

To maintain eligibility for financial aid (whether or not a student elects to take a course P/PS/S), students must earn at least 67% of the credits they attempt in an academic year and maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative gpa.