There have been a lot of questions about the Emergency Grading Accommodation policy as it applies to graduate students. The purpose of my message today is to provide a clear rationale for why this is important, some background information, and clarification on its implementation. 

These are extraordinary times, and as a Pirate Nation, our students’ health, well-being, and success are of paramount importance. Many of our graduate students are experiencing disruptive challenges in this crisis, such as loss of employment and income, the need to provide at-home care for children, persons with special needs or elderly relatives. Some of our students will need flexibility to cope with these challenges.  The only students who do not have the pass/fail option are MD, DMD and Nursing students.


This policy effectively gives immunity from academic probation or dismissal to graduate students who earn grades of “C” or “F” in the spring 2020 semester.

  1. Students currently on academic probation will not be re-evaluated for return to satisfactory academic progress until the end of the Summer 2020 semester or their next term of enrollment.
  2. Students who earn sufficiently high grades to return to good academic standing may request to be evaluated immediately.
  3. Students will still be obligated to repeat courses where work does not meet the standards for completion of their degree, especially in programs with specialty accreditation.
  4. We know there is movement nationally among many specialized accrediting bodies to make accommodations during this crisis.
  5. Our policy is aligned with the vast majority of graduate schools throughout the country on this. We are in good company, and that is a good thing.
  6. To help you judge the scope and impact of this policy, the attached two tables show the number of grades of “C” and “F” given in graduate courses last spring 2019 semester.


The Graduate Council engaged in a lively discussion by email on March 24 and 25, 2020. College representatives voted and approved this emergency policy unanimously by all those participating (28 out of 33 voting members). Chair Ron Preston’s email to the Graduate Council and the Minutes from the virtual meeting are available.

Implementation Notes:

  1. For more details, please visit the Emergency Grading Accommodation page.
  2. It will be the student’s choice to elect to receive a pass/fail grade or not. Students will be able to see their letter grades first. The deadline for selecting the pass/fail option is June 30, 2020.
  3. Students will be able to self-select on a course-by-course basis.
  4. The student selection can only be made one time.
  5. The means of designating a pass/fail grade on transcripts is under development in the Registrar’s office. To avoid confusion, something other than a grade of “F” will be used.
  6. Grades of “pass” and “fail” will not factor into a student’s GPA.
  7. The Graduate Catalog indicates a grade of “C” is a passing grade. Students with a grade of “C” will be assigned a grade of “pass” by the registrar if they elect the pass/fail policy.
  8. Generally, it will in the students’ best interests to retain grades of “A” or “B” and not elect to convert them to “pass”.
  9. For programs that require grades of “B” or higher to progress in their program, for example, clinical programs, students should be carefully advised by their faculty about the consequence of selecting a pass/fail option.
  10. Students who elect to receive a grade of “pass” in circumstances where they do not meet documented minimum performance standards should be required to repeat the work. Students in this situation might have to restart with a spring 2021 cohort.
  11. Students who earn a grade of “fail” will be required to repeat the course if it is required to meet degree requirements. If it is an elective course, it may be repeated, or an alternative elective may be selected.

Table 1: Course grades of C by College

CollegeGrades of C, Spring 2019
Brody School of Medicine18
College of Fine Arts and Communication1
College of Health and Human Performance11
College of Allied Health Sciences22
College of Arts and Sciences26
College of Business107
College of Education29
College of Engineering and Technology18
College of Nursing13
Grand Total245

Table 2: Course grades of F by College

CollegeGrades of F, Spring 2019
Brody School of Medicine8
College Fine Arts and Communication2
College of Health and Human Performance6
College of Allied Health Sciences12
College of Arts and Sciences20
College of Business29
College of Education15
College of Engineering and Technology15
College of Nursing4
Grand Total111

-Dean of Graduate Studies Paul Gemperline