SUPA COVID-19 Spring 2020 Pass/Fail Option FAQs

For the spring 2020 semester only, undergraduate students will be permitted to choose a pass/fail (P/F) grading option for any Syracuse University courses for which they have registered. This option includes students in Project Advance course sections.

There are many important factors for SUPA students to consider before choosing this grading option since it may not be the best option for every student.

First, be sure to speak with your school counselor or instructor about this option and its wider implications.

Pass/Fail Option Summary

  • SU is allowing students to take their Spring semester courses only on a pass/fail basis if you choose (Q1)
  • Taking a course pass/fail may affect whether your Syracuse University credits transfer to another university (Q2)
  • Taking a course pass/fail could affect your GPA if you matriculate to Syracuse University (Q3)
  • Taking a course pass/fail might be right for you if you are under significant duress due to current circumstances

Pass/Fail Option FAQs

1) Q: Why is Syracuse University suspending its normal grading policy and expanding the pass/fail option to all students mid-semester?

A: Syracuse University recognizes the significant disruption that the global pandemic has created in students’ everyday lives as well as in their academic studies. Pass/Fail is typically only offered for select courses on a limited basis at most colleges and universities. However, the University is expanding the pass/fail option for the spring semester to provide students with some flexibility during this crisis to help ease their transition to remote course delivery, mitigate anxiety, and emphasize student learning. PLEASE NOTE: The University pass/fail deadline is different than the Project Advance deadline…the deadline for Project Advance students to request a pass/fail grade is May 8th.

2) Q: How would choosing the pass/fail grading option for my Syracuse University course(s) affect credits earned for college?

A: Credit recognition decisions are entirely at the discretion of the postsecondary institution at which the student matriculates. Syracuse University course credits are generally only recognized for transfer credit when the student has achieved a grade of C or higher. Since a “pass” grade in the “pass/fail” system only needs to meet the threshold of a D grade, colleges and universities may be much less likely to accept a “P” for course credit because the student has not adequately demonstrated competence in the subject matter or course skills.

Students should not assume that because of the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic that colleges and universities will change their normal transfer credit policies to accept a “P” grade from the Spring 2020 semester.

It is recommended that students keep a portfolio of all their SU coursework, assignments, class syllabus, etc., in the event that they encounter difficulty transferring their SU course credits at another institution and are asked to provide documentation in support of their transfer credit request.

3) Q: How would choosing the pass/fail grading option for my Syracuse University course(s) affect my GPA?

A: Your high school instructor may still give you a letter grade for your high school coursework and transcript. However, your Syracuse University transcript will only reflect the “pass” or “fail” grade if you request this option. “Pass” grades are not calculated into students’ grade point averages (GPAs).

While most colleges and universities review grades to determine transfer credit recognition, they do not typically count the course grade towards the matriculating student’s GPA. One exception is if you matriculate at Syracuse University after you graduate from high school. This is important to remember because while a “P” will not negatively impact your GPA at SU, an “F” will.

4) Q: Do I need to inform my Syracuse University course instructor of my decision either way regarding the pass/fail grading option?

A: No. Students are under no obligation to tell their SUPA instructor that they have requested to convert the grading option to pass/fail. Your instructor will continue to grade your coursework as usual and submit a standard letter grade for your final course grade. That letter grade will then be converted to a pass/fail grade by the University and will appear as such on your Syracuse University transcript.

 5) Q: Is there anything else that I should consider before I make a decision about the pass/fail grade option for my SU course(s)?

A: Be sure to speak with your school counselor or instructor about this option and its wider implications. For example, if you are enrolled in a 3-credit or 4-credit year-long course at your high school, and your instructor has been assigning letter grades throughout the academic year, and the course is largely complete (i.e., students have met most of the course learning objectives and completed most of the major or core assignments), then it might not make sense to opt for a pass/fail grade given the greater risks with transfer credit recognition.

6) Q: What is the process and deadline to request a pass/fail grade for my SU course(s)?

A: The deadline to request a P/F grade is May 8, 2020. Requests for the pass/fail option are made in our PASS system. You will need your SUID and password to log in. If you do not know your SUID or forgot your password, there are links on the PASS log in page to assist you. While you will be able to review and modify your pass/fail selection through May 8th, you will not be able to change your request or submit a late request for pass/fail after the deadline.

7) Q: If I have reviewed my options and still want to receive a standard letter grade for my final course grade in my Syracuse University course(s), do I need to take any action?

A: No. Your instructor will continue to grade your SU coursework as they normally would and will submit a standard letter grade to Syracuse University for your final course grade. This letter grade will appear on your SU transcript.

8) Q: How are undergraduate students on the Syracuse University campus being advised about this option?

A: Undergraduate students on the SU campus are matriculated, degree-seeking students. As a consequence, there are a wide range of implications for them in choosing a pass/fail grade instead of a standard letter grade. These students are being urged by the University to consult with their academic advisor prior to making this choice. “P” grades are not calculated into students’ grade point averages (GPAs). However, certain majors require students to have minimum GPAs, or minimum grades in “gateway” courses, to declare the major or to proceed within the major.

Scholarships or other forms of financial aid, as well as internships, also typically require students to maintain a minimum GPA, and while a “P” will not affect a student’s GPA, a grade of “F” will. Thus, students on campus have been advised that if their GPA is near the minimum needed to maintain those scholarships, that they should be very careful about choosing the pass/fail grading option. In addition, many professional graduate programs discourage students from taking certain key courses on a pass/fail basis. This is especially true for pre-health majors interested in medical, dental or veterinary school.