In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of courses, the University has approved a temporary Pass/No Pass grading policy for the spring 2020 semester for the majority of undergraduate courses. The Pass/No Pass option is intended to provide students with increased flexibility in the challenging transition to remote learning in a time of widespread societal disruption due to the pandemic. We recognize that many of you will have questions related to this option, and we will keep the information on this page updated as additional information becomes available. There is an option to submit your question at the bottom of this page if you do not see your question answered here.
General Questions About the Pass/No Pass Grading Option
How will the Pass/No Pass Option work?
Your professor will submit a letter grade for you based on the work you do for the semester. All grades of A through D- will automatically convert to a P grade. All F grades will automatically convert to an NP grade. You may choose whether or not you want to have the original letter grade on your transcript for each class.
You may choose to accept letter grades in all of your classes, or only in the specific classes that you choose.
In some classes, the option to receive a P grade will not be available because of the impact to licensing or external accreditation. The full list of classes where this is true will be available in mid-April.
With exceptions for certain majors, you will be able to use your spring 2020 P graded course for all academic requirements, including major, general education, support courses, minors and free electives. View department-specific guidance for the Pass/No Pass policy.
How does a P grade work in my GPA?
A P grade will indicate that you completed the course and you will receive full credit, but it does not impact your GPA.
What does a grade of NP do to my GPA?
A grade of NP indicates that you did not complete the course, so you will not receive credit, but it will not impact your cumulative GPA. It will not satisfy any requirements.
Can I choose to receive a letter grade instead of a P grade?
Yes, all students will have the choice to opt-out of the P/NP option in classes that are normally graded with a letter grade.
What will happen to my overall GPA if I don't choose any letter grades for the spring semester?
Your overall GPA will stay the same as it was coming into the spring 2020 semester. If you have had any grade changes for prior semesters, the GPA on your transcript will reflect those changes.
How will I choose to take a letter grade for a specific course?
After grade rosters are generated on May 1st, there will be a form in Navigator under your "Academic Records" tile where you can request your letter grades. You will not be able to select your letter grade unless your faculty member has already posted your grades. You will be able to see your letter grade before you choose. Once you have selected a letter grade, you will not be able to change your mind and go back to a "P" grade. The form will be open through May 28, 2020
What is the deadline for choosing to take a letter grade for a specific course?
The initial deadline is May 28, 2020.
After May 28, 2020, students who have not graduated will be able to select a letter grade for a spring 2020 class until May 31, 2024 if they need the grade rather than the P to reflect on their record. Requests for letter grades after May 28, 2020 will be made by emailed request to the registrar's office through the Student Navigation Center.
Students who are graduating in May 2020 MUST request all letter grades by the May 28, 2020 deadline. Students who have graduated may request documentation of their original letter grade by submitting their request to the registrar's office through the Student Navigation Center, but the grade will not be appear on the official transcript.
If I choose to take a letter grade, can I change my mind later and go back to a P/NP grade?
No. Once the choice is made to choose a letter grade, you may not change your mind.
Will I be able to see my letter grade before making my decision?
Yes, we are planning to ensure that you will be able to see the original letter grade in the same place where you will make your choice about whether or not you want to take a letter grade.
Will Salem State keep a record of my original letter grade?
Yes, the original letter grade submitted by your faculty member will be stored in our student information system, but it will not appear on your official transcript unless you have chosen to accept your letter grade for the spring 2020 semester.
Are there courses where I have to take a letter grade?
Yes, in certain majors students will have to take a letter grade for specific courses (see a complete list of exempt courses). Majors where there are specific support course grade requirements may provide guidance on additional courses where you should choose to take a letter grade. View department-specific guidelines here.
What happens if I need to take an incomplete this spring?
You may still work with your faculty member on taking an incomplete this semester. Once you complete the work, you may contact the Registrar’s Office regarding whether or not you want to take your letter grade rather than a P grade.
The university has extended the deadline for when incomplete grades in undergraduate courses taken in spring or summer 2020 will lapse to an NP to the end of the fall 2020 semester. You are still required to make an agreement with your faculty member for completion of the work and must abide by all dates and deadlines they have agreed to for you to make up the work.
Will professors continue to grade assignments with letter grades or just pass/fail?
You should review all assignments and grading policies for each class with your professor. Professors will submit letter grades at the end of the semester, but all letter grades will be converted to either a P or an NP, depending on the grade.
If I choose to have the P grade in a class, and I need a minimum GPA for that class in my major, how will that reflect on my Degree Tracker report?
The Registrar’s Office is still working on altering Degree Tracker reports with regard to the Pass/No Pass option. In certain majors, minimum GPA requirements in specific classes must still be met, so students are strongly encouraged to work with their faculty advisors before electing not to choose a letter grade if you have minimum grade requirements in your major. View department-specific information here.
I was repeating a course this semester to improve my GPA. Will my P grade help?
Yes, if you previously failed a course, the original grade will not count in your GPA once you have received a P grade in the repeated course. For specific questions about whether to choose a letter grade in a repeated course, you should consult with an advisor.
Is it better to have an NP grade or a withdrawal on my record?
Neither grade will impact your GPA and both will indicate that you did not complete the course. If you are trying to decide whether to withdraw from a course, you are encouraged to consult with either your faculty advisor or a professional advisor in the Center for Academic Excellence.
If I choose to withdraw before May 1 rather than taking an NP grade, will I be eligible for any refund or other adjustment on my student account?
No, you will not be eligible for any adjustments to your student account. All instruction is ongoing, and the standard tuition and fee refund policy for spring 2020 remains in effect.
Will this policy apply to graduate courses?
No, this policy only applies to undergraduate coursework. View additional guidance to graduate students and faculty regarding the spring 2020 semester.
Will this policy apply to summer 2020 courses?
No, this policy only applies to spring 2020 undergraduate coursework.
If I am graduating this semester and I take all P grades, how will it impact my degree honors (e.g. cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude)?
If you take all P grades in spring 2020, your degree honors will be calculated on your cumulative GPA at the end of the fall 2019 semester.
If I am in the Honors Program, will I be able to take P grades in my honors classes?
Spring 2020 honors program courses that students elect to take with a Pass / No Pass grading scheme will still satisfy honors requirements if the student receives a passing grade. (Ordinarily, students must receive a grade in the B-range in an honors course for it to satisfy an honors requirement.) The Massachusetts statewide Commonwealth Honors Council has also approved the transfer of spring 2020 P grades in honors courses between Commonwealth Honors programs at the other public universities.
If I am in the Honors Program, how will P grades in all my spring classes impact my standing in the Honors Program?
If you were in good standing in the Honors Program at the end of the fall 2019 semester, you will remain in good standing with the Honors program. Students that have had challenges meeting the 3.2 GPA requirement for the Commonwealth Honors Program in fall 2019, and any student receiving one or more No Pass grades in Spring of 2020, should consult with the Honors Program Area Chair, Professor Scott Nowka.
How will the Pass/No Pass Policy affect the spring 2020 Dean's List?
The University is taking the unusual step of not running the spring 2020 Dean's List. This action is being taken because it cannot be equitably and fairly applied given the Pass/No Pass policy.
How will the Pass/No Pass option affect my eligibility for other honors societies?
Each honors society has different requirements with regard to GPA in both the major and overall. Typically they will look at average GPAs and not letter grades in specific courses, so P graded courses will not have either a positive or negative affect on your eligibility for honors society membership. NP grades are also GPA neutral, but may have an impact on some membership eligibility. Specific questions about this should be directed to the coordinator of the honors society. Your department assistant can help you identify the honors society coordinator in your major or minor department.
Combined Graduate/Undergraduate Programs (4+1 Programs)
I am an undergraduate student taking graduate courses as part of my undergraduate degree requirements. Will I have the Pass/No Pass option in my graduate courses because I am still an undergraduate?
No, this policy applies only to undergraduate coursework. View additional guidance to graduate students and faculty regarding the spring 2020 semester. If you have questions about grading in a specific graduate course, please consult with the professor for that course.
Graduating Senior Questions
Will taking P grades in my classes affect my ability to graduate this semester?
It depends on your individual situation. Students who are struggling to meet minimum GPA standards for your major or overall should consult with the graduation area (firstname.lastname@example.org). Additionally, students in some majors will not be able to take P grades for certain major and support course requirements (see department-specific guidance). The majority of graduating students will be able to take P grades in their classes with no impact to their graduation status. P grades may be used (with exceptions noted above) for all specific graduation requirements.
How will taking the Pass/No Pass option impact my degree honors (e.g., cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude)?
See the honors questions above for more information.
Transfer, Exchange and Cross-Registration Questions
I am planning on transferring next semester to another school or am taking a course as a nondegree student to transfer back to my school. How will P grades impact my ability to transfer?
You should consult with the transfer professionals or admissions office at the school you are transferring to for their specific institutional policies in this area. The Registrar’s Office at Salem State can also assist you with documentation regarding the Pass/No Pass policy and your original letter grade if necessary. In many cases, it may be to your advantage to choose a letter grade.
I am a student taking courses at Salem State University through the NECCUM program. How will my P grades transfer back to my home institution?
You should contact your Registrar's Office at your home institution for additional guidance on whether to take a P or a letter grade. You will need to meet any academic requirements of your program at your home institution.
I am a Salem State student taking courses at one of the other NECCUM schools that has also adopted a P/NP policy. Will I be able to take a P grade?
Yes, Salem State policy with regard to NECCUM is that you get the grade you received at your host institution on your Salem State transcript and it will earn credit according to Salem State grading policies.
I have been admitted to Salem State University for next year and my school adopted a P/NP policy. Will I be able to transfer my P grades to Salem State?
For courses taken in the spring 2020 semester only, you will be able to transfer your P grades, with some exceptions. Programs that require minimum grades in specific courses or types of courses will still require you to have a letter grade in order to transfer your credit to your new program. If you have specific questions about this, please send an email to our Transfer Services office at email@example.com.
Will taking all P grades impact my athletic eligibility for the 20-21 school year?
If you successfully complete at least 24 credits this academic year and were in good academic standing as of the end of the fall 2019 semester, and were otherwise eligible for the next academic year, you will maintain your athletic eligibility.
If I was on academic probation after fall 2019 and was unable to play in spring 2020, how will sticking with the P/NP option impact my future eligibility?
If you were on probation at the end of the fall 2019 semester, you should consult with Chris Harvey (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the athletics department for assistance in deciding whether or not to take letter grades in your courses. In order to participate in athletics during the next academic year, you will need to be in good academic standing.
If I receive grades of NP in one or more of my classes, how will this impact my athletic eligibility for the 20-21 school year?
You must earn at least 24 credits during the 19-20 academic year in order to be eligible to participate in athletics during the next academic year and must not be on academic probation. Specific questions regarding your eligibility after receiving grades of NP should be directed to Matt Correia (email@example.com) in the athletics department.
How will taking P grades affect my eligibility for academically-based NCAA and conference awards?
Eligibility for academically-based NCAA and conference awards are based on your cumulative GPA. If you take P grades for the spring semester, your eligibility will be determined based on your cumulative GPA at the end of the fall semester. You may choose to take your letter grades this semester if you feel that it will improve your overall GPA.
I am a veteran receiving GI Bill benefits. How will the Pass/No Pass option affect my eligibility for benefits?
If you receive P grades for your classes there will be no impact to your eligibility for benefits. Salem State is required to report any failure resulting in a nonpunitive grade to the VA. Although the VA does not typically make payment for classes resulting in nonpunitive grades such as NP, Salem State will report COVID-19 as mitigating circumstances for grades of NP and the VA will pay for the class.
Students who are reported in the final grading process as having stopped attendance may see an impact to their benefits. Salem State must continue to report nonattendance failures to the VA, resulting in the VA creating a debt against the student.
For specific questions about your benefits and the Pass/No Pass grading option, please consult with the veterans services office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Academic Status and Satisfactory Academic Progress
I am on academic warning or probation after the end of the fall 2019 semester. How will the P/NP policy affect me?
The University has made modifications to the Academic Status and Satisfactory Academic Progress policy for the spring and summer 2020 terms. View the full temporary policy.
Students in negative academic standing are encouraged to consult with an advisor if they have questions about the temporary policy and how it will affect them.
Future Graduate School Plans
I plan to apply or have applied to a graduate program. How will the Pass/No Pass policy affect me?
Many institutions of higher education in the United States are going to some version of a Pass/Fail policy for the spring 2020 semester, so it is likely that graduate admissions officers will need to take the current situation into consideration in future. You should, however, carefully review admissions requirements for any graduate program in which you may be interested. If you need specific course prerequisites for admission, you should consider taking a letter grade in the prerequisite course.
I am not planning to apply to graduate programs in the future, but what if I change my mind later?
There will be a process by which you can request your original letter grade or documentation of your original letter grade in future.
Don't see your question answered here? We encourage you to submit your questions and we will work on getting you an answer.