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Spring 2021 Pass/Fail Grading and Policy FAQs

The university will not continue the Pass/No Pass grading option for the spring 2021 semester, but has implemented a number of other temporary policies to assist students moving forward. We recognize that many of you may have questions related to these changes, and will keep this page updated as more information becomes available.

List of Exempt Classes
View List of Classes that cannot be taken for a P/F grade

General Questions About the Pass/Fail Grading Option

How will the Pass/Fail Option work?

If you are enrolled in at least six credits, you may take one undergraduate class on a Pass/Fail basis (up to four credits) and can use the course for any requirement (major, general education, minor, free elective, support) where a letter grade is normally required.  There will be some courses that must be taken for a letter grade, and these will be published online by March 31st.  Normally you would not be able to use a Pass grade in a normally graded course for anything other than a free elective.

How will I choose the class I want to take Pass/Fail?

Beginning on April 5, there will be a form available online in Navigator for you to make your selection.  All selections must be made by May 3, 2021. Instructions on how to select your pass/fail class can be found at the bottom of the FAQ section.

What if I already have a Pass/Fail class this semester?

Students may only have one P/F graded class during the spring 2021 semester.  If you are already enrolled in a class that can only be graded on a P/F basis, is less than three credits, and you have significant numbers of additional graded classes, you may appeal to the university registrar to choose an additional class to be taken on a P/F basis.  All appeals must be received by May 2, 2021.  Approval is not guaranteed.

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 F do to my GPA?

A grade of F indicates that you did not complete the course, so you will not receive credit, and it will be included in your GPA calculation. 

Why isn't there an NP Option for Spring 2021?

NP grades represent a failing grade that is not calculated in a student's grade point average.  In order to evaluate student academic progress and connect students who are really struggling with necessary supports, the NP grade has been discontinued.  Students will have the alternative option of choosing to withdraw from a course they believe they will fail up until May 3, 2021.

Will I be able to see my letter grade before making my decision?

No, your decision must be made based before grade rosters are generated and grades are assigned to students.  You should consult with your professors regarding your grading status before making your decision.

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. Information about which courses must be taken for a letter grade will be available online by the end of March.  View list of exempt courses.

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. If you want that course to be graded on a pass/fail basis, you will need to make your decision by May 3, 2021.  Incomplete grades for spring classes will lapse to F grades at the end of the fall 21 semester.

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?

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.

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.

If I choose to withdraw rather than taking an F 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 2021 remains in effect.

What will this policy mean for my academic standing if I am in negative academic standing?

The university will run academic standing at the end of the spring semester.  Your academic standing will be evaluated based on your term and cumulative GPA and your term and cumulative academic progression (ratio of credits attempted vs. credits earned).  The university will not academically dismiss any undergraduate student at the end of the spring semester, but federal financial aid guidelines will govern eligibility for federal aid moving forward.  You should meet with a professional advisor if you were in negative standing at the end of the fall 2019 semester and have not subsequently been placed back into good academic standing.

Will this policy apply to graduate courses?

No, this policy only applies to undergraduate coursework. 

Will this policy apply to summer 2021 courses?

No, this policy only applies to spring 21 courses.

Honors Questions

If I am graduating this semester and I take a P grade, how will it impact my degree honors (e.g. cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude)?

Your final degree honors will be based on your final cumulative grade point average.

How will the Pass/No Pass Policy affect the spring 2021 Dean's List?

The University will assign the Dean’s List honor in the spring semester.  Part of the revision to the policies for this semester was to enable the evaluation of student academic progress and recognize academic excellence in addition to identifying students who are struggling in their classes.

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/Fail option in my graduate courses because I am still an undergraduate?

No, this policy applies only to undergraduate coursework. If you have questions about grading in a specific graduate course, please consult with the professor for that course.

Graduating Senior Questions

Will taking a P grade in one of 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 (graduation@salemstate.edu). Additionally, students in some majors will not be able to take P grades for certain major and support course requirements. The majority of graduating students will be able to take a P grade in one of 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/Fail 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 courses 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. In general, if you are trying to transfer credit to another school you should not take the class on a pass/fail basis.

I am a student taking courses at Salem State University through the NECCUM program.  How will my P grade transfer back to my home institution?

You should contact your Registrar's Office at your home institution for additional guidance on whether their policies. 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/F policy.  Will I be able to take a P grade?

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.  If your major requires you to have a specific grade in the class you are taking through NECCUM, you should not take the course Pass/Fail.  Otherwise you may take your class Pass/Fail.

I have been admitted to Salem State University for next year and my school adopted a P/NP or Pass/Fail policy.  Will I be able to transfer my P grades to Salem State?

For courses taken in semesters impacted by COVID-19, 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 transfer-services@salemstate.edu.

Athletics Questions

Will taking a class P/F impact my athletic eligibility for the 21-22 school year?

If you successfully complete at least 24 credits this academic year and are in good academic standing at the end of his 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, or during this academic year, how will taking a course P/F impact my eligibility?

If you were on probation at the end of the fall 2019 semester, and have not subsequently been placed back in good standing, you should consult with Chris Harvey (charvey@salemstate.edu) in the athletics department for assistance in deciding whether or not to choose the P/F option in a class this semester.

If I receive grades of F in one or more of my classes, how will this impact my athletic eligibility for the 21-22 school year?

You must earn at least 24 credits during the 20-21 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 F should be directed to Matt Correia (mcorreia@salemstate.edu) in the athletics department.

How will taking a P grade affect my eligibility for academically-based NCAA and conference awards?

Eligibility for academically-based NCAA and conference awards are based on your cumulative GPA.

Veterans

I am a veteran receiving GI Bill benefits.  How will the Pass/Fail Pass option affect my eligibility for benefits?

Salem State is required to report any withdrawals or failures due to non-attendance to the VA. Students who withdraw or are reported in the final grading process as having stopped attending may see an impact to their benefits. Students who receive a P grade will have no impact to your benefits. For specific questions about your benefits and the grading options, please consult with the veterans services office at veterans@salemstate.edu

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/F policy affect me?

The university will run academic standing at the end of the spring semester.  Your academic standing will be evaluated based on your term and cumulative GPA and your term and cumulative academic progression (ratio of credits attempted vs. credits earned).  The university will not academically dismiss any undergraduate student at the end of the spring semester, but federal financial aid guidelines will govern eligibility for federal aid moving forward.  You should meet with a professional advisor if you were in negative standing at the end of the fall 2019 semester and have not subsequently been placed back into good academic standing.

Future Graduate School Plans

I plan to apply or have applied to a graduate program.  How will the Pass/Fail policy affect me?

Many institutions of higher education in the United States have gone to some version of a Pass/Fail policy for the spring and fall 2020 semesters, 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, we recommend that you do not take any prerequisite class on a pass/fail basis.