COVID Pandemic Pass/No Pass Grading for Undergraduates

To help alleviate concern over the transition to online classes and other possible complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic, Wayne State University added a pass/no pass grading option for undergraduate students for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The below information applies to undergraduate students only.

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University-level rules governing the pass/no pass grading option have been relaxed for undergraduate students for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms. Students may elect more than one course in the semester for P/N grading. The P/N grading option is available to students after final grading has taken place. P/N grades elected during Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 will not count toward the maximum allowed. P grades elected during Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 will be accepted for general education credit for Competency Requirements, Inquiry Requirements, and Wayne Experience, but may not count for some schools, colleges, programs or majors. 

This policy does not automatically change school, college or program requirements. Students should be aware that although individual schools, colleges or programs are permitted to make curricular changes in light of the coronavirus pandemic, they are not required to do so. In particular, many programs cannot accept grades of P or of C- due to accreditation requirements. Students should discuss program requirements closely with academic advisors.

Students should consult with their academic advisor on the impact of P/N grading on their academic plan. Students may also need to work with Financial Aid, School or College resources, or any university resource they may regularly consult for academic, curricular, or registration issues. Students should keep in mind several factors when weighing academic decisions, including:

  • Effect on your GPA: How will your cumulative and/or major GPA be impacted?
  • Minimum grades required in prerequisite courses: Do you intend to take the next course in the sequence?
  • Letter grades required for credit towards major: Will your major count a "P" as meeting requirements?
  • Longer-term academic goals: Will graduate or professional school admissions departments consider a "P"?
  • Employer reimbursement, etc.: Will "P" be eligible for reimbursement?

Undergraduate students will be able to elect P/N grading options for courses taken during Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 until the time of their graduation. Seniors graduating during the Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 will have a deadline for P/N grading selection, as transcripts cannot be changed after graduation. Those deadlines are currently being determined and will be published shortly.

Faculty will grade classes as normal at the end of the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 term using the A, B, C, D, F grade mode. Undergraduate students, after consulting with their advisors, will have the option to change to a pass/no pass grading format. A transcript notation will indicate that the pass/no pass grades in the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semester resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Letter grades will translate to pass/no pass grades as listed in the table below.

Letter Grade Pass/No Pass Grade Notes

A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-

P Students may elect to change these grades to P. The earned credit will be retained, but the grade will not be factored into GPA calculations.
D+, D, D- N Students may elect to change D grades to N. If changed to N, no credit will be earned and the D grade will not be factored into GPA calculations.

These grades will automatically changed to N except in the case of F grades assigned due to academic dishonesty. No credit will be earned and the grade will not be factored into GPA calculations.


Students should speak with an academic advisor before making any grading decisions. Advising appointments can be made through AdvisingWorks or school or college specific processes.

F grades will be automatically converted to N. This requires no action on the part of the student, faculty, or advisor.

For undergraduate students, pass/no pass grade selection is done through an online self-service form in Academica. The form will be accessed in Student Resources on the left side of the screen, under the Student Records submenu. Further details are currently being developed.

Students who wish to reverse P/N grade selection will need to email with the relevant course information, including department, course number, and CRN (if known). The email must be sent from the student's Wayne State email address.

This process applies only to undergraduate students. Graduate students should refer to the Graduate School for questions regarding grading policy.

There will be a deadline for undergraduate students graduating in Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 to select pass/no pass grading. This means that, for graduating seniors who opt for P/N grading in any course, the selection is not reversible.

Frequently Asked Questions

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If a student is graduating in Fall 2020 or Winter 2021, how long do they have to decide to select the P/N grading option?
Students who plan to graduate in Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 must make any grade change requests by the determined deadline in order to ensure appropriate degree certification. The deadlines for selection have not yet been set.

How long do students graduating later have to decide?
Students can make the change at any time up until graduation. Once a student graduates, grades cannot be changed and remain fixed on the transcript.

If a student chooses to convert an assigned grade to a P/N grade, will the assigned grade appear on the student's transcript?
No, only the P/N grade will appear on the student's transcript.

Can students select this for any semester?
This flexible P/N policy applies only to courses taken in the Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 semester, and is in addition to the previous policy exception set during the Winter 2020 semester. All other semester grades are governed by standard university policies.

Will Winter 2020, Fall 2020, or Winter 2021 P/N grades count toward institutional limits on P/N grades?
No. University policy limits undergraduate students to no more than six courses with P/N grading. Winter 2020, Fall 2020, and Winter 2021 courses are not included in this count.


Will students need to select either all or none of their classes for P/N grading?
No, a student may decide with each class on an individual basis whether to select P/N grading.

If I retake a course after earning a P, will financial aid pay for it?
For specific financial aid questions please meet with a financial aid counselor. In general, federal aid will pay for one retake of a class.

Are courses that were originally online included in the P/N grading option?
Yes, P/N grading is an option for undergraduate students in all courses.

Will students be able to revoke the P/N grading option once it has been applied?
Yes, until graduation. As the decision to go to the P/N grading option requires a lot of thought, so too does the decision to reverse it. Once a student graduates, grades cannot be changed and remain fixed on the transcript.

What impact will pass/no pass grading have on a student's GPA?
Both the P and N grade are exempt from GPA calculations.

How will selecting a "Pass" grade affect my Honors GPA or Honors requirements?
Specific College requirements vary. Honors students should be sure to consult with an Honors advisor before making a final grading decision.

Should a student considering applying to Law School, Medical School, or another similar professional program of study elect to convert an assigned grade to a P/N grade?
Students pursuing these professional goals are eligible to make this choice, but they should do so only after careful consultation with the Pre-Health or Pre-Law advisors in the University Advising Center.

Should student athletes select P/N grading?
NCAA Student Athletes should consult with either their Athletic Advisor or Compliance Officer about eligibility implications before making a decision about P/N grading.


Can a faculty member give some students a pass/no pass grade and give others in the class letter grades?

Faculty do not assign P/N grades under this policy, but instead grade students as they typically would using the ABCDF grade scale. Students will then have the opportunity to select whether they would like to convert their final grade to P/N. Not every student in a course may elect this option, so final course grades may end as a mix of letter grades and P/N grades.

What if a class was established using a different grade mode?
Classes that began the semester with arrangements to use another grade mode (such as S/U) should do so as planned.

Does this apply to all courses, or does my department/college have the authority to say that a student can't get a P/N in a required course?
The P/N grading option may be selected by undergraduate students in any Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 course that follows standard letter grading. Departments may not refuse the option. However, departments, schools, and colleges may decide how to apply P/N grading to curricular requirements such as program advancement, graduation, or accreditation needs. These requirement decisions should be communicated to students through advisors so that students are fully informed when weighing grading options.

Is it possible for the instructor to initially give a P/N grade rather than a letter grade?
While it is technically possible, our current university process works best when faculty begin by assigning a letter grade. This also allows us to preserve a letter grade in university records should future issues arise, as this is an unprecedented effort.

I teach 5000 and 6000 level courses with undergraduate and graduate students. Does the P/N option only apply to undergraduate students?
Yes. Only undergraduate students will have the option of selecting P/N grading. Graduate students should refer to the Graduate School for grading policy questions. In combined level courses, as with all courses, instructors should grade the entire class on an ABCDF scale as per usual.

Do departments have a deadline by which they need to decide whether they are allowing P/N grading?
Graduating seniors will have a deadline for grade changes, so departmental policies should be established before that time. The changes will be communicated to the Registrar during the degree certification process. GRADUATING SENIORS WILL NOT HAVE THE OPTION TO REVERSE THIS DECISION ONCE THEIR DEGREE IS POSTED.


How will P and N be handled if a student is repeating a course?
The spirit of the repeat policy is to ensure, unless otherwise allowed, students only receive credit for a course once. Course repeats will be processed as normal, applying "credit" or "no credit" as necessary.

Would a P fulfill a course prerequisite?
Course prerequisites of C- or better are automatically fulfilled by P grades. If a course prerequisite is a C or better, it would not automatically be met by a P grade and would require an override for fulfillment. N grades would not meet any prerequisite.

Would a P fulfill degree requirements?
General Education Competency Requirements, Inquiry Requirements, and Wayne Experience requirements will be met by P grades earned in Winter 2020, Fall 2020, and Winter 2021. Schools, colleges, and programs establish their own standards and should be consulted before advising students.

What if a program only requires a D grade to pass a course? Can a D grade count as a passing grade?
Yes, an individual program or department can decide to count a D grade as a passing grade. However, in the P/N grading scale, a D cannot be changed to a P. Students who wish to receive credit for D+, D, or D- grades should not select the P/N grading option.

Will undergraduate students assigned an Incomplete grade for Winter 2020, Fall 2020, or Winter 2021 be eligible to later choose to convert their assigned grade to pass/no pass?
Yes. Students are still required to follow university policy and complete necessary outstanding work to receive an assigned grade within a year. They may then, in consultation with an academic advisor, choose to convert the final grade to a P/N following these guidelines. Students working on incompletes for other semesters do not have the P/N option for those classes.

Are advisors allowed to prioritize appointments with graduating seniors to make sure their questions about P/N grading are answered? Are they allowed to tell continuing students that they must wait to schedule appointments until a later date?
Yes, advisors may prioritize appointments with students as necessary. Graduating undergraduate students will be required to request P/N grading by a deadline in order to ensure appropriate degree certification. All other undergraduates may request the change until graduation.

When will all departmental policies be established?
Schools, colleges, and departments are currently working out their policies regarding Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 P/N grading. Graduating seniors will need to file for grade changes before graduation, so departmental policies should be established before that time. Advisors should remain in contact with their relevant departmental administrators. GRADUATING SENIORS WILL NOT HAVE THE OPTION TO CHANGE GRADING ONCE THEIR DEGREE IS POSTED.


Last updated November 11, 2020