Office of Academic Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions: Spring 2020

The University of Rochester recognizes that the changed academic policies for this semester are creating many questions for students and faculty.  We deeply appreciate your patience as we bring you the most up to date information possible during this time of frequent change.

General Questions:

Will all Eastman courses be graded Pass/Fail?  Will it be automatic?

Yes, all courses will be graded using the pass/fail system unless a student chooses the letter grade option for one or more courses.

How will Pass and Fail grades appear on my official transcript?

For undergraduate students, instructors will enter a grade of “P” if a student’s performance is satisfactory and an “F” if the performance is not satisfactory.  The grades on the transcript will appear as “P” or “F.”

For graduate students, instructors will enter a grade of “S” if a student’s performance is satisfactory and an “E” if the performance is not satisfactory.  The grades on the transcript will appear as “S” or “E.”

The use of different grades at the different levels is necessary to resolve some technical aspects with how data flow through our student information system and degree audit system. The use of these grades ensures that students will have courses correctly associated as meeting degree requirements, which is especially important for graduating students.

What is the minimum passing grade to earn a satisfactory grade? 

For undergraduate students, the minimum passing grade is a D-.  For graduate students, the minimum passing grade is a C.  

What is the deadline to make the decision between the Pass/Fail and letter grade option?

The new deadline is April 29th.  The extended deadline will provide students with enough time to evaluate their new learning circumstances and engage advisors, faculty, and other resources to make a decision that best supports their ability to complete the semester successfully.

How can I receive one or more letter grades this semester? 

There will be an online form available soon.  When the form is available an email will be sent to all students notifying them of the form and where it can be accessed.

I’m an instructor and want to know which students are choosing the letter grade option in my courses. What should I do?

Eastman and AS&E are working together to set up a comprehensive webform to collect this information from students for all courses. This information will be distributed to faculty during the week of April 13. There is no need for instructors to collect this information individually, but instructors may ask students for this information, if necessary, for course-related activities (assignments, group projects). However, it’s important for instructors to understand that the data collected on the webform will still be the authoritative record of student selection of the P/F or letter grade option.

Will I have a GPA this semester?

If you choose letter grades in one or more courses, you will have a GPA for this semester.  Your GPA will be calculated based on the number of courses you complete with a letter grade.  If you complete two courses with letter grades and two courses with “P” grades, your GPA will be calculated based on the two courses you complete with letter grades. If you complete four courses with “P” grades, your current grade point average from Fall 2019 will be continued through the Spring 2020 semester. 

Does an “F” grade impact my GPA? 

No, neither “P” or “F” grades will impact your GPA.

Will the credits count for these Pass/Fail courses?

Yes, as long as a grade of “P” (or “S” for graduate students) is earned you will receive credit for any courses you complete.

Will Spring 2020 courses count toward my program of study (major/certificate/River Campus minor/dual degree requirements like clusters)?

Courses taken pass/fail and passed with “satisfactory” (“P” or “S” grades) in Spring 2020 will count towards any degree requirements and other programs of study.

I am a Music Education major and my program requires a grade of “B-“ or above in all my MTL courses in order for the credits to count towards my degree requirements.  Do I need to keep letter grades for these courses?

For the Spring 2020 semester, music education majors who earn a grade of “P” in any MTL coursework will have those credits accepted towards their degree requirements.

Can I “uncover” my Pass/Fail grades in the future?

Students will not be able to uncover “P” or “S” grades from this semester since no letter grade will be available.

Why did Eastman and AS&E make this decision?  Why didn’t you require all students to be graded Pass/Fail? 

We believe that this is the fairest way to proceed given the many types of uncertainties impacting students this semester.  This decision provides students with maximum flexibility while helping them transition to online course instruction.  We will continue our efforts to provide students with academic resources to support them in this transition. Students should see the information available at the Learning During Times of Disruption website for additional assistance, or reach out to Academic Affairs with any additional questions or concerns. 

How can I access academic resources since all of the services are now remote? 

All student services offices have responded quickly to the transition to remote teaching and learning.  Appointments and services are now available and offices are continuing to offer new ways for students to contact them. Students are encouraged to review office and department websites and contact them directly for more information.


Managing Illness and Other Unexpected Challenges:

What if I choose letter grades and then become ill or experience other unexpected circumstances?

Students may petition the Office of Academic Affairs to request a late change in grading. Students should also note that the deadline to withdraw from a course has been extended to April 22.

What if I become ill with the virus and am unable to attend classes?  How should I notify my instructors?

Students are encouraged to email their instructors if possible to let them know they will not be able to attend classes.  Students are also encouraged to contact the Office of Academic Affairs ( to request that a notification be sent to their instructors directly.


Graduate School/Professional School-Related Questions:

How should I choose to be graded if I’m planning to apply to medical school, law school, nursing school, graduate programs, or other post-graduate work?  

The University’s senior leadership is closely monitoring the information that is being shared by professional organizations and universities.  Updates and advice will be posted on the Greene Center website. As of now there is not a clear consensus from these various programs.  For that reason, we encourage you to engage in your courses as if you are planning to select the “graded” option, making your final decision as we are closer to the April 10th deadline.


Satisfactory Academic Progress and Merit Scholarship Reduction Questions:

What if I am on a merit scholarship reduction or academic warning status this semester and need to bring my GPA back up to 2.0/3.0?  The Pass/Fail option is still available to students in these situations. A grade of “satisfactory” will be taken into account when determining if the student meets the minimum GPA requirement, Academic Affairs will reach out individually to all of the students in this situation to discuss the specifics with each individual student.


Honors and Dean’s List:

Would selecting P/F grades this semester prevent me from earning Graduation Honors? 

For graduating seniors, honors and distinction will be based on grades at the end of the Fall 2019 semester.  For the Classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023, specific protocols for handling Graduation Honors will be developed as to not penalize students for earning pass/fail grades in Spring 2020.

Will there be a Dean’s List this semester?

Dean’s List recognition will not be awarded this semester.

I am a graduating senior and plan to have all of my courses graded with letter grades.  Will my cumulative GPA at the end of the spring 2020 semester be used to determine whether I qualify for Honors?

No, as noted above, Eastman will be treating all students consistently in the manner in which they award Honors.  Honors and Distinction will be based on grades at the end of the Fall 2019 semester.


Transcript Notation:

Will there be a special notation on our transcripts this semester about Pass/Fail grading?  

Yes, the University plans to place a statement on all transcripts across all University divisions referencing the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This statement is currently being developed.


Dual Degree Students

I am a dual degree student.  How does this impact my River Campus courses?

We have done our best to coordinate this policy with AS&E, but dual degree students should visit the CCAS website to review the College-specific FAQ document.


Graduating Seniors:

How will I get my diploma? Will it be mailed to my home address? Can I change the address where it will be sent? What about cap and gown refunds?

Information will be forthcoming on the Commencement website regarding these questions.


Repeat Courses:

What happens if I’m repeating a course this semester? Is the original grade removed from my GPA?

As long as you pass the course you are repeating this semester with a satisfactory grade, the original grade will be removed from your GPA.  


Financial Aid:

Will Pass/Fail grades affect my financial aid?

A student’s decision to earn Pass/Fail grades this semester does not in itself impact your future eligibility to receive financial aid.  Students are encouraged to speak with their financial aid counselor if they have questions about their situation.


Incomplete Coursework:

Is it possible to arrange for an incomplete for one or more of my courses this semester?  Instructors will have the ability to award incomplete grades and arrange incomplete contracts as they always have. 


Pre-requisite Courses:

What if a course I am taking is a pre-requisite for another course in my program? Do I have to elect the graded option? 

You will not be required to elect the graded option.  A grade of “P” or “S” will be sufficient to move on to the next level of the course.


Non-Matriculated Students:

I am registered as a non-matriculated student this semester.  Will I have the same Pass/Fail and graded option as matriculated students?

Yes, these same grading options will apply if you are a non-matriculated student this semester.


Course-Related Questions:

How will my instructor calculate my final grade this semester?  How will exams be administered? 

Students can expect instructors to provide information about the changes that have been made to their courses. These modifications will vary from course to course and should include information about how assignments and exams will be modified, if at all, as well as information about course delivery, attendance, and how the final grade will be determined.


Final Exams:

Will we have a final exam period this semester? 

Currently there has been no change in the academic calendar and students should assume that there will be a reading day and final exam period unless otherwise announced.