University Provost Liz Magill announced Wednesday evening the default grading system is now credit/no credit for all spring semester undergraduate courses that have not yet completed coursework. Courses that are graded CR/NC — rather than with letter grades A through F — will not be factored into students’ grade point average, but they will count toward curricular, major and graduation requirements if completed with a letter grade equivalent of C or better.
According to the announcement, students will also have the option to receive letter grades and have until the last day of spring semester classes, April 28, to decide. The University will indicate the circumstances surrounding CR/NC grades on transcripts, noting that the option was implemented to manage the transition to online learning.
“These are not ordinary times,” Magill wrote. “Every day, I am struck anew by the enormity of the challenges and the enormity of the effort being brought to bear to meet those challenges.”
Magill’s announcement does not extend to graduate and professional programs. She indicated that deans of those programs will announce their decision on the matter to their respective schools soon.
The decision comes after three University students created a petition urging the University to make pass/fail an option for all students. The petition — authored by first-year College student Abena Appiah-Ofori and third-year College students Aziza Longi and Grace Leffler — has received over 5,000 signatures as of press time.
The students started the petition in acknowledgement of the various challenges students might encounter while taking classes online — including limited WiFi availability, vastly different time zones and unsafe or difficult home lives.
“There's a lot of different situations that can contribute to not doing well while taking classes and having to be back home,” Leffler said. “Even if someone doesn't have that particular situation, they know someone who does, so we can all connect to this.”
It is unclear whether the petition contributed to the University’s decision.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and Georgetown University are among other institutions across the country implementing pass/fail grading systems. MIT has enacted the policy for all courses, while Northwestern and Georgetown allow students to opt into the pass/fail system.