Pass/Fail Policy

By Maria Tanner | April 3, 2020
Arcadia University has adopted a revised pass/fail grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester. The following opt-in policy applies to

all undergraduate students

without exception. Individual graduate programs have determined whether to adopt a pass/fail policy for this semester;

graduate students in the following programs only

may opt-in to pass/fail grades: English; Public Health; entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy; most Education graduate programs (with the exception of Applied Behavior Analysis).
  • All undergraduate students (and graduate students in select programs) may opt-in to a pass/fail grading rubric for any or all of their Spring 2020 courses from April 13 through May 22. Students’ opt-in decisions are reversible and will not be considered final until the end of the day (11:59 p.m.) on May 22. 
  • Please note that students must actively choose to opt-in to the pass/fail grading rubric.
  • Students who choose to retain the standard letter grading rubric can do so and need not take any action.
  • All undergraduate students and graduate students in English, Public Health, and Education (except for Applied Behavior Analysis) can opt-in to a pass-fail grading rubric for any or all of their Spring 2020 courses by following these instructions:
    • Log into Self Service
    • Navigate to Grades tab and click on Pass/Fail option (Spring 2020)
    • You will be shown a list of your current courses. Read instructions and click on those courses you wish to receive a pass/fail grade. Your selections will save automatically; click the close button when done.
  • Graduate students in the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program must indicate their desire to adopt a pass/fail grading rubric for all or none of their courses by emailing Joanie Reinheimer (
  • Undergraduate students may elect to opt-in to a pass/fail grading rubric for any undergraduate course without exception – including courses that fulfill major/minor and Arcadia Undergraduate Curriculum (AUC) requirements. 
  • Faculty will not be notified of students’ grade system choices and will continue recording regular grades throughout the semester, including final grades.
  • For undergraduate students, grades from A through D- will be considered Pass for those opting in. 
  • For graduate students whose programs have elected to adopt the in-opt in pass/fail system , grades of C or better will be considered Pass; grades of C- through D- will receive No Credit. For all students, Pass and No Credit grades do not factor into GPA. A Fail grade does factor into GPA.

Although no academic adviser or instructor approval is necessary for eligible students to opt-in to a pass/fail grading rubric, students are very strongly encouraged to consult with their academic advisers and instructors before making these decisions. This decision is particularly important for undergraduate students who are planning to enter graduate programs that have prerequisites for grades in specific courses, or those who are seeking certification or other credentialing.

If faculty or students have any questions related to this effort, please email Kate Hanley (, and she will coordinate a response from Academic Affairs.

FAQs about the Spring 2020 Pass/Fail policy:

How is GPA calculated if someone opts in to the pass/fail option?

P (pass) grades do not calculate into the GPA. However, F (Fail) grades do calculate into the GPA. For graduate students only, No Credit grades do not calculate into the GPA. This is the system that has always existed, it’s just that for this Spring 2020 semester only many more students (all undergraduate and some graduate students depending on the program) will be eligible to select the pass/fail option for many more courses.

If a student withdraws from a class will the class be deleted from the transcript or show up as W?

The class will show up as a W. 

If a student earns a grade of “Fail” as part of the pass/fail option, do they get credit for the course?

Students do not receive credits if they fail a course either with our standard grading system or with the pass/fail option.

Will a student satisfy undergraduate major/minor and AUC requirements for courses taken pass/fail?

Pass grades will satisfy undergraduate major/minor and AUC requirements for Spring 2020 only.  Fail grades will not satisfy any requirements.

If I opt-in to the pass/fail option for a particular course, do I still have to complete the course’s requirements?

Yes. To pass a course even in a pass/fail grading system the student must still complete all course requirements.

Will graduate programs accept a course as a prerequisite if it is graded “Pass” instead of having a letter grade?

It is particularly important for students to work with their faculty advisers when addressing questions about prerequisites for graduate programs, licensure, or other credentialing. Arcadia graduate programs will accept Pass/Fail grades for prerequisite courses for Spring 2020. We don’t know definitely about other universities’ graduate programs, but we know that hundreds and hundreds of institutions around the country are adopting Spring 2020 pass/fail grading systems similar to Arcadia’s so we anticipate many graduate programs to accommodate a variety of exceptions to typical expectations for Spring 2020.

How do students opt in to the pass/fail option?

The opt-in process is in development; details will be provided about how to opt-in prior to April 13.

Will my scholarship be affected by taking pass/fail grades?

Choosing to take pass/fail grades need not affect your scholarships. Arcadia institutional scholarships will not be affected in any circumstances. However, achieving Fail grades could affect federal scholarships, which are currently following usual guidelines: first-year students must achieve a 1.75 GPA; returning students must achieve a 2.00 GPA; and 70% of attempted credits must be completed. Please note that all federal policies may be appealed to Arcadia, and Arcadia anticipates assessing our students’ circumstances flexibly. Please see for more details.

When final grades are posted, will I see a letter grade, or will I see a P or an F?

Instructors will submit regular, end-of-semester letter grades as they typically do. Students will be able to see these grades on Self Service. If a Pass/Fail option is selected, then P or F will replace the submitted regular letter grade after the May 22 pass/fail opt-in deadline has passed.

How will pass/fail grades affect my academic standing (probation, etc.)?

The Academic Standing Committee anticipates assessing Spring 2020 grades with extra flexibility. Students currently on probation who earn traditional letter grades of high enough quality to be removed from probation will be so removed. Students will not typically be put on probation or dismissed based on Spring 2020 grades given this semester’s extenuating circumstances.

How will pass/fail grades affect academic honors (Spring 2020 Dean’s list, graduation Latin Honors, etc.)?

Pass/Fail courses are not included when calculating semester honors. Full-time undergraduate students must complete at least 12 credits of letter-graded (non-pass/fail) work for Dean’s List consideration for Spring 2020. Graduate students must have completed at least 15 credits of letter-graded (non-pass/fail) work cumulatively in their program for Dean’s List consideration. Graduation Latin Honors are calculated using GPA, and Pass grades to not affect a student’s GPA, though Fail grades do.