Pass/Fail Policy for Fall 2020

By Daniel DiPrinzio | November 30, 2020
Arcadia University has adopted a revised pass/fail grading policy for the Fall 2020 semester. The following opt-in policy applies to

all undergraduate students

without exception but does not apply to graduate programs.
  • All undergraduate students may opt-in to a pass/fail grading rubric for any or all of their Fall 2020 courses from November 30 through December 14. Students’ opt-in decisions are reversible and will not be considered final until the end of the day (11:59 p.m.) on December 14.
  • 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 can opt-in to a pass-fail grading rubric for any or all of their Fall 2020 courses by following these instructions:
    • Log into Self Service
    • Navigate to Grades tab and click on Pass/Fail option (Fall 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.
    • Alternatively, undergraduate students can click here and log in using their usual Arcadia credentials and follow the instructions provided. 
  • 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. 
  • Pass 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 Fall 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. This is the system that has always existed, it’s just that for this Fall 2020 semester only many more students (all undergraduates) are 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 Fall 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. We don’t know definitely how universities’ graduate programs around the nation and world will view Pass grades earned during the pandemic. 

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.

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

  • The Academic Standing Committee anticipates assessing Fall 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. 

How will pass/fail grades affect academic honors (Fall 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 Fall 2020. Graduation Latin Honors are calculated using GPA, and Pass grades to not affect a student’s GPA, though Fail grades do.