University to Offer Students Credit/No Credit Option for Spring 2020 Classes
Designation will not affect GPA for semester disrupted by COVID-19
In recognition of the “disruptive, stressful, and unconventional way” this semester has unfolded in the shadow of the coronavirus, Boston University will adopt special grading policies for the 2020 spring semester, offering all undergraduate and most graduate students a Credit/No Credit option that will not affect their GPA.
Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer, announced Friday that undergraduate, graduate, and nondegree students will be able to choose between keeping their letter grade in each class and a Credit/No Credit option. Three schools with unique constraints—the Goldman School of Dental Medicine, the School of Law, and the School of Medicine—have developed grading policies that are specific to their schools.
“COVID-19 has caused tremendous disruption to higher education, changing the way classes are taught and students are taking in new material,” Morrison says. “BU faculty have responded magnificently to this situation. They’ve adapted curricula and practices to remote instruction while maintaining a connection with their students.
“Still, there is recognition of the considerable stress and uncertainty this moment has created for many students,” she says. “And so we want to give them a measure of flexibility that balances the high standards we set for coursework and grading with the unconventional way this semester has unfolded. This spring semester 2020 policy enables them to complete their work and yet not be penalized for circumstances beyond their control.”
Students will be assigned a letter grade by faculty in each of their classes upon completion of their coursework. After receiving their letter grades, they will have the option to designate any, all, or none of their courses taken in spring 2020 as Credit/No Credit classes. For undergraduate courses, any grade of D or above will translate into a Credit designation.
This is different from the common Pass/Fail designation because students can use the Credit/No Credit designation on any course, including those needed to fulfill major, minor, and Hub requirements, and because designation of Credit/No Credit will not impact a student’s GPA.
The process through which students can choose Credit/No Credit is still being developed, but they won’t have to decide whether to use the option until after they have seen their letter grades in May. Instructions will be sent via email later this spring, before April 30, 2020.
“We’re coordinating across the University to put this grading system in place,” Morrison says. “We recognize that many graduate and professional programs have their own grading thresholds for what constitutes ‘credit’ and so we want to be respectful of their autonomy in making that particular determination.”
The policy is effective only for this semester. Find details for different groups of students here:
All undergraduate students at Boston University, regardless of their school or college, will be assigned a letter grade by faculty in each of their classes upon completion of their coursework. After receiving their letter grades, students will have the option to designate any, all, or none of their courses taken in spring 2020 as Credit/No Credit classes. Students can also choose to retain their letter grade for any or all of their courses. If a student chooses to designate a course as Credit/No Credit, their transcript will simply show “CR” (Credit) or “NC” (No Credit) for that course in the place of the letter grade. For undergraduate courses, any grade of D or above will translate into a Credit designation.
The Credit/No Credit option is a unique designation to be used for the spring 2020 semester only and differs from our normal Pass/Fail option in two significant ways. First, unlike Pass/Fail, students can utilize the Credit/No Credit designation in any course, including those that are needed to fulfill major, minor, and Hub requirements; for the spring 2020 semester, a grade of CR in an applicable course will satisfy major, minor, and Hub requirements. Credits earned with a CR designation will be counted towards the total number of credits required to graduate. Second, a designation of Credit/No Credit will not impact a student’s GPA. Students who are on academic probation are eligible to use the Credit/No Credit option.
Our hope is that these spring semester 2020 grading policies will provide some relief for students who are enduring an unexpectedly difficult semester.
The process through which students will indicate their selection of Credit/No Credit is still being developed. Students will not be asked to make this decision until after they have seen their letter grades in May and have had an opportunity to consult with advisors. Thus, students do not need to take any action at this point in time. Detailed instructions will be sent via email later this spring, before April 30, 2020.
This policy does not apply to courses that are, under regular circumstances, graded as Pass/Fail. Courses that are now Pass/Fail will continue to be graded on a Pass/Fail basis and will be reflected as such on transcripts. The policy also does not apply to courses that were completed prior to spring break, or to students who previously decided to audit a class. Students from other institutions who are studying at BU through cross-registration programs should consult with their home institution regarding their grading requirements.
Graduate and professional students
Graduate and professional students in all schools and colleges, except for the three listed below, and including those enrolled in online and off-campus programs, will have the option to elect Credit/No Credit for any of their classes this semester. Schools that have their own registrar and unique disciplinary and accreditation constraints—the Goldman School of Dental Medicine, the School of Law, and the School of Medicine—developed and will implement the school-specific policies summarized below. Students in these three schools will receive additional details from their deans shortly.
Graduate and professional students in all other schools may utilize the policy described above for undergraduate students with one distinction: schools and colleges with graduate and professional programs may set their own thresholds for the minimum letter grade required to receive Credit in graduate and professional courses. Deans will communicate with their respective graduate and professional students to clarify what letter grade is required to receive Credit in specific courses and programs.
Goldman School of Dental Medicine
For the spring 2020 semester, GSDM will continue to use its existing letter grade format based on criteria previously established by individual course syllabi. There will be no change in the grading process for didactic courses, while grades for preclinical (hands-on simulation/technique courses) and clinical (direct patient care or clinical demonstrations) courses will be based on a percentage of the planned coursework.
School of Law
All spring 2020 semester JD courses will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis. LLM students will have the option of electing Pass/Fail for any and all classes after they have seen their grade in each course. Neither the mandatory Pass/Fail credits for JDs nor the elected Pass/Fail credits for LLMs and other non-JD students during the spring 2020 semester will count toward the maximum ungraded credits allowed in each program.
School of Medicine
The grading policy for most courses in the School of Medicine will not change. There are a limited number of courses in which the clinical activities have been so fundamentally disrupted that accurately determining a grade is impossible; these courses will become Pass/Fail for all students. Specifically, third- and fourth-year MD clinical rotations that were interrupted before completion will become Pass/Fail only. In these cases, a note will be added to students’ transcripts indicating the reason for the grading policy change.
“Our hope is that these spring semester 2020 grading policies will provide some relief for students who are enduring an unexpectedly difficult semester,” Morrison wrote in a memo emailed to students, faculty, and staff on Friday.
“We also recognize that many students have worked very hard this semester and want to have that effort reflected on their transcripts,” she wrote. “By giving undergraduate and most graduate students the ability to choose whether or not to utilize the Credit/No Credit option for any or all of their courses, we hope to both reduce stress among those who are struggling to adjust to remote learning, and allow those who wish to retain some or all of their letter grades the ability to do so.”