Taking Courses on a Pass/Fail Basis
A 2L or 3L student may enroll in up to eight credits of work (courses or seminars) on a Credit/No-Credit/Honors basis (CR/NC/H). (That’s eight credits in total during your time at the law school, not eight credits each year.) It’s similar to taking a class pass/fail. Here is how it works:
1) You pick a class that you think would be good to take but that, for any reason, you prefer not to take for a letter grade. You sign up for it as usual, but submit a completed form to the Registrar’s Office indicating that you wish to take the class on a CR/NC/H basis. You must make this election by the end of the add/drop period for the relevant semester. A student can elect to reverse this decision and take the course on a graded basis for an additional two-week period after the end of the add/drop period. An instructor has the right to designate a class as not eligible for enrollment on those terms, and required courses (e.g., a course that satisfies the Professional Responsibility requirement) cannot be taken this way, but for most classes it will be possible.
2) The instructor will not know that you are a CR/NC/H student. You will do all the same work everyone else does, and it will be graded like anyone else’s. When the registrar receives the final grades for the class, s/he will convert the grades of those who signed up for CR/NC/H as follows:
- If the instructor gave you an A- or better, you get an H (or “Honors”) mark.
- If the instructor gave you a grade below A- but better than C-, you get a “CR” on your transcript (for “Credit”).
- If the instructor gave you a grade of C- or below, you get no credit and the class does not appear on your transcript AND YOU DO NOT RECEIVE CREDIT FOR THAT COURSE. Consequently, beware that if you receive “no credit” for a course, you may need to make up additional credits in another semester to meet your graduation requirements.
Whatever the result, it has no effect on your grade point average. (Note that you cannot change a CR/NC/H designation to a letter grade after the fact).
3) As noted at the start, you can take up to eight credits of work on the terms just described over the course of your second and third years taken together. The law school’s academic regulations place a limit of 17 on the number of total credits you can earn toward graduation that do not figure into your law school GPA—for example, by doing externships, or taking classes in other university departments, doing a study abroad program, journal credits, etc. Credits you take on a CR/NC/H basis, as described above, count toward that limit. If you want to exceed the 17 “non-GPA” credits, you need to petition the Academic Standards Committee. Please contact the Associate Dean for Student Affairs about that process.
4) In designing this rule, the faculty wanted to make sure that students who take a class for a letter grade are protected from any bad effects related to the curve when other students in the class choose to take the class on a CR/NC/H basis. The rules therefore require that all students of both types be graded by the instructor and placed on the same curve before the automatic conversion of some of the grades to CR/NC/H by the Registrar. This procedure should cause students taking the class for a letter grade to do at least as well as if the CR/NC/H students had elected letter-grading.
We hope that perhaps this option will lead you to take courses that will contribute to your education and that you might not have taken otherwise. At the same time, be mindful that, depending on your circumstances, some employers might prefer to see a letter grade for a given class rather than a CR or H notation.