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Undergrads Allowed to Take Up to 7 Credits as Pass/Fail

Choice Extended to Last Day of Spring 2021 Classes; ‘P’ to Include Grades of C- or Better

By Maryland Today Staff

Student working on laptop

Photo by John T. Consoli

Undergraduate students in Spring 2021 can select the pass/fail grading method for up to seven credits with automatic approval. In special circumstances, they can ask their academic advisor or dean to take another course pass/fail.

Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin sent the following email to students on Friday afternoon: 

I hope this message finds you safe and well as you prepare to begin the spring semester. I am writing to share an update on the university's Spring 2021 grading policies for undergraduate courses, which I believe is a topic of great interest and importance to you.

The following pass/fail grading policy has been adopted for Spring 2021 on an emergency basis. It was approved by the University Senate Executive Committee and academic leaders across campus.

Pass/Fail Grading Policy for Spring 2021
Students will be able to opt in to courses that they wish to take on a pass/fail basis.

  • The Pass ("P") mark will now include grades of C- or better; the "P" will no longer include grades of D+, D, and D-.
  • If a student earns a grade of D+, D, D- or F, those grades will be recorded.
  • While the "P" does not have an impact on a student's GPA, grades of D+, D, D- and F will be factored into the GPA.
  • Students will be able to select the pass/fail grading method for up to seven credits with automatic approval.
  • If special circumstances exist, students may request an additional course to be taken pass/fail with permission of their academic advisor and dean.
  • The "P" will count in Spring 2021 for any requirement, including courses in a major, minor, certificate, General Education, benchmark or Limited Enrollment Program gateway (including courses that would ordinarily require a B-).

Faculty have been encouraged to keep in-course grades current, so students have a good idea of the grade they have earned in the course by the last day of classes. Faculty will assign grades in all courses and will therefore not be aware of which students choose the pass/fail option for any course.

For additional information on spring semester grading policies, please consult these FAQs.

The deadline for choosing the pass/fail grading option, as well as for dropping a course with a W, will be extended until 10:59 PM EST on May 11 (the last day of spring classes). There will be no changes to the grading method beyond this deadline, and there will be no exceptions. Soon after the end of the schedule adjustment period, a web portal will be available through which students can select the grading method for their courses until the deadline noted above.

In addition to these temporary revisions to grading methods, we have extended for another semester the amendment to our policies in 1.00(A) University of Maryland Policy on the Conduct of Undergraduate Courses and Student Grievance Procedure to accommodate our unusual circumstances.

Policy on Excused Absences
Due to the potential for unanticipated absences during the pandemic, self-certified notes will serve as documentation for COVID-19-related absences or missed course expectations.

Arbitrary and Capricious Grading Policy
Since the excused absence policy for this year will allow faculty to suggest alternative ways for students with COVID-related absences to make up missed work, such an approach to excused absences will not be subject to the Arbitrary and Capricious Grading Policy as long as this change in policy is communicated to students in the syllabus.

Final Exam Requirement
The expectation that every undergraduate course will have a final exam is waived for Spring 2021, as it was for Spring 2020 and Fall 2020. Please check with your instructors to understand whether there will be a final exam in each course.

I recommend that you review campus policies and resources for undergraduate courses at these sites: Course-Related Policies and Resources for Undergraduates and Please also continue to check 4Maryland for updates about COVID-19.

Warm regards and all my best wishes for a very successful spring semester,


Mary Ann Rankin signature



Mary Ann Rankin
Senior Vice President and Provost

Schools & Departments:

Office of the Provost

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