The Academic Progress Committee and the Curriculum and Education Policy Committee provided the following significant advice to the president and the provost concerning the College’s pass/fail grade policy for the Spring 2020 semester:

Proposed Policy Change

Students, regardless of their year, will be allowed to elect to take any course on a pass/fail grade basis this semester. 

  • For this semester only, this will supersede the current policy that defines which courses may be taken pass/fail. 
  • Courses taken pass/fail this semester will not be included in the current policy that restricts students to taking a maximum of four (4) courses pass/fail during their academic career. 
  • This semester only, students can elect to have any or all of their courses graded on a pass/fail basis at any time between Monday, March 30 and Friday, May 1at noon.
  • For this semester only, students requesting pass/fail grading for a particular course will not have the option of indicating the minimum letter grade that would be accepted in lieu of a P for that course. 

The objective is to make evaluation of student learning more flexible this semester so that it equitably takes into account the diverse academic needs, interests, and concerns of our students and the very different pedagogies being employed for the balance of this academic year. In developing this policy change, many possible options have been carefully considered. This includes options that have been proposed by students and faculty as well as processes that other schools have decided to adopt. The Registrar was involved at all times in developing this policy change to ensure that it is feasible administratively and because the Registrar’s office will be responsible for implementing the proposed modifications in already challenging times.  


Students will have to elect the pass/fail grade option for their course(s) otherwise the course will be recorded using the letter-grade format. To elect the pass/fail grade option students will have to complete an electronic request form that will be available on or about March 30.

Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisors before deciding to opt for a pass/fail grade in one or more of their courses so that they can make a well-informed decision. This is all the more important because, this semester only, students are not required to obtain the permission of the Academic Progress Committee before enrolling in a course for pass/fail credit. 

Seniors who may need to improve either their overall GPA or major GPA in order to graduate will be contacted by the Office of Advising to ensure that they don’t make a decision that might prevent them from graduating in May.

Honors thesis students are required to retain the letter grade option, and not the pass/fail grade option, for their thesis course, since honors candidacy requires a grade of “A” in both of the honors semesters.  Honors thesis candidates are free to choose the pass/fail option for any or all their other courses.

Students considering professional or graduate programs post-Lafayette should consult the appropriate professional program advisor before deciding if electing the pass/fail option is appropriate for specific courses.

Once the registrar’s office has completed entry of the pass/fail grade option for all students electing this choice, faculty will be able to see which students in their courses have opted for a Pass/Fail grade through the Banner Self-Service Grade Entry. It is anticipated that this will occur sometime during the week of May 4.


The proposed flexible grade policy has the following benefits:

We are all facing a situation where our traditional pedagogies have been challenged. This will be stressful for both faculty and students. Having a more flexible grading policy will hopefully reduce the stress of these unusual circumstances. 

It allows students who are overwhelmed by academic, societal, or personal situations to take any or all of their courses pass/fail. 

Because the declaration for pass/fail grading has been set near the end of the semester, it relieves students of the stress of quickly and possibly prematurely committing to either of the grade options. Instead students will have the time to find their footing in the new situation, to see how their semester grades are developing, to seek guidance and advice, and then to make an informed decision on the final grade method for each of their courses. 

It gives students who have strong and very legitimate interests in earning letter grades this semester the opportunity to do so. This may include:

  • Students who have worked hard this semester to improve their cumulative GPA
  • Seniors whose GPA is currently below one of the thresholds for receiving Latin honors
  • Seniors who need to improve their overall or major GPA in order to graduate
  • Students who prefer to not have a pass/fail grade on their college transcript

FAQ: Pass/Fail

How can I select the pass/fail grade option?

The online form can be used through the May 1 deadline. If no action is taken to request that a course be considered pass/fail, normal letter grading will remain in effect.

Will I be able to take a class counting towards my major or minor pass/fail?

Yes, for spring 2020 semester only, a P can be counted in the major.

Will I be able to take a class counting towards the Common Course of Study requirements pass/fail?

Yes, for spring 2020 semester only, a P can count for a Common Course of Study requirement.

What is considered a passing grade/failing grade?

Any non-failing grade will be recorded as a P; a failing grade will be recorded as an F.

How will an F factor into my GPA?

An F will be calculated into the term and cumulative GPA calculations, as outlined in the catalog.

How will having one or two classes pass/fail factor into consideration for the Dean's List this semester?

Dean’s List for spring 2020 will be determined based on a minimum of three graded courses and term GPA of 3.6 or higher.

Will I still be eligible for Latin honors at graduation if I choose pass/fail classes?

Graduation Latin honors are determined based on the cumulative GPA.  Those who graduate with high cumulative averages based upon four years’ work are awarded their degrees summa cum laude (a cumulative average of 3.85 or higher), magna cum laude (3.75), or cum laude (3.65). Taking a class pass/fail will not affect your GPA unless the grade is recorded as an F.

Will faculty know that I chose pass/fail grading for their course?

Prior to submitting grades for their course a faculty member would not know who in their course has elected the pass/fail grade option. Faculty become aware of the pass/fail grade request at the time they have access to final grade entry in Banner.

I am completing an honors thesis. Can I select the pass/fail grade option?

Not for the thesis course. In order to be awarded departmental honors for completion of a thesis, a grade of A is required in the Thesis course. You can still elect other courses to be Pass/Fail.

If I have already requested that a class be pass/fail with a minimum grade, will I still be able to retain the minimum grade option?

No. The modification of the policy for the spring semester does not allow for a letter grade to be specified in lieu of the P. All courses retain normal letter grading unless and until a request for pass/fail is submitted. If you would like to retain the letter grade option, no action is necessary. If you prefer to have the class be evaluated pass/fail, you must submit that request.

Can I still withdraw from a course?

Yes. The withdrawal deadline has been extended to May 1, the same date by which pass/fail grading has to be elected. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their adviser(s) before deciding to opt for a pass/fail grade or withdrawing from a course so that they can make a well-informed decision.

If I select pass/fail for a course, will I be able to change back to letter grading later?

No. Once a student has opted for a P/F grade, this decision is final. Therefore, students should take their time and make a well-informed decision in consultation with their adviser.

Can students request to change from letter grades to pass/fail after the May 1 deadline?

No. May 1 at noon is a firm deadline.

Will courses taken on a pass/fail basis this semester be included in the policy that limits students to taking a maximum of four courses pass/fail during their academic career?

No. Courses taken pass/fail this semester are not included in the overall count. 

Can I request pass/fail for an LVAIC cross-registered course?

Many LAVIC schools are offering a pass/pail (or similar) option. Check with the host school about its policy and process.

I am studying abroad this semester. Can I request pass/fail grading?

If your host institution is offering a pass/fail option, you should follow its guidance for selecting that alternate grade scale. If it is not, then you may make that request to Lafayette. You will receive communication from the Office of International and Off-Campus Education with details.