Optional alternative grading scale implemented for spring 2020 semester

Students can keep their grades if they choose; alternative grades include Satisfactory, V and Z, and will not impact a student’s GPA

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is implementing a new opt-in grading system for the spring 2020 semester that will give students flexibility, help preserve GPAs and minimize impacts to students’ transcripts during the academic challenges presented by the novel coronavirus public health crisis.

Under the new system, undergraduate students will be able to choose to keep their current grade, or to have courses graded with one of three alternate grades:

— SAT (Satisfactory). This grade will be available if a student earns a C or better in a course. A course with an SAT grade can be used to meet all requirements, including entrance to major and prerequisites requiring a C or better.

— V (Pass). This grade, which will be available if a student earns a D in a course, will be considered a passing grade. The student will earn credits for the course, and a V grade can be used to meet requirements for which D is an acceptable grade. The V grade cannot be used to meet C or better requirements.

— Z (No Grade). This grade will be available if a student earns an F in a course. Z can be used to replace an F grade and will be treated similar to if the student had late-dropped the class.

All three of these alternate grades will have no impact on a students’ GPA calculation. A grade of SAT or V will still count toward total credits earned, the entrance-to-major requirement credit window, semester standing and the opportunity to purchase football tickets.

For the spring 2020 semester, faculty will be given an additional week to enter letter grades at the conclusion of the semester. Once grades are entered, students who are pleased with their performance will be able to keep their letter grades.

Students who would like one or more of their grades replaced with a grade from this alternate system will then have approximately one week to consult with their academic adviser to request to opt into the alternate grading system for each course individually. There is no limit on the number of courses for which a student can request an alternative grade. Additional information is forthcoming regarding the specifics of this request process and key deadlines to be aware of.

Alternative grading will be available to undergraduate students across the University, including World Campus students and those students who have returned from study abroad programs and are completing their studies via remote learning technology. Students in an integrated graduate-undergraduate (IUG) program cannot request alternative grades for courses applied to their graduate program. The Graduate School is currently exploring options for graduate students.

The University strongly encourages all students to continue to strive for the best possible grade in all of their courses. Some students may wish to consider keeping their letter grades for future applications to graduate, law or medical school, or for professional licensing reasons. Students must consult with an academic adviser to discuss these or other concerns when electing to request an alternative grade.

Additional guidance is forthcoming as University leadership finalizes implementation of this alternative grading scale. The decision to allow students to request alternative grades follows a recent resolution of the Penn State Faculty Senate, which asked the University to consider satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading in recognition of the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus.

Additional information about Penn State’s coronavirus response is available at psu.edu/virusinfo.