Pass/Fail Option for Spring 2020 Semester

In response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and its impact on the campus community, Elon University has implemented a pass/fail option for spring 2020 undergraduate courses.

Under this emergency policy, which is outlined here, Elon University undergraduate students may elect to take any or all of their spring 2020 semester courses pass/fail. The university’s novel coronavirus website also includes a Student Information subpage addressing the policy.

Not surprisingly, students and their families may have questions regarding the newly instituted pass/fail option. The following is a list of FAQs to help alleviate uncertainty:

 

Must all students take their spring 2020 semester courses pass/fail?

No. If a student does not designate a course pass/fail, the student will receive a letter grade. Elon’s policy does NOT make all undergraduate courses pass/fail, as some institutions have implemented. Instead, the decision to receive a letter grade or a pass/fail grade rests with the individual student for each of their courses.

What is considered a “pass?”

A “pass” is defined as performance at the level of “C” or higher as a final course grade. By earning a pass, ElonComm students will be able to advance to courses in the COM core or an academic major in the school that require the course as a pre-requisite.

What if a student selects the pass/fail option, and fails?

Any grade below the level of a C will be defined as “fail” meaning that a C- and any D or F level grades will be considered “fail” under this policy. Additionally, ElonComm students who receive a failing grade will NOT be able to advance to courses in COM that require the failed course as a pre-requisite.

How does the pass/fail option impact a student’s GPA?

If a student designates a course pass/fail and then receives a “pass” grade, that course grade will not be included in the student’s GPA calculation. If a student designates a course pass/fail and then receives a “fail” grade, that course grade will impact the student’s GPA the same as an F would during a typical semester. Put another way, when GPA calculations are made, only courses with traditional letter grades (A-F) are included in the GPA calculation. This is one reason why some students might want to have letter grades in some or all of their courses this semester, despite the disruptions.

How many courses can a student take pass/fail?

A student may elect to designate one OR more spring 2020 semester courses as pass/fail. (This does not include undergraduate courses completed in the first half of the spring 2020 semester.)

When must a student decide to designate a course as pass/fail?

Students can designate a course as pass/fail at any point from April 27, 2020, through May 20, 2020 (the day after finals end, which is one day later than the original deadline for this policy) to make their designations. Students may adjust their designations throughout this period, but after May 20 their designations are final. All undergraduates received an email in late April explaining the process.

How does a student designate a course as pass/fail?

During the April 27, 2020, through May 20, 2020, time period students must formally indicate their decision by visiting OnTrack and starting the designation process. The instructor will enter the appropriate pass/fail grade when submitting final grades. Students, this PDF outlines the steps to designate a course pass/fail on OnTrack.

What courses can you take as pass/fail?

All undergraduate courses, including major and minor requirements and Elon Core Curriculum requirements.

Should some students NOT use the pass/fail option?

Yes, it may be recommended that students NOT use the pass/fail option. Students on academic probation are strongly encouraged to consult with their academic advisor before making any decisions about the pass/fail option. Departmental policies, graduate/professional program admission requirements, and rules regarding external accreditations, among other factors, may influence the advice all students receive about this policy. However, the choice to designate any course pass/fail, and the responsibility for doing so, resides with the individual student.

Does the emergency pass/fail option apply to undergraduate courses completed in the first half of the spring 2020 semester?

No.

Can the pass/fail designation be reversed?

A designation can be changed by a student until 11:59 p.m. on May 20. After that, the course designation cannot be reversed; after May 20, if a course has been designated pass/fail, it must remain pass/fail.

Can I appeal a pass/fail grade?

No. All pass/fail grades are final and can’t be appealed.

Are there any other restrictions on the pass/fail option?

Yes, a student may not designate a course pass/fail if the final grade is an Honor Code F. An instructor may lower the grade or give the student an “F” for an assignment or a related unit of the course for a violation of the academic integrity policy.

What are the implications of this policy on scholarships or financial aid?

This policy may not have implications for most students receiving financial aid, as long as the student remains in good academic standing. However, if students have any questions or concerns, contact Financial Planning. Under this policy, students are responsible for understanding the implications of designating courses pass/fail.

FOR FACULTY: How will instructors learn about student making pass/fail designations?

Beginning April 27, 2020, on Mondays and Thursdays at 6 a.m., faculty teaching a course that includes at least one student who has designated that course special pass/fail will receive an email that indicates the current status of all of the special pass/fail designations in that course. If a faculty member is teaching multiple courses, all courses will be included in a single email grouped by course section. These emails will be sent only if there is a change in at least one special pass/fail designation since the last email was sent. The final email will be sent on Thursday, May 21, 2020. Faculty, this PDF outlines the communications/notifications instructors will receive when students designate a course pass/fail.

FOR FACULTY: How will instructors submit final grades?

Faculty will submit final undergraduate grades between 8 a.m. on May 21, 2020, and noon on May 26, 2020 following the usual process. When faculty go into OnTrack to submit their final grades, they will see those students who have designated the course as special pass/fail with a (PS/F) beside their name. This will serve as a visual reminder to select either the PS or F when entering final grades.

FOR ADVISERS: How will advisers learn about advisees making pass/fail designations?

On Mondays and Thursdays at 6 a.m., academic advisers will receive an email that indicates the current status of their advisees’ pass/fail designations. The advisor email will look very similar to the faculty email, except that it will be grouped by student. These emails will be sent only if there is a change in at least one designation by one of your advisees. This PDF outlines the communications/notifications advisers will receive when students designate a course pass/fail.