Spring 2021 Pass/Fail Grading FAQ

The University announced grading options for the spring semester, and rules will be applied consistently across the four undergraduate schools. This FAQ is subject to change.

The deadline for changing grades is 11:59 PM, ET, March 19, 2021. Late requests will not be considered.

Please note that 0.5 CU courses have different deadlines.

What do I need to know about the special pass/fail (P/F) policy for spring 2021?

  • Any course may be changed to P/F, including courses fulfilling Wharton degree requirements.
  • You may take as many of your spring 2021 courses P/F as you choose.
  • The deadline for making this decision is 11:59 PM, ET, on March 19.
  • You must “opt in” to changing the grade type of a course.
  • Any course taken P/F during spring 2021 will not count against the three P/F courses you are already allowed as a Wharton student.

Will I be able to use a P/F course from spring 2021 to fulfill Wharton degree requirements?

For spring 2021, you can take any class P/F. This means you may use any spring 2021 course taken P/F to satisfy the academic requirements for the Wharton B.S. in Economics as well as for any undergraduate dual degree. (Provost rules applied to Wharton, SAS, Nursing, and SEAS)

How do I change my grade type to P/F?

You can change the grading type of a course in Penn InTouch until 11:59PM ET on March 19, 2021. You can find directions hereLate requests will not be considered.

What should I consider when deciding whether to opt-in to P/F grading?

Penn is in the minority among undergraduate institutions in offering the P/F option in spring 2021; therefore, across all institutions, P/F grades on a student’s transcript for spring 2021 will be an exception. Within Penn, moreover, solid achievement in prerequisite courses is the best preparation for later success. Finally, for those Penn students with P/F grades in spring or fall 2020 and again in spring 2021, there is the risk that significant portions of the academic record will lack documentation of compelling academic achievement, compromising future applications to jobs, professional schools, and graduate schools.

For all of these reasons, we strongly advise that students only opt for P/F grading on general requirement and majors courses in spring 2021 under the most extenuating of circumstances, such as the following:

  • Significant additional family responsibilities due to the pandemic
  • Significant personal illness or the need to care for ill family members
  • Limited access to internet or necessary technology for remote participation
  • Inability to participate in required synchronous sessions (due to time zone differences, etc.)
  • Housing insecurity

You should make the best decision you can given your circumstances and experience with remote learning over the first few weeks of the semester.

Career Services has also provided some guidance on their website.

How will P/F impact graduate school applications?

The interpretation of pass/fail grades by other institutions as part of their application evaluation processes will vary. We recommend that you consult the Career Services website and connect with their staff to discuss your particular situation.

Can P/F impact financial aid?

As long as the P/F courses are still the same CU/credits and still part of the academic plan, there will be minimal impact to financial aid eligibility. Any questions should be directed to Student Financial Services at sfsmail@pobox.upenn.edu.

How will the new P/F rules affect international students and their visa status?

According to ISSS, visa status is dependent on the number of course units taken in the semester and not the grade type choice.

If I change my mind later can I switch the grade type of the course back?

The deadline to change your grade type is 11:59 PM, ET, March 19, 2021.  After that date, no further changes can be made to the course’s grade type.

Note that half credit courses have different deadlines, please consult the Wharton 0.5 CU course page.

Can I change a graduate-level course to P/F grading this semester?

While all undergraduate courses at Penn may be taken pass/fail, the ability to take a graduate course pass/fail will depend on the department or Penn school of the course. In this case, students should consult with the course instructor.

I am submatriculating into a graduate program at Penn. Can courses taken pass/fail now count for requirements within the graduate program?

Submatriculants should be aware that graduate programs may have different grading policies. It is strongly recommended that students check with their graduate program before committing to changing a particular course’s grade type to pass/fail.

Will instuctors know if I am taking their course P/F?

No, instructors cannot see your grade type. They will evaluate all students using the same criteria and assign a letter grade for each student. If you earn a grade of D or better, you will receive a “P” on your transcript.

After receiving my P/F grade, can I change to a letter grade?

No. Once you receive a grade, you may not change the grade type.

After receiving my final letter grade, can I change to Pass/Fail ?

No. Once you have received a grade (letter grade, I, or GR) you may not change the grade type.