COVID-19 Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading Policy

Main Page Content

Category Name: Student
Responsible Unit: Office of Registration and Records
Responsible VP: VP for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Adoption Date: April 13, 2020
Last Revision Date:
Last Review Date:
Shared governance: none

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced students to continue their studies via alternative remote learning methods.  The College recognizes the limitations that this style of instruction presents and will allow students to opt for alternative grading for the duration of the pandemic.  This temporary policy change applies to all students regardless of their class status or level.  Students can choose to this option for any or all courses they are registered for excluding courses that ended at midterm of the spring 2020 semester.

The credit received in courses graded on the S/U option counts toward graduation requirements, but has no effect on the grade point average since the credit is non-indexable (carries no quality points.)  S/U grades may be used for any course including those that apply towards the General Education program, a major, a minor, certification or professional areas with some limitations.

The S/U option is sometimes confusingly referred to as "Pass/Fail." This turns out to be a very misleading mistake. If students choose the S/U option, they receive a grade of "S" for work completed that the instructor decides is the equivalent of a letter grade of "C" (“B” at the graduate level) or higher. If the instructor evaluates the work at a grade of "C-" (“B-” at the graduate level) or lower, the student will receive a "U" and will not receive credit for the course. In a graded course, the "D-" grade, while denoting poor quality work, is still a passing grade.

The information below has been created to help you understand the implications of different grading options now available. For example, in some cases, withdrawing from a course or opting for a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade can prevent a student from being harmed by uncharacteristically poor performance in a course. In other cases, however, it can create significant problems down the road, such as for scholarship eligibility or when applying for certain graduate programs. Once chosen at the end of the semester, the satisfactory/unsatisfactory or letter grade option may not be changed in subsequent semesters.

Consult with your advisor or appropriate financial aid compliance officer to work through the possible scenarios and implications for your own program. Below is a set of questions and grading checklist to help organize your discussion with your advisor.

Grading Checklist and Questions to Consider:

  • Do I have plans to attend graduate school?

    Recognize that in some cases, graduate programs will not accept satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades for courses relevant to the program. In others, satisfactory (S) grades are calculated in ways that will not be beneficial to the student’s grade point average (GPA). Note too that unsatisfactory (U) grades are not calculated into the GPA. In such cases, a satisfactory/unsatisfactory option might significantly impact admission to a graduate program.

  • Do I need to improve my GPA to qualify for particular scholarships, entry into majors, graduate programs, certifications or NCAA Eligibility?

    Recognize that satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades are not included in GPA calculations, so changing to satisfactory/unsatisfactory prevents an improvement in GPA that could make meeting GPA requirements for scholarships, entry into majors, graduate programs, certifications or NCAA eligibility more difficult.

  • Am I in a program that involves professional accreditation or certification? (e.g., CPA for Accounting, Education, Nursing, Clinical Mental Health Counseling)

    Be aware that some programs require letter grades in specific courses associated with professional certification. If a student were to convert one of these courses to satisfactory/unsatisfactory, this might make qualification difficult. 

  • Do I plan to transfer to another college next semester?

    Note that in some cases, satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades are not accepted for transfer credit if students move between colleges.

  • Are you anticipating graduating with academic honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude)?

    Be aware that 48 credit hours must be earned at Brockport of which only 24 credit hours can be in courses under the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade option.

  • Do I need to maintain a certain number of credits per term/academic year for particular scholarships, graduate programs, or certifications?

    Carefully consider what withdrawing from a course or courses will do to your eligibility before making a final determination (e.g., Excelsior scholarship recipients need to complete an average of 30-credits per year).

  • Do you feel that a grade is necessary to maintain your motivation in this course(s)?

    Consider not opting in for satisfactory/unsatisfactory and instead create a good plan of study for helping you be successful in the course.

Links to Related Procedures and Information

COVID-19 Grading Guide (pdf)

Letter Grade to S/U Grade Change Request Form

History (in descending order)

Item Date Explanation
Next Review Date Three year review
Adoption Date 4/13/20 Policy Adopted
Draft Review Date Waived Draft Policy under 30-day Campus Review


This policy is approved by:

President's Cabinet

April 13, 2020

Last Updated 7/1/20

Close mobile navigation