Provost Whelan recently announced that the faculty overwhelmingly support a new Pass/Fail option for Spring 2020.

All currently enrolled undergraduate students will be assigned grades at the end of the term, as is the current practice. However, in keeping with an Emersonian emphasis on student agency and choice, every enrolled undergraduate student may choose to keep letter grades in any Spring 2020 class or to change any grade to pass/fail in any Spring 2020 class. Students will have one week to select which grades they would like to convert.

Select Grades for Pass*/Fail*

Faculty will continue to enter standard letter grades for all classes. Students will then have one week after grades are posted on May 8th to choose the Pass*/Fail* Option in any or all of their classes. An online form will be released to students after grades are posted on May 8th.

  • Pass*/Fail* is not required, but students who choose the Pass*/Fail* option will receive either a P* or F* that will replace their letter grade.
  • A P* (Pass*) may be substituted for any grade that is equal to a D or better. The P* will not calculate into the GPA but the credits will count towards the 128 Credit requirement to graduate.
  • An F* (Fail*) may be substitute for a failing grade, since an F* will also not calculate into the GPA nor will you earn credit for the course.

Because the graduate programs are offered online, on campus, and in hybrid form, and there are complexities surrounding accreditation and what constitutes failing, the dean of the graduate school and the graduate program directors will work with individual students to resolve any issues that may arise. 

Please read the Frequently Asked Questions below for answers to many specific questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pass*/Fail* Option?

The Pass*/Fail* policy gives students the option to convert their earned letter grade into a P* or F* grade after they are released.

Students who earn a D or higher, may choose to convert their grade to a P*.

Students who earn an F, may choose to convert their F to an F*.

The P* or F* will replace the letter grade on the transcript and degree audit and will not calculate into either the semester or cumulative GPA.

The credits in courses with a P* count towards the 128-credit graduation requirement, while courses with an F* do not.

Why would I want to take the Pass*/Fail*?

Students who are struggling in a class or who do not want a low grade to negatively affect their GPA, may choose to exercise the Pass*/Fail* Option instead.

For example, if a student earns a C- in a class, they may want to convert that to a P* so that it does not affect their GPA.

As another example, a student who Fails a class may want to convert that F, which does calculate and will bring down the GPA, to a F* which will not negatively affect the GPA.

Students should note however, that courses with an F or F* do not earn credit toward the 128 credits to graduate, so if the course is required it will need to be repeated to earn credit.

Can I take a class Pass*/Fail* if the course is a prerequisite or required?

Yes. Students may exercise the Pass*/Fail* option for any Emerson prerequisite, Liberal Arts, major, or minor requirement, including VMA courses; however, that requirement will only be fulfilled by earning a P*. The credits earned in a course with a P* grade will also count towards the 128 to graduate.

We do NOT recommend that students take a Pass*/Fail* option in courses that may be considered critical or a prerequisite to getting into study abroad programs (especially non-Emerson), internships, future employment, or graduate school programs because we cannot predict what other programs and institutions will accept.

Who can request the Pass*/Fail* option?

Any undergraduate student who is taking classes through the Boston, Los Angeles, Kasteel Well campuses and those enrolled in the Global BFA at the Paris College of Art, may request the Pass*/Fail* Option.

Undergraduate students who are taking classes through Pro-Arts, study abroad programs, or Emerson’s Professional Studies may also request the Pass*/Fail* option.

Graduate Students are not eligible to request the Pass*/Fail* option. 

When and how can I request the Pass*/Fail* option?

Grades are due to be submitted by faculty on Friday, May 8th.

Students who have completed their Course Evaluations by May 8th will be able to view their grades at the end of that same day.

Once grades are released, the Registrar’s Office will send an email to all Undergraduate students with a link to the Pass*/Fail* Request Form.

Students will have until the end of the day Sunday, May 17th (approx. 1 week from the day grades are posted) to submit the Pass*/Fail* Request Form. 

How many courses may I convert to Pass*/Fail*?

Students may choose to convert one or all courses to Pass*/Fail*. However, students who select more than two courses as Pass*/Fail* will be ineligible for the Dean’s Honor List.

Why do the Pass (P*) and Fail (F*) grades have an asterisk, and will that appear on my transcript and degree audit?

The asterisk on the Pass and Fail grades will appear on the transcript and degree audit to indicate that there was a change in the College’s Pass/Fail policy as a result of the College moving to remote learning for Spring 2020.

The P* grade indicates that you earned at least a D or better in the course. The credits for a P* count toward the required 128 needed to graduation, but do not calculate into the GPA.

The F* grade indicates that you did not pass the course. No credit is earned. Unlike a standard Failing grade, an F* will not calculate into the semester or cumulative GPA.

If I fail a class, can I change it to an F*?

Yes. A traditional F is calculated into the GPA, but given the extraordinary circumstances this semester, student have the option to convert an F into an F*, which does not calculate into the GPA. The credits will also not count towards any requirement.

Please note, however, that both F and F* will be considered when determining Academic Standing for Probation and Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for financial aid.

May I repeat a course taken as Pass*/Fail*?

Depends. Courses converted to Pass*/Fail* and passed may not be repeated unless the course itself if repeatable (e.g., topic courses).

Courses converted to Pass*/Fail* and failed may be repeated.

I participated in a Study Abroad Program in Spring 2020 and am unsure when my grades will be received. Am I still eligible for the Pass*/Fail* policy?

Yes. Students participating in Spring 2020 ProArts, Study Abroad Programs, or taking coursework as part of the Global Film Program at the Paris College of Art, are eligible to participate in the Pass*/Fail* policy. Students will have 1 week from the time their study abroad program grades are posted to decide whether they wish to keep their letter grades or move to a Pass*/Fail* designation. 

The Education Abroad & Domestic Programs Office and the Registrar’s Office will coordinate with students regarding their individual deadlines to make this decision.

I am taking classes at a ProArts school or Study Abroad Program that also offers a pass/fail option. Should I take it?

No. If you have a choice, you should take a standard letter grade at the other institution and then decide to participate in the Emerson Pass*/Fail* option.

I am taking classes that I got pre-approval to transfer in from another school that offers a pass/fail option. Should I take it?

No. Transfer credits are not eligible for the Pass*/Fail* option. Students must earn at least a C or better in any course taken at another approved institution for the credits to transfer back to Emerson.

If the school you are transferring credits from requires you to take a pass/fail option, then you must request both an official transcript and an official letter stating that the Pass grade is equivalent to at least a C or better be sent to the following address:

Emerson College
Registrar’s Office
120 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116

Will the Pass*/Fail* option affect my academic standing?

Possibly. Academic standing for athletics, financial aid, and probation and Dean’s List will be calculated after the Pass*/Fail* deadline.

A student must complete at least 75% of their credits to remain in good academic standing. A P* is considered a successful grade, but a WP, WF, I, F, and F* are not.

Students who do not successfully complete 75% of their courses will be placed on academic probation.

Students who are currently on probation from Fall 2019, and who do not complete 75% of their work or who earn less than a 2.00 semester or cumulative GPA, will remain on probation for an additional semester (without penalty toward separation rules).

Am I eligible for Dean’s List if I choose to take the Pass*/Fail* option?

Yes. Full-time students who achieve a 3.70 or higher semester GPA, and who have successfully completed 75% of their courses, and who have completed at least two classes with a standard letter grade will be placed on the Dean’s Honor List. 

A P* is considered a successful grade, but a WP, WF, I, F, and F* are not.

Am I eligible to earn Latin Honors at graduation if I take the Pass*/Fail* Option?

Yes. Honors graduation at Emerson College is based on a student’s entire undergraduate academic record. For a student to graduate with Latin Honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude), the student must have: completed a minimum of 64 credits at Emerson College and at least 75 percent of the college-level work done in letter-graded courses (not pass/fail courses). Students who meet all the above criteria and are in the top 30 percent of their graduating class will receive Latin Honors. Students in the top 5 percent will graduate summa cum laude; students in the next 10 percent will graduate magna cum laude; and students in the next 15 percent will graduate cum laude.

Do courses taken Pass*/Fail* have a different tuition rate like an Audit?

No. Courses taken Pass*/Fail* are subject to the standard tuition rates.

Will the Pass*/Fail* option affect my financial aid?

Possibly. Students who elect P*/F* and pass all of their courses in Spring 2020 will continue to be eligible for federal and institutional financial aid. F* grades, while not counted against GPA for this semester, will still count as credits that were attempted and not completed. If a student does not pass 75% of their attempted credits, they will not be making Satisfactory Academic Progress and will receive notification of their status and outreach to determine whether an appeal to maintain aid eligibility is necessary. If it is determined that a student failed to make SAP due to COVID-19 or the resulting switch to online learning for Spring 2020, the appeal requirement will be waived.

Will the Pass*/Fail* option affect my veteran’s benefits?

No. Current VA info for students using education benefits states that the switch to a Pass*/Fail* will not change how their benefits work.

I am a varsity athlete. Will taking courses Pass*/Fail* affect my eligibility to play?

Possibly, The NCAA requires that a student be in good academic standing and making satisfactory academic progress to play. The NCAA defers to the institutional definition of good academic standing.
This semester, any athlete who has earned semester and cumulative 2.00 GPA and has successfully completed 75% of their classes are considered in good academic standing. A P* counts towards good academic standing.

I withdrew from a class this semester. Can I change it to a Pass*/Fail*?

No. Once you have withdrawn from a class with a WP or WF, you cannot change it to Pass*/Fail*.

Can I change a Fall 2019 Incomplete to a Pass*/Fail*?

The Pass*/Fail* option may only be taken for a Spring 2020 course that has been completed. Students who take an Incomplete at the end of Spring 2020 will have one week from receipt of the final grade to request a Pass*/Fail*. Students will be notified when their grade has been received.

Is the Pass*/Fail* option available during May Intersession or for Summer courses?

No. The Pass*/Fail* option is only available for Spring 2020 classes.

Can I change my mind about the Pass*/Fail* option after the submission deadline?

No. Students have until Sunday, May 17th (one week from Grades being posted on May 8th) to submit the Pass*/Fail* request form. After that deadline, students may not elect or reverse the Pass*/Fail* option.

Students whose grades are sent from ProArts, Paris College of Arts, and Study Abroad Programs programs will have one week from the grades being posted to submit the Pass*/Fail* Request form. Students in these programs will be notified when the grades are available for view.

Exceptions to these deadlines may not be petitioned. 

Please contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar [at] emerson.edutitle="E-mail Registrar's Office" with any questions.

What if I need to take an incomplete for a course?

If you take an incomplete grade for a Spring 2020 course and receive a follow-up letter grade, you will have a week from when your follow-up grade is submitted to let us know if you want to convert it to a Pass*/Fail*. You will be contacted via email when this happens.

When will my Pass*/Fail* grades be reflected on my transcript and degree audit?

Once your courses have been available for Pass*/Fail* selection for a week, we will convert your grade the next business day. For most students taking Boston, LA, or Kasteel Well courses, this will be done Monday, May 18th.