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Guidance for Summer Session Grading

May 4, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

The 2020 global pandemic is extraordinary, with wide recognition that it has disrupted lives in countless ways. The federal stimulus package passed in the United States stipulates that institutions extend flexibility to their student population during the crisis. The UC Merced Academic Senate approved an amendment to the Emergency Course Continuity (ECC) policy allowing undergraduate students to change the grading option from letter grade to Pass/No Pass (P/NP) up to the final day of instruction of any course in the Summer 2020 session for which they are enrolled.

These guidelines are meant for undergraduates, academic advisors and faculty to inform guidance on a P/NP grade choice. Academic advisors are an important resource for consultation. For information on grade options, see

Changing the grading option to P/NP provides flexibility and could also have important ramifications for an undergraduate’s educational progress and goals. As such, we ask that instructors talk with their students about the possible benefits and costs associated with P/NP grades, and encourage them to consult with their academic advisors and their degree program(s) before requesting this change.

The following are important considerations to guide decision-making:

  • FOR THE ENTIRETY OF THE SUMMER 2020 SESSIONS, ALL UC MERCED UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS HAVE AGREED TO ACCEPT P/NP GRADES: UC Merced degree programs typically require students to utilize the letter grade option for all of their required courses. All undergraduate degree programs have agreed to temporarily waive this requirement for all Summer 2020 sessions.
  • STUDENTS WHO PLAN TO APPLY FOR POSTGRADUATE/PROFESSIONAL STUDY — Letter Grade requirement. While a vast majority of educational institutions in the U.S. have moved to providing a Summer 2020 P/NP grading option, there is a small chance that medical/professional/graduate schools may not accept a grading option of P/NP for some courses (referenced as “letter grade” requirement risk in the flowchart below).
  • STUDENTS WORKING ON RAISING THEIR GPA TO BE IN GOOD STANDING. Students who need to raise their GPA above a 2.0 to be in good standing or for purposes of financial aid may be harmed by the adoption of P/NP grades, as they are not included in GPA calculations.
  • STUDENTS WHO RECEIVE VETERANS BENEFITS: Students who receive veterans or veterans dependent benefits should seek guidance from UC Merced’s Veterans Services:
  • MAINTAINING SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS FOR FINANCIAL AID: In addition to GPA, a student must maintain “Satisfactory Academic Progress” (SAP). As indicated in the Federal Stimulus Package language, students choosing to adopt P/NP grading option will maintain SAP, as P/NP grades still figure into the SAP calculation. Otherwise, P/NP does not have a financial aid impact.
  • PASS/NO PASS DEFINITION: The grade P is assigned for a letter grade of C-minus or better. If the student earns a grade of D-plus or below, the grade will be recorded as NP. In both cases, the student’s grade will not be computed into the grade point average.

Process for students interested in changing grading option

Students interested in making a grade option change should consult with an academic advisor on any of the above factors or additional questions, and then go to MyRegistration and select the Change Grading Option. Students have until the final day of instruction of the 2020 Summer session for which they are enrolled to change their grading option. The flowchart below may be useful for some members of the academic community as they work through grading options.

James Zimmerman
Interim Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education
Teaching Professor of Physics

Jay Sharping
Chair, Undergraduate Council Associate Professor of Physics