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Spring 2020 Grading

April 13, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The global pandemic during the spring of 2020 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. On March 30, the UC Merced Academic Senate approved an amendment to the Emergency Course Continuity (ECC) policy allowing undergraduate students to change the grading option for their course(s) from letter grade to Pass/No Pass up to the final day of instruction of the Spring 2020 semester.

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. Please visit the Registrar website for information on grade options.

Changing the grading option to Pass/No Pass provides flexibility and could also have important ramifications for an undergraduate’s educational progress and goals. As such, we ask that you talk with your students about the possible benefits and costs associated with P/NP grades, and encourage them to consult with their instructors, academic advisors, and their degree program(s) before requesting this change. The following are important considerations to guide decision-making:

  • For the Spring 2020 semester only, ALL UC Merced undergraduate programs have agreed to accept Pass/No Pass 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 only for the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Students who plan to apply for postgraduate/professional study: Letter Grade requirement. While a vast majority of educational institutions in the US have moved to providing a Spring 2020 Pass/No pass 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 Campus Veteran’s 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 Pass/No Pass grading option will maintain SAP as Pass/No Pass grades still figure into the SAP calculation. Otherwise, P/NP does not have a financial aid impact.

Important information about the student’s decision

  • The grade P is assigned for a letter grade of C- or better. If the student earns a grade of D+ 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.
  • Update 5/4/2020: The Senate has recently approved a P/NP grade change option for WRI 001 for Spring and Summer 2020. Original: Students may not change the grade option for WRI 001 to P/NP at this time. In order to satisfy the University of California English Language Writing Requirement (ELWR), students must earn a grade of C or higher in WRI 001 thus eliminating the option of P/NP in this instance.

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 - then Change Grading Option. Students have until Friday, May 8 11:59 pm PST, the final day of instruction of the Spring 2020, to change their grading option. There is a flowchart provided below that may be useful for some members of the UC Merced academic community as they work through grading option choices for our undergraduate student population.


James Zimmerman
Interim Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education


Jay Sharping
Chair of Undergraduate Council


Flowchart for helping determine which grading option to choose