Graduate School implements optional alternative grading for spring 2020 semester

April 02, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Graduate School at Penn State is implementing an optional alternative grading system for the spring 2020 semester. The new, opt-in grading system is designed to mitigate the impacts to graduate students’ GPAs and academic transcripts due to unprecedented extenuating circumstances posed by the novel coronavirus public health crisis.

Under the new grading system, faculty members will enter grades as usual at the end of the semester. Graduate students may choose to keep their grades as received, or request to have one or more grades converted to one of the following alternatives:

  • P: This grade will be available if a student earns a C or better in a course. Courses graded with a P will appear as earned credits on the graduate transcript.
  • V: This grade will be available if a student earns a D in a course. Courses graded with a V will only count for attempted credits on the graduate transcript and will not count toward earned credits.
  • Z: This grade will be available if a student earns an F in a course. Courses graded with a Z will also only count for attempted credits on the graduate transcript and will not count toward earned credits.

None of the three grades, including P, will have any impact on a student’s GPA. Every student is strongly encouraged to continue striving for the highest possible grades in each class.

Students should consult with their adviser and will have approximately one week following the posting of grades to request to opt-in to the alternative grading system on a course-by-course basis. There is no limit to the number of courses for which graduate students can request an alternative grade. More information about this process and key deadlines will be forthcoming.

Students considering opting into the alternative grading system should consider any potential impacts with their adviser, including potential consequences related to academic requirements for their course of study or professional licensure organization. The University is urging graduate programs to exercise flexibility with formal program requirements to foster students’ continued academic success.

The implementation of this alternative grading scale follows a similar system implemented for undergraduate students during the spring 2020 semester, as well as a recent resolution of the Penn State Faculty Senate asking the University to explore alternative grading in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Please consult the Optional Alternative Grading for Graduate Students and accompanying FAQ for more information.

Last Updated April 06, 2020