SPRING 2020: Policy Updates and FAQs

Updated: Mar 26
- FAQ section added
- New drop and grading option deadline dates confirmed

The coronavirus pandemic has made the lives of our students, instructors, and staff very difficult this semester. In an effort to alleviate some of the stress you may be experiencing in trying to adapt to an online learning environment, the UC Berkeley Campus and the College of Letters and Science (L&S) are working to adapt policies to support our students during this time. 

This page will be continue to be updated as more detailed information becomes available about how L&S is responding to campus policy modifications and current events. We understand you will have many questions about what these policy changes mean for you. This page will provide you with the most recent information available from L&S. 

Pass/No Pass Default Grading

The Chair of the Academic Senate has announced that for Spring 2020 only, the default grades that instructors will give will be Pass and No pass. Here is some basic information: 

  1. A notation on every student’s transcript will explain the changes made this semester.  Please bear in mind that future employers and admissions committees will be seeing similar notations on transcripts from virtually every college and university in the U.S.

  2. Classes taken this semester will satisfy University, Campus, College, Major and Minor requirements even though they receive P grades. This includes Reading and Composition, Foreign Language, and Quantitative Reasoning.

  3. Limits on the total number and types of courses taken P/NP will be relaxed.

  4. Graduation GPA standards will be relaxed to take this semester’s P grades into account.

  5. Students will be able to drop classes until Wed, May 6 (RRR week).

  6. Students who withdraw this semester will be able to return next semester.

  7. Capped majors will soon announce their methods of taking this semester’s P grades into account when deciding on entry into their major; these policies will be published as soon as possible. Please check your intended major department's website for information. 

  8. Students will not be put on probation based on P grades, and progress on existing probation will be measured generously.

  9. Although we strongly recommend against it, students can request a letter grade provided they do so before Fri, May 8th (RRR week).

 FAQ by Topic

Degree Requirements

Can a P grade satisfy....

A P grade earned in Spring 2020 will satisfy any UC Berkeley degree requirement. This includes:

  • Major/Minor requirements
  • Entry Level Writing
  • Reading and Composition
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Foreign Language

1/3 P/NP Limit

At the time of graduation, P grades can account for no more than 1/3 of your total units completed at UC Berkeley. This is not assessed on a semester-by-semester basis. 

L&S is currently examining how exceptions related to Spring 2020 will be handled. Please check back for more information. 

Transfer Coursework

If you are taking coursework through another institution in Spring 2020 (i.e. through Concurrent Enrollment or instead of being enrolled in Spring 2020 at UC Berkeley) and that institution has moved to a P/NP-default or P/NP-only grading model, P grades earned will be accepted for all degree requirements (see "Can a P grade satisfy....")

Enrollment Changes

When will grading options change to the default P/NP?

We expect grading options to change to P/NP within the next few weeks. The campus's Student Information Systems unit is working to make sure this change will be smooth before implementing the change. 

Drops

The drop deadline will be extended to RRR week. Drops before this new deadline will not be considered "late" and therefore will not require a Late Change of Class Schedule request. 

  • New Deadline: Wed, May 6 at 11:59pm
  • How: We hope that students will be able to make this change on CalCentral. If this is not possible, L&S will provide a way to make this change with a form that can be submitted remotely. Please check back for updates. 
  • No requests for drops of Spring 2020 courses will be considered after the May 6 deadline, even with a Late Change of Class Schedule petition.
  • If you have already used a Late Change of Class Schedule this semester to drop a course, this will no longer count against your limit. You will be able to use this Late Change of Class Schedule in a future semester instead. 

Changing grading option back to Letter Graded

The move to P/NP in Spring 2020 is meant to reduce stress on students during a challenging semester. L&S is doing what it can to make sure that choosing to take courses P/NP will not have any negative impact on you. Please bear in mind that future employers and admissions committees will be seeing an increase of P/NP grade options on transcripts from virtually every college and university in the U.S.

If you still wish to change a grading option to Letter Graded:

  • New Deadline: Fri, May 8 at 11:59pm
  • How: We hope that students will be able to make this change on CalCentral. If this is not possible, L&S will provide a way to make this change with a form that can be submitted remotely. Please check back for updates.
  • No requests for grading option changes for Spring 2020 courses will be considered after the May 8 deadline, even with a Late Change of Class Schedule petition.

Adds

The add deadline is unchanged. Students who have not used their Late Change of Class Schedule in previous semesters may use it to add courses by the usual deadline: Fri, May 1 at 4pm. 

Withdrawal

Students are able to withdraw from the Spring 2020 semester by Fri, May 8 at 11:59pm, which means leaving the entire semester and dropping all courses. The readmission deadline for Fall 2020 is June 1. 

Typically, when students withdraw from a semester, all future course enrollments are cancelled (ex: if you were signed up for Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 courses, these would be dropped from your schedule and you could attempt to re-add them once you have readmitted). L&S is looking into whether students may be able to retain their enrollments. Please check back for updates on this issue. 

Repeats/Incompletes

Repeats

If you are repeating a course in which you previously earned a letter grade, earning a P grade in Spring 2020 will remove the previous letter grade from your GPA (if you are still within your repeat limit of 12 units and this is your second attempt of the course). 

All grades will remain on the transcript, per the standard repeat policy. 

Incomplete Grades

  • If you are completing an Incomplete grade from an earlier semester, you will get either a letter grade or P/NP depending on the original grading option. If you feel Spring 2020 is not the best semester to complete your Incomplete grade, consider an extension or freezing the Incomplete. You may also discuss your options with an L&S College Adviser

  • If you are taking an incomplete grade in a course you enrolled in for Spring 2020, the grading option you choose by the May 8 deadline will determine the grade option you'll earn when you later complete the course. We recommend sticking with the P/NP grading option. 

  • Students typically are evaluated for continuation of enrollment if they have more than 12 units of Incomplete grades on their records. Spring 2020 Incomplete grades will not be included in the 12 unit rule. 
  • Students on probation: If you are on Academic Probation in Spring 2020 and take Incomplete grades in all of your Spring 2020 courses, you will be subject to dismissal and will be evaluated for continuation. Please discuss your options with an L&S College Adviser

Academic Probation

If I earn all P/NP grades, will I be put on Academic Probation?

  • If you are on regular academic standing and earn all P grades, you will not be placed on Academic Probation. 
  • If for more than half of your units in Spring 2020, you earn NP grades, you will be individually reviewed to determine if you will be put on Academic Probation. Your long-term academic patterns will be considered in this review. 

I'm on Academic Probation. How does this impact my status?

  • If you earn one or more P grades, you will be continued on probation for the Fall semester. You will not be reviewed for dismissal. 
  • If you earn all NP and/or Incomplete grades, your case will be subject to dismissal and reviewed for continuation. Your long-term academic patterns will be considered in this review and you will be encouraged to submit a letter explaining your circumstances.
  • Students on academic probation are strongly encouraged to take courses for P/NP this semester to ease academic stress. 
  • Please set up a remote appointment with an L&S College Adviser if you are concerned about being able to earn P grades this semester. 

Incomplete Grades while on Academic Probation

If you take Incomplete grades in all of your Spring 2020 courses while on probation, you will be subject to dismissal and will be evaluated for continuation. Please discuss your options with an L&S College Adviser

Academic Honors

No Honors-to-Date / Dean's List

L&S will not be awarding honors-to-date this semester. There will be no Dean's list.

Honors in Major

Students who are in the Honors Program for their major will have this semester's courses count as successful unless they have all NP grades. 

Please contact your major department if you have questions about admissions into your major's Honors Program. 

Distinction in General Scholarship (Honors at Graduation)

The threshold will be lowered for each form of Distinction in General Scholarship at Graduation by 0.05. This means the following GPA criteria will be used:

  • General Distinction: 3.717
  • High Distinction: 3.820
  • Highest Distinction: 3.919

The total letter graded units calculation will include any courses enrolled for letter grades at the time the Senate Default P/NP Policy went into effect. 

UCEAP

Breadth Credit

  • Spring 2020 EAP courses that were pre-approved for L&S breadth requirements will still fulfill breadth if partial credit of at least 2.7 semester units is awarded. A minimum grade of C- or Pass is still required to fulfill the requirement. 

    Courses awarded less than 2.7 units will need to be reviewed on a case by case basis for breadth credit.

  • International Studies breadth can be fulfilled by participation in approved study abroad programs. For Spring 2020, you must receive a passing grade (minimum C- or P) in all of the courses completed (not attempted) in the program. (For example, if you complete two or more courses, you will need a passing grade in each course to receive international studies breadth credit.) 

Grading Options

  • Students on Spring 2020 UCEAP programs have the choice to take their courses for P/NP or for a letter grade. Your grades from UCEAP will appear on your UC Berkeley transcript as you have chosen. 

    If you are unsure of the grading options you have chosen for your courses, you may confirm your grade option selections with the UCEAP academic specialist for your program. 
  • L&S will accept P grades from Spring 2020 EAP courses taken to fulfill major, minor, and college requirements.

Other

Extension of EGT for Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 graduation candidates

If you have an Expected Graduation Term (EGT) of Spring 2020 or Summer 2020, you will be given an extension through Fall 2020 if:

  1. You request it and
  2. Provide a course plan that includes at least 7 units for the Fall 2020 semester

Deadline for request: Fri, May 8 (last day of RRR week)

How: Submit an EGT change request and program plan for your Fall 2020 courses to lspetitions@berkeley.edu.

If you have an EGT of Fall 2020 or Spring 2021, requests to extend EGTs will not be automatic, but will be reviewed. Please submit your request per the instructions above or make an appointment with an L&S College Adviser to review your academic plan. 

Admission into Major

As previously stated, P grades can satisfy major requirements, including pre-requisites. 

If, however, your intended major requires a particular grade in a course or requires a particular GPA in order to declare the major, please review the major department's website to see if they have included information about how they will respond to the P/NP default grading of Spring 2020. 

If you have additional questions, please contact your intended major department. (Please review the major department's website for contact instructions during the shelter-in-place order.)

I'm concerned about law school appplications

The Law School Admissions Counsel (LSAC) issued an update on March 31, 2020 noting a fairly wide consensus across schools:

"How will schools view Pass/Fail grades?

Law schools are fully aware of and understand that many undergraduate schools are going to some version of a pass/fail grading system for Spring 2020. In fact, many law schools are making the same decision for their current students. Law schools will be understanding of the situation and will not penalize any applicant for having Pass/Fail grades. LSAC will place a letter in the CAS report of every applicant enrolled during Spring 2020, to remind law schools going forward that the semester was one in which many schools changed their grading systems in light of the COVID-19 pandemic."

If you have concerns about a particular law program you wish to apply to, we recommend checking their admission pages and contacting their admissions representatives with further questions.

I'm concerned about other professional or graduate school

Graduate and professional schools are well aware of the trend of P/NP happening at many higher education institutions and student concerns about it. The Career Center and L&S are working to get information for students. Check back for more information at it becomes available.

Our current recommendation: You will be able to make changes to your grading option until May 8th. If you have a specific intended program, you may contact their admissions office for advice. We will update students with information as it becomes available.