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Advising Handbook

S/F Option

NOTE: This option is available only to matriculated undergraduate students (i.e. degree candidates) in the College, and only during the academic year.

A. Policy

If a student wishes to do so, he or she may take a course in such a way that the only grade appearing on the transcript will be either an S (Satisfactory) or an F (Fail).  (See Pass/Fail Grading System) While neither of these grades will affect the student’s cumulative average, the credit earned for the course will count toward graduation. The instructor will assign a grade in the usual way, and this grade will then be converted to an S (if the student receives a grade of A through D-) or an F (if the student receives an E). No credit will be earned in the case of a grade of F.

The purpose of the S/F option is to enable students to enrich their education by taking challenging courses in areas where they lack confidence in their ability or wish to participate in a course for enjoyment without concern about a grade.

The Satisfactory/Fail option is subject to the following conditions:

  1. Courses with a grade of "S" may not be used by students in the College for major, minor, or cluster requirements. In other words, a student may choose to S/F any course, but after doing so that course may no longer be used toward major, minor, or cluster requirements unless that grade is uncovered.  
  2. The S/F may not be used for applied music courses, or courses used for most certificate programs. 
  3. Only one course (or four credit hours) per semester may be elected S/F. (A student may elect one S/F course and also carry a course having a mandatory P/F grade.)  The policy does permit students to declare the S/F option for two two-credit courses in the same semester.  Additionally, the S/F option can be elected for a course carrying five or six credits.
  4. When repeating a course under the S/F option, the prior grade will be removed from the GPA only if an S is earned.
  5. The S/F option is not available in the summer.
  6. Once notified of charges of academic dishonesty, a student may not declare the S/F option.  The Board on Academic Honesty may revoke a previously declared S/F as part of a penalty imposed through the established hearing procedure, or in an Academic Dishonesty Short Form Incident Case.
  7. Once declared, the S/F option may not be changed or removed by the student except in specific cases. If a course is required for a major, minor, cluster or foundation requirement, a student may petition to uncover the grade. Additionally, seniors may choose to uncover all of their "S" grades (See paragraphs C and D.)
  8. The S/F option may be declared for an independent study project.
  9. Undergraduates may chose to declare the S/F option for graduate-level courses.
  10. Beginning with courses taken in Fall 2014 and later, students who declared the S/F option for a course, will receive permission to repeat the course only if the grade under the "S" is below C. (See also Repeating Courses)

B. Declaration

All students declare the option before the end of the eleventh week of classes using the online form, except for first-semester freshmen and transfer students in their first semester, who may declare the option through the end of the thirteenth week.

NOTE: This deadline (end of the eleventh week) is the same as the deadline to withdraw from a course. The faculty encourages students who may be disappointed by their anticipated grades to consider the use of the S/F option rather than withdrawal.

NOTE: Many health professions programs require that students report normal letter grades for all courses used to satisfy pre-requisites for admission. For this reason, it is important for students preparing for graduate study in the health professions to discuss their plans with a health professions advisor before making a final decision.

C. Recording and Changing a Satisfactory/Fail Grade

Instructors turn in regular letter grades for all students. The Registrar records only an “S” or an “F” on the student’s record and keeps on file the letter grades as reported. Students who have taken a course Satisfactory/Fail but later find that this course is needed to fulfill a requirement for their major, minor, or cluster may have the grade converted. The student should submit a revised major/minor declaration form indicating that the course completed under the S/F option is now needed to meet a requirement.  A petition asking for conversion of the grade should be submitted to the College Center for Advising Services.  Students are reminded that they may not repeat a course taken under the S/F option unless the original grade earned was below a C.  In cases where the course taken under the S/F option is a required part of the major, minor, cluster or degree (e.g., a student declares the S/F option for ECO 207 which is required for the Economics major), students must uncover the grade if it is a C or better, since the course cannot be repeated.  Students may consult with an advisor in the College Center for Advising Services for further information. (See Petitions)

D. Release of S/F Grades


The grade reported by an instructor for a declared S/F course is generally not released to another undergraduate or graduate school, unless the student asks for its release. In some cases, graduate schools will require that students release these grades when they apply. To do so, a student submits a petition to the Administrative Committee. The College will then write a letter to the school, reporting the grade(s) under the "S". 

Seniors in the College may petition the Administrative Committee requesting that all courses taken on the S/F option be converted on the transcript to the actual letter grades reported. Such requests are routinely approved. The Administrative Committee is unlikely to approve a request for selective changes of S/F course grades.