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Advising Handbook

Satisfactory/Fail (S/F) Option

Students can take a course so that the only grade appearing on the transcript will be either an S (satisfactory) or an F (fail). 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 S/F option is subject to the following conditions:

  • Courses with a grade of "S" cannot be used by students in the College for major, minor, or cluster requirements.
  • The S/F cannot be used for applied music courses, or the courses used for most certificate programs.
  • Only one course (or four credit hours) per semester can be elected S/F; however, a student can elect one S/F course and also have a course having a mandatory P/F grade.
    • Students can declare the S/F option for two two-credit courses in the same semester.
  • The S/F option can be elected for a course carrying five or six credits.
  • When repeating a course under the S/F option, the prior grade will be removed from the GPA only if an S is earned.
  • The S/F option is not available in the summer.
  • Once notified of charges of academic dishonesty, a student cannot declare the S/F option; the Board on Academic Honesty can 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.
  • Once declared, the S/F option cannot 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 can petition to uncover the grade.
    • Seniors can choose to uncover all of their "S" grades.
  • The S/F option can be declared for an independent study project.
  • Undergraduates can choose to declare the S/F option for graduate-level courses.
  • 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 the repeating courses page for more information.

Eligibility

This option is available only to matriculated undergraduate students in the College and only during the academic year.

Declaration

All students must declare the S/F option before the end of the eleventh week of classes using the online form. The exception to this is first-year and transfer students in their first semester, who can declare the option through the end of the thirteenth week.

This deadline (i.e., 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.

Pre-Health Students

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.

Recording and Changing a S/F 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 S/F but later find that this course is required for their major, minor, or cluster can have the grade converted by submitting 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 also be submitted to the College Center for Advising Services (CCAS). 

In cases where the course taken under the S/F option is a required part of the major, minor, cluster, or degree, students must uncover the grade if it is a C or better. Students can talk to a CCAS advisor for more information.

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 can 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.