Explanation of Pass/Not Pass grading process and potential ramifications

May 11, 2020 - by Sarah Igram

As you know, the Spring 2020 semester was disrupted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, and Iowa State University adopted a temporary Pass/Not Pass (P/NP) grading policy for graduate (500- and 600-level) courses. The Graduate College has created videos to help graduate students and advisers better understand the Pass/Not Pass grading policy. 

Spring 2020 Pass/Not Pass Grading Policy and Process for Graduate Advisers:


Spring 2020 Pass/Not Pass Grading Policy and Process for Graduate Students:

We also encourage you to consider the following possible ramifications of changing a class to a Pass/Not Pass grade. These ramifications are not intended to dissuade use of the Pass/Not Pass policy, but simply to ensure that you make an informed decision about changing the grading scheme of your coursework. Please note that your transcript will contain the following message, if that helps any external entities in deciding how to count this coursework:

  • Internships/Jobs with GPA requirement: If you have been offered an internship or a job that has a GPA prerequisite or previous term prerequisite, they may have a different way of counting your Pass grade than ISU does.
  • Professional school or future degrees: If the course is a prerequisite for professional school admission, or if it is a core course in your discipline and you plan to get further degrees, other schools may view Pass grades differently than Iowa State will treat them internally.
  • Scholarships or awards: If you have a scholarship or award money external from the university, and it requires a specific GPA or completion of a certain number of credits, you will want to reach out to verify how they will count Pass graded courses toward their requirements.
  • Degree programs or minors with grade requirements: Be sure to have discussions with your major professor about courses with grade requirements for your program. Some programs may want you to still have the letter grade required in those classes. If a course is for your minor and you want to change it to Pass/Not Pass, you will want to discuss that with your minor representative, rather than your major professor.
  • Licensing Boards: If the coursework you are thinking about changing will be used toward professional licensure, consider contacting that agency to ensure it will still count with a Pass grade.
  • Other external entities: Iowa State has adjusted its mindset to allow for Pass/Not Pass coursework to count in Spring 2020. There may be some other institutions that have not made this change in thinking, so if you know you will be working with an external institution who may look at your transcript, you may wish to contact them.

Tags: covid-19 updates