Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grade Options Q&A

Last updated April 8

In order to ease some of the stress associated with course grades during our disrupted semester, Colorado Mesa University is installing a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (often known as pass-fail) grade option. Here are the broad outlines of how it will work:

  1. After grades have posted, the CMU Registrar’s Office will provide students the ability - via a link to an electronic form - to select Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) as a grading option for each course.
  2. S/U grades will have no effect, positive or negative, on the student's institutional GPA or your financial aid eligibility.
  3. Students will need to think through their options for each course based on guidance we will provide in the electronic form, consultations with faculty and discussions with advisors.

While the mechanics of the process are fairly straightforward, each student’s situation may add some complexity to the decision-making process. Please consult the Overview and FAQ's below to learn more details. 

Overview of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading:

  1. In order to acknowledge and accommodate the disruptions to learning caused by changes in course delivery, CMU will allow students to choose a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (often referred to as “Pass-Fail”) grade option for course work taken for full-term, late start, and second module classes in Spring 2020.
  2. At the end of Finals Week, all students enrolled in classes for the specified terms will be sent a link to an e-form asking them to select grading options for each of their courses. Students may choose between the standard grading set-up (A,B,C,D,F) or a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option. The e-form will contain guidance at the course level concerning the general advisability of declaring S/U for a given class. Students who do not complete the e-form will remain in the standard system and receive a grade according to the standards outlined by the faculty member of the course.
  3. Students that choose Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory for a course will typically receive a “Satisfactory” grade and credit for the course if they perform at a level equivalent to a “C” or higher and will receive an “Unsatisfactory” for performance at the level equivalent to a “D” or “F”. No credit will be granted for a grade of “Unsatisfactory.” Some exceptions to this standard (such as for graduate coursework or certain programmatic courses requiring a B or higher) will be noted in the e-form.
  4. Neither a Satisfactory nor an Unsatisfactory grade will be used to calculate institutional Grade Point Average.
  5. Faculty will submit grades normally using the A-F scale and students will be required to choose the S/U system by May 31 if they desire to use it. While the e-form will provide guardrails, faculty members and advisors are encouraged to explain the merits of their options to students.
  6. Regardless, students should be aware of both the positive and negative consequences of choosing the S/U option. Choosing the S/U option should reduce anxiety for students that fear they will be unable to maintain their normal performance standards in the current climate. However, students should also consult with professors, advisors, other institutions, and licensing authorities in their field to be sure that pass/no-pass credits are accepted.
Probably not. The S/U option hides good performance as well as poor performance. Furthermore, if you choose an S/U option for a course that future professional programs (such as nursing or engineering) or graduate schools will consider important, you may do more harm than good. In general, you should only select the S/U option for courses a) in which you earned a grade that will not count toward your graduation and b) that do not have strong potential to be reviewed in future applications for transfer, professional programs or graduate programs.
At the end of Finals Week, you will be sent an e-mail from the CMU Registrar’s Office containing a link to an electronic form that guides you through the process. At first, use D2L to view your grades, then between May 22-May 31 you should look at your DegreeWorks report to see how your courses are being counted toward graduation. You will have until May 31 to complete the form. If you do not fill out the form, all your courses will be graded according to the standard A through F scale.
No. Whether you accept a letter grade or an S/U will not impact your aid status.
No positive and no negative effects. You will simply receive credit (or not) for the class.
S grades will apply credits toward graduation, whereas U grades will not. Students earning a D grade should consult with advisors and faculty about ramifications toward scholarships and GPA before deciding on an option.
Though the e-form will provide some guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with faculty and advisors in the process.
Because the deadline occurs after Final Grades are submitted, you will have an opportunity to view your A-F scale grade in MAVZone and DegreeWorks before choosing an option.
You will have the option to make the decision on a course by course basis. While you might choose to take that option for all your classes, you will not have to do so.
Faculty will submit a grade at the end of the semester according to the regular scale. If you submit a request for S/U, the grade will be changed to that format. Typically, a D or F would become a U, and an A, B, or C would become an S. However, in courses that require a B or higher to meet program requirements (such as Education courses and graduate coursework), the e-form will indicate a different standard to meet an S.