As the coronavirus continues to cause shakeup among the nation’s academic institutions, APU becomes the next university to execute an altered grading policy


On Wednesday, the Provost’s office confirmed that APU will convert traditional letter-scale grading to an optional pass/fail system for all Spring 2020 undergraduate students and some graduate students.

The decision was made to relieve students from possible academic distress and came just one day after the university announced that the spring commencement ceremony would be postponed to December of this year.  

“In collaboration with SGA, Faculty Senate, the academic deans, and the President’s Cabinet, and in order to ease potential anxiety around COVID-19 grade impacts, APU will move to a student choice Pass/Fail system for all Spring 2020 undergraduate students and some Spring 2020 graduate students,” Interim Provost Rukshan Fernando said in an email to students.

Stipulations of the announced proposal allow undergraduate students to complete a grade conversion petition at the end of the semester.

“Under this plan, faculty will submit undergraduate grades using traditional grading scales,” Fernando said. “After submission, all undergraduate students will be given a two-week window to complete a Pass/Fail grade conversion petition for each course completed during Spring 2020.”

According to the email, petition reviews will utilize specific guidelines that pertain to each academic program. 

Fernando warned students to take their choices seriously, noting that minimum passing grades in some programs is a “C-,” meaning that a student with a “D” would fail the course.    

“Students should not make these decisions lightly,” Fernando said. “We encourage you to follow up with your major and minor departments for questions related to internships, graduate, programs, and/or transferability of Pass/Fail grades in major-specific coursework.”

The email also said the eligibility of graduate programs will be determined departmentally and that all summer courses will be online. 

“All Summer lecture-based courses will move to a Canvas-based learning environment,” Fernando said. “All internship, clinical, and lab-based courses will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

Student Government Association (SGA) President Tayo Agbayala supports the decision.

“It gives students the freedom to choose which grades they would like to pass or fail and which ones they would like to remain as a letter grade,” Agbayala said. “I think that is the best part of the plan.” 

Camila Gaona Galvan, SGA president-elect, said the option for students to choose their grade is helpful.

“COVID-19 has had an impact on all students and has affected students in different ways,” Galvan said. “Giving students the option to have a pass or fail grade is mindful given the circumstances that students are in.” 

Since COVID-19 forced students to finish coursework online, junior James Zarres believed a pass/fail system should have been presented as an option. He was excited to hear the news.

“I was grateful that APU made this decision that will provide the help to students who need it,” Zarres said. “I believe it’s a step in the right direction. It’s like a manifestation of them listening to the student voice.” 

Fernando offered words of encouragement to students and said the university will continue to support them.  

“We hope these modifications may ease strain during this difficult time,” Fernando said. “Know that APU faculty, staff, and administration stand ready to assist you and look forward to welcoming you back to campus this fall.”

APU joins several universities across the country to shift to a changed grading policy as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Ivy league schools, the country’s most elite institutions, have also largely put some type of alternative grading in place, according to USA Today.