Pass/non-pass option in Arts and Sciences

September 25, 2020

Pass/non-pass option in Arts and Sciences


Gretchen Ritter, executive dean and vice provost, and David Horn, associate executive dean for undergraduate education, sent the following message to Arts and Sciences undergraduate students on Sept. 25.

UPDATE (10/9/20): A list of exclusions to the PA/NP option for autumn 2020 has been published.

Dear Arts and Sciences students,
On Thursday, September 17, the University Senate voted to expand the use of the pass/non-pass (PA/NP) grading option to include General Education courses, and to extend the deadline for choosing this option for most classes until Friday, November 20. Please note there is an earlier deadline, October 2, for first-term (7-week) classes only.
Unlike in the spring, continuing students electing this option must have a GPA of at least 2.0 (new first-year students and transfers do not yet have an Ohio State GPA, but are eligible), and the hours taken are not excluded from the university cap of 20 PA/NP credit hours. That means the total number of credit hours taken PA/NP, excluding those taken in the spring 2020 semester, cannot exceed 20.

Pass/non-pass option in Arts and Sciences major and minor courses

This week, the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee recommended that the PA/NP option also be made available for major and minor courses in our college. The committee weighed carefully the implications of this recommendation for student mental health and academic success, for the work of our colleagues in advising, and for the integrity of the undergraduate educational experience. In the end, the committee felt the extension would help those in the most precarious circumstances to get through these challenging times. The college has now adopted that recommendation.
The same requirement of a minimum GPA of 2.0 for continuing students will apply (this is a university requirement), and any major or minor course will also count toward the 20-credit cap.
The Arts and Sciences Office of Undergraduate Education recommends that you weigh the PA/NP option carefully and in consultation with your advisor. There are several factors to keep in mind. The choice of PA/NP may have implications for:

  • Financial aid eligibility. While electing PA/NP will not lower your GPA, it also cannot raise it to levels that might be required for eligibility for some scholarships.
  • Progress in a major or minor program. A low passing grade in a major or minor class may not adequately prepare you for future coursework that builds on that class.
  • Admission to Arts and Sciences and non-Arts and Sciences major programs. Some Arts and Sciences programs are continuing to enforce letter grade requirements for admission to their majors. Some other colleges have decided not to extend the option to their majors and minors and may continue to enforce grade requirements for prerequisites and competitive admissions.
  • Post-graduate education plans. Unlike in the spring, many of Ohio State’s peer institutions have not (or at least not yet) decided to make the PA/NP widely available. As a result, it is more difficult to predict the ways graduate and professional schools will evaluate your decision to use this option. 

We also recommend that you do not make a decision now but instead wait until you have a better sense of your academic performance in the classes you are currently taking. For example, many students in the spring who opted for PA/NP would have earned As or Bs. Once selected, the PA/NP option cannot be reversed.
Again, please consult with your advisors if you have questions about whether the PA/NP option is a good choice for you.

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