University Offers New Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading Options to Students for the Spring 2020 Semester


Courtesy of Villanova University

Students in Bartley Hall, home of the Villanova School of Business.

Emily Cox Co-Editor-in-Chief

In an email to students on Wednesday, March 25, Provost Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD announced enhanced course grading options available for students for the Spring 2020 semester. With the exception of a few cases, all undergraduate students have left campus, and all courses are now online for the remainder of the academic year. 

Maggitti announced the option for all undergraduate and graduate students, excluding those in the Widger School of Law, to earn Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory grades rather than normal letter grades in any course in which they are currently enrolled. His decision came from “suggestions and feedback of many in our Villanova community – including faculty, students, staff, academic leadership and the University’s Academic Policy Committee.”

He proceeded to outline the new details regarding grading options. 

All undergraduate and graduate students may select S/U grading for one or more of their courses, even if classes were designed to be online for the entire semester. There is no limit on the amount of curses for which a student can choose S/U grading. Courses in which a student earns an S grade will count towards core curriculum, major, minor or certificate requirements.

Normal rules have been waived this semester that usually restrict the use of S/U grading. Student adviser signatures are not required for a student to select S/U grading this semester. “However, students are encouraged to consult with their advisers or staff in their colleges’ advising offices before selecting this option,” Maggitti wrote. 

The S/U grade will not count toward a student’s GPA. An S grade value remains a C grade or higher, while the U grade will be given to a C- grade or lower.

The Fitzpatrick School of Nursing will award S/U for all clinical practice courses rather than granting students the option to choose. 

Maggitti clearly highlighted that students will have until the day after final graders are due to decide to use S/U grading in one or more of their classes. Students will then have the ability to see their final grades and then decide on the grading method of their choice. For most students, this deadline will be Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Once a student chooses to select an S/U grade, his or her decision is final.

Students must complete and submit an online form to select S/U grading. The Office of the Registrar will notify students when the form is available.

Sophomore civil engineering major Jordann Landa expressed her appreciation to the University for this decision. “It’s nice to see Villanova accommodating for the adjustment all students made and understanding that online courses aren’t fully comparable to in-person classes,” she said. “It almost isn’t real life to get to see our grades and then decide how we want grades to impact our GPA.” 

Junior Michelle Charles reflected on how other universities have offered similar options and how it would affect post-graduate opportunities

. “Other colleges and universities have gone with the option of allowing students to choose what classes to take pass/fail,” she said. “I think it’s good that the University followed suit and hopefully other colleges will continue to do the same so that there can be some level of standardization. That way, post-graduate institutions and other programs that evaluate students’ grades can assess us fairly.”

Michael Bradley, a professor in the Communication Department, also commented on the University’s decision. “These are extremely uncertain and extraordinary times for the University, and it is appropriate that Provost Maggitti has made this decision,” he said. “It’s important that students have a variety of options available to them.” 

Maggitti reminded students that “the University continued to offer learning support, tutoring and career services online.” These resources include Learning Support Services, the Writing Center, the Math Learning Resource Center, CASA, The Learners’ Studio, the Career Center and the Office of Academic Support for Athletics. 

Maggitti reiterated the University’s commitment to delivering a quality Villanova education to students amidst the evolving, fluid COVID-19 situation.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding as we do our best to navigate the host of issues with which we continue to be faced,” Maggitti wrote. “We hope that this option helps alleviate some of the stress and anxiety many of you may be experiencing during this difficult time.”