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Fall 2020 Grades

Alternative grading, first implemented in spring 2020, was also implemented for the fall 2020 semester to serve as a safety net for undergraduate students who encounter significant challenges that impede their academic goals due to circumstances beyond their control. This Fall 2020 Grades section provides details of the alternative grading system, including the fall 2020 grade reporting process, key dates, alternative grade descriptions, frequently asked questions, and more.

Please note that the information contained in this Fall 2020 Grades section was only effective for the fall 2020 semester. Grading information for all other semesters can be found in the Grades section of the Office of the University Registrar website.

Penn State is reimplementing its opt-in alternative grading system for the fall 2020 semester to support and provide flexibility to undergraduate students who may be facing significant challenges academically due to circumstances beyond their control related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The alternative grading system is available to all undergraduate students taking fall 2020 courses, including World Campus students. Students in an integrated graduate-undergraduate (IUG) program cannot request alternative grades for courses applied to their graduate program. Alternative grading is not available for students enrolled in post- baccalaureate degree programs at Penn State including Penn State Law, Dickinson Law, the MD program and physician assistant program within the College of Medicine, and the Graduate School. The Graduate School has provided a process for exceptions in cases where students have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

Some students may wish to consider keeping their letter grades for future applications to graduate, law or medical school, or for professional licensing reasons. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with an academic adviser to discuss these or other concerns when electing to request an alternative grade.

Read more about optional alternative grading for the fall 2020 semester on Penn State News and at

Grade Reporting Process

For the fall 2020 semester, the final grade reporting deadline for faculty to enter letter grades at the conclusion of the semester will remain as originally scheduled. Once grades are entered, students who are pleased with their performance will be able to keep their letter grades. Students who would like one or more of their grades replaced with a grade from the alternate system will then have approximately one week to consult with their academic adviser before selecting any alternative grades. Students should also consult with the Office of Student Aid to understand how selecting alternative grading may impact their financial aid awards.

Key Dates and Deadlines

  • December 11: Classes End
  • December 14 - 18: Final Exams
  • December 22: Final Grade Reporting Deadline for Faculty to Enter Grades
  • December 23 - January 12: Student Selection of Alternative Grades
  • January 15: Final Grade Reporting Process Completed
  • January 21: Degree Conferral Completed
  • January 22: Diplomas Ordered

Alternative Grading System

The alternative grading scale is an optional grading system that undergraduate students may choose to utilize to replace one or more letter grades with an alternative grade that will not be included in their GPA calculation. There is no limit on the number of courses for which a student can request an alternative grade; however, new restrictions have been added for the fall 2020 semester for specific courses in some majors.

Under the new system, undergraduate students can choose to keep their current grade, or to have courses graded with one of three alternate grades:


  • Available if a student earns a C or better in a course
  • Does not impact GPA
  • Can be used to meet prerequisites requiring a C or better
  • Counts toward total credits earned and semester standing


  • Available if a student earns a D in a course
  • Considered a passing grade
  • Does not impact GPA
  • Can be used to meet requirements for which D is an acceptable grade
  • Cannot be used to meet C or better requirements
  • Counts toward total credits earned and semester standing

(No Grade)

  • Available if a student earns an F in a course
  • Can be used to replace an F grade and will be treated similar to if the student had late-dropped the class
  • Does not impact GPA
  • Does not count toward total credits earned or semester standing

Resources for Students

Alternative Grade Calculator and Request Tool

Read the step-by-step instructions on how to use the Alternative Grade Calculator and Request Tool to both investigate the GPA effect of alternative grading choices and to submit alternative grade selections for Fall 2020. This tool will be available to students in LionPATH from December 23 to January 12 at 11:59 PM EST.

View Alternative Grade Calculator and Request Tool Instructions

GPA Calculator Instructions

Read the step-by-step instructions on how to use the LionPATH GPA Calculator to estimate the effect of alternative grading choices for Fall 2020.

View GPA Calculator Instructions

Frequently Asked Questions about Alternative Grading

Review a listing of frequently asked questions about the alternative grading system implemented for the fall 2020 semester. The information on this page only pertains to and is effective for the fall 2020 semester.

View Frequently Asked Questions

Keep Learning

Follow the Penn State Keep Learning website for the latest information on remote learning at Penn State. There you will find answers to frequently asked questions about remote learning as well as points of contact at Penn State campuses and colleges for questions about learning remotely.

View Keep Learning Website

Penn State Coronavirus Updates

For the latest coronovirus-related updates to the Penn State community, visit the Penn State Coronavirus Information website. This includes an extensive section answering the most frequently asked questions from students, faculty, and staff, as well as a description of University measures currently in place and a comprehensive list of resources.

View Penn State Coronavirus Information Website