Alternative grading was implemented for the spring 2021 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 Spring 2021 Grades section provides details of the alternative grading system, including the spring 2021 grade reporting process, key dates, alternative grade descriptions, frequently asked questions, and more.
Please note that the information contained in this Spring 2021 Grades section is only effective for the spring 2021 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 spring 2021 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 spring 2021 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.
For the spring 2021 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.
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, there are restrictions for specific courses in some majors.
Under the alternative grading system, undergraduate students can choose to keep their current grade, or to have courses graded with one of three alternate grades:
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 Spring 2021. This tool will be available to students in LionPATH from May 12 to May 21 at 11:59 PM EDT.View Alternative Grade Calculator and Request Tool Instructions
Read the step-by-step instructions on how to use the LionPATH GPA Calculator to estimate the effect of alternative grading choices for Spring 2021.View GPA Calculator Instructions
Review a listing of frequently asked questions about the alternative grading system implemented for the spring 2021 semester. The information on this page only pertains to and is effective for the spring 2021 semester.View Frequently Asked Questions