Fall 2020 Academic Options

As an ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the faculty and administration at George Mason University have approved an alternative grading mode for classes in Fall 2020.

Students in A-F graded classes are able to select the alternative grade mode on a class-by-class basis through the first day of classes in Spring 2021. Students do not have to select it for every class, they can pick and choose. If a student takes NO ACTION, the grading mode will default to A-F grading, as originally registered in the class. Students must submit a Change of Grade Mode Request form to designate sections with the alternative grade mode.

Please Note: Students are not selecting a specific grade for each section, they are selecting the overall grade mode. Students still need to complete work in the class and have it graded in order for the faculty member to assess the student’s learning and assign an appropriate letter grade, which will then be converted to the corresponding alternative grade.

If the alternative grade mode is selected, classes receiving those grades will not count in the GPA.

< Submit a Change of Grade Mode Request form >

 

For Undergraduate Classes (numbered 100-499):

  • The deadline for selecting the alternative grade mode is Monday, January 25, 2021, which is the first day of classes in Spring 2021.
  • Students who have applied for graduation in Fall 2020 should make their selections NO LATER THAN December 31, 2020, in order to avoid delays with conferring their degree.
  • Students who wish to select the alternative grade mode must submit the Change of Grade Mode Request form. Students may enter multiple sections on one form. Students will need the SUBJ (Subject), CRSE (Course), and SECT (Section) information for each class they wish to designate.
  • Students who were grade sanctioned because of a decision by the Honor Committee, irrespective of the date of such a decision, may not choose the alternative grade mode for the affected course. Academic units may not use the alternative grading model to change a course grade that was assigned to a student as a result of a decision by the Honor Committee.
  • None of the classes graded with the alternative grade mode count against the undergraduate academic policy of only 6 credits taken as Satisfactory/No Credit (AP 3.3).
  • Undergraduate students will be eligible for Dean’s List in Fall 2020 so long as they complete six (6) credits of A-F graded classes.
  • Unrestricted Withdrawal has been extended through the last day of classes. Students who withdraw from a class and receive an XW grade on their transcript will not have those withdrawals counted against the undergraduate academic policy of only 3 Selective Withdrawals over the course of the academic career. (AP 1.5.1)
  • Students who have previously requested a Selective Withdrawal for Fall 2020 prior to the availability of the alternative grade mode will have those grades converted to XW automatically and will not need to take additional action.
  • Once a final grade is received in a class, the student may not withdraw from the class. The alternative grade mode remains available to the student with the exception of the XW grade.

For Graduate Classes (numbered 500-999):

  • The deadline for selecting the alternative grade mode is Monday, January 25, 2021, which is the first day of classes in Spring 2021.
  • Students who have applied for graduation in Fall 2020 should make their selections NO LATER THAN December 31, 2020, in order to avoid delays with conferring their degree.
  • Students who wish to select the alternative grade mode must submit the Change of Grade Mode Request form. Students may enter multiple sections on one form. Students will need the SUBJ (Subject), CRSE (Course), and SECT (Section) information for each class they wish to designate.
  • Students who were grade sanctioned because of a decision by the Honor Committee, irrespective of the date of such a decision, may not choose the alternative grade mode for the affected course. Academic units may not use the alternative grading model to change a course grade that was assigned to a student as a result of a decision by the Honor Committee.
  • Students may withdraw from any graduate course or courses in which they are enrolled in Fall 2020 by the last day of classes, or until a final grade is submitted, whichever is earlier. These withdrawals will appear with the notation “XW” on their official transcript.
  • Once a final grade has been submitted, the student may still select the alternative grade mode through the first day of classes in Spring 2021, but the student may not withdraw from a class that has received a final grade.
  • The academic termination policy has been altered for all graduate students. All letter grades “C” or the equivalent alternative grade “XP” received in graduate courses will not count towards the number of unsatisfactory number of credits threshold stated under AP.6.6.2 Academic Termination. The effect of non-passing grades (Grades of “F” or “XN”) as in AP.6.6.2 Academic Termination will remain unaltered. Graduate students who may anticipate receiving the letter grade “F” or the equivalent alternative grade “XN” should consider the available withdrawal option prior to the last day of classes.

The grades included in the alternative grading mode are:

XS (Extraordinary Circumstances – Satisfactory) – The student earns credit in the course by meeting a minimum grade threshold; at the undergraduate level that would be a C or higher, at the graduate level it would be a B- or higher.

XP (Extraordinary Circumstances – Pass) – The student earns credit in the course but has not met a minimum grade threshold to apply the course to requirements with a minimum grade requirement; at the undergraduate level this would be a C- or D, at the graduate level it would be a C.

XN (Extraordinary Circumstances – No Credit) – The student does not earn credit in the course.

XW (Extraordinary Circumstances – Withdrawal) – The student withdraws from the class as a result of difficulties arising from COVID-19. No credit is earned in the class. Students must withdraw prior to receiving a final grade in the class. Once a final grade has been reported, the XW grade is no longer available.

Note: There will be a transcript notation in each term the alternative grade mode is offered.

Eligible students are now able to change the grade mode for their Fall 2020 classes, effective November 6, 2020.

The University’s COVID-19 website is found here.

Additional information specifically relating to graduate students can be found on the Graduate Education website.

Fall 2020 Grading Options FAQs

Students who are registered into active classes with the A-F grade type are eligible for the alternative grading mode.

Students who were grade sanctioned because of a decision by the Honor Committee, irrespective of the date of such a decision, may not choose the alternative grade mode for the affected course. Academic units may not use the alternative grading model to change a course grade that was assigned to a student as a result of a decision by the Honor Committee.

To ensure graduate students make the best selection for themselves and maximize their potential for long-term academic and professional success, it is critical that:

1) Graduate students seek advising and guidance from their advisor, mentor and/or coordinator prior to making a decision about their courses; and

2) Graduate students determine the impact electing an alternative grading option may have on financial aid, licensure, admission to professional programs, scholarships, fellowships, among others.

Detailed information can be found on the Graduate Education webpage.

Submit the Change of Grade Mode Request form. Multiple sections can be submitted simultaneously. Students will need to include the Subject, Course Number, and Section Number for each course.

Students who have previously designated a section for the alternative grade mode may also submit the form to change that section back to A-F grading.

The Change of Grade Mode Request form comes directly to the Office of the University Registrar for processing; it does not go to the faculty for review or approval. Depending on the volume of forms submitted, processing time may vary.

If you don’t submit a Change of Grade Mode Request form to select the alternative grading mode, your classes will default to their current grade mode (A-F grading).

Undergraduate classes (numbered 100-499) graded with the alternative grading mode are only eligible to fulfill degree requirements if grades of XS or XP are received. Undergraduate classes receiving an XS grade are eligible to fulfill general education requirements and major requirements that have a minimum grade threshold. Undergraduate classes receiving an XP grade are eligible to fulfill degree requirements unless a minimum grade of C or better is specified.

Graduate classes (numbered 500-999) graded with the alternative grading mode are eligible to fulfill degree requirements if a grade of XS is received.

If you have questions about whether a class taken under the alternative grading mode will apply to your degree, please contact your academic advisor to discuss.

For classes that require a minimum grade threshold to be achieved in order to allow registration, students may be able to meet that prereq requirement using the alternative grade mode.

For undergraduate courses (numbered 100-499), students earning an XS grade can fulfill minimum grade thresholds of C or better associated with subsequent classes.

For graduate courses (numbered 500-999), students earning an XS grade can fulfill minimum grade thresholds of B- or better associated with subsequent classes.

If you have questions about the prerequisite for a future class for which you need to register, please contact your academic advisor to discuss.

 

Classes with the alternative grading mode will appear on your academic transcript just like any other course. The only difference will be the grade associated with the course. Either XS, XP, or XN will be printed as the final grade. 

No, students can pick and choose among their classes to select the alternative grading mode on an individual class-by-class basis. Students may select the alternative grading mode for all of their classes, none of their classes, or some of their classes, at the student’s discretion.

Students who select the alternative grade mode for all of their classes will not have a GPA for the term, and their cumulative GPA will be unaffected. Students who select the alternative grading mode for some classes will have their GPA calculated by the remaining A-F graded courses. If the student does not select the alternative grading mode for any courses, the GPA will be calculated normally.

Study Elsewhere grades are subject to the grading policies in place at the visited institution and are subject to Mason’s transfer eligibility rules. Consortium courses are also subject to the grading policies in place at the visited institution, but the grade received there will appear on the Mason transcript. 

It depends. State Grant programs (Commonwealth and VGAP) require that an undergraduate student have a 2.0 GPA to award. If an undergraduate student’s GPA is below 2.0 now (based on previous terms), or if this is the student’s first semester and they select all alternate grades, they would not qualify for state grants if the GPA stays or is below 2.0.

If they were above 2.0 at the end of the previous term and select all alternate grades, their GPA would carry over so they would still qualify.

Please consult the Office of Financial Aid if you have specific questions about your aid or aid eligibility. 

For students receiving merit scholarships, they will need to determine what the GPA is for keeping those scholarships. For many of the Admissions scholarships, that cut off is a 2.75 GPA. If the student had less than 2.75 in the previous term and select all alternate grades, they cannot bring up that GPA and that would disqualify them for scholarship renewal.

Alternately, if the student’s GPA is above the thresholds from the previous term and they select all alternative grades, their scholarship renewal would calculate off the previous term GPA. Students will need to determine what the GPA requirement is for their individual scholarships and act accordingly in terms of their overall GPA.

 

For undergraduate students who decide to use alternate grading mode and receive grades of XS or XP, there will be no change or effect on your Education Benefits. For graduate students who decide to use alternate grading mode and receive grades of XS, there will be no effect on your Education Benefits.

For undergraduate students who receive grades of XN or graduate students who receive grades of XP or XN, the School Certifying Officials will report this to the VA as an adjustment or termination (depending on number of credits this applies to) with Non-Punitive Grade Assigned. The effective date will be the end of term. Please keep in mind, the VA will determine if a debt is warranted, NOT the University. 

Yes! Your academic advisor would be happy to talk to you about your grade option selection.

Undergraduate students can find your academic advisor using the following tool: https://advising.gmu.edu/current-student/advisor-locator/

If you are receiving financial aid, you might also reach out the Mason Student Services Center to talk to a counselor.

Undergraduate students taking graduate-level courses will be able to select the alternative grading mode in those courses, but are subject to the graduate-level grade definitions.  

No. The Antonin Scalia Law School will separately determine the grading policies for its courses.  

It depends. You should contact your employer and seek clarity on the requirements for continued tuition remission. If there is a term-by-term GPA requirement, you should consider remaining in A-F grading. If the requirement is the successful completion of coursework, the alternative grading mode would be fine. Each situation is unique and you should seek guidance from your employer prior to making your decision. 

That depends. You should reach out to your academic advisor to discuss your options. You may potentially reach out to an advisor in the school that houses the major you want to change into for their guidance, as well.

F-1 and J-1 students do not need permission to choose an alternative grading option as long as they maintain full-time enrollment.

If you are an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, please be aware that withdrawing from a course will reduce your credit load.  F-1 and J-1 students must enroll full-time in the fall and spring semesters in order to maintain their SEVIS record. Full-time status is defined by the Registrar.  Even for those students who have left the United States, full-time enrollment is required to keep the SEVIS record active.  The University is required to terminate the SEVIS record of any student who drops below full-time, unless the student has permission in writing from the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) prior to dropping classes. Students who cannot enroll or remain full-time should contact an OIPS advisor for guidance.

Further information is available in the Self-Service Center at https://oips.gmu.edu/.

Each student needs to review their current GPA and make decisions based on that, based on the answer to the questions above, and review the standards of good SAP on the Financial Aid Office website – https://www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/financial-aid/eligibility/satisfactory-academic-progress-policy.

No, your classes will default to their current grading mode (A-F grading).

Although many programs are modifying requirements to accommodate special circumstances related to COVID-19, we have no control over requirements for external institutions and programs. Students are encouraged to check with graduate/professional programs and/or fellowship programs to ensure they are familiar with specific requirements prior to selecting an alternative grade option. If you are not certain of a future program’s requirements, keeping the standard grade may be a safer choice.

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