Internet Explorer Detected

The Penn State Graduate School website is best experienced in Firefox or Google Chrome. It is highly recommended that you use an alternative browser.

Optional Alternative Grading for Graduate Students

Resolution Concerning Optional Alternative Grading for Graduate Students

Whereas, In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dean of the Graduate School enabled optional alternative grading procedures as an exception to Graduate Council grading policies as authorized in the Bylaws of Graduate Council; and

Whereas, Only 6.7% of all degree-seeking graduate students took advantage of optional alternative grading in Spring 2020 and approximately 0.3% requested optional alternative grading in Fall 2020; therefore be it

Resolved, That the Graduate Council endorses the optional alternative grading procedures enacted by the Graduate School in Fall 2020 and recommends continuing these procedures in Spring 2021 if needed; and

Resolved, That the Graduate Council and the Graduate School jointly issue a message to students explaining this decision; and

Resolved, That the Graduate Council recommends that graduate programs advise graduate students of the potential consequences of opting for alternative grading, especially in cases where students request alternative grading for earned grades of a B or higher.

Approved by Graduate Council, March 17, 2021

Joint Statement from the Graduate Council and the Graduate School on Optional Alternative Grading

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dean of the Graduate School enabled optional alternative grading (OAG) procedures as an exception to Graduate Council grading policies beginning with the Spring 2020 semester.

For Spring 2020, OAG was made available to all graduate students at the student’s discretion. Only 6.7% of all degree-seeking graduate students took advantage of optional alternative grading in Spring 2020.

The Graduate School did not implement optional alternative grading for Fall 2020, but instead provided a pathway for exceptions in exceptional circumstances. Approximately 0.3% graduate students requested an exception for optional alternative grading in Fall 2020.

Given the low number of graduate students choosing to pursue optional alternative grading combined with the desire of both the Graduate Council and the Graduate School to ensure that graduate students are appropriately advised on the potential risks of choosing OAG, Graduate Council endorses the optional alternative grading exception procedures enacted by the Graduate School in Fall 2020 and recommends continuing these procedures in Spring 2021 if needed. Graduate Council does not see the need to pursue policy changes concerning grading at this time.

For graduate students who may be considering requesting an exception in the Spring 2021 semester, we strongly encourage they consult with their graduate programs to assess the potential consequences of alternative grading. We also want to assure students that requests for exceptions remain confidential except where disclosure is required by law or University policy, such as to protect the safety and welfare of an individual. The procedure for requesting an OAG for SP21 is here.

Kenneth Davis, Chair, Graduate Council
Regina Vasilatos-Younken, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School

April 5, 2021

This page was generated on September 16, 2021 at 12:19 PM Eastern Time. This may not be the most recent version. Check the website for updates.