Alternative Grading for Fall 2020 Semester

Dear Patriot:

The entire Mason community has needed to adjust and adapt to many personal and professional challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our university wants to ensure that all students have the opportunity for success this semester. In support of our students, a series of accommodations will be implemented to grading practices for the Fall 2020 semester. These accommodations are in response to a resolution unanimously adopted by Mason’s Student Government, and follow extensive dialog, careful deliberation and a recommendation by the university’s Faculty Senate and parallel consideration by the university’s Graduate Council.

The specific accommodations are:

  1. Credit/Non-Credit Opt-In 

    Mirroring the model for alternative grades implemented for the spring 2020 semester, each undergraduate and graduate student registered in A-F graded Fall 2020 courses will be able to decide individually, on a course-by-course basis, whether they choose to receive a letter grade for the class or if they opt to receive an alternative grade that would indicate either receiving or not receiving credit for the class.With the exception of the Scalia Law School, this alternative grading practice will apply to all Fall 2020 courses, including courses that may already have been completed.

    Students will need to make their choice no later than the start of classes for the Spring 2021 semester.

    The default selection, if no action is taken by the student, will be A-F grading. For students who opt for alternative grading for a specific course, the submitted grade for that course will be converted by the University Registrar to an alternative grade. Faculty members will not have knowledge of the grading model selected by students.

    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. Neither academic departments academic units, nor their administrators, may 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.

  2. Incomplete Grades 

    Incomplete grades (I) may be given to students who are passing a course but who may be unable to complete scheduled coursework by the end of the semester due to extenuating circumstances. Instructors should be flexible in awarding Incompletes if the student requires additional time to finish coursework.For incomplete grades awarded for the Spring 2020 semester, the deadline for completing work for the spring semester was originally October 23, 2020, but has now been extended until the end of the Fall 2020 semester.

The Office of the University Registrar will communicate with eligible students, through their official Mason-issued e-mail address, instructions with information on how to select an alternative grade for a class. Information on the model for alternative grades, and the specific grading categories, will also be provided in the same communication that will be distributed by the University Registrar.

Students are encouraged to make careful and informed decisions regarding the grading categories that will be used to evaluate their coursework during this unique fall semester and to help reduce some of the stress associated with the COVID crisis.

It is important that students consider the potential impact of opting for the alternative grading system on financial aid, admission to graduate and/or professional programs, professional licensure and other possible implications of your choice. If you have questions about opting for an alternative grade in any of your courses, undergraduate students should consult with your Academic Advisor and graduate students should consult with your Program Coordinator and/or Mentor.

I hope that you are healthy, remain well and wish you success for the remainder of the fall semester.

All the best.

Mark R. Ginsberg, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice President

Posted in Coronavirus Communications, Official University Communications.