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The year 2020 has required some adjustment for students as many courses transitioned to remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that this situation may be challenging, but, as future healthcare professionals, we expect our students to be able to rise to challenging situations.

Penn State implemented a new alternative grading policy that gives students flexibility, helps preserve GPAs and minimizes impacts to students’ transcripts during the academic challenges presented by the novel coronavirus public health crisis.

As you consider your options for alternative grading this semester, keep in mind your future goals of graduate school and the competitive review process in which you may participate. We encourage you to stay motivated and remain focused so you can perform at your best. Completing the semester with strong letter grades will minimize any potential confusion about how prospective graduate schools will interpret your grades.

With this in mind, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders offers the following considerations to guide your decision about opting for alternative grading. Note that alternative grading is an option available to all undergraduate students; students who are pleased with their performance will be able to keep their letter grades.

Required CSD courses icon-olus-circle

​​​​​​We strongly encourage you to maintain letter grades for all required CSD courses in which you earn a C or higher grade. These courses include:

  • CSD 146
  • CSD 230
  • CSD 269
  • CSD 300
  • CSD 311
  • CSD 331
  • CSD 341
  • CSD 433
  • CSD 442
  • CSD 444
  • CSD 451
  • CSD 459
  • CSD 462
ASHA and/or graduate school prerequisites icon-olus-circle

We strongly encourage you to maintain letter grades for courses that fulfill ASHA and/or graduate school prerequisites, in which you earn a C or higher. These courses may include:

  • STAT 200 or EDPSY 101
  • PSYCH 100
  • HDFS 129 or PSYCH 212
  • GN-Biological Science
  • GN-Physical Science
  • Linguistics or Applied Linguistics
  • CSD 431
Courses that fulfill General Education and/or elective requirements icon-olus-circle

It is recommended that students use alternative grading cautiously. We have no control over how outside entities such as graduate schools or employers will view alternative grades, especially when used for multiple semesters. Remember that while various forms of pass/fail grading were widely used in spring 2020, they are much less common now, which may change how alternative grades are viewed.

In most cases, it will make sense to select alternative grading for those courses in which you earned a D or F. Selecting SAT grades to replace C-or-better grades should be done with care. It is important that your transcript reflect your true accomplishments. Grades of C or better demonstrate these accomplishments, and shielding them from view to elevate your Penn State GPA should be done with caution.

For students admitted to Penn State Summer 2018 or later:

  • CAS 100 and ENGL 202 require a grade of C or better in order to fulfill graduation requirements. You may opt for alternative grading if you earned a C or higher in these courses; a SAT grade will fulfill requirements but will not be calculated into your GPA.
  • GQ-Quantification courses require a grade of C or better in order to fulfill graduation requirements. For STAT 200 or EDPSY 101 see above, under guidance for ASHA prerequisites. If you earned a C or higher in your additional GQ selection you may opt for alternative grading; a SAT grade will fulfill requirements but will not be calculated into your GPA.

Students considering the option of alternative grades are strongly encouraged to consult with their academic adviser in order to fully understand the implications for your future goals.

Additional Resources