The South Dakota Board of Regents issued a policy titled Temporary Alternative Grading Options for Spring 2020 Semester in Response to COVID-19. That policy explains how the University of South Dakota and other regental institutions will be implementing a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (pass/fail) grading option for this semester’s courses. This includes all regental courses, both those offered online all semester and those that transitioned to remote instruction after the extended spring break.
All University of South Dakota students are strongly encouraged to work closely with academic advisors and other program coordinators to determine possible implications of choices related to grading for the spring 2020 semester. From a faculty perspective, nothing will change about the way that course grades are determined and reported, except for those in the School of Law, who will receive separate guidance from their dean’s office.
At the end of the semester, faculty will post letter grades and then students in most programs will have the option of changing the letter grades in individual courses or all their courses to either Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U).
To change a letter grade, use the form below. Students must select the course or courses they want to take for S/U grading. The selection period is open from May 4 - May 18. Students may change their minds if they wish during the time between May 4 - May 18. Students can wait to see the final grade before deciding. Faculty will not know students' choice. Please refer to www.usd.edu/registrar/Pass-Fail-S-U-Grading for directions to the S/U Change of Letter Grade form and how to complete it; our new GPA calculator; and several links to help you understand the new policy.
- Letter grades of A, B or C can be changed to S.
- Letter grades of D can be changed to U.
- Letter grades of F will automatically be changed to U.
S and U grades will not factor into grade point average calculations.
- Students who choose the S grade option will receive credit for those courses.
- Students who choose or receive a U grade will not receive credit for those courses
Before choosing either S or U grades, students should consult with their academic advisors to make sure they understand the potential consequences of doing so. Your instructors will not know if you choose to be graded as S/U. Academic Affairs will allow catalog exemptions for written rules related to S/U grading during the spring 2020 term.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why is USD giving students the choice to change spring 2020 grades to S/U?
USD is providing this choice for some courses in recognition of the unprecedented circumstances related to COVID-19. To maximize student success and learning, USD recognizes the challenges inherent as courses have moved online and students and faculty work remotely. Additionally, students who were already in online courses may have severe life disruptions.
What majors does this alternative grading option (S/U) NOT apply to? Specifically, which students are not able to request that their grades be recorded as S/U?
Due to accreditation/licensure considerations and the discipline, students in the following programs are not eligible to elect S/U grades for any courses during spring 2020. The letter grades will remain for all courses taken by students in those programs.
- Addiction Counseling and Prevention (B.S.)
- with specializations in Prevention and in Treatment
- Communication Sciences & Disorders (B.A., B.S.)
- Dental Hygiene (B.S.)
- Medical Laboratory Science (B.S.)
- Military Science (minor)
At the graduate/professional level, academic programs where the S/U grading option will not be available includes the following:
Doctoral/First Professional programs:
- Audiology (Au.D.)
- Basic Biomedical Science (Ph.D.)
- with specializations in all areas
- Biomedical Sciences (Physician Scientist) (M.D./Ph.D.)
- Counseling & Psychology in Education (Ph.D.)
- with specializations in Counselor Education and in School Psychology
- Medicine (M.D.)
- Occupational Therapy (O.T.D.)
- Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)
- Transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy (t-DPT)
- Psychology (Ph.D.)
- with specializations in Clinical Psychology and in Clinical Disaster Psychology
- Counseling & Psychology in Education (Ed.S.)
- with specializations in Counselor Education and in School Psychology
- Addiction Counseling and Prevention (M.A.)
- with a specialization in Co-Occurring
- Basic Biomedical Science (M.S.)
- Counseling & Psychology in Education (M.A.)
- with specializations in Clinical Mental Health and in School Counseling
- Physician Assistant Studies (M.A.)
- Psychology (M.A.)
- with a specialization in Clinical Psychology
- Social Work (M.S.W.)
- Speech Language Pathology (M.A.)
If you are a student enrolled in any of these programs you do not have the option of choosing S/U grades in spring 2020 semester thus the rest of this FAQ document does not apply.
If I select the S/U grade for a course, how is my grade determined?
The instructor of your class will assign a letter grade at the end of the semester. Once this is posted, you will decide if you want to keep the letter grade or choose to take a S or U grade. If you want to keep the letter grade, you will not have to do anything.
Students may select to convert a letter grade of A, B, or C to a grade of S (satisfactory).
Students may select to convert a final letter grade of D to a U (unsatisfactory).
Students who select the U (rather than keeping the D grade) will not receive applicable credit for the course and the grade will not be calculated in their grade point average.
All grades of F will be automatically converted to grades of U. Students receiving the U grade will not receive applicable credit for the course and the grade will not be calculated in their grade point average.
Will the credits from a course recorded as S/U count toward graduation?
Students will receive course credit toward graduation for any class in which they earn an S. Students will not receive course credit toward graduation for any class in which they earn a U.
Can I pick and choose which courses to take S/U?
Yes, students may request one individual course, or all courses be changed to S/U unless your program is one which has been determined to not be eligible. See list of programs noted above.
Can the S/U course count towards my major or minor?
Students may use spring 2020 S/U graded courses to fulfill major/minor /certificate requirements unless previously prohibited from doing so (see list of programs above). S/U graded courses from previous semesters will be subject to the major/minor/certificate requirements as defined in the catalog.
May I select the S/U grade for a course that was originally online?
Yes, this includes all regental courses, both those offered online all semester and those that transitioned to remote instruction after the extended spring break.
Does the course instructor have to grant approval or permission for a student to switch to S/U?
No. It is a student’s decision to convert a letter grade to S/U, and it cannot be overruled by the instructor. The instructor will not know if a student has elected a S/U grade.
Can a S/U graded course meet General Education requirements?
Students who earn an S grade in a spring 2020 course may use the course to fulfill any graduation requirement, including all general education requirements.
If I select the S/U option for a course, can it be used in a future semester as a course prerequisite that requires a minimum grade?
Yes, students who earn an S grade in a spring 2020 course may use the course to fulfill a prerequisite minimum grade requirement in a future semester.
Does a S/U course affect my GPA?
A grade of S/U will not factor into your GPA.
How will this impact students who are graduating in May 2020?
Undergraduate students who are graduating in May 2020 and choose to have any of their grades recorded as S/U will need to earn an S or D in all the courses required for graduation. Note that some programs may require a minimum grade of C (or S) in courses. In this case, a D does not meet graduation requirements in those programs.
Graduate students who are graduating in May 2020 and choose to have any of their grades recorded as S/U, will need to earn an S in all courses.
How do I declare a course S/U?
First, review the letter grades assigned by course instructors at the end of the spring semester and consult with your academic advisor and others as needed. Check back for details on the process to select S/U grading.
What is the time frame for declaring a course S/U?
The time frame for requesting that a grade be recorded as S/U will be open from May 4, 2020 (first day of finals week) until midnight on May 18, 2020 (two weeks later). Faculty have until May 13, 2020 to enter grades, so you do not need to decide this until you see the letter grade.
What happens if a student does not request that a class's grade is recorded as S/U?
Unless a student specifically chooses to have their grade in a class recorded as S or U, they will be graded in the traditional A-D grading system or in whichever grading system the class was originally intended to grade them. Students who earn an F in a class will automatically be assigned a grade of U.
Is S/U grading optional?
S/U grading is entirely optional, except in cases of failing grades, which are automatically assigned a U grade. USD has designed it with the intention that choosing to select S/U grades will not negatively impact future academic success.
What happens if a student takes an incomplete for a course in spring 2020? Can the student select S/U grade this summer after completing the course?
Yes. All A-F grades that are reported for spring 2020 semester – regardless of the exact start or end dates of the class, regardless of when the grade is reported – can be recorded as S/U.
How will graduate and professional schools view grades reported as S/U when students apply to their institutions?
Many institutions have already gone to some type of alternative grading option for spring 2020. That being the case, one can reasonably expect that graduate and professional schools will take the unique circumstances in mind as they consider applications. If you are planning on attending graduate or professional school, you may want to elect to receive letter grades. We recommend you discuss the option with your academic advisor or faculty member.
Will students who opt into S/U grades and who earn an S still be able to repeat the course?
Yes. Regardless of the grade earned and recorded, courses recorded as S/U are exempt from any policies limiting a student’s ability to retake the course.
Will using the S/U option affect eligibility for the Coyote Commitment Program?
Courses converted to S grades will count towards credits completed for Coyote Commitment requirements. S and U grades will not be included in the GPA used to determine continued eligibility.
Will S and U grades impact my ability to meet financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards?
To maintain SAP, students must complete and pass at least 67 percent of cumulatively attempted credits. U grades (like F and W grades) will count as credits that have not been completed. If you do not meet SAP standards due to COVID-19 related circumstances, you will have the opportunity to appeal to continue receiving Federal Financial Aid. Please call Financial Aid at 605-658-6250 if you have any further questions.
If I am currently receiving financial aid on a probationary status, how will converting grades to S and U impact my eligibility for financial aid?
If you are receiving financial aid on a probationary status contingent upon my meeting certain requirements or following an academic plan, please contact Financial Aid (at email@example.com or 605-658-6250) to discuss how converting to S and U grades will impact your eligibility.
If a student is enrolled in an Honors class, how will the S/U affect the honors credit?
Students earning either a passing grade or S will earn Honors credit for the course.
Will the use of the S/U grades put an undergraduate student at greater risk of going on probation or being suspended?
Numerical grades that have been converted to an S or U will not be used by any entity at the University of South Dakota in decisions about probation status.
Will a faculty member ever know if I chose an S/U grade in their course?
USD will not directly inform a faculty member that you converted your grade to an S or U. However, if a faculty member is one of your academic advisors and has access to your transcript, or if you share your transcript with a faculty member when asking them to write a letter of recommendation or for some other reason, that faculty member will see your grades.
I am a student athlete. How does receiving a S/U grade affect my eligibility for athletics next year?
Any student athlete with a 2.5 CGPA or lower and/or currently repeating a course should contact their Athletic Academic Advisor before choosing the alternative grade. If you have any questions, contact your SACS Athletic Academic Advisor or Jamie Oyen at (Jamie.Oyen@usd.edu).
What happens if a student is repeating a course and elects the S/U option?
The repeat process will work as it has in the past. The prior grade will no longer count in the student’s Grade Point Average (GPA). Credits earned for the current course will count. Because the course is being taken S/U, the grade earned will not be calculated into the GPA.
What if I already declared a course S/U this semester?
If you previously elected to take a course S/U, it will stay S/U.
Does S/U grading option apply to non-degree seeking students?
Yes, the option to declare S/U applies to non-degree seeking students.
Does S/U grading option apply to dual credit and concurrent credit students?
Yes, however, be sure to check with your high school guidance counselor prior to making this decision.
How will S/U grades appear on my transcript?
For courses where the S/U grade have been selected, the course grade will appear as S or U on the transcript.
Are there any possible negative effects if a student chooses to take an S grade in a course?
We do not see negative consequences for choosing to take an S grade instead of a letter grade in the context of studies here at USD. However, depending on your plans, outside parties may view an S/U grade differently from a letter grade. Keep in mind that the use of alternative grading (S/U) is being widely used by many universities across the nation.
What if I change my mind and want the grade changed back to regular A-F grading?
Once you submit the change request for S/U grading, it cannot be changed back to letter grading.
Does a S/U course affect my GPA?
A grade of S/U will not factor into your GPA.
What other factors should be considered before deciding to convert a course to S/U?
- A student who is doing well may decide to not convert a course(s) to S/U because a strong letter grade will improve the GPA.
- A student who earns a D should consult with his/her academic advisor to determine whether to take advantage of the S/U grading or not.
- A student who is concerned about not having a letter grade for graduate of professional school may not want to convert to S/U.
- A student who plans to enter a profession where a letter grade is critical for competitive employment may not want to convert to S/U.
- A student who plans to pursue overseas employment where a letter grade is essential may not want to convert to S/U.
Would S/U grades for required education courses cause any issue with certification, and, if so, would the SD Department of Education be able to make an exception due to the circumstances?
SD DOE will accept an S grade for South Dakota Indian Studies. If an applicant now, or at a later point, wants to add an endorsement based on a major in content, the class cannot be used unless it has a letter grade. Similar requirements may exist if seeking certification from another state. Check with that state’s Department of Education (DOE).
I am a USD student taking a course at DSU (or any other SDBOR school). May I elect to use S/U grading in the DSU (or any other SDBOR school) course?
Yes, you will be able to elect a S/U grade in the other SDBOR course through the same process as you use for your USD courses.
How will this apply to USD Law Students?
The University of South Dakota School of Law shall have mandatory Credit or No Credit grading in all classes for the spring 2020 semester. No numeric grades will be assigned, only a designation of N (equivalent to “pass”) or NC (equivalent to “no credit”). While numeric grades will not be assigned, in assessing if student performance will be graded “N-Credit” or “NC-No Credit,” faculty will consider the current law school policy which defines an “F” as any grade below 60. Faculty will also consider the requirement to demonstrate minimum professional competence in the knowledge, skill, or values in which the course provides instruction and which is assessed at the end of the course. Students will receive an “No Credit” if the faculty member determines that the student fails to demonstrate the minimum professional competency to be achieved by the end of the course as set forth in the syllabus and classroom instruction.
If you are a law student in a dual graduate program or who is also taking a graduate course, you will need to decide if you would like a S/U grading option for the graduate level course.
If I have additional questions about declaring a course S/U, where should I go?
Contact your advisor about your choice and about any impact your choices might have for future courses or admissions to future programs. Academic advisors are available to communicate with students remotely. If you don’t know who to contact, please email for help to the addresses below.
Undergraduate students: firstname.lastname@example.org
Graduate students: email@example.com