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Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

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. Because each regental institution is uniquely different, I wanted to summarize what this policy means specifically for USD.

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. All other faculty will report letter grades through our normal mechanisms no later than May 13. Once grades have been entered and verified by the Registrar’s Office, they will be visible to students. 

Students in most programs will have the option of changing the letter grades in individual courses or all of their courses to either Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U).

  • 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. 

The process for changing these grades is still being refined, and I will send out an email later in the semester explaining exactly how that process will work.

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.

There are some academic programs at USD where the S/U grading option will not be available, primarily for professional, accreditation or licensure reasons, and letter grades will remain for all courses taken by students in those programs. 

At the undergraduate level, academic programs where the S/U grading option will not be available includes the following:

  • 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 Clinical Disaster Psychology

Specialist programs:

  • Counseling & Psychology in Education (Ed.S.) 
    • with specializations in Counselor Education and in School Psychology

Master programs:

  • 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.)

While I have summarized the basic components of the Board of Regents Temporary Alternative Grading Options for Spring 2020 Semester in Response to COVID-19, I would encourage you to read that policy in its entirety. Academic Affairs will provide additional guidance about the process for changing letter grades to S/U grades once that becomes available. Our office also developed a FAQ page to answer basic questions that students might have about the impact that changing letter grades might have on their academic record, future academic plans or financial aid. 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.

I wish you the best as you continue either teaching or taking your courses.

Dr. Kurt Hackemer
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of History