Pass Fail Option & FAQs
As outlined in the University Catalog’s Pass/Fail Option section, Undergraduate students may elect a grading basis of Pass/Fail for one eligible course per semester. Students who declare a course pass/fail will receive:
- The notation of PS (pass) when a letter grade of A through C is earned
- The notation of LP (low pass) when a letter grade of C-, D+, or D is earned
- And a grade of F when the course is failed.
The following table outlines the regulations of the Pass/Fail Option and who is responsible for verifying each point of the policy.
|Pass/Fail Option regulation||Who is responsible for verifying|
|Students may only take one course each semester||Pass/Fail Request form – when a student has a course with the Pass/Fail grading option for the semester, they may not request it for any additional courses nor change their request.|
|No more than 23 total credit hours of Pass/Fail credit hours will be allowed in a student’s undergraduate career, including:||Advisor Review|
|Courses used to satisfy General Education requirements - cannot be declared pass/fail.|
|Courses a student has successfully completed for a permanent letter grade (A-D) - cannot be declared pass/fail.||Advisor Review|
|Courses used as “Gateway or Prerequisite” and/or “Additional Requirements” for declared majors and minors per the Undergraduate Course Catalog (I.e. courses not listed as “Core Requirements” – cannot be declared pass/fail.||Advisor Review|
|Courses used to satisfy First-Year Foundations requirements – cannot be declared pass/fail.||Advisor Review|
|Global Language courses Levels 1 through 3 if the language is being used to fulfill the General Education requirement - cannot be declared pass/fail.||Advisor Review|
|Only one course completed with a grade of PS (not LP) may be used toward major and/or minor “Core Requirements” (as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog)||Advisor Review|
|Summer School courses||Pass/Fail Request form – will not be available for summer sessions|
|Pass/Fail Request form – will not be available for summer sessions|
Below is a collection of helpful answers to frequently asked Pass/Fail Option questions.
- What is a Pass/Fail course?
Instead of a standard letter grading system, students who elect to change their grading basis to Pass/Fail will receive either a notation of PS (pass), LP (low pass), or a failing grade (F). PS and LP notations are not calculated into your GPA, but you will receive credit hours for graduation for taking the course. A failing grade, however, is treated in the same manner as F grades earned in any other course and will be calculated into your GPA.
- What should I consider before placing a course on Pass/Fail?
Before declaring a course Pass/Fail, it’s important that you review the Pass/Fail Option and student guidelines to be sure you understand the impact of submitting a Pass/Fail request. Since the COVID-19 Grading Accommodations for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 are no longer in place, keep in mind:
- You may only submit one Pass/Fail course request per semester.
- Once you submit your Pass/Fail request, the request is final and you may not make any changes.
- If you are considering professional school and/or graduate school, you should consider the future impact of a Pass/Fail course on admission.
- Submitting your request does not guarantee approval. If your selected course does not meet the Regulations Governing the Pass/Fail Option in the University Catalog, your request will be denied and you will receive an email within 3-5 business days with additional information.
If you are unsure about the Pass/Fail option or its impact to your degree progress, you are encouraged to connect with Academic Advising during drop-in hours – or meet with your Professional School advisor – prior to making any decisions on declaring an undergraduate course as pass/fail.
- Are there limits for how many courses I can Pass/Fail?
Undergraduate students may request one course to be placed on Pass/Fail grading per semester, but not including courses that are only offered on a Pass/Fail grading basis (such as research and internships). Additionally, no more than 23 total credit hours of Pass/Fail credit hours will be allowed in a student’s undergraduate career, including:
- no more than 16 hours (of the 23) from student-elected Pass/Fail classes and
- no more than 13 hours (of the 23) from established Pass/Fail courses.
- Are there any courses that are not eligible for the Pass/Fail option?
Honors, Inter-institutional (including Study Abroad), First-Year Foundations requirements, general education requirements, Global Language courses Levels 1 through 3 if the language is being used to fulfill the General Education requirement, and “Gateway or Prerequisite” and/or “Additional Requirements” for declared majors and minors per the Undergraduate Catalog (I.e. courses not listed as “Core Requirements”). Additionally, any courses which are already assigned a Pass/Fail grading basis and courses in which a letter grade has already been assigned are not eligible.
- If I place a course on Pass/Fail but then change my major (or minor) and that course becomes required, what happens?
Students who change their major (or minor) may count in the new major (or minor) one course previously completed with the grade of PS (not LP). They are required to meet with an Academic Advisor or Director of Undergraduate Studies in the teaching department of their new major to request these changes in their degree plan.
- What happens if I fail a class that I’ve elected as Pass/Fail?
If you fail a class that you’ve elected as Pass/Fail, the F grade will be recorded on the official grade roster and will factor into semester and cumulative GPA calculations. For the purposes of computing a grade point average, a failing grade will earn hours attempted alongside zero quality points awarded. For more information about calculating GPA visit How to Calculate Your Grade Point Average.
- If I elect a course as Pass/Fail but then earn an A in the course, can I change my mind?
Once you elect the Pass/Fail option for a course, it cannot be reversed. Your instructor will not know that you have elected to earn a Pass/Fail grade in the course – and when the course is completed with a letter grade of A through C, a grade of PS (pass) will be recorded; when a letter grade of C-, D+, or D is earned, a grade of LP (low pass) will be recorded on the official grade roster. These PS and LP grades do not affect semester or cumulative grade point averages.
- I’m already taking a course with a Pass/Fail grading basis. Can I request another?
You may submit a Pass/Fail request for only one course that is assigned the standard undergraduate grading basis per semester. Some classes such as internships already reflect a Pass/Fail grading basis, which is not considered a student-elected Pass/Fail option. In this case, a Pass/Fail request can be submitted for a different class without exceeding the one course per semester limit.
- What happens if I declare a general education course pass/fail?
Declaring a course pass/fail that is currently counting as a General Education requirement (including supplemental education) can no longer be used to fulfill that Gen Ed and will require you to take another course to satisfy this same requirement. In this instance, a Gen Ed course will be approved to pass/fail if there are other course options that may be taken to fulfill this same gen ed requirement.
- Can I declare a course in my major or minor pass/fail?
Students may choose to use one course completed with a grade of PS (not LP) towards their major and/or minor “Core Requirements” (as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog). Courses needed to fulfill “Gateway or Prerequisite” or “Additional Requirements” for your required major or minor MAY NOT be declared as Pass/Fail. Students MAY NOT elect to change their major or minor for purposes of declaring these courses Pass/Fail.
- Will a grade of PS and/or LP count toward graduation?
PS or LP grades earned for courses that have been approved on a Pass/Fail grading basis will count toward the 120 credit hours needed to complete your degree.
- Will professional schools and graduate schools accept PS and/or LP grades?
Students who are considering the Pass/Fail option are cautioned that many admissions representatives from professional schools and graduate school programs consider applicants whose transcripts have a significant number or trend of PS/LP grading notations less favorably than applicants whose transcripts contain none or very few.
- I elected Pass/Fail one or more courses during the COVID-19 Grading Accommodations period, are these factored into the 16 credit hour maximum I can Pass/Fail in my undergraduate career?
Courses elected Pass/Fail during the accommodations from Spring 2020 through Spring 2021 are exempt from the maximum.
- When can I place a course on Pass/Fail?
Courses can be declared Pass/Fail starting on the fifth day of class for spring and fall semesters. The deadline date to declare a course Pass/Fail is posted on the Registrar’s Academic Calendar.
Students are encouraged to submit pass/fail requests ahead of the priority deadline of October 6, 2023. This will allow time for you to submit another request prior to the October 13, 2023 final deadline if your initial request is not approved.
Keep in mind that pass/fail requests submitted after the priority deadline still require 3-5 business days for advisor review and potential denial of your request. This may not allow enough time for you to submit a secondary request, if desired.
- How do I request a Pass/Fail grade for a class?
Undergraduate students may take the following steps to submit a Pass/Fail request:
- Login to ConnectCarolina
- Select the Student Center tile
- Click on the drop-down menu for Other Academics
- Select Pass/Fail Request and click the double blue arrows
*Be sure you have allowed pop ups since a new tab will open with the Pass/Fail Request form
- Follow the directions on the page to select a course for the Pass/Fail option, including acknowledging the attestations
- Click submit
You will receive an email confirmation of your submission to your UNC email address. If you are a student-athlete, your request will be reviewed by the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes (ASPSA) to confirm NCAA eligibility prior to your course grading being updated.
- What is the pass/fail priority deadline?
Students are encouraged to submit their pass/fail request ahead of the priority deadline of October 6, 2023 This will allow time for you to submit another request prior to the October 13, 2023 final deadline if your initial request is not approved.
Keep in mind that pass/fail requests submitted after the priority deadline still require 3-5 business days for advisor review and potential administrative reversal. This may not allow enough time for you to submit a second request prior to the deadline, if desired.
- Can my pass/fail request be denied?
Once you submit a Pass/Fail Request in ConnectCarolina, an advisor will review the request to ensure it meets the Regulations Governing the Pass/Fail Option – if it does, you will receive an email approving your request. However, if it does not meet the Pass/Fail policy regulations you will receive an email denying your request and outlining next steps.
Pass/Fail requests will be denied when one or more of the following conditions are true:
- The requested course is a “Gateway or Prerequisite” or “Additional Requirement” required by your major/minor
- You have already declared a course pass/fail in your major/minor “Core Requirements”
- The requested course was taken in a previous term and a permanent letter grade of A-D was earned
- Your request results in you exceeding the limit of credit hours allowed on a pass/fail grading basis
- Your academic record suggests you are taking this course to fulfill your global language requirement
- This general education course is not eligible to be declared pass/fail (e.g. First Year Foundation course, etc.)
- You have applied for graduation, and you must complete this class with a letter grade to fulfill your remaining requirements
- How can I confirm that my requested pass/fail course has been updated?
Follow these steps to confirm that your requested pass/fail course has been updated:
- Login to ConnectCarolina
- Select the Student Center tile
- Click on the drop-down menu for Other Academics
- Select Grades and click the double blue arrows
- Under View My Grades select the term
- Courses that have been processed as Pass/Fail will be listed in the Grading column as Undergrad – PS/F