Fall 2020 and Spring 2021: Policy Modifications and FAQ

Nov 12 Updates

  • Academic Probation FAQ updated with new information (see FAQ section)
  • Transfer Credit FAQ added (see FAQ section)

Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Policy Modifications

After carefully considering advice from the campus Faculty Senate and the ASUC Office of Academic Affairs, the Faculty of the College of Letters and Science, through their Executive Committee, have decided to make changes to how P/NP grades can be used during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. This comes on top of a decision earlier in the semester to modify the Late Change of Class Schedule policy. The goal of these changes is to reduce stress during these tough semesters of pandemic and remote instruction, while still encouraging learning and student progress. 

Please note that switching a course or courses to P/NP may not be the best action in all circumstances. Other strategies, such as dropping a course to focus on your remaining courses or taking an incomplete grade to spread out some work, are other options to cope with difficulties that you may wish to explore through our Options if You are Struggling in Your Courses page or with an L&S College Adviser. 

These policy modifications are only applicable for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 and may not be applied to other semesters. 

Summary of Modifications

  1. The Late Change of Class Schedule has been modified. While deadlines remain the same (December 4, 2020), the restriction that students may only submit a Late Change request during one semester in their time at Berkeley will not apply to the following actions:

    • late drops of courses
    • and late changes of grading option

  2. L&S College Requirements: Reading & Composition, Quantitative Reasoning, and Foreign Language, which typically must be satisfied with a letter grade, can be satisfied with a Passed (P) grade during Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 if a student elects to take the course for P/NP. Note: This does not include Entry Level Writing. 

  3. Requirements within L&S majors and minors can be satisfied with Passed (P) grades during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. This includes prerequisites for majors. Contact your intended or declared major/minor adviser for more details.

  4. Departments may create alternative methods for admitting students into their majors. 

  5. L&S students will not be placed on academic probation automatically for taking all of their courses P/NP during Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. 

Seeking Advising

We ask for your patience and understanding as both the College of Letters and Science and our Major and Minor departments navigate the implications of these policy changes. Your major and college advisors will ultimately be able to help you work through your options, but may need time to assess the full impact of these changes before being able to answer all of your questions. 

Late Change of Class Schedule Deadline: 

Late grading option changes and late drops can be made up until the Late Change of Class Schedule Deadline:

FALL 2020: December 4, 2020 at 11:59pm PT

No requests for late changes to class schedules will be considered after this deadline. 

How to submit: 

To change a grading option through 12/3, you can make the change yourself through the Cal Central Enrollment System. 

For grading option changes on 12/4 and for all drops, an online petition is now available on CalCentral. This form can be found under Dashboard > Student Resources > Submit a Form > "Letters and Science Late Schedule Change Request" or on your Academics page under "Class Adjustment."  

Make sure to choose your correct secondary section. 

FAQ by Topic

Modifications to the P/NP Policy

Can a P grade satisfy...?

For L&S students, a P grade earned in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 will satisfy:

  • L&S major and L&S minor requirements
  • Reading and Composition
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Foreign Language

A P grade earned in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 will not satisfy

  • Entry Level Writing (as a UC-wide requirement, L&S cannot modify this requirement)

A P grade can always satisfy

  • American History and American Institutions
  • American Cultures
  • L&S Seven-Course Breadth

Academic Probation

If you are on Academic Probation, you will need to follow typical probation policies around grading options to make letter graded progress. This means that if you are on academic probation, you will need to take all of your courses for a letter grade unless a course is only offered P/NP. 

L&S students on good academic standing will not be automatically placed on academic probation for taking all of their courses P/NP during Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. Please check back for more detailed information. 

Major Admissions

Some majors require particular grades or grade averages in certain classes for admission to the major. Major departments may create alternative methods for admitting students into their majors, but are not obligated to do so. 

Seeking advising from major departments: Major departments are receiving news about this decision at the same time as students. We appreciate your patience and understanding as major departments meet to make decisions about how to accommodate these policies into their admissions criteria and seek approval from the L&S Executive Committee. This is expected to take some time. 

1/3 P/NP Limit and GPA

These requirements have not been modified for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 coursework. 

Passed (P) grades may account for no more than 1/3 of your total required units for graduation. While Passed grades earned in Spring 2020 did not count toward this limit, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 will count toward this limit. Passed grades will CalCentral has an estimator tool to help you understand where you are toward this limit.

Also, you must have an overall GPA of at least 2.0 to graduate. 

These are not L&S requirements and the College therefore has no authority to modify the P/NP limit or the GPA required to graduate. 

If you are nearing graduation and have concerns about either of these requirements, please consult with an L&S College Adviser. See the Degree Requirements page for more information on these requirements. 

Repeats

These requirements have not been modified for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 coursework. 

If you earned a D+ or lower in a course and are retaking the course for grade replacement, you must earn a letter grade in the second attempt of the course for the grade to be considered for replacement. Other restrictions apply to repeats. See our Course Repeats page for more details. 

This is not an L&S policy and the College therefore has no authority to modify repeat rules.

Transfer Credit

The Fall 2020 and Spring 2020 P/NP modifications do not extend to transfer coursework. If you are taking coursework at a transfer institution through Concurrent Enrollment or while on a break from Cal in order to satisfy

  • Reading and Composition
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Foreign Language
  • Major/Minor Requirements normally satisfied with letter grades
this coursework must be taken for a letter grade in order to satisfy the requirement. 
Keep in mind that non-UC transfer credit will not impact the UC Berkeley GPA. See our Transfer Credit section for more information about taking transfer coursework. 

How will it "look" if I take a lot of P/NP?

Schools: While many professional and graduate schools adjusted their standards for Spring 2020 to be more lenient toward passed grades, it is unclear at how taking a large number of P/NP grades over Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 will be viewed by admissions for these programs and preferences may differ across programs. Please consult with admissions offices for the programs you are considering. You may also check in with the Career Center to see if they have guidance. 

Other: If you are applying to a competitive program or major while in undergrad, you will need to contact that program or major for more information on how patterns of P/NP grades will be viewed. 

Modifications to the Late Change of Class Schedule Policy

Exception to Restrictions for Drops and Grading Option Changes

For Fall 2020 only, the Late Change of Class Schedule policy will be modified. While deadlines will remain the same, the restriction that students may only submit a Late Change request during one semester in their time at Berkeley will not apply to the following actions:

  • late drops of courses
  • and late changes of grading option

In other words, students may request these actions by the Late Change of Class Schedule deadline (Dec 4, 2020) without having it impact their late change limit or eligibility.

This means that students who have previously used their Late Change of Schedule Petition can still submit a Late Change request for the above changes by the deadline. It also means that if you request one of these actions for the first time in Fall 2020, you will still be able to use your Late Change of Class Schedule in a future semester. 

Late adds and late changes of units in a variable unit course are not included in this policy modification, and will be subject to the regular policy, including late change limits and eligibility.

See the Late Change of Class Schedule page for more information, including how to submit a Late Change request.

Late Drops and the 13 Unit Minimum

As a standard practice, L&S approves Reduced Course Loads whenever a late drop puts you below 13 units. This means that academically, this is okay to do. However, if you: 

  • use Financial Aid
  • are on a Visa (12 unit minimum)
  • are an NCAA athlete (13 unit minimum)
  • have any other reason you need to be in a full-time course load

dropping courses may have impacts on these statuses. Check with the corresponding office for guidance. 

Simultaneous Degree Students

While L&S has modified its Late Change of Class Schedule policy, this is not true of all UC Berkeley colleges. If you are a Simultaneous Degree student, you cannot use a Late Change of Class Schedule (modified or otherwise) without approval from both of your colleges. Please seek advising from your other college to determine your options in regards to using a Late Change of Class Schedule request.