Pass-Not Pass Grading Option for Graduate Courses

UPDATED 4/13/20: This temporary policy will also apply to courses that were designated to be taught fully online at the start of Spring 2020 semester (e.g. courses with a section designator starting with an “X”).

In response to the coronavirus pandemic in Spring 2020, Iowa State University has adopted a temporary Pass/Not Pass (P/NP) grading policy for graduate (500- and 600-level) courses impacted by the transition to virtual instruction.  The P/NP option applies to graduate courses intended to be taught be in-person throughout Spring 2020, but changed to virtual instruction as a result of COVID-19. The option is also now available for courses planned for fully virtual instruction before the COVID-19 pandemic. The P/NP option applies to both undergraduate and graduate students in graduate classes (please see below).  For dual-listed courses (undergraduate level and 500 level), the policy below applies to both undergraduate and graduate students registered at the 500 level.  Any student registered at the undergraduate level of a dual-listed course should consult the P/NP policy for undergraduate courses.  Likewise, the P/NP policy developed for undergraduate courses will apply to graduate students in solely undergraduate courses.  

Undergraduate students

Undergraduates in graduate courses may choose to receive the letter grade recorded by the instructor or a P/NP designation, and the grading policy of the Graduate College applies.  Regular letter grades of C and higher will convert to P, while regular grades of C- and below will convert to NP.  Students who wish to change to P/NP grading must submit a form through their academic advisor and the Registrar’s Office between May 13 and May 19, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.  If no form is submitted by then, the letter grade will be recorded for the course.

Graduate students

Graduate students will enter a system to request change to P/NP grading. This will create an approval email for the advisor they spoke with about changing their course. This approval must be granted before the student’s grade will be changed. Please see this website for more information: Regular letter grades of C and higher will convert to P, while regular grades of C- and below will convert to NP.  Graduate students may use Spring 2020 courses with P grades on their POSCs after consulting with and receiving approval of their major professors. 


  • P/NP grades do not affect grade point averages.
  • Graduate students should consider potential consequences of P/NP grades.  These include the potential for credits not to be transferable to other schools, and effects on students’ competitiveness for scholarships, external funding to attend conferences, graduate programs, and employment after graduation.
  • Major professors/advisors are encouraged both to respect the wishes of their students who request a change to P/NP, and to discuss potential reasons not to change to P/NP to help students make fully informed decisions.
  • POS committee members, whose approval of all aspects of a graduate student’s curriculum is normally required, are asked to respect decisions made by students and their major professors on including Spring 2020 courses with P/NP grades on POSCs. 
  • Graduate students who experience difficulty with acting on this policy may seek assistance from DOGEs, departments, academic colleges, or the Graduate College.