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Duke to Offer Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grade Option for All Undergraduate Courses This Semester

update regarding grading policy changes

Dear Duke Students,

The unprecedented challenges imposed by COVID-19 require us to consider novel ways to support the curricular efforts of our undergraduate students and faculty. This is a moment that has been characterized by widespread anxiety, uncertainty, social, and geographic disruption. As academic leaders of this great university, we believe that bold action is necessary to maximize undergraduates’ curricular engagement.

Accordingly, during Spring 2020, we will transition all courses to a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) grading option, but allow undergraduates the opportunity of receiving a letter grade.

Effective immediately, Spring 2020 courses will transition to a default S/U grading option. If you choose to receive a letter grade for any class, you can indicate so by submitting a form to the registrar's office no later than April 22 at 5:00 pm EST. You can find the form here:


  • Courses taken for S/U grades during Spring 2020 will count towards curricular, major, continuation, and graduation requirements.
  • A grade of S (satisfactory) will be awarded if you earn the equivalent of a letter grade of C- or higher.
  • Grades of S and U are not factored into your grade point average.
  • This policy does not apply to 500/600-level courses. These courses are subject to graduate-level grading policies. More detail about these courses will follow.
  • Given this shift, we will suspend the Dean's List for the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Duke will include a designation on undergraduate students’ transcripts, indicating the extraordinary circumstances encountered in the present semester.

We expect that this strategy will ease the necessary transitions into remote course delivery and promote strong engagement throughout this most extraordinary phase of Duke’s history.

Best wishes for a healthy, fulfilling, and intellectually stimulating semester.

Go Duke!


Sally Kornbluth, Provost

Valerie Ashby, Dean, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Ravi Bellamkonda, Dean, Pratt School of Engineering

Gary Bennett, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost

Judith Kelley, Dean, Sanford School of Public Policy 

Mary Pat McMahon, Vice Provost/Vice President Student Affairs

Toddi Steelman, Dean, Nicholas School of the Environment