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Grading Option FAQ

Alternative Grading Option (S/U)
Spring 2020
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
(updated 4/14/2020)

All South Dakota State University students are strongly encouraged to work closely with academic advisors and other program representatives to determine possible implications of choices related to grading for the spring 2020 semester.

Q:  Why is SDSU giving students the choice to change spring 2020 grades to S/U?

A: SDSU is providing this choice for some courses in recognition of the unprecedented circumstances related to COVID-19.  To maximize student success and learning, SDSU recognizes the challenges inherent as courses have moved online and students and faculty work remotely.

Q:  If I select the S/U grade for a course, how is my grade determined?

A: The instructor of your class will assign a letter grade at the end of the semester.  So, the letter grade you earn in a class still matters, even if you choose S/U grades!

Students (in programs which allow for S/U grades) may select to convert a letter grade to S or U which both correspond to specific letter grades.  If you choose the S/U option, your grades will be changed and appear on your transcript as follows:


Q:  What majors does this alternative grading option (S/U) NOT apply to? Specifically, which students are not able to request that their grades be recorded as S/U?

A: Due to accreditation/licensure considerations and the particular discipline, students in the following programs are not eligible to elect S/U grades for any courses during spring 2020:


College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

  • Aerospace Studies (minor)
  • Military Science (minor)

College of Education & Human Sciences

  • Exercise Science (B.S.)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics (B.S.)

College of Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions

  • Medical Laboratory Science (B.S.)
  • Medical Laboratory Science (B.S.) – Upward Mobility Program
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences (B.S.)
  • Pre-Pharmacy


College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences

  • Animal Science (Certificate, M.S., Ph.D.)
  • Biological Sciences (M.S.) with specialization in Dairy Science, Food Sciences, or Natural Resource Management
  • Biological Sciences (Ph.D.) with specialization in Dairy Science, Food Sciences, Natural Resource Management
  • Biological Sciences (Ph.D.) with specialization in Dairy Science, Food Sciences, Natural Resource Management, Plant Molecular Biology, Plant Science, Veterinary Microbiology or Veterinary Pathobiology
  • Grassland Management Certificate
  • Plant Science (M.S., Ph.D.)
  • Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (M.S.) with specialization in Fisheries Sciences or Wildlife
  • Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (Ph.D.)

College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

  • Communication and Media Studies (M.A.)
  • Community Development Certificate
  • Economics (M.S.)
  • English (M.A.)
  • Health Journalism Certificate
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology (M.S.)
  • Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
  • Native Communities and Economic Development Certificate
  • Sociology (M.S., Ph.D.)
  • Sociology (M.S.) with specialization in Community Development

College of Education & Human Sciences

  • Agricultural Education (M.S.)
  • Counseling and Human Resource Development (M.S.) with specialization in Marriage and Family Counseling, Clinical Mental  Health Counseling, Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, or School Counseling
  • Counseling and Human Resource Development (M.Ed.) with specialization in Administration of Student Affairs
  • Curriculum and Instruction (M.Ed.) with specialization in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education or Secondary Education
  • Dietetics (M.S.)
  • Educational Administration (M.Ed.) with specialization in Elementary Education or Secondary Education
  • Family Financial Planning Certificate
  • Family and Housing Counseling Certificate
  • Human Sciences (M.S.) with specialization in Family and Community Services, Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Family Financial Planning, Merchandising or Development Sciences
  • Merchandising Certificate
  • Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (M.S.) with specialization in Nutritional Sciences or Exercise Sciences
  • Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (Ph.D.)
  • Sport and Recreation Administration (M.S.)
  • Transdisciplinary Childhood Obesity Prevention Certificate

College of Nursing

  • Nursing (D.N.P.) – Family Nurse Practitioner Specialization (Post Master to DNP and BS to DNP)
  • Nursing (D.N.P.) (Post Master to DNP – NPS, CRNAs, CNSs, and CHMs)
  • Nursing (M.S.) with specialization in Clinical Nurse Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Administrator, or Nurse Educator
  • Nursing (Ph.D.)
  • Post-Graduate Certificate – Clinical Nurse Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions

  • Pharmaceutical Sciences (Ph.D.)
  • Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)

All undergraduate and graduate programs in the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering will allow students to select S/U grades.

All undergraduate and graduate programs in the College of Natural Sciences will allow students to select S/U grades.

If you are a student enrolled in any of these programs you do not have the option of choosing S/U grades in Spring 2020 semester thus the rest of this FAQ document does not apply.

Q:  Will the credits from a course recorded as S/U count toward graduation?

A: Students will receive course credit toward graduation for any class in which they earn an S. Students will not receive course credit toward graduation for any class in which they earn a U.

Q:  Can I pick and choose which courses to take S/U?

A: Yes, students may request any or all courses be changed to S/U unless your program is one which has been determined to not be eligible. See list of programs here.

Q:  Can the S/U course count towards my major or minor?

A: Students may use Spring 2020 S/U graded courses to fulfill major/minor /certificate requirements.  S/U graded courses from other semesters cannot be used to fulfill major/minor/certificate requirements.

Q:  Does the course instructor have to grant approval or permission for a student to switch to S/U?

A: No. It is a student’s decision to convert a letter grade to S/U and it cannot be overruled by the instructor.

Q:  Can a S/U graded course meet General Education requirements? 

A: Students who earn an S grade, in a Spring 2020 course, may use the course to fulfill any graduation requirement, including all general education requirements.

Q:  If I desire a course S/U, can it be used in a future semester as a course prerequisite that requires a minimum grade?

A: Yes, students who earn an S grade in a Spring 2020 course may use the course to fulfill a prerequisite minimum grade requirement in a future semester. 

Q:  Does a S/U course affect my GPA?

A: A grade of S/U will not factor into your GPA.

Q:  How will this impact students who are graduating in May 2020?

A: Undergraduate students who are graduating in May 2020 and choose to have any of their grades recorded as S/U will need to earn an S or D in all of the courses required for graduation. Note that some programs may require a minimum grade of C (or S) in courses. In this case, a D does not meet graduation requirements in those programs.

Graduate students who are graduating in May 2020, and choose to have any of their grades recorded as S/U, will need to earn an S in all courses.

Q:  Would S/U grades for required education courses cause any issue with certification, and, if so, would the South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE) be able to make an exception due to the circumstances?


  • SD DOE will accept an S grade for South Dakota Indian Studies
  • If an applicant now, or at a later point, wants to add an endorsement based on a major in content, the class cannot be used unless it has a letter grade.
  • Similar requirements may exist if seeking certification from another state.  Check with that state's Department of Education (DOE).
Q:  How do I declare a course S/U?

A: First, review the letter grades assigned by course instructors and consult with your academic advisor and others as needed.   Then, you can access the COVID S/U GRADING SELECTION: SPRING 2020 form on MyState.  You can access the form on the MyState Dashboard tab by going to the Grades Self Service & Transcripts portlet or the Announcements portlet. 

Then follow the directions at the COVID S/U Grading Selection:  Spring 2020 page.

Q:  Why is my zero credit lab not eligible for S/U grading?

A: Zero credit labs are NOT eligible for S/U grading because the lab grade is calculated into the lecture grade and not a stand-alone grade.

Q:  What is the timeframe for declaring a course S/U?

A: The time frame for requesting that a grade be recorded as S/U will be open from May 4, 2020 (first day of finals week) until midnight on May 18, 2020 (two weeks later).

Q:  What if I change my mind and want the grade changed back to regular A-F grading?

A: You can change your decision anytime during the designated time period of May 4, 2020 through May 18, 2020. For example, if you submit a request to change a grade for a course from C to S on May 5th and change your mind and want to keep the C grade, you can change your request up until May 18, 2020 at 11:59pm. Selections for choosing S/U grading options or retaining letter grades are final on May 18th and can NOT be changed again at a later date.

Q: What happens if a student does not request that a class's grade is recorded as S/U?

A: Unless a student specifically chooses to have their grade in a class recorded as S or U, they will be graded in the traditional A-F grading system or in whichever grading system the class was originally intended to grade them.

Q:  Is S/U grading optional?

A: S/U grading is entirely optional.  SDSU has designed it with the intention that choosing to select S/U grades will not negatively impact future academic success.

Q:  What happens if a student takes an incomplete for a course in spring 2020? Can the student select S/U grade this summer after completing the course?

A: Yes. All A-F grades that are reported for Spring 2020 semester – regardless of the exact start or ends dates of the class, regardless of when the grade is reported – can be recorded as S/U.

Q:  How will graduate and professional schools view grades reported as S/U when students apply to their institutions? 

A: Many institutions have already gone to some type of alternative grading option for spring 2020.  That being the case, one can reasonably expect that graduate and professional schools will take the unique circumstances in mind as they consider applications. If you are planning on attending graduate or professional school, you may want to elect to receive letter grades. We recommend you discuss the option with your academic advisor or faculty member.

Q:  I am repeating a course during spring 2020.  Will my current enrollment be counted toward the maximum number of attempts?

A: Undergraduate students taking any course (course numbers 001-499) during the spring 2020 semester shall not have the attempt counted against the maximum of three attempts. Graduate students taking any course (course numbers 500 and above) during the spring 2020 semester shall not have the attempt counted against the maximum of two attempts.

Q:  Will students who opt into S/U grades and who earn an S still be able to repeat the course?

A: Yes. Regardless of the grade earned and recorded, courses recorded as S/U are exempt from any policies limiting a student’s ability to retake the course.

Q:  Will using the S/U option affect eligibility for the Jackrabbit Guarantee Program?
A: Courses converted to S grades will count towards credits completed for Jackrabbit Guarantee requirements.  S and U grades will not be included in the GPA used to determine continued eligibility.
Q:  Will S and U grades impact my ability to meet financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards?

A: To maintain SAP, students must complete and pass at least 67 percent of cumulatively attempted credits. U grades (like F and W grades) will count as credits that have not been completed. If you do not meet SAP standards due to COVID-19 related circumstances, you will have the opportunity to appeal to continue receiving Federal Financial Aid.

Q:  If I am currently receiving financial aid on a probationary status, how will converting grades to S and U impact my eligibility for financial aid?

A: If you are receiving financial aid on a probationary status contingent upon meeting certain requirements or following an academic plan, please contact Financial Aid (at or 605-688-4695) to discuss how converting to S and U grades will impact your eligibility.

Q:  If a student is enrolled in an Honors class, how will the S/U affect the honors credit?

A: Students earning either a passing grade or “S” will earn Honors credit for the course.

Q:  If I want to change my major to one that requires letter grade, but I elected S/U grades in spring 2020, will I need to re-take courses?

A: If you are interested in pursing a major which requires letter grades, it is recommended that you keep letter grades for courses you are currently enrolled in for spring 2020. If you decide to change your major at a later date after S/U grades have been recorded, each of the academic programs which currently require letter grades will carefully consider S/U graded courses. In general S/U graded courses will be allowed and you will not need to retake courses. However, if you need to improve your grade points average in order to be more competitive for a professional program which requires letter grades, it may be recommended that you repeat a course. Contact the college or department office of the program you are interested in for more specific information and guidance.

Q:  Will I be placed on academic probation or academic suspension spring 2020 semester?

A: No undergraduate students will be placed on academic probation or academic suspension as a result of grades earned during the spring 2020 semester. This includes letter grades, S/U grades and any other grades identified.

Q:  What if I am currently on academic probation and earn a GPA that meets the standards for "good standing"?

A: Undergraduate students who receive letter grades instead of S/U grades are eligible for removal from academic probation if their GPA meets the standards for "good academic standing" which are outlined below:


Credit Hour

GPA Standard
Freshman0 - 29.991.8
Sophomore29 - 59.991.8

Undergraduate students who entered the spring 2020 semester on academic probation but do not earn a GPA needed to receive good academic standing shall remain on academic probation. This applies to students who receive letter grades, S/U grades, or an combination of letter and S/U grades. Only letter grades are used to calculate a student's GPA including for purposes of calculating academic standing.

Q:  Will the use of the S/U grades put an undergraduate student at greater risk of going on probation or being suspended?

A: Numerical grades that have been converted to an S or U will not be used by any entity at South Dakota State University in decisions about probation status.

Q:  Will a faculty member ever know if I chose an S/U grade in their course?
A: SDSU will not directly inform a faculty member that you converted your grade to an S or U.  However, if a faculty member is one of your academic advisors and has access to your transcript, or if you share your transcript with a faculty member when asking them to write a letter of recommendation or for some other reason, that faculty member will see your grades.
Q:  I am a student athlete. How does receiving a S/U grade affect my eligibility for athletics next year?

A: Any student athlete with a 2.5 CGPA or lower, currently repeating a course and/or considering a U grade (final letter grade of D or F) should contact their Academic Advisor in Athletics before choosing the alternative grade to avoid potential eligibility issues.  If you have any questions, contact your Athletic Academic Advisor or Kathy Heylens at

Q:  What happens if a student is repeating a course and elects the S/U option?

A: The repeat process will work as it has in the past. The prior grade will no longer count in the student’s Grade Point Average (GPA). Credits earned for the current course will count.  Because the course is being taken S/U, the grade earned will not be calculated into the GPA.

Q:  What if I need to withdraw from a course? How will this impact the total number of course withdrawals?

A: No student withdrawals from a course occurring during the spring 2020 semester will count again the six withdrawal maximum.

Q:  What if I already declared a course S/U this semester?

A: If you previously elected to take a course S/U, it will stay S/U.

Q:  Does S/U grading option apply to non-degree seeking students?

A: Yes, the option to declare S/U applies to non-degree seeking students.

Q:  Does S/U grading option apply to dual credit and concurrent credit students?

A: Yes, however, be sure to check with your high school guidance counselor prior to making this decision.  

Q:  How will S/U grades appear on my transcript?

A: For courses where the S/U grade have been selected, the course grade will appear as S or U on the transcript. 

Q:  Are there any possible negative effects if a student chooses to take an S grade in a course?

A: We do not see negative consequences for choosing to take an S grade instead of a letter grade in the context of studies here at SDSU. However, depending on your future plans, outside parties may view an S/U grade differently from a letter grade. Keep in mind that the use of alternative grading (S/U) is being widely used by a large number of universities.  

Q:  What other factors should be considered before deciding to convert a course to S/U?


  • A student who is doing well may decide to not convert a course(s) to S/U because a strong letter grade will improve the GPA.
  • A student who is concerned about not having a letter grade for graduate of professional school may not want to convert to S/U.
  • A student who plans to enter a profession where a letter grade is critical for competitive employment may not want to convert to S/U.
  • A student who plans to pursue overseas employment where a letter grade is essential may not want to convert to S/U.
Q:  What if I transfer to SDSU from another institution and have S/U grades on my transcript?

A: SDSU will accept transfer credits from students who received pass/fail, satisfactory/unsatisfactory, or equivalent grades at their preceding institution during the Spring 2020 term according to SDBOR Policy 2:5: Transfer of Credit.

Q:  If I have additional questions about declaring a course S/U, where should I go?

A: Contact your advisor about your choice and about any impact your choices might have for future courses or admissions to future programs. Academic advisor are available to communicate with students remotely.