Pass-Fail Option

The Pass/Fail option was created to allow students to explore an academic area that they find interesting, but for which they may not have a significant amount of prior knowledge.  For example, a student majoring in English may have an interest in Anthropology 153a:  Writing Systems and Scribal Traditions, but worry that they do not have a strong enough background in anthropology to take the course. This student may want to take the anthropology course pass/fail, so he or she can still explore the subject in spite of concerns about academic preparation.  Pass/fail should not be used as a way to try to accumulate additional credit hours. Nor should a student take a class pass/fail when he or she does not have the required prerequisites for the class.

Undergraduate students may enroll in up to four semester courses pass/fail. Letter grades covered by "pass" ("P" for performance at the "C-" level or above) will not be used in computing grade point averages. Grades of "D"and "E" will remain letter grades, to be used in computing grade point averages, and will be considered by Committee on Academic Standing when determining academic standing.

The following constraints apply to the use of the P/F grading option:

A. No more than one course may be taken pass/fail during a single term.

B. One course may be used to fulfill a general university requirement, excepting University Writing Seminars, writing-intensive and oral communication courses, with the pass/fail grading. No more than one course (and never the final one) in the foreign language sequence may be taken pass/fail if the language is being offered in satisfaction of the foreign language requirement.

C. Normally, courses taken pass/fail will not satisfy major or minor requirements. (Consult with the appropriate Undergraduate Advising Head for department/program-specific practices.)

D. In full-year courses, the elected grading option (pass/fail or letter grade) applies to both semesters and may not be changed at midyear. (Such a course taken pass/fail would expend two of the allowable four pass/fail semesters.)

E. Selection of the pass/fail grading option for a course must be made on or before the deadline announced in the university calendar normally, the 15th day of instruction. A course attempted on the pass/fail basis, in which the student received a grade of C- or higher, may be converted to a P grade after the end of the semester and before the announced deadline in the following semester, normally the 15th day of instruction. Students who wish to use the pass/fail grading option for an allowable general education requirement must indicate this when converting the received grade of C- or higher to the P.

F. In an undergraduate's final semester, conversion of a course attempted on the pass/fail basis, in which the student received a grade of C- or higher, must be converted to a P grade before the deadline announced in the university calendar for the receipt of senior grades, normally three days after the last day of final examinations.

Students must make all pass/fail option requests within the published deadlines — no exceptions will be made for a student missing the deadline to make an initial pass/fail option request nor to make a request to cover a grade for a course which had been elected on the pass/fail option earlier in the semester.

Petitions for exceptions to the above constraints and deadlines will not be entertained.

Please note: Arrangements between students and instructors do not constitute official pass/fail enrollment. Instructors are not informed of the grading option that a student has chosen. Students taking courses pass/fail must complete all assignments and examinations.

Undergraduate students elect the Pass/Fail option by completing, in person, an Undergraduate Pass/Fail Form at the Office of the University Registrar, 121 Kutz Hall, prior to the published deadline.


How do I designate a class as pass/fail?
There are two steps involved. 

  • Step One:  You must indicate your intent to use the pass/fail option for a specific course on or before the deadline announced by the University. See the academic Calendar for the specific dates.  You do this by filling out the Pass/Fail Form in the Registrar’s office. You will be given a copy of the completed form for your records. It is important that you keep this form for step two.
  • Step Two: You must confirm that you still want to use the pass/fail option.  This is done after the grade has been entered on Sage. The deadline for this confirmation is approximately 3 weeks after the beginning of the next semester.   You may confirm with the Registrar’s office that you still want to cover the grade with a “P” either by sending an email to passfail@brandeis.edu requesting that the grade be covered (don’t forget to mention which course it is) or by bringing your copy of the Pass/Fail form (that you received at the beginning of the semester) back to the Registrar’s office.  You may not cover a grade below a C-.  If you do not confirm that you want to cover the grade with a “P” the grade will appear on your transcript. 

Is there a limit to the number of classes I can take pass/fail?
Yes, you may take a total of four pass-fail courses during your four years at Brandeis but never more than one in any given semester.

How does a pass/fail course affect my GPA?
A grade of P, which may only be used to cover a grade of C- or above, is not used in computing the GPA.  For work below the C- level, the letter grade remains on your record and is counted in the GPA.

Can I use pass/fail classes to fulfill my foreign language requirement?
You may take a maximum of one foreign language course pass/fail but never the final course in the foreign language sequence (if it is being used to fulfill the foreign language requirement). Given the cumulative nature of language study, the language departments of Brandeis strongly encourage you to not use the pass/fail option for any language courses.

Can I use pass/fail classes to fulfill a general university requirement?
One course may be used to fulfill a general university requirement, excepting University Writing Seminars, writing-intensive and oral communication courses, with the pass/fail grading. No more than one course (and never the final one) in the foreign language sequence may be taken pass/fail if the language is being offered in satisfaction of the foreign language requirement.