Spring 2021 COVID-19 Updates

In response to the unusual and challenging circumstances that instructors and students are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate Council in partnership with academic units, the Office of the University Registrar, Office of Graduate Life, Faculty Senate and GAPSA, has extended the following policy and/or procedural changes to Spring 2021 graduate courses. 

  • Each student registered in Spring 2021 A-F graded graduate courses is able to decide, individually, on a course-by-course basis, whether they want to receive a letter grade in the class or an alternative grading mode option as detailed below.
  • Students enrolled in Spring 2021 graduate courses will be permitted to change to an alternative grading mode option through the first day of classes in Summer, 2021, which is Monday, May 17, 2021.
  • Students who have applied for graduation in Spring 2021 should make their selections NO LATER THAN April 1, 2021, in order to avoid delays with conferring their degree.

The alternative grading mode designations for graduate courses for Spring 2021 classes will be as follows:

  • XS (Extraordinary Circumstances – Satisfactory) – The student earns credit in the course by meeting a minimum grade threshold; at the graduate level it would be a B- or higher. 
  • XP (Extraordinary Circumstances – Pass) – The student earns credit in the course but has not met a minimum grade threshold to apply the course to requirements with a minimum grade requirement; at the graduate level this would be a C grade.
  • XN (Extraordinary Circumstances – No Credit) – The student does not earn credit in the course.
  • XW (Extraordinary Circumstances – Withdrawal) - The student withdraws from the class as a result of difficulties arising from COVID-19. No credit is earned in the class. Students must withdraw prior to the last day of classes or prior to receiving a final grade in the class, whichever comes first. Once a final grade has been reported, the XW grade is no longer available.

Note: There will be a transcript notation in each term the alternative grade mode is offered.

All should be aware:

  • None of the above alternative grading mode options (XS, XP, XN) will count towards a student’s GPA;

Implementation

The Office of the Registrar has communicated that students who wish to select the alternative grade mode must submit the Change of Grade Mode Request form. See the Spring 2021 academic options page of the University Registrar website for more information. Students may enter multiple sections on one form. Students will need the SUBJ (Subject), CRSE (Course), and SECT (Section) information for each class they wish to designate.

Students do not have to select it for every class, they can pick and choose. If a student takes NO ACTION, the grading mode will default to A-F grading, as originally registered in the class. For graduate students who elect alternative grading, the grade submitted by the faculty will then be converted by the Registrar to the appropriate alternative grades.

Additional details can also be found on the Office of the University Registrar Spring 2021 academic options page.

In addition, the Graduate Council has extended the approval of the following accommodations for the Spring 2021 semester:

  • Withdrawal (XW) Students may withdraw from any graduate courses by the last day of classes, or until a final grade is submitted. These withdrawals will appear with the notation "XW" on their official transcript. Note: electing the withdrawal option (XW) is a final grade and cannot be changed. Once a final grade has been submitted, the student may still select the alternative grade mode through the first day of classes in Summer 2021, but the student may not withdraw from a class that has received a final grade.
  • IN (Incomplete Grades) - Incomplete grades may continue to be given by instructors to graduate students who are passing a course but who may be unable to complete scheduled coursework by the end of the semester due to extenuating circumstances. Instructors should be flexible in awarding Incompletes if the student requires additional time to finish coursework. Students should be aware of the consequences of not completing scheduled coursework after receiving an IN. See AP.3.3 for more information.

To ensure graduate students make the best selection for themselves and maximize their potential for long-term academic and professional success, we strongly encourage:

  • Graduate students to seek advising and guidance from their advisor, mentor, coordinator, and/or College/School's Academic or Student Affairs office prior to making any decision about their courses;
  • Graduate students to determine the impact of electing an alternative grading mode option, Withdrawal, and/or being awarded an Incomplete may have on financial aid, academic standing, licensure, admission to professional programs, scholarships, fellowships, amongst other issues before making a decision;
  • All instructors teaching graduate courses to provide their students with feedback on their academic progress in the course regularly until the end of the semester.

Special Consideration for International Students

If you are an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, please be aware that withdrawing from a course will reduce your credit load.  F-1 and J-1 students must enroll full-time in the fall and spring semesters in order to maintain their SEVIS record. Full-time status is defined by the Registrar.  Even for those students who have left the United States, full-time enrollment is required to keep the SEVIS record active.  The University is required to terminate the SEVIS record of any student who drops below full-time, unless the student has permission in writing from the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) prior to dropping classes. Students who cannot enroll or remain full-time should contact an OIPS advisor for guidance.  F-1 and J-1 students do not need permission to choose an alternative grading option as long as they maintain full-time enrollment.  Further information is available in the Self-Service Center at https://oips.gmu.edu/.

Additional Changes

Graduate Council and partners have extended the alterations of the following graduate policies for Spring 2021:

  • For the Spring 2021 semester, the academic termination policy has been altered for all graduate students. All letter grades “C” or the equivalent alternative grades “XP” received in graduate courses will not count towards the number of unsatisfactory grades stated under AP.6.6.2 Academic Termination. Graduate students, who may receive letter grades “F” or the equivalent alternative grades “XN”, should consider the available withdrawal option as the effect of these non-passing grades on AP.6.6.2 Academic Termination will remain unaltered.
  • The GA hiring procedures have been altered for all graduate students who may be offered a graduate assistantship for Fall 2021. Students must be in good academic standing, maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, and not have any unsatisfactory grades by the end of Fall 2019 or any letter grades “F” or the equivalent alternative grades “XN” in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021. No unsatisfactory grades (letter grades “C” or the equivalent alterative grades “XP” earned during Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and/or Spring 2021) should be considered for GA hiring decisions.
  • For the Spring 2021 semester, the coursework requirements policy for accelerated master's students has been altered. Letter grades “A-C” or the equivalent alternative grades “XS” and “XP” received in graduate courses in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 will count towards the number of credits that can be applied to the undergraduate degree and provide the student advanced standing in the related Mason master's program. Letter grades “F” or the equivalent alternative grades “XN” will not count.
  • For the Spring 2021 semester, the change from non-degree status policy has been altered. Letter grades “A-C” or the equivalent alternative grades “XS” and “XP” received in graduate courses in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 will count towards the number of credits that can transferred to the degree program. Letter grades “F” or the equivalent alternative grades “XN” will not count.

Rest assured your health and well-being is our primary concern. Additional information and guidance will be sent to instructors, staff, and student advisors; we are very grateful to them for the additional effort that will be required of them to help implement these changes.

For more important and related information, the Office of the University Registrar - Spring 2021 Academic Options webpage.