Page last modified: March 8, 2021 at 10:12 am

Please note that these FAQs apply to Arts and Sciences and Engineering undergraduate students only. The spring 2021 grading policy will be the same as it was for fall 2020, with a two-tiered deadline system to accommodate 2021 Commencement.

Additional information can be found on the Pre-Professional Advising FAQ or Study Abroad FAQ.

A. Undergraduate Grading Policies – General

QA1. What is the Spring 2021 grading policy for WSE and KSAS undergraduate students?

The default grading system for all Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Whiting School of Engineering undergraduate students will be S** (satisfactory) or U** (unsatisfactory) grades. Students will have the opportunity to opt-in for letter grades.  These are the deadlines to opt-in for letter grades:

  • Undergraduate students graduating in May 2021:  5:00 pm EDT Wednesday, May 19, 2021
  • All other undergraduate students: 5:00 pm EDT Thursday, June 3, 2021.  

These deadlines apply even in cases where a final grade is not yet posted (such as an incomplete grade).

After these deadlines, grading choices are final and students will not be permitted to change their grading decisions.  This applies even in cases where a final grade is not yet posted (such as an incomplete grade).

All degree requirements that ordinarily require a letter grade, including those that would require a grade of C or higher, will be satisfied by a grade of S** earned in the Spring 2021 semester. For May 2021 graduates, it is up to each department to decide how they will award departmental honors.

There are some classes that are designated S/U grading only; in these classes, there is no letter-grade option available. Examples include all sections of EN.500.111, the HEART seminars, and all sections of AS.360.105, Intro to Hopkins: Arrive and Thrive.

Please note that students must complete all of their Spring 2021 course evaluations in order to see their grades in SIS. This requirement is intact for Spring 2021.

QA2.  How will my letter grades be converted to S**/U** grades?

This will happen according to the standard policy regarding Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grades.  This is the relevant excerpt from the catalogue:  

“On the academic transcript, students who earn a grade of C- or above in a S/U course receive Satisfactory credit and a mark of S is entered on the academic record. Students who earn a grade below C- in a S/U course receive no credit and a mark of Unsatisfactory is recorded on the academic record.”

QA3. How will these grades appear on my transcript?

Your grades will appear as letter grades or S**/U**, depending on the choices you make regarding grading method. In cases where a course is only offered on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis, the grade will be S or U. The transcript key distributed with every transcript will include an explanation of what these grades are and why they were assigned in this manner during the Spring 2021 semester. There will also be a transcript note added to all transcripts describing the Spring 2021 grading system.

QA4. How to I opt in for letter grades?

Later this semester, we will post a detailed handout about the procedure for selecting letter grade or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades for each of your spring 2021 classes. You will be able to begin making grading method decisions on or around May 3, 2021; the specific date will be confirmed here when the instructions are posted. Remember that the grade method selection deadlines are 5:00 pm EST on May 19, 2021 (students graduating in May 2021) and June 3, 2021 (all other undergraduates). 

QA5. Can I opt to receive a letter grade in some of my courses but not others or do I have to opt in for all my courses?

You may choose to receive letter grades for any number of classes in the Spring 2021 semester.  You are able to pick and choose which courses you wish to opt in for letter grades; if you do not actively choose the letter grade option, your grades will be posted as S** or U**, which are the default grades. 

QA6. Can I decide to show the letter grade for the class later if I need this grade for a professional school application or other purpose?

No, as stated in QA1 above, your grading decisions are final as of the deadlines posted above.

QA7. Will there be any explanation of the default S**/U** opt in letter grade grading policy for Spring 2021 on my Hopkins transcript?

Yes. To ensure that prospective employers and admissions offices of graduate and professional schools can properly evaluate the performance of Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Whiting School of Engineering undergraduate students in the Spring 2021 semester, we will include a notation on students’ transcripts stating the grading policy; an explanation will also be added to the transcript key that accompanies all transcripts that students request be sent to outside parties.

B. Deadlines

QB1. What are the deadlines for various academic actions this semester?

  • The deadline to add a course is Friday, February 5th at 4:30pm.*  
  • The last day to add independent academic work is Friday, March 5th
  • The last day to drop a class is Sunday, March 7th.***
  • The last day to request a standard leave of absence is Sunday, March 7th.
  • The last day to withdraw from a class is Friday, April 16th at 4:30pm.***
  • The last day to request a medical leave of absence or an emergency leave of absence is Friday, April 30th (last day of classes).

The deadline to select letter-grade option for one or more Spring 2021 courses is 5:00 pm EDT, on Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 (for students graduating in May 2021) and Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 (for all other undergraduates).  This applies even in cases where a final grade is not yet posted (such as an incomplete grade). After that, any grade not selected for letter-grade option will convert to S** or U** as described in QA2 above.

*After Friday, February 5th, students are not permitted to attend courses they are not officially registered for. The add period is over on Friday, February 5th.  

***Students must remain enrolled in at least 12 credits to maintain full-time status and to remain in good academic standing.

C. Course Retake

QC1. What is the retake policy for this semester?

Term of Initial AttemptGrading Method of Initial AttemptTerm of Retaken AttemptGrading Options for Retaken AttemptNotes
Fall 2019 or earlierS/UFall 2020 or Spring 2021S/U only
Fall 2019 or earlierLetter grade;
earned C+ or below
Fall 2020 or Spring 2021S**/U** or letter gradeGrade > C+ cannot be retaken; S** applicable to all degree requirements, regardless of normal minimum grade requirements/restrictions
Spring 2020S*/U* universalFall 2020 or Spring 2021S**/U** or letter gradeS** applicable to all degree requirements, regardless of normal minimum grade requirements/restrictions
Spring 2020Letter grade;
earned C+ or below
(given only for early-term courses)
Fall 2020 or Spring 2021S**/U** or letter gradeGrade > C+ cannot be retaken; S** applicable to all degree requirements, regardless of normal minimum grade requirements/restrictions
Summer 2020S/UFall 2020 or Spring 2021S/U
Summer 2020Letter grade;
earned C+ or below
Fall 2020 or Spring 2021S**/U** or letter gradeGrade > C+ cannot be retaken; S** applicable to all degree requirements, regardless of normal minimum grade requirements/restrictions
Fall 2020S**/U**; earned U**After Spring 2021S/U or letter gradeS** earned in fall 2020 cannot be retaken; no guarantee that in a future term, S will be applicable to all degree requirements, regardless of normal minimum grade requirements/restrictions.
Fall 2020Letter grade;
earned C+ or below
After Spring 2021Letter gradeGrade > C+ cannot be retaken
Spring 2021S**/U**; earned U**After Spring 2021S/U or letter gradeS** earned in spring 2021 cannot be retaken; no guarantee that in a future term, S will be applicable to all degree requirements, regardless of normal minimum grade requirements/restrictions.
Spring 2021Letter grade;
earned C+ or below
After Spring 2021Letter gradeGrade > C+ cannot be retaken

D. Academic Standing

QD1. How will academic standing be determined after the Spring 2021 semester grades are posted?

In most cases, the standard policy applies. This is the relevant excerpt from the catalogue:  

“At the end of each fall and spring semester, the academic advising offices review the records of all undergraduate students to evaluate the academic standing of each student. Students who earn less than 12 credits or earn a term GPA below 2.0 are placed on academic probation. A letter informing a student of this status and the terms of academic probation are sent to the student in January (for fall performance) or June (for spring performance).”

In the event that a student has no GPA for the Spring 2021 semester due to all S**/U** grades, academic standing will be assessed only on the completed credits measure.  All students must complete a minimum of 12 credits satisfactorily.  

QD2. I am on academic probation currently.  If I do not meet the requirements for good academic standing, will I be dismissed from the University?

The standard policy for academic dismissal applies. This is the relevant excerpt from the catalogue: 

“A student on academic probation who has not met the terms of probation will be subject to academic dismissal from the university for a minimum of one semester and a summer. A student whose term GPA falls below 1.0 or earns less than 6 credits may be dismissed without having been on academic probation the previous semester.”

In the event that a student has no GPA for the Spring 2021 semester due to all S**/U** grades, academic standing will be assessed only on the completed credits measure.  All students must complete a minimum of 12 credits satisfactorily.  

Students may direct inquiries about the dismissal process to their respective advising office. Students who intend to return to the university in a future semester are encouraged to work with their academic advisor to develop a plan for their time away.

E. Graduation

QE1. I am graduating in May 2021 and I was hoping to earn General Honors. How can I qualify for General Honors?

Students who are graduating in May 2021 and have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher will earn General Honors.

QE2. I am graduating in May 2021, and I was hoping to earn departmental honors. How can this happen?

Check with your department to learn how they will award departmental honors. This is up to each department to decide.

F. Dean’s List Policies

QF1. How will you determine who makes the Dean’s List for Spring 2021?

The standard criteria for Dean’s List will apply.  This is the relevant excerpt from the catalogue: 

“Students who earn a term grade point average of 3.50 or above in a program of at least 14 credits with at least 12 graded credits will be placed on the Dean’s List for academic excellence. Students with the SDS accommodation to be on a reduced course load and are opting to use that accommodation can earn Dean’s List if they earned a 3.5 or better in 8-11 credits of which at least 7 are completed with a letter grade.  An appropriate notation is made on the student’s academic record.”

If you want to be eligible for Dean’s List, make sure you are registered for enough credits and that you choose enough graded credits to qualify.

G. Special Situations

QG1. What if I am enrolled in a course at another Hopkins division?  How will I be graded?

All Homewood undergraduate students may choose S**/U** or letter grade for all Spring 2021 courses regardless of where the course is taken.  They will follow the same opt-in process as for their Homewood courses (under development, per QA4, above).

QG2. I am a Homewood undergraduate student who is taking a course at another institution through the Baltimore Student Exchange Program. How will I be graded?

All Homewood undergraduate students may choose S**/U** or letter grade for all Spring 2021 courses regardless of where the course is taken.  They will follow the same opt-in process as for their Homewood courses (under development, per QA4, above).

QG3. I am currently enrolled in a bachelor’s/master’s program and am enrolled in graduate courses for this semester. Can I choose to earn grades in my graduate courses for this semester?

All Homewood undergraduate students may choose S**/U** or letter grade for all Spring 2021 courses regardless of the level of the course.  They will follow the same opt-in process as for their Homewood undergraduate courses (under development, per QA4, above).

QG4. What if I cannot complete a course as scheduled?

Discuss this with your instructor. Existing policies regarding incomplete grades will remain in place for Spring 2021. Students and instructors must have clearly articulated written agreements regarding when and how incomplete grades will be resolved. The default deadline for completion is three weeks into the Fall 2021 semester. The default is that the grade will be recorded as I/U**, and if the work is not completed by this deadline, the grade will convert to a U**.  If a student opted for a letter grade in a course and gets an incomplete, the grade will be recorded as I/reversion grade (such as I/C or I/F) and the grade will convert to the reversion grade unless the faculty provides a new grade prior to the deadline.  Please note that you must select your grade method by the deadline, even in cases where a final grade is not yet posted, such as an incomplete grade.

H. Financial Aid

QH1. My financial aid package includes work-study. I am very worried about being able to find a remote campus job opportunity in the spring. What can I do about this?

Students receiving need-based financial aid typically have a work-study award of $2,700 for the academic year. We believe that there will be enough remote work-study opportunities to enable students residing in the U.S. to work part-time. If you are not able to find a part-time job though, you may request help from financial aid by following the Reconsideration of Financial Aid procedures.

QH2. I want to take a leave of absence for the Spring 2021 semester, but I am worried that by dropping or withdrawing from all of my classes, I will need to enroll for a ninth semester later. My financial aid is only guaranteed up to a maximum of eight semesters. Is there anything I should know about this?

Yes. For a student who takes a leave of absence, the need-based financial aid will be reinstated when the student returns to Hopkins as long as the student submits all the required application materials, continues to demonstrate need, and meets Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Students who will need a ninth semester of study in order to meet degree requirements due to their COVID-19 leave of absence will also be eligible to receive a ninth semester of financial aid. Merit scholarships, such as Hodson Trust, Westgate, and state of Maryland awards will not be renewed beyond eight semesters. If you have private scholarships, you will need to check the organization’s policy. If you have any financial aid–related questions, do not hesitate to contact the Financial Aid Office.

For other questions related to financial aid, please visit the Financial Aid website.

I. Leave of Absence

QI1. Can I take a leave of absence from the university in Spring 2021?

The deadline for students to take a standard leave of absence is Sunday, March 7, 2021. After March 7 until April 30, 2021, students may request either a medical leave of absence or an emergency leave of absence through the Office of Student Outreach and Support. The leave of absence, but not the specific type of leave, will be noted on the transcript.

You should be aware of the tuition refund policy posted on the Student Accounts website. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

QI2. If I am entitled to a tuition refund due to a leave of absence, how and when will I be reimbursed?

A refund will be issued to you according to the Bank Mobile preferences you selected in SIS within 7 -10 business days of your request being approved by your academic advising office and processed by the Registrar’s Office. Student Accounts is notified as a part of that process. If you have not already set your refund preferences, please review the instructions and make your selection as soon as possible in order to expedite your refund.

QI3. I want to take a leave of absence for the Spring 2021 semester, but I am worried that by dropping or withdrawing from all of my classes, I will need to enroll for a ninth semester later. My financial aid is only guaranteed up to a maximum of eight semesters. Is there anything I should know about this?

Yes. For a student who takes a leave of absence, the need-based financial aid will be reinstated when the student returns to Hopkins as long as the student submits all the required application materials, continues to demonstrate need, and meets Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Students who will need a ninth semester of study in order to meet degree requirements due to their COVID-19 leave of absence will also be eligible to receive a ninth semester of financial aid. Merit scholarships, such as Hodson Trust, Westgate, and state of Maryland awards will not be renewed beyond eight semesters. If you have private scholarships, you will need to check the organization’s policy. If you have any financial aid–related questions, do not hesitate to contact the Financial Aid Office.

J. Pre-Professional Advising

The Pre-Professional Advising Office has some advice regarding grading and other relevant topics.