CR/NC Advising Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The Allegheny College Faculty have voted to shift the default grading scheme for Spring 2020 to Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) for all classes. Please see here for an overview of the changes for Spring 2020.

Students who wish to do so may opt-out of the change and elect to still receive grades. We understand the gravity of this change, but we believe that the global COVID-19 pandemic means this is a semester like no other in the current lifetime of the College. All Allegheny College community members — student, faculty, and staff alike — are experiencing uncertainty and disruption to an unprecedented degree.

The following ONLY applies to Spring 2020. Our usual Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) policy applies to all other semesters.

Please see below for answers to various questions that students, parents, faculty and staff might have about this change and how it affects Allegheny students. If you have questions, please e-mail registrar@allegheny.edu.

Please see here for COVID-19 updates related to Allegheny College.


  1. Why has Allegheny College changed the default grading scheme for Spring 2020 to Credit/No Credit (CR/NC).

  2. How does CR/NC work?

  3. What does changing the default grading scheme to CR/NC mean for how my classes will be conducted? Will I have to do less work?

  4. What will appear on my transcript?

  5. How will my GPA be affected?

  6. What if I need specific classes for my major or minor? How will these CR/NC classes “count” towards my major, minor, distribution, or other requirements? 

  7. Can I take my senior project or junior seminar CR/NC? What about my FS courses?

  8. I want to still get letter grades for Spring 2020? Can I do that?

  9. Can some of my classes be CR/NC and some be graded?

  10. How do I know what my current grades are? Should I ask my faculty?

  11. My semester has been significantly disrupted by COVID-19 and I really don’t have a choice about taking Spring 2020 courses CR/NC. I am concerned I’ll be penalized for this. What should I do?

  12. I’ve already taken some classes CR/NC and I know there’s a cap on how many such classes I can take. What should I do?

  13. Some courses have grade prerequisites. Will I be able to take those courses if I take the prior class in the sequence CR/NC?

  14. I’m a senior. What does this mean for graduation and Latin Honors?

  15. What does this mean for Dean’s Lists?

  16. I’m a senior and I need additional GPA points to get my cumulative, major, or minor GPAs to 2.0. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?

  17. I am concerned about my Academic Standing. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?

  18. I am concerned about how CR/NC might affect my financial aid, particularly with Satisfactory Academic Progress. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?

  19. I plan to attend graduate or professional school after Allegheny. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?

  20. What about classes that are always CR/NC or that I elected to take CR/NC at the start of the Spring 2020 term? Can I now get a grade in those courses?

  21. What about classes that are required to be taken for a grade? Will those courses be converted to CR/NC? Will I be required to take a letter grade for those courses?

  22. I am repeating a course that I have taken before. How should I decide between CR/NC and a grade for the course?

  23. Can I retake a course in which I earned CR for Spring 2020 in a later semester?

  24. What about Module courses? How will they be graded?

  25. Can I still take an Incomplete in Spring 2020? If I do, how will the Incomplete be resolved?

  26. I took a Student-Initiated Withdrawal (‘X’) in a Spring 2020 course. Will that grade remain on my transcript?

  27. I’m a student-athlete. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?

  28. Are faculty still going to be entering grades? If my courses are taken CR/NC, will those grades be reported to anyone?

 


  • 1. Why has Allegheny College changed the default grading scheme for Spring 2020 to Credit/No Credit (CR/NC).
      • The shift to universal CR/NC grading centers the Spring 2020 Allegheny experience on learning rather than evaluation. It recognizes our shared humanity in the face of the challenge of our generation and it maintains our commitment to a high quality liberal arts education even through remote instruction. This decision centers the College on students who are at this moment the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged. It centers the College on students who have limited access to the Internet or to technology, who are caring for or worried about loved ones, and who are attempting to learn in challenging and unstable environments. Finally, this decision takes any possible stigma of a CR/NC decision and makes it the default, rather than the exception.
      • This change is on a spectrum with decisions made in the past weeks by other institutions including Albion College, Bowdoin College, Carnegie Mellon University, Denison University, Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, Grinnell College, Kalamazoo College, Kenyon College, Lawrence University, Macalester College, Middlebury College, Smith College, Swarthmore College, the University of Pittsburgh, Wellesley College and many others, including a number of Ivy League schools and many state flagship publics.
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  • 2. How does CR/NC work?
      • If you would otherwise have earned a “passing” grade in a course — grades of A through D — you will earn credit and a grade of CR will appear on your transcript. This will count towards the number of credits you have earned but will not alter your cumulative GPA.
      • If you would otherwise have earned a “failing” grade in a course — a grade of F — you will not earn credit and a grade of NC will appear on your transcript. This will not count towards the number of credits you have earned and will also not alter your cumulative GPA.
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  • 3. What does changing the default grading scheme to CR/NC mean for how my classes will be conducted? Will I have to do less work?
      • Changing the default grading scheme is intended to acknowledge the challenges of the semester and to give students the opportunity to concentrate on learning in their courses, and not have to worry about grades. Whether classes are taken for a grade or CR/NC, students are still responsible for following the syllabus, participating in classes, and submitting assignments — all according to whatever standards your faculty have set. 
      • We hope and trust that the relationships forged between students and faculty and the high standards that Allegheny students set for themselves, mean that this change will not change a student’s motivation to learn. It was not intended to do so.
      • Remember also that students can still elect to receive grades in the Spring 2020 classes, as per the procedures described in this document.
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  • 4. What will appear on my transcript?
      • All transcripts will have a notation for Spring 2020 to the effect that the College changed the default grading scheme to CR/NC with a grade opt-out. This cannot be customized between students and so will appear on all transcripts. This is consistent with what other schools are doing for Spring 2020.
      • If your courses are all graded CR/NC then those are the only grades that will appear on your Spring 2020 transcript. Your number of credits earned will change, but your cumulative GPA will not. You will have a 0.0 semester GPA but it will not count against you.
      • If you elect to have some or all of your classes graded, then the letter grades will appear on your transcript, you will have a semester GPA calculated only on the graded courses and your cumulative GPA will change accordingly.
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  • 5. How will my GPA be affected?
      • If all of your classes are CR/NC you will have a semester GPA of 0.0 but it will not count against you. Your cumulative GPA will not change.
      • If some or all of your classes are graded you will have a semester GPA based only on the graded classes and your cumulative GPA will change accordingly. It could go up or down.
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  • 6. What if I need specific classes for my major or minor? How will these CR/NC classes “count” towards my major, minor, distribution, or other requirements? 
      • All classes taken CR/NC in Spring 2020 under this arrangement will “count” towards all college requirements. This means your FS, junior seminar, senior project, major and minor courses, distribution courses, and anything else will “count” exactly as though it had been graded. Your major, minor, and cumulative GPA will not change unless you elect to earn grades in some or all of your courses.
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  • 7. Can I take my senior project or junior seminar CR/NC? What about my FS courses?
      • Yes, all of those classes will now be graded as CR/NC by default. They will “count” as though they were graded.
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  • 8. I want to still get letter grades for Spring 2020? Can I do that?
      • Yes, absolutely. Students who wish their Spring 2020 grades to be posted to their transcript may elect to opt-out of the universal CR/NC decision. They may do this on a course-by-course basis. They may opt-out by completing a form provided by the Office of the Registrar NO LATER than 5:00 pm Easterm Time on Wednesday 29 April (Study Day). Late requests will not be accepted and are not subject to appeal. Once the decision to elect grades has been made, it cannot be reversed and is not subject to appeal. i.e., the decision to opt-out of the universal CR/NC policy for Spring 2020 is final.
      • An e-mail was sent to every student on Monday 13 April with a link to a pre-filled Google Form. The e-mail’s subject was “From the Registrar: Form to Opt-Out of Default CR/NC Grading for 20/SP.”
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  • 9. Can some of my classes be CR/NC and some be graded?
      • Yes, you will be able to select which specific classes are taken for a letter grade, subject to the procedures set out in this document. One, some, or all. It’s your choice.
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  • 10. How do I know what my current grades are? Should I ask my faculty?
      • Only if you cannot work the grade out for yourself. In many cases you will already know this. Some faculty share interim grades via Sakai or Google Classroom. In other cases, faculty give detailed grading breakdowns in their syllabi that allow you to calculate your current grade based on graded work that has been returned to you. ONLY if none of these things are true would you need to contact faculty. Faculty are not going to have time to calculate interim grades for every student while continuing to teach their classes and fulfill their other responsibilities.
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  • 11. My semester has been significantly disrupted by COVID-19 and I really don’t have a choice about taking Spring 2020 courses CR/NC. I am concerned I’ll be penalized for this. What should I do?
      • To the maximum extent possible, Allegheny College will NOT penalize you for this. We recognize that this semester is very hard for many students. This is why we have set up so many safeguards for Allegheny students.
      • What we cannot control, as noted elsewhere, are admissions, employment, or other decisions made by third-parties. If you are concerned, you might ask faculty who know you well to mention your specific circumstances in their letters of recommendation — in as much detail as you are comfortable with. The Office of the Registrar is also willing, upon your request, to send an official letter detailing the circumstances of the semester to a graduate or professional school or employer. 
      • Remember you are not alone, hundreds of thousands of college students are in the same situation as you, right now. 
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  • 12. I’ve already taken some classes CR/NC and I know there’s a cap on how many such classes I can take. What should I do?
      • Courses taken CR/NC during Spring 2020 do not count toward a student’s total number of CR/NC courses in other terms. So you do not need to be concerned about this.
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  • 13. Some courses have grade prerequisites. Will I be able to take those courses if I take the prior class in the sequence CR/NC?
      • Earning Credit for any course during Spring 2020 will count as fulfilment of the prerequisite for subsequent courses in a sequence, even if those courses otherwise have grade pre-requisites.
      • However, just because you may take the next course in the sequence, does not mean you should. Grade prerequisites are there to protect students first and foremost. We know that students who are underprepared for the next course in a sequence tend to do poorly. It may be unwise for students to take the next class in the sequence if they are insufficiently prepared. Please consult the faculty in the discipline to get advice about what you should do.
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  • 14. I’m a senior. What does this mean for graduation and Latin Honors?
      • For graduating seniors, Latin and other Honors, will be based on the GPA earned at the end of the most recent semester completed. Spring 2020 grades will NOT be eligible for inclusion in these calculations, even for students who opt-out of the CR/NC option. This is not going to be negotiable.
      • Transfer students who lack the 64 credit minimum eligibility for Latin Honors as a result of this proposal may appeal to the Dean’s Exemption Committee. The decision of the Committee on the matter will be final and not subject to further appeal.
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  • 15. What does this mean for Dean’s Lists
      • Recognition for all students via the Alden Scholars Dean’s List or Distinguished Alden Scholars Dean’s List will be based on their Fall 2019 grades ONLY and will be based on completion of a minimum of 15 credits (half of the typical 30 credit threshold). This is not going to be negotiable.
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  • 16. I’m a senior and I need additional GPA points to get my cumulative, major, or minor GPAs to 2.0. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?
      • If you are likely to pass your courses and earn the required GPA points to get your cumulative, major, or minor GPAs to at least 2.0, you should elect to take grades in those courses.
      • If you are unlikely to pass a course and earn the necessary GPA points this semester, it may be wise to accept the CR/NC default. This will not further reduce your GPA, although you will need to take additional classes at Allegheny in a future semester.
      • For seniors, these decisions could have consequences related to fifth-year financial aid, so please consult with the Office of Financial Aid before making a decision.
      • Graduating seniors who lack a 2.0 cumulatively or in their major(s) or minor(s) may appeal to the Dean’s Exemption Committee. There is no guarantee that the Committee will decide in favor of the student and the decision of the Committee on the matter will be final and not subject to further appeal.
      • You should consult with your advisor(s), Financial Aid, and the Office of the Registrar before making a decision about grades for Spring 2020 courses.
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  • 17. I am concerned about my Academic Standing. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?
      • If you are on Academic Warning, Academic Probation, or Poor Academic Standing and all of your Spring 2020 courses are taken as CR/NC, then there will be NO change to your standing. You will not be eligible for academic suspension or dismissal and may return to Allegheny in the Fall as usual.
      • If you are on Academic Warning, Academic Probation, or Poor Academic Standing and some or all of your Spring 2020 courses are taken for a grade, then your Academic Standing may change as a result, either positively or negatively. This may result in suspension or dismissal from the College. 
      • You should consult with your advisor(s) and the Office of the Registrar before making a decision about grades for Spring 2020 courses.
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  • 18. I am concerned about how CR/NC might affect my financial aid, particularly with Satisfactory Academic Progress. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses? 
      • Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policies are set by federal financial aid regulations, and so we have limited discretion in how we apply them.
      • If you are on a SAP continued academic plan that requires you earn a certain number of credits but does not have a GPA component, then there is no issue with your taking classes CR/NC. You must complete the number of credits indicated in your academic plan with “CR”.
      • If you are on a SAP continued academic plan that requires you meet a GPA target, then you must complete the minimum number of credits for a grade, and meet the minimum GPA for the semester established in your academic plan. Again, these are federal regulations.
      • Satisfactory Academic Progress is checked at the end of each academic year. If you complete this semester with CR/NC courses, your previously earned cumulative GPA will be used during this year’s review. Students who fail to make SAP for the first time at the end of this year will have the ability to appeal for a probationary semester.
      • In either case, you should consult with the Office of Financial Aid before making a decision about Spring 2020 courses.
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  • 19. I plan to attend graduate or professional school after Allegheny. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?
      • Allegheny College cannot control the admissions policies of other institutions. Some graduate and professional schools have already announced changes to their policy on accepting certain classes CR/NC and we expect that others will follow. But we are equally certain that some will not.
      • If you need a specific course for admission to a graduate and professional program, you would be advised to take the course for a grade, unless you have positive confirmation that the school in question will accept such a course CR/NC.
      • Please remember that dozens if not hundreds of undergraduate institutions across the world are making decisions on a spectrum with the decision that Allegheny College has made, so you will not be unique if you have CR/NC grades on your transcript.
      • Please consult with your advisor(s), the pre-professional advisors in the Allegheny Gateway, and the graduate or professional schools that you are applying to if you have questions.
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  • 20. What about classes that are always CR/NC or that I elected to take CR/NC at the start of the Spring 2020 term? Can I now get a grade in those courses?
      • No. Any class that is listed in the Academic Bulletin as “Must be taken Credit/No Credit” or similar language or that you elected to take CR/NC early in the Spring 2020 semester via the usual means may NOT now be taken for a grade. All of those courses will remain CR/NC.
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  • 21. What about classes that are required to be taken for a grade? Will those courses be converted to CR/NC? Will I be required to take a letter grade for those courses?
      • Any course that is listed in the Academic Bulletin as “Must be taken on the letter-grade basis” or similar language will now have CR/NC as the default. You may still opt out of CR/NC and receive a letter grade, as described elsewhere.
      • Classes in your major, minor, and for distribution that are usually required to be taken for a grade so they can “count” may be taken CR/NC in Spring 2020. They will “count” as if they were graded.
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  • 22. I am repeating a course that I have taken before. How should I decide between CR/NC and a grade for the course?
      • The most recent course is the one that “counts” for the purposes of transcripting credits and grades. So, if you took a class before and are taking the same class in Spring 2020, the Spring 2020 version is what will “count.” So, CR in Spring 2020 will replace an F or any other grade in a previous semester.
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  • 23. Can I retake a course in which I earned CR for Spring 2020 in a later semester?
      • Yes. In that case, the most recent course will “count.” So, if you earned CR (or NC) in a Spring 2020 course and then retake it for a grade in a later semester, that grade will be counted in your GPA.
      • In some cases, retaking a course even if you earned credit would be a good idea. This is especially true in the departments with sequential courses and grade prerequisites. If you would have earned a C- or D, you might not be appropriately prepared for the next course in the sequence. 
      • Please consult the faculty in the discipline to get advice about what you should do. 
      • Students who receive any federal financial aid (grants, loans, or work study) may only receive these funds for a repeated passed course once. Please consult the Office of Financial Aid before considering repeat coursework.
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  • 24. What about Module courses? How will they be graded?
      • Module A (first seven-week) courses will be graded as before. If they were graded, they will be graded, and if they were CR/NC, they will be CR/NC. Students may not elect to change the grading scheme for Module A courses. 
      • Module B (second seven-week) courses will be changed to CR/NC as the default. Students may elect to earn grades in these courses on the same basis as described for semester courses.
      • For students with Academic Standing concerns, Module A courses, even if graded, will not cause them to be suspended or dismissed from the College.
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  • 25. Can I still take an Incomplete in Spring 2020? If I do, how will the Incomplete be resolved?
      • Yes, you can still take an Incomplete for a Spring 2020 course. Grades of Incomplete for Spring 2020 classes may only be resolved as CR, NC, or W, unless the student has opted out, in which case they will be assigned letter grades. The deadline for students to complete Spring 2020 incomplete work has been extended from September 23 to December 15, 2020.
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  • 26. I took a Student-Initiated Withdrawal (‘X’) in a Spring 2020 course. Will that grade remain on my transcript?
      • Yes, all Student-initiated Withdrawals (‘X’) from Spring 2020 courses will remain on the transcript as an X.
      • A student who took an X at the very last minute and would like to reverse that decision because they think they can now earn CR should petition the Dean’s Exemption Committee (DEC) as soon as possible. The longer you delay, the less likely the Committee is to be able to approve your request. Either way, the DEC will decide your request based on the information provided, so please do not assume a positive result. Once made, those decisions will not be subject to further appeal. i.e., if you are allowed to convert an X back to a graded course, you will not then be able turn it back into an X. 
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  • 27. I’m a student-athlete. How should I decide between CR/NC and graded courses?
      • If you are in Good Standing with the College and eligible to compete, there is no disadvantage to your taking courses CR/NC. It should not affect your athletic eligibility for Fall 2020.
      • If you are on Academic Warning or Academic Probation with the College and eligible to compete, there is no disadvantage to your taking courses CR/NC. It should not affect your athletic eligibility for Fall 2020.
      • If you are on Poor Academic Standing with the College and ineligible to compete, then you will need to make a choice. 
        • If you are likely to pass some or all of your classes and return to Good Standing based on grades, you would be wise to elect to take grades in those courses. If you return to Good Standing, you will be eligible to compete in Fall 2020. 
        • If you are not likely to return to Good Standing based on your Spring 2020 grades, then you might be wise to not elect to take grades in your courses. You will not be eligible to compete in Fall 2020, but you will be able to return to the College.
        • Student-athletes on Poor Academic Standing and whose Spring 2020 classes are CR/NC may appeal to the Dean’s Exemption Committee for a one-semester waiver that would allow them to be eligible in Fall 2020. The decisions of the Committee are not guaranteed to be in favor of the student and the decision of the Committee will be final and not subject to further appeal.
        • Student-athletes should consult their academic advisor(s), their coach(es), the Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation, or the Office of the Registrar before they make a decision.
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  • 28. Are faculty still going to be entering grades? If my courses are taken CR/NC, will those grades be reported to anyone?
    • Yes, faculty will still be entering grades at the end of the semester. Those grades will be converted to CR/NC as appropriate and the CR/NC grades are what will appear on the transcript.
    • As the deadline for students to elect CR/NC in Spring 2020 courses is so close to the end of the semester, we will not be reporting to faculty any student’s decision to take a class CR/NC. Students may tell faculty if they wish.
    • For classes taken on the CR/NC basis, the Office of the Registrar will not be reporting grades to anyone, for any purpose, except to the Dean’s Exemption Committee in specific cases where it is necessary to come to a decision on a student petition. This is not negotiable.
    • However, with the appropriate permissions, faculty may discuss student’s earned letter grades in their letters of recommendation. In most cases, unless students disclose, faculty will not know if a student earned letter grades or CR/NC.
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Last updated Monday 20 April 2020