Grading Principles for Spring Semester 2020

April 3, 2020

Dear Students,

In response to the unusual and challenging circumstances that instructors and students are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus announced on March 20 Grading Policies for the Spring Semester of 2020. These policies include the decision to make Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) the default grading basis for all undergraduate courses for the spring 2020 semester.

For undergraduates concerned about how P/NP grades may affect their applications to graduate and professional schools, the Council of Deans has endorsed this statement: 

UC Berkeley evaluates applicants for admission to its graduate and professional schools holistically, meaning that we consider an applicant’s combination of personal accomplishments, letters of recommendation, personal statements, academic record, and test scores in making our admissions decisions. Such a review will take into account the significant disruptions of COVID-19 when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials from Spring 2020. We understand that many institutions across the country instituted P/NP grading policies during that semester. Thus, we will not penalize students for the adoption of P/NP and other grading options during this unprecedented period, whether the choices were made by institutions or by individual students. Our admissions evaluation will focus primarily on a student’s academic performance prior to this period, and if applicable, following this period. What is most important is that applicants demons trate that they pursued a challenging curriculum that was relevant to their plan for graduate or professional school.

In addition to Berkeley, other universities have recognized the unusual circumstances of this semester and are following similar principles with respect to grades and graduate school admissions. As we have continued to observe in admissions cycles, Berkeley graduates have a remarkable track record of success in graduate school admissions to the most competitive programs in the country. Our graduates are admired for their academic abilities and resilience, and are assessed, as always, on their overall performance. We are confident that graduate admissions committees will make generous allowances for the academic challenges produced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We hope you are safe and well and look forward to celebrating your successes in the years to come.  

Best regards,

A. Paul Alivisatos
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Catherine P. Koshland
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education

Lisa García Bedolla
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division

This message is being sent to all UC Berkeley undergraduate students