11.18.20: Grading System (CR Grading) for Fall 2020

A message to undergraduate students

Dear Lehigh Undergraduate Students,

As you may have read, the Lehigh Student Senate and the Faculty Senate have passed resolutions recommending the use of the CR/DCR/NCR grading system for undergraduate grades in the Fall 2020 Semester. This system was created and used for semester grades in the Spring 2020 semester. I have discussed the resolution with Faculty Senate leaders, the college deans, and the deputy provosts. After consideration and with some concern that this change may result in unintended consequences, I have decided to allow students to elect the CR/DCR/NCR grading system for Fall 2020 with some modifications to how it will be implemented compared to last spring.

To change the basis of grading for a course, students must elect CR/DCR/NCR grading for the course by 11:59 PM Eastern Time, on Friday, December 4. Unlike Spring 2020, students will not be able to elect this grading system after the semester ends. The Office of Registration and Academic Services (RAS) is preparing an online form that will allow you to elect the credit grading system for individual courses. RAS will send you information about this form in the coming days.

This semester, eligibility for the dean’s list will apply only for those students completing 12 or more credit hours with standard letter grades. As with last semester, we will be allowing grades from the CR grading system to count toward the number of graded credits needed to qualify for degree honors and the President’s Scholars Program. RAS will update the FAQs with important information on CR grading during the Fall 2020 semester. I urge you to read these FAQs before making your decisions regarding grading. 

Students should carefully consider whether their interests are best served by electing to forgo letter grades for some courses. There is no doubt that this will help relieve end-of-semester stresses for some students. This has been another challenging semester for our students, and I recognize this. You may also have a set of circumstances that may have made it particularly difficult for you to perform your best work this term. These may be good reasons to elect a CR/DCR/NCR grade. Faculty may choose to discuss their views on the benefits and costs of electing the CR/DCR/NCR grading option with students in their classes or office hours. 

Yet the challenges of this semester were not completely unforeseen in the same way they were last semester; indeed, faculty and students knew that many courses would be remote before the start of the semester. Even the three-week move to remote learning was something we recognized might happen. We cannot know whether or not graduate programs or employers will view the CR grading system in the same way they did in the Spring 2020 term. Medical schools have not made a common statement on accepting Pass/Fail or similar grades for prerequisite courses. While most indicate they will view grades in context, most also prefer grades if P/F grading is optional. For this reason, I recommend that students carefully consider whether to opt for the change in grading system,especially if they are focused on applying to medical school or other highly competitive graduate or professional programs. Once you make this choice, and the deadline passes, you will not be able to revert to the standard letter grading system.

I am immensely proud of the perseverance of the student body as we start our last week of on-campus classes for the Fall 2020 semester. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and a good break, before we enter our last week of classes in December.


Nathan Urban

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs