Surbhi Bharadwaj

The Yale College Dean’s Office will extend the Credit/D/Fail option to all courses this semester, according to a Friday afternoon announcement that came short of giving a final answer on the universal pass proposal.

According to an email from Yale College Dean Marvin Chun, students can take an unlimited number of courses as Credit/D/Fail — even if the class counts for distributional and major requirements or is part of the senior essay. Any courses taken Credit/D/Fail will not count for a student’s typical four-credit limit, he wrote.

The announcement came amid heated debate surrounding the universal pass — a policy which would grant a blanket “pass” for all Yale College courses in lieu of letter grades. Chun wrote in his update that the administration will discuss the Universal Pass/Fail proposal, among other ideas, at a faculty meeting on April 2. For now, the expansion will allow students to elect for a letter grade or Credit/D/Fail and “may request a grade of Pass” if the undergraduate feels “unable to complete” the course and has already done “sufficient work to warrant a Pass.” Those looking to explore this option should consult their instructor, he added.

“I know from hearing from so many of you, either directly or through your faculty mentors, heads, deans, cultural center directors, coaches, and advisers, or through the Yale College Council, that you and your families are struggling,” Chun wrote. “I am thinking of all of you right now.”

Chun also wrote that grades for this semester “will not” be factored into calculating academic awards like distinction in the major or general honors. Graduating seniors should be recognized using “other criteria,” he wrote. Still, in an email to the News, Chun later clarified that spring-term grades will factor into students’ overall grade-point average calculation.

Chun’s announcement recognized the passionate student debate surrounding universal pass — a system that has been the subject of fervent debate among Yalies and other student bodies across the nation. Leading up to the April 2 meeting, Chun said students should continue debating the proposal with fellow students and faculty members “respectfully and with an open mind.”

He said that he will continue to evaluate proposals and converse with the Yale College Council. Chun also invited further student input via an upcoming link on the Yale College FAQ page.

“The challenges ahead are not insurmountable, and you are not facing them alone: you are still connected with your classmates, friends, and peers; you have the support of the faculty and the staff; and you now carry with you, wherever you are, the sense of community that you have built here on campus,” Chun wrote. “I have full faith in you, and I am right here with you as we start these next extraordinary weeks together.”

Directors of Undergraduate Studies met with Yale College leadership on Wednesday to discuss temporary alterations to the College’s traditional grading systems in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Two DUSes confirmed to the News that members present did not seem to favor the universal pass system and leaned toward other options.

The decision comes as Columbia University announced Friday that it would move to a mandatory pass-fail grading system in light of the disruptions sparked by the novel coronavirus outbreak. According to a report from the Columbia Spectator, students will be unable to opt-out of the grading system or view their letter grades.

The Yale College COVID-19 FAQ page has also been updated to reflect Chun’s new announcement and to add additional academic and financial guidance. According to the page, students can now change spring courses they previously elected to take Credit/D/Fail to the letter grade option, and students may also reverse any course withdrawals this semester.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.


Matt Kristoffersen |