Courses: Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory Grading Option

Policy

With the consent of the instructor and your academic dean, you may register for grading on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) basis in one course credit per semester or summer session. This policy only pertains to courses that are offered on a graded basis; courses that are only taught on an S/U basis are separate and are not included here.

There are some restrictions you should be aware of:

  • In a fall or spring semester, you must be enrolled in a total of 4.0 course credits at the beginning of the semester in order to be approved to take 1.0 credit on an S/U basis.  In other words, you may enroll in 3.0 credits on a graded basis and 1.0 credit on an S/U basis. 
  • In each summer term, you may take 1.0 course credit on an S/U basis by itself.
  • While you may take 1.0 course credit on an S/U basis every semester at Duke, only 4.0 credits on an S/U basis will count toward the 34 credits required for graduation.  Remember that this restriction only applies to courses that are normally graded.
  • If you enroll in a course on an S/U basis, you may subsequently change to a letter grade basis by submitting a form to the Office of the University Registrar.  See below for details and deadline.
  • However, the reverse is not true.  You may not enroll on a graded basis and then convert the course to an S/U basis once the course correction period has passed.  If you convert a course from an S/U basis to a graded basis, you may not change it back to an S/U basis.
  • A grade of S (satisfactory) will be awarded if you earn the equivalent of a letter grade of C- or higher.
  • A grade of U (unsatisfactory) will be awarded if you earn the equivalent of a D+, D, D- or F.
  • Grades of S and U are not factored into your grade point average.
  • Your ability to be placed on the dean's list may be affected.  If you enroll in 4.0 graded credits and an additional 1.0 credit on an S/U basis, you are eligible for the dean's list in that semester.  If you enroll in fewer than 4.0 graded credits and an additional 1.0 credit on an S/U basis, you are not eligible for the dean's list in that semester.  Also, receiving a U in any semester will prohibit you from being placed on the dean's list, no matter the number of course credits you are enrolled in.
  • Courses taken on an S/U basis may not be used to satisfy the requirements of any major, minor or certificate program (including prerequisites), unless the Director of Undergraduate Studies gives special permission.
  • Courses taken on an S/U basis may not be used to satisfy curriculum requirements.
  • Courses taken on an S/U basis will not be approved for transfer to Duke, if you are studying abroad, on a domestic study away program, or are transferring courses as institutional transfer credit.
  • Courses taken on an S/U basis will count toward annual and semester continuation requirements and toward the 34 credits required for graduation.
  • If you are receiving accommodations by the Student Disability Access Office and are approved for a reduced course load, you may enroll in an underload of 3.0 course credits where 2.0 course credits are graded and 1.0 course credit is on an S/U basis.
  • If you have taken a course on an S/U basis and earned an S, you may not retake the course.​

Procedure to Change Grading Basis from Graded to S/U  

To enroll in a course on an S/U basis, you should add the course normally through DukeHub and then submit a Declaration of S/U Grading Basis Form (see link below) to your instructor and then to your academic dean.  Both must sign and approve.  Your dean will then transmit the form to the Office of the University Registrar.  The deadline for requesting S/U grading and submitting it to your academic dean is 5 p.m. on the last day of the schedule correction period in a fall or spring semester.  The schedule correction period ends one week after the last day of drop/add and is listed on the Academic Calendar.  We note that this time period gives you the first three weeks of a fall/spring semester to determine if you would like to take a course on an S/U basis and to seek approval.  As a result, the S/U deadline is strictly enforced.  In a summer term, the deadline for submitting the form to your academic dean is 5 p.m. on the last day of the drop/add period.

ONLINE FORM: Declaration of the S/U Grading Basis

Procedure to Change Grading Basis from S/U to Graded

If you enroll in a course on an S/U basis and subsequently wish to convert it to a letter grade basis, you can do so by submitting a form directly to the Office of the University Registrar.  The deadline for submitting the form is 5 p.m. on the first day of the last four weeks of a fall or spring semester, or the equivalent time in a summer term.  

The form is available on the Registrar's Website (look under Student Records and then Forms ). 

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