With the consent of the instructor and your academic dean, a student in a normal course load may register for grading on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) basis in one course per semester or summer session. Four lifetime voluntary S/U courses are permitted during a student’s tenure at Duke (this does not include involuntary S/U courses or courses from Spring 2020 – Fall 2021). 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.
Students who receive an S will receive credit toward general education requirements, including curriculum codes, and the course will count toward the 34.0 course credits for graduation and continuation requirements. No other degree requirements (major, minor, certificate, including prerequisites) may be met by a course passed under the S/U option, unless by special permission of the director of undergraduate studies of the department or program.
Instructors will indicate at the time of enrollment and no later than the beginning of the course if letter grades are mandatory; otherwise, S/U grading is permitted by the instructor. Students who wish to take a course on an S/U basis must obtain permission from their academic dean.
If you are enrolled in a class numbered 500 or higher, please note that these are courses designed for graduate students and have not been coded to indicate whether an instructor will allow undergraduates to that them Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. All courses numbered 500 and above will require permission from the instructor for a student to take the course S/U.
Students have until the withdrawal deadline (usually set four weeks before the end of courses) to switch the grading basis for a course to an S/U basis. Students must enroll in a course on a graded basis and may be allowed to switch to an S/U basis prior to that date by filing a request with their academic dean. Students are advised to wait to switch to S/U grading until they are certain. An S grade earned in a course may not be converted subsequently to a letter grade, and the course may not be retaken.
Applying to Take a Course S/U
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.
Restrictions of this Policy
- 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. For the purposes of the present policy, courses for which the S/U grading is mandatory are treated as regularly graded courses. *Seniors in their final semester who are eligible to underload or attend part-time may take a graded course S/U if they are also enrolled in at least one graded 1.0-credit course.
- 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 convert a course from a graded basis to an S/U basis, you may not change it back to a graded 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.
- No course credit will be earned for courses in which a student receives a U grade.
- 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. Students enrolled in an S/U course must be enrolled in at least three graded courses to be eligible for the dean’s list in that semester. 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 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. When ready, but no later than the withdrawal deadline (usually set four weeks before the end of courses) you should submit a Declaration of S/U Grading Basis Form (see link below) to your academic dean. Once approved, 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 11:59 p.m. on the withdrawal deadline. The date is listed on the Academic Calendar. The S/U deadline is strictly enforced.
- Make sure to include your Dean’s name on this form – your form will not be processed without it.
- Make sure to check that your grade has been converted in Duke hub – this may take a day or two to post.
ONLINE FORM: Declaration of the S/U Grading Basis
The S/U policy changed over the course of Spring 2020-Fall 2021 due to the pandemic. A brief history of those policy changes can be found here: