Letter to Students Regarding S/U Grading

March 20, 2020

NMU undergraduate students,

As the President announced in a recent email, NMU will continue remote instruction through the end of the current semester (winter 2020). We’ve heard from several of you about your concern regarding how this unexpected transition and related disruptions may impact grades in courses.

In light of the nature of this situation, with its constantly changing circumstances and the stress and difficulties that creates, we are providing all undergraduate students the option to change their course grading method to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) regardless if your course was originally an on campus or online course. 

The decision to change to S/U grading can be on a course-by-course basis; you do not have to make this decision for all of your courses. It is important to understand what Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grades mean. If you choose this grading method for a course(s), your grade will change to an “S” grade if you earned a C or higher or it will change to a U if you earned a C- or lower If you earn an “S” for the course, you will still earn credit for the course, but it is not part of the calculation of your GPA. If you receive a “U” there is no credit awarded for the course (therefore, it will not meet degree requirements), however, it also is not used to calculate your GPA. Neither an S or U is used to calculate GPAs. 

This is an important decision and should not be taken lightly. It is strongly recommended that before making the decision, you consult with your academic adviser or, if they are not available, an adviser in ACAC.  Here are some things to consider prior to making your decision:

  • If you decide to stay with a letter grade and earn an A through a D-, you would receive credit for the course and the grade is used to calculate your GPA. That course will still meet General Education requirements, can count as an elective, and may still count toward your major or minor, depending on the requirements of your program.  Choosing to change a grade to a U means that it will no longer count in your GPA, and it will also no longer meet any requirements. You will have to either repeat the course or take another course.  

  • If you receive Financial Aid and are already on warning status for Satisfactory Academic Progress, this may impact your eligibility.

  • If you need to complete a certain number of credits to maintain a scholarship or athletic eligibility, changing to S/U could affect this.

  • If you receive military/veteran benefits, choosing the S/U option may affect your funding.  You should find out if this is the case for you before choosing this option.   

  • If you are considering graduate school, you should consult with an adviser or the school(s) you are interested in to make sure this won't negatively impact admissions decisions.

  • To be named to the Dean's List, students must have a minimum of 8 credits with letter (A-F) grades.

  • There may be specific program accreditation/licensing requirements that should be considered.  Talk to your adviser if you are in a program that is separately accredited or leads to certification/licensure.


  1. You will complete the remainder of this semester and your professor will assign a letter grade to each course, as they normally would. 

  2. Once grades are finalized and posted on May 7, you will be able to change one, several, all, or none of your courses from the assigned letter grade to a grade of S or U. You will have until May 22, 2020 to make this decision.  Specific details on how you would communicate your decisions to us will be provided before the end of the semester.

We have decided that no student will be placed on academic probation, or if already on probation, be academically suspended or dismissed at the close of this semester. If grades will bring a student off probation, however, they will be used.  

Our primary goal is to provide you with a reasonable way to successfully complete the semester, given these extraordinary circumstances. We truly appreciate your flexibility and commitment to Northern Michigan University and your academic pursuits, and we wish you every success as you work through the remainder of this semester.

Please contact me with any questions you may have.  

Chris Greer
Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student

NOTE:  Added to COVID website since this March 20 email was sent is a detailed grades Frequently Asked Questions page, which is also available off the Registrar's home page.