UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Pass/Fail and withdrawal deadlines Fall 2020


Photo of a student working.

As the Fall 2020 semester comes to a close, both undergraduate and graduate students have again been granted an extension on the Pass/Fail and withdrawal deadlines for their courses. 

On Oct. 6, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Emily McDermott sent out an email announcing that the Pass/Fail deadline for all classes had been reset to Monday, Dec. 7, and that the withdrawal deadline for all classes had been set to Monday, Dec. 14.

The email also stated that undergraduate students would be able to Pass/Fail as many courses as they wanted to for the Fall 2020 semester. The limit of eight courses that an undergraduate student may take as Pass/Fail throughout their time as an undergraduate will remain in place, but for the spring and fall 2020 semesters, courses taken as Pass/Fail that are above the one per semester limit will not count toward the overall limit of eight. 

The caveat of this new regulation comes with the fact that different departments or programs at UMass Boston have put limits on the number of courses, or on which courses, that can be taken as Pass/Fail and still count towards major or minor requirements.

Graduate students will only be able to choose one class to be graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. 

A voluntary survey posted on Instagram revealed some UMass Boston students’ opinions regarding the Pass/Fail and withdrawal deadline extensions and new rules. Four students participated in the survey.

All students who participated in the survey were aware of the Pass/Fail and Withdrawal deadlines. Contrastingly, only half of the students were aware that for the Fall 2020 semester, the normal limit of Pass/Fail for one course per semester had been lifted.

The majority of the students responded positively when asked about their feelings regarding the deadline extensions.

I’m very happy they extended the deadlines, things can easily fall between the cracks when the only form of communication we have is virtually,” wrote junior Grace Smith.

“I agree with them [the deadline extensions], but I do wish they were on the same day instead of a week apart,” wrote senior Jaely Pereira. “A lot can happen for a student in a week.” 

When asked if they had found the extended deadlines and rules regarding Pass/Fail and Withdrawal this semester helpful, most students responded affirmatively as well.

“These new deadlines and rules are very helpful because they allow us students to make more informed decisions about our classes,” responded sophomore Fiona. 

“Yes!” responded Smith. “This format of learning is very different for everyone, and can be extremely challenging for a variety of reasons: lack of internet access, an unfit environment for learning, or struggling with ADHD and working from home.”

When asked if the extended deadlines and rules regarding Pass/Fail and withdrawal for the semester were clear, the majority of students responded negatively.

“[They were] not very clear, because I believe they were altered and multiple emails were sent out,” responded Fiona.

“I think the university could do a better job of being straightforward and direct with students,” responded Pereira. “While I understand details and legalities are important, we also need to understand long emails are not always, and are often not the best way to pass information to students.”

“Many students are unaware of these deadlines even being extended,” continued Pereira. “Even faculty/staff have got it wrong and given the wrong information in my classes, which I was lucky enough to catch and correct to the class. There is a need for concise clarity on things like this. We shouldn’t put the full pressure on students to spread the word and tell their peers and classmates. More students need to know about things like this, but unfortunately, they do not.”

Students were also asked about the ease of the Pass/Fail and withdrawal processes.

“As long as you follow the guidelines [on] Wiser, you should be fine,” wrote sophomore Ahmed Geraldo.

“Yes it was very easy, once I asked my advisor how to do so!” wrote Smith.

When asked if there was anything else they wanted to say regarding the Pass/Fail or withdrawal systems for the Fall 2020 semester, some students provided recommendations.

“I hope more students are aware and are able to use it,” wrote Pereira.

“If anything is unclear to you, I definitely suggest utilizing your advisor for any questions you may have,” wrote Smith.

McDermott also urged students to consult the advising center before making the switch to Pass/Fail in multiple courses. 

All grades are due to the Registrar by Dec. 28, 2020.