Grade Mode Registration Option

"Grade Mode" refers to the type of grade posted on your transcripts after you complete a course. For SOT and SIS master's-level courses, there are two types of grade modes a student can elect. The default mode is always "graded," which means you will receive a standard letter-grade (e.g. A, A-, B+, etc.) for the course you complete. The grade mode you can opt into when you register a class is "pass/fail," which means you will still receive a letter grade from the professor* but your transcripts will show either a "P" for pass or "F" for fail. You must earn a C- or better in a class to pass. If you elected the "pass/fail" grade mode at the beginning** of your course and pass, the grade you receive will not effect your grade point average (GPA). However, if you fail a course you elected to take "pass/fail," your GPA will be effected.

*Your professors will not know that you are taking their classes as pass/fail unless you opt to tell them yourself.

**There are deadlines to change your class(es) to or from pass/fail. Please reference the Academic Calendar for your course deadlines.

Pass/Fail Limits and Deadlines

Degree Maximum % of Pass/Fail
MDiv 25% of degree
MAT 25% of degree
MATM 25% of degree
MAICS 25% of degree
MACL 25% of degree
Note: Any transfer credit counts against your Pass/Fail limit and reduces the total amount of Pass/Fail units allowed for your degree.

General Deadlines

10-week courses: Friday of the first week of the course, no exceptions

5-week courses: Wednesday of the first week of the course, no exceptions

2-week courses: Tuesday of the first week of the course, no exceptions

1-week courses: Monday--first day--of the courses, no exceptions

Program Restrictions by School

  • All Students: No Pass/Fail grade mode is allowed for Directed Study courses
  • School of Intercultural Studies: Students in any SIS Masters program are not permitted to take their degree program core as Pass/Fail (Seminary Core courses are excluded in this policy).
  • School of Theology: Students in any SOT Masters program must follow the below guidelines:
    • 3 Pass/Fail courses per division (i.e. Biblical Studies*, Theology, and Ministry**)
    • 2 Pass/Fail courses per department (i.e. NT/NS/NE, OT, CH, ET, ST/TH, etc.)

*There are different guidelines for the biblical languages. You will want to contact your academic advisor to inquire about your pass/fail options for the biblical languages.

**Any SIS or SOP courses taken as Pass/Fail are counted within the Ministry division limit.

Common Reasons to Take Courses Pass/Fail

To Ease Stress of Heavy School, Work, or Family Schedule

Many students have upcoming quarters where they anticipate a heavy life-load. Your pastoral demands will increase with a major Christian holiday. Your schedule only permits you to take all heavy academic classes in one quarter. Your wife is due to give birth at the end of the term. You need to pick up a few extra hours on your job but cannot decrease your school course load. Any of these situations or others are optimal reasons to take a class as pass/fail. The key point to remember here is that these are anticipated circumstances. Make sure you plan ahead!

To Maintain Your GPA

You may find yourself in need to protect your GPA. There are a number of reasons why a student may need to maintain a certain GPA: to keep a scholarship, to avoid academic probation, to apply to programs after this degree, etc. Taking a class as pass/fail and passing it will allow that course to not impact your GPA.

Note: Though pass/fail courses are not ideal on transcripts submitted for doctoral applications, you will have to anticipate and weigh your chances of sustaining a good GPA in a course you are required to take, which has a discipline that is not your strength. We encourage you to consult an academic advisor if you find yourself in this situation.

Common Reasons to Not Take Courses Pass/Fail

To Improve GPA

While taking a course pass/fail may maintain your GPA, a "passing grade" will not help your overall GPA. In other words, the only chance to improve your GPA is to take your class for a standard grade.

Pursuing Doctoral Studies after a Master's Degree

PhD programs want to see that a student can perform. A student's grade cannot be assessed by a prospective school or admission committee if taken pass/fail. Ideally, students pursuing PhD programs should have no pass/fail courses on their transcripts (except courses with pass/fail only registration). Aspiring PhD candidates should approach courses as opportunities to demonstrate their ability to excel in their studies and to strengthen their GPA.

To Save the Option for a Quarter with a Heavy Schedule

Since pass/fail classes do not impact one's GPA, they tend to be less stressful for students. You may want to take a course pass/fail in a quarter you take multiple difficult classes.

The Course Is Important for Student's Area of Academic Study or Vocation

If you desires to study in a specialized area for your academic pursuits or profession, your grades and GPA should reflect your level of competency in that area. (This reason for not taking a course pass/fail may have more implications for students who are sponsored by their organization to study or are pursuing further academic education.)

Group Work Is High Percentage of Course Grade

Though the option of taking a course pass/fail can reduce the stress of coursework, group assignments can potentially eliminate that stress reduction for many students. With group work, the grades of one classmate is dependent on another's quality of work. When group work is a high portion of a course grade, you may potentially perform at the same academic level (as if you were taking the course for a grade) for the sake of you classmates' grades.

Grade May Not Transfer to Other Institutions

If you decide to transfer credit to complete a master's degree at another institution, the courses you take as pass/fail at Fuller might not transfer into your new institution. Transfer credit policies vary from institution to institution, so it's best to check the policy of your new school.

Grade Mode Will Not Be Changed if an "A" Is Earned in the Course

If you think you might earn an "A" in a course, it is probably best that you avoid taking it as pass/fail. If you take a class as pass/fail and earn an excellent grade, you will not be able to change your grade mode back to "graded" to strengthen your GPA after the fact.

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