Interim Amendments to Academic Policies FAQ

your questions answered about policy amendments for spring 2020

Short-Term Questions

Why can’t I drop/change the grade option for my class?

The ability to make these changes will not be implemented until instruction resumes March 23; this short delay is to allow your registrars to ensure that WebSTAC will process the changes correctly and that there are no unintended technological consequences. 

I just dropped a course. Why is it showing as a "W”?

Because this interim policy took effect after the original drop deadline, the College will need to manually change the "W" to a "drop" (i.e., with no transcript notation) for courses dropped between March 13 and April 24. This process will be run each Monday and will include all courses dropped during the prior business week.

Is it possible that the available grade options for a course may change?

We’re still in the process of updating grade options to reflect the changes faculty have requested given the circumstances. If the option is not available as of Monday, March 23, reach out to your faculty member. It may simply have been an oversight in the process of polling all our instructors and making adjustments. The faculty member should email Marissa Kaltwasser ( to have the P/F option added. If the faculty member is not willing to add the option, you should expect significant flexibility and compassion in evaluation. If you feel this is not the case, contact Dean Smith. College Writing will remain letter graded only.

Will the deadline to finish fall 2019 Incompletes be extended?

Yes. For most students, the deadline to finish fall 2019 incomplete coursework is extended to June 1, 2020, after which the Incomplete will automatically be changed to an F according to policy. SENIORS ONLY: Your deadline to finish any Incompletes is extended only to April 1, 2020, as your faculty will need time to evaluate your outstanding work before graduation. 

Degree Requirements Questions

Will the total number of credits needed to graduate or to complete a major or minor be changed?

No. You will still need to earn 120 units to graduate, and to fulfill the credit requirements of any major or minor. In the unlikely event that you are enrolled in a course which ends mid semester given the transition to remote learning, and thus earns fewer credits than expected, we will provide options for you to earn additional credits satisfying the same requirements via remote learning over the remainder of the semester. 

Will students be allowed to count more than 24 P/F units towards the 120 credits they need towards graduation?

P/F classes taken in spring 2020 will not be counted toward the 24 credit cap. 

Will I be able to count a P/F course for my major or minor?

Most Arts & Sciences courses are now offered with the P/F option, and most programs will count all courses taken P/F in Spring 2020 towards their major and minor.

However, some departments have conditions. To know what your major or minor requires, find the department that houses your program in the list below. If no conditions are listed, all courses taken P/F may be counted towards your major or minor. 

  • African and African American Studies
  • American Culture Studies
  • Ancient Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Archaeology
  • Art History and Archaeology
  • Asian American Studies
  • Biology: Department will confirm with instructor that the passing grade was C- or higher in order to accept P/F classes towards the major.
  • Chemistry: The chemistry department will now accept all pass/fail courses towards the major or minor (policy updated March 26).
  • Children’s Studies
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature/Comparative Arts
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (including Environmental Earth Sciences)
  • East Asian Languages and Cultures (all languages and East Asian Studies)
  • Economics
  • Education  
  • English
  • Environmental Studies
  • Film and Media Studies: Will count up to 2 courses P/F towards the major from Spring 2020
  • Germanic Languages and Literatures: P/F threshold B- in 300-400 level classes for majors/minors only
  • History: Will accept everything P/F except L22 399 Senior Honors Thesis P/F
  • International and Area Studies
  • IPH: Will accept everything P/F except: Thesis Prospectus, Theory and Methods, and Senior Colloquium. IPH is open to solving any issues on a case-by-case basis until the end of the semester.
  • JIMES (All majors)
  • Latin American Studies
  • Legal Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Medical Humanities: Will consider counting P/F courses towards the minor on a case by case basis. Contact Wendy Love Anderson.
  • Music: The music department will now accept all pass/fail courses towards the major or minor (policy updated March 26).
  • Performing Arts (Dance and Drama)
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • PNP
  • Political Science (including Environmental Policy)
  • Psychological & Brain Sciences: Will confirm with instructor that the passing grade was C- or higher in order to accept P/F classes towards the major.
  • Religion and Politics
  • Religious Studies: Will count up to 2 courses P/F towards the major from Spring 2020, except Senior Honors Thesis.
  • Romance Languages and Literatures (all languages)
  • Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • Sociology
  • Urban Studies
  • Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Will I be able to count P/F courses towards my distribution requirements?

You already may count up to 12 P/F units towards area requirements and integrations; if courses taken P/F this semester would cause you to exceed that cap, we will make exceptions on a case by case basis. Applied Numeracy (AN) and Writing Intensive (WI) courses taken P/F in Spring 2020 only may be used to satisfy those degree requirements. College Writing must be taken for a letter grade in order to satisfy the College Writing requirement.

Honors Questions

Will Dean’s List requirements be changed for this semester?

In order to provide students with the ability to take advantage of the loosening of restrictions on P/F courses, we will not be awarding Dean’s List this semester. We don’t want anyone to feel like they are disadvantaged if the environments they’re in aren’t conducive to learning. We will add a notation to transcripts for Spring 2020 indicating that given the COVID-19 disruption, Dean’s List was not awarded to anyone.

Will the deadline to submit my senior honors thesis be extended?

To create the potential for flexibility in submitting your thesis, the college has extended the departments' deadline to report their evaluation of honors candidates' thesis work. Please consult with your thesis advisor to see how this extension may impact your own submission deadline.

Will the Latin Honors process be affected for the Class of 2020?

No, other than potentially the deadline for thesis submission (see above).

Will the College Honors GPA threshold be affected for the class of 2020?


Probation Questions

Will the criteria for successfully completing Academic Probation be changed for this semester?

Yes, we are reviewing these criteria and will communicate the answer here later in the semester. 

Dissertation Defense Questions

What platform should I use for a virtual dissertation defense?

Washington University supports several platforms for conferencing. You are encouraged to use one of the WashU-licensed platforms.  

Once you determine which platform you want to use, download it early and take some time to learn about the capabilities. 

How should I prepare for my virtual defense?

Communicate with your committee before the defense. Talk through questions related to the flow of the dissertation. These discussions will help you set up your meeting with the correct functionality to minimize distractions or technical issues. 

  • When should questions be asked?  (e.g. in the middle of the defense, at the end, etc.)
  • Does your committee want to type in questions? Would they rather ask them over audio? Should you mute microphones at certain points during the defense?
  • Should certain people have different abilities during the defense? Does your chair want to be able to chime in with audio at any point?
  • Are other people outside of your committee permitted to listen? Can they ask questions? 
  • Ask your chair to outline these decisions with the committee before you begin the defense.

Scheduling your defense. 

  • Are all members of your committee in the same time zone? 

Pick a place for you to defend physically. 

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Identify a quiet place with minimal background noise and distractions. 
  • Check to make sure the internet connection is consistent.
  • Practice your defense with a friend or family member who is using a different internet connection to make sure the platform will work as expected. Check to make sure that all presentation materials, videos, and other visuals are appearing for your test audience.

Create a backup plan.

  • What will you do if a member of your committee thought their laptop had a microphone but doesn’t?
  • Share the plan with the committee for what will happen if you suddenly lose internet access.

Search WashU websites for the most recent resources available. 

Other Questions

I was planning to take summer classes at another school. Will I be able to transfer them if my local school is only offering online/remote-learning classes this summer?

Yes. For courses taken during summer 2020, we will accept transfer credit for approved online coursework. To begin the approval process, see