Create an Optional Pass/Fail Program for Boston University Students (b/c of COVID-19)

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President Brown announced on March 11, 2020, that due to COVID-19, Boston University (BU) would move to online classes starting March 16, 2020. This sudden shift to online class learning until April 13, 2020, has effected all students: from international to Boston born-and-raised. In the same letter, BU urged students not to return after spring break but it would remain open for those unable to go home.

We, as students, comprehend the gravity of this situation and understand how difficult a decision to move classes online was to make. Additionally, we are thankful for all BU has done in order to put the safety of students, faculty, and staff first.

Given the COVID-19 has come with sudden changes to class structure, we believe that the appropriate action for the University is to make an optional Pass/Fail program for all courses.

The Optional Pass/Fail program will work as follows:

  1. After this program installation, students have until the last day of classes to choose which courses they want to be Pass/Fail.
  2. There will be no limit on how many classes a student can designate Pass/Fail.
  3. All exclusions currently set in "Policy on Pass/Fail Courses" will be removed. If a student gets a Pass in their course, they will receive credit for:
    1. BU Hub units, General Education Requirements, Liberal Arts Electives
    2. Language Requirements, Writing Requirements
    3. Major/minor/concentration requirements
  4. Faculty will not have access to which students are choosing a course Pass/Fail to remove all grade bias.
  5. All letter grades will still be recorded (even if a student designates Pass/Fail); a student can officially attest for their letter grade(s) if needed for professional programs, employment or graduate studies.
  6. This program will only be permitted Spring 2020, after this semester all exclusions on the current Pass/Fail program will be reinstated.


Reasons for create and support the Optional Pass/Fail Program:

  1. Students in different time zones still required to attend live lectures can not receive a fair and accurate grade.
  2. Individuals are dealing with physical, mental, emotional and/or financial hardships from COVID-19.
  3. Students' new study and work environments are changing. Issues arising such as poor WiFi, noisy setting, taking care of family members, etc.
  4. As an optional program, students who need letter grades to be eligible for postgraduate schools can opt out and will not be effected.
  5. COVID-19 is a developing issue and we are unsure about the future effects the pandemic will bring -- this program will reduce multitudes of student stress/anxiety.


Below is a list of other colleges petitioning for a similar Pass/Fail program:

American University; Babson College; Bentley University; Brown University; Bryant University; Butler University; Carnegie Mellon University; Case Western Reserve University; Colorado University Boulder; Columbia/Barnad University; Delaware State University; Duke University; Fordham University; George Washington University; Indiana University Bloomington; John Jay College; Johns Hopkins University; Lehigh University; Loyola University Maryland; Manhattan College; Miami University; Michigan Technological University; New York University; Northeastern University; Ohio State University; Purdue University; Quinnipiac University; Sacred Heart University; St. John’s University; Syracuse University; Temple University; Texas A&M University; The College of New Jersey; University of California San Diego; University of Connecticut; University of Maine; University of Michigan; University of Pennsylvania; University of Toledo; Vanderbilt University; Villanova University; Washington State University; Wheaton College; Yeshiva University

Smith College and MIT already announced a transition to Pass/Fail grading for their student body; and we believe more colleges are soon to follow. (


We would like to request that all transcripts regardless if the Pass/Fail program is created, provide an asterisk (*) denoting at the bottom the following:

"Grades this semester may have been affected from the COVID-19 pandemic and Boston University's decision to switch to online instruction."

We implore Boston University to enact this change to benefit the entire student body and allow students to take Pass/Fail courses for credit without any penalty.

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