2023-2024 Academic Year Information

This policy was adopted by the faculty on 2023-04-04 and is effective with the 2023-2024 academic year.

Pass-Fail (P/F) Grading Option

The aim of the pass-fail (P/F) option is to encourage students to take intellectual risks, to explore the breadth of Amherst’s open curriculum, and to reward students for engaging fully in all their courses. Under this option, students may elect to take at most one course per semester pass-fail. To declare a course pass/fail, students must obtain written signatures from their advisor(s) and from the course instructor and submit the completed pass/fail form to the Registrar's Office before the first day of the exam period. The instructor, class dean, and advisor(s) will be notified after a pass/fail declaration has been filed.

If a student designates a course pass-fail, the student’s transcript will have a “P” recorded in the case of passing grades (“D” or higher). No grade-point equivalent will be assigned to a “P.” If the letter grade assigned by the instructor is an “F,” an “F” will be recorded on the student’s transcript and will count toward the student’s GPA and class rank. Once students have declared a course pass-fail, they cannot later opt for the grade. Students admitted as first-year students may elect the pass-fail option four times during their Amherst College career. Transfer students admitted as sophomores shall have three pass-fail options, and those admitted as juniors shall have two.

Students may not take a first-year seminar pass-fail. Departments and programs may decide not to accept courses taken on a pass-fail basis in fulfillment of major requirements. Each department’s and program’s policy on accepting pass-fail grades toward major requirements must be included in the Amherst College Catalog and in other departmental and program materials.

The pass/fail form can be found on our Frequently Requested Forms page. 

The below supplementary text was included in implementation guidance, but not as part of the policy per se. It will guide our implementation of the policy and can appear on our site, but will not be part of the catalog copy:

Under the proposal, any FGOs used in spring 2020 and one FGO used in each term of the 2020–2021 academic year will not count toward the maximum number of pass-fails allowed during a student’s time at the college. Pass-fails or FGOs used prior to spring 2020, or in addition to the one allowed for each term of 2020–2021, will count against each student’s allotted number of pass-fails, as defined below.