Pass/Fail or Letter Grade?

We’re almost halfway through the semester and maybe you are struggling in that Calculus I course.  Or, you’ve found yourself overextended and not able to devote the time needed to make an “A” in that History course. What to do, what to do? Maybe “you’ve heard” that you can take the class pass/fail, but you aren’t sure what that is all about? Read on…


Grade Basis

Every course has a grade basis which determines how grades can be assigned. You can find the grade basis for every course taught in a given semester in the GT Catalog via OSCAR.  There are codes assigned to each grade basis:

A = Audit

L = Letter Grade

P = Pass/Fail

If a given course has an Grade Basis of ALP, that means the course may be taken for audit credit, for a letter grade or on a pass/fail basis.  If a course only has a grade basis of L, the course may only be taken for a letter grade. Similarly, if it only has a grade basis of P, it may only be taken pass/fail and if it only has a grade basis of A, it may only be taken for audit credit. This cannot be changed, and there are no exceptions to the grade basis.  It is very important to check this before you register for a class! You can learn more about grades in the GT Catalog at:

Now that you know what a grade basis is, you should decide whether or not you wish to take a class pass/fail.


  • Pass/Fail courses are not included in your GPA calculations. They are included as hours attempted towards HOPE and Zell Miller scholarship awards.
  • There are limits to how many courses/hours you can take pass/fail. Generally, Nunn School majors begin with 8 hours of pass/fail.  This is less than the standard 9 hours because one of your required courses, Careers in International Affairs, is a 1-hour course that is only offered on a pass/fail basis.  But, whether or not you have those 8 remaining hours of pass/fail depends on how many hours you actually take at Georgia Tech.  Students that transfer in hours from other institutions may have less hours of pass/fail available. Always be sure to check with your advisor about how many hours of pass/fail you may use toward your degree.
  • Even if offered on a pass/fail basis, not all courses required for your degree can be taken pass/fail. For INTA and IAML majors, you may take your GT Core, Cluster and Free electives on a pass/fail basis.  EIA majors may take Free electives on a pass/fail basis.
  • But even with this option, you have to consider if it is wise to take a course pass/fail. If you are considering medical school, you should take your science courses for a letter grade.  Similarly, if you are considering law school or graduate school, you should take courses that are relevant to those disciplines for a letter grade. Admissions officers will want to evaluate your grades in those courses. Save the pass/fail for courses that would possibly have a negative impact on your GPA.  You could also take courses of interest that are unrelated to your major on a pass/fail basis.  This allows you to pursue an interest without the pressure of maintaining your GPA.
  • Keep in mind that faculty determine what is passing for each course.  So you MUST check with the professor to learn what is required to pass the class you are taking on a pass/fail basis.  If you do not pass, you will earn a Unsatisfactory (U) grade on your transcript which is the same as failing.

Grade Mode

This is a feature that allows for changing the manner in which course is taken and graded.  During Registration, grade mode changes are permitted online via OSCAR.  After Phase II has ended, there is a form that must be completed and signed in order to change the grade mode for a given course.  This change is allowed up until drop day for a given semester. Grade mode changes are final.

As always, if you have any questions about pass/fail, be sure to ask your advisor.

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