Credit/D/Fail Grading Mode Policies

Students may choose to take a limited number of courses with the elective Credit/D/Fail grading option as opposed to earning standard letter grades. Students considering elective Credit/D/Fail should read the following policy and process information carefully and reach out to with questions.
When can I elect the Credit/D/Fail grading mode?
  • The elective Credit/D/Fail period opens on the first day of classes and continues through the end of the seventh week of classes each semester. See the Registrar's calendar for the exact dates.
  • Details about the process are emailed to all students' Bowdoin emails at the opening of the term
How do I make the change to/from standard letter to elective Credit/D/Fail?
  • During the first seven weeks of each semester, students can elect the Credit/D/Fail grading mode via Polaris.
    • Connect to Bowdoin's network, not guest, if on campus or connect to VPN first if off campus.
    • Then log in to Polaris and navigate to "Register for Classes."
    • From there, select the current term and then go to the "Schedule and Options" tab.
    • Find the course you want to change in the list and scroll over to the "Grade Mode" column and select "Elective CR/D/F" from the drop-down list and hit "Submit" at the bottom of the screen.
    • Before logging out, go back to your Student page and look at "My Courses" to confirm that the course is listed with a grade mode of Elective Credit/D/Fail.
    • Should you change your mind, repeat the process but select "Standard Letter" and submit. 
    • Note that labs are not graded and selecting to change the grade mode on a lab will not result in a change to the grade mode on the course. 

What if I don't receive any graded work from my instructor during the first seven weeks? 

  • Students must make the decision about their course grading modes by the published deadline each semester even if they haven't received any graded work back from the instructor.

How many credits do I have to be taking to be eligible? 
  • Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 4.0 total credits to elect the Credit/D/Fail grading option for a course. A student taking 5.0 or more credits may elect to take an additional course on an elective Credit/D/Fail basis.

Registered Credits Number of Classes Eligible
Fewer than 4.0 No classes may be taken Elective Credit/D/Fail
4.0 or 4.5  1 class may be taken Elective Credit/D/Fail
5.0 or more 2 classes may be taken Elective Credit/D/Fail

How many total courses may I take with the elective Credit/D/Fail grading mode?
  • A student may elect the Credit/D/Fail grading option for up to 4 courses within the 32 credits required for graduation. 
  • Courses taken with the Elective Credit/D/Fail grading mode during the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters do not count against a student's career total of four. 
What are my grading mode options if I take more than 32.0 total credits?
  • Beginning with the semester following the one in which the 32 credits are completed and as long as the semester course load totals 4.0 credits or more, students may elect to take up to two courses per semester Credit/D/Fail after the required 32 credits are earned. 
  • Courses that are only graded Credit/D/Fail (music ensemble and dance and theater performance courses, as examples) are not counted within these restrictions.
Will courses taken Elective Credit/D/Fail satisfy degree requirements?
  • Courses taken to satisfy the College's first-year writing seminar requirement, distribution and division requirements, or independent studies/honors projects are not eligible for Elective Credit/D/Fail and must be taken for standard letter grades.
    • The only exception is for courses taught with the Credit/D/Fail Only grading mode and CR#, D#, and F# are the only grades given for the course.
  • Most academic departments and programs require that all courses taken to satisfy requirements for the major or minor be taken for regular letter grades.
    • Questions about whether or not a course taken with the elective Credit/D/Fail grading option will count toward a major or minor should be referred to the appropriate academic department or program directly.
What is the difference between Credit/D/Fail Only and Elective Credit/D/Fail?
  • A small number of Bowdoin courses, e.g., music ensembles, are taught with the Credit/D/Fail only grading mode and grades of CR#, D#, or F# are the only grades given for the course. Students may not choose standard letter grading for those courses.
  • All other courses are graded with standard letter grades by default.
What grade will I earn if I choose Credit/D/Fail?
  • A grade of CR (credit) is given if the student produces work at a level of C- or above, a grade of D is given if the student produces work at a D level, and a grade of F is given otherwise.
  • See the Guide to Grades for more details. 

How does a CR grade factor into the student's GPA?
  • A grade of CR (credit) will not count toward a student's GPA.
  • A grade of D or F received on the Credit/D/Fail grading scale will count toward a student's GPA, and it will count toward academic standing (probation, suspension, dismissal).
  • Refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy for more information about how a student's GPA impacts their progress to the degree.