Credit/D/Fail Policy

Fall 2020 Credit/D/Fail + Emergency Credit/D/Fail

Students registered for 4.0 or more credits may choose the Elective Credit/D/Fail grading mode for 1 course until Tuesday, November 24th at 5:00 pm EST and it will not count against the career limit of 4. Due to current circumstances, students who are registered for 4.0 or more credits and already taking 1 course with the Elective Credit/D/Fail grade mode may submit an Emergency Credit/D/Fail Request Form to seek approval to take a 2nd course Elective Credit/D/Fail that will not count against the career limit of 4 either. The deadline to submit an Emergency Credit/D/Fail Form is also Tuesday, November 24th at 5:00 pm EST.

The course instructor, student's academic advisor, and the student's dean must approve the change and they will be notified by email after the student submits the request form. Once all approvals are in place and the student's current credits and grading modes are verified, the Office of the Registrar will process the change and notify the student by email once it is complete. Until receiving the confirmation email, students should not assume their request will be approved. 

Any student considering the Emergency Credit/D/Fail option is encouraged to begin conversations with their course instructor, advisor, and dean as early as possible. Please note that courses taken Elective Credit/D/Fail will not satisfy distribution, division, or first year writing seminar degree requirements. Some departments/programs have temporarily modified their Credit/D/Fail policy in light of this option and those adjustments are available here. Please contact the chair of the department or director of the program with specific questions.

Please note: courses taught with the automatic grading mode of Credit/D/Fail Only, e.g. music ensembles, do not count towards the career limit nor do they factor into the eligibility requirements to use an Emergency Credit/D/Fail. No matter the number of courses a student is taking Credit/D/Fail Only, they may choose to take a course Elective Credit/D/Fail in Polaris without obtaining special approval.

Students only need to obtain these approvals if they want to declare a 2nd course Elective Credit/D/Fail. Again, courses taught with the Credit/D/Fail Only grade mode to not factor into the eligibility. Until Tuesday, November 24th at 5:00 pm EST, students registered for at least 4.0 credits who have not yet changed a course to Elective Credit/D/Fail may do so via Polaris on the "Change Grade Mode Options" tab. Students are encouraged to verify the change under "My Courses."

Please email with any questions. 


A student may choose to take a limited number of courses with the Elective Credit/D/Fail grading option as opposed to earning regular letter grades. Courses to be taken on a Credit/D/Fail basis should be so indicated on Polaris under the Registration tab. A course may be changed from letter grades to Credit/D/Fail or vice versa up until the end of the sixth week of classes. When a student chooses the Credit/D/Fail grading option, 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.

  • In any given semester, a student must be enrolled in a minimum of 4.0 total credits to elect the Credit/D/Fail grading option for a course. A student who has 5.0 or more credits in his/her semester course load may elect to take an additional course on a Credit/D/Fail basis.
  • A student may elect the Credit/D/Fail grading option for up to four courses within the 32 credits required for graduation.
  • 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.
  • Most departments 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 Credit/D/Fail grading option will count toward a major or minor should be referred to the appropriate department.
  • Courses taken to satisfy the College's first-year seminar requirement must be graded with regular letter grades, and courses satisfying distribution and division requirements must also be taken for regular letter grades (unless the course is taught with the Credit/D/Fail Only grading mode and CR, D, and F are the only grades given for the course).
  • An independent study or honors project may not be taken on a Credit/D/Fail basis.
  • 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 Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook for more information about academic standing requirements.
  • Before the close of the Credit/D/Fail period, students should check the "My Courses" section of Polaris after making a change to their grading mode to confirm that their schedule appears as expected.