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Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grading Option (S/U)


With the consent of the instructor and your academic dean, you can register for grading on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) basis in one course per semester or summer session.  This may be either a full or partial credit course, but you must be enrolled in 4.0 course credits at the beginning of the semster in order to  take one course S/U. 

Only four (4) courses taken on an S/U basis may be counted toward the 34 courses required for graduation.  The limit of four does not apply to courses that are only offered on the S/U basis. A grade of S will be awarded if you earn the equivalent of a letter grade of C- or better, while a U will be awarded for the equivalent of a D+ or worse grade.  Neither an S nor a U will be factored into the grade point average.  If you receive a U, you will receive no credit for the course and will be ineligible for dean's list in that semester. An engineering student may choose to be graded on a S/U basis in up to four unrestricted electives.  Taking a course on the S/U basis may make you ineligible for the dean's list.  You should consult your academic dean if you have questions about your dean's list eligibility.  You cannot study abroad or on a domestic study away program and receive credit at Duke for a course taken on an S/U or pass/fail basis.

Note:  Students permitted to enroll in an underload of 3.0 course credits in a semester via accommodation by the Student Disability Access Office (SDAO) may take a maximum of 1 course on the S/U basis per semester. 


NOTE FOR SPRING 2021 The policy adopted by the Arts & Sciences Council for Fall 2020 allowing individual departments to declare 0–199 level courses mandatory S/U - in which courses carry all curriculum codes and count toward major-minor-certificate requirements and associated prerequisites - will continue for the Spring 2021 semester.  Here is the list of courses that have adopted the S/U mandatory grading for the Spring 2021 semester. There may be other courses that have S/U grading but are not listed because they are always offered as S/U during any academic semester.

  • The change for these courses is to a mandatory S/U grading basis, so no student in these S/U courses will be able to opt into receiving a letter grade.
  • As a special provision of this decision, courses converted to S/U under this policy will satisfy the requirements of any major, minor or certificate program, as well as other requirements for graduation.
  • Any S/U courses you take this fall will not count against the allowable number of S/Us allowable per year, or upon graduation.
  • S/U grades are not factored into your GPA, and will not count toward Latin Honors.

Please note these decisions apply only to courses that orginate in Trinity. It does not apply to courses that originate in Pratt or Nicholas or Sanford. However, as noted above, the S/U grading basis will apply to courses that originate in Trinity and are cross-listed in other departments or schools.  Pratt students are not approved to take required engineering courses on an elective S/U grading option outside of the courses listed here, or social science/humanities courses taken in Spring 2021.  See note on social science/humanities


If you are enrolled in a full (4 cc) course load and wish to take a course on the S/U basis, you must obtain permission from the instructor and your academic dean.   You have until one week after the drop/add period ends in the fall or spring semester to secure permission to do so.  Summer term students must do so by 5 pm on the last day to drop/add.

To enroll in a course on the S/U basis, you should add the course normally through DukeHub and then complete the S/U form.  This form must be signed by the instructor and your academic dean.  You must submit this form to the Office of the University Registrar by 5 p.m. on the deadline date (one week after the drop/add period ends in the semester). Bear in mind that you may not be enrolled in a course on the S/U basis when enrolled in an underload of 3 full courses.  

If you enroll in a course on the S/U basis you may subsequently change to a letter grade basis up to the first day of the final four weeks of classes (or by the corresponding date set in a summer term).  You may not change from a letter grade to the S/U option after one week past the end of the drop/add period.  An S grade earned in a course may also not subsequently be converted to a letter grade, and the course may not be retaken.

Note: The S/U deadline is strictly enforced. 

Changing the S/U Grading Basis to a Letter Grade

If you opt to take a course on the S/U basis and subsequently wish to change it to a letter grade basis, you can do so by completing the form.  Click here to access the form.  The deadline for doing this is the same as that for withdrawing from a course, namely 4 weeks before the last day of classes in a semester.  In a summer term the deadline is likewise the deadline for withdrawing from a course. 

Note:  If you change from the S/U back to a letter grade basis, it is not possible to return to the S/U basis.

Last updated: December 30, 2020