A Breakdown: Is the ‘Credit/No Credit’ Grading System for You

4 min read Radford University made the decision to offer undergraduate students a ‘credit/no credit’ grading system. Here is the breakdown of that system.


Photo Credit: (John Schnobrich on Unsplash) Person using silver laptop computer on desk.


By: Dylan Lepore | dlepore1@radford.edu

Radford University’s Faculty Senate Executive Council and the Academic Affairs Leadership Team finalized the decision to offer undergraduate students a ‘credit/no credit’ grading system.

A campus-wide email was sent Wednesday, April 1, breaking the new system down.

Grading Options

Undergraduate students will be able to remain in the traditional ‘A to F’ grading protocol or convert to the ‘credit/no credit’ grading system; however, the ‘credit/no credit’ option will not be available to graduate students.

Undergraduate students who are taking graduate courses for graduate credit will also not be permitted to opt into the ‘credit/no credit’ grading system.

The ‘credit/no credit’ grading system is as shown:

  • CRH (Credit High – representing a grade range of A through C)
  • CRL (Credit Low – representing a grade range of C- through D-)
  • NC (No Credit- representing a grade of F)

The three grades will not be calculated into a student’s grade point average (GPA).

Dr. Joe Scartelli, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, clarified this new system in an email, that getting CRH or CRL does not affect the amount of credit a student receives. If a student is in a 3-credit course, they will get their three credits and the same for credit courses 1 through 4.

However, if a student receives an NC, they will get zero credits for their course.

Undergraduate students taking undergraduate courses can change to the ‘credit/no credit’ grading system by:

  1. Logging in to the MyRU portal.
  2. Clicking the “Academics” icon.
  3. Clicking the “Credit/No Credit Grade Mode Option” link in the Academic Tools portlet.
  4. Change your grade mode for any of your spring courses to the other grade mode, by clicking the button next to the “Alternate Grade Mode (Credit/No Credit)” underneath the course(s).
  5. Then click “Update Grade Mode” for each course you change.
  6. Grade modes can be changed until Friday, April 24, at 11:59 p.m.
  7. After this time, all grade mode changes will be processed, and changes to them will no longer be permitted.

For students who want to keep their traditional ‘A to F’ grading protocol, they do not need to do anything.

Additional Temporary Policy Revisions

Due to COVID-19 and adding the new grading system, the existing policy on limiting the number of withdrawals to a maximum of five courses is being waived for Spring 2020.

If an undergraduate student withdraws from a graduate course, the withdrawal will not count against the five-course withdrawals permitted to undergraduate students.

“What’s the Catch?”

In Radford University’s email, they ask students to consult with their advisors before deciding to switch to this ‘credit/no-credit’ option, as the new grading system could do more harm than good to students.

  1. Opting for the ‘credit/no-credit’ grading option may have implications for receiving financial aid in future terms. Therefore, students who have this concern should contact the Financial Aid Office on the main campus at finaid@radford.edu and 540-831-5408) or the Financial Aid Office at Radford University Carilion (RUC) at rucfinancialaid@radford.edu and 540-985-8267 to discuss their status before finalizing their decision.
  2. Opting for the proposed ‘credit/no-credit’ option may prevent a student from improving their GPA to what may be needed to gain admission into the desired major, or continue in the same major or even graduate from a particular major. Students who have this concern should first contact their respective advisors for guidance.
  3. Having a ‘credit/no-credit’ grade may reflect negatively on students who are planning to apply to a graduate program since some graduate programs may not accept such a grade. Once again, students who have this concern must first contact their respective advisors for guidance.
  4. Undergraduate students who are in the following majors leading to licensure, certification or other credentialing must keep in mind that switching to the ‘credit/no-credit’ option may prevent the course from being counted towards entry into the major, continuation within the major, or successful graduation. Therefore, students in these majors must consult with their respective advisors before choosing the ‘credit/no-credit’ grade options for any class. Specifically, these majors are as follows:
  • Allied Health Science
  • Athletic Training
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Emergency Services
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Recreation Therapy
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Social Work
  • Teacher Education Programs

On the Bright Side

When asking Dr. Scartelli if there is a good reason for students to opt-in for the ‘credit/no-credit’ grading system, Dr. Scartelli said, “The reason we created this system (similar to those designed by other institutions) was to provide an option for course grades that will permit students to continue to earn credit, thus progress in their degrees while relieving some of the pressure of potentially earning low grades resulting from the significant disruption experienced this semester and hurting the GPA.”

Dr. Scartelli said, “the choice will always remain with the student to stay in the A-F grading system, all on a course by course basis. To determine the potential benefit to the GPA, it is recommended that students consult with their advisor to maximize that benefit.”

Critical Dates

Students may opt into the ‘credit/no credit’ grading system and withdraw from a class at any point up to Friday, April 24, 2020. The decision beyond that date will be permanent.

Photo Credit: (John Schnobrich on Unsplash)