Some departments unable to apply credit/no credit courses toward graduation requirements


Lauren J. Mapp

San Diego State’s Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex recently earned its LEED Gold certification.

by Bella Ross, Editor in Chief

Editor’s Note: This story incorrectly says ABET, an accrediting body for engineering programs, does not permit grading alterations in light of COVID-19. This information was based on a statement provided to The Daily Aztec by an SDSU spokesperson, which featured incorrect information about ABET’s grading policy. An SDSU spokesperson said the campus was not aware of this and that “engineering students — as well as other SDSU students — were still able to request CR/NC, other considerations remain in place before any receive recommendations regarding the requested option.” (Updated on Monday, May 11 at 2:20 p.m.)

Despite recent policy changes that allow a credit/no credit grading option to be applied to all courses until this Friday, at least four programs on campus have warned that doing so could prevent students from fulfilling graduation requirements.

The limitations exist for students studying engineering, nursing, public health and military studies, according to San Diego State spokeswoman La Monica Everett-Haynes.

Students’ ability to adopt the grading option was handed down in two parts earlier this month in an attempt to provide greater academic flexibility in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initially, an April 15 email told students the deadline to switch to a credit/no credit option would be extended to May 1 for about 3,535 courses that already provided this offering earlier in the semester. Upon resistance from student leaders, the policy was expanded a day later to all courses – about 842 more than were covered before.

But when it comes to department-specific standards, the policy’s effectiveness is somewhat limited.

On April 20, students in the College of Engineering got an email saying courses taken as credit/no credit cannot be applied to any major or minor requirements within the program.

“When the College of Engineering sent out that email it was a slap in the face kind of,” said aerospace engineering senior Devin Burke.

“Literally none of my courses can be taken (credit/no credit),” Burke added. “Engineers don’t just take other engineering classes (that aren’t required for graduation).”

Although students in these programs are still permitted to change to credit/no credit if they choose, in accordance with the latest policy changes, University Senate Chair Mark Wheeler said that does not mean it is a good idea or that obtaining credit for a course will fulfill department graduation requirements.

The issue has to do with accreditation standards, Wheeler said, which are determined by outside bodies to ensure consistency among graduates from certain kinds of programs.

ABET, the accrediting body for engineering programs, does not permit grading alterations, including courses that have been taken as credit/no credit, Everett-Haynes said. This means classes within campus engineering programs must receive a letter grade to be applied to graduation requirements, similar to courses in nursing, public health and military studies.

“This will help minimize negative impacts on a student’s future options for employment, to ensure they graduate with a degree consistent with accreditation standards,” Everett-Haynes said.

The University Senate also approved an extended May 7 deadline to withdraw from courses, which could be an alternative option for students who are concerned about their academic performance this semester.

To determine whether to take a course as credit/no credit, Wheeler said a student should assess what grade they are likely to get in a particular course and if they think they will be able to pass it.

“If you’re going to get an ‘A’ or ‘B,’ you should certainly put that on your transcript instead of a ‘CR’,” Wheeler said.

The University Senate also approved a clause that will be added to every student’s transcript saying the spring 2020 semester was completed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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