Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (SA/UN) Grading System

Baccalaureate or associate degree students who do not want to receive a letter grade for a credit course may choose the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system subject to the regulations of the University and the students' degree programs (see below).

Certain courses may be offered only with satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading in place of conventional grades. For these courses, a statement about satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading is included in the description of the course in LionPATH course descriptions. These courses are not affected by the credit limitations stipulated in the University or college satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading policy.


When courses are taken under this system, a symbol will be recorded in place of a grade on the student's grade report and transcript: SA for grades reported as C or better, UN for grades reported as D or F. The student's grade-point average is not affected by credits attempted in this manner. Credits earned with an SA are added to the student's total credits but are not included in semester or cumulative credits. If the student receives a UN for a course, the course may be repeated but only under the conventional grading system.

Issues for Students Who Choose this Option


Satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading is designed to encourage students to schedule courses outside of their major fields of study. Since the college and major limitations on this policy vary (see limitations, below) it is critical for the student and adviser to discuss the appropriateness of taking a course under this system to satisfy the requirements of the student's degree.

University Credit Limitations

A maximum of 12 credits for baccalaureate and 6 credits for associate degree students can be taken under this system. The student's college and degree program may specify additional limitations (see college limitations, below). The student may not schedule more than two courses per semester on this basis. Courses used to fulfill General Education requirements cannot be taken under this option.

Financial Aid recipients should meet with a student aid representative to discuss potential problems with aid eligibility prior to requesting a SA/UN grade.

Courses taken abroad cannot be scheduled under this system.

Courses taken at other institutions on a pass-fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis may be transferred to Penn State only if the Registrar at the other institution verifies that a pass or satisfactory grade is equivalent to a grade of C or higher.

College Policies

Abington, Agricultural Sciences, Altoona, Arts and Architecture, Behrend, Berks*, Capital*, Communications, Education, Health and Human Development, Liberal Arts, Nursing, Eberly College of Science, University College: Only elective courses may be taken under the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system.

*Degree programs may be more restrictive in permitting the use of this grading option, so students should check with the coordinator of the degree program.

The Smeal College of Business, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Engineering, Information Sciences and Technology: Students may not fulfill degree requirements (including electives) with a course scheduled under the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system. Students in the colleges of Earth and Mineral Sciences and Engineering should consult their department advisers for exceptions to this policy.

The Division of Undergraduate Studies, World Campus: When considering scheduling courses under the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system, students should make sure they are following the regulations of their prospective college(s) of enrollment (see above).

Request Period

The request for the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade option must be filed between the eleventh and twenty-first day of the semester. After the end of the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade request period, a course cannot be changed to the traditional grading system (A, B, C, etc.).

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grade Request Period

For summer session and part-semester course request periods contact the Registrar's office.

Student Action

  1. Consult with an adviser regarding the appropriateness of scheduling a course under this system.
  2. Register for the course according to the usual registration procedures.
  3. During the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade request period (above) list the course information on a registration drop/add form under "ADD COURSES." Print "SA/UN" next to the course schedule number. Complete the form and submit it to the Registrar's office at your campus.

Last Update: October 2016

Reference(s): Senate Policies 49-60, 42-82