SEAS Pass-Fail Policy

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Columbia Engineering offers a pass/fail option for its undergraduate students. Its current iteration is quite different from its counterpart in the college.

History of Pass/Fail

Like CC, SEAS used to offer a simple Pass/Fail option that could be used for any course not counting for graduation credit. In 2004, when CC switched to their Pass-D-Fail option, SEAS began pushing for a similar shift. The Engineering Student Council (ESC) took several different Pass/Fail policy options to the Committee on Instruction (COI), the administrative body responsible for all bulletin changes in SEAS. Until 2012, all initiatives were struck down.

During the spring of 2012, the ESC Vice President Policy Logan Donovan and two members of the policy committee, Sheila Misheni and Tanya Shah, presented a new policy to the COI. Using the argument that a pass/fail option would apply only for courses take to fulfill non-technical electives and that allowing engineers to count such courses for graduation credit would encourage engineers to take higher-level humanities courses, the faculty began exploring the potential for such an option. A survey administered by Bora Kim and a study conducted by the Dean's Office supported the arguments. A new pass/fail grading option was passed and put into effect in the spring of 2013 to be re-evaluated at the end of two years.

Current Policy

The details of the passed policy proposal are as follows:

  • Engineering students may now take up to 6 credits of the 9-11 non-technical elective credits on a pass/fail basis, exclusive of physical education credits
  • Only one course may be taken pass/fail per semester
  • The courses taken pass/fail must be at least 3000 level or higher
  • The courses taken must be courses that can be taken pass/fail by students in attending Columbia College (e.g. instruction classes in foreign language and core curriculum classes are not eligible)
  • The courses taken pass/fail may not count towards a minor
  • Pass/fail deadline will be approximately 10th week of start of classes and coincide with the Drop Deadline for Columbia Engineering
  • The courses taken pass/fail may not be uncovered
  • It is suggested that a student starts with a grade basis and switches to pass/fail if needed, by the Pass/Fail Deadline