Dear students,  

We have been working to find ways to help you navigate the uncertainty for academic outcomes created by the COVID-19 crisis. Now, as we near the end of the semester, we recognize that many students are wrestling with a host of additional academic challenges, including preparing for final exams, arranging summer plans, and, for some, deciding whether to retain the default S/U grade.   

In collaboration with Duke Student Government leadership, we have identified several ways to provide additional support as you weigh your options.  Accordingly, we are updating our Spring 2020 grading guidance, as follows:  

  • We will extend the deadline for declaring a letter grade until the end of the reading period: April 27 at 12 PM EDT. The extension will also apply to 500- and 600-level graduate courses.  
  •  Academic deans in both Trinity and Pratt, as well as college advisors, will enhance their availability during the reading period to meet with you and discuss your options. You can also seek assistance by emailing  
  • Since March, we have encouraged all faculty to maintain maximal flexibility and to share grading information wherever possible. maintain flexibility throughout the semester.   
  • We encourage you to refer to our guidance on the grading policy, which addresses a common concern: the impact of Spring 2020 grades on future graduate/professional study. In short, universities across the country – including Duke’s graduate and professional schools — have indicated that their admissions processes are holistic, and will not be biased against students who take the S/U grade under our policy at this unprecedented time.  

Again, we recognize that students have worked tremendously hard at their studies throughout their time at Duke, be this is your first or final semester.  These additional supports and flexibility from our schools and your faculty are designed to help you reflect your effort and this semester’s circumstances in a way that is supportive and which gives you optional control, not less control. Please know that your academic dean and your faculty stand ready to assist you on an individual basis as you determine your next steps.  We hope that these enhancements assist you as we near the end of the semester.     


Gary G. Bennett, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education   

John Blackshear, Ph.D., Dean for Academic Affairs, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences  

Martin Doyle, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Academic Initiatives, Nicholas School of the Environment  

Linda Franzoni, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Pratt School of Engineering  

Christina Gibson-Davis, Ph.D., Director, Undergraduate Studies, Sanford School of Public Policy  

Mary Pat McMahon, Vice Provost/Vice President, Division of Student Affairs