Pass/Fail FAQs

We have put together some FAQs to address student questions about our change to a Pass/Fail grading system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes. For courses in which a final exam was planned – and the instructor has not modified those plans- there will still be a final exam, administered remotely. No student will be required to attend on campus for examinations. Students registered with and receiving academic accommodations from Student Accessibility Services should reach out to the Academic Coordinator’s Office ( for guidance.
A passing grade is defined in our Academic Status Regulations as 50%. However, students will be assessed a final grade in Winter 2020 based on Pass/Fail rather than on a numeric basis. Instructors will determine whether a student has demonstrated competence based on all evaluated work in the course. Because classes are not being graded on a numeric scale, there is not necessarily a numeric cut-off for passing. Rather, faculty will determine in their grading rubric what would demonstrate competency and will assess on that basis.
Students who fail a course will be eligible to write a supplemental exam (similar to our current Academic Status Regulations). If the student fails the supplemental, they fail the course. If a failed course is mandatory, they will be required to repeat this course. If the course is optional, the student will be required to take another course of equivalent value in the next term on overload. Typically, under our Academic Status Regulations, students who fail are required to repeat the entire year, so this is a more lenient approach in these unprecedented times.

Pass/Fail is a GPA neutral designation. If you pass a course, you will earn the credits for the course, but your GPA will not be altered. If you Fail a course, you will be permitted to take a Supplemental Exam to attempt to remedy the fail (see above). 

No. The Pass/Fail policy will apply to all full year (2019-2020) courses and all Winter 2020 courses, including Legal Research and Writing, ‘for credit’ moots, internships, externships and supervised research courses . This will provide consistency and avoid confusion about our grading policy in response to COVID 19. 

Yes. Courses that satisfied the paper requirement prior to the change to Pass/Fail will continue to satisfy that requirement. A "paper course" is defined as one in which the student submits a research paper worth at least 50% of the final grade in that course. 

No. None of these designations exist on the UWindsor transcript. 

There will be no class rankings for 2019-2020. 

We are working with donors to ensure that, under the Terms of Reference for each award, we can continue to award merit based awards. Pass/Fail will have no impact on awards based on financial need. 

No. At the time of writing, the Faculties of Law at Western, University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School, have opted for mandatory Pass/Fail, and this is being actively considered at other Canadian law schools. Many American law schools – including the University of Detroit Mercy – are also using this model. 

It was not an easy decision to make. The Dean and Faculty Council considered the proposal from the SLS (which has been a very strong voice for students), and the law school has received petitions for and against the decision. Many students have reached out individually as well to express their support for, or objections to, the policy. While we have been unable to reply individually to all communications received to date, we appreciate your willingness to share your views and concerns. 

The law school made this decision after considering several factors. First, the decision prioritizes the health and safety of our students, including mental health and well-being. Many students –including those with family care responsibilities, those without reliable internet access, and so on - are anxious about their ability to properly complete their courses or write exams during this pandemic. This decision puts all students on a level playing field and avoids the perception that there are two ‘tiers’ of students. We also considered the possibility that we may have faculty or administrators who are ill or caring for ill family members; this plan would allow us to ensure that students could be evaluated at the end of the term even if there were faculty or administrators who were unable complete the process themselves. Finally, a very important factor is the concern that assessing grades under these circumstances would not be accurately tailored to students’ efforts and aptitudes. In other words, integrity in assessment could not be assured. 

Detroit Mercy Law has moved to a mandatory Pass / No Pass in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. No numeric grades will be available. 

No. Faculty members are marking on a Pass/Fail basis. You will still receive feedback on your performance, however.

No, but the Career Services Office will guide you on how best to showcase all your skills and accomplishments, including midterm performance, to potential employers. 

The Career Services Office (CSO) is working with law schools and employers across Canada to determine how best to navigate these unprecedented times and the changes to grading policies all over the country, including those law schools opting for mandatory Pass/Fail as we have. This continued consultation and information sharing will enable us to provide you with reliable information about the impact on current and future summer and articling recruitment. 

At this time, formal recruitment processes related to 2L summer and articling have not been postponed. The CSO office continues to organize and plan programming (including Vancouver/Calgary and Toronto On Campus Interviews) around the established timelines. 

Employers have suggested the change to Pass/Fail will allow candidates to be screened and assessed more holistically as they will be tasked with placing more emphasis on transferrable skills and experiences rather than solely or primarily on academics. Summer or articling job application materials, specifically your cover letter, will require a more tailored approach to highlight your education, training and experience. We will also provide a letter to explain our move to Pass/Fail grading that you can append to your applications. Of course, the Career Services Office will continue to provide guidance on how best to prepare a competitive application. 

We will continue to update you as soon as information becomes available through the outreach efforts of our CSO. In the interim, please continue to reach out to the CSO team if you have employment related questions or concerns.