Adjusted Academic Measures for Winter 2020

Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Updated: Tuesday, August 18, 2020


These adjusted academic measures for the Winter 2020 term are meant to support McGill students in the unprecedented challenge of continuing their term remotely through the COVID-19 crisis. Rather than determine a singular way forward, the possible adjustments take into account the complexities our students face, and are presented as a basket of options so that each student can be empowered to make choices that fit their unique situation.

These measures are in place for the Winter 2020 term only and do NOT apply to the Summer 2020 term or beyond.

Options for Students

Below are the options available to students for the Winter 2020 term; note that not all of these options will be necessary or appropriate for all circumstances, and there may be some Faculty- or Program-specific differences.

Withdrawal from a course

What this means:

  • The deadline for Withdrawal from a course in Minerva has been extended to 15 April 2020.
  • A course Withdrawal will result in a student receiving a notation of “W” on their transcript for the course in question.
  • The course will be excluded from any GPA calculation and its credits will not count toward degree completion.
  • NOTE: the extended course withdrawal deadline will not apply to Winter 2020 courses that have already been completed and the student has met the requirements.

How to exercise this option:

  • Students can apply for a course Withdrawal in Minerva.

Do I need to communicate this to my Faculty?

  • No, for Winter 2020 students do not need to communicate their course withdrawal to their Faculty as long as it is recorded in Minerva.


Application of the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option

What this means:

  • All students, whether undergraduate or graduate, may exercise the S/U option for their courses, provided that doing so would not run counter to any requirements, timelines, or policies set by their respective programs of study or external accreditation bodies. Each Faculty will identify their specific application of the S/U options.
  • Note that choosing the S/U option is final. Once a student has chosen the S/U option for a course, there will not be an opportunity for the student to reverse this decision. Please be certain that you would like to exercise this option before submitting the webform below; you may want to wait until your final grade is known before choosing the S/U option.
  • The date by which students may exercise the S/U option is 22 May 2020, reflecting that students’ grades are known by this time.
  • Courses for which the S/U option is exercised do not count in the calculation of a student’s GPA. They do contribute to credits completed.
  • Courses for which the S/U option is exercised this term may count toward a student’s major or minor requirements, and will not count toward the maximum number of credits that a student may designate as S/U (i.e., up to 10 per cent of total degree credits).
  • Visiting students taking a course at McGill are required to abide by the rules of their host institution; please check with your host institution to determine if this option is possible for you.

How to exercise this option:

Do I need to communicate this to my Faculty?

  • By completing the webform when it is available, you will be informing your Faculty.


Incomplete courses

What this means:

  • Exceptionally, for the Winter 2020 term, any student who would normally receive a “J” (which has the same impact on a student’s transcript as a failure or “F”) will either be able to defer their exam (and be assigned a grade of “L”) , or be assigned a grade of “K”, which is an “incomplete”.
  • A student with an incomplete on their transcript will need to complete remaining course work as determined by the Instructor or the relevant Faculty’s Student Affairs Office.

How to exercise this option:

  • If a student has an "incomplete" for a course they will need to be in communication with the course instructor to discuss the plan for completion. Exceptionally in Winter 2020, for courses that are not prerequisites for Fall 2020, the deadline to submit work for a course with an "incomplete" may be extended to December 31, 2020, latest.
  • Faculty of Law: students must contact their SAO, and not their instructor, to request an incomplete (K) grade or an extension of an existing K grade.

Do I need to communicate this to my Faculty?

  • No, you do not need to communicate this to your Faculty, although communication with the instructor will be needed.


Deferred examinations

What this means:

  • The University will have two Deferred examination periods (May 7-14 & August 17, 19 & 21) for the Winter 2020 term, open to all students who are unable to write their final exam during the normal examination period. The application dates and when the exam schedules will be posted are available on the Exams website.
  • The first Deferred examination period will be held in a time period in spring that will ensure graduating students have options to complete their materials in a timely fashion so as to not delay their graduation.
  • Students will not require medical documentation to defer their final examination to either period of time. Further, if illness means a student will be unable to write their Deferred examination in the first deferred examination period, they may write in the subsequent Deferred examination period.
  • Deferred exams will follow the same format as the exams held during the April exam period (i.e. will also be done remotely, whether that means a take-home exam, open-book exam, etc.).

How to exercise this option:

Do I need to communicate this to my Faculty?

  • You do not need to communicate the fact that you have applied for a deferred exam to your Faculty, unless it is asked of you in the steps listed in the webpage above.


Alternative weighting of assessments

What this means:

  • Some instructors may provide students with choices (within designated parameters) around reweighting of some assignments or examinations. This is at the discretion of individual instructors, subject to the approval of their academic unit or program head.
  • Instructors will communicate with their students if this option is available and what parameters they have set.

How to exercise this option:

  • Please communicate directly with your Instructor if they are offering this option and you would like to exercise it.

Do I need to communicate this to my Faculty?

  • You will need to communicate directly with your Instructor, but not with your Faculty advisor, to exercise this option.


Universally-Applied Measures

In addition to the options set out above, McGill will institute the following measures for the Winter 2020 term:

Transcript notation

Given the wide variability of options for adjusted academic measures our students will pursue this term, every student registered at McGill for Winter 2020 will receive a notation on their official transcript to indicate the extenuating circumstances. The wording of the notation will be as follows:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Winter 2020 term was disrupted as of 16-Mar-2020. Adjusted academic measures were put in place including allowing students to opt for S/U grading in some programs. No class averages calculated for this term.

Class averages

For the Winter 2020 term, “class averages” will not be noted on students’ transcripts. The general transcript comment cited above will mention the omission of class averages for this term.

Students registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities (OSD)

  • Disability-related accommodations will continue to be provided through the OSD, in collaboration with course instructors, as we move to remote instruction and assessment. For more information, please visit
  • Students with disabilities also have the right to make requests for academic considerations as set out above.



This framework was developed using the following principles:

  1. Prioritizing the wellness, health and safety of students and our whole community

  2. Upholding equity and fairness across our student body

  3. Supporting student academic success

  4. Maintaining high academic standards

  5. Maintaining reasonable instructor and staff workload

  6. Trusting our students to adhere to the principles of academic integrity

  7. Exercising flexibility and patience

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