Student Academic Resources

The University at Buffalo has transitioned to a distance learning model for the remainder of the spring semester. As you get comfortable with this new educational format, we are here to help! We know you’ll have questions along the way, so we’ve compiled information to help you understand these changes. Please bookmark this page and check back often; we will update it as more information becomes available.

Even though how you take classes has changed, UB’s focus still is—and always will be—supporting your success. Remember, you can always contact a department or office with questions. We are here for you!

On this page:

Undergraduate Academic and Grading FAQ

Will my syllabus change when my class moves online?

As your course transitioned online, your syllabus has likely changed, though the learning outcomes will remain the same. You should have received a new syllabus during the week of March 23. Make time to read the new syllabus and familiarize yourself with assignments and course expectations moving forward.

Where can I get help if I have questions about course requirements?

If something is confusing or you need help, reach out to your professor or TA through email or the method your instructor has requested. Creating a group chat with your classmates to share information and get help is a great idea!

Your academic advisor is also a valuable resource. Undergraduate students can locate their specific advisor or advising unit in the HUB Student Center in MyUB.

What is S/U grading and how did it change for spring 2020?

For spring 2020 only, the university expanded the use of S/U grades to help support student academic success during this unprecedented time. S/U grades may be elected for courses that count towards UB Curriculum general education requirements, major requirements and electives. Some degree programs may require you to choose or recover letter grades in major courses and pre-requisites in the future. To date, these programs include Nursing, Accounting (with the exception of MGA 201 and 202) and Occupational Therapy. 

S/U grades do not factor into your GPA. Your course instructors will grade you like normal and submit a letter grade for you at the end of the semester. The letter grade is then converted to the appropriate S or U grade. A grade of C or better is converted to an S. A grade of C- and below is converted to a U. For spring 2020, you can wait to make one or more of your courses graded S/U until the last day of final exams. Also, if at a later date you decide that you want to recover the letter grade, you can do so—there is no deadline to make this request.

I’m trying to decide if I should take a course S/U. What should I know to make an informed decision?

  • You do not have to make this decision right away. You have until the last day of final exams to submit a request.
  • Any grade that is C or higher will convert into an S, otherwise it is a U (C- through F).
  • S/U grades do not figure into GPA calculations.
  • It is important to remember that you must still maintain engagement in the class in order to earn an S grade.
  • If you need letter grades in order to meet the institutional GPA requirement for graduation, selecting S/U may not be your best option. Likewise, if you are counting on a letter grade to boost your GPA and help ensure you retain scholarships and/or progress in your major, an S/U might not be appropriate.
  • You may need letter grades in order to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress.
  • You may want GPA-impacting course grades in order to be competitive for graduate school admissions (and other purposes external to the program); Graduate programs across the country often require letter grades for courses relevant to the discipline, as do law and medical schools.
  • If you are attempting to make Dean’s list for spring 2020 you will still need to complete 15 credits, with 12 graded (not S/U) credits to be eligible. Full guidelines for Dean’s list eligibility are in the Undergraduate Catalog.
  • If you are working toward Latin Honors upon graduation, you will still need to meet normal requirements. Any courses taken S/U will not count toward Latin Honors eligibility. Full guidelines for Latin Honors eligibility are in the Undergraduate Catalog.

I am repeating a course this semester. Am I still able to elect this course for S/U grading?

Yes. The S and U grades would work as letter grades typically do in the application of the Repeat Policy, as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. If you have questions about your particular situation, please contact your academic advisor.

What is the difference between S/U and P/F grading?

P/F grading is designated at the course-level. All students enrolled in such a course receive either a P or an F grade at the end of the term. Students may not elect this option. The P does not correspond to any specific letter grade; rather, it is an indication that the student has passed the course. There are no grade points associated with a P, but the credit hours are earned. However, the F grade (failure) is included in the GPA.

S/U grading is a student-selected option for a course that is normally designated with A-F or P/F grading. The course instructor does not know if a student selects a course for S/U grading. The course instructor submits the appropriate letter or P/F grade at the end of the term. Grades of P or A through C are converted to a grade of S. Grades of C- and below are converted to a grade of U. S/U grades do not factor into the GPA. Once grades have been assigned for the term, a student can reclaim the letter grade that the instructor assigned. When a student reclaims a letter grade, the letter grade replaces the S/U on the student’s record, and the letter grade is factored into the GPA.

How do I change a course to S/U grading?

For spring 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students may request an S/U in lieu of a letter grade by completing the Request for Undergraduate S/U Grade Form by the end of the final exam period of the semester. These grades will be noted by S* and U* in place of S and U, respectively.

I elected S/U grading for a course. Can I also request and be granted an Incomplete for that course?

Yes, as long as the circumstances follow the parameters for you to request an incomplete grade from the faculty member. You may only be granted approval for an I grade by your instructor if you have a passing average in the coursework that has been completed and have well-defined parameters to complete the course requirements that could result in a grade better than the default grade.

I am worried about how I am doing in my course(s), what should I do?

  • Take advantage of one of the many free tutoring options.
  • Talk with your professor and/or academic advisor.
  • You may want to consider electing the course S/U.

Is tutoring available online?

In addition to regular group and one-on-one tutoring, Tutoring and Academic Support Services is offering drop-in tutoring (no appointment necessary) from April 27 to May 8.

I am having technology issues or other significant difficulties keeping up with my courses and am not sure I should remain enrolled. Do I have any options?

  • UBIT has information about access to technology and free internet.
  • Consider electing S/U grading for some of your courses. You have through the last day of final exams to decide and can always recover the letter grade at a later date.
  • If your technology issues prohibit you from finishing your coursework, talk with your course instructor about the possibility of taking an Incomplete grade.
  • As always, resigning from a course is an option but one that you should discuss with your academic advisor. The deadline to make this decision has been extended. You now have until the last day of final exams to elect this option.  
  • If you are having significant issues across all of your courses and the above options are not feasible, you may want to consider requesting an Academic Withdrawal. You will need to work directly with your academic advisor to complete the necessary paperwork.

When would requesting an Incomplete be appropriate?

If you have experienced significant health or internet connectivity challenges, please discuss with your course instructor(s) to see if taking an Incomplete is possible. This will allow you to complete any outstanding coursework at a later date. Incompletes must be completed within 12 months. The full policy regarding Incomplete grades is available in the Undergraduate Catalog.

I am an international student; do I still need to go through the Academic Reduced Course Load application process if I resign below 12 credits?

Yes. International students in F-1 or J-1 status who are considering a drop below full-time (12 credit hours) should consult with their academic advisor and International Student Services (ISS). The process for obtaining a reduced course load approval is available on the ISS website. The reduced course load application must be signed by an academic advisor and approved by ISS before a student is permitted to drop or resign below full-time. The reduced course load form is a fillable PDF and may be signed electronically.

I received an Incomplete grade in spring 2019 or summer 2019 and cannot complete the work in time. What should I do?

Deadlines to complete work for Incomplete grades earned during spring 2019 and summer 2019 have been extended until December 31, 2020. Contact your course instructor to discuss completing the work in time to meet this extended deadline. 

Graduate Academic and Grading FAQ

Will my syllabus change when my class moves online?

As your course transitioned online, your syllabus has likely changed, though the learning outcomes will remain the same. You should have received a new syllabus during the week of March 23. Make time to read the new syllabus and familiarize yourself with assignments and course expectations moving forward.

Where can I get help if I have questions about course requirements?

If something is confusing or you need help, reach out to your professor or TA through email or the method your instructor has requested. Creating a group chat with your classmates to share information and get help is a great idea!

Your academic advisor is also a valuable help resource. Graduate and professional students should consult their advisor or director of graduate studies.

Will graduate students still be able to defend theses and dissertations after courses move online?

All thesis and dissertation defenses should be conducted remotely.

I have questions regarding my status in my graduate program. How can I get assistance?

Graduate School staff are available to assist you remotely. We can be reached via email at grad@buffalo.edu or by phone at 716-645-2939.

How do I complete and submit my M-form or petition remotely?

We are offering as much flexibility as possible in turning in Graduate School forms electronically. Completed forms should be emailed to grad@buffalo.edu.

Here are a few options for gathering signatures and sending forms electronically:

  • DocuSign is an electronic signature (e-signature) platform that you can use to sign and send your documents securely to the appropriate signor/recipient.
  • Adobe Acrobat can be used to collect signatures electronically and sent via email. 
  • Completed and signed forms can be scanned or photographed and submitted via email.
  • If a scanned or DocuSigned M-form or petition is not obtainable, committee members can email grad@buffalo.edu from their UB email account stating that they approve a thesis, dissertation or petition.

How can my oral defense of my thesis or dissertation be made public this semester?

PhD dissertation defenses occurring this spring should still be made public by being available to other doctoral students and faculty remotely, via an online meeting tool such as WebEx, Zoom or Skype. UB has enterprise licenses for both WebEx and Zoom.

What is the degree conferral deadline for students graduating June 1, 2020?

The M-form and final requirements submission deadline for June 1, 2020, conferral has been extended to May 26, 2020. Students are strongly urged to submit all final requirements and conferral documents as early as possible, in order to avoid a delay in final record audit and conferral of the degree.

What is S/U grading and how did it change for spring 2020?

For spring 2020 only, the university expanded the use of S/U grades to help support student academic success during this unprecedented time. Graduate students should consult their program director or director of graduate study to determine if courses taken for S/U grades during spring 2020 can fulfill degree requirements prior to requesting S/U grading. The instructor's decision will be final and will be transmitted to the student in writing.

S/U grades do not factor into your GPA. Instructors submit S/U grades for approved students at the end of the term as follows:  Grades of P or A through B are converted to a grade of S and grades of B- and below are converted to a grade of U. S/U grades do not factor into your GPA. For spring 2020, you can wait to make one or more of your courses graded S/U until the last day of final exams.

How do I change a course to S/U grading?

For spring 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduate students may request an S/U in lieu of a letter grade by the end of the final exam period of the semester. Any grade that is B or higher will convert to an S, otherwise it is a U (B- through F). Graduate students should consult their program director or director of graduate study to determine if courses taken for S/U grades during spring 2020 can fulfill degree requirements prior to requesting S/U grading. The instructor's decision will be final and will be transmitted to the student in writing.

What is the difference between S/U and P/F grading?

P/F grading is designated at the course-level. All students enrolled in such a course receive either a P or an F grade at the end of the term. Students may not elect this option. The P does not correspond to any specific letter grade; rather, it is an indication that the student has passed the course. There are no grade points associated with a P, but the credit hours are earned. However, the F grade (failure) is included in the GPA.

S/U grading is a student-selected option for a course that is normally designated with A-F or P/F grading. Students who wish to be graded on a basis different from the one announced by the instructor must submit a written request to the instructor. The instructor's decision will be final and will be transmitted to the student in writing.  Instructors submit S/U grades for approved students at the end of the term as follows: Grades of P or A through B are converted to a grade of S and grades of B- and below are converted to a grade of U. S/U grades do not factor into your GPA.

I am having technology issues with my courses and am not sure I should remain enrolled. Do I have any options?

  • UB has shared some information on free internet options offered through local internet providers.
  • Consider electing S/U grading for some of your courses. You have through the last day of final exams to request S/U grading from your course instructor.
  • If your technology issues prohibit you from finishing your coursework, talk with your course instructor about the possibility of taking an Incomplete grade.
  • As always, resigning from a course is an option but one that you should discuss with your academic advisor. The deadline to make this decision has been extended. You now have until the last day of final exams to elect this option.  
  • If you are having significant issues across all of your courses and the above options are not feasible, you may want to consider requesting an academic withdrawal. You will need to work directly with your academic department to complete the necessary paperwork.

When would requesting an Incomplete be appropriate?

If you have experienced significant health or internet connectivity challenges, please discuss with your course instructor(s) to see if taking an Incomplete is possible. This will allow you to complete outstanding coursework at a later date. Incompletes must be completed within 12 months. The full policy regarding Incomplete grades is available in the Graduate School Policy Library.

I received an Incomplete grade in spring 2019 or summer 2019 and cannot complete the work in time. What should I do?

Deadlines to complete work for Incomplete grades earned during spring 2019 and summer 2019 have been extended until December 31, 2020. Contact your course instructor to discuss completing the work in time to meet this extended deadline.

Do these policy changes apply to students in the MD, JD or DDS programs?

No, the professional programs of MD, JD and DDS have separate academic policies and process. Students in these programs should consult with academic affairs within their schools for guidance.

I am an international student; do I still need to go through the Reduced Course Load application process if I resign below 12 credits?

Yes. International students in F-1 or J-1 status who are considering a drop below full-time (12 credit hours) should consult with their academic advisor and International Student Services (ISS). The process for obtaining a reduced course load approval is available on the ISS website. The reduced course load application must be signed by an academic advisor and approved by ISS before a student is permitted to drop or resign below full-time. The reduced course load form is a fillable PDF and may be signed electronically.

Academic Advising and Support FAQ

How can I contact my undergraduate academic advisor?

A full range of advising services is available remotely. Students can schedule an appointment online through the Student Success Portal, call or email their advisor/advising center directly for assistance.

Is remote tutoring/academic support available?

Tutoring and Academic Support Services, the Center for Excellence in Writing, and other tutoring centers across campus are offering online appointments.

How do I access library resources?

The Libraries are unable to supply physical items or allow access to our physical collections at this time. Please see our Access to Library Resources & Services guide for more information on accessing materials. If you are unable to utilize the above resources, we are happy to investigate purchasing or borrowing an eBook. Please submit your request via Delivery+.

Distance Learning FAQ

How do I know how to access my class online?

Your course instructors will contact you by email by March 19 with instructions to access course content. Should this information change after March 23, your instructor should inform you.

How do I access UB Learns?

While online platforms will vary across courses, you will likely access your courses through UB Learns, powered by Blackboard. You can also access UB Learns through a link in MyUB. Your UB Learns username and password is the same as what you use for your UB email. Visit the UBIT website for further guidance on using UB Learns.

How often should I check email and UB Learns while I am taking an online course?

Often! Staying on top of your academic responsibilities is imperative while taking online courses. Check your email at least two times a day, if not more. Log in to UB Learns, or whatever online platform your course uses, every day. Checking your course modules frequently is how you can stay on top of your work and any updates or changes.

What technology will I need for an online course? What campus technology and software resources are available to students?

To complete online courses, you will need a computer and Internet access, at a minimum. Please visit UBIT’s Preparing Student Devices for Distance Learning page to find information on software and other recommendations. University Libraries can also offer resources for students who remain on campus. Please visit the UBIT website for regular updates on technology offerings. If you are experiencing technical difficulties, contact the UBIT Help Center and/or your instructor.

Will hands-on learning opportunities, such as labs, studio programs, independent research and experiential learning, continue when courses move online?

Faculty and departments are working hard to ensure that labs, independent research, and other hands-on learning opportunities continue and remain valuable for students. Please reach out to your instructor or TA for more information.

If your experiential learning project, independent study, research or internship has been disrupted by the transition to distance learning, the Experiential Learning Network has provided suggestions and options for earning a digital badge. Please visit the Complete Your Experiential Learning Course page for more information.

How will the university uphold academic integrity when classes are online?

Instructors are working diligently to ensure the best possible learning experience for you in an online setting. As a student, your responsibility is to complete your work in an honest fashion, upholding the expectations your individual instructors have for you in this regard. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that you learn the content in your courses in accordance with UB’s academic integrity principles, regardless of whether instruction is live or online. Thank you for upholding your own personal integrity and ensuring UB’s tradition of academic excellence! For more information, please visit the Academic Integrity and COVID-19 for Students webpage.