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Changes in Physics Major & Minor requirements due to COVID-19

This page is no longer being kept up to date.  All current information related to changes in Physics degree requirements due to the pandemic can be found on the COVID-19 Policies page for Physics in Explore Degrees.


Adjustments to requirements will be sent to physics-related student email lists and posted here.

At its meeting on March 26, 2020, the Faculty Senate of the Academic Council approved the following policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

All University courses (with the exception of those offered by the Graduate School of Business, the School of Law and the School of Medicine MD program unless opted in by those Schools) will be S/NC for Spring quarter 2019-20.

The Physics Department will allow courses earned for a “S” grade (indicating C- or better) during Spring quarter 2020 to count towards the Physics Major or Minor.

Communicated by UGS Director Peter Graham, March 12-14, 2020:  

The Physics Department is aware that recent events have caused a lot of stress for many of our students, including, for example, around completing winter quarter classes.  We have decided to make an exception to our usual policy on the grading basis of classes required for the Physics Major and Minor, for Winter quarter. Previously, all classes required for the Physics Major and Minor had to be taken for a letter grade (and a letter grade of C- or higher was necessary to get credit).  FOR WINTER QUARTER 2020 ONLY, we will allow any of the required physics classes taken Winter quarter to be taken CR/NC and still count for the Physics Major and Minor Requirements (of course a CR is necessary to receive credit). This does not change which courses count for the Physics Major and Minor Requirements; it only allows you to take them CR/NC rather than for a letter grade (and this only applies to Winter 2020).

If you are considering changing your grading basis in any course to CR / NC , please be aware by Stanford's definition: “the ‘CR' grade indicates performance is equivalent to ‘C-minus’ or above; the ‘NC' grade indicates that performance is equivalent to ‘D-plus’ or below.”  In other words, the minimum grade for a CR grade is C-, not D+.

Note that the university has changed its normal rules in order to allow students to switch their grading basis this late in the quarter UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES (please see university guidance on this for example at  In particular as per university guidelines: you would need to petition for this grading basis change by the deadline of Sunday March 15 at 5 PM Pacific Time and you would need to include correspondence from the instructor that verifies the changes in course requirements which have prompted the request.  Instructors of your individual physics courses will determine whether there are changes in course requirements. Your petition is sent via Axess as discussed on the above referenced website.

This new policy applies to ANY course you are taking this quarter (Winter 2020) for the Physics Major requirements, NOT just to Physics Department courses.  So for example you can also take Math courses (e.g., Math 131P) for CR/NC and count them for your physics major requirements (assuming you get a CR of course). 

We hope this change may help alleviate a little stress at this difficult time.