Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Academic Program Rule Changes for CS Major Applicants - March 31, 2020

Dear CS Major Applicants, 

This message provides details on how the University's changes to the Pass/Fail grading policy will be applied to CS major Applicants on Contract (AOCs). It also describes additional accommodations that the CS program is providing for current AOCs. As a reminder, on March 22nd, the University notified students that the limit on the number of courses that students can take Pass/Fail has been removed for this semester. The University's original email on this policy change is available here

Following consultation with the University administration regarding the updated Pass/Fail policy, the CS undergraduate program is making the following changes to CS AOC contract requirements:
  1. For this semester, CS AOCs may elect Pass/Fail grading on any number of courses.
  2. For this semester, the contract requirement of a minimum of 12 letter-graded credits is waived. Students must still complete a minimum of 12 credits, but any number of elective pass/fail credits may be used.
  3. For this semester, a grade of P (pass) can be used to satisfy any contract grade requirement.

Students will be able to elect pass/fail grading on Spire between March 30 and April 29th. The University has released a Pass/Fail grading FAQ that explains the details of the Pass/Fail grading process. It is available here. Please note that, as in all semesters, an F (fail) grade earned in Spring 2020 will result in an F on your transcript and will be reflected in your GPA. Pass (P) grades do not affect your GPA. There are no changes to the minimum GPA needed for admission to the major.

For current AOCs who are admitted in this or a later semester, the CS program will make the following corresponding accommodations:
  1. For students who elect Pass/Fail grading on a course taken this semester that is a prerequisite for a subsequent CS course,  a grade of P (pass) will be accepted as meeting the prerequisite requirements for the subsequent course, regardless of when the subsequent course is taken.
  2. For students who elect Pass/Fail grading on a course taken this semester that satisfies a CS major requirement,  a grade of P (pass) will be accepted as satisfying that major requirement, regardless of when the student completes the program. 
As a result of these policy changes, some students might continue to more advanced CS and Informatics courses with P grades while feeling less prepared than they might if standard prerequisite grades were required. We want to reassure you that CICS advisors and instructors are committed to working with students to ensure their success.  Part of supporting student success, in this case, may include an advisor suggesting that students take advantage of opportunities for getting additional practice with material from specific courses. The college is actively exploring what those opportunities will look like, and details will be provided when available. Likewise, if you are interested in repeating a course or otherwise supplementing your understanding of course material, we encourage you to contact your advisor.

For current AOCs who do not meet the updated contract requirements described above this semester, the CS program will provide the following additional accommodations:
  1. The total number of contracts a student is eligible for will be increased from 2 to 3.
  2. The requirement that students be admitted to the CS major before their fifth semester will be extended by one semester. Students must be admitted to the CS major before their sixth semester.
  3. The requirement that a student's next contract not extend into the second half of the 200-level CS cores will be waived. 
More details about these changes are available in this CICS FAQ. If you have questions about your contract, please contact csapply@cs.umass.edu. For general advising questions, please reach out to the CICS Advising Office at cicsadvising@umass.edu or 413-545-4822. 

Alicia Clemente
Director of Academic Advising & Student Success

Christine Holbrook
Director of Academic Programs