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Survey of Pass/Fail Grading Systems in US Doctor of Pharmacy Degree Programs. Am J Pharm Educ 2022 Jan;86(1):8520



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85123360022 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   1 Citation


Objective. To understand how US schools and colleges of pharmacy use pass/fail grading systems in Doctor of Pharmacy degree programs.Methods. An electronic survey with 15 selected response items and six open-ended questions was developed to gather qualitative and quantitative data. The convenience survey was distributed in 2020 to the 10 academic pharmacy programs known to use a pass/fail grading system for the majority of their courses.Results. Leaders from eight of the 10 programs identified responded to the survey. Programs varied regarding the types of courses for which they used a pass/fail grading system and whether they shared numerical scores with their students. A variety of grade designations (honors, pass, no pass, fail, satisfactory, etc) were used, and the minimum pass level varied by program, ranging from 70% to 90%. For those institutions that used post-course remediation, the majority of remediation occurred immediately following the academic term or in the summer. The type of information shared with residency program directors (eg, GPA, class rank, overall percentile, qualitative comments) varied between programs.Conclusion. How pass/fail grading systems were used was inconsistent across the cohort. Programs that use a criterion-based grading system might benefit from engaging in conversations with other schools that do the same to determine whether and how consistency in terminology, passing level, percentages, grade point averages, and progression might be achieved. Additional insights on postgraduate training requirements and honorary societies are warranted should the use of pass/fail grading expand as it has in medical education. Further research on this topic is needed.

Author List

Spiess JP, Walcheske E, MacKinnon GE, MacKinnon KJ


Karen J. MacKinnon RPh Director, Assistant Professor in the School of Pharmacy Administration department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Education, Pharmacy
Educational Measurement
Internship and Residency
Surveys and Questionnaires