Given these times, many universities are having classes and exams online. There are several loopholes and drawbacks to this system, especially if trying to replicate the traditional system. For example, in my undergrad, we have non-proctored exams with endless possibilities of academic dishonesties and/or penalties due to something not as harsh; depending on courses and their instructors. Many other external factors might also arise. At our univ, we also have an option to choose up to a couple of courses to be marked pass/fail rather than be graded on a scale due to the negative uncertainties the online semester might bring badly affecting overall GPA.

My questions here are:

  1. Will these times change how recent grades are looked upon traditionally in research roles/other positions in short term?
  2. How will the courses that are not graded look like to someone? Especially if it's a core course.

I study in India, but students from my university apply for research interns (my short term interest which will determine my long term interests too) in European countries and the USA in general. If I'm disappointed/I fail, I'll probably run away to company internships, but I think that they don't care much, academia does.

  • Where, in particular, are you asking about? Probably not Antarctica.
    – Buffy
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:38
  • @Buffy Thank you for responding, does the edited question make it more clear? I'm assuming you probably meant "for what role" and "grades at what level" ~I ran off to Antarctica to get away from worldly troubles~
    – Iceberry
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:41
  • Please mention why -1, is it off-topic? I think it's a serious issue since a lot of students around me are suffering - myself included - due to online classes and worry about traditional importance grades hold. I'm in one of the best univs of my country, and the race for grades makes it pretty ugly over here.
    – Iceberry
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:45
  • How grades are perceived depends of course on the individual person, but also on the country and "position" of who you ask. I can't find the country in your question. In my experience, most industry employers don't care at all about individual grades.
    – user111388
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:47
  • Also, what should be better or worse if a course is not graded (but is indicated whether passed or not?)? Again, there may be some specialities depending on your country.
    – user111388
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


Since the question asks to predict the future it doesn't have a definitive answer. However, I can make some predictions that apply in the US. I can't speak about elsewhere.

First, for the next few years, people will likely remember the things that made these compromises necessary and so will treat them with the necessary caution. But that will likely fade.

However, the importance of grades also fades with time. How you did at one level has an effect on moving to the next level, though it isn't the only consideration. But for the level after that, the importance is almost nil. The recent successes or failures are what will be given the most weight.

And, at the level of possessing a doctorate and doing research, the grades you got in school are, and have pretty much always been, irrelevant. You are judged by what you produce and how effective you are in academia, not your distant past.

However, for a bit of advice for students in this situation now, in the US, you are probably better off getting real grades in your major subject and taking pass/fail grades as needed in the other required courses. But this is just to make the picture clearer for the reviewers who hold the gate to the next level.

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