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Requests for Exceptions to Academic Policy

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In certain circumstances, a student may submit a request for exception to university policy. Requests may relate to Academic Progress decisions, or to general academic policies or their deadlines. Requests must demonstrate relevant and compelling circumstances, and include supporting documentation. Your first step is to talk to your Undergraduate Advising Director (UAD) about your situation.

University policies (such as those regarding course enrollment, unit totals, and grading options) are established by the Faculty Senate and its Committees.  The review of requests for exception is conducted via VPUE and the office of Academic Advising to protect the integrity of these policies and the undergraduate academic experience.  Requests submitted to VPUE are carefully reviewed, considered, and evaluated by committee on a case-by-case basis.  Decisions about requests will be made in accordance with the standards and principles of university policies, along with considerations of fairness and equity for all students.  For more information on Stanford's academic policies, please refer to the Stanford Bulletin.

Preparation

Before you make an appointment with your UAD, please consider and be prepared to talk about the following: 

  • What is prompting your request?  
  • Have you fully explored alternative solutions to your situation?  
  • Have you experienced any significant extenuating circumstances that may warrant an exception to policy?

Your UAD can help you determine whether your situation is appropriate for a request for exception, what your options are, and what next steps to take.

Process

  1. Schedule an appointment and meet with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation. This may be your assigned Undergraduate Advising Director (UAD) in your neighborhood, your UAD for Student-Athletes, or another UAD from the Sweet Hall office.
  2. Your UAD will consider your specific situation and speak to you about whether or not the request for exceptions process is applicable to your particular circumstances.  Keep in mind that your UAD may also need to consult with colleagues to determine whether submission of a request for exception would be appropriate.  
  3. Depending on the outcome of the above:
    • If your UAD lets you know that submission of a request is not appropriate, your UAD will discuss any available alternative paths to addressing your concern and moving forward without an exception.  
    • If your UAD lets you know that submission of a request is appropriate, they will give you a form for a request for exception. Proceed as below.
  4. Complete the form, and write a personal statement describing the exceptional circumstances that you are facing.  Please see the writing prompts for your particular type of request below, and provide any specific information required (e.g. your first or last date of participation in the course).  Your explanation should provide a clear, full, and chronological timeline of events.
  5. Depending on the request, you may need to provide additional documentation and/or written support from an instructor or other university official.  Talk to your UAD to understand what other university offices are relevant to your situation, what documentation you should include, and what written statements you should get from them to endorse your request.  Compile any relevant documentation and attach it to your request.
  6. Submit your request, paying attention to the specific deadlines for each request below. Requests received after the relevant indicated deadline may not be considered.  
  7. Investigation and deliberation of submitted requests may take up to 3 weeks, depending on the type of request and whether any further information is needed.  Please keep an eye on your inbox in case we need to contact you about additional documentation or follow-up steps.  We appreciate your patience during this time.  You will be notified of the final decision on your request via email.
  8. If your request is not approved, we urge you to speak with your UAD to discuss alternative plans for moving forward without an exception. Note that UADs cannot reverse decisions, but they can help support you in light of the decision and plan your next steps.

Requests and Forms Administered by the Office of Academic Advising*

In this section: Request to Exceed Max UnitsSecond Repeat of a CourseLate Study ListsLate Add of a CourseLate Change of Units For a CourseLate Withdraw From a CourseLate Section ChangeMath SwitchesRequest to Return and RegisterReconsideration of Academic Suspension

*NOTE: You must be logged in using your Stanford SUNet ID to access these forms.

Request to Exceed Maximum Units (Undergraduates and Coterminal Students)

  • This is a request to enroll in more than 20 academic units before the Final Study List deadline. For more information on maximum enrollment, see the Stanford Bulletin: Full-Time Status. 
  • Note that the Request to Exceed Maximum Units eForm can only be accessed starting on the first day of the relevant quarter.
  • If you are an undergraduate student, you must be enrolled in all other desired courses within the 20 unit limit at the time of submission.  If you are a coterminal student in the undergraduate billing group, you will still need to submit a request for exception to exceed 20 units even if Axess allows the enrollment without permission.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and whether or not it is advisable to take more than 20 units this quarter.
  • If your request is appropriate, write a personal statement describing all the courses you plan to take this quarter, how each course fits into your academic plans, how and why you feel prepared to manage this work load, and what contingency plan you have in case the work proves to be too much.  Your advisor may request revisions to your statement or a follow-up meeting.
  • Fill out the required eForm on Axess  
    • To find the eForm, log in to Axess, go to the "My Academics" dropdown menu, and navigate to “Student eForms.” Click on “Browse Available Forms” and search for "Request for Exception to Exceed Maximum Units (Undergraduates)" or “Request for Exception to Exceed Maximum Units (Coterm).”  Please note that the eForm will open on the first day of the quarter.
  • Submit the required eForm with personal statement and any relevant supporting documentation via Axess by the Final Study List deadline.
  • If your request is approved, you will be notified via email.  Please take any requested additional steps in a timely manner.
  • For more guidance on the request to exceed max units, see our Advising Student Handbook.
     

Repeat a course a second time

  • This is a request to retake a course for a third time after having previously completed it twice and where the second grade was either NP or NC.  For more information, see the Stanford Bulletin: Repeated Courses.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and whether or not it is advisable to retake this course at this time. 
  • If your request is appropriate, fill out the required form here: Request for Exception to Change Course Enrollment [PDF Fillable]
  • You must write a personal statement describing why you want to repeat the course a second time, and what your plan is to ensure academic success.
  • You also will need a statement from the course instructor, which can be an email sent from their Stanford email address.  The instructor must endorse your decision to repeat the course for a second time.
  • If you received a passing final grade the second time you completed the course (i.e. a grade other than an NP or an NC), you may only request to take the course for a third time if the course is required for your major and you have not met the minimum grade threshold set by your major department.  In this case, you must also must provide a statement from your major department, which can be an email statement sent by your department's Student Services Officer, Director of Undergraduate Studies, your major advisor, etc.  The department statement must verify that this course is a requirement for your major and that your current course grade is insufficient.  
  • Submit the required form, personal statement, instructor statement, department statement (if necessary), and any other relevant supporting documentation to your Academic Advisor by the Final Study List deadline. 
     

Submit a study list after the published deadline

  • This is a request to enroll in courses (i.e. submit a study list) in cases where the Final Study List deadline has already passed but for some reason you are not currently enrolled in any courses for the quarter, although you have been attending and participating in courses since before the Final Study List deadline.  For more information on enrollment policies, see the Stanford Bulletin: Study Lists.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and why you were unable to enroll in courses by the Final Study List deadline. 
  • If your request is appropriate, fill out the required form(s) here: Request for Exception to Change Course Enrollment [PDF Fillable].  You must fill out one form for each course you wish to add.
  • You must write a personal statement describing the exceptional circumstances that prevented you from enrolling in courses by the Final Study List deadline.  You should also clearly state the date you first began attending and participating in each course you wish to enroll in.  
  • You will also need a statement from the instructor of each course you wish to enroll in, which can be an email sent from their Stanford email address.  For each course, your instructor must confirm your first date of course participation, and state that they endorse your joining their course after the Final Study List deadline.
  • Submit the required forms, personal statement, instructor statements, and any relevant supporting documentation to your Academic Advisor by the end of week 4.
  • A $200 fee will be assessed if the request is approved.
     

Add a course after the published deadline

  • This is a request to enroll after the Final Study List deadline in a course that you have been attending and participating in since before the Final Study List deadline.  For more information on enrollment policies, see the Stanford Bulletin: Study Lists.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and why you were unable to enroll in your desired course by the Final Study List deadline. 
  • If your request is appropriate, fill out the required form here: Request for Exception to Change Course Enrollment [PDF Fillable].  
  • You must write a personal statement describing the exceptional circumstances that prevented you from enrolling in the course by the Final Study List deadline.  You should also clearly state the date you first began attending and participating in the course.  
  • You will also need a statement from the course instructor, which can be an email sent from their Stanford email address.  Your instructor must confirm your first date of course participation, and state that they endorse your joining their course after the Final Study List deadline.
  • Submit the required form, personal statement, instructor statement, and any relevant supporting documentation to your Academic Advisor by end of week 4.  If this deadline has passed, please schedule an appointment with your Academic Advisor as soon as possible for guidance.
     

Change number of units in a variable unit course (e.g. 3-5 units) after the published deadline

  • This is a request to change your unit enrollment in a variable unit course after the Final Study List deadline in cases where you have already been doing the work load expected for that desired unit enrollment since before the Final Study List deadline.  For more information on enrollment policies, see the Stanford Bulletin: Study Lists.
  • Note that decisions about unit selection for variable unit courses are expected to be finalized by the Final Study List deadline. A student changing their mind or realizing after the Final Study List deadline that a different unit selection and workload would be more desirable is not a compelling reason for consideration of a request.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and why you were unable to enroll in the correct number of units for your course by the Final Study List deadline. 
  • If your request is appropriate, fill out the required form here: Request for Exception to Change Course Enrollment [PDF Fillable].  
  • You must also write a personal statement describing the exceptional circumstances that prevented you from enrolling in the correct number of units by the Final Study List deadline, and give a compelling reason why it is necessary for you to receive the revised number of units.  You should also explain the difference in workload between the different unit versions (attach a syllabus if possible), and clearly describe the workload you have been engaged in thus far.
  • You will also need a statement from the course instructor, which can be an email sent from their Stanford email address.  Your instructor must confirm that you have been doing the workload appropriate to your desired unit enrollment, and that they endorse your request to change the enrolled unit count for their course.
  • If you are seeking the unit change in order to use the course towards your declared major, you must also provide a statement from your major department verifying that the unit change would advance your progress in the major.  This can be an email statement sent by a representative from your major department (e.g. Student Services Officer, Director of Undergraduate Studies, or major advisor).
  • Submit the required form, personal statement, instructor statement, and any other relevant supporting documentation to your Academic Advisor by the end of week 4.  If this deadline has passed, please schedule an appointment with your Academic Advisor as soon as possible for guidance.
     

Withdraw from a course after the published deadline

  • This is a request to withdraw from a course after the course withdrawal deadline in cases where you stopped attending and participating in the course before the course withdrawal deadline.  For more information on enrollment policies, see the Stanford Bulletin: Study Lists.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and why you were unable to withdraw from your course by the Course Withdrawal deadline.
  • If your request is appropriate, fill out the required form here: Request for Exception to Change Course Enrollment [PDF Fillable].  
  • You must write a personal statement describing the exceptional circumstances that prevented you from withdrawing from the course by the deadline.  You should also clearly state the date you stopped attending and participating in the course.  
  • You will also need a statement from the course instructor, which can be an email sent from their Stanford email address.  Your instructor must confirm your last date of course participation, and that they endorse your withdrawal from the course after the course withdrawal deadline.
  • Submit the required form, personal statement, and any relevant supporting documentation to your Academic Advisor by the last day of classes.  If this deadline has passed, please schedule an appointment with your Academic Advisor as soon as possible for guidance.
     

Change the section component of a course after the published deadline

  • This is a request to change the section component of a course you are enrolled in after the Final Study List deadline in cases where you enrolled in the wrong section and have been attending and participating in a different section since before the Final Study List deadline (e.g. you enrolled in a research course but under a section with the wrong research mentor).  For more information on enrollment policies, see the Stanford Bulletin: Study Lists.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and the circumstances that prevented you from enrolling in the correct section component of your course by the Final Study List Deadline.
  • If your request is appropriate, fill out the required form here: Request for Exception to Change Course Enrollment [PDF Fillable].  
  • You must write a personal statement describing the exceptional circumstances that prevented you from enrolling in the correct section component of your course by the deadline.  You should also clearly state the date you stopped attending and participating in the incorrect course section (if at all), and the date you began attending and participating in the correct course section.
  • You will also need two instructor statements: one from the old (incorrect) section instructor, and one from the new (correct) section instructor.  These statements can be emails sent from their Stanford email addresses.  The old section instructor must confirm your last date of section participation (or that you never participated), and that they endorse your dropping their section after the Final Study List deadline.  The new section instructor must confirm your first date of section participation, and that they endorse your joining their section after the Final Study List deadline.
    • In cases where the old (incorrect) section has no listed instructor, you must instead obtain a statement from the Student Services Officer of the department offering the course.  The statement should verify that there is no one in their department responsible for overseeing or assigning grades for that particular section.
  • Submit the required form, personal statement, two instructor statements, and any other relevant supporting documentation to your Academic Advisor by the end of week 4.  If this deadline has passed, please schedule an appointment with your Academic Advisor as soon as possible for guidance.
     

Math Switches

  • This is a request only for students currently enrolled in MATH 61 CM/DM.  Eligible students may seek more information about this request by reaching out to their MATH 61 CM/DM instructor.
  • Fill out the required form here: Request to Change Course Enrollment: Math Switch [PDF Fillable]
     

Request to Return and Register in Undergraduate Study

  • This is a request for reinstatement at Stanford if you are on a discontinued status: for example, if you are returning from a completed academic suspension, or if you were previously unenrolled but never requested an official leave of absence, or if your leave of absence expired and you did not renew it.  For more information on reinstatement, see the Stanford Bulletin: Reinstatement.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to begin discussing your situation and your plans to return to Stanford. We recommend meeting with an advisor about 8-12 weeks before your intended quarter of return.  If you have been away for more than 5 years, we recommend connecting with an advisor at least 2 quarters in advance of your intended quarter of return.
  • Clear any obligations to the University (e.g. financial holds or other enrollment holds).
  • After consultation with your advisor, fill out the required form here: Request to Return and Register in Undergraduate Study [PDF Fillable]
  • You must write a personal statement detailing any past challenges you faced during your previous time at Stanford, your future academic plans for your immediate quarter of return as well as for the longer term, and what changes you might make or support resources you might seek out in order to give you the best possible chance of success upon your return.
  • If you have declared a major, you should submit an academic plan signed by a representative from your department that lists your remaining major requirements and when you plan to complete them.  This can also be an email statement sent by a representative from your major department.  If you haven’t declared a major, you should discuss your situation with your Academic Advisor and list the courses you plan to take for your intended quarter of return.
  • Submit the required form, personal statement, academic plan, and any other relevant supporting documentation to your Academic Advisor by Week 5 of the quarter prior to your intended return (e.g. submit by Week 5 of Autumn quarter for a Winter quarter return).  Your advisor may request revisions to your submission or a follow-up meeting.  
    • We strongly recommend that you submit any suggested revisions before the Term Withdrawal deadline of the quarter prior to your intended return (usually in Week 7).  See the academic calendar for Term Withdrawal dates.
    • Keep in mind that both Financial Aid and Housing have their own separate application processes with their own deadlines, and that you will not be able to apply for these services until after your Request to Return and Register has been approved and fully processed.  
    • If you have been away more than 5 years, please allow at least 12 weeks to process your return. 
  • If you have missed the recommended submission deadline for your finalized request (i.e. the Term Withdrawal deadline of the prior quarter), or if your circumstances are especially complex, please speak to your Academic Advisor as soon as possible for guidance.
  • See Returning to Stanford for further details.
     

Reconsideration of Academic Suspension

  • This is a request for students who have been placed on an academic suspension status who believe they have new and compelling information to present that may warrant a reconsideration of their status.  For more information on reconsiderations of academic suspension, see the Stanford Bulletin: Undergraduate Academic Progress.
  • Connect with an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and any previously undisclosed extenuating circumstances that you feel warrant a reconsideration of your academic suspension. 
  • After consultation with your advisor, fill out the required form here: Request Reconsideration of an Academic Suspension [PDF Fillable]
  • You must write a personal statement detailing any previously undisclosed significant extenuating circumstances that prevented you from fulfilling your academic requirements, your future academic plans for the following quarter as well as for the longer term, and what changes you will make or support resources you will seek out in order to ensure your immediate academic success if allowed to re-enroll.
  • If you have declared a major, you should submit an academic plan signed by a representative from your department that lists your remaining major requirements and when you plan to complete them.  This can also be an email statement sent by a representative from your major department.  If you haven’t declared a major, you should discuss your situation with your Academic Advisor and list the courses you plan to take for the quarter if allowed to re-enroll.
  • Submit the required form, personal statement, academic plan, and any other relevant supporting documentation to your Academic Advisor by date indicated in the academic suspension letter.
  • Requests after the deadline will not be considered.

Questions?

For questions about any of the requests above, or about enrollment situations not listed above, make an appointment with your Academic Advisor to discuss your circumstances and review what options may be available to you.

 


Forms Administered by Other University Offices

In this section: Reduced Course LoadLeave of Absence (LOA)LOA From Discontinued StatusEarly Return from LOA

Enroll in a minimum of 8 units (if registered with the Office of Accessible Education) – Reduced Course Load

  • This is a request for students registered with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) to authorize enrollment in a minimum of 8 units rather than 12 units for disability reasons.  This request is administered by OAE.  For more information, please visit OAE’s website.  
  • Register with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) to determine eligibility.
  • Once registered, login to OAE | CONNECT and click on the “Academic Request Forms” gear to access and submit the Request for Reduced Course Load.
  • International students must also meet with a Bechtel International Center advisor.
  • Submit your request no later than the course withdrawal deadline of the current quarter.  Keep in mind that the timing of your request may result in different consequences (for example, for your transcript, academic progress, tuition, visa status, and financial aid).  Please contact the relevant university offices for questions about their policies.
  • Notes: You MUST be enrolled with OAE to submit this request. Retroactive requests will not be considered.
  • While a signature from an Academic Advisor is not required, we recommend that you meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and how you may want to adjust your course load moving forward.
     

Request or Extend a Leave of Absence (LOA)

  • This is a request to take a break from enrollment at Stanford either before or after a quarter begins.  You may request or extend a Leave for anywhere from one quarter to four quarters at a time.  You may request no more than eight total quarters of Leave throughout your undergraduate career.  This request is administered by the office of the University Registrar.  For more information on Leaves of Absence, see the Stanford Bulletin: Voluntary Leaves of Absence for Undergraduate Students and the Stanford Bulletin: Voluntary Leaves of Absence for Coterminal Students.
  • Fill out the required eForm on Axess  
    • To find the eForm, log in to Axess, go to the "My Academics" dropdown menu, and navigate to “Student eForms.” Click on “Browse Available Forms” and search for "Leave of Absence for Undergraduates" or “Leave of Absence for Coterm.”
  • Contact an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and get their endorsement on your eForm.
  • The Dean of Students office will also review your situation and may reach out to you regarding any support that may be helpful to your specific circumstances.
  • If you are an international student, you must also contact a Bechtel International Center advisor and get their endorsement on the eForm.
  • If you are a coterminal student, you must also contact your graduate major department and obtain a departmental endorsement on the eForm.
  • Keep in mind that the timing of your Leave of Absence may result in different consequences (for example, for your transcript, academic progress, tuition, visa status, insurance, housing, and financial aid).  Please contact the relevant university offices for questions about their policies.
  • If you are extending your Leave of Absence, you must submit the eForm before the Final Study List deadline of your original intended quarter of return.
  • For more guidance on the Leave of Absence request, see our Advising Student Handbook.
     

Request an LOA after being discontinued

  • This is a request to change your status from “discontinued” to an official Leave of Absence if you were discontinued this current quarter due to non-enrollment or an expired LOA.  This request is administered by the office of the University Registrar.  For more information, see Student Services: Forms and Processes.
    • NOTE: Students who were discontinued in a previous quarter must instead submit a Request to Return and Register (see above).  
  • If eligible, fill out the required eForm on Axess.  
    • To find the eForm, visit https://eforms.stanford.edu. Click on “Browse Available Forms” and search for "Leave of Absence for Discontinued Undergraduates" or “Leave of Absence for Discontinued Coterms.”
  • Contact an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and get their endorsement on your eForm.
  • The Dean of Students Office will also review your situation and may reach out to you regarding any support that may be helpful to your specific circumstances.
  • If you are an international student, you must also contact a Bechtel International Center advisor and get their endorsement on the eForm.
  • If you are a coterminal student, you must also contact your graduate major department and obtain a departmental endorsement on the eForm.
  • Deadline: Last day of class for the effective quarter (either the return quarter originally indicated on your LOA form, or your first quarter of non-enrollment if you did not file an LOA).
  • For more guidance on the Leave of Absence request, see our Advising Student Handbook.
     

Request an early return from an active LOA

  • This is a request to return from an active Leave of Absence in a quarter earlier than you initially intended (as stated on your original LOA eForm).  This request is administered by the office of the University Registrar.  For more information, see Student Services: Forms and Processes.
  • Fill out the required eForm on Axess
    • To find the eForm, log in to Axess, go to the "My Academics" dropdown menu, and navigate to “Student eForms.” Click on “Browse Available Forms” and search for the "Early Return from Leave of Absence (UG Students)" or the “Early Return from Leave of Absence (Coterm Students) eForm. 
  • Contact an Academic Advisor to discuss your situation and get their endorsement on your eForm.
  • If you are an international student, you must also contact a Bechtel International Center advisor and get their endorsement on the eForm.
  • Deadline: Final Study List Deadline of the effective quarter
  • Keep in mind that if your request is approved, you may still need to apply for housing and for financial aid through separate processes, and that those applications have their own deadlines.  If your circumstances are especially complex, please speak to your Academic Advisor for guidance on the timing of your submission.
     

Additional Registrar Forms

This is not an exhaustive list. Some of the more common additional undergraduate forms administered by the Registrar include:

  • Part-Time Enrollment Petition for Undergraduate Students (Terminal Quarter Only)
  • Application to Graduate
  • Graduation Quarter
  • Last Units Out of Residence
  • Permit to Attend for Services Only

For a full list of forms, please visit the Student Services: Forms and Processes page.

See Also