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Requests for Exception

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In special circumstances, a student you are working with may be eligible to request an exception to academic policy.  These kinds of requests must be submitted to the Office of Academic Advising.

Students may approach you with questions or interest in requesting an exception to academic policy. For example, your student may want to:

  • repeat a course for a second time
  • add a course after the published deadline
  • change the number of units in a course offered for variable units (e.g. 3-5) after the published deadline
  • withdraw from a course after the published deadline
  • enroll in more than 20 units

Because these kinds of requests are evaluated by Academic Advising, students should first be directed to their Undergraduate Advising Director for guidance. There are often significant considerations that need to be taken into account for these requests. 

Considerations may sometimes relate to the student themselves: for example, whether they are a student-athlete, an international student, a recipient of a grant or scholarship, or on an academic status. At other times, considerations may relate to the student's particular circumstances: for example, when they last attended class or submitted an assignment, what information may have been (un)available to them, or changes in the course syllabus made after the deadline.

Students must present compelling, exceptional, and (sometimes) documented circumstances in making their request. 

Information from faculty and staff that can be most helpful in this process include: details about course attendance, course engagement, work submitted, and/or any extenuating circumstances. Brief emails of explanation are preferred. A signature of endorsement on the Request for Exception form is also acceptable but is often not as useful as an email that provides additional context.

University policy and deadlines are established by the Faculty Senate to protect the integrity of the academic experience. Decisions about requests will be evaluated according to the standards and principles of university policies along with considerations of fairness and equity for all students. Requests will only be granted upon a demonstration of good cause. For official wording of Stanford's academic policies, refer to Stanford Bulletin: University Policies and Statements.

Please refer your student to their Undergraduate Advising Director, who will help them determine if such a request is appropriate and if so, help them navigate the process.

Prickly pear in the Arizona Garden. Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

Requests for Exception Forms

Academic Advising helps students navigate requests for exception to university policy. Information and forms for requests for exception are discussed in advising sessions with students to determine whether a request is merited, given individual circumstances.