University of Southern California

SCampus Student Guidebook

University Governance

C.3 General Academic Petitions

C.3 General Academic Petitions

The Office of Academic Review and Retention (Trojan Hall 101) is responsible for processing student requests to deviate from general university policies and faculty requests to change a grade that was originally submitted incorrectly. The actual decisions on these requests are made by a subgroup of the Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures (CAPP) which meets several times a month.

Not all requests for deviation from normal requirements are handled through the same process. Registration-related exceptions are initiated in the Office of Academic Review and Retention. These include such requests as adding or dropping courses after enrollment deadlines and changing the grading option after the third week. Degree requirement-related exceptions are initiated in the student’s academic unit. These include requests to count excess units in a course with a unit maximum and to extend time to complete an incomplete. Decisions on these types of exception requests are reported to the Office of Academic Review and Retention by the CAPP petitions panel

The following exceptions are those that a student may request under certain circumstances. There is no assurance that the request will be approved. The panel will review the student’s academic record and consider the circumstances that led to the student’s situation. The circumstances must justify exempting an individual student from a rule or deadline that other students are being required to follow.

Students should take care that the material they submit is accurate, comprehensive and well documented. It is important to initiate the petition process as soon as possible. A student who wishes to file a petition should speak with an academic adviser to determine whether the request is appropriate and whether it will actually resolve the problem.

I. Registration-related Exceptions (see time limits for filing below)

A student wishing to request a registration-related exception should come to Trojan Hall 101. By talking with an academic review counselor, the student can determine whether there are grounds for an exception request and learn what documentation will be required. When all required documentation and endorsements are gathered, the student should submit the completed petition to the Office of Academic Review and Retention. These requests are heard by the Dean of Academic Records and Registrar. Requests not approved by the dean are referred to the CAPP panel for review. Below are the registration-related exceptions with the guidelines.

Late or Retroactive Adding of One or More Courses

The final deadline for original registration is the end of the third week of classes for fall or spring semesters. For summer sessions or special sessions, the student must look up the equivalent of the third week deadline. This is also true for the twelfth week drop deadline. Please assume that, in any reference to registration deadlines, the third or twelfth week refer to the fall and spring semesters and that an equivalent deadline will be applied for shorter sessions.

The end of the third week of classes is also the deadline to add courses that are not listed on the original program. CAPP will consider petitions for exception to the add deadline only if the student has documented extenuating circumstances.

Extenuating circumstances are defined by CAPP as situations over which the student has no control (e.g., a family death). Reasons such as “I didn’t know the policy” or “I was out of town that week” or “I forgot” or “That isn’t how they did it at the last school I attended” are not considered to be extenuating circumstances.

In all cases, a petition to add a course must include a statement from the instructor indicating the quality of work and dates of attendance.

Late or Retroactive Withdrawal from One or More Courses

The final deadline for dropping one or more courses is the end of the 12th week of classes or its equivalent for a given semester. To officially drop a course the student must process a drop form through the Registration Department or drop through Web registration and secure a Registration Confirmation as proof of having dropped. This 12-week time period is considered generous. CAPP will entertain petitions for exceptions to the drop deadline when the student has documented extenuating circumstances or the student was unable to evaluate his or her level of performance prior to the drop deadline.

Withdrawal petitions based on medical reasons require accompanying documentation from the student’s physician. It is assumed that such requests will usually involve a complete withdrawal from all classes. If the request involves less than cancellation of the whole academic program, a complete explanation must be provided of courses to be dropped or retained, plans for completion of the remaining courses and an explanation of why the student’s medical condition allowed completion of some courses but not all. In general, if a student is healthy enough to participate in campus activities outside of class, he or she is considered responsible for all courses undertaken. In all cases, a petition to drop a course must include a statement from the instructor indicating the quality of work and dates of attendance.

A final word of caution: CAPP almost never approves requests for late withdrawals if the student has taken the final exam in a course. However, a student should not take this word of caution as an indication that she or he should purposefully miss a final exam because of a pending petition to drop. A student who misses a final exam because of a pending petition and then discovers that the petition was denied, will surely be in a worse position because the final exam grade will be calculated as an “F.”

Change in Registration Grading Option from Pass/No Pass to Letter Grade or Vice Versa

The final deadline for changing the grading option of a course from pass/no pass to a letter grade or vice versa is the end of the third week of classes or its equivalent for a given semester. Approval of requests to change enrollment status after the deadline are rare.

Time Limits for Registration-related Requests

Exception requests for retroactive change of an official registration for a semester or special session must be submitted no later than 24 months from the last day of final examinations for the semester or special session in question. If appropriate, the time limit can be waived by the dean of the academic unit in which the student is seeking a degree, but may not be waived if the courses in question occurred longer than five years previously.

III. Degree Requirement-related Exceptions

These requests are generated in the student’s major department or school. When the petition is completed, the school’s petition contact person will submit the petition to the Academic Review Department to be heard by the CAPP petitions panel. Below are the most common degree requirement-related petitions with the guidelines.

Extension of Time for Removal of an Incomplete (IN)

One calendar year is allowed to remove the mark of IN. A mark of IN cannot be removed by repeating the course, even if it is successfully completed within the calendar year requirement. If the IN is not removed within the calendar year, the course is considered “lapsed” and the grade is changed to an IX. Lapsed incompletes (IX) are penalty grades and are calculated as grades of “F.” Courses offered on a Credit/No Credit basis or taken on a Pass/No Pass basis for which a mark of Incomplete is assigned will be lapsed with a mark of NC or NP and will not be calculated into the grade point average.

Extensions beyond this deadline are not likely to be approved if the student has enrolled in subsequent semesters, since it is assumed that the student’s first priority should be the removal of the incomplete.

In all cases, a petition for an extension of time for removal of an IN must include a statement from the instructor explaining what is needed to complete the course and why the instructor feels the student should be given even further time for completion.

Other degree-related exceptions include requests to count excess units for a course with a unit maximum.

Exceptions Made Elsewhere

The Office of Admission and Financial Aid, Financial Services and the Graduate School have similar processes for actions taken by their respective committees or deans. Still other requests are handled through the exception process which comes directly from the academic unit to the Degree Progress Department.

Registration in Graduate-level Courses by Undergraduate Students

Exceptional undergraduate students may enroll in a graduate course. In order to do so, students must receive approval from the instructor. Students must also have prior approval from the chair of the major department to count the course for undergraduate credit or audit the course. The student’s major department will notify the Degree Progress Department in writing regarding the manner in which the graduate course will be used. In no case will a student be allowed to enroll in and receive credit for a graduate course if the student’s cumulative USC GPA is below 2.0.

Graduate Credit for 400 and 500 Level Work Taken as an Undergraduate

An undergraduate student who is within 12 semester units of the bachelor’s degree and has a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 may request to enroll in and reserve for graduate credit a limited amount of work at the 400 and 500 levels during the last semester as a senior, provided that the semester program does not exceed 16 semester units. A written request should be submitted to the Degree Progress Department and should bear the endorsements of the chair of the student’s major department and of the department in which the reserved work is to be taken. The Degree Progress Department verifies that the units being reserved are not needed to fulfill requirements for the bachelor’s degree. The student must present a copy of the final action to the Registration Department at the time of enrollment.

IV. Exceptions to the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Limits on Units in the Major or Limits on the College Basic Requirement

Departments within the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences awarding the B.A. degree cannot require fewer than 24 or more than 36 upper division units in the major. However, students may elect to take up to 40 upper division units within their major without a petition. A student wishing to exceed the limit must obtain the approval of the department with the final endorsement of the dean of undergraduate programs.

Students who major in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences must earn 104 units in the college departments. For students graduating with a minor or second bachelor’s degree, this minimum is reduced to 96 units. Exceptions will be considered by the dean of undergraduate programs.

Students who are completing major degree programs in a professional school, but whose degree is conferred by the college, are exempt from this policy.

Substitutions of general education requirements and skill level requirements are generated in the student’s academic unit and submitted to the dean of undergraduate programs. Substitutions of foreign language requirements are also generated in the student’s academic unit and submitted to the American Language Institute.

V. Grading Issues

Correction of Grade

A student who believes an error was made in the assignment of a grade should consult directly with the instructor of the class. The instructor may request from the Office of Academic Review and Retention and submit to CAPP a Correction of Grade form with appropriate endorsements. This type of request cannot be submitted on any other form and the form may not be handled by a student at any point in the process.

A full description of the actual error will be required of the instructor. General descriptions such as “clerical error” will not be accepted. CAPP considers grade changes on the basis of the explanation given, but may void a request involving any of the following circumstances:

  • A request to change a grade of IN unless all work was completed prior to the end of the semester involved.
  • A request to change a grade to any other mark than IN when work was completed subsequent to the end of the semester involved.
  • A request that is missing the required endorsements (instructor, department chair and dean).

Missing Grades (MG) Defaulting to Unofficial Withdrawals (UW)

Students have one year, from the end of the semester in which they were assigned a mark of MG, to resolve or clarify the mark of MG. (Note: Marks of MG assigned PRIOR to fall 2005 are not bound by this policy.) Missing grades can be resolved by the instructor of the course through the Correction of Grade process. The Correction of Grade process (COG), is handled by the Office of Academic Review and Retention , (213) 740-7741, Trojan Hall 101, MC 0912.

Failure to resolve the mark of MG within the one year limit results in the assignment of the mark of UW (Unofficial Withdrawal). A mark of UW is a failing grade and will calculate in the student’s GPA the same way that a grade of “F” is calculated in the GPA. Courses graded Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) in which a mark of MG is not resolved will result in a mark of NC. Students who have elected to take a course on a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) option and do not resolve the mark of MG will be assigned a mark of NP.


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