Exploratory and Non-Degree Student Exception Requests and Appeals

The information on this page is for Exploratory and Non-Degree students only. If you are an undergraduate student with a declared major, see this page for information about exception requests and appeals.

For Exploratory students: your academic request or appeal begins with your academic advisor. You can find your assigned Exploratory advisor here, where you can either email your advisor or schedule an appointment to see them to discuss your academic request.

For Non-Degree students: in the instructions below wherever it says Exploratory Academic Advisor, you would meet with the Academic Advising Coordinator who advises Non-Degree students. You can find advising information here.

Decisions to these exceptions to policy/appeals are sent to your GMU email which is the most effective way of providing official information to you. In order to protect student privacy and comply with federal law our office communicates only with the student. Requests are reviewed in the order in which they are submitted, and reviewed as quickly as possible. We strive to make timely decisions to assist students.

Notification of a decision is usually within a week of submitting a request that includes all relevant and required documentation. Delays may result when if you have not provided all documentation. If you have not heard from the office after two weeks, please contact us with regard to your request.

Academic Action Request Form for Exploratory and Non-Degree Students

Re-enrollment Request

Undergraduate students who have been away from the university who either 1) did not submit a leave of absence form or 2) were ineligible for leave of absence, and who have been away fewer than two academic years must re-enroll in order to register for courses.This can be done by submitting the Re-enrollment Application – Undergraduate form to the Registrar’s Office after having the it reviewed and signed by an Exploratory Academic Advisor.

Important Considerations

Submit your re-enrollment request as soon as possible. When returning after time away, keep in mind you can register on-time if you submit your request before priority registration begins for the term in which you plan to return. If you submit your request after priority registration or closer to when the semester begins, you will be registering for courses after most current students have already registered, and your course options will be limited.

Re-enrollment requests will not be accepted after the last day to add classes.

Two-year timeframe: students who have been away from Mason five full semesters (excluding summer) no longer qualify for re-enrollment and must re-apply to the university.

Cumulative GPA below 2.0: if a student has below a 2.00 cumulative GPA or was on academic suspension when they left, extra steps are required for re-enrollment requests:

  1. In addition to the re-enrollment form, you must also complete the Academic Advisor Approval form, which includes space to include planned courses for the next semester at Mason.
  2. Submit both forms to be reviewed and signed by your Exploratory Academic Advisor.
  3. Your advisor will then submit the forms to the Exploratory Appeals and Special Requests Committee for review. The committee will then send you a decision, and if approved, will submit the form to the Registrar’s office.

Major Catalog Year: re-enrolling will update a student’s degree requirements to the latest catalog term. If a student’s advisor believes that this change will create an obstacle towards graduation, then the advisor can note the original catalog year at the top of the re-enrollment form, indicating a change back to the original catalog term.

Late Schedule Adjustment (late course add)

Students are responsible for registering properly and paying for all credits by the registration and payment deadlines listed in the Schedule of Classes. Please also see the full academic calendars on the Registrar’s website. These calendars list all of the important dates and deadlines throughout the semester, such as the last day to add and drop courses, the last day for withdrawal and the last day for selective withdrawal.

Students are always held responsible for verifying the accuracy of their own enrollment before the end of the add period. Note: Being waitlisted for a course does not guarantee a student’s subsequent enrollment in that course.

Students, who were not enrolled in a class by the last day to add but wish to request to add a course late, may request to add a class after the deadline.

  1. The first step in requesting to be added to a course after the last day to add (but before the semester has ended) is starting the Late Schedule Adjustment form (LSA).
  2. The form must be signed by you, the student, as well as the instructor of the course you wish to add, if the instructor approves to allow you to add late.
  3. If the instructor approves, the instructor must then submit the form to the department chair of the department offering the course. Ultimately, if the request is approved, the form is then submitted directly to the Registrar’s Office by the instructor or department chair. (After the last day to drop, a dean-level signature is required, but this will be sent to them directly by department chair if it is required.)
  4. The LSA cannot be submitted directly to the registrar from the student; it must come from the department.

Late Drop

Students are also responsible for all courses in which they remain officially enrolled after the drop period has ended. Instructors do not have the authority to drop or withdraw students from classes. If a student makes a request to drop or withdraw from a class after the deadline, it is considered a “Late Course Drop or Withdrawal”. It is called a “Retroactive Course Withdrawal Request” if made after the semester has ended.

Students can only be considered for late schedule adjustments to drop a course after the deadline of the semester when there is a documented university error.

For more information, please review Changing Registration under Registration Procedures in the Catalog.

Withdrawals and Selective Withdrawals

Students are responsible for registering and paying all tuition and fees by the deadline. Students may not receive written confirmation of schedule changes and/or financial (tuition) obligations; therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to verify the accuracy of their schedules – including all course and section numbers – before the end of the add and drop periods for each of their classes. Students are responsible, both academically and financially, for all courses in which they remain officially enrolled after the drop period has ended. Take note tuition insurance is offered, and therefore there will be no tuition refunds after the established University deadlines. Instructors do not have the authority to drop or withdraw students from classes.

Please also see the full academic calendars on the registrar’s website. These calendars list all of the important dates and deadlines throughout the semester, such as the last day to add and drop courses, the last day for withdrawal and the last day for selective withdrawal.

Withdrawals

Withdrawals are used after the official drop period of a course. Beginning on the day after the drop deadline, students may withdraw on their own using Patriot Web. The course will stay on the student’s transcript with a grade of “W”. This unrestricted-withdrawal period extends through the 5th week of the term, or the beginning of the selective withdrawal period. Each withdrawn course regardless of the effective date will have a “W” grade posted on the transcript.

Students found in violation of the honor code, or who have a current honor code case pending, are not eligible to withdraw from the course in which the violation occurred.

Selective Withdrawals

Selective withdrawals are different and separate from withdrawing during the self-withdrawal period and requesting a non-academic withdrawal from an academic dean’s office. Please read below for additional information.

Undergraduates enrolled in degree programs are eligible to selectively withdraw from a limited number of classes without the dean’s approval and at the student’s discretion. Students may process a maximum of three such selective withdrawals during their entire undergraduate career at Mason. The three classes may have any number of credits. The academic calendar for each semester will include a selective withdrawal period beginning the day following the last day to normally withdraw from a class and extending through the ninth week. For classes shorter than a semester (14 weeks), the period will be set in proportion to the length of the class. Students should think very carefully about all available options (such as an incomplete or a non-academic withdrawal with appropriate documentation – please see below) before choosing a selective withdrawal.

Selective withdrawals are processed by the Registrar’s Office.

Some strict policies and procedures apply to selective withdrawals:

  1. Selective withdrawals can only be processed within the official selective withdrawal period for courses being taken during the current semester.
  2. Selective withdrawals, once requested by the student and processed by the Registrar’s Office, are final and will not be removed at a later time.
  3. Once a student has taken a selective withdrawal, that adjustment cannot be converted later to a non-academic withdrawal. Students may wish to consult with their academic advisor prior to choosing a selective withdrawal to see if a non-academic withdrawal is appropriate or allowable.
  4. Students found in violation of the honor code or who have a current honor code case pending, are not eligible to withdraw from the course in which the violation occurred.
  5. More details and the form for selective withdrawals can be found on the Registrar’s website.
Non-Academic Withdrawals After Semester Deadlines

Students who are experiencing a non-academic situation that is affecting their ability to complete courses after the last day to withdraw on their own may request a non-academic withdrawal. The situation must be able to be verified through third-party documentation.

Please see below for the policies and procedure for requesting a non-academic withdrawal.

Exceptions are considered only under exceptional circumstances beyond the student’s control with verifiable, third party documentation. Such documentation is required of all students submitting requests to ensure equity and fairness. No withdrawals can be approved to avoid an unsatisfactory grade. Exceptional circumstances include – but are not limited to – the following:

  • Medical Circumstances – Requests for withdrawals due to health or medical circumstances must be supported by relevant, dated medical documentation from the provider of treatment. The documentation must show a substantial medical change that arose unexpectedly after the drop period ended. If a student is seeking a selective course withdrawal, the student must show why the condition has affected that course (or courses) specifically. Otherwise, only a total semester withdrawal would be considered by the committee.
  • Employment – Requests for withdrawals due to work-related reasons must be documented by the employer on company letterhead. Only unanticipated and unavoidable changes in employment that occur after the drop date and which result in a direct scheduling conflict with a course (or courses) will be considered. An increased or more stressful workload is not considered a valid reason to request a withdrawal (see the Academic Policy for Academic Load).

To submit a request for a non-academic withdrawal, please do the following as soon as possible:

  1. Complete an Academic Request form explaining your specific request and reasons.
    1. You must include a personal statement explaining the request; please be thorough and use specific dates when explaining things that occurred.
    2. You also need documentation of the extenuating non-academic reason/circumstances that occurred during the semester in which the withdrawals are being requested. (Examples include: doctor’s note/memo, email exchanges with professors, etc.)
  2. Delays in submitting requests increase the academic component of the request and can have an adverse effect on the final decision. After 30 days, all undocumented requests are automatically denied.
  3. Submit your completed request and supporting documentation to your Exploratory Academic Advisor. Your request will then be reviewed by a committee, and a decision will be emailed to you within 7-10 business days.
  4. If courses are ongoing, please continue attending all classes in which you are officially enrolled and complete the required coursework unless you receive written permission for a withdrawal.

Also note the following:

  • Any withdrawal will result in a “W” on your permanent record for each of the courses.
  • Requests for withdrawals must be submitted within one calendar year of when the courses were taken.  
  • Requests for withdrawals do not impact tuition refunds in any way; since tuition insurance is offered, tuition refund exceptions are not considered by Student Accounts.
Credit Overload

In exceptional circumstances, students may request an overload of the maximum credit hours allowed to undergraduate students. Freshmen and transfer students in their first semesters are not permitted overload permission as they have yet to establish an academic history at George Mason University.

In order to be considered for an overload, students must fulfill all of the following criteria:

  • Be in good academic standing
  • Successfully completed the prior semester and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 (C+ average) or higher
  • Have demonstrated the ability to handle a heavy course load in a previous semester with no grades less than a “C”
  • Have no remaining incomplete grades (IN’s) from a previous semester

Requests for overloads are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Students should complete the Academic Action Request form and the Credit Overload request form. Both forms can be emailed to your Exploratory Academic Advisor. The request is then reviewed by a committee, and a decision will be emailed to you as quickly as possible. No requests for overloads will be considered after the ADD deadline of any semester.

If approved for an overload, the student is responsible for adding into the additional class(es) and paying for the additional class(es) by the official deadlines listed in the Schedule of Classes.

Permission to Study Elsewhere

Students enrolled at George Mason University are expected to complete their coursework in residence. Exceptions to this policy are considered only on a case-by-case basis. All students must obtain advance, written approval from the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Appeals Committee of the Dean’s Office of the course before enrolling in a course elsewhere.

In order to have an exception considered, students must have completed the immediately preceding semester with a GPA of 2.00 or higher and be in good academic standing. Freshmen and new transfer students are not allowed to take courses elsewhere as they have yet to establish an academic record at George Mason.

If a course has been attempted unsuccessfully at George Mason, you may not repeat this course at another institution.

Courses elsewhere that have been pre-approved must be taken for a grade and be passed with a GPA of 2.00 (on a 4.00 scale) or higher in order to be transferred to George Mason. Official transcripts must be sent after completion of the course. Although credit for the course can be transferred, the grade for the course will not transfer.

The Study Elsewhere form includes additional details and procedures.

Returning from Academic Suspension

Exploratory students who have been academically suspended are encouraged to return after they have spent the required semester(s) away from Mason. All students who have been academically suspended have a hold on their account that prevents registration. In order to have the hold removed and request to return, students must first meet with their Exploratory Academic Advisor.

During the meeting the Academic Advisor Approval form should be completed between the student and the Academic Advisor. (Before the meeting it is ideal to consider your plan for courses during the semester you are returning). If the time away from Mason exceeded the required semester(s) away, other forms may be required which a student can discuss with their Academic Advisor.

Meet with your Academic Advisor EARLY when planning to return.

We highly encourage students who are returning after being suspended to schedule the meeting with their Academic Advisor far in advance to the beginning of the semester in which they wish to return. Keep in mind priority registration (the time period when current students register for classes) takes place during the semester prior to a student’s return, so we recommend starting this process in advance of priority registration when possible. This ensures timely registration, which allows for selecting preferred courses and beginning courses on time – all things that start the student off on a path of success.

We will not accept requests to return from suspension after classes have begun.

Students are recommended to consult the Academic Standing Policy and Undergraduate Policies for exact criteria regarding academic standing and refer to the chart concerning your minimum GPA and credit level to avoid this and other academic actions in the future.

Academic Suspension Override Request

Exploratory students who have been suspended may submit an appeal to request an override of their suspension. No student on suspension is guaranteed an override, and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. All students making this request must first see their Academic Advisor and include a summary of the meeting in their documentation. If a request is approved, the student does not have to take time away from Mason and will be able to register for courses.

(If a student is simply requesting to return to Mason AFTER being suspended and has already spent the required semester(s) away from Mason, the student needs to meet with their academic advisor and complete the Academic Advisor Approval form. If the time away from Mason exceeded the required semester(s) away, other forms may be required which a student can discuss with their Academic Advisor.)

Students are recommended to consult the Academic Standing Policy and Undergraduate Policies for exact criteria regarding academic standing and refer to the chart concerning your minimum GPA and credit level to avoid this and other academic actions in the future.

Factors taken into consideration when reviewing requests for an override

  • Documented meeting with an Academic Advisor with a well-defined plan of action in which the student states academic and career goals and lists courses necessary to help achieve these goals
  • Documented reasons for student’s previous or situational unsatisfactory performance (illness, unforeseen personal circumstances, etc.) and evidence of positive changes.
  • The student’s cumulative GPA and number of credit hours successfully completed by the student in past semesters.
  • Willingness to consult with Learning Services.
  • Willingness to speak with other offices that could help student improve academically (possibly including the Disability Resource Center, Student Success Coaching or the Counseling Center).
  • Willingness to repeat appropriate courses to improve cumulative GPA.
  • Timing of the request – should be made prior to the start of the semester of return to allow for the possibility of a satisfactory registration for courses.
  • Time is of the essence when submitting a request and documentation. Delays in submitting requests increase the academic component of the request and can have an adverse effect on the final decision.

How to request a suspension override

  1. Students should meet with their Exploratory academic advisor and review all policies pertaining to academic standing. During the meeting, the advisor should discuss the student’s reasoning for wanting to continue and not take time away, which courses they would take, possibility of repeating courses, and GPA calculations to anticipate possible academic standing after the next semester.
  2. The following must be submitted to the student’s Academic Advisor:
  3. All requests must be submitted 1 week prior to the semester starting to allow time for review and registration (if approved) before classes begin.
Request to Return from Dismissal

Dismissal is typically considered permanent. For details regarding dismissal criteria, please consult your George Mason University Catalog under “Academic Dismissal”.

In exceptional cases, students who have been dismissed may petition for a return to George Mason University by appealing to the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Appeals Committee of the major in which they plan to return, but only after a minimum absence of three calendar years from the university. Although a student may have been dismissed as an undeclared-no preference major, it is only a rare case where a student would be petitioning to return as an undecided-no preference student.

One or more of the following conditions must be met:

  • Demonstrate academic success (2.500 GPA or better) in at least 18 credit hours of classes taken during the period of dismissal at an accredited two-or-four-year college or university. Such credits may be considered for transfer back to George Mason University, but there is no guarantee of acceptance of the credits
  • Provide other evidence of a renewed ability to achieve academic success including some of the below mentioned interventions

Factors taken into consideration when reviewing requests for a Dismissal Override may include the following:

  • Documented visit to an academic advisor with a well-defined plan of action in which the student states academic, degree, and career goals and lists courses necessary to help achieve these goals
  • Documented reasons for student’s previous or situational unsatisfactory performance (illness, unforeseen personal circumstances, etc.) and evidence of positive changes
  • Willingness to speak with other university services and offices that could help student improve academically.
  • Willingness to repeat appropriate courses to improve cumulative GPA
  • Timing of the request – should be made prior to the start of the semester of return to allow for the possibility of a satisfactory registration of courses

Petitioning for Return from Academic Dismissal as an Exploratory Student:

  • Complete a Student Academic Request Form explaining your specific request and reasons for returning in a personal statement. Documentation of classes taken elsewhere should also be included in your request, in addition to any documentation that supports a student’s readiness to return to Mason.
  • Submit the request form, personal statement, and other documentation to your Exploratory Academic Advisor if you are requesting to return to Mason as an Exploratory student. If you are requesting to return under a different major (it is recommended for a student returning from dismissal to choose a major to return to), the student must follow the steps and processes for that school/college. Students can find links to the various appeals pages of each school/college here.
  • These requests are time sensitive and must be submitted before classes begin. Delays in submitting requests increase the academic component of the request and can have an adverse effect on the final decision. Requests cannot be reviewed without required supporting documentation.
Course Repeat Policy Exception
Please review the policy for Repeating a Course in the Catalog under Registration Policies.

Procedure for Requesting Course Repeat Policy Exceptions

  1. This process begins with the student’s Exploratory Academic Advisor. Complete the Student Success Plan with an advisor explaining the request, reasons for repeating, and plan for success in the course.
  2. Student seeks permission to repeat the course by submitting the Student Success Plan to the department of the course. Your academic advisor can assist you in identifying the appropriate contact in the department.
    • Courses in Business, CEC, FAVS, Music, and BSN (or any unit with a course repeat policy that is MORE restrictive than this policy) – must involve those units. Permission for a 4th attempt must be negotiated in consultation with these more restrictive units. The voice of the course unit has the final authority in these cases.
  3. Student returns the signed (departmental signature) success plan to their academic advisor. The advisor submits recommendation (approve or deny) along with a copy of the Student Success Plan contract, if appropriate, to the Exploratory Appeals Committee for review and oversight. If approved, the student is notified, and they are responsible for registering for the course via Patriot Web. This process cannot be done after the last day to add classes.
This page was last updated August 2022. To report any errors or broken links, please email advisor@gmu.edu.