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Withdrawal Process

The Withdrawal Process for Graduate Students

The process of a withdrawal is defined as dropping all registered courses for the current semester or session. Officially withdrawing from the University will also cause a cancellation of scheduled and registered courses for any future semester. In the case of a “summer-only” withdrawal, fall registration will be maintained and re-enrollment/readmission is not necessary.

Don't confuse withdrawal with:

  • Dropping Courses - dropping SOME but not all of your currently enrolled courses.
  • Not Returning Next Semester - finishing the current semester with no definite plans to return to Penn State.
  • Retroactive Withdrawal - initiating the withdrawal process after the last day of classes.

When a Student May Withdraw

A withdrawal may be processed beginning with the first day of classes and through the last day of classes (before the final exam period begins). If the semester has not begun and you have decided that you will not be attending the University, you should cancel your registration. If the final exam period has begun, you will need to initiate a retroactive withdrawal request (See the bottom of this page.)

What to Consider Before Initiating the Withdrawal Process

A withdrawal will delay normal degree progress, may affect academic programming and may have financial implications for students with loans or receiving assistantships, etc. Therefore, it is suggested that a degree-seeking student contact his/her academic program of study to discuss alternatives to withdrawing before proceeding.

Indicating “Spring”, “Fall” or “Summer” as the effective semester on the withdrawal form will result in the student’s status changing to nondegree status (regardless of whether that student was attending as a degree student or a nondegree student) for the following and future semesters. To return to degree status, a student who withdraws must seek readmission to the graduate degree program by submitting an application to Resume Study/Change of Graduate Degree or Major.

Indicating “Summer-only” as the effective semester on the withdrawal form will retain all courses a student has scheduled or registered for the upcoming fall semester. Readmission is not required following a “summer-only” withdrawal.

Ph.D. candidates who have passed the comprehensive examination must register continuously for each fall and spring semester (beginning with the first semester after passing the comprehensive examination and ending with the passing of the final oral defense) in order to comply with the Graduate School policy of continuous registration.

How to Withdraw

Graduate students must initiate a withdrawal by submitting a Withdrawal Form.

  • University Park students should submit this form to Graduate Enrollment Services, located in 114 Kern Building, University Park, PA.
  • Students attending other campuses should submit the withdrawal form to their respective campus’ Registrar’s Office.

Retroactive Withdrawal Requests

If the final exam period for the current semester has begun, or if you are seeking to withdraw from a previous semester, you will need to initiate a retroactive withdrawal request. Follow the appropriate instructions below to do so.

  • Degree students - Contact your academic program of study to discuss the possibility of petitioning the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services for a retroactive withdrawal. Graduate Enrollment Services requires the following documentation in order to consider the request:
    • A completed Withdrawal Form.
    • Strong, documented justification from the department head/graduate officer supporting the request for a retroactive withdrawal.
    • Supporting documentation from each instructor of the course(s) from which you are withdrawing.
  • The graduate program staff will staple this documentation together and send it to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services for consideration.
  • Nondegree students - Contact each instructor of the course(s) from which you are withdrawing. In addition to a completed Withdrawal Form, the instructor(s) will need to provide support for, and strong documented justification of, the retroactive withdrawal request. Both the justification and the completed withdrawal form should be sent as one stapled document to:

The Office of Graduate Enrollment Services
114 Kern Building
University Park, PA 16802

Additional information regarding the withdrawal process may be obtained via the Registrar's website.

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