Internet Explorer Detected

The Penn State Graduate School website is best experienced in Firefox or Google Chrome. It is highly recommended that you use an alternative browser.

Other Graduate Education Policies

P1 - Requesting Exceptions to Graduate Council Academic Requirements

Policy

GSAD-930 Exceptions to Graduate Council Academic Requirements

Academic requirements for graduate education that apply to all graduate students are established by Graduate Council. Graduate students are expected to meet these requirements. However, there are cases in which extenuating circumstance occur that prevent a student from meeting a particular requirement. In such cases, the Graduate Program Head1 of the student's program may submit a request that an exception to the enumerated requirement be granted. The request must be made by the Graduate Program Head and not by a student, faculty member, or staff member.

Procedure

  1. The student or an appropriate representative of the student such as a faculty adviser or graduate program staff member contacts the Graduate Program Head to discuss the need for an exception to Graduate Council academic requirements and provides the required documentation.
    1. If the Graduate Program Head supports the need for an exception, they submit the request to the Graduate School as described in step 2.
      1. If the Graduate Program Head does not support the need for an exception, the reason for denying the request must be provided to the student.
    2. If the Graduate Program Head does not support the need for an exception, but the student still believes an exception is appropriate, the student may submit their request, along with the Graduate Program Head’s explanation for why they did not support the request, to the academic administrator for graduate education at their college (typically the associate dean for graduate education).
      1. If the academic administrator for graduate education supports the student’s request, they submit the request to the Graduate School as described in step 2.
      2. If the academic administrator for graduate education does not support the need for an exception, the request is denied. The reason for denying the request must be provided to the student.
  2. The Graduate Program Head writes a memo to Graduate Enrollment Services (GES). To facilitate an efficient process, it is important that all facts be included in the original submission. The memo should include the following:
    1. Reference to the specific policy to which an exception is being requested and why an exception is needed.
    2. A detailed explanation of the student’s extenuating circumstances.
    3. All available supporting materials. For example:
      1. Medical circumstances require documentation from an appropriate medical provider:
        1. A formal diagnosis is NOT required;
        2. A statement from the student’s provider on medical letterhead that the student’s medical situation prohibits them from effectively engaging in their studies would be sufficient and would also protect the student’s privacy, however, other formal medical documentation that provides sufficient evidence of the situation is acceptable.
        3. If appropriate and relevant, the medical provider should include the time range the provider was / will be treating the student.
      2. Documentation for family emergencies depends on the nature of the emergency.
        1. The range of emergencies that might warrant an exception is broad, and thus the range of documentation required is equally broad. As one example, if the exception is being provided due to a death in the family, appropriate documentation might include an obituary, death certificate, or similar document, along with information describing how the student and family member are associated.
    4. If applicable and known at the time of the request, plans to address the student’s future progress toward their degree must also be addressed.
  3. The memo and any supporting materials should be submitted to the appropriate GES coordinator.
    1. Exceptions for applicants in the admissions process must be submitted to the appropriate GES Admissions Coordinator;
      1. see Admissions Coordinator assignments here.
    2. Exceptions for current students must be submitted to the appropriate GES Records Coordinator;
      1. see Records Coordinator assignments here.
  4. Once the Coordinator determines that all necessary materials have been submitted, the exception request memo and materials will be reviewed by one of the GES directors or Graduate School deans, as appropriate.
  5. The decision will be communicated via email by the GES coordinator to the same graduate program office staff who submitted the request.

1The Graduate Program Head may delegate this (and most other) responsibilities to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor -in-charge (PIC); see GCAC-101 P2 - Graduate Program Roles and Responsibilities - Procedure.

Revision History

  • Revised by The Graduate School, August 2022.
    • Revised 2.c.i. to clarify statement's from providers must be on medical letterhead.
  • Approved by The Graduate School, March 19, 2021
This page was generated on August 17, 2022 at 1:02 PM local time. This may not be the most recent version of this page. Check the Penn State Graduate School website for updates.