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Course Withdrawal


NOTICE: Exceptions to this policy, as well as a revised petition form, are in place for Spring 2020. Please visit the Spring 2020 Academic Policies site for more information, including the form.   


What to consider

Life can be unexpected, and there may be a time when you are considering withdrawing from one or more classes. Here are a few potential impacts to consider before you do so:

  • Your Financial Aid award for the semester may be impacted
  • Your Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid will be impacted
  • ​You will have to pay for at least a portion, if not all of your tuition and fees (see Refund policies page)
  • If you are an Athlete, it may affect your NCAA eligibility

How it works

Beginning the day after add/drop period through the 20th day of the term, students may withdraw (with a "W" grade) from classes in MyCSUSM.

Beginning the 21st day of the term, students must submit an Academic Withdrawal petition with supporting documentation to in order to request a withdrawal. Through the end of the 12th week, petitions are reviewed by the faculty and department chair, dean, or dean's designee. After the 12th week of the term, petitions are reviewed by a presidential appointee.

Undergraduate students are limited to a total of 18 units of withdrawals (W grades) over their entire undergraduate career. Students may view an unofficial transcript, which includes W grades in MyCSUSM (see Academics > View Unofficial Transcript). 

Withdrawal Timeline

Semester Withdrawal Reason
20th day of the term through the end of the 12th week Serious and Compelling Reasons* Requires: documentation, faculty approval and department chair or dean or dean's designee
After the 12th week of the term Accident or serious physical or mental illness, or serious personal or family problems Requires: documentation, faculty approval and department chair or dean or dean's designee, AND review by an academic administrator

*Serious and Compelling Reasons:

The following situations are typical of those for which "serious and compelling" is appropriate justification for approving withdrawals.

  • An extended absence due to a verifiable accident, illness, or personal problem serious enough to cause withdrawal from the university.
  • An extended absence due to a death in the immediate family. This applies to absences exceeding a week due to family affairs that must be attended to by the student.
  • A necessary change in employment status which interferes with the student's ability to attend class. The student's employer must verify this change in employment status in writing for the term in which the withdrawal is being requested.
  • Other unusual or very special cases, considered on their own merit.

The following situations would not fall under the intent of "serious and compelling."

  • Grade anticipated in class is not sufficiently high, or student is doing failing work.
  • Failure to attend class, complete assignments, or take a test.
  • Dissatisfaction with course material, instructional method, or instructor.
  • Class is harder than expected.
  • Pressure of other classes, participation in social activities, or simple lack of motivation.
  • A change of major.

Students may withdraw, on or before, the Add/Drop deadline (end of the second week of semester, end of approximately 10% of the academic term) and the course will not appear on their permanent records. No symbol need be recorded in such instances. After the second week of instruction and prior to the 19th day of the semester, students may withdraw with a “W” for reasons such as inadequate preparation. In connection with all other approved withdrawals, the “W” symbol shall be used. Undergraduate students may withdraw from no more than 18 semester-units attempted at CSU San Marcos during their undergraduate career.