Understanding Course Withdrawal Policy

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Today (September 15) marks the last day a student may drop a class from their fall 2020 full semester schedule. If you drop a class today, you will receive a 50% refund on the tuition for that course and the course will not appear on your transcript. But what if you realize a class isn’t going to work for you after today? 

That’s where Mason’s course withdrawal policy can help. Withdrawing from a course can help save your GPA or make a challenging semester more manageable, but there are also some repercussions to choosing this option. Read on to learn more about withdrawal options and their pros and cons.

Unrestricted Withdrawal

The Upside:  Withdrawing from a class results in a W on your transcript.  This can be much better than an F.  The W has no impact on your overall GPA.

The Downside:  No tuition is refunded when you withdraw from a course.  A withdrawal also counts toward the number of credits attempted on your academic record.  This is probably not a big deal if you only withdraw from one or two courses over the span of your entire degree, but students must successfully complete at least 67% of the credits they have attempted across all institutions attended to maintain the Satisfactory Academic Progress needed to qualify for financial aid and to maintain good academic standing.  Also, all students must complete their programs of study by attempting no more than 150% of the hours normally required for completion.  That’s usually 180 credit hours for undergraduates.

The Deadline:  All students may withdraw from a class via Patriot Web from September 16 – 28, 2020

Selective Withdrawal

The Upside:  The benefits are the same as Unrestricted Withdrawal but with the added bonus of more time to try to ace the midterm and boost your grade.  Undergraduates may use a maximum of three selective withdrawals for any reason over the entire course of their degree.

The Downside:  Sorry graduate students, Selective Withdrawals are ONLY FOR UNDERGRADUATES.  Like Unrestricted Withdrawals, Selective Withdrawals don’t come with tuition refunds and the course still counts toward your attempted credit hours.

The Deadline: Undergraduates can execute a Selective Withdrawal from September 29 – October 28, 2020.

Students can execute the withdrawals mentioned above online via Patriot Web.  However – and we cannot say this too much – if you’re making significant changes to your schedule, make an appointment to see your advisor!  This semester, CEHD academic advisors are available for appointments via video conference and may also be able to find time to give a little guidance via email.  A conversation with an advisor can help ensure that your course changes won’t have a negative impact on your degree path, financial aid, or housing status.  The Office of the University Registrar suggests you always see your advisor before withdrawing from a course.

Other Types of Withdrawals

The two methods of course withdrawal listed above allow eligible students to withdraw for any reason, and without needing to share that reason with Mason. There are some cases where, after these withdrawal periods have expired, a student may still need to request a withdrawal. Course withdrawals are sometimes granted for exceptional circumstances, such as a serious personal illness. These types of withdrawals cannot be made via Patriot Web, and are handled on a case-by-case basis. They also require extensive documentation of your reasons for making the request and require approval and processing by the college. Reach out to the CEHD Office of Student and Academic Affairs to initiate this type of withdrawal.

Do you still have questions about course withdrawal policy?  The College of Education and Human Development Office of Student and Academic Affairs is here to help.  Contact us at or call 703-993-2080.