Withdrawal Policy

Withdrawal Policy beginning Fall 2017:

All students who have withdrawn or failed a course during any semester except the last two (final year) shall be allowed to graduate with 31 courses or their equivalent, provided that they have met the residency requirement. Transfer students in that situation must also have completed at least fifteen full courses or their equivalent. 

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Student should seek the permission of their instructor, advisor, and class dean to withdraw from a course without penalty. Returning students incurring a deficiency in the Fall 2017 or thereafter and who meet the standards set out in the new policy may expect to have the new policy applied where applicable.  Students who have already used the one-time drop under the old First Year, Transfer or Sophomore rules may not also apply the new policy. Students who have outstanding deficiencies from terms prior to Fall 2017 will be expected to make them up in accordance with the previous policy requirements.


A grade of "W" is entered for courses from which a student has withdrawn. The notation "Withdrawal without penalty" shall also be displayed under the course information on the transcript. In exceptional situations a "Withdrawal with penalty" may be listed. A "W" carries no weight towards the GPA. A student may retake a course from which they have withdrawn. However, the course withdrawal notation will remain on the transcript for the appropriate semester.


From the Catalog:

In exceptional cases a student may, with the permission of both the student’s academic advisor and class dean, take five full courses for credit during a given semester. Such permission is normally granted only to students of demonstrated superior academic ability, responsibility, and will. Fifth courses cannot be used to accelerate graduation. On occasion, a student who has failed a course may be permitted to take a fifth course in a given semester if, in the judgment of the Committee on Academic Standing, this additional work can be undertaken without prejudice to the student’s regular program. Students may only retake a course for which they have received a failing grade or from which they have withdrawn in a prior semester.

A student who by failing a course incurs a deficiency in the number of courses required for normal progress toward graduation is usually expected to make up that course deficiency by taking a three- or four-semester hour course at another approved institution during the summer prior to the first semester of the next academic year and no later than the semester prior to the student’s last semester at Amherst.

Students may not add courses after the last day of add/drop at the beginning of each semester or drop courses after this date except as follows:

In any semester prior to the final year, a student who experiences severe academic difficulty and has exhausted all academic resources (e.g., met with professors during office hours, received tutoring, met with class deans, etc.), may be allowed to withdraw from a course without penalty and graduate with 31 courses. This exception may be invoked only once and requires permission of the instructor, advisor, and class dean. The deadline for withdrawal requests is the end of the tenth week of the semester.

Further exceptions shall be made for disabling medical reasons or for reasons of grave personal emergencies and shall be made by the class dean.

All course deficiencies must normally be made up prior to the first semester of the final year, except those arising in the final year, in which case they must be made up prior to graduation. All make-up courses must be approved in advance by the registrar.