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Dropping a Course at UW-Madison

This section concerns dropping a course from a student's class schedule.

If a student wishes to drop a course (or courses) by the 12th week deadline of instruction in the fall or spring term, this means that they will drop one or more classes from a specific semester or term while still staying enrolled in at least one course. UW-Madison does not refer to this process as "withdrawing from a class".   If a student wishes to drop all of their classes and not stay enrolled in any classes for a specific semester or term, the student will need to formally withdraw from the term (also known as cancelling one's enrollment for a term).  Students who are only signed up for one course and wish to "drop" their one class must officially withdraw from the session/term.   For more information about withdrawing, see Cancelling Your Enrollment - Withdrawals.   

Dropping a course

Students may drop a course or courses via the MyUW Student Center at any time until the end of the 12th week of instruction in the fall or spring term (specific deadline dates are listed under Deadlines at a Glance on the Registrar's website).   NCAA student-athletes or international students on an F-1 or J-1 via must consult with their advisor within the Fetzer Center or International Student Services before dropping below 12 credits.  Detailed information about dropping classes can be found at dropping a course. (Please note that the information about summer deadlines can be found at summer calendar and session dates.)

  • Please note that the drop deadlines for summer sessions and modular courses (courses that are shorter than a full term which can start and end on any week during a term) are different from the traditional drop deadlines during the fall and spring terms.   Information about these deadlines can be found at modular courses.
It is always a good idea for students to contact their academic advisors prior the the 12th week of classes before making any drastic changes to their registration or if students are unsure about whether they should keep a class or drop it.

Courses dropped within the first two weeks of classes (usually before the 8th day of classes) during the fall/spring term do not appear on a student's transcript.  (Please note that the summer session deadlines for dropping a course so a DR does not appear on a student's record are usually in the first couple of days during the first week of a summer session.)  Students must consult the appropriate semester or term's Dates & Deadlines on the Registrar's homepage for the exact date since DRs will not be erased from a student's records after the official deadline has passed.  Courses dropped after this official deadline through the end of the 12th week of classes (and beyond) will appear on students transcripts with the DR in place of the grade.  

What is the impact of the "DR" appearing on my transcript?

A "DR" appearing on a student's transcript is not necessarily negative.  A "DR" reflects that a student enrolled in a class for a period and then decided to drop it.  It is an accurate reflection of what actually happened.   A student's transcript (which is an official document) should correctly state the student's registration.  If a student's performance in a particular class is less than satisfactory prior to the 12-week deadline, it may be to the student's advantage to drop the course in order to prevent failing the class and have the grade adversely impact his/her grade-point average (GPA).

Important to note about the "DR" notation:

  • A "DR" shows that a student was enrolled in a particular course and decided to drop it.
  • It is not an indication of a student's success or failure in a course.
  • Most graduate school admission decisions are based on other qualitative factors such as overall GPA, a student's academic major, test scores, research interest, & letters of recommendation.
  • A student's personal statement also factors in the admission decision.
  • Most employers will not request a transcript.  Employers are typically most concerned with a student's work experience and suitability for the position.

A few dropped courses over a four-to five-year period are not significant.

Students enrolled during the fall and spring terms who are receiving financial aid and who are planning to withdraw from the term or drop below six (6) credits should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid as soon as possible for more guidance regarding the impact on their aid.  More information can be found at Withdrawals: Refunds and Repayments.  
Information on dropping a course can be found on the Registrar's Office web page How to do it: step-by-step tutorials under Drop a Class.  Please note that many of the step-by-step tutorials are in Flash format which may not play on some browsers and devices, including many mobile phones.
Please note that L&S WILL NOT approve a drop for a course (or courses) in which a student has been accused of (or found responsible for) academic misconduct.
Resources for Questions: 
Office of the Registrar: (608) 262-3811,
L&S Student Academic Affairs: (608) 262-0617, (L&S Only)

Keywordsdropping a course, dropping a class, drop, deadline, "DR", modular courses, late drop, retroactive drop, withdrawal, withdrawing, withdrawing from a class, drop deadline of instruction, academic misconduct   Doc ID21705
OwnerTori R.GroupL&S KB
Created2011-12-12 23:49:52Updated2023-07-31 14:53:34
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