Can I drop a course after the official drop deadline?

The following section presents information for L&S undergraduate students who are interested in obtaining a drop after the official drop deadline.

Late Drop

The deadline for L&S undergraduates to drop semester-long courses is the end of the 9th week of classes. Courses may not be dropped after the 9th week except in extremely unusual circumstances, and only then with approval of an academic dean.  (The drop deadline for summer session classes varies based on the number of weeks a course is being offered.  Please consult the Key Deadline Dates for All Summer Students on the Office of the Registrar's Schedule of Classes link for the exact drop deadline for a particular summer session.)

Courses dropped after Wednesday of the second week of classes during the fall or spring semester have a "DR" notation recorded on the transcript.   Please note that a "DR" on a student's record DOES NOT have any implications when applying to graduate schools or seeking employment.

Students who wish to drop all of their classes or their last class must officially withdraw from the semester/term.   Information about withdrawing completely from a term or semester can be found at Withdrawal.   UW-Madison does not use the term "withdraw" or "withdrawal" to refer to dropping one or more classes and still staying enrolled for the semester/term in question.

Is it possible to drop a class after the 9-week deadline (or after the official drop deadline)?

It is the College's policy to allow an L&S undergraduate student to drop a course only when verifiable circumstances beyond a student's control either prevented the student from dropping the course before the deadline (e.g., a student was hospitalized and the deadline passed while the student was in the hospital) or prevented the student  from completing the class (e.g., a student has broken a leg and won't be able to finish his/her swimming class).

Examples of circumstances that DO NOT qualify:
  • "I did not know when the deadline was."
  • "I thought I could improve my grade so I stayed in the class but now I know I won't do as well as I had hoped."
  • "I'm not doing well in the class and I don't really need the course now since I've change my major so I want to drop the course."
The relevant dates are printed on the Registrar's website at Deadlines at a Glance and each L&S student receives an e-mail reminder at the beginning of the 9th week (during Fall and Spring). "I forgot", "I do not need the course for graduation," "I thought I would do better if I tried harder" or "I did not know how I was doing in the class" are also not compelling reasons to be granted a late drop.

The College encourages students to assess their academic performance in each of their classes before the 9-week drop deadline so they are able to make an informed decision about dropping one or more classes. "I just got my mid-term (or second examination/quiz) back after the drop deadline" is not considered an acceptable or viable reason for obtaining a release from a course after the official deadline.  Further, a "recommendation" or authorization from the course professor or Teaching Assistant (TA) is also not considered a strong reason to drop the class.  An academic dean will definitely take into consideration any information a student wishes to share about his/her special circumstances (and the feedback from the instructor).  However, students are cautioned that getting permission from an instructor to drop a course after the official deadline does not mean that an academic dean will automatically authorize a late drop if the student's situation does not warrant an exception to policy. 

If a student believes that s/he has circumstances beyond his/her control,  the student must first read through the Late Drop information and then fill out the Late Drop/Retroactive Drop Request Form located at:

After successfully filling out the form, the student should then call the L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services at  608/262-0617 to schedule an appointment to meet with an academic dean.  Students should make sure that they bring documentation supporting their claim to the appointment. Providing documentation is not a guarantee that a student's request to drop a class after the official deadline will be granted. A dean has the discretion to determine if the circumstances a student presents were indeed beyond the student's control, merits approval and, in fact, prevented the student from dropping the class in a timely manner. Each request is considered on a case-by-case basis.

See Also:

Keywords:late drop, drop deadline, retroactive drop, withdrawal,   Doc ID:29944
Owner:Tori R.Group:College of Letters & Science
Created:2013-04-30 21:42 CDTUpdated:2015-11-27 13:25 CDT
Sites:College of Letters & Science
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