Requests for Exceptions to Academic Policy (or, Petitions for the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing)

Committee on Programs and Academic Standing:  Information on Petitions for Students

The Committee on Programs and Academic Standing is an appointed faculty committee charged with regularly reviewing educational policy in matters of student programs, credit, and academic standing. The Committee acts on student petitions for exceptions to academic policy.

A petition is a special request, so students must present compelling, exceptional, and often documented circumstances in making a request.


What are the common types of petitions?


Here are just a few examples:

·        A request to add or drop a course after the deadline (which can be found in the Academic Calendar)

·        A request to withdraw from a course after the deadline (also found in the Academic Calendar)

·        A request to extend an incomplete or deferred exam date

·        A request to apply for a special major, or make changes to special majors already approved (for this type of petition, you need a special form; these are available here:

The Petition Process: Step by Step

Step #1: Inform yourself: read the academic policies in the Catalogue or on the College website, or with the appropriate academic department.

Step #2: Meet with your Class Dean to discuss your situation; sometimes, a petition is not the right avenue for change, or you need to address your issue with a different committee. Your dean will provide you with the link to file your petition online.

Step #3: Write your request, describing the exceptional circumstances that you are facing. Your explanation should be clear, factual, and answer the writing prompt on the petition form.

Step #4: Depending on the petition, written support from an instructor, adviser, or Class Dean may be beneficial or required. Follow the instructions on the petition form itself; you may be asked to email additional supporting documents to the Committee, or your adviser or instructor may be asked to email feedback and/or approval.

It is your responsibility to make sure your adviser and/or instructor submits their approval of your petition to Dean Friedman in a timely fashion.

Barnard Faculty may approve your petition request here:

Faculty at Columbia should contact Dean Friedman directly at

Step #5: Follow the instructions on the Petition Form to submit your petition. A petition should be submitted no later than 4 p.m. the Tuesday before the Committee meets (the Committee meets every other Thursday; dates are posted here). Any petition received after the deadline may not be considered.

Responses to Petitions

Petitions will receive one of the following responses if submitted on time and with all required documentation:
  • Approved -- the request has been granted and the requested change will be made.
  • Approved with condition(s) -- the request will be granted if specific conditions are fulfilled. If conditions are not fulfilled, request will be denied.
  • Denied -- the request has not been granted and student is encouraged to meet with the Dean of Studies to discuss plans for moving forward. The Dean of Studies cannot reverse the decision, but can help you address the consequences.


Students may appeal a decision by the next Committee meeting; since the Committee meets every two weeks, students have a period of several days from the moment they are notified of the Committee’s decision to the Tuesday before the next Committee meeting. Students should meet with the Dean of Studies and/or their adviser, instructor, or other relevant College administrators to discuss the appeal. Appeals must include new information that was not present or available in the original petition, and may include additional information from an instructor or adviser, as needed. Decisions will be deemed final at the time of the CPAS meeting following the response to an appeal, and the Committee will no longer accept further appeals. 

A word of warning

Each petition is an individual case, and is treated as such. Although the Committee can never predict how the discussion or decision on a particular case will proceed, there are, however, some common requests that are denied more frequently than others, or that require extenuating circumstances and a substantive amount of evidence. These include: request for a P/D/F after the deadline; request to add a course after the course has been in session for three weeks or longer; requests to enroll in overlapping courses.  Speak to your academic adviser or Class Dean before sending in a petition of this nature.

Another word of warning: NO STUDENT CAN PETITION TO ENROLL IN FEWER THAN 12 CREDITS. All students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits in order to be in good academic standing.