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Petitions to Academic Policies

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University is committed to helping each student reach their full academic potential. Students with extenuating or exceptional circumstances seeking to petition for exceptions to CALS academic policies may be eligible to submit a petition to the Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions.The petition is used to document the request and decision. College and University policies guide petition decisions. View the CALS graduation requirements and policies.  

Schedule an appointment with an advisor in CALS Office of Student Services  

BE/EnvE Students: BE/EnvE students receive a joint degree from CALS/CoE, they petition some issues through CALS and others through CoE. These students should meet with their advisor or can contact the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering.

Dyson Undergraduate Students: Dyson (AEM) majors should work directly with The Dyson Office of Student Services at Dyson_OSS [at] or link the Dyson Student Services website for more information.

Max Credits

Petitions for max credits can be submitted starting with the regular course add/drop period for a semester. Requests will not be reviewed or approved prior to this, or for the purposes of pre-enrollment. 

The university has strongly recommended that all students limit their enrollment to 18 academic credits to allow for successful completion of the term and to reduce stress. Students who wish to enroll in additional credits are encouraged to discuss academic loads with their academic advisor, or major department.    
We strongly urge ALL students to limit their semester enrollment to 18 credits. All undergraduate CALS students in good academic standing may enroll up to 22 credits maximum (22 is allowed when add/drop begins).


  • Petitions to exceed 22 credits up to a max of 25 credits will not be considered, except for students expecting to graduate in the current academic year. Petitions from such students will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis only if courses are required for graduation with confirmation by the Academic Advisor. 
  • On-time submission of the online petition (available in DUST), opening ahead of the add/drop period).

Late Add

A petition is an official way to request consideration and is required for a late add after the published add deadline. The petition should include convincing evidence that an exception is warranted. The petition form may be obtained in DUST and is used to document the request and decision. Instructor and advisor support is required.

Petitions to add a class in a previous semester will not be accepted.

Note: CALS Special Studies (independent study, research, teaching assistant) do not accept late adds.  Petitions to add will not be accepted after the published deadline; there are no exceptions.

Withdraw from a Course

Withdraw from course during the withdrawal period.  See Academic Dates and Deadlines for the withdrawal period.  All withdrawals will result in a 'W' notation on the official transcript and may impact academic standing. A petition to drop a course will become invalid if a student is found to be in violation of the code of academic integrity for that course.

Petitions to withdraw from a course after the withdraw period will not be accepted.

Petitions to withdraw from a course in a previous semester will not be accepted.

Other Petitions

Extension of deadline to complete grade of incomplete.

Request to return from a voluntary leave of absence. 

Grade option change after the deadline

Change in grade option for a past semester or after the last day to drop/change grading basis in the current semester will not be accepted. 

exception: change from S/U to letter-graded for a course due to a major change. Example: the class was not required as letter-graded under a previous major and is now needed as letter-graded under the new major. Courses satisfying CALS distribution requirements, not required for the major, are not eligible for petition.

Petition process

Most petitions are available online through DUST

A student must present a compelling explanation of how extenuating circumstances have affected their academic performance. The petition should include convincing evidence that an exception is warranted. Please note: dissatisfaction with earned grades is NOT considered extenuating.

Schedule an appointment with an advisor in CALS Office of Student Services