Academic Catalog

Enrollment Policies and Procedures

Students may refer to the University’s Guide to Registration for information related to enrollment. They are also encouraged to review registration details online at the Office of the Registrar’s web page for the most up-to-date enrollment information.


Students may add courses during the official add period after the initial registration period. The official course-add period is published for fall, spring, and summer in the Guide to Registration.


Students may attend a course but receive no academic credit by completing the audit registration process and paying the appropriate fees. Auditing of courses is permitted in non-restricted courses on a space-available basis. Audit registration procedures, dates, and costs are available on the Office of the Registrar’s web page.

Course Load

Graduate student load definitions, as determined by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, are:

Status Credits
full time 9 or more credits
part time fewer than 9 credits
3/4 time 6 credits
more than 1/4 but less than 1/2 time 3 credits

Graduate students (excluding those enrolled in Five Year Pathway programs) in good academic standing may register for a course load up to 12 credits per semester (not to exceed six credits per eight-week session).  To request an overload in order to register for more than 12 credits per semester or summer session, permission must be obtained from the appropriate Associate Dean or Program Director.  Permission may be granted to students for an overload if evidence is presented of strong academic achievement in the recent completion of graduate course work at UMW or a prior institution. 

Non-degree students pursuing admission to, and enrollment in, graduate course work must secure permission for enrollment from the appropriate Associate Dean or Program Director and may register for no more than two graduate courses prior to enrolling in a degree program.  For graduate education courses, non-degree students may take no more than six courses prior to enrolling in a degree program. Four of these courses may be used to count toward a degree if the student applies and is admitted to a degree program at a later date. Graduate education courses completed more than four years before a matriculated student completes a degree program will not count towards degree requirements. For more information, see Admission as a Non-Degree Seeking Student.


Students may drop courses before classes begin without financial or academic penalty. However, once classes begin, students may withdraw from courses based on the calendar included in the Guide to Registration. The amount of refund, if any, is based on the refund schedules published in the Guide to Registration. Nonattendance in a course does not constitute a course drop; a course drop is official only if the student has completed the course drop process through the Office of the Registrar.

Courses cannot be dropped after the published deadlines unless a student withdraws completely from the semester or summer session. Courses that are taught in short time frames or that have either beginning or ending dates different from the beginning or ending dates of the regular full academic semester or summer session have published drop/withdrawal guidelines specific to the dates of the course. Students who have completed and received a grade for the first eight-week session may withdraw from a class by the published date but are ineligible to withdrawal from the entire semester. Students who drop all courses in which they are registered must withdraw from the University. Information on Voluntary Withdrawal is available in this section.

Instructor-Initiated Drop

Instructors have the authority but are not required to initiate a drop for students during the first week of classes if the student does not attend:

  • the first and second meetings of a class that meets three times per week.
  • the first and second meetings of a class that meets two times per week.
  • the first meeting of a class that meets once each week.

Instructor-Initiated Drop — Majority Online Courses

Instructors have the authority but are not required to initiate a drop for students who have not logged into a majority online course during the first three days after the start of the semester or term.

Section Change

Students may officially change sections of a course during the add period (usually the initial week of the course) by dropping one section and adding the new section of the course in accordance with Office of the Registrar procedures. Attending the new section and not attending the old section does not constitute an official change of section. Section changes are official only if the student has completed the course change process. 

Withdrawal, Administrative

After the last day to withdraw from the term has passed, a student may petition the University for a retroactive administrative withdrawal from all courses in a given term for substantiated nonacademic reasons. Nonacademic reasons include matters such as hospitalization, debilitating mental illness, incarceration, or a family crisis. Administrative withdrawals of this nature are extremely rare and require appropriate and detailed documentation including a rationale explaining why the student was unable to withdraw by the last day of classes.

Petitions for Non-Academic Administrative withdrawals are initiated by the student through the Office of Academic Services on the “General Request Form.” All petitions for retroactive withdrawals must be made prior to the last day of classes in the subsequent semester. Partial retroactive withdrawals (i.e. from only some courses) are not offered and all grades for the semester in question will be indicated as a W if the petition is approved.

Following receipt of the appeal, the Director of Academic Services will initiate a formal review of the request. If the retroactive withdrawal is approved, the faculty members of the courses in which the student was withdrawn will be notified by the Director of Academic Services. The explanation provided will indicate simply that the withdrawal was done for substantiated non-academic reasons and was approved following careful review of documentation submitted. The nature of the reasons behind the withdrawal action will not be disclosed.

UMW’s standard refund schedules apply to retroactive administrative withdrawals and no special refunds or financial considerations will be offered.

Withdrawal, Voluntary

Regardless of the date, students who wish to drop all of their courses are voluntarily withdrawing from study for that semester or summer session. Such withdrawals must be completed by the last day of class for the semester or summer session. If students have received grades in a completed course, within the semester or summer session, they are not eligible to withdraw. In this case, students may drop courses registered for in the upcoming or current session; however, these students are subject to drop policies for the courses, and grades received for courses in completed sessions are recorded as part of the student’s permanent academic record.

Students must complete a withdrawal form and obtain the required approvals. Students are fully responsible for all outstanding charges on their account, and are not permitted to return to the University or register for courses until their account is cleared. A student who withdraws may return to study within three semesters, excluding summer, without applying for readmission to the University, if the student’s cumulative grade-point average is 3.0 or higher, the student’s account is in good standing, and all other obligations to the University have been met. If a student remains withdrawn for more than three semesters, excluding summer, the student must apply for readmission. Information on Readmission is available in the Academic Rules and Regulations section. Any refunds due at the time of withdrawal are based on the refund schedule for the period published in the Guide to Registration. Such withdrawals are noted on the student’s permanent record.

Military Activation and Withdrawal from the Term

Students who are in military service (active duty, reserves, or National Guard) and will be unable to complete the courses in which they are enrolled because of a military deployment, mobilization, or change in duty assignment may withdraw from all courses as of the effective date on their military orders. Students should contact the Office of the Registrar in order to process the course withdrawals, and a copy of the military orders must be provided as documentation. Students withdrawing in this manner will receive a full refund of all tuition and fees and pro-rated refunds for dining or housing contracts. Textbooks purchased from the UMW Bookstore may be returned for credit in accordance with the UMW textbook return policy. For withdrawals occurring beyond return policy end date, students should bring books to the Bookstore for the best available buyback prices.