Student Appeals

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Policies are reviewed and published annually in the University’s Catalog. Students should generally refer to the Catalog pages that correspond to the year they were admitted to Pitt. The policies, deadlines, and procedures of SCI are designed to provide fair and equitable access to resources, to set standard expectations for the roles and responsibilities of students, staff, and faculty, and to lay a path for reasonable and timely attainment of a degree or other academic award.

However, we appreciate that special and extenuating circumstances may interfere with the standard path to completion of a degree. The SCI Dean’s Office and Student Service teams are here to help navigate obstacles and address extenuating situations as they arise.

The University Catalog pages are split into three levels that correlate to a specific office that interprets, manages, and enforces the policies published on the page.  These subdivisions are:

University-level pages contain policies governed by the Office of the Provost. Appeals are submitted to the student’s Dean’s Office for review and endorsement before moving to the Provost’s Office for final review.

School-level pages list policies governed by a School’s Office of the Dean. The appeals process for SCI’s School-level policies are listed below.

Department-, major-, or degree-level pages list policies governed by the School’s academic departments and the majors (or degrees) they offer.

This webpage pertains specifically to School of Computing and Information policies, appeals, and procedures.  For issues related to department/major appeals, please contact your advisor and/or departmental administrator.

Process Overview

Preparing an Appeal

All requests require a written explanation of extenuating circumstances. Some require supplemental materials. Required supplemental materials are listed below each type of appeal. Forms and worksheets mentioned on this page are available through the School Forms index. 

When preparing the required explanation of extenuating circumstances, students should minimally address the following questions:

  • What non-academic factors or circumstances led to any missed deadlines?
  • What distinguishes my situation from the standard procedures and expectations of the University, School, or Department?
  • What evidence can I provide to support my claim?
    • For medical emergencies, we request dated documentation with provider letterhead that specifies the dates and impact (e.g., inability to attend class); diagnosis or other private medical details are not necessary.
    • For a death in the family, a posted obituary should be provided that supports the event and the impact on the student, via a link to funeral home, local paper, etc.
  • What consequences or hardships would you face if this appeal was not granted?

Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor during the preparation and submission of their appeal.

Expectations, Appeal Review, and Turnaround

Appeals to School of Computing and Information policies are reviewed by representatives of the Dean’s Office on a weekly basis. During this review, the Dean’s Office may contact other University offices for guidance or to discuss the impact on their related processes. For this reason and because each appeal is unique, the review process may take several weeks to complete.

In cases where additional clarification or documentation is necessary to determine the validity of an appeal, the Dean’s Office will contact the student directly or through their advisor. Students can reasonably expect an initial communication regarding an appeal within five–seven business days. In return, students are expected to actively engage and respond to requests with a maximum turnaround window of five business days.

Final appeals are shared with the student via their Pitt email address. Students should monitor their inbox and consult with the appropriate point of contact (see below) only if they have not received a communication within seven business days of submitting their appeal and any additionally requested items.

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students are responsible for contacting their academic advisor to discuss their concerns and potential appeals of both School of Computing and Information and Department policies. Students should schedule advising appointments through the Navigate app. If you do not have an assigned SCI Undergraduate Advisor, please email sciadvising@pitt.edu or attend office hours for assistance.

Students are required to supply their advisor with a written explanation of their extenuating circumstance and the supplemental materials listed below.

Course Enrollment-related Appeals

Full-time Credit Limit Overload
  • Students may appeal to enroll in more than 18 credits in a single term.
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • Enrollment worksheet documenting proposed enrollment plan, including the entire proposed schedule
    • A success plan that addresses why the overload is necessary and how the student will overcome the challenges associated with the credit overload
Course Repeat Policy
  • Students may appeal for one additional attempt to complete a single course after reaching the maximum allowable attempts (3 attempts).
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • A success plan that addresses how the student will overcome the challenges faced in the past
    • Approval from the department offering the course in question
Course Time Conflict
  • Students may appeal to enroll in two courses that overlap in time, creating a conflict.
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • Enrollment worksheet documenting proposed enrollment plan
    • Approval from the instructor of each conflicting course
Late Enrollment (Add or Drop)
  • Students may appeal to change course enrollment after the add/drop period concludes. This may include adding and/or dropping courses.
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • Documentation of a non-academic extenuating circumstance that led directly to missing the add/drop deadline
    • Enrollment worksheet documenting proposed enrollment plan
    • Approval from the instructor of each class requested to be added (if any)
    • Any additional documentation typically required for enrollment in the course(s) requested to be added (e.g., learning agreements and internship offer letters, if adding a capstone course)
Appeal for a Late Withdrawal
  • Students may appeal to withdraw from a class after the monitored withdrawal deadline. After the 13th week of a semester, students may appeal only to withdraw from the entire semester. (Late withdrawals from individual courses should be submitted to the school offering the course. Full-term withdrawals should be submitted to the student’s home school Dean’s Office.)
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • Documentation of a non-academic extenuating circumstance that led directly to missing the monitored withdrawal deadline and/or directly impacted ability to participate in the course
    • Appeal for Late Withdrawal Form: Include PeopleSoft ID rather than social security number.

Degree Requirement-related Appeals

Policy and Requirements Change
  • Students may appeal to change their assigned set of School- and Major-level requirements. For example, a student may elect to follow a newly-released set of major requirements.
SCI Residency Requirement
  • Students may appeal to reduce the credit counts that must be completed while enrolled as an SCI student.
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • Documentation of having done due diligence to admit to SCI as soon as possible, and of the negative impact of being required to complete the residency requirement in full
    • A success plan that describes how many credits will be completed (including how many will be completed within the major program) in each semester through graduation
Best Fit
  • Students may request to move a course from one requirement to another requirement. The course in question must be on the approved list for the target requirement. Students submit this request through the Best Fit Form.
General Education Requirement
  • Students may appeal to fulfill a GER with a course that is not currently approved for the GER.
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • Syllabus for the course that is being requested
    • Justification for the substitution in lieu of an approved course
Major Requirement Exemption or Substitution
  • Students may appeal to fulfill a degree requirement with a course that is not currently approved for the requirement, or to waive a degree requirement.
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • Syllabus for the course that is being requested
    • Justification for the substitution in lieu of an approved course

Graduate Students

Graduate students enrolled in the School of Computing and Information should schedule advising appointments with their advisor to discuss concerns regarding their academic path and potential appeals of policy. Students with questions that pertain to department procedures should contact their department’s administrator. For questions regarding School of Computing and Information policies or any appeal requiring Dean’s Office approval, please reach out to SCIrecords@pitt.edu.

All requests require a written explanation of extenuating circumstances. Students should consult with their advisor and prepare a written explanation of their extenuating circumstance, and the supplemental materials listed below, before launching online forms.

Templates and forms are available to students on the School Forms webpage.  When the appeal package is complete, the student is responsible for launching the appeal process as described below.

School-level Appeals

Course Enrollment-related Appeals

Course enrollment-related appeals are submitted via the online SCI Policy Waiver Request for Graduate Students form.

Full-time Credit Limit Overload
Course Repeat Policy
  • Students may appeal for one additional attempt to complete a single course after reaching the maximum allowable attempts (3 attempts) by completing the Policy Waiver Request for Graduate Students.
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • A success plan that addresses how the student will overcome the challenges faced in the past
    • Approval from the department offering the course in question
Course Time Conflict
Late Enrollment (Add or Drop)
  • Students may appeal to change course enrollment after the add/drop period concludes by completing the Policy Waiver Request for Graduate Students. This may include adding and/or dropping courses.
  • Required supplemental materials:
    • Documentation of a non-academic extenuating circumstance that led directly to missing the add/drop deadline
    • Enrollment worksheet documenting proposed enrollment plan
    • Approval from the instructor of each class requested to be added (if any)
    • Any additional documentation typically required for enrollment in the course(s) requested to be added (e.g., learning agreements and internship offer letters, if adding an experiential learning course)
Appeal for a Late Withdrawal
  • Students may appeal to withdraw from a class after the monitored withdrawal deadline. After the 13th week of a semester, students may appeal only to withdraw from the entire semester. (Full-term withdrawals should be submitted to the student’s home school Dean’s Office.)
  • Required supplemental materials:
  • Documentation of a non-academic extenuating circumstance that led directly to missing the monitored withdrawal deadline and/or directly impacted ability to participate in the course
  • Appeal for Late Withdrawal Form: Include PeopleSoft ID rather than social security number.

General Policy Appeals

Leave of Absence (LOA) Request (minimum of one year)
  • A Leave of Absence Request is a petition to pause the degree completion timeline and step away from courses for a minimum of one year.  This does not suspend current-term registration.  Though an official LOA must be approved by the Dean’s Office, the request is first reviewed by the student’s department.  The request is only reviewed by the Dean after departmental endorsement.
  • Required supplementary materials:
  • Students launch the department’s review of their LOA request by submitting the Leave of Absence Request Form. This form is sent directly to the department for review.
Statute of Limitations Extension (Beyond the School's Allowable Limit)
  • A Statute of Limitation Extension request can be used to extend the number of years allowable for completing the degree under extenuating circumstances. The student’s home department must provide endorsement and approval to this extension prior to submission to the Dean’s office for review.
  • Required supplementary materials:

Department-level Appeals

The following appeals and related procedural questions should be directed to the student’s home department.

Policy and Requirements Change
  • Policy and Requirements Change petitions allow the student to request a change to the assigned set of degree requirements that they are completing, e.g., to those of a recently updated version of the degree.
Degree Requirement Exemption or Substitution
  • Request to fulfill a degree requirement with an alternative course or waiver of the requirement altogether.
  • Supplemental materials:
    • Course syllabus for the alternative course
    • Justification for the substitution in lieu of an approved course
Leave of Absence (LOA) Request (less than one year)
  • Request to step away from courses for less than one year does not require formal approval by the Dean’s Office.  Note that this does not pause the degree completion timeline. In this case, we encourage the student to reach out to their advisor to discuss their plans.
Statute of Limitations Extension (Beyond the Department's Allowable Limit but within the School's Limit)
  • In some cases, the student’s degree statute of limitations is less than the School’s statute of limitations (e.g., 6 years to complete a PhD in Information Science is less than the SCI maximum PhD statute of limitations).   Under extenuating circumstances, students can request to extend this departmental statute of limitations up to the SCI limit. The department is responsible for approving requests that extend beyond their statute of limitations.

Academic Record-related Appeals

Academic Record-related appeals are submitted via the forms listed below. If action or approvals are needed by the Dean’s Office as a follow-up to the department’s approval, the department administrator will ensure that the appeal is sent to the appropriate contact for final review and processing.
Academic Plan Changes
  • There are several changes a student may wish to make to their academic plan. These changes are particular to the student’s degree and may be approved or denied by their department. These changes include:
    • DINS master’s students declaring a specialization
    • CS master's students selecting or changing between the Project or Thesis Options
    • MLIS students requesting to change their online or on-campus enrollment status
    • Intelligent Systems students selecting or changing between the general or medical informatics tracks
    • Doctoral students adding their department's master's degree to their current course of study
    • Doctoral or master's students requesting to opt-out of their current degree to complete a degree with lesser requirements (master's or graduate certificate)
  • Required supplementary materials:
  • Students launch the department’s review of their academic plan change by submitting the Graduate Academic Plan (Degree/Specialization) Change form.
Program Discontinuation
  • Students who wish to permanently discontinue their studies may do so.  Program discontinuation does not require departmental approval, though the home department will be automatically notified after this action is taken.
  • Required supplementary materials:
  • Note: If a student is unsure of whether they would like to return to their studies, they should not submit this form. Instead, their student record will naturally expire after three terms of inactivity.