Dropping or Withdrawing from Courses for Pre-Health Students

Claire Cornell

What is the difference between dropping and withdrawing from a course? 

Dropping a course means that you are choosing to discontinue the course and the course will NOT appear on your transcript - this must be done by the Drop Deadline for your school. 

Withdrawing from a course means that you are choosing to discontinue the course and the course WILL be listed on your transcript with a "W" next to it. This can be done after the Drop Deadline, but must be done before the Withdrawal Deadline for your school. 

What happens if I need to withdraw from a course?

In general, health professional schools will understand one withdrawal from a course if it is accompanied by a detailed explanation of why it was the right decision for you at the time (i.e. unexpected family obligation, an injury or illness that made you incapable of completing the work load, extreme levels of stress). That being said, if your academic record shows withdrawals occurred on a regular basis, schools may feel that you were consistently unable to manage your time or gauge your studies appropriately. 

Consult with a Pre-Health Advisor if you have questions about withdrawing from a course or explaining to a school why you chose to withdraw.

What happens if I need to drop a course? 

Schools will not be able to see if you drop a course. Dropping a course will take it off your transcript completely. If you choose to take the course again later, it will only appear on the semester you took the course and completed it. Before dropping a course, we recommend speaking with your professor or TA about your performance in the course, as they can help assess how you may do and provide their own recommendation. If the course you decide to drop is a pre-requisite course for your health profession, we recommend speaking with a Pre-Health Advisor to devise your own, unique course plan that accommodates for the dropped course. 

Will my credit hours be affected by dropping or withdrawing from a course? 

Yes. Dropping or withdrawing from a course will result in those credit hours being subtracted from your total credit hours for that semester. You may drop a course prior to the Drop Deadline without instructor permission if you will have 12 or more credits after the proposed course would be dropped. If dropping a course will result in fewer than 12 credits,  you must receive permission from your Association Dean as this can lead to academic probation and jeopardize financial aid or full-time student status. 

How many credit hours should I take per semester?

It is important to take as challenging a course load as you can handle to demonstrate your ability to withstand the rigors of the curriculum for your chosen health professional school. With that said, you also need to demonstrate good judgement regarding what is a manageable course load for you. If there is a semester when you make the decision to take a lighter load, we encourage you to ask yourself these questions: 

  • Am I establishing a trend of taking fewer credits? 
  • Can I account for how I will utilize the additional time?

Additionally, as a UVA student, you should first and foremost complete the course requirements necessary for your academic major with health professional program per-requisites as your secondary obligation.



NOTE: Most of the above information pertains to students in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UVA. Please check with your school regarding drop/withdrawal policies for the most accurate, up-to-date information.

For more information on dropping or withdrawing from courses in the College, click here