Instructions for Completing the Petition for an Exception to a Liberal Studies Requirement

  • The following discusses how to generate a Petition for an Exception to a Liberal Studies requirement form. This includes an overview of the exception form, and tips on how to fill out the various sections of the form.

    These tips include:

    • A review of the introductory language of the petition
    • The categories for which exceptions may be sought
    • The number and/or title of the alternative course
    • The justification for the exception
    • And finally, the signature section of the petition

    Please be sure that both the student and advisor names are printed legibly.

    Overview of the Exception Petition

    The first section to review is the introductory language of the petition.

    The Undergraduate Catalog lists the courses that fulfill the Liberal Studies Requirements. These courses represent the university’s best judgment about appropriate ways of meeting Liberal Studies goals.

    It is imperative that students understand that the Undergraduate Catalog is their contract with the university about the courses that they need to take in order to graduate. If there are ever any questions about what course is appropriate, please check the Undergraduate Catalog. Advisors should also be letting students know about the importance of checking the catalog for information relating to what courses the student should be taking to fulfill their degree requirements.

    The next statement is essential to note: Ordinarily there are no exceptions or substitutions.

    The bottom line is that it is the student’s responsibility for knowing and completing the requirements necessary for them to graduate with a specific degree from IUP. As mentioned previously, the Undergraduate Catalog is the student’s contract and should be referred to when necessary.

    The final statement reaffirms the importance of abiding by the catalog descriptions for the completion of any degree. Exceptions are rare and typically must be the result of an extraordinary circumstance.

    Liberal Studies Categories

    This section of the petition is where you check the Liberal Studies category for which the exception is being sought. One of the most common mistakes requiring the return of the form, and ultimately slowing the approval, is the failure to place a checkmark in one of the categories. Although you may have multiple requests, such as when one is dealing with transfer credits, it is much easier for all parties involved to have one form for each exception being requested.

    Number/Title of Alternative Course

    In this section of the petition, the student needs to give the appropriate number and name of the alternative course they are requesting. Many times, students will put the number but forget the name of the course. In addition, as with the category section above, this section is sometimes left blank by mistake.


    The justification section is the most important part of the petition. Very often, the outcome of your petition relies on the quality of the justification. A justification that is clearly explained with compelling reasoning and appropriate documentation, where needed, will be more likely to receive approval.

    Let’s revisit the importance of the Undergraduate Catalog once more. The vast majority of exception requests would be avoided simply by students checking the catalog to be sure they are on track to graduate.

    Justifications such as my advisor didn’t tell me about that, or it was understood when I took the course that it would count, are not valid reasons for an exception. Remember, it is the student’s responsibility to know and complete the requirements. In a perfect world, advisors would never make advising mistakes and would lead the student through the requirements without a hitch. However, advisors are not perfect, and it is incumbent on the student to check the catalog closely for any potential problems.

    Another important component of many justifications (but not all) is to include appropriate documents to support the request. Transcripts can often be helpful for many requests and are particularly helpful in the case of transfer credits. Syllabi of courses involved may also be appropriate. Any type of correspondence with faculty or department chairs about the courses involved is very important. This point will be discussed in more detail on the next section.


    The final section to discuss is the signatures section. The opening portion of this section has two very important statements. The first is that if you are ever unsure about whether a course is appropriate for an exception, contact the Liberal Studies office to seek advice. The second statement is even more important, in most cases. That is to seek information about specific courses from the chairperson of the department offering the course. These faculty members have perhaps the best feel for what courses in their department are appropriate (or not appropriate) for a particular exception.

    The final statement to note is that students will need to attach a copy of the approved form to their application for graduation. The graduation checkout program in MyIUP does not take into consideration whether an exception has been granted or not.

    Summary and Help

    If you have any questions, please go to the Liberal Studies website, or contact the Liberal Studies Office at 724-357-5715.

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    Flash presentation of how to generate a Petition for an Exception to a Liberal Studies requirement form.