Every little bit counts

Students approaching graduation sometimes find they are missing credits or haven’t completed their required cluster. When that happens, it is often because they thought they had already taken care of everything.

When there is a dispute over credit loads, transfer credits or graduation requirements, Portland State students are required to petition the Academic Requirements Committee, which then makes a decision regarding the academic regulation in question.

The committee bases their decision on three separate criteria: a personal statement written by the student that explains the circumstances that led to the petition, a required statement from the faculty member designated to write the petition’s statement and the student’s permanent school records. Any other statements that can help the case will also be used in making the final decision. Any past petitions that are part of the petitioner’s permanent record will also be used for the final decision.

The personal statement, also called the Justification of Request, must explain the circumstances that have led to the petition. It is important for petitioners to include medical documents, notes from doctors, birth or death documentation, or work schedules, signed by an employer, if mentioned in the petition, because they will strengthen the student’s case.

The petition will not be read without the statement from the designated faculty member. If the petition is missing the faculty member statement, it will not be read by the Academic Requirements Committee. If the request is about a freshman inquiry class, then the freshman inquiry coordinator must write the statement. For sophomore inquiry petitions, the sophomore inquiry coordinator must do it. For clusters and capstones, the cluster or capstone coordinator must do it. For any other classes, the student’s academic adviser or department head must fill out the statement.

The Academic Requirements Committee also requires the petitioner to write an essay if the petition is to request a transfer course or a non-university course satisfy a University Studies Cluster requirement. The essay must explain why the previously-taken course satisfied the four University Studies goals. The four goals center around inquiry and critical thinking, communication, the variety of human experience, ethical issues and social responsibility. In their essence, the goals are designed for students to have learned various modes of inquiry through interdisciplinary curricula in order to become active, self-motivated and empowered learners; to have enhanced their capability to communicate in various ways and in group work through writing, graphics, numbers and other visual and oral means; to have enhanced their appreciation for and understanding of the rich complexity of the human experience through the study of ethical and cultural differences; and to have expanded their understanding of the impact and value of individuals and their choices on society.

Packages for petitioning are available on the bottom floor of Neuberger Hall in the degree requirements room. According to a worker in the office, they handle petitions for everything except major degree requirements. If a student needs to petition for credits from a class in their major, they must go through their department.