UW Graduate School

Memo 16: Academic Performance and Progress

This memo articulates policies for the academic performance and progress of graduate students, including guidance on appropriate process for cases where student academic performance does not meet program expectations. For information on recommended practices around academic performance and progress, see the GPC/GPA Resources page.

A. Communicating Performance and Progress Requirements

A student admitted to the Graduate School may continue graduate study and research at the University of Washington as long as they maintain satisfactory performance and progress toward completion of their graduate degree. The definition of satisfactory academic and professional performance and progress may differ among graduate programs. Each graduate program is required to document and distribute performance and progress requirements to each of its graduate faculty and graduate students upon student enrollment. Documentation shall include the following information:

  1. General expectations for graduate student performance and progress within the program that includes, but is not limited to, required coursework, research, scholarship, professional behavior relevant to the program, fieldwork, practicum requirements, and length of time allowed for completion of various phases of the program.
  2. Performance and progress measures including:
    • key academic and professional milestones, as defined by the program.
    • expected timelines
    • evaluation of progress and milestones by faculty
  1. Performance issues that would lead to warn, probationary, or drop status, as outlined below.
  2. Consequences of not meeting a milestone or expectations, including process and timing for managing repeated attempts at a milestone if graduate program policy permits.
  3. Procedures for appealing program decisions.

    B.  Reviewing Performance and Progress

Faculty should assess student progress using a variety of professional behavior and academic metrics to determine if a student has completed sufficient work at reasonable performance levels. It is acceptable to compare a student’s performance and progress relative to that of other students in the program or to individually negotiated schedules if consistently used. The following elements may be considered when evaluating a student’s performances and progress:

  1. Performance and progress in the fulfillment of degree program requirements as outlined in the graduate program’s documentation distributed to students upon enrollment.
  2. Maintenance of a minimum cumulative and quarterly 3.0 GPA while the student is enrolled in the UW Graduate School. A program may petition the Graduate School to consider exceptions to the 3.0GPA minimum requirement for graduation if the student demonstrates steady and consistent progress.

Program faculty, the Graduate Program Coordinators (GPCs), Graduate Program Advisors (GPAs), or an advisory/supervisory committee designated by the graduate program, are responsible for regular reviews of student performance. At doctoral candidate level, the doctoral supervisory committee reviews student progress and does so, in consultation with the GPC as needed.

  • The graduate program faculty should review a student’s performance and progress at least annually.
  • GPCs and GPAs should provide ongoing advising of students.
  • For accelerated or shorter term graduate programs that are six quarters or fewer, student performance and progress should be reviewed quarterly. Unsatisfactory performance may require mid-quarter reviews and interventions.
  • Students not meeting milestones, including those whose cumulative or quarterly GPA falls below a 3.0, should be reviewed quarterly.
  • Students not meeting milestones should be provided with a written explanation of performance expectations, clear descriptions of performance benchmarks and outcomes that would demonstrate improvements, and a timetable for demonstrating progress or achievement of these benchmarks.
  • For students in the research or fieldwork phase of a graduate program, program faculty should review student progress at least annually, with greater frequency as determined by program expectations and student performance.

C.  Unsatisfactory Performance and Progress

The following three status levels are used to indicate unsatisfactory performance, to communicate clear expectations to the student, and consequences should those expectations not be met in the time indicated. The goal of each step is to establish clear expectations and outline a path to return to satisfactory progress.

  1. Warn: This is an early status for a student who has failed to meet expectations for performance or progress. Warnings are optional in the probation process and are managed internally by the program with a goal of resolving problems before escalating to probation. The program may issue multiple warning letters to the student and the Graduate School is not notified. The Graduate School recommends that programs use the warning status prior to a probation status.
  2. Probation: This status is used for a student who has failed to resolve problems with their performance or progress that the program has previously documented and communicated to the student. Programs send a probation recommendation to the student with a copy to the Graduate School no later than the 10th business day of the probation quarter.  All probation letters must cite:
    a.  the reason for the probation,
    b.  steps the student must take to remove the probation, and
    c.  the consequences the student will face if steps were not taken to remove the probation.

The Graduate School will review the probation letter drafted by the program and, if accepted, place a probation notice on the student’s record.  At least one quarter of probation must be issued by the Graduate School at the request of the program prior to final probation. Two additional quarters of probation may be issued at the program’s discretion and the Graduate School must receive documents supporting a probation recommendation each quarter.

  1. Final Probation: This status is used for a student who has failed to resolve the documented problems in their probation status as submitted to the Graduate School. Programs send a final probation recommendation to the student with a copy to the Graduate School no later than the 10th business day of the final probation quarter.  All final probation letters must cite:a.  the reason for the final probation,
    b.  steps the student must take to remove the final probation, and
    c.   the consequences the student will face if steps were not taken to remove the final probation.

The Graduate School will review the final probation letter and, if accepted, place a final probation notice on the student’s record.  The Graduate School will send a letter to the student informing them of their status. The graduate program must issue one quarter of final probation prior to a drop from the program, except in clearly documented situations as discussed below. A program may request an additional quarter of final probation in extenuating circumstances. The Graduate School must receive documents supporting this recommendation and will send letters to the students informing them of their status.

A graduate program may recommend a student be placed on probation status while the student is on leave. The program may not change a student’s probationary status while the student remains on leave. The student must apply for leave status each quarter which is then approved by the department (see Graduate School Memo 9).

Additional considerations as described in the graduate program policy provided to students may result in an immediate recommendation to drop a student without progressing through Probation and Final Probation. The most common examples of this are unsatisfactory performance in the following:

  • Qualifying or Preliminary Examinations: As defined in a graduate program policy.
  • Doctoral General Exam performance: if graduate faculty determine the student did not pass the general exam, they may indicate on the Warrant that the student is recommended to be dropped from the program.
  • Fieldwork or professional performance: As defined in a graduate program policy.

To request a change to student status, the GPC must send a letter to the Graduate School with supporting documentation. A status change is recorded in the student record but does not appear on the student transcript.

D.  Drop

Drop is an official action that terminates a student’s enrollment from a graduate program because either the student has failed to resolve documented problems in their final probation status, or the student has one of the performance issues as outlined above. Graduate programs should submit drop recommendations to the Graduate School prior to the start of the quarter but no later than the fifth business day of the drop quarter. The Graduate School approves the drop, and drop status will appear on the student’s official transcript. When dropped, a student is not eligible to complete the program or return later to complete the degree. A student dropped from one graduate program may apply to and enroll in a different graduate program if accepted.

E.  Appeals

Appeals must follow the process outlined in Graduate School Memorandum No. 33, Academic Grievance Procedure.

Revised: February 2019 (Draft August 2018)