Policy 3.7: Academic Performance and Progress – UW Graduate School Skip to content

Policy 3.7: Academic Performance and Progress

This section 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.

3.7.1     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 the student maintains satisfactory performance and progress toward completion of the student’s 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:

  • 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.
  • Performance and progress measures including:
    • key academic and professional milestones, as defined by the program.
    • expected timelines
    • evaluation of progress and milestones by faculty
  • Performance issues that would lead to warn, probationary, or drop status, as outlined below.
  • Consequences of not meeting a milestone or expectations, including process and timing for managing repeated attempts at a milestone if graduate program policy permits.
  • Procedures for appealing program decisions.

3.7.2     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:

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

Program faculty, the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC), Graduate Program Advisor (GPA), 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.
  • The GPC and GPA 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 grade point average (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.

3.7.3     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.

  • 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.
  • Probation: This status is used for a student who has failed to resolve problems with student 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. The Graduate School does a post review of probation letters sent to students by the department.  At least one quarter of probation must be issued 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. All probation letters must cite:
    • the reason for the probation
    • steps the student must take to remove the probation
    • the consequences the student will face if steps were not taken to remove the probation
  • Final Probation: This status is used for a student who has failed to resolve the documented problems in the student’s 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. The Graduate School will review the final probation letter and, if accepted, the Graduate School will send an additional letter from the Dean of the Graduate School to the student informing the student of final probation 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 student informing the student of final probation status. All final probation letters must cite:
    • the reason for the final probation
    • steps the student must take to remove the final probation
    • the consequences the student will face if steps were not taken to remove the final probation

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 Policy 3.5).

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 or Final Exam performance: if graduate faculty determine the student did not pass the general or final exam, the graduate faculty may indicate on the committee signature form that the student is recommended to be dropped from the program. See Policy 1.1 for general exam and final exam requirements.
  • 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.

A student in a probation status who is not on an approved On-Leave status may submit a request
for reinstatement. If reinstated, the department will determine if the student will be reinstated
with the probation status in place when the student left the university based on the program’s
internal academic performance and progress policy. See Policy 3.5 for leave policy to maintain graduate student status.

3.7.4     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 the student’s 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. Drop letters are sent to the student from the department and from the Dean of the Graduate School. 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.

3.7.5     Appeals

Appeals must follow the process outlined in Policy 3.8 for the Academic Grievance Procedure.

Policy 3.7 revised: October 2021