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Policy 3.8: Academic Grievance Procedure

3.8.1     Application

Graduate students who believe they have been subjected to unfair treatment in the administration of academic policies may, except as noted below, seek resolution of the student complaint under this Academic Grievance Procedure. Policy 3.8 applies to the application of departmental, college, or Graduate School policies, as well as deviations from stated grading practices (but not individual grade challenges).     Exceptions

  • Students contesting individual grades or academic evaluations should refer to the Change of Grade Procedure contained in the UW Scholastic Regulations Chapter 110, Section 2.
  • Students who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran should refer to the Resolution of Complaints Against University Employees Procedure contained in University of Washington Administrative Policy Statement 46.3.
  • Student disciplinary proceedings for misconduct, including plagiarism and cheating, fall under the provisions of the Student Conduct Policy for Academic Misconduct and Behavioral Misconduct, UW Student Policies Chapter 209 and the Washington Administrative Code Chapter 478-121.     Timing

Students seeking resolution of the student complaint under this policy must initiate either an informal conciliation or file a formal complaint within three months of the complained of incident. Former students may also utilize this procedure, subject to this same time limit.

Specified time limitations within Academic Grievance Procedure policy refer to the academic year, September through June. If a student presents a grievance in June or the complained of incident allegedly occurred during the summer months, the time calculation may be suspended between the end of the academic year and the opening of the following academic year in September. Such suspension may be required if it is impossible to constitute a committee. In addition, time limitations do not include official University holidays or other closures during the regular academic year. The term “days” refers to days when the University is open for business.

3.8.2     Informal Conciliation

The student is encouraged to attempt to resolve a grievance initially with the faculty or staff member(s) most directly concerned. If the student attempts informal conciliation, the student must initiate this process within three months of the complained of incident by requesting one of the following persons to conciliate the grievance: director/ chair of the unit or the appropriate college dean.

If discussion with the faculty or staff member(s) concerned, facilitated by the director/chair of the unit or the appropriate college dean, does not resolve the grievance, the student may request The Graduate School to assist in an informal resolution. In such a case, the dean of The Graduate School shall designate an associate dean as the informal conciliator for The Graduate School. The associate dean may either facilitate conciliation directly or involve the Office of the Ombudsman.  If the associate dean attempts informal conciliation directly, the associate dean may not be involved in a subsequent formal complaint.

If the informal conciliation process has not adequately addressed unfair treatment in the administration of academic policies, the student may submit a formal complaint with the dean of The Graduate School as described below.

3.8.3     Formal Complaint     Filing

Within three months of the complained of incident or, if informal conciliation was attempted, within 10 days of the conclusion of the attempted informal process, a student may file a formal complaint with the dean of The Graduate School. The complaint must be initiated by a written statement that indicates the action(s) being appealed and the date(s) the action(s) occurred; the academic policies upon which the appeal is based, and the relief requested. The statement should also include a description of the results of any unit level process or informal conciliation, as well as any background information that the student deems pertinent to the complaint.

Graduate School Associate Deans will review the complaint and recommend to the Dean whether the formal complaint process is warranted. If a formal grievance process is initiated, any Associate Dean involved in this preliminary review and recommendation will not be part of the formal grievance. Evaluation criteria will be whether the complaint centers on unfair treatment in the application of academic policies. This includes departmental, college, or Graduate School policies, as well as deviations from stated grading practices (but not individual grade challenges). The question of whether the grievance has been addressed at the unit level will also be considered and, if appropriate, the grievance may be referred back to the department or college for further review. The Dean will notify the student whether the formal complaint will proceed within 10 days of submission of the formal complaint by the student.

If the decision is made by the Dean of the Graduate School to move forward with the formal complaint, the following processes will be followed.     Chair of the Academic Grievance Committee

The dean of The Graduate School shall designate an associate dean of The Graduate School as Chair of the Graduate School Academic Grievance Committee (‘Committee’). If the associate dean attempted to facilitate informal conciliation directly in a particular case, then the dean of The Graduate School shall appoint another associate dean or a graduate faculty member as Chair of the Committee in that case.     Graduate School Academic Grievance Committee Pool

Prior to the first day of the autumn quarter, the dean of The Graduate School shall create a pool of at least 20 members of the graduate faculty. At the time the formal complaint is filed, all registered graduate students shall constitute a pool from which at least 20 full-time graduate students who are in good academic standing shall be randomly selected by computer. From these pools, the Committee chair shall appoint a Committee to provide a fair and impartial hearing on the formal complaint filed with the dean of The Graduate School.     The Graduate School Academic Grievance

A formal grievance is referred to the chair of the Committee who shall, in a timely manner, designate two faculty and two student members from the pool to serve as Committee members for a hearing. The Committee chair or chair’s designee shall act as chair. The student and the faculty or staff concerned shall each have the right to exercise one preemptory challenge against the Committee members, other than the Committee chair, within five days after notification of the names of the members. If a challenge is made, the Committee chair shall designate another faculty or student member to replace the member challenged. All members of the Committee shall be present for the hearing and shall have the right to vote upon any matter that may come before the Committee. No member of the Committee shall be from the department of any of the parties to the grievance. There shall be no ex parte communications between any of the parties and any member of the Committee.     Hearing Preparation

The Committee chair shall distribute a copy of the formal complaint to the faculty and staff concerned, the dean of the college or school, the chair/director of the department/program and the graduate program coordinator of the department/program, and members of the Committee. The Committee chair shall establish a time and place for a hearing to be held no later than 20 days from the date of final determination of the Committee membership, unless for good reason stated in writing to the complainant and other concerned parties the Committee chair schedules the hearing for a later specified date. The Committee chair shall announce the time and place of the hearing to the student, the faculty and staff concerned the dean of the college or school, the chair/director of the department/program, the graduate program coordinator of the department/program and include a list of persons so notified, who shall comprise the ‘mailing list.’

At least seven days before the Hearing, the parties must submit to the Committee chair any documentary or any other physical evidence to be presented at the Hearing and a list of witnesses to be called. Additional evidence from witnesses will not be accepted after this time or at the hearing.     Hearing

Hearings are conducted, with the Committee chair presiding, in closed session except when and to the extent mutually agreed upon by the student and faculty or staff concerned. All parties may present evidence and testimony. Only evidence timely submitted to the Committee chair is considered in determining the validity of the complaint. Hearings are conducted with reasonable dispatch and terminated as soon as fairness to all parties involved permits.

While the student may be accompanied by an associate or companion, the presence of an attorney is neither necessary nor recommended. The Graduate School Academic Grievance Committee described herein operates as part of an academic hearing, not a judicial proceeding. However, if the student elects to have counsel present, the University’s attorney must also be afforded an opportunity to attend. Accordingly, the student must notify The Graduate School, in writing, at least seven days prior to the Hearing if the student intends to have an attorney present. The attorney(ies) presence at the Hearing does not change the proceeding. Examination of witnesses, questioning of parties or direct participation in the proceeding by the attorney(ies) is not permitted. An attorney may speak in an unobtrusive manner with the attorney’s client in an advisory capacity.

Within 15 days after the Hearing adjourns, the Committee shall present to the dean of The Graduate School its report, including findings, conclusions, and recommendations for action. The report is simultaneously transmitted to the student and to the faculty and staff member(s) concerned. A written summary of the proceedings and an audio recording of testimony are retained for at least one year.

The dean of The Graduate School, within 10 days after receipt of the Committee report, shall issue the dean’s decision as to the action to be taken on the grievance. The decision shall include an evaluation of the validity of the grievance and a statement of the action to be taken. Copies of the decision shall be transmitted to the student, the faculty and staff member(s) involved, the dean of the college or school, the chair/director of the department/program, and the graduate program coordinator of the department/program.

The decision of the dean of The Graduate School shall become final at the close of the seventh day after issuance, unless the student or any other party directly involved files a written request for consideration of the findings by the Provost, whose review will be limited to the hearing record.     Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education, and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the grievance process students should contact the Office of Academic Affairs at at the same time as the formal grievance is filed. Faculty and staff participating in the hearing may also request disability accommodation upon receipt of the grievance.

Policy 3.8 revised November 2000; May 2007; February 2023

Policy revised August 2023

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

Policy 2.2: Graduate Courses in Non-Degree-Offering Units

Graduate courses normally should be offered only under the sponsorship of academic departments or other units which are authorized to grant graduate degrees. However, in certain cases faculty members of an academic unit not authorized to offer a graduate degree or graduate certificate program may be granted permission to offer courses numbered 500 to 599 and create a new course prefix, if required.

Courses proposed under this provision should not be intended as part of a graduate degree program being developed by the sponsoring unit. Such courses should be offered under the approved prefixes of existing graduate degree programs until the new degree has been established by the Board of Regents. Procedures for authorization of new graduate degrees are described in Policy 1.7.

2.2.1 Review and Approval Process

Graduate courses to be offered by non-graduate-program-offering units must follow the regular UW course and course prefix approval process. This includes curricular review by the appropriate school, college, or campus and final approval by the UW Curriculum Committee. The Graduate School will review and endorse proposed courses and prefixes as part of the course approval workflow. The course proposers must indicate all affected units and the Graduate School in the “Potentially Affected Departments, Schools, or Colleges” section of the course proposal. These units will be asked to review and acknowledge the course proposal.

In requesting approval of courses under this policy the unit must provide a written statement, included with the course application materials, showing that each course meets the following criteria:

  • The academic and budgetary impact of the course has been assessed and approved by the leadership of the academic unit and the school/college/campus.
  • Instructors should be members of the graduate faculty or meet equivalent standards for scholarship and teaching experience. Provide a list of expected instructors and academic titles, including indication of graduate faculty status.
  • Classes should have majority graduate or postdoctoral (as opposed to professional or undergraduate) enrollment. Provide an estimate of the total enrollment for each.
  • The course should have clear interdisciplinary value in the following ways. Provide an explanation of the following criteria:
  1. It should extend and integrate knowledge from more than one discipline to the extent that it is not appropriately offered by a graduate-degree-offering unit.
  2. Its enrollment is drawn from more than one graduate-degree-offering unit.

Policy 2.2 created: March, 1987. Revised: April, 2007; February 2020

Policy 2.1: Graduate Course Numbers, Titles, and Audience

Graduate courses numbered in the 500s through 800s are intended for and ordinarily restricted to either students enrolled in the Graduate School or graduate non-matriculated students who meet the requirements of Policy 3.3.

Graduate courses should be presented at a level that assumes enrolled students bring to the class a background at least equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the field or a related interdisciplinary field. Graduate courses must not be used to correct deficiencies in the student’s undergraduate work; courses normally expected to be part of undergraduate preparation for graduate study must be identified by undergraduate course numbers.

Some courses at the 300 and 400 levels are open to graduate students; see Policy 1.1 for using these courses for graduate degree requirements. 

2.1.1     Course Numbers and Titles

In order to maintain as much breadth as possible in the course offerings of a graduate unit, graduate level courses normally will carry the prefix designation of the academic unit authorized to offer the graduate program, e.g., English, Drama, Education, etc. However, in certain fields identification of specializations in graduate courses may be necessary or desirable. To propose special designation, the faculty in that unit may transmit to the Dean of the School or College the request to identify the field of specialization in the prefix. Special designation, if approved by the Dean of the College and the Registrar, may be established.

The following standardized course numbers and course titles have been established for graduate courses in all disciplines numbered 600, 601, 700, 800. Courses numbered 801 may have alternate course titles. Descriptions for all courses below are at the discretion of the proposing unit.

  • 600 – Independent Study or Research: Used for individual readings or study, including independent study in preparation for doctoral examinations, research, etc. Prerequisite: permission of Supervisory Committee Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, or Graduate Program Coordinator’s designee.
  • 601 – Internship: Used for Internships. Prerequisite: permission of Supervisory Committee Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, or Graduate Program Coordinator’s designee.
  • 700 – Master’s Thesis: Used for research for the master’s thesis, including research preparatory and/or related thereto. Limited to graduate students who have not yet completed the master’s degree in the student’s program of enrollment at the University of Washington. Prerequisite: permission of Supervisory Committee Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, or Graduate Program Coordinator’s designee.
  • 800 – Doctoral Dissertation: Used for research for the doctoral dissertation, including research preparatory and/or related thereto. Limited to those who have completed the master’s degree or the equivalent and have been admitted into a doctoral degree program, or candidate-level graduate students. Pre-master students initiating doctoral dissertation research should register for 600. Prerequisite: permission of Supervisory Committee Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, or Graduate Program Coordinator’s designee.
  • 801 – Practice Doctorate Project/Capstone: Used for the culminating project/capstone experience for practice doctorate degree programs (see Policy 1.1.5). Course title may vary to reflect the specific nature of the project/capstone (e.g., project, practicum, portfolio, applied dissertation, clinical work, etc.).

2.1.2     Course Delivery Location

Graduate courses are offered on campus except for courses where all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The course is equivalent in quality to courses offered in residence at the University, as judged by consideration of course content, assignments, examinations, performance expected from students, grading practices, assignment of graduate faculty, etc.
  • It is designed for and presented mainly to students who have been admitted to and are enrolled in the Graduate School of the University of Washington or who have been enrolled by units as graduate non-matriculated students.

2.1.3     Course Enrollment

Under certain conditions, qualified graduate non-matriculated students may be enrolled in graduate courses and earn credit later applicable towards a graduate degree. These conditions are outlined in Policy 3.3.

Postbaccalaureate students, undergraduate students, and non-matriculated students who do not meet Graduate School admission requirements may enroll in 500-level courses provided that permission has been obtained in advance from the faculty member who will teach the class, and from the unit Chair/Director or designated representative. Permission should be granted only when the student appears to be exceptionally well prepared for entrance into the course so that the tempo and quality of the graduate instruction is not adversely affected. Such students should not constitute more than 20% of the total number enrolled in the class.

Policy 2.1 revised: August 2021; December 2022