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Probation may occur at any time during a student’s work toward a graduate degree. In addition to dismissal for failure to meet the usual examination and grade requirements, departments and graduate-degree-granting area programs have the right to place a student on probation. When a department/program determines that a student is not making satisfactory academic progress or whose work is not of the quality required, the Director of Graduate Study (DGS) in the program and/or faculty advisor will recommend a face-to-face meeting between the student and the faculty advisor. If, after this meeting, the department/program and the student can agree on a plan to remedy the situation, the faculty advisor (or DGS) and the student will jointly sign a document enumerating steps to take. Probation must last a minimum of 30 calendar days. If the department/program and the student disagree on issues of progress, the DGS or chair may send the student a letter placing the student on probation. The letter placing a student on probation must include an explicit statement of what must be accomplished and by what date in order for the student to be removed from probation and returned to good standing in the department/program.

The faculty advisor or academic program chair must inform the Graduate School as soon as the student has been notified and the probationary period has begun.

If the student does not comply with the conditions of probation, a letter (signed by the DGS) will be sent to the student with notification of a dismissal meeting from the degree program.


After a probationary period has expired and/or upon failure to meet examination and grade requirements, any graduate student who is deemed to be making insufficient academic progress or whose work is not of adequate quality as determined by the department/program may be dismissed. Dismissal may occur at any time during a student’s work toward a graduate degree.

Prior to dismissing a student, the Director of Graduate Study (DGS) in the program and/or faculty advisor will recommend a face-to-face meeting between the student and the faculty advisor to discuss the reason for dismissal. Termination letters must inform the student of the right to appeal, first, to the department/program, and second, to the Graduate Faculty Senate. A copy of a termination letter must be sent to the graduate dean at the same time it is sent to the student.


Students have the right to appeal dismissal from their degree programs.

A student’s first appeal of dismissal must be made to the department/program within 2 weeks. If the student does not appeal, the Graduate School will send the student an official notice of dismissal from the program.

Students should notify their DGS in writing that they are appealing dismissal. A copy of the appeal letter addressed to the DGS should be sent to the Dean of the Graduate School. Departments and programs organize their own appeals processes and all students must be made aware of those processes as they start their graduate program. If the department/program does not reverse its decision, the DGS will notify the Graduate School that the student has completed the probationary period and the appeal process and has been dismissed.

While an appeal of a dismissal is pending before the student’s department or program or, as described below, the Graduate Faculty Senate, the student may, at their option, elect to maintain enrollment and continue working on degree program requirements.

If the student elects to maintain enrollment, the student is expected to continue active work toward completing degree requirements. In that case, the department or program shall continue to support fully the student’s ongoing work on degree program requirements. However, the department or program may limit the student’s ongoing work to exclude activities that, in the judgment of the department or program, ongoing performance by the student could  have an irreparable adverse impact on the university, other members of the university community, or the public. The department or program shall notify the student of any limitation within 10 days of delivery of the student’s appeal letter. (N.B., Activities within the context of an assistantship are governed by a separate policy.)

Current policies require that doctoral candidates maintain continuous enrollment. Under those policies, a student who:

(i) successfully appeals; and

(ii) did not maintain enrollment while the appeal was pending

will be required to comply with the requirements for reestablishing candidacy after time off. That requires payment of tuition for the period when the student was not enrolled. For that reason, students in doctoral programs are encouraged to elect to maintain enrollment while an appeal is pending and thereby avoid the possibility of paying fees to the university in respect of a time when the student was not actively working on a degree program.

If there are reasons why maintaining enrollment is a hardship and the student wishes to receive an accommodation, the student should immediately contact the Dean of the Graduate School.

Process of Appeals to the Graduate Faculty Senate

Students may appeal dismissal from a graduate degree program to the Graduate Faculty Senate.

An appeal to the Graduate Faculty Senate can be made only after all internal appeals to a student’s program/department have failed. The appeal must be based upon the program/department’s failure to adhere to its or the Graduate School’s published rules and regulations. A student wishing to appeal dismissal must send a letter addressed to the Dean of the Graduate School within two weeks of dismissal. Once the intent to appeal is received by the Dean of the Graduate School, the following procedures will be followed:

  1. The Dean of the Graduate School or a representative will meet with the student to discuss the situation. If, after this meeting, the student wishes to make an appeal to the Graduate Faculty Senate, they will submit a statement to the Graduate School describing the basis of the appeal and containing any correspondence or other documentation relevant to the appeal. The dean will notify the Graduate Faculty Senate, which will appoint an ad-hoc Appeal Committee consisting of five senators who are not members of the academic program involved in the appeal. If the Graduate Faculty Senate is not in session, the formation of the ad-hoc committee will follow Article 4 of the Graduate Faculty Senate bylaws.
  2. The Graduate School will provide information to the student, the department/program and members of the ad-hoc GFS Appeal Committee regarding the content, process and regulations/policies pertaining to the appeal. Upon compilation of the appeal file, the Dean of the Graduate School will send a copy of file materials to the members of the Appeal Committee and to the department/program. If the program/department wishes to respond in writing, its statement will be distributed to the Appeal Committee, the student and representatives from the Graduate School.
  3. A hearing will be scheduled within 30 days* of receiving the notice of appeal. Parties to the hearing include: the student (and an advisor from the University community, if desired), representatives from the department/program, the Appeal Committee and the Graduate School.  At this hearing, the department or program will first invite the student making the appeal to present the case discussed in the written statement. The Appeal Committee may ask questions at this point, and once its questions have been answered, will give the program/department the opportunity to defend its dismissal of the student. Following further questions from the Appeal Committee, the hearing will be adjourned
  4. The Appeal Committee will arrive at its decision within 48 hours* of the hearing. The Appeal Committee Chair will convey the decision in writing (and within 72 hours* of the conclusion of the committee’s deliberations) to the student, the director of graduate studies and chairperson of the department or program, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Graduate Faculty Senate president, and any other appropriate party named in the appeal. Given the accelerated deadline to deliver a decision, it is understood that decision letters will be brief and delivered electronically.*All time frames and deadlines are exclusive of holidays and weekends.