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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.

See Extension and Appeals of “Satisfactory Progress” Infractions for complete information about the probation-termination-appeal process.


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. As long as a student is in an appeal process, the student should maintain enrollment and continue working on degree program requirements. A student’s first appeal of dismissal must be made to the department/program. If the student does not appeal, the Graduate School will send the student an official notice of dismissal from the program.

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.

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 graduate dean. Departments and programs organize their own appeals processes. If the department/program does not reverse its decision, the DGS will notify the Graduate School that the student has gone through the probationary period and the appeal process and has been dismissed.