Academic Grievance Process

Most individuals go through graduate school without encountering major conflicts. Occasionally a graduate student will encounter minor conflicts with their adviser or other issues that impact progress. In those cases, established policies and guidelines outline the best way to seek a resolution. 

The Academic Affairs team is available to assist with all matters related to advising, enrollment and standing, research, or teaching issues. The Student Affairs team is also a resource, and can assist with matters related to grievances against other students, and conduct-related matters.

Rights, Rules, Responsibilities

As members of the University community, graduate students are bound by the rules and procedures described in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities. Information on the Graduate School Judicial System in particular is covered in section “2.6 The Graduate School.”

Graduate Student Guide to the Grievance Process

When you have a concern, an important first step is discerning what steps to take and whom to contact. To simplify that process, the Graduate School has produced a concise, printable Graduate Student Guide to the Grievance Process. It includes a helpful flowchart that breaks down the formal grievance process for academic matters.

Whom to Contact with a Concern

Note that the proper venue for a grievance depends on the nature of the concerns. 

  • Sexual misconduct or discrimination: Grievances related to sexual misconduct or discrimination based on a protected characteristic are reviewed by the Title IX Office and the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, respectively. 
  • Academic concerns: If the grievance relates to academic progress, enrollment and standing, research, or teaching, a graduate student should typically attempt to resolve the matter with the faculty member(s) overseeing the work in question.  Directors of Graduate Studies and/or Department Chairs are the next venue for review.  Outside the department, a student may turn to   Academic Affairs in the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School. 
  • Faculty misconduct: If the grievance is related to faculty misconduct, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty may be involved in a review as well. 

The Formal Grievance Process

In rare instances graduate students encounter major issues that may impact their status and enrollment at the University and may interrupt progress toward degree. If you encounter these issues, it is important to know the resources available to support you and the policies and procedures in place to help you resolve the issue. If this happens during your academic career, you may wish to initiate the academic grievance process. 

Outlined in the guide to the grievance process, the process begins with a conversation with your DGS and/or chair of the department. Grievances that are not properly resolved on the department level are turned over to a dean in academic affairs for review. (See Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, Section 2.6 - The Graduate School, especially the entry titled "Graduate Student Grievances," for more information.) If you are not satisfied with the resolution to the grievance proposed by academic affairs, you may request a final review and decision by the dean of the Graduate School.

Confidential Support Resources

While meetings with the DGS, the department chair, and academic affairs deans are private when possible, these individuals are not confidential resources. Students may seek confidential guidance and support from the following offices, which offer a variety of support for graduate students experiencing concerns and can be a good first step for students wishing to explore options to address a concern before deciding to take action. 

  • The Ombuds Office
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS)
  • The Office of Religious Life (ORL)
  • Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education (SHARE)