The underlying purpose of the University's appeals procedure is to guarantee due process and to protect the rights of both students and faculty in graduate programs.
The following procedure provides a mechanism for formal adjudication of any academic issues (non-misconduct and not related to grade appeal) which may arise.(For information regarding the process for grade appeals, see the Graduate Grade Appeal Process.)
Responsibility for initiation of each of the steps belongs to the appellant.
Step 1. If an informal discussion between the student and the instructor or individual with whom the student has a conflict does not resolve the issue, the resolution of an academic appeal of a student should begin within the department. The first step in the resolution of a problem or disagreement should be a discussion between the instructor, the student, and his/her faculty advisor or the coordinator of the program.
Step 2. If the matter cannot be resolved after such a discussion, a formal appeal, in writing and containing the pertinent facts, should be presented by the student to the chairperson/head of the department within two months of the occurrence that precipitated the appeal. Any appeal made outside this time period shall not be considered by any University body. The chairperson of the department will appoint committee composed of faculty members in the department. Within seven working days, this committee shall convene and discuss the appeal with the student and the instructor, coordinator, or individual with whom the student has a conflict. The student may be accompanied by his or her advisor or a faculty representative during the discussion of the appeal. The committee, by a majority vote after deliberations with only members of the committee present, shall render a decision within five working days and notify the appropriate parties in writing with the rationale for the decision included in the notification.
Step 3. If the decision of the departmental committee is not satisfactory to all parties, the appeal may be forwarded to the College Dean within two weeks of the decision of the departmental committee. The Dean will appoint a college committee composed of area coordinators of all graduate programs within the college or a suitable committee of faculty. The committee will be chaired by the college dean, or his/her designee. Within seven working days, the committee shall convene and discuss the appeal with the student. At this level the student may request to be present at the committee meetings, that discussions or proceedings be tape recorded, and that a transcript be prepared from the tape. The request for a recording must be made at the time the appeal is made to the college committee. The college committee shall render a decision by majority vote after deliberations with only members of the college committee present within five working days and notify the appropriate parties in writing with the rationale for the decision included in the notification.
Step 4. If the decision of the college committee is not satisfactory to all parties, the appeal may be forwarded to the Graduate Policy and Affairs Committee (GPAC) within ten working days after the decision of the college committee. The committee shall convene within 10 working days after the GPAC chairperson has received a written request for a hearing from the appellant, and discuss the appeal with the student and faculty advisor or representative. A request for recording and preparing a transcript of the discussions with the student present may be made at the time of appeal. The committee shall render a written decision within five working days and notify the appropriate parties. The decision of the Graduate Policy and Affairs Committee shall be final, and the information accumulated during the appeal procedure shall be forwarded to the Provost to be kept on file. If any decision involving the awarding of a degree is made and the official deadline for graduation exercises has passed during the appeal, the degree date will reflect the initiation of the appeal.
The above time periods define working days as days when classes are in session for the fall and spring semesters. Efforts will be made to honor the same time periods during intercession and June - August although some flexibility must be accepted by the appellant because of potential difficulties in assembling committee members during these periods.
The GPAC chairperson may modify the Step 4 hearing time framework at his/her discretion to coincide with regularly scheduled GPAC meetings. In either of the above cases, the appellant must be notified in writing by the hearing officer (along with an explanation) of any modification of the hearing time schedule. The chairperson may recommend that final voting/discussion of Step 4 cases be done in Executive Session with only committee members present.
Out-of-State Students Taking Online Courses
Out-of-State students taking online classes are urged to follow the Online and Continuing Education student complaint process; if no resolution is reached, out-of-state students taking online classes may file a complaint about University of Massachusetts with the appropriate body in their state of residence. Please see Student Complaint Contact Information by State.