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Washington State University Graduate School

Student Rights of Appeal Related to Academic Work

1. Appeal of Course Grades.

Appeal of Course Grades: Graduate students should refer to the WSU Academic Regulations 104 and 105 stated below If the student wishes to appeal a grade that has led to a decision that the student be dismissed from the Graduate School (for academic deficiency or examination failure, for example). The student should make every effort to file his/her appeal as soon as possible and to work through the grade appeal process in a timely manner.

Formal grievances submitted to the Graduate School regarding dismissal due to a failed examination or academic deficiency will not be delayed due to the grade appeal process. Formal grievance decisions made by the Dean of the Graduate School will be based on the grades officially listed on the student’s transcript. If the student’s grade is changed due to a grade appeal decision made after the formal grievance process has been completed, then the program chair may request that the Dean of the Graduate School review the case based on the grade change and make a determination regarding reinstatement.

WSU Academic Regulations Rules 104 and 105 state:


A student having complaints about instruction or grading should the attempt to resolve those issues directly with the instructor.  If that fails, the student should send an email to the instructor using his or her official WSU email account no later than 20 business days following the end of the semester. This email should briefly outline the complaint and be copied to the chairperson of the academic department.

If the complaint is not resolved with the instructor within 20 business days of sending the email, then the student may work directly with the chairperson of the academic department in which the course is offered. The chair’s decision shall be rendered within 20 additional business days.

After the chair’s decision, the student or the instructor may appeal to the academic college Dean’s Office. Complaints must be presented in writing to the college dean within 20 business days of the chair’s decision. The written statement should describe the complaint, indicate how it affects the individual or unit, and include the remedy sought from the college dean. The decision of the college dean is the final step and shall be made within 20 business days.

At the campuses other than Pullman, the procedure is identical except that the program leader shall substitute for the department chair, and the campus chancellor or his or her designee shall substitute for the college dean, if the department chair and/or the college dean is not located on that campus.

The University Ombudsman is available at any stage for advice or assistance in resolving academic complaints.

Note: Though chairs and college deans (and program leaders and campus chancellors) may resolve complaints about instruction and grading, they may not change a final grade without the consent of the instructor, except as provided by Rule 105.


Chairperson Acting in Lieu of Instructor: In the extraordinary circumstances when an instructor is not available, or has failed to respond to the student or chairperson using his or her official WSU email account within 20 business days according to Rule 104, the chairperson of the department may change a final grade.

University Grade Appeals Board:  If a chair, dean, Graduate School Dean, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs or designee, or University Ombudsman determines that a change of a final grade is warranted for any reason other than academic dishonesty, any one of them may refer the case to the chair of the University Grade Appeals Board for review.  The case must be referred within one semester of the posting of the grade (excluding summer term).

The University Grade Appeals Board shall have jurisdiction over decisions of any instructor and/or administrator on matters of University course grading appeals. The decision of the board is final and not subject to further appeal.

Note: Students may not take a grade appeal directly to the board but should follow the academic complaint procedures, as presented in Rule 104.

Procedure for academic integrity violations: Allegations of academic integrity violations are processed through the procedure established in WAC 504-26-404. A final grade may be changed at any time as a result of this procedure.

2. University Grade Appeals Board.

The University Grade Appeals Board, an official committee of the University President, functions to review academic grade appeals forwarded by any departmental chair, dean, Graduate School Dean, or university ombudsman.

3. Preliminary and/or Final Examination Committee Decisions.

In most cases of examination failure, the student is given an opportunity to take a second and final examination (the exception is discussed below). In these cases the Graduate School will send an official representative to preside over the second examination to protect the rights of the student, faculty, and program. The Graduate School has trained a group of willing faculty members (Graduate Mentor Academy) in the appropriate procedures to be followed for a second examination. The Graduate School’€™s examination procedures must be followed to schedule the second examination. These procedures are outlined in Chapters 7 and 8 of this manual. If the student fails the examination a second time, he/she will be dismissed from the Graduate School. The student may appeal the decision by filing a formal grievance with the Graduate School. For details, see Section E, Part 3 of this chapter.

A student will not be allowed to take a second and final examination after first examination failure when the following criteria are met. The first examination must have had a representative from the Graduate Mentor Academy (appointed by the Graduate School) present for the oral examination and/or balloting meeting (if no oral examination was given). If this representative confirms that the examination process was fair and proceeded according to Graduate School policy, and if the representative agrees with the faculty committee and program chair that a re-examination is not an appropriate disposition of the case, the Dean of the Graduate School will review the case and make the final determination whether or not to re-examine the student. The student may appeal the decision by filing a formal grievance with the Graduate School. For details, see Section E, Part 3 of this chapter.

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