Student Academic Course Grade Appeals Process


The student’s semester grade shall be based upon the grading policies, procedures, and criteria stated in the course syllabus distributed at the beginning of the semester by the course instructor.  The syllabus shall include the basis for calculation of grades, including weights as applicable for tests, laboratory assignments, field study work, projects, papers, homework, class attendance and participation and other graded activities.  No such procedures or criteria should be in contradiction to other provisions of SPH procedures.


Purpose of Appeals

Students are expected to attempt to resolve any concerns or disputes about a specific grade awarded in a particular class with the instructor.  If the dispute cannot be resolved in this manner, the student may formally appeal the grade.  Appeals will be heard when the student alleges that an arbitrary, capricious or prejudiced evaluation occurred.  Formal appeals must be related to concerns over grading procedures within a specific course, not regarding general departmental or SPH degree program requirements.


Procedures for Appeals

      1. The instructor of the class is the primary authority with respect to a student’s proficiency and final grade in that course.  Therefore, the student must first present grade disputes directly to the instructor for resolution.

      2. If no satisfactory resolution is reached with the instructor, and the student wishes to appeal, an evidence-based grade appeal must be initiated in writing with the instructor’s department head and copied to the course instructor within 30 days (one month) of the last day of the semester or summer session in which the disputed grade was earned.  The department head will examine the student’s appeal in order to determine if the student has provided sufficient evidence of capricious, arbitrary or prejudiced academic evaluation.  If sufficient information is not provided in the department head’s estimation, the student and instructor will be notified within 5 business days that the appeal was denied.

      3. If the department head believes there to be sufficient evidence, he or she is charged with investigating further the student’s concerns and identifying a justifiable response to the concerns.  The department head will secure statements or other information deemed helpful.  Once sufficient information is gathered, the department head will inform both the student and instructor involved of his or her findings and remediation, if any.  The department head should be guided by the principle that the burden is on the student to show that a capricious, arbitrary or prejudiced academic evaluation has occurred.

      4. Either or both the student or the instructor may appeal the department head’s decision (with respect to findings and/or remedial actions) to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  The individual wishing to appeal the decision must notify the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in writing of his/her desire to appeal the decision (or action) within 10 business days of receiving written notice of any final action taken by the department head.  The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall inform the student (if the appeal is filed by the instructor), the instructor (if appeal filed by the student), the student’s faculty advisor (or chair of the student’s advisory committee if a doctoral student), both the student’s and instructor’s department head(s), and the Dean that a formal appeal related to a grade dispute has been filed.

      5. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will be responsible for gathering all relevant information (including all information previously reviewed by the department head and the department head’s recommendation) and any additional information deemed relevant.  The Associate Dean will convene the Academic Appeals Panel (see below) to review the information and make a recommendation to the Dean.

      6. The findings and recommendation of the Academic Appeals Panel will be forwarded by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to the student, the instructor, the relevant department head(s) and the Dean.  If either the student or instructor wishes to contest the recommendation, they must do so in writing within 5 business days of receipt of the Academic Appeal Panel’s recommendation to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  Any additional information provided by either the student or instructor will be forwarded to the Dean for consideration during the final review process.

      7. The Dean has the ultimate authority and responsibility for all internal matters regarding the School. Within 10 business days after receiving the recommendation (and all related materials) from the Academic Appeals Panel, the Dean shall make a decision upholding, rejecting or modifying the recommendation.  All parties will be notified by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in writing of the decision with a copy to be included in the Appeal Summary File (maintained in the Office of Student Affairs).  The dean’s decision is final.