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Grade Appeals Links of Interest

This appeal procedure provides any graduate student at The University of Memphis with a clearly defined avenue for appealing the assignment of a course grade that the student believes was based on prejudice, discrimination, arbitrary or capricious action, or some other reason not related to academic performance. In all cases the complaining student shall have the burden of proof with respect to the allegations in the complaint and in the request for a hearing.

The student must institute the appeal process within thirty (30) class days following the University deadline for posting grades in the system. If the instructor, chair, or dean fails to respond to the student's complaint within the time limits, the Graduate Grade Appeals Committee shall act on the student’s complaint. The procedure is terminated if the student and the instructor agree on the grade. If neither the student nor the instructor appeals a decision within the appropriate time limit, the disposition of the complaint made in the previous step shall be final.

A written record of all decisions shall be kept with the file at all steps in the process. Copies of all correspondence and records shall be retained in the office in which the complaint is finally resolved. The original documents shall be forwarded to the Graduate School for filing.

All parties must carefully adhere to the following procedure, observing the deadlines.

Step 1
Time Limitation: Early enough to meet the deadline in Step 2.

The student shall first consult with the instructor in an effort to provide a satisfactory resolution of the complaint. In the event the student cannot schedule a meeting with the instructor, the student may contact the department chair, who shall schedule the meeting between the student and the instructor. If for any reason the instructor is not available, proceed to Step 2. If agreement is reached between the student and instructor the appeal process ends.

Step 2
Time Limitation: Thirty (30) class days from the University deadline for posting grades in the system.

If the complaint is not resolved in Step 1, the student must complete a Graduate Grade Appeal Form (available in PDF format on the Graduate School's homepage, in the departmental office, or in the Graduate School). This form, accompanied by a written statement detailing the factual basis of the complaint along with the instructor's written rebuttal, shall be taken by the student to the chair of the department in which the course was taken. The written complaint must be received by the chair within thirty (30) class days from the University deadline for posting grades in the system. The department chair shall then address the complaint in consultation with the instructor and the student within fifteen (15) class days of the date of submission of the written complaint. If the instructor is unavailable, the chair should proceed with the appeal. The department chair may utilize any resources available to resolve the grade conflict. The chair must provide a written rationale for any decision made, which shall become part of the file.

If the department chair was the instructor of the course involved in the complaint, or if for any reason the chair disqualifies him/herself, the student may proceed to Step 3.

The chair is empowered to change the grade if he/she finds that the original grade was based on prejudice, discrimination, arbitrary or capricious action, or some other reason not related to academic performance. The chair shall notify both the student and the instructor in writing of the action taken. Either the student or the instructor may appeal the chair's decision within five (5) class days by filing a written request for a hearing before the dean of the college.

Step 3
Time limitation: Within five (5) class days after the fifteen class-day period above.

If the complaint cannot be resolved at the level of Step 2 within the prescribed fifteen (15) class days, the student or the instructor has five (5) class days to request in writing (with a copy to the Graduate School) that the chair forward the complaint to the dean of the college. The chair shall provide the dean with the Graduate Grade Appeal Form, the chair's written rebuttal, a copy of all correspondence and decisions, along with other records pertaining to the complaint.

The dean may utilize any resources available to resolve the grade conflict within fifteen (15) class days. If the dean finds that the request lacks merit, he or she shall notify the student, the instructor, and the chair in writing; the grade shall remain as recorded. The dean is empowered to change the grade if he/she finds that the original grade was based on prejudice, discrimination, arbitrary or capricious action, or some other reason not related to academic performance. Otherwise the grade shall remain as recorded. The dean must provide a written rationale for any decision made, which shall become part of the file.

Either the student or the instructor may appeal the dean's decision within five (5) class days by filing a written request for a hearing before the Graduate Grade Appeals Committee with the Dean of the Graduate School or designee. This request must be accompanied by the Graduate Grade Appeal Form, a copy of all correspondence, including the dean's written recommendation, and other records pertaining to the complaint.

Step 4
Time limitation: Within five (5) class days after the fifteen (15) class-day period above.

The written request for a hearing before the Graduate Grade Appeals Committee should state the factual basis for the appeal of the results of Step 3. All supporting documents, including the Graduate Grade Appeal Form, should be included at the time of submission.

The Dean of the Graduate School shall forward the request to the chair of the Graduate Grade Appeals Committee. The chair shall subsequently distribute copies of the request to the members of the committee for consideration. If the Committee finds the student's or the instructor's request merits a hearing, the Committee shall notify the student, the instructor, the chair, and the college dean of the date, time, and the location of the hearing. If the Committee finds that the request does not merit a hearing, the student, the instructor, the chair, and the dean shall be so notified in writing.

The Graduate Grade Appeals Committee may utilize any available resources to resolve the conflict within fifteen (15) class days. To hold a hearing, the seven (7) members of the committee (or appropriate alternates) must be present. The instructor and student will present their cases at the hearing in each other’s presence. If a majority of the Committee agrees that the grade should be changed because it was based on prejudice, discrimination, arbitrary or capricious action, or some other reason not related to academic performance, the Committee shall notify the Dean of the Graduate School, who shall be empowered to change the grade without the consent of the instructor, the chair, or the college dean. Otherwise, the grade shall remain as recorded. The decision of the Committee shall be communicated to all parties in writing. The decision of the Graduate Grade Appeals Committee shall be final.

The Graduate Grade Appeals Committee shall be composed of a chair, six members, and six alternates constituted as follows:

A chair designated by the Dean of the Graduate School and selected from the graduate faculty; a graduate faculty member and alternate designated by the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies; two graduate faculty members and two alternates elected by the University Council for Graduate Studies; three students and three alternates selected by the Dean of the Graduate School.

The appeals procedure is not complete until all appropriate records are forwarded to the Graduate School Office. At this time, the Dean of the Graduate School shall notify the Office of the Registrar, Corrections, of any grade change. A copy of the Graduate Grade Appeals Form shall become a part of the student's file. A permanent record of all grade appeals reviewed by the Grade Appeals Committee shall be maintained in the Graduate School.

Although the primary responsibility of the committee is to review appeals, the committee shall report any obvious discriminatory or capricious conduct on the part of either the student or the instructor to the Dean of the Graduate School for consideration and action.

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Last Updated: 9/24/14