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Academic Grievance Procedure

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General information about Stanford’s grievance procedures may be found on the Grievances Overview page.

Policy

The following policy is subject to periodic review and modification.

Coverage

  1. Any Stanford undergraduate or graduate student who believes that he or she has been subjected to an improper decision on an academic matter is entitled to file a grievance to obtain an independent review of the allegedly improper decision, followed by corrective action if appropriate. A grievance is a complaint in writing made to an administrative officer of the University concerning an academic decision, made by a person or group of persons acting in an official University capacity, that directly and adversely affects the student as an individual in his or her academic capacity.

  2. This grievance procedure applies only in those cases involving a perceived academic impropriety arising from a decision taken by: (1) an individual instructor or researcher; (2) a school, department, or program; (3) a committee charged to administer academic policies of a particular school, department, or program; or (4) the University Registrar, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the C-USP Subcommittee on Academic Progress, or a Senate committee or subcommittee charged to administer academic policies of the Senate of the Academic Council. This procedure does not apply to: (1) complaints expressing dissatisfaction with a University policy of general application challenged on the grounds that the policy is unfair or inadvisable; (2) individual school, department, or program academic policies, as long as those policies are not inconsistent with general University policy; (3) matters proceeding or addressed through the Office of Community Standards; or (4) involuntary leave decisions.

  3. Individuals should be aware that the University Ombuds Office is available to all Stanford students, faculty, and staff to discuss and advise on any matter of University concern and frequently helps expedite resolution of such matters. Although it has no decision-making authority, the University Ombuds Office has wide powers of inquiry, including into student complaints against instructors.

Grievance and Appeal Procedures

  1. Informal Attempts at Resolution: the student first should discuss the matter, orally or in writing, with the individual(s) most directly responsible. If no resolution results, the student should then consult with the individual at the next administrative level, for example, the chair or director of the relevant department or program, or, for those cases in which there is none, with the school dean. At this stage, the department chair or program director, if any, may inform the dean that the consultation is taking place and may solicit his or her advice on how to ensure that adequate steps are taken to achieve a fair result. Efforts should be made to resolve the issues at an informal level without the complaint escalating to the status of a formal grievance.

The Filing of the Grievance:

  1. If informal means of resolution prove unsatisfactory, the student should set forth in writing a statement of the decision that constitutes the subject matter of the dispute, the grounds on which it is being challenged, and the reasons why the grievant believes that the decision was improperly taken. The statement should also include a description of the remedy sought and the informal efforts taken to date to resolve the matter. It is at this point that the complaint becomes a formal grievance. The written grievance should specifically address the matters set forth in the Standards for Review, as stated in Section 4 below. The grievance should include an allegation of any adverse effects on the grievant, known to the grievant at the time of filing.

  2. The grievance document should be submitted to the dean of the school in which the grievance arose; for a grievance concerning a decision of the University Registrar, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, or of a Senate committee or subcommittee, the procedures set forth herein for grievances and appeals shall be modified as stated in Section 3 below. A grievance must be filed in a timely fashion, that is, no later than 30 days after the end of the academic quarter in which the adverse decision occurred or should reasonably have been discovered. Except in extraordinary circumstances, delay in filing a grievance will constitute grounds for rejection of the grievance.

  3. The grievance process does not relieve the student from their obligation to timely meet course or degree requirements. The student should continue to fulfill course and degree requirements following submission of the grievance and throughout the time required for disposition of the grievance. Additionally, the grievance process does not pause or otherwise delay University or departmental actions taken for academic or other reasons and which may impact student status or eligibility for housing or other University services or resources. 

The Response to the Grievance:

  1. The relevant dean will consider the grievance. The dean may attempt to resolve the matter informally or make whatever disposition of the grievance that he or she deems appropriate. The dean may, in appropriate cases, remand the grievance to a lower administrative level (including to the level at which the grievance arose) for further consideration.

  2. The dean may also refer the grievance, or any issue therein, to any person (the "grievance officer") who will consider the matter and report to the dean as the latter directs. The dean will inform the grievant (and the party against whose decision the grievance has been filed) in writing of any referral of the matter and will specify the matters referred, the directions to the person or persons to whom the referral is made (including the time frame within which the person is to report back to the dean), and the name of that person.

  3. In undertaking the review, the dean or the grievance officer may request a response to the issues raised in the grievance from any individuals believed to have information considered relevant, including faculty, staff, and students.

  4. Should attempts to resolve the matter informally not be successful, the dean will decide the grievance, and will notify the grievant (and the party against whose decision the grievance has been filed) in writing of the disposition made of the grievance and the grounds for the disposition at the earliest practicable date after his or her receipt of the grievance.

  5. Normally, no more than 60 days should elapse between the filing of a grievance and the disposition by the dean. If, because of absence of key persons from the campus or other circumstances or exigencies (including those due to breaks in the academic calendar), the dean decides that disposition on that schedule is not possible, he or she shall inform the grievant (and the party against whose decision the grievance has been filed) of that in writing, giving the grounds therefore and an estimate of when a disposition can be expected. During summers and the winter closure, this time frame will nearly always be extended.

The Filing of an Appeal:

  1. If the grievant is dissatisfied with the disposition of the grievance at the decanal level, either on substantive or on procedural grounds, he or she may appeal in writing to the Provost.

  2. The appeal must specify the particular substantive or procedural bases of the appeal (that is, the appeal must be made on grounds other than general dissatisfaction with the disposition) and must be directed only to issues raised in the grievance as filed or to procedural errors in the grievance process itself, and not to new issues. The appeal must contain the following:

    1. A copy of the original grievance and any other documents submitted by the grievant in connection therewith.

    2. A copy of the determination made by the dean on that
      grievance.

    3. A statement of why the reasons for the determination of the dean are not satisfactory to the grievant. This statement should specifically address the matters set forth in the Standards for Review in Section 4 below.

  3. The grievant will file his or her appeal at the earliest practicable date after the grievant's receipt of the determination by the dean. Normally, no more than 30 days should elapse between the transmittal of the dean's decision on the grievance and the filing of the appeal. Except in extraordinary circumstances, delay in filing an appeal will constitute grounds for rejection of the appeal.

  4. The appeal process does not relieve the student from their obligation to timely meet course or degree requirements. The student should continue to fulfill course and degree requirements following submission of the appeal to the Provost and throughout the time required for disposition of the appeal. Additionally, the appeal process does not pause or otherwise delay University or departmental actions taken for academic or other reasons and which may impact student status or eligibility for housing or other University services or resources.

The Response to the Appeal:

  1. The Provost may attempt to resolve the matter informally, or refer the appeal, or any issue thereof, to any person (the "grievance appeal officer") who shall consider the matter and report to the Provost as the latter directs. The Provost may also, in appropriate cases, remand the matter to a lower administrative level (including to the level at which the grievance arose) for further consideration.

  2. The Provost will inform the grievant (and the party against whose decision the grievance has been filed) in writing of any referral of the matter and will specify the matters referred, the directions to the person to whom the referral is made (including the time frame within which the person is to report back to the Provost), and the name of that person.

  3. Should attempts be made to resolve the matter informally not be successful, the Provost will decide the appeal, and will notify the grievant (and the party against whose decision the grievance has been filed) in writing of the disposition made of the grievance and the grounds for the disposition at the earliest practicable date after his or her receipt of the appeal. The decision of the Provost is final.

  4. Normally no more than 45 days should elapse between the filing of the appeal and the disposition by the Provost. If, because of absence of key persons from the campus or other circumstances or exigencies (including those due to breaks in the academic calendar), the Provost judges that disposition on that schedule is not possible, he or she will inform the grievant (and the party against whose decision the grievance has been filed) of the fact in writing, giving the grounds therefore and an estimate of when a disposition can be expected. During summers and the winter closure, this time frame will nearly always be extended.

Grievances Concerning Decisions of the University Registrar, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, or of a Senate Committee or Subcommittee

  1. For a grievance concerning a decision of the University Registrar, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the C-USP Subcommittee on Academic Progress, or of a Senate committee or subcommittee, the grievant will file his or her grievance with the Provost, rather than with the dean, and the Provost will handle that grievance in accordance with the procedures set forth in Section 2c above.

  2. There is no appeal of the Provost's disposition of that grievance.

Standards for Review and Procedural Matters

  1. The review of grievances or appeals will usually be limited to the following considerations:

    1. Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision? Were improper or extraneous facts or criteria brought to bear that substantially affected the decision to the detriment of the grievant?

    2. Were there any procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the grievant?

    3. Given the proper facts, criteria, and procedures, was the decision one which a person in the position of the decision maker might reasonably have made?

  2. The time frames set forth herein are guidelines. They may be extended by the relevant administrative officer in his or her discretion for good cause.

  3. Questions concerning the filing and appeal of grievances should be directed to the Office of the Provost.