Skip to Content

Academic Dismissal and Appeal

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan 

These guidelines describe the processes leading to both the recommendation for dismissal of a graduate student and for appeal of this decision by the graduate student.


Academic Dismissal 

The Associate Chair for Graduate Studies may recommend dismissal of a graduate student for failure to meet the program's standards of academic performance or progress as outlined in the Graduate Student Handbook. A student shall be given written notice of dismissal by the Graduate Chair accompanied by a brief statement of the reasons for the dismissal and any supporting documentation. 

Reasons for dismissal may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Failure to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater 

  • Failure to reach candidacy 

  • Unsatisfactory progress toward thesis 

  • Lack of a PhD advisor 

  • Failure of thesis defense as determined by the thesis committee 

  • Discontinuous enrollment (PhD only) without department consent 

  • Violation of the University’s Honor Policy 

  • Academic or professional misconduct 

  • Exceeding time limit for the degree program

The recommendation of dismissal may be, but is not required, to follow a probationary period during which the student has been warned in writing of marginal academic standing. Probationary periods are appropriate when it is determined that a student has sufficient opportunity to correct deficiencies in his/her performance and remain on track for successful completion of the degree program. In the case that probation is granted, the student shall be given an outline of the necessary steps/accomplishments that are to be completed within a stated timeline for reinstatement to good academic standing.


Dismissal by a thesis advisor

Though rare, cases occur when a student’s academic performance is satisfactory, but the student’s thesis advisor seeks to dismiss the student from his/her research group. This situation may occur for a number of reasons (e.g. intellectual disagreements, conflicting personalities or work styles). In this case, the advisor must notify the student and the Graduate Chair in writing of this decision with an explanation for the separation. The advisor is expected to continue to mentor and provide financial support for the student for an additional semester beyond the one in which the notice is given, unless another faculty member agrees to take on the advisor role prior to that time. Likewise, the student is expected to remain committed to the work outlined by the original advisor until such time that a new advisor is formally appointed. 

If after one semester, the student is unable to secure a new faculty thesis advisor, the Graduate Chair may recommend dismissal of the student from the program.


Appeal of Academic Dismissal 

The student has the right to dispute academic dismissal. Within five days of the date of the notice, a student who disputes the reasons for the dismissal must contact the Department Chair, the Graduate Chair, and the student’s faculty mentor for informal group discussion of the situation. 

If the student remains dissatisfied with the informal discussions described above, he/she may file a formal appeal of the dismissal, no later than 30 days from the notice of the dismissal. The appeal must be made in writing by electronic communication to the Department Chair. The letter must include: (a) a statement justifying the grounds for seeking an appeal (e.g., extenuating circumstances that warrant reconsideration); and (2) a description of a plan for successful program completion. Any supporting documentation for the appeal should be clearly organized, labeled, and appended to the letter.

The Department Chair will review the written appeal to determine whether the request should be considered. If the appeal is to be considered, then both the Department Chair and the Department Ombudsman will review the dismissal and appeal documentation. At least one person (either the Department Chair or the Ombudsman) should not have been previously involved with the dismissal decision nor have served in an advisory or instructional role with the student. If this is not the case, the Department Chair will choose an appropriate substitute for the Ombudsman. The Department Chair will render a decision based on this review and notify the student in writing of the decision. 

Approved by the Executive Committee, January 23, 2015