Topics Map > Student Academic Policies > Grades
Process for Appealing a Grade in an L&S Course
The section explains the process for L&S undergraduates to appeal a grade they have received in a course.
What is the process for appealing a grade received in an L&S course?
Any student interested in appealing a grade must first begin with the instructor who evaluated the student's work. If the instructor for the course(s) in question is not willing to alter the grade based on all the information the individual has at his/her disposal, the next step in the appeal process would be to present the student's appeal to the chair of the department where the grade was earned.
Instructors will (and should) only consider changing a student's final grade if there has been some error in tabulating the final grade for the course.
To maintain fairness in the grading process, instructors do not take into consideration a student's past performance in previous classes or the amount of energy a student has put into mastering a subject matter to alter a student's grade for a course.
Each department within Letters & Science should have a standard procedure for reviewing such a disputed grade. Students should also be informed of the appeals process established by the department (e.g., posting a notice of the procedure on the department bulletin board, providing notice in written materials, etc.). The following are recommendations for departments/units on how to handle a grade appeal:
A student with concerns about a grade should always be referred first to the instructor who assigned the grade. Students should appeal as soon as possible and no later than one semester/term after the grade has been awarded.
A process should be available at the departmental level for a student who is not satisfied with the results after appealing to the instructor. If an appeals process does not exist, the student should approach the chair of the department for further assistance. The chair will then work with their department to come up with a system to address the appeal.
Although an appeal may be either written or oral, it is very helpful to have a student focus the complaint and the issues by putting the appeal in writing.
The student's appeal should then be reviewed by the department. The different types of departmental appeals structures that may be possible are:
the department chair;
a small group of members of the executive committee, with or without the Chair as a member;
a standing committee of the department (e.g., a curriculum committee or an appeals committee); or
the entire executive committee.
Appeal of final grades must be initiated within the semester/term immediately following the term in which the course is taken.
If the chair supports the original outcome, the student's last recourse would be to appeal to one of the Associate Deans in the College of Letters & Science based on the discipline of the course in question. Students CANNOT appeal to an Associate Dean unless they have exhausted their appeal within the department. In other words, a student must first appeal to the instructor of the course in question AND the department/unit chair or their designated appeals committee process. Any attempt to appeal directly to an dean without first going through the department and getting feedback from all parties will be denied and referred back to the department for review. See Departments, Programs, Centers & Institutes by Divisional Associate Dean for more detailed information about the specific department or program assigned to each Divisional Associate Dean in the College of Letters & Science.
Students who wish to appeal a grade s/he has earned in a humanities course (e.g., Comparative Literature, English, French, Music, etc.) must appeal to the Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities.
Students who wish to appeal a grade s/he has earned in a social science course (e.g., Anthropology, Linguistics, Sociology etc.) must appeal to the Associate Dean for Social Sciences.
Students who wish to appeal a grade s/he has earned in a natural science course (e.g., Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, etc.) must appeal to the Associate Dean for Natural, Physical & Mathematical Sciences.
Students who wish to appeal a grade s/he has earned in a data-related course (i.e., Computer Science, iSchool, Statistics) must appeal to the Associate Dean for Computer, Data & Information Sciences.
Please note that any appeal a student wishes to pursue must be accompanied with very strong documentation demonstrating the student was either incorrectly graded for the work s/he did in the course or treated in a way that the student believes was inconsistent with the standard grading policy/practice for all students who took the same course. Once a student has appealed at the Associate Dean level, the decision rendered is final. There is no opportunity to appeal this decision to the Dean of the College if the student does not receive a favorable outcome.
What do I do if I believe I have been discriminated against in the awarding of a grade?
The Office of Compliance is responsible for investigating allegations of discrimination. Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability/handicap. State law prohibits discrimination on the basis of all those factors covered by federal law, as well as ancestry, creed, age, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, and parental status. For more information, please see Equal Opportunity Complaint Investigation.
A student who alleges that discrimination was a factor in the assigning of the disputed grade should be directed to contact the Office of Compliance.