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How to File a Request for an Academic Grievance Hearing

Students may request a hearing to resolve a dispute with an instructor, but only after trying to settle the matter in conversations with the instructor and, if necessary, the relevant administrator (i.e. the department chair, school director, program director, or the associate dean of the college). The student also may consult with the University Ombudsperson at any stage of the dispute.

The general procedures for conducting a hearing for both graduate and undergraduate students are outlined in four MSU documents: Student Rights and Responsibilities (SRR), the Graduate Rights and Responsibilities (GSRR), Law Student Rights and Responsibilities (LSRR), and the Medical Students Rights and Responsibilities (MSRR). These documents require each academic unit (departments, schools, programs and colleges) to establish written hearing procedures consistent with the documents. (A copy of the procedures must be on file with the Office of the University Ombudsperson.)  

Undergraduate Hearings

When an undergraduate student remains dissatisfied with the outcome of his or her discussions with the instructor and unit head, he or she may send a written request to the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies for a hearing with the appropriate board. For undergraduates who want to contest an allegation of academic dishonesty, that would be the University Academic Integrity Hearing Board. All other undergraduate academic grievances go to the University Academic Grievance Hearing Board.

For undergraduates the hearing request letter must include the following information:

  • The student's name and PID
  • The student's local address, phone number and e-mail address
  • A detailed explanation of the alleged violation of student rights to justify a hearing, with reference to the specific article in the SRR or Code of Teaching Responsibility
  • The name of the individual the student believes violated his or her rights
  • The date of the alleged violation
  • The name of the MSU instructor, student or staff member, if any, who will assist the student throughout the hearing process
  • The names of witnesses, if any, who will speak on the student's behalf at the hearing, if the hearing board grants the request for a hearing
  • The redress sought to rectify the situation.

Deadline: The student should sign and date the letter and submit it before the middle of the semester following the initial dispute.

If the student prevails at the hearing, the hearing board may direct the unit head to provide the appropriate redress for the student. The unit head, with advice from the hearing board, may then implement an appropriate remedy. If the instructor prevails, no additional action is required. Either party may appeal the hearing board's decision to the University Academic Appeals Board.

Both parties and the chair of the hearing board may consult with the University Ombudsperson at any time during the grievance process.

Please note that the SRR prohibits students from filing grievance hearing requests based on allegations of faculty incompetence. This matter may be judged only by the faculty.

Based on the specific type of grievance, the hearing process for an undergraduate student will follow one of these patterns:

Academic Grievance Hearing alleging violations of student rights (including grade disputes) established in the SRR.

Academic Grievance Hearing to contest an allegation of academic dishonesty.

Academic Disciplinary Hearing to impose sanctions in addition to, or other than, a failing grade in a course for an act of academic misconduct.  


Graduate Hearings

When a graduate student remains dissatisfied with the outcome of his or her discussions with the instructor and unit head, he or she may send a written request for a hearing to the appropriate unit head (i.e., department chairperson, school director, program director, or associate dean). There are links below to hearing process flowcharts for each specific type of grievance. Hearings for graduate student grievances should be held at the lowest possible administrative level. Most often this means the department, school, or graduate program. Some of these units have developed their own hearing procedures. For programs without their own hearing procedures, the following hearing procedures will be used.

Department/School/Program Level Hearing Procedures

College Level Hearing Procedures

For Graduate students the hearing request letter must include the following information:

  • The student's name and PID
  • The student's local address, phone number and e-mail address
  • A detailed explanation of the alleged violation of student rights to justify a hearing, with reference to the specific article in the SRR, GSRR, LSRR, MSRR or Code of Teaching Responsibility
  • The name of the individual the student believes violated his or her rights
  • The date of the alleged violation
  • The name of the MSU instructor, student or staff member, if any, who will assist the student throughout the hearing process
  • The names of witnesses, if any, who will speak on the student's behalf at the hearing, if the hearing board grants the request for a hearing
  • The redress sought to rectify the situation.

Deadline: The student should sign and date the letter and submit it before the middle of the semester following the initial dispute.

Graduate hearings initiated at the department, school or program level may be appealed to the college hearing board. Graduate hearings initiated at the college level may be appealed to the University Graduate Judiciary.

Based on the specific type of grievance, the hearing process for graduate students will follow one of the patterns listed below:

Academic Grievance Hearing alleging violations of student rights (including grade disputes) established in the SRR, GSRR, LSRR, or MSRR:

Academic Grievance Hearing to contest an allegation of academic dishonesty:

Academic Disciplinary Hearing to impose sanctions in addition to, or other than, a failing grade in a course for an act of academic misconduct.

Need assistance? Contact the University Ombudsperson.