313  Student Grade Appeals

Approved by President
Effective Date: June 20, 2019
Responsible Division: Academic Affairs
Responsible Office:  University Provost
Responsible Officer: Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

I. Purpose and Scope

This policy provides an avenue for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) students to appeal a final course grade in cases in which the student alleges that unethical or unprofessional actions by the instructor and/or grading inequities improperly impacted the final grade.

II. Definitions

A.  Appeal. A request by a student for a determination, by a Grade Appeals Committee, of an assigned grade where inequities, unethical, or unprofessional actions, are alleged.

B.  Faculty or Faculty Member. Includes any individual who is a member of the teaching staff.

C.  Grade Appeals Committee. The committee established under Policy 32 University Committees.

III. Appeal Procedures

A.  Level One

1.  Student appeals should be resolved by a conference between the student and the faculty member who assigned the grade and held within ten (10) business days of the official start of the following semester, not including Summer terms. If the grade is assigned during the Fall, the timeline begins in the Spring.  For grades assigned during the Spring or Summer, the timeline begins in the Fall.

2.  In the event of an impasse between the student and the faculty member, a student with a grade appeal shall discuss it with the department chair/director within ten (10) business days of the conference with the involved faculty member. In cases where the Department Chair/Director is the person against whom the complaint is lodged, the Dean in whose college the department is located shall assume the duties of the chair/director in the investigation and decision-making.

3.  The Department Chair/Director shall investigate the circumstances and record his/her findings. Although the Department Chair/Director does not have the power to change the grade, he/she will make a recommendation concerning the appeal. The Department Chair/Director will send a copy of the findings and recommendation to the student and to the faculty member within ten (10) business days of the conference with the student. The student is required to include a copy of the Department Chair's/Director’s findings and recommendation with other relevant materials submitted to request a formal grade appeal. (See Level Two below.) The recommendation and findings will become a part of the appeal record.

B.  Level Two (Can be initiated only after Level One has been completed)

1.  If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of level one, he/she may, within fifteen (15) business days following receipt of the Department Chair's/Director's recommendation, refer the appeal, plus all relevant materials to the Office of the Provost. In addition to a copy of the Department Chair's/Director’s findings and recommendation, materials should include a written statement outlining the basis of the grade appeal. (See MTSU Grade Appeal Student Form.) The appeal to the Provost’s Office must be submitted within forty-five (45) business days of the official start of the term following the grade assignment, not including Summer terms.

2.  Upon the student's initiation of Level Two and submission of all relevant materials, the Office of the Provost will notify the faculty member and the Department Chair that a formal appeal has been filed and offer the faculty member an opportunity to provide a written response to be added to the appeal record. 

3. Written notification of the meeting and of an opportunity to appear before the Grade Appeals Committee will be sent by the subcommittee chair to the concerned faculty member, the faculty member's Department Chair, and student. The subcommittee will receive documents and hear testimony regarding the circumstances and shall render a written decision. A simple majority of members present constitutes a quorum for purposes of reaching a decision. Notification of the subcommittee’s decision will be made by the subcommittee chair to the student, faculty member, Department Chair/Director, college Dean, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, and the Registrar.

4.  The decision of the subcommittee hearing the appeal will be final.

IV. Miscellaneous

A.  The overall Grade Appeals Committee will be divided by college into subcommittees. Each subcommittee will elect a chair.  The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs shall determine which subcommittee will hear the appeal and transmit the appeal documents to the subcommittee chair. A given subcommittee will not hear appeals originating in courses offered in its own college but will deal with appeals from other colleges.

B.  If a student’s financial aid is reduced or not awarded due to the grade the student is appealing, the MTSU Financial Aid Office may not be able to reinstate the student’s aid because of federal or state deadlines.

C.  A student or faculty member involved with a grade appeal may discuss his/her case informally with a member of the faculty or administration, but not with a member of a Grade Appeals Committee. A committee member who discusses the grade appeal with the faculty member or student concerned shall automatically disqualify himself/herself from any further proceedings of the case.

D.  The number of days indicated at each level above shall be considered the maximum, but every effort should be made to expedite the process.

E.  The failure of the student to proceed from Level One of the appeal procedure to Level Two within the prescribed time limits shall be deemed to be an acceptance of the recommendations and/or decision rendered in Level One. All further considerations and proceedings regarding that particular appeal shall cease at that point.

F.  A grade appeal may be withdrawn at any level without prejudice. However, the stated time frames continue to be applicable if the student determines to begin the process again.

G.  All appeal proceedings shall be kept as confidential as may be appropriate at each level.

H.  The Grade Appeals Committee shall have reasonable access to all official records for information necessary in making its determination.

I.  Appeals of grades assigned in the Spring or summer semesters will be considered in the summer only under two (2) circumstances:

1.  If it affects the student's ability to graduate in the Summer; or

2.  If the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs determines that there are extenuating circumstances to warrant a special hearing.

J.  Otherwise, such appeals will be held over until the beginning of the Fall semester. If an appeal is to be heard in the summer, an ad hoc committee of the chairs/available members from each grade appeals committee will hear the case. If a chair cannot attend the summer meeting, he/she will, if at all possible, endeavor to provide a replacement from his/her committee. The chair from the college in which the appeal originated shall be excused from the meeting. There will also be a student representative assigned with one alternate, each not from the college from which the appeal originates.


MTSU Grade Appeal Student Form

Revisions: June 5, 2017 (original); June 20, 2019.

Last Reviewed: November 2020.

References: Policy 32 University Committees.