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Academic Discipline

Academic Probation

Graduate students whose cumulative grade point average or the average for the most recently completed semester (including the summer semester) falls below 2.33 are placed on probationary status by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Many programs have stricter standards and may choose immediate dismissal.

If the university minimum 2.33 grade point average has not been met, the student will be placed on probationary status. The period of probation extends to the end of the next semester in which the student is enrolled. Once students are placed on probationary status, they have one semester to improve their grades. If the next semester again results in grade point average below the required grade, the student will be immediately dismissed without further warning. As a courtesy, students will be notified of their probationary status once final grades have been received and posted to their records. S/U grades cannot be used to end probationary status.


The two most common grounds for dismissal of a graduate student are (1) inadequate academic progress, or (2) a disciplinary violation resulting in a University sanction.

Graduate programs must provide students upon entry to the program with detailed requirements, deadlines, and other program policies. Students are then responsible for meeting program and university requirements in their program of education. A student who is failing to meet departmental or university requirements, such as failing to meet grade requirements, failing to pass required examinations by the required time, or failing to advance to candidacy or defend her/his thesis within the required time, is subject to dismissal without further warning.

When a student is judged not to be making adequate academic progress, he or she must be warned in writing of the possibility of dismissal and given clear information about what must be done within a specified time period to alleviate the problem. These expectations must be reasonable and consistent with expectations held for all students similarly situated in the program. If the student does not meet the stated requirements within the time frame specified, he or she will be dismissed by the graduate program. A student is not eligible to return to Rice following a dismissal.

It is difficult to give a precise and general definition of “adequate academic progress” for graduate students, due to the variation in requirements among different graduate programs. Nevertheless, some general principles do apply. For example, most graduate programs consist of two stages. The first stage, preceding candidacy, typically consists of explicit requirements and milestones, such as course requirements, exams, research projects, and the like. In this stage, adequate academic progress typically means compliance with the requirements and milestones of the program, as well as research progress when applicable. The second stage, post-candidacy, is often referred to as “all but dissertation” (ABD). In this stage, graduate students are expected to conduct research and write and defend their theses/dissertations. As the second stage typically lacks explicit intermediate milestones, it is harder to assess academic progress during this stage. It is extremely important, therefore, for graduate programs to make their expectations explicit for post-candidacy graduate students.

Post-candidacy graduate students often enroll only in research courses. Such courses can offer standard letter grades or satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) grades. Grading mode, however, must be uniform within a section of a research course. Thus, all students in such a section should receive letter grades or all should receive S/U grades.

Graduate programs must establish mechanisms for tracking, reviewing, and documenting academic progress of graduate students on an ongoing basis and must provide graduate students a written assessment of their academic progress at least annually. In some graduate programs this ongoing progress review is carried out by a student’s thesis committee, while in others it is carried out by a standing faculty committee. Although a student’s supervisor plays an important role in reviewing the student’s academic progress, the responsibility for conducting the review process lies with the program and requires the involvement of additional faculty members in the program. For graduate students who are primarily engaged in coursework, for example, professional master’s students, the transcript is an adequate form of written assessment.

Dismissal of a graduate student requires that the student be notified of his/her dismissal from the graduate program. Such a notice is distinct from any earlier warning, which lets the student know of the possibility of dismissal. All dismissal notices, as well as warnings of possible dismissal, must be in writing, with a copy sent to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Email communication is considered to be “in writing”. (Academic units should archive copies of all email communications pertaining to student dismissal.)

Because of the serious consequences of dismissal from a graduate program, dismissed students must receive a 15-day notice of the dismissal. Such a notice may precede the trigger for the dismissal. For example, a program can notify a student 15 days before an examination that failure to pass the examination with a certain minimal grade would result in dismissal. In general, dismissal should not take effect during a semester in which the student is enrolled. Dismissals that take effect during a semester are exceptional and must be approved by the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. A dismissal will be held in abeyance until the petition and appeal process is concluded, as students may petition for a dismissal to be revoked as described in the Dispute Resolution section .

Termination of Financial Support

Graduate students often receive financial support in the form of graduate stipend and tuition waivers. The termination of financial support to a graduate student, while not equivalent to dismissal, is a serious action that could deprive students of their financial ability to continue graduate studies. Consequently, the procedure to terminate a student’s financial support before the end of the financial-support commitment period should be analogous to those for dismissal as described above.

Active participation in required academic activities (for example, laboratory work in certain science and engineering programs) is a basic condition for continued financial support. Students who are absent from such required activities for contiguous two weeks without permission and without mitigating circumstances may be subject to termination of financial support. In addition, they may be judged to be not making adequate academic progress. Thus, if absences have to occur, they must be pre-arranged with the student's supervisor, except for medical and family emergencies, in which cases timely notification is required. Graduate advisors and programs should be aware of unexplained student absences and must provide immediate written warnings when students are not present and carrying out required academic activities for more than one week.

When the source of a graduate stipend is an externally sponsored research grant, the principal investigator is responsible for certifying that compensation paid to those who are supported by the grant faithfully corresponds to actual effort in carrying out the sponsored research. This process is referred to as “effort certification.” The requirements above to give students warnings and notices before dismissal or termination of stipend are separate and independent of the effort-certification requirement. If a principal investigator determines that a graduate student is not contributing to the sponsored project that is the source of the student’s stipend, then the charge for the affected pay period must be reallocated to another fund by the program.

Degree Revocation

The University reserves the right to revoke any degrees granted.  A degree awarded may be revoked if the University becomes aware that the degree should not have been granted, such as a degree that was obtained by violating the Honor Code or Code of Student Conduct or by deception, misrepresentation, falsification of records, academic misconduct, research misconduct, or if the work submitted in fulfillment of -- and indispensable to -- the requirements for the degree are determined to fail to meet the academic standards that were in effect at the time the degree was awarded.  Notification of the date of revocation will appear on the student’s transcript, and the student will be asked to return the diploma.  The Provost receives all recommendations for revocation of degrees and, after consideration and review, forwards to the President any recommendations deemed to be warranted.  The Provost may also initiate and forward to the President his or her own recommendation for a degree revocation.  The President will consider all recommendations forwarded by the Provost and effectuate those he or she determines to be warranted.  Procedures governing degree revocations may be obtained from the offices of the Registrar, Provost or President.

The University also reserves the right to withdraw a degree to correct an administrative error, such as an incorrectly listed degree, or in a situation where it was found that a student had not actually fulfilled all graduation requirements.

Last Revised : July 02, 2014