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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Policies and Procedures

graduate school of arts and sciences

GSAS Academic Integrity Procedures

Students in the Graduate School of Ars and Sciences are expected to have high standards of integrity and abide by the University's Academic Integrity Policy. Any student who cheats or plagiarizes on examinations or assignments may be subject to dismissal from GSAS.

A Committee on Academic Integrity with both faculty and student members is to be constituted annually.

When a faculty member determines that a student's work violates the standards of academic integrity, the faculty member is encouraged to discuss the matter with the student, but in any case the faculty member should notify the student of the substance of the violation and the action that the faculty member proposes to take. If the faculty member decides to impose a grading penalty, a letter of notification describing the incident and the proposed grading penalty is to be sent to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

On receipt of such a notification the associate dean will notify the student of the allegation and the grading penalty proposed by the faculty member. The student will be given an opportunity to respond to the faculty member's notification in writing. While a case is pending, the student may not withdraw from or change status in the course.

Each reported violation of the standards of academic integrity will be reviewed by the Committee on Academic Integrity of the student's school. In cases involving students from more than one school, or students in joint or dual degree programs, the Committees on Academic Integrity of the pertinent schools will cooperate in their review.

The faculty member bringing the accusation and the student will be notified that the case is under review by the Academic Integrity Committee. The student will be given an opportunity to respond to the faculty member's notification letter in writing. The committee at its discretion may interview any individual with knowledge pertinent to the case. The associate dean will serve as a non-voting administrative resource, and will maintain the committee's record of notificatrions and relevant materials.

The committee will decide a case by simple majority vote, and the associate dean wil convey to the faculty member and the student the committee's findings as to responsibility and recommended sanctions. The associate dean will compile a complete file of each case, to be kept confiidential in the Dean's Office. Files on students found not responsible will be destroyed.

Penalties for students found responsible for violations will depend upon the seriousness and circumstances of the violation, the degree of premeditation  involved, and the student's previous record of violations. The committee may simply affirm  the faculty member's penalty and issue the student a "warning," which will be kept in a confidential file in the Dean's Office until the student graduates and will not be reportable to professional schools or outside agencies; or it may recommend a different grading penalty and/or impose additional administrative penalties. Such penalties may include university probation, suspension, or expulsion, all of which become part of a student's academic record and are reportable to graduate/professional schools and outside agencies.

Appeal of the committee's decision may be made by written request to the Dean of the school no later than ten days following notice of the committee's decision, and the Dean's decision will be final.

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Academic Standing and Evaluation of Progress

As part of their regular departmental evaluations, students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are expected to maintain a minimum cumulative average of 3.0. In their evaluation of student academic standing, departments may require a higher cumulative average. Students are subject to periodic review of academic progress toward their degrees. See departmental policies and procedures.

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Academic Grievances


I. Preamble
The Academic Grievance Policy of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences provides a procedure for the constructive and timely resolution of serious academic grievances of students against faculty members. Resolution of such grievances should involve all parties working cooperatively and respectfully to obtain mutually agreed solutions. The grievance process first strives for mediated outcomes and only moves to directed outcomes when such efforts at mediation fail. All parties should seek resolutions at the lowest possible administrative level. Because the availability of evidence diminishes over time, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will not consider a grievance initiated after the close of the fall or spring semester immediately following the term in which the action giving rise to the complaint occurred. Further, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences eschews and discourages frivolous complaints.

II. Any student who believes he or she has a grievance should communicate with the faculty member(s) immediately involved as soon as possible after the action being grieved, but by no later than the close of the fall or spring semester immediately following the term in which the action giving rise to the complaint occurred. If communication results in a mutually acceptable solution, the matter shall be considered closed. If either party wishes to have a written statement of the outcome, the parties shall put the solution in writing, sign it, and each retain a copy.

III. If, however, a mutually acceptable solution cannot be reached, the student may present the matter in writing in a timely manner to the chairperson of the department or program in which the faculty member(s) resides administratively. The written statement must clearly specify: (a) the nature of the complaint and (b) the remedy requested. The department or program chairperson must handle the matter in accordance with department or program procedures approved by the university. If there are no such procedures, the chairperson should proceed as follows:

A) After consultation with both the student and the faculty member(s) affected, the chairperson should proceed in a timely manner either to mediate the matter personally or assign it for mediation to one or more members of the department or program.

B) The chairperson or designated faculty mediator(s) shall then meet formally with the faculty member(s) involved and obtain a written answer to the grievance with a full explanation of the faculty member(s)’ position. After a full investigation, the chairperson or assigned mediator(s) should meet again with the faculty member(s) and student involved, either separately, or jointly, or both, in order to work out a settlement of the problem. If the chairperson or assigned mediator(s) succeeds in resolving the grievance, he/she shall put the agreement in writing, obtain the signatures of all parties to the document, and provide copies of the agreement to all parties involved in the process.

Should the chairperson or assigned mediator not obtain a resolution, the chairperson, after conducting such further proceedings as he/she may determine to be necessary or desirable in his/her sole discretion, shall prepare a written decision and provide a copy of it to the student and the faculty member(s) involved.

IV. A student grievant may appeal a decision of the department or program chairperson to the Dean. The appeal must be made in writing within two weeks of the decision of the department or program chairperson and must specify clearly: (a) the nature of the grievance; (b) the remedy sought; and (c) the reason or reasons why the proposed resolution emanating from step (III) above is not acceptable. Upon receiving the written appeal, the Dean or the Dean’s designees must meet with the chairperson, faculty member(s) and student involved, separately or jointly, to seek a timely solution to the issues. If such procedures produce an outcome mutually acceptable to the parties involved, it shall be put in writing and copies given to all of the parties.

If no such mutually acceptable outcome should be achieved, the Dean or the Dean’s designees shall expeditiously gather all written statements and evidence accumulated up to that point and conduct such review or such further proceedings, including hearings, as the Dean or the Dean’s designees may determine in their sole discretion to be reasonably necessary to reaching an ultimate disposition of the issue(s). In the event of a hearing, the faculty member(s) and student shall each be entitled to bring an advisor drawn from the Boston College community for consultative purposes only. If the above process culminates in a mutually agreeable solution, the Dean or the Dean’s designee(s) must put the agreement in writing, obtain the signatures of all parties to the document, and provide copies of the agreement to all of the parties.

If the Dean or the Dean’s designee(s) arrives at no mutually acceptable solution, the Dean shall in a timely manner convey his/her decision and report (or the report of his/her designee(s) as applicable) to the chairperson and the parties involved. The Dean’s decision shall be final.

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Incomplete and Deferred Grades

All required work in any course must be completed by the date set for the course examination. A student who has not completed the research or written work for a course taken in the fall or spring semester or is absent from the course examination in either semester may, with adequate reason and at the discretion of the instructor, receive a temportary grade of Incomplete (I). All such I grades will automatically be changed to F on March 1 for the fall, August 1 for the spring, and October 1 for the summer.

A faculty member may only assign a grade of J for a 2-semester course when the grade in the first semester is dependent on the grade issued at the end of the semester. The J grade has no GPA value. Instructors should assign a grade for each semester at the end of the second semester.

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Pass/Fail Options

Students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences may not take courses counting toward the degree pass/fail.  A pass/fail option is available for a limited number of other courses when approved by the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Services. A  grade of "P" has no effect on the GPA, but if a student fails a course that is being taken on a pass/fail basis, the grade of "F" is calculated into the GPA.

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Time to Degree

All requirements for the Doctoral Degree in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must be completed within eight consecutive years from the beginning of doctoral studies. Extensions beyond this limit may be made only with departmental recommendation and the approval of the Dean.

Master's students are permitted five consecutive years from the date of acceptance into the program for completion of all requirements. Extensions are permitted only with approval of the department concerned and of the dean.

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Transfer of Credit


All students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences may request transfer of not more than six graduate credits. Only courses in which a student has received a grade of "B" or better and have not been applied to a prior degree  will be accepted. If approved, the transfer course and credit, but not the grade, will be recorded on the student’s academic record. Credit received for courses completed more than ten years prior to a student’s admission to his or her current degree program are not acceptable for transfer.

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Conference Reimbursement Policy

Graduate students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Connell School of Nursing, and the Lynch School of Education may receive funding for one conference per fiscal/academic year (June 1 - May 31) with authorization from Associate Dean Candace Hetzner prior to travel. Reimbursement requests must be received during the same fiscal/academic year during with which the conference took place. Conference reimbursement guidelines should be carefully followed when filing your reimbursement, otherwise it will be delayed. Incomplete files cannot be processed and will be returned.

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Fellowships and Full-time Work

Graduate students may not receive University financial aid (stipends and/or tuition scholarships) from two schools or departments simultaneously. Graduate students who hold fellowships or assistantships may not be employed full-time without the Dean's approval.

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