Department of Psychology

Policy regarding Dismissal from a Psychology Doctoral Graduate Program

Remedial Procedures:

Making errors is part of the learning process. All graduate students will make at least one mistake during the graduate training process. Errors should generate feedback which should lead to corrective actions. The nature of the feedback and corrective actions will be determined by the type of error, the student's training needs, and the context of these issues. Therefore, the remedial and dismissal procedures operate on a case-by-case basis, within the boundaries established herein.

If there are any intermediate, but serious problems in the student's graduate training process, a meeting will occur with the student, the student's major advisor, and the program director in an attempt to find a mutually agreeable corrective action that would resolve the deficiency. The major advisor will generate a written report based on the interaction of these three individuals that will document the problem, the proposed corrective action, and a timeline for the completion of the corrective action. Examples of incidents that might lead to such a meeting are:

(1) inadequate academic performance.

(e.g., obtaining a grade of "C" or less in a graduate course)

(2) failure to move through the program at an appropriate rate.

(e.g., failure to propose a Master's thesis project by the end of the second year in the program)

(3) unprofessional behavior.

(e.g., repeated tardiness in completing written reports as a part of the student's clinical duties)

[For each program, the determination of unethical/unprofessional behavior will be considered within the context of accepted standards for those professions.]

When the corrective action is successfully completed, the student, the student's major advisor, and the program director will meet again to review the remedial action and discuss the student's future training needs. The major advisor will generate and distribute a memo to this effect to all three individuals involved.

Dismissal Procedures:

Dismissal from a graduate program is serious event. A due process procedure is required to ensure that any action will be necessary and will protect the interests of the students as well as the integrity of the graduate programs. There are three broad reasons for possible dismissal:

(1) sustained inadequate academic performance.

(e.g., grades of "C" or less in two or more graduate courses)

(2) sustained failure to move through the program at an appropriate rate.

(e.g., failure to complete a Master's degree after four years in the program)

(3) unethical or unprofessional behavior.

(e.g., dating an undergraduate student for whom the graduate student is a GTA. Reference the APA code of ethics or Auburn 's Tiger Cub for further examples.)

[For each program, the determination of unethical/unprofessional behavior will be considered within the context of accepted standards for those professions.]

•  If any of these reasons lead a faculty member within a program to propose that a graduate student should be dismissed from the program, that faculty member can propose to the program faculty that the student should be dismissed from the program. At that point, the program director will interact (preferably by a face-to-face meeting, but by telephone or email if the student does not reside nearby) with the student and with the student's major advisor to determine the accuracy of the concerns. The student, the student's major advisor, and the program director will attempt to find a mutually agreeable corrective action that would resolve the deficiency. Consistent with the remedial procedures outlined above, the student's major advisor and program director will generate a written report based on the interaction of these three individuals that will document the problem, the proposed corrective action, and a timeline for the completion of the corrective action. If either the major advisor or program director is substantively involved in the complaint, the chair will appoint a faculty member to draft the letter. When the corrective action is completed, the major advisor will generate and distribute a memo to this effect to all three individuals involved.

•  If Step #1 fails to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the faculty member bringing the complaint or to the satisfaction of the program director, the proposal to dismiss the student from the graduate program will be presented to the program faculty. At least two meetings of the program faculty will occur and will be documented in the student's permanent record. The graduate student in question should be invited to attend both meetings, although portions of the two meetings may exclude the student if an executive session is called to order. The first meeting will be held to discuss the student's progress in the program. The second meeting will be held to vote on the proposal to dismiss the student from the program (a supernumerary quorum of program faculty is required to commence the vote). If 2/3rds of the program faculty vote affirmatively on the proposal to dismiss the student, then the procedure will proceed to Step #3. The votes of faculty members who are not present at the second meeting will result in votes of abstention. Finally, any program faculty member who feels unable to objectively evaluate the student's situation is required to recuse her or himself.

•  The Chair of the Department shall meet with the student, the student's major advisor, and the program director to discuss the issues leading to the proposed dismissal of the student. If a student refuses to attend such a meeting, a documented attempt to accomplish this meeting shall constitute the meeting. Again, an attempt will be made to determine the accuracy of the concerns and to search for a corrective action that would resolve the deficiency. If there is no agreed upon resolution, the Chair will present the proposal to dismiss the student to the department faculty . If 2/3rds of the department faculty vote affirmatively on the proposal to dismiss the student, then the Chair will recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School that the student be dismissed from the graduate program. At any time during the dismissal procedure, the Chair may send the proposal back to the program faculty for further discussion.

•  The Dean of the Graduate School has a due process procedure by which the proposal to dismiss a graduate student is considered. As part of this procedure, the Graduate School requires that there must be a unanimous vote of the student's advisory committee to dismiss the student. Within the Department of Psychology, satisfying Steps #1 through #3 shall be considered equivalent to a unanimous vote of the student's advisory committee. University's policies supercede the policies outlined here.

Last Updated: October 18, 2017