Department of Psychology

Grievance Procedures

Policy Regarding Grievances within a Psychology Doctoral Graduate Program

In the course of graduate training, students may experience difficulties with procedures, policies, faculty, or fellow graduate students. Given the intensity of the training and the apprenticeship quality of graduate work, these difficulties are expected. The graduate faculty in the Department of Psychology wishes to make the training process as fair and humane as possible, while also maintaining the high standards necessary for completion of a Ph.D. degree.

If a student has some type of difficulty in the program, the student is encouraged to discuss it initially with her (or his) major advisor and, if feasible and if the student is comfortable doing so, with the person directly responsible. If there is still no resolution to the issue or the student feels that the major advisor did not adequately respond to the student's concerns, a discussion with the student's program director is encouraged. The next recourse for discussion of these issues is with the Chair of the Department. Students are encouraged to use any and/or all of these resources to resolve issues, problems, and concerns that they might have. Also, students are encouraged to follow the order described above, since the student's major advisor should be the starting point for advice and modeling on how to solve professional problems.

If the student believes discussing a grievance issue with one or more of these individuals (i.e., major advisor, program director, and/or department chair) would be unsafe, then the student has two options: (1) The student can utilize the grievance procedures outlined in the Auburn University  Student Policy eHandbook; or (2) the student can request a meeting with the Ombudsperson for the Department. The Ombudsperson is selected by the Dean of the Graduate School when a request is forwarded to the Dean by a student or an involved faculty member.

If the student decides to utilize the Ombudsperson, the request for this meeting should be in writing. The Ombudsperson will arrange a meeting with the student within 10 working days after receiving the request. After this meeting, the Ombudsperson, with the consent of the student, may contact the student's major advisor, the program director, the Chair of the Department, the Dean of the Graduate School , and/or any individual involved in the issue in order to attempt to resolve the issue informally. It should be noted every attempt will be made to invoke student consent, but that some situations may compel the Ombudsperson to act without student consent (e.g., suicidal or homicidal threat). Also, regardless of student consent, the Office of the Ombudsperson will document in writing the grievance meeting(s), which may be used in a confidential manner (e.g., without the name or identifying features of the former graduate student complainant) if a related grievance arises in the future.

If all attempts at an informal resolution fail, the Ombudsperson shall meet with the Dean of the Graduate School (or his/her designated representative) to discuss the student's concern. The Dean will decide what procedures are appropriate to resolve the issue formally.

Last Updated: October 18, 2017