Section 600: Student Affairs

Effective: June 15, 2003
Revised: November 2019; March 2023
Last Review: March 2023
Next Review: March 2025
Responsible Party: Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs/Provost

I. Policy: Students who disagree with the assignment of a final grade by an instructor may file a grievance under these procedures.

II. Grade Decision Reviewed These procedures are available only to review allegedly unfair grade decisions and not mere differences of opinion regarding the professional judgment of the instructor in evaluating a student’s work or making a grade decision. The grade decision will be considered unfair if the decision is made:

a) On some basis other than performance in the course and/or compliance with course assignments and requirements.
b) By more exacting or demanding standards than were applied to other students in the same course section.
c) By a substantial departure from the instructor’s standards as articulated in the course syllabus, catalog descriptions and/or other written materials.

III. Student Grade Grievances

Procedures: A student who wishes to grieve a final grade decision must proceed as follows:

Any student who begins a grade grievance by reporting to another academic body will be instructed in the proper procedure.

1. Informal meeting The student should attempt to resolve the matter directly with the instructor through a personal conference as soon as possible after the grade decision is known.

2. Dean Review

a) If the student and the instructor cannot reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to the problem, the student may file a formal grievance. The grievance must be presented in writing to the instructor’s Dean (Dean of College of Arts, Sciences and Education, College of Technical Sciences or College of Health Sciences) within 15 working days of the grades being posted. The student must describe the grievance, why the student believes the decision was unfair, the student’s attempts to resolve the grievance informally and the precise relevant documents. For purposes of this section, fall semester, spring semester and summer session shall each constitute an academic term.
b) The Dean will forward the grievance to the instructor.  The instructor shall have ten (10) working days to respond to the Dean after receipt of the grievance. If the instructor does not respond within that time frame, the Dean will consider the grievance with the material formally submitted by the student.
c) The Dean will receive and review all evidence, interview persons relevant to the appeal and the evidence submitted in support of the appeal, as deemed necessary, and render a written decision with resolution recommendations within ten (10) working days of receipt of the instructor’s response. A copy of the Dean’s decision will be given to the instructor and the student. If the grievance is not concluded within this time frame, the student may carry it forward to the Provost for resolution.  The Dean will store the paperwork associated with the grievance for seven years.
d) If the Dean is the instructor who made the grade decision that is subject of the grievance, another academic Dean at Montana State University-Northern shall complete the first formal step of the grievance, as described in section III.2., subsections a), b) and c) of this policy. The Provost will oversee the selection process.

3. Provost’s review The student or the instructor may appeal the Dean’s decision if new evidence comes to light or if the institutional process was not followed within five (5) working days. The Provost will submit a written decision to the student, the instructor and the Dean within ten (10) working days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of the Provost is the final decision of the University.

4. Time Extensions Time lines established by this policy may be extended by the Provost only under exceptional circumstances.  Such extensions should be in writing, signed by the appropriate parties and communicated to the Provost.