Academic Appeals

There may be instances where you disagree with an instructor’s actions but do not wish to lodge a formal complaint. In such instances, you, the student, should speak to the instructor first. It is best to make an appointment to meet the instructor in his or her office rather than trying to handle an important issue after class or in a casual meeting on the sidewalk. Present the reasons for your complaint in a clear manner and listen to the instructor’s response. This may eliminate any misunderstanding or miscommunication.

If your complaint is not resolved after this conversation and you wish to continue to pursue the matter, follow the process outlined in the following section.

Appeal process

Seattle Pacific University provides a process whereby you may appeal an academic decision, including, but not limited to, grades on course activities; evaluations; course grades; decisions on program admissions; and decisions on fulfillment of program and graduation requirements.

  • You may make an academic appeal only on grounds of unfair treatment against the stated standards, not against the professional judgment of the faculty member(s).
  • The intent is always to resolve the appeal at the most immediate level.
  • If a resolution cannot be obtained at the first level, the process moves to the next level.

In each case, bring the appeal in writing to the person or committee who made the original decision. If a resolution is not obtained at that level, you may appeal to the next level in the school or University administrative structure.

Guidelines for academic appeals

  1. The student must make the appeal in writing within five calendar days after receiving the decision from the faculty member or committee. (Appeals on final grades must be submitted within one quarter of the grade being awarded.)
  2. At each level, the parties will attempt to resolve the issue according to ethical practices, accreditation standards, and University policy. 
  3. As the person making the appeal, the student should provide the necessary supportive information to substantiate the appeal. 
  4. If for any reason a case is appealed beyond the faculty member or faculty committee, an appeal file shall be created. This file will contain written documentation related to the case including, but not limited to, the student’s written appeal and the faculty response. The appeal file shall be open to all principals in the case, including the student appellant.

Levels of appeals

For appeals on academic decisions such as grades on course activities, evaluations, course grades, and decisions on program admissions, the levels to be followed in order are the following:

  1. Course instructor or ad hoc faculty committee appointed by department chair
  2. Department chair
  3. School dean
  4. Vice provost for academic affairs
  5. Provost (The decision of the provost in any student appeal is final.)

Academic petitions regarding general University matters such as decisions on graduation requirements or other Catalog academic regulations may be made in the following order:

  1. Student Academic Services
  2. Curriculum Committee
  3. Vice provost for academic affairs
  4. Provost (The decision of the provost in any student appeal is final.)