Procedures for Handling Academic Concerns

The administration and faculty of The Robert H. Smith School of Business recognize the importance of constructive feedback. Students are in a partnership with the Smith School’s administration and faculty. It is only an active partnership between a school and its students that leads to success for both. Through this partnership, students must assume a reasonable level of responsibility for their own education. While the Smith School does not anticipate any problems with this partnership, students should be aware that there is a process available to address academic concerns.

Contact your campus advisor with concerns about course scheduling, graduation, quality of instruction and academic progress.

The Policy and Procedures for Review of Alleged Arbitrary and Capricious Grading in Courses is described in great detail in the Graduate Catalog. Below is a summary of this process.

Arbitrary and capricious grading is determined when the assignment of a course grade is

  • on some basis other than performance in the course,
  • or the assignment of a course grade to a student by unreasonable application of standards different from standards that were applied to other students in that course,
  • or the assignment of a course grade by a substantial and unreasonable departure from the instructor's initially articulated standards.

The informal process:

  • A student who believes they received an improper final grade in a course should inform the instructor promptly and attempt to reach a resolution.
  • Students must exhaust every option with the informal process before moving to the next step.
  • If the student is not able to reach a resolution with the instructor, the student should set up a meeting with their Masters Programs Office campus advisor to discuss next steps

If a resolution is not reached in the informal process, the student may initiate a formal appeal.

  • This appeal must be made in writing to the Assistant Dean of MBA/MS programs and must contain: the course title and number; the instructor's name; and a statement detailing why the grade is believed to be arbitrary and capricious as defined in this policy, and providing all relevant supporting evidence.
  • The appeal must be received in the Masters Programs Office within twenty (20) days of the first day of instruction of the next semester (excluding summer and winter semesters.)
  • All information provided to the Assistant Dean will be shared with the faculty member and the department chair or academic coordinator in the department.
  • The student will be notified as to the next step in a timely manner.


When students attempt to address academic concerns, it is important that they present accurate data and information in a professional and courteous manner. In addition, it is important for these letters or email communications to contain recommended solutions to the problem. More details about the formal appeal are found here.

Please contact your campus advisor with any questions on this process.