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Satisfactory Academic Progress

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All students in the Ph.D. program are expected to satisfy the academic performance requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which can be found in The Graduate School Bulletin’s General Requirements section. In addition, there are specific DBBS satisfactory academic performance requirements before and after passing the qualifying examination.

Before the Qualifying Exam

Before passing the qualifying examination, satisfactory academic progress is achieved by timely completion of required course work with satisfactory grades (overall B average), successful laboratory rotations (based on mentor evaluation at the end of the rotation) and join a thesis laboratory in a timely manner.

Except in cases of extreme underperformance warranting immediate dismissal, students failing to make satisfactory academic progress will be placed on academic probation as outlined in the Academic Probation and Dismissal section (below). In the case of failure of the qualifying examination, the student will be placed on academic probation for a period of up to three months.  The program committee will provide the student with feedback on the deficiencies in their performance, and a timeline for the administration of the second examination.  Failure of the examination a second time could result in immediate dismissal by the steering committee.  In certain cases, a student who fails the qualifying exam may petition the committee for the awarding of a masters degree.

After the Qualifying Exam

After passing the qualifying examination, satisfactory progress is maintained by completing the following steps in a timely manner.

  • Establish a thesis committee and successfully present a thesis proposal.
    In some programs, a successful thesis proposal is a part of the qualifying examination. In cases where it is not, satisfactory academic progress requires that the student assemble a thesis committee and present a thesis proposal by the deadline specified in the program guidelines. A student not completing a thesis proposal by the date specified by the relevant program guidelines or by no later than the fifth semester of graduate study will be given notice that they are on academic probation and could be dismissed if the proposal is not completed within three months.
  • Maintain a thesis committee that meets the requirements of the program guidelines.
    The thesis advisory committee composition must be in accordance with the requirements of the specific PhD program.  At a bare minimum, the advisory committee must consist of four eligible Washington University faculty(s). At least four committee members must be present at the thesis proposal and update meetings.  If a member of the thesis committee resigns, the student must identify a new member within three months of face academic probation.  The thesis examination committee consists of a minimum of five faculty(s), in accordance with the requirements of the PhD program.
  • Review research progress with the thesis committee regularly.
    Students are required to meet and provide progress reports to their thesis committee at least once per year or more frequently if the program or the committee so recommends. The chairman of the committee will document the student's progress to the program coordinator, using the thesis committee report form (http://www.dbbs.wustl.edu/curstudents/StudentForms/Pages/StudentForms.aspx). Failure to meet as directed by the program or thesis committee will result in academic probation. 
  • Make acceptable progress toward completion of the thesis.
    Both the thesis committee and the thesis mentor must be satisfied that the student is progressing toward the completion of an acceptable thesis. If the thesis committee and mentor agree that a student is not meeting the expectations for progress for degree completion, the student will be placed on academic probation. Any disagreements between the thesis committee and the mentor should be resolved by the program steering committee. If the steering committee is unable to resolve the differences, the Program and Student Affairs Committee shall have final jurisdiction.
  • Complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree by the end of the seventh year of graduate study.
    Students will be notified in writing at the beginning of the seventh year of graduate study that they must complete and defend an acceptable thesis by the end of the seventh year. The student and the mentor may petition for extension of this time limit. The petition must be approved by the steering committee and the Associate Dean for Graduate Education before being forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School for consideration.  If the petition is denied or the student is unable is otherwise unable to complete the PhD requirements, the student will be dismissed from the program at the end of the seventh year.

Academic Probation and Dismissal.  Review the Graduate School Policy on Probat​ion and Dismissal for Academic Reasons​.

Students who do not meet performance expectations in coursework, qualifying examination, teaching1, research, thesis committee meetings or other scholarly activities will be subject to academic probation and possible dismissal from the program.  Students may be dismissed immediately for extreme academic underperformance, but in most cases, they will be placed on academic probation and given the opportunity to remediate the deficiencies.  The period of an academic probation will normally be 3 months, though in some instances (such as poor performance in courses or an exceptionally poor qualifying examination) the academic probationary period may be of a shorter duration.  Individuals placed on academic probation will receive a letter from the program committee informing them of the imposition of academic probation.  The letter will establish the criteria necessary to return to good academic standing. At the end of the three-month probationary period, the program will inform the student in writing that have either been (1) returned to good standing, or (2) placed on a second consecutive academic probation, or (3) dismissed from the program. A second consecutive academic probation must be accompanied by a new letter identifying the steps required to return to good standing. While the purpose of the academic probationary period is to provide the student with time to improve, the decision of the program at the end of an academic probationary period could involve immediate notification of dismissal. At the end of a second continuous academic probation, the student will be either returned to good standing or dismissed. A third academic probation will be allowed only if it is does not immediately follow a second probation. A fourth academic probation will not be allowed. A student whose performance would result in a fourth academic probation will be dismissed immediately. A leave of absence cannot be used by a student to delay or nullify the consequences of a third consecutive or fourth academic probation.

Individuals on academic probation will continue to receive a stipend unless the student is failing to meet the basic expectations of their position, (including failure to carry our lab duties, MTE duties, compliance requirements or thesis committee meetings); in those cases, the individual will be given a two week notice prior to the suspension of the stipend.  All other benefits (access to Student Health, library and research facilities, etc.) will continue for the duration of the probationary period.

The Associate Dean for Graduate Education reviews all recommendations for dismissal before they are forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School.  If the student disagrees with the steering committee's recommendation, a written petition may be submitted to the Associate Dean for Graduate Education. 

1Complete a one-semester Mentored Teaching Experience (MTE) and a minimum of three qualifying workshops.  students lead discussions and/or problem-solving sessions, prepare and deliver one or more lectures as part of the regular lecture schedule, and/or provide regular instruction in a laboratory environment. MTE will invlove student lead discussions and/or problem-solving sessions, preparation and delivery of one or more lectures as part of the regular lecture schedule, and/or regular instruction in a laboratory environment.

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DGSP Academic Progress

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Created at 7/27/2011 11:49 AM by John Richards
Last modified at 9/9/2020 11:08 AM by Leslie Skaggs