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Standards, Problems, and Appeals

Research Involving Human Subjects

Throughout your career as a graduate student, you may be conducting research projects – when you write your project, thesis, or dissertation it is likely that you may be conducting original research. If any of your research work involves human subjects, it must undergo a review and approval process to ensure that appropriate protections are in place.

Proposed research involving human subjects must be examined by a committee known as the Institutional Review Board. A set of best practices for CCI researchers is available on the college Web site.  The university provides instructions and forms at Look for the compliance forms in the section of the Web site that is for the Knoxville Office of Research. Instructions and best practices for working with the review committee in the College of Communication and Information can be found at: .


The general grading policy in the college follows that of the Graduate School of the University of Tennessee. See the Graduate School Catalog.

To maintain good standing in the M.S. program or the doctoral program a student must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average (scale of 4.0). However, for good progress, doctoral students are normally expected to maintain at least a 3.5 average.

A student who earns less than a grade of C in a required course will have his/her program terminated unless the Graduate Studies committee approves a student petition to waive the requirement of the required course and to accept a substitute course to earn the lost graduate credit. The student must earn a B or better in the approved substitute course.

Graduate students in the college whose GPA falls below 3.0 are placed on probation for the following semester. A student on probation is terminated from the program unless his/her cumulative graduate grade-point average is 3.0 or higher at the end of the probationary period. In practice, termination occurs when the semester GPA is less than 3.0 for two semesters. Exceptions to this policy may be made only with the approval of the associate dean for academic programs on the recommendation of the student’s faculty committee.

Students holding assistantships/associateships must also maintain a 3.3 grade-point average or higher. If a GTA/GRA/GA’s cumulative grade point average falls below the required 3.3, that student will be placed on probation for the following semester. If the student’s GPA has not increased to the required average at the end of the probationary semester, the assistantship/associateship will be revoked.

Removal of Incomplete Grades

For any graduate student enrolled in the college, a grade of I (incomplete), which may be assigned when a student has been unable to complete all requirements, must be removed within one calendar year. If a supplementary grade report has not been received by the Graduate School at the end of the semester, the I will be changed to F. The course will not be counted in the cumulative grade-point average until a final grade has been assigned. No student may graduate with an I on his/her record.

Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is a responsibility of all members of the academic community. An honor statement is included on the university’s application for admission or readmission. The applicant’s signature acknowledges that adherence is confirmed.

The applicant pledges to neither knowingly give nor receive any inappropriate assistance, including plagiarism, in his/her academic work. Violations are investigated when suspected, and violators are prosecuted if academic dishonesty is established.

Student Appeals of Decisions/Actions

The student handbook, Hilltopics, which covers problems of misconduct, contains statements of the expected standards of conduct and of all disciplinary regulations for students at UT.[1] For further information on the appeals procedure, see the Graduate Catalog.


[1] The Graduate Council hears problems of academic policy and procedures.  Grade appeals are the domain of the College.  As explained in the Graduate Catalog, grievances, including grade appeals, in the College of Communication and Information, should be handled at the school level by the student’s adviser or school director.  Further appeal may be filed with the Graduate Studies Committee by presenting a letter to the associate dean for academic programs.  Additional appeals may be made to the dean of the respective College, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Graduate Council, the chancellor, and ultimately to the president of the university.  Appeals that involve matters concerning GA/GTA administration and assignments are detailed in the Graduate Catalog under “Policy for the Administration of Graduate Assistantships.”