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Avenues to Address Graduate Student Concerns

Resolution of Problems

Penn State makes it a priority to establish fair and effective policies and processes to resolve graduate students’ grievances.  When a problem arises between a graduate student and a faculty member, fellow student, or adviser, we encourage the parties to first seek to resolve the problem with their adviser or within their graduate program. 

If the concern involves issues that are not academic in nature and/or involve an act of bias, intolerance, sexual assault, harassment, student misconduct, or a behavioral threat, students are also encouraged to report the incident via the online reporting options available with the Office of Student Affairs or by calling the relevant office. Please see Other Resources below for more information. 

If a graduate student is not able to resolve the problem within their program, he/she may file a written grievance with the college administrator for graduate education (generally an associate or assistant dean or director for academic affairs) of his/her college. In response to this grievance, the college administrator will meet with the student, as well as other parties involved, in an effort to resolve the problem.  

If the student feels that the problem remains unresolved after meeting with the college administrator, he/she may bring the grievance to the attention of the Associate Dean for Graduate Student Affairs of the Graduate School.  The Associate Dean will work with all parties involved to resolve the grievance and ensure that the student’s complaint is addressed with dignity, respect, and in an impartial and equitable manner.

Conflict Resolution Pathway

Your Adviser

Head of your Graduate Program and/or Department

Administrator for Graduate Education in your College or School

Associate Dean for Graduate Student Affairs of the Graduate School

Other Resources 

Other potentially relevant policies can be found on the Graduate School website including Guiding Principles for Good Practice in Graduate Education and Graduate Student Policies and those in the University Policy Manual, especially RP02 (handling Inquiries/Investigations into Questions of Ethics in Research and Other Scholarly Activities) and IP02 (Co-author of Scholarly Reports, Papers, and Publications). In addition, graduate students are assured the full protections of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on the sex or gender of employees and students. Behaviors including sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, as well as retaliation for reporting any of these acts are not tolerated. The University is also committed to providing support to those who may have been impacted by incidents of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct and may provide various resources and support services to individuals who have experienced one of these incidents. We encourage students to come forward with any concerns they have. In addition, the Associate Dean for Graduate Student Affairs of the Graduate School serves as an Ombudsperson to whom graduate students across the University can turn for assistance and advice without needing to file a formal grievance.

Resources for reporting misconduct beyond the graduate program and Graduate School

Immediate Threat or Emergency

Sexual Abuse or Sexual Harassment

General Discrimination or Harassment

Student Misconduct

Research Misconduct

Behavioral Threat

Other Misconduct

Other Questions, Concern, and Issues That May Arise

We want all graduate students to feel at home at Penn State.  The Graduate School is dedicated to making sure that our students’ educational goals are being met.  For any questions, comments, or concerns, we encourage our graduate students to contact the Graduate School at graddeansoffice@psu.edu so that we can continue to find innovative ways to improve student life and cultivate intellectual growth.

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