MFA Policies and Procedures

Students are responsible for knowing and following all the relevant policies and procedures established by the school and university. This information can be found in the VCU Bulletin.

Departmental Attendance Policy

Attendance is required at each class meeting. For a class that meets twice a week, after the second absence a student is placed on attendance probation and the student’s grade may be lowered; after the forth absence the student may be assigned a failing grade for the course. For classes that meet once a week, after the first absence a student is placed on attendance probation and the student s grade may be lowered; after the second absence the student may be assigned a failing grade for the course. Permission to miss a class meeting must be obtained from the instructor prior to the absence. Notes from physicians and lawyers, and court appearances are accepted as excuses for absence only at the discretion of the instructor.

Progress Review

At the end of every semester, at the time of candidacy, and at any point during her/his academic career, a student can be reviewed by the faculty if faculty members voice concern about the student’s progress in the program. This can be due to, but not limited to, academic progress, behavior, violation of honor code, discontinuous enrollment.

If a faculty member has a concern about a student, the faculty member is to share this concern with the Graduate Program Director. If the concerns are significant, the Graduate Program Director will initiate a meeting with the student and the faculty members who have concerns about the student. The student will be given at least 5 business days notice of the meeting. Further, the student is allowed to bring and present any documentation s/he feels necessary to this meeting.

At this meeting, the faculty member(s) will share concerns with the student and the student has the opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances to the faculty. After all parties have had sufficient time to share their concerns, the student will receive a letter that indicates the concerns of the faculty, what needs to be done to address these concerns, and when this needs to occur. The student will sign one copy of the letter and return it to the faculty and will be given a hard copy to keep for her/his records.

This meeting is intended to alert the student of a need to make a change before it gets to the level of termination. However, for the case of an egregious violation of any policies in VCU’s bulletin, immediate termination may be warranted.

Appeal of Academic Termination

In accordance with University policy, a student who receives multiple grades of C or a single D or F grade in coursework or a grade of U for thesis/dissertation credits will be reviewed by the department for termination from the graduate program. A student who receives a grade of F for thesis/dissertation credits will be automatically terminated. The student will be notified of the termination by the Director of Graduate Studies via email and registered mail. Upon receipt of notification, the student has 14 days to initiate an appeal with the Department. This should be done in writing to the Chair and Director of Graduate Studies. Upon receipt of the student’s request for an appeal, the following process is initiated.

  • A panel of three faculty members is appointed by the Chair to review the appeal. The panel will include the Director or Graduate Studies, a faculty member with whom the student has had little or no prior interaction, and one other member of the department.
  • The Director of Graduate Studies provides a written statement explaining the grounds for termination. This statement will be forwarded to the student by the Director of Graduate Studies and remaining panel members within 7 business days of the student’s request.
  • Within 7 business days of receiving this statement, the student submits to the panel a written response that addresses three questions:
    • Are any of the facts included in the statement inaccurate?
    • Are there any extenuating circumstances that should be considered?
    • Why is the student deserving of a second chance to complete the degree?
  • A hearing is scheduled within 14 business days of receipt of the student’s response. At the hearing, the student states his/her case to the appeal panel.
  • Immediately after the hearing, the appeal panel adjudicates until a unanimous decision is reached.
  • The Director of Graduate Studies writes a synopsis of statement, response, hearing, and decision. This synopsis is submitted to the other two faculty members for review. It is then submitted to the department chair for review before being sent to the student. The synopsis is due to the Department Chair 7 business days after the hearing.If the student is granted a second chance to complete the degree, the synopsis will delineate performance goals that the student must meet on or before specified dates in order to remain in the program.
  • Within 7 business days, the Department Chair communicates the outcome of the appeals process to the student. If the appeal is denied, the student may appeal for further review by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of the Arts. If this appeal is denied, a final appeal may be made through the office of the Graduate Dean according to the procedures outlined in the Graduate Bulletin.