Rights and Responsibilities

Students have the responsibility to familiarize themselves with the policies and procedures of the university, the Graduate College, and their department or program. Students are primarily responsible for knowing the degree requirements and following the policies that govern their academic program. If students have questions or concerns about individual policies and procedures, they may contact their advisor, their program or department chair, or the Graduate College office, which is the ultimate arbiter of policies and procedures.

University policies and those of the Graduate College are contained on the UVM Institutional Policies website.


Unless a department or program employs an alternative approved procedure, each graduate student will have a faculty advisor to advise on matters of course selection, research direction, and overall guidance from admission to the Graduate College to completion of degree requirements. The initial advisor is assigned by the department chair or the graduate program coordinator prior to or shortly after enrolling in the Graduate College. If an initial advisor is not assigned by either of the above parties within 2 weeks after the initiation of course work in a given graduate program, the student is encouraged to contact the Graduate College. Many times, 1 faculty member serves as an initial advisor for several students, and the advisor may change as the student's program and research interests develop.

Another common model, especially in doctoral programs, is a graduate studies committee composed of faculty who share a student's scholarly and professional interests. The committee meets regularly to discuss the student's progress and consult with the student regarding academic development.

While there are a variety of advising models, in each case students have the right to consult regularly with their academic advisor or graduate studies committee.

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend all regularly scheduled classes. With the exceptions outlined below, the instructor has the final authority to excuse absences. It is the responsibility of the instructor to inform students of their policy for handling absences and tardiness, and the consequences that may be imposed. Notification should be done both verbally and in writing at the beginning of each semester.

It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor regarding the reason for absence or tardiness from class, and to discuss this with the instructor in advance whenever possible. The instructor has the right to require documentation in support of the student’s request for an absence from class and to determine the appropriate response (e.g., excused absence, deadline extension, substituted work). If an out-of-class exam or other activity (e.g., field trip, campus speaker or event, workshop) conflicts with a regularly scheduled class, the regularly scheduled class has priority. Any conflicts between student and instructor regarding this policy may be presented for resolution to the course department chair or college dean’s office.

When a student is unable to attend classes for reasons of health, bereavement, or required legal appearances (e.g., jury duty, citizenship hearing), the student should contact the Graduate College Dean’s Office regarding support. An instructor may request documentation to support a student’s request for an excused absence from the Graduate College Dean's Office.

Intercollegiate and Academic Competitions

Students who represent the University of Vermont in official intercollegiate varsity athletic or academic program-sponsored competitions should plan their schedules with special care, recognizing the primary importance of their academic responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the student to avoid signing up for a course or section whose scheduled meetings consistently conflict with the intercollegiate competition and travel schedule. If travel for such intercollegiate competition requires absences from a class, it is also the student’s responsibility to provide the instructor with documentation of anticipated absences and to meet with the instructor regarding the missed course work and instruction. Provided a student has submitted documentation for absences due to participation in official intercollegiate competitions, an instructor must excuse the absences and should provide reasonable assistance to the student concerning missed instruction, assignments, and exams, including final exams. Any conflicts between student and instructor may be presented for resolution to the course department chair or college dean’s office.

Religious Holidays

Religions may be practiced in many different ways, and can impact participation in classes variably. Students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. Each semester students should submit in writing to their instructors as early as possible and at least one week prior to their documented religious holiday the date(s) of the conflict or absence. Faculty must permit students who miss work or exams for the purpose of religious observance to make up this work. In addition, faculty and students are encouraged to review the Interfaith Calendar of holidays maintained by the UVM Interfaith Center to proactively plan course schedules and exam schedules.

Professional Ethics and Academic Honesty
Graduate students are required to adhere to the highest standards of professionalism as students, researchers, and teachers. The university, in order to encourage a positive atmosphere in all phases of academic learning, teaching and research, has created specific guidelines and policies regarding academic honesty. Information may be found on the Center for Student Conduct website.

Sexual Harassment

No member of the university community may sexually harass another. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education;
  2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; or
  3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment.

Any University of Vermont student having a complaint of sexual harassment should notify the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity; students may also contact the Dean of Student’s office. If a student has personal concerns regarding sexual harassment, confidential counseling can be arranged through the Center for Health and Wellbeing. Policies and procedures governing complaints of sexual harassment are available on the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct page on the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity website.


The university community will not tolerate discrimination. Information, resources, and incident reporting forms may be found at The Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity website.


The Graduate College is ultimately responsible for grievances regarding policies and procedures related to graduate education. A grievance properly begins within the student's department by an appeal to a program director or chair. If this does not resolve the grievance, the student can present the grievance in writing to the dean of the unit in which the program resides, and thereafter to the Dean of the Graduate College. Grievances must state clearly and precisely the basis for appeal and provide supporting evidence that a student's rights have been jeopardized. The Graduate College dean may recommend that the grievance be reviewed by the Graduate College Executive Committee. The Graduate College dean is the final arbiter of Graduate College regulations.

Specifically excluded from the Graduate College appeals process are grievances that contest grades on grounds other than due process. Grade appeals go through the academic unit of the faculty teaching the course, not the Graduate College or the academic program of the student making the appeal. The procedure for grade appeals may be found on UVM's Institutional Policies website, listed above.