Student Resources

  • Students and Mentors
  • Problem-Solving
  • Appeal Panel Guidelines

Students and Mentors

You and your PhD mentor share the responsibility for establishing a relationship that contributes to the successful pursuit of your graduate degree. Your mentoring relationship should reflect mutual respect, academic rigor, integrity and open communication. The following guidelines outline the ideal responsibilities of each party in the mentoring relationship.

The Ideal Mentor:

  • Reads and returns work promptly, with constructive comments
  • Develops with the student a list of short- and long-term research and professional goals
  • Clarifies expectations and policies
  • Communicates regularly about research progress,scheduling changes, and workshops or seminars that will aid in the student’s professional development
  • Provides students with opportunities to develop and practice professional skills required for research, teaching and service
  • Helps students develop an innovative dissertation topic
  • Helps students develop a marketable job dossier
  • Supports the variety of professional interests a student may have in research, industry, teaching and service
  • Facilitates networking
  • Knows course and milestone requirements
  • Treats students respectfully as future colleagues

Acknowledges that students have responsibilities outside the academy.

The Ideal Student:

  • Chooses his or her mentor thoughtfully and wisely by becoming familiar with the professor’s research and professional interests
  • Has developed short- and long-term professional and research goals, and shares these goals with his or her mentor
  • Is aware of his or her own strengths and weaknesses
  • Submits work promptly and comes to meetings prepared with specific goals, questions and tasks to be accomplished in that meeting
  • Communicates regularly with faculty about his or her progress, changes in focus, and professional needs

Problem-Solving

Certain issues, such as sexual harassment and violations of academic integrity must be handled by the appropriate USC individual or office. Examples include: Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services (RSVP), USC Office of Equity and Diversity and USC Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards

If a student has a problem or complaint regarding an appointment as a TA, RA, or AL, then the problem should be brought immediately to the attention of the supervising faculty or staff to whom the TA, RA, or AL is responsible. If a solution cannot be reached, then resolution should then be sought through the department or program chair, and then the Dean of the academic unit. Additional information can be found in the Handbook for Teaching Assistants (TAs), Research Assistants (RAs), and Graduate Assistant Lecturers (ALs)

Disputed academic evaluation and graduate student dismissal appeals policies and processes are outlined in SCampus, Part C – Academic Policies

In the event that an academic dispute results in the dismissal of a graduate student from his or her academic unit, and mediation is unsuccessful, The Graduate School will work with the student through a formal appeal of the academic evaluation. For more information, see the Disputed Academic Evaluation Procedures section of SCampus, the USC student handbook.

Appeal Panel Guidelines

Please see SCampus for basic information about the appeal option - Disputed Academic Evaluation Procedures

A Graduate School Dismissal Appeal provides the final consideration of a student's dismissal from a graduate program when the dismissal has been upheld by the program and dean of the relevant school. The Graduate School will schedule the appeal once the student provides written verification of dismissal and states in writing that they want to proceed with the appeal.

The appeal panel has three members: the Vice Provost for Graduate Programs or a designee, who chairs the meeting; and two members who are deans or dean designees drawn from schools other than the school of the dismissed student. The dismissed student and a representative of the student's program or school must be present at the panel meeting, with the exception of students prevented from being present due to visa issues, who may participate by video conferencing technology. The dismissed student and program or school representative may each be accompanied by an additional 1-2 people if desired. The presence of an attorney is neither necessary nor recommended. However, if the student elects to have counsel present, an attorney from the USC General Counsel’s Office will also attend. The dismissed student must notify the Graduate School in writing that they intend to bring an attorney at the beginning of the scheduling process. Attorneys may be present only as observers. The presence of legal counsel does not change the proceeding.

The timeline of the appeal meeting is below. The dismissed student may share speaking time with an accompanying person if they desire to do so. The representative of the school or program has the same option. Following the appeal meeting, the panel will deliberate in closed session and the Vice Provost for Graduate Programs will make a final decision on the appeal.

Materials

Materials for the appeal must be submitted electronically as PDFs at least 14 days before the scheduled appeal meeting and will be distributed to the panel, the dismissed student, and the program or school representatives.

Provided by the student
  • USC transcript, OASIS, or STARS report
  • Written verification of dismissal from the student's program
  • Written denial of appeal from the student's school dean
  • Any other relevant materials
Provided by the department or school
For master's and professional doctoral students:
  • Letter of admission, including any continuing registration requirements and any offers of financial aid
  • Any other relevant materials, such as warning and dismissal letters
For PhD students:
  • Multi-year funding offer letter, including any notice of continuing registration requirements
  • A record of the student's PhD funding by semester
  • Any other relevant materials, assessments of the student's performance on screening exams, qualifying exams, and progress on dissertation

Format of the appeal meeting

  1. Appeal panel chair - introduction and overview of the process
  2. Dismissed student - presentation of issues (15 minutes maximum)
  3. Department/school representative - presentation of issues (15 minutes maximum)
  4. Dismissed student - optional further remarks (15 minutes maximum)
  5. Department/school representatives - optional further remarks (15 minutes maximum)
  6. Dismissed student - optional final remarks (10 minutes maximum)
  7. Questions by appeal panel members (panel members may also ask questions during the presentations)
  8. All are excused except panel members
  9. Deliberation by panel members
  10. Written Decision of Vice Provost for Graduate Programs sent to participants within 14 days.

If you have questions about the process, or if you would like to request that an appeal panel be convened, please contact the Vice Provost for Graduate Programs.

Updated August 10, 2018