RUL 11.36.03 – Procedure for Addressing Written Student Complaints of Graduate Students about Advisors and Advisory Committees

History:  First Issued: September 8, 2022.

Related Policies:
NCSU POL04.25.05 – Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy Statement
NCSU REG04.25.02 – Resolution Procedures for Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaints
NCSU REG11.35.04 – Written Student Complaints

Additional References:
Written Student Complaints Website
Student Ombuds Services

Contact Information: Dean of the Graduate School (919-515-1989)


This regulation provides a procedure for addressing Written Student Complaints (as defined in REG 11.35.04) of graduate students relating to the complaints that a student’s advisor or advisory committee did not comply with the university’s policies, regulations or rules.


2.1  The existence of this procedure does not bar a student from filing a claim in other forums to the extent permitted by state or federal law.


3.1  Any Written Student Complaint must be filed within 60 calendar days from the decision, action or event forming the basis of the Written Student Complaint.  Filing occurs when the Written Student Complaint is submitted through the process listed on the Complaint Website.

Any of the time limits set forth in this rule may be extended by an appropriate administrator for good cause shown. The request for extension of time should be made before the expiration of the applicable deadline.


4.1  Informal Resolution. Before submitting a Written Student Complaint, students must first consult with the chair of their advisory committee to determine whether the complaint may be resolved informally.  If satisfactory resolution is not attained, the student must consult with the director of graduate programs (DGP) for their program.  The DGP should review the matter and may, as appropriate, consult with the department head, the Graduate School, the advisor, advisory committee, and the Graduate School Representative (GSR). If the DGP is the advisor, the informal process may proceed to the department head with supervisory authority over the DGP; for interdisciplinary programs, the informal process would be referred to the Graduate School.  If informal resolution is not satisfactory, students may proceed in accordance with sections 4.2 below.

4.2  Submission of a Written Student Complaint. If the issue is not resolved by the informal resolution process described in this rule within the 60-day timeline described in section 3.1, students may submit a Written Student Complaint by completing an online Written Student Complaint Form confirming the complainant’s status as an NC State student and providing a summary of the complaint, the involved NC State employee(s), unit(s) or division(s), what resolution procedures were pursued prior to filing the Written Student Complaint, the complainant’s preferred resolution, and a description of how the action complained about violates a university policy, regulation, or rule. If the informal resolution process is still ongoing at the time of the submission of the Written Student Complaint, the University may hold the Written Student Complaint in abeyance until completion of the informal process.

4.3  Investigation and Decision. Within ten (10) business days of receipt of the submission of the Written Student Complaint, the university will assign the complaint to an appropriate administrator (“Reviewer”) for review and decision. Within thirty (30) days of their receipt of the Written Student Complaint, the Reviewer shall investigate and issue a written decision to the student. If the complaint is filed during the summer months when necessary faculty may not be available, the 30-day decision timeline may need to be extended.

4.4. Appeal. The student may appeal the Reviewer’s decision by delivering a written notice of appeal to the Written Student Complaint Coordinator, who will work with the Dean of the Graduate School to designate an appropriate university administrator (the “Appellate Reviewer”) to review the appeal. The appeal must be filed within ten (10) business days after the Reviewer sends the decision to the student.

4.4.1 The written notice of appeal must:

  1. Identify the person whose decision is being appealed;
  2. Provide a brief statement of the grounds for appeal, which at minimum should contain a list of alleged errors in the decision or decision-making process;
  3. Indicate what remedy is requested; and
  4. Be signed and dated by the person filing the appeal.

4.4.2 Grounds for an appeal are limited to showing that:

  1.  the decision was clearly erroneous and so lacking in support that no reasonable person could have reached the decision;
  2. the university violated the process laid out in this Rule or other applicable university policies, regulations or rules. The appeal should clearly describe the policy, regulation, or rule alleged to be violated and how it was violated. Reasonable deviations from the procedures will not invalidate a decision unless the student can show that, but for the deviation or error, there likely would have been a different outcome in the case; or
  3. there is new evidence that was not available at the time of the student’s original filing of the complaint, and the new evidence would likely have affected the outcome.

4.4.3 Appeals which are not timely or do not include the information in section 4.4 may be dismissed.

4.4.4 The Appellate Reviewer may convene an advisory panel to review the appeal and provide recommendations for a decision on the matter.  Composition and tasking of the panel will be at the discretion of the Dean of the Graduate School (or designee).

4.4.5 The Appellate Reviewer will render a written decision within 45 days, to be sent to the parties, based on review of the case, the relevant policies, regulations or rules, and the recommendation(s) of the panel (if any).  The Appellate Reviewer’s decision shall be final, and no further appeal is permitted.