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Graduate Studies Program

Graduate Student Progress and Academic Concerns


Students, please refer to your Center's individual rulebook for additional rules. 

A.  Introduction - The faculty of the Albany Medical College have a responsibility not only to our students, but also to the public that our students will eventually serve. A basic part of that responsibility is to see that our students perform in a manner consistent with the most appropriate standards of scholarship and professional behavior (including patient safety and interactions with patients) accepted by society and the scientific professions. It is sometimes necessary for the Faculty to consider instances in which students appear not to meet an appropriate level of professional competence or performance, whether due to inadequate scholastic achievement or unprofessional behavior. These guidelines have been established so that such students may be treated fairly and judged in a reasonably consistent manner. The ultimate responsibility for decisions affecting the status of any student has been delegated by the Trustees of the Albany Medical College to the Academic Governing Council. The Council has, in turn, delegated that responsibility to standing and ad hoc committees such as the Executive Committee of the Graduate Studies Program, the Graduate Studies Operating Committee, the Graduate Student Progress Committee, the Student Honor Committee*, the Committee on Student Appeals, and the Disciplinary Hearing Panels.

*See the Student Honor Code of Albany Medical College, August 6, 1977, as may be amended from time to time.

B. Progress Committee - The Graduate Student Progress Committee (Progress Committee), as advisory to the Executive Committee, is charged with the evaluation of academic, research, or clinical performance of each graduate student in all graduate programs to ensure compliance with standards as set forth by the Executive Committee. The members of the Progress Committee include the graduate director from each Center, the faculty member on the Curriculum Committee for each Center, or a member appointed by the Center Director, and the Vice Dean for Academic Administration as an ex-officio member. The committee is chaired by the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies. The Progress Committee meets at the end of each term or more often, as needed.

B.A. Academic Concerns - Poor academic achievement may lead to dismissal from the Graduate Studies Program. Failure to maintain a GPA that meets the standards of the Graduate Studies Program and the Center, or failure to pass any of the required milestone examinations and required courses, or two unsatisfactory evaluations in research are possible reasons for academic dismissal.

The Progress Committee will evaluate the academic performance of each student at the end of each term or as required.  The Progress Committee, upon determining that a student is performing in an unsatisfactory  manner, will, through the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, notify the student and the Center Director.  Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science students are required to maintain minimum GPAs of 3.0 and 2.5, respectively. A student may be granted one probationary semester by the Progress Committee and the Executive Committee if there are reasonable expectations that an acceptable GPA can be obtained during this probationary period. However, if the issue is a matter of patient safety, the student may not be allowed a probationary period.

At the request of the Center, subject to approval by the Progress Committee and the Executive Committee, a graduate student may be allowed a second probationary semester to improve his or her GPA.  During the second probationary period, institutional support in terms of stipend and health insurance may be provided to a student at the discretion of the Center and research mentor. If at the end of the second semester of probation the student's GPA is not acceptable, the student may be subject to dismissal.

Students in the research centers or basic science centers, failing the Written Examination, Oral Examination, or the Thesis Defense are subject to dismissal. If a student fails any of these examinations, he/she will have to retake the exam within six months of the original exam. Each of these examinations may be repeated once. If the student fails the reexamination, he/she is subject to dismissal.

B.1.a. Academic Probation - A letter of Academic Probation may be based on a grade point average of less than 3.0 for a Ph.D. degree student or less than 2.5 for an M.S. degree student, or failure of a required course, or failure of a Competency examination. This letter will indicate what remedial actions are necessary to be removed from probation. A copy of the letter will be sent to the student's mentor and graduate director and will become a part of the student's record. When a student has been identified as performing at an unsatisfactory academic level, the Progress Committee will determine whether the student should be placed on probation, dismissed, or continue in the curriculum with remediation. Additionally, if the issue is a matter of patient safety, the student may not be allowed a probationary period. Probationary status will be evaluated at the end of the first term of probation, at which time the Progress Committee should make one of the following determinations and recommendations:

A. That the student, having achieved a satisfactory GPA and achieved satisfactory performance in all courses, will be removed from probation.

B. That the student has progressed and is doing satisfactory work, but has not yet raised his/her GPA to the required level, may be allowed to remain on academic probation for an additional semester.

C. That the student, having continued to do unsatisfactory work in one or more courses, or having failed to raise his/her GPA to the required level, should be dismissed.

B.1.b. Time to Degree Completion for Doctor of Philosophy Degree - Doctoral students are subject to dismissal for failure to complete all requirements within seven years from the date of matriculation. The Mentor and Center Director may petition the Progress Committee and the Executive Committee for an extension based on extenuating circumstances. Periods of time granted as a leave of absence do not apply toward the seven-year program completion rule.

B.1.c. Time to Degree Completion for Basic Science Master of Science Degree - Full-time basic science Masters students are subject to dismissal for failure to complete all requirements within three years from the date of matriculation. The mentor and Center Director may petition the Progress Committee and the Executive Committee for an extension based on extenuating circumstances. Periods of time granted as a leave of absence do not apply toward the three-year program completion rule.

B.1.c-1. Time to Degree Completion for Clinical Science Master of Science Degree - Part-time students in the Center for Nurse Anesthesiology must complete their program no later than 39 months from the start of their program. 

Please see each Center's Rule Book for additional information.

B.1.d. Synopsis of Grading System - Student grades should be forwarded to and received by Student Records within one week after the end of the course. If a student fails to complete course requirements the grade of incomplete (I) will be recorded on the transcript and the student will be notified. All requirements in a course must be completed within one month following the last day of examinations in that course. An incomplete (I) will be converted to Failure (F) on the transcript, if the student fails to complete all requirements. Exceptions may be granted for health or emergency reasons.

All courses that have been approved for graduate credit are graded as follows: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, or F. For each credit hour earned, numerical values are allotted to these grades as follows: A=4, A-=3.7, B+=3.3, B=3, B-=2.7, C+=2.3, C=2, C-=1.7, D=1, and F=0. These numerical values are multiplied by the number of credit hours allotted in each course to obtain "quality points." The grade point average (gpa) is obtained by dividing the total number of quality points by the total number of credit hours. The grades of D and F are not acceptable for course credit toward a graduate degree but will be used in calculating the gpa. Research credits are submitted as S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory). Other courses with the recommended approval of the Curriculum Committee may be graded as P (Pass) or F (Fail) Grades of S/U or P/F are not included in gpa calculations. Aspects of professionalism may be incorporated into the grade. In the grading of Research, if the student's mentor believes that the student is not performing up to expected standards the mentor may assign a grade of U (Unsatisfactory). If the grading of a course is P/F and the student does not perform at the expected level during a course, the course director may assign a grade of F (Fail).

Remediation of Unsatisfactory (U), and Failing (F) grades - Subject to recommended approval by the Progress Committee, and final approval by the Executive Committee, a student may remediate or repeat a didactic course in which a grade of C, D, or F was received. Although both grades will appear on the transcript, only the remediated or repeated grade will be used to calculate the GPA. All recommended approvals made by the Progress Committee must receive the approval of both the Graduate Studies Operating Committee and the Executive Committee before they are put into effect.

B.2. Clinical Concerns - Students in the clinical centers of the Graduate Studies Program (Alden March Bioethics Institute, Center for Nurse Anesthesiology, Center for Physician Assistant Studies) must meet the professional performance standards established by their Centers, such that their conduct is judged to be lawful, ethical, professional, and safe for patients and others at all times.

If, in the judgment of the Center, a students:

  • Conducts himself/herself in a way that is unsafe, unethical, or unprofessional a failing grade may be assigned for the course/rotation/activity and a recommendation for probation or other action (including dismissal) will be made to the Progress Committee.
  • Exhibits physical, emotional, or behavioral problems in the clinical setting that threaten patient safety the Center may suspend participation from such activities until such time as it can be determined that the problem has been resolved. Failure to resolve such problems in a reasonable period of time may result in a dismissal recommendation.
  • Commits any act, behavior, or pattern of acts or behavior that raises a serious question of moral turpitude, or serious concern as to the student's fitness to pursue a clinical career, a recommendation for dismissal will be made to the appropriate committee.

In addition to these guidelines, students enrolled in the clinical centers are subject to the policies and procedures established within their Centers.

B.3. Non-academic Concern, Warning or Probation - All other concerns relating to student professionalism will be reviewed by the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies and if necessary, by the Progress Committee. If necessary, the Assistant Dean can suspend a student until the Progress Committee has an opportunity to review the situation. The Status of Non-academic Concern, Warning or Probation shall be based on reports relating to attitude, integrity and ethical conduct or other measures of professional conduct. The Progress Committee will issue a letter of non-academic status (includes a recommendation for dismissal, if warranted) after determining the severity and pattern of unprofessional behavior. The Progress Committee may also recommend to the Dean that the matter be referred to a Disciplinary Hearing Panel. Students may also be dismissed for violation of the Student Honor Code of the Graduate Studies Program. All procedures in the Honor Code will be followed.

B.3.a. AMC Smoking Policy - The Albany Medical Center smoking policy applies to all students and will be strictly enforced. All students must adhere to the policy. Any student who is reported to be smoking on campus in an area other than a designated smoking area will be reported to the Deans' Committee composed of The Vice Dean for Academic Administration, the Associate Dean for Medical Education, the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Services, the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education, the Associate Dean for Community Outreach and Medical Education, and the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies. The student will be interviewed and given a warning for the first offense. If reported a second time the student will be recommended for Non-academic Probation after being presented to the appropriate progress or promotions committee. If the student violates the policy a third time, the student will be recommended for dismissal to the appropriate progress or promotions committee. 

Notification of dismissal for any cause will come from the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies.

APPEAL OF DISMISSAL - A student dismissed because of inadequate academic research, or clinical performance may make a written request for reinstatement into the Graduate Studies Program no later than ten working days after receiving written notification of termination. Unless there is a patient safety issue, a student may continue to attend classes and clinical rotations pending the final outcome of the appeal of dismissal.  Such a request must be forwarded to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies who shall convene and chair an ad hoc review committee no later than fourteen working days after receipt of the request. This committee will consist of four members of the graduate faculty, not from the Progress Committee and chosen by the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, a graduate student, not from the student's Center and chosen by the Graduate Student Organization, a director from the student's Center (nonvoting), and the student's mentor (nonvoting). All members must be present to review and act on the appeal request. Counsel for the student and Albany Medical College may be present in an advisory capacity only and may not address the committee. The student will be allowed access to any pertinent information prior to the hearing that is allowed by the Right of Privacy Act. At the conclusion of the hearing, the committee shall be polled. A majority vote will decide to uphold or deny the request. The recommendation of the committee will be transmitted to the Dean of the Albany Medical College who will make the final decision. The procedure for appeals of dismissal (or other adverse actions) due to circumstances other than academic or research is given in the Honor Code.  

B.4. Administrative Psychiatric Review - An Administrative Psychiatric Review may be required to continue in the Graduate Studies Program for one of the following reasons:

  • When it appears possible that academic, clinical, and research performance is being influenced by emotional, psychological or social issues that may need to be properly identified and addressed in order to permit successful and timely completion of the requirements for either PhD or Masters Graduate degree.
  • When a student's professional demeanor or personal behaviors and activities raises serious questions about his or her ability to pursue a career in biomedical or clinical sciences.

The psychiatric evaluation must be performed by a Board Certified Psychiatrist. The individual being reviewed must understand that performance of the evaluation will create a physician-patient relationship and that the evaluation is not a confidential medical record but rather a summative report that is utilized to determine a plan of action necessary to allow the individual to successfully complete the course of study. The summative report becomes part of the student's confidential academic record and will be utilized and protected accordingly. Failure to undergo an administrative psychiatric review when requested for one of the above reasons may result in dismissal from the Graduate Studies Program.

C. DISCIPLINARY HEARING PANELS - There will occasionally be incidents or reports of conduct on the part of a student occurring outside the academic realm or usual purview of Albany Medical Center that cannot be resolved through interaction of the Promotions Committee or the Student Honor Committee and that may raise serious questions about the fitness of the student to continue in the study and eventual practice or teaching of medicine. Such matters shall first be referred to the Dean or the Dean's designee, who shall undertake an investigation, with which the student shall be required to fully cooperate, and thereafter recommend appropriate action.  If that recommendation is for dismissal, or if the Dean or the Dean's designee considers the matter of sufficient moment, the Dean or the Dean's designee may convene a disciplinary hearing panel to consider all aspects of the matter. The subject student is entitled to a hearing before a Disciplinary Hearing Panel (DHP) under these circumstances in order to present his or her case. The student must make a written request for a DHP hearing within five business days of such recommendation or be deemed to have waived it. 

The DHP shall consist of 7 members as follows: 3 faculty members of the Academic Governing Council, 3 other senior faculty, and the President of the Student Council. If a quorum of 5 faculty members of the DHP is not available, the Dean may appoint ad hoc members for a meeting. If the President of the Student Council is unable to attend a meeting, the Vice President of the Student Council may substitute. The Dean shall appoint a Chair from the membership for each case. 

Faculty members of the DHP shall serve three-year terms with two members being replaced each year.  In order to establish this rotation, the Committee shall initially have two faculty members serving one-year terms, two serving two-year terms and two serving three-year terms. No member of the Committee may serve more than two consecutive terms. In order to derive sufficient information upon which to base a recommendation, the DHP may interview the student and any other person appropriate to the matter at hand. The DHP hearing shall be conducted in most cases according to the following general guidelines, which shall be subject to adjustment at the reasonable discretion of the Chairman. 

A.        A reasonable attempt shall be made to notify the student in writing by personal delivery or by certified mail to his or her last  local address as shown in the records of the College that the DHP will conduct a hearing.  The notice shall contain a full and a fair summary of the information or changes against the student, sufficient to enable the student to formulate a response, as well as notice as to the date, time and location of the hearing.  

B.        A diligent effort shall be made to schedule the hearing not less than seven nor more than 21 calendar days following personal delivery or certified mailing of the notice. 

C.        The notice of the hearing shall (through sending the student these guidelines) inform the student of the following: 

  • The student has the right to be present at the hearing and is, in fact, is expected to be present.
  • The student may be accompanied at the hearing by legal counsel (one person) and, in addition, by his or her  faculty advisor.  The legal counsel may confer with and advise the student but may not interfere with or participate the proceedings.  The Student's counsel shall not interview witnesses. 
  • The College may have legal counsel present to confer with and advise the Committee and College personnel, but  such counsel may not interfere with the proceedings and shall not interview witnesses. 
  • A record or transcript will be made of the hearing and the student has the right to review such record or to obtain a copy or copies of such record upon payment of the cost of its reproduction. 
  • The student has the right to present such evidence, testimony, affidavits, exhibits, and witnesses as are relevant to the stated purposes of the hearing or to the charges upon which the recommendation for the hearing was based. 
  • Prior to the hearing, the student has the right to review his or her official Student record as defined by applicable law and any additional  material upon which the recommendation for the hearing has been based. Copies of items in the student record and copies of other pertinent materials may be obtained by the student upon payment of the reproduction costs. 

D.        Upon completion of the evidentiary portion of the hearing, the DHP shall proceed in executive session to determine the validity of the charge(s) and to recommend  to the Dean appropriate action, as decided by simple majority vote.  A minority report may, if desired, also be presented to the Dean. The minutes of the DHP in executive session shall not constitute part of the record of the hearing. Only the vote reached in such a session shall be included in the record.  If a request is made for a minority report to the Dean, that fact, too, shall be included. 

E.     The recommendation of the DHP shall be transmitted in writing within 72 hours of the adjournment of the executive session of the hearing to the Dean and to the student(s) involved.  The letter of notification to the student shall inform him or her of the right to apply in writing within 7 days to the Chairman of the Committee on Student Appeals for permission to appeal the decision of the DHP. Failure to submit such application within the specified time period shall constitute a waiver of the student's right to further appeal. 

D. COMMITTEE ON STUDENT APPEALS 

A. The Committee on Student Appeals shall consider appeals from students of sanctions imposed by the Academic Governing Council, the Progress Committee, Executive Committee, the interaction of the Student Honor Committee and the Dean pursuant to the Student Honor Committee recommendations or a Disciplinary Hearing Panel. The Committee on Student Appeals may, in its sole discretion, decide whether to hear the appeal and, if so, whether to hear it in depth as provided in paragraph C immediately below or conduct a formal hearing. At a minimum, however, the Committee shall consider the student's record as well as any relevant substantive information the student may offer within his or her appeal request.

The Committee shall be a subcommittee of the Academic Governing Council appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the Dean and shall be composed of five (5) members of that Council, chaired by one of these members as designated by the Dean. In order to provide the appropriate continuity in the deliberations of this standing committee, there will be no fixed terms for its members. Membership shall, however, be reviewed annually by a committee composed of the Dean, Vice Dean, and the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies.

B. A diligent effort shall be made to schedule a meeting of the Committee on Student Appeals not less than 3 nor more than 12 calendar days following actual receipt of the student's request for an appeal.

C. The Committee on Student Appeals shall not try a case or otherwise conduct its business in an adversarial fashion. If the Committee exercises its discretion to hear the appeal in depth, it shall consider only the written material submitted by the student, written documentation from the Progress Committee, the student record and in some cases additional information collected by the Committee in connection with any format, non-adversarial hearing it may convene or any personal appearance by the student or any other person(s) the Committee or its designee(s) may decide to interview. The Committee may only consider the following questions to guide its deliberations:

  • Were the requisite sanction procedures followed appropriately up to the time of the appeal?
  • Is there any potentially useful evidence that had not been available for consideration?
  • Was the sanction imposed in good faith and neither arbitrary, capricious nor clearly unreasonable?

D. On appeals from actions of the Progress Committee, the Committee on Student Appeals shall report within 24 hours, in writing, the results of its determination to the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies for implementation. The Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies shall notify the student, Center Director, and Graduate Director involved.

 E. On appeals from actions of the Academic Governing Council, Student Honor Committee, or Disciplinary Hearing Panel, the Committee on Student Appeals shall report within 24 hours, in writing, the results of its determination to the Vice Dean or the Dean's designated representative and the student(s) involved.

F. If it has considered the appeal in depth, the Committee on Student Appeals shall report separately on each of the three questions it is to consider (items C1, 2, 3), and may confirm the prior action or recommend to the Dean or the Dean's designee a rehearing of the case by the initiating body, a modification of the determination, or a modification of any sanctions imposed.

G. The Dean shall then make final and binding disposition of the matter concerning Academic Governing Council actions, Student Honor Committee actions, and Disciplinary Hearing Panel actions.

E. INTERIM ACTIONS - At any time during the preliminary investigation process, the hearing process or the appeals process, the Dean or the Dean's designee may suspend or remove a student from normal academic basic science or clinical science activities if such action is deemed to be in the interest of maintaining the normal function and atmosphere of the College. Such suspension or removal shall automatically be reviewed at the time of the next processing in any case and a recommendation for its continuation or termination made to the Dean.

Upon recommendation of any of the individuals or committees listed below, the Dean or the Dean's designee may require appropriate educational, psychometric or medical evaluation of a student in order to help determine his or her academic, behavioral, or emotional fitness for continuation as a graduate student:

  1. The Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies
  2. The Vice Dean for Academic Administration
  3. The Student Progress Committee
  4. The Executive Committee
  5. The Disciplinary Hearing Panel
  6. The Committee on Student Appeals