Feb 15, 2019  
2011-12 Graduate Catalog 
2011-12 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Graduate Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

The Graduate Council and the College of Graduate Studies have approved in principle the document Graduate Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.


  1. Graduate students have a right to be respected as individuals of merit and as junior colleagues of faculty. The student’s vulnerability must not be exploited in any way by faculty, administration, or staff. (Reference: Faculty Handbook, Ethics Guidelines, Section IV, I.B., I.C.2, page 2)
  2. Graduate students have a right to an accurate and timely description of the availability and the likelihood of financial and resource support within their program and within the University and will be given an equal opportunity to compete for support for which they are eligible.
    1. Prospective and currently enrolled graduate students should be provided a thorough description of the requirements and qualifications necessary for holding teaching assistantships and graduate assistantships and receiving financial support from the University.
    2. Prospective and currently enrolled graduate students should be provided a thorough description of the requirements and qualifications for all academic and financial awards in their programs and in the Graduate Catalog. They are to be assured that competition for any and all academic awards will be available to eligible graduate students and that evaluation for such awards will be fair and objective. They also should be informed of the procedures for evaluating applicants.
  3. Graduate students have a right to be informed of specific requirements for achieving an advanced degree. Each department should communicate clearly these requirements to its students, and it should notify currently enrolled students in writing of any changes. Prospective and currently enrolled graduate students have a right to know of the normal time to complete a degree within a specific graduate program.
  4. Graduate students have a right to a nonbiased evaluation of their progress toward achieving an advanced degree (Constitution of the Student Government Association, Art. II Sec. 3). The criteria should be clearly understood by the graduate advisor and student.
  5. If a graduate student requests an explanation, reasons for unsatisfactory performance on preliminary, qualifying, or comprehensive examinations should be given in writing.
  6. Graduate students have a right to substantive feedback and regular guidance concerning their academic performance.
    1. Graduate students and their thesis/dissertation directors should arrive at and maintain a mutually agreeable schedule of evaluative/supervisory conferences.
    2. Graduate students must be notified in writing of unsatisfactory performance before any attempt is begun to dismiss them from a graduate program. Only the dean of the College of Graduate Studies can dismiss a student from a graduate program for academic reasons and normally only upon the recommendation of the graduate program coordinator and department chair. Graduate students have the right to appeal for cause any decision affecting their academic standing as a graduate student. Cause excludes grade appeals, which are under the purview of the MTSU Grade Appeals Committee. The burden of responsibility rests with the appellant to provide a timely, cogent, and convincing written documentation of the facts upon which the appeal is based. Further information may be obtained from the appeals document from the Graduate Council, Section III.
  7. Graduate students have a right to freedom from unlawful discrimination in any actions, including those based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, and religious or political beliefs. (Constitution of the Student Government Association, Art. II Sec. 1.2.6; MTSU Policies and Procedures Manual IV: 07:06, IV:07:16:i). University grievance procedures should be available upon request at the Graduate College. Opportunities for informal resolution should also be explained to the student when appropriate.
  8. Graduate students have a right to reasonable confidentiality in their communications with professors. (Constitution of the Student Government Association, Art. II Sec. 4; MTSU Policies and Procedures Manual II:02:00)
    1. In general, a student’s performance or behavior should not be discussed by a professor with other students.
    2. Discussion among faculty of a student’s performance should be of a professional nature and should be limited to the student’s academic performance and fitness as a graduate student: the substance of the communication should be based on need-to-know, relevant information.
  9. Graduate students have a right to refuse to perform tasks if those tasks are not closely related to their academic or professional development as part of their defined responsibilities.
  10. Graduate students have a right to receive fair recognition for their efforts and contributions to cooperative research projects, including co-authorship of publications. Due efforts and recognition should be determined prior to the project commencement whenever possible.
  11. Graduate students should be represented in the decision-making process relative to graduate issues in their departments and programs; however, the representation is program specific, possibly taking many different forms. Graduate students should have the opportunity annually to evaluate their professors in writing without fear of retribution.
  12. Graduate students have a right to review vitae of faculty members within their degree programs/departments who are qualified/eligible to serve on their graduate committees. These vitae should be made available at the time the students are accepted into their programs to aid them in selecting their committee members.


  1. Graduate students have a responsibility to read and become familiar with the Graduate Catalog and the Student Rights and Responsibilities booklet.
  2. Graduate students have a responsibility to complete and submit all documents required for admission to the College of Graduate Studies and to their departments.
  3. Graduate students have a responsibility to conduct themselves in all academic activities in a manner befitting the professorate. Graduate students’ behavior should be a credit to themselves, the degree program/department, and the University. (Student Rights and Responsibilities booklet)
  4. Graduate students have a responsibility to devote appropriate time and energy toward achieving the advanced degree within a reasonable time frame as specified by their graduate programs.
  5. Graduate students have a responsibility to uphold ethical norms and honesty in research methodology and scholarship. (Student Rights and Responsibilities booklet; MTSU Policies and Procedures Manual I:01:24; “A Statement of Graduate Students’ Research Rights and Responsibilities at MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business”)
  6. Graduate students have a responsibility to not misrepresent themselves academically. It is a Class A misdemeanor to misrepresent academic credentials. Any graduate student who misrepresents his or her credentials to gain admission into MTSU will be subject to disciplinary action from the University which may include dismissal from the University.
  7. Graduate students have a responsibility to communicate regularly with faculty members and advisors, especially in matters related to research and progress within the graduate program.
  8. Graduate students are encouraged to participate in the campus community to the extent that they are able and to enrich the campus in whatever ways possible, including contributing to the following:
    1. the academic development and the social environment of the department in which they are pursuing the advanced degree and
    2. decision making relative to graduate student issues in the department, student government, and university.

Student Access to Educational Records


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records. Student must be afforded notice of their rights under FERPA, and the types of personally identifiable information considered as directory information.


“Educational Records” are those records, files, documents, and other materials which (1) contain information directly related to a student; and, (2) are maintained by Middle Tennessee State University (“the University” or “MTSU”) or by a person acting for the University. Education Records refers to information recorded in any medium including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, tapes, film, CDs, cartridges, diskettes, and disk storage or electronic devices. Education records do not include (1) personal notes not accessible or revealed to others; (2) records maintained by law enforcement personnel solely for law enforcement purposes; (3) employment records (except those of student employees); (4) medical, psychological, and psychiatric records (these are accessible by the student’s physician); or, (5) records created or received after an individual is no longer a student in attendance that are not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student.

For all nondisciplinary purposes, a student is any person who is or has been enrolled (registered for at least one class) at the University. An applicant who does not enroll or who is declared ineligible has no inherent right to inspect his or her file. Wherever “student” is used in reference to personal rights, an eligible parent of a dependent student has similar rights. The “eligible” parent is one who has satisfied Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and who presents such proof to the custodian of the education records. Normally, this proof will be a certified copy of the parent’s most recent federal income tax form.

Information deemed to be directory in nature may be released without a student’s prior written consent. “Directory information” includes the student’s name, address, email address, telephone listing, photograph, year and place of birth, major field of study, enrolled hours, student level (freshman, sophomore, etc.) participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and dates conferred, awards and dates received, and the most recent educational agency or institution attended by the student. A student may request that such directory information not be released to anyone other than those persons defined as school officials. To do so, a Request for Nonrelease of Directory Information must be filed in the Registrar’s Office, Cope Administration 106. The request is valid until the student requests the institution to remove it. A student must notify the Registrar’s Office in writing to resume the release of directory information.

Release of Personally Identifiable Student Educational Records

The University shall not permit access to, or the release of, any information in the education records of any student that is personally identifiable, other than directory information, without the written consent of the student.

However, there are several exceptions which allow the University to disclose personally identifiable information without the student’s prior written consent. One such exception concerns disclosures to school officials. A school official is a person employed by MTSU in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom MTSU has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using University employees or officials; a person serving on the Board of Regents or an employee of the Board of Regents; or, a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his/her tasks.

A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibilities for the University.

NOTE: With the exception of school officials who have been determined by the University to have a legitimate educational interest, all individuals and agencies who have requested or obtained access to a student’s record (other than directory information) will be noted in a record which is kept with each student’s Education Record. A request must be in writing stating the purpose of the request. This record will also indicate specifically the legitimate interest that the persons or agency had in obtaining the information.

Procedures for Accessing Educational Records

Eligible students have a right to inspect and review their Education Records. To do so the student must request the custodian make the records available. The student may ask for an explanation and/or a copy of the record.

(The price of the copies shall not exceed the cost of duplicating the record.) The records shall be made available within 45 days after the request. After consultation with the records custodian, the student may seek amendment of the record(s) the student believes to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights. If there is a disagreement between the student and the records custodian as to the correctness of the data contained in the record, the student may submit a request for a hearing. The request and the formal challenge to the content of the records must be presented in writing to the chair of the Student Appeals Committee. The chair shall call a meeting no later than forty-five (45) days after receipt of the written appeal and challenge. The committee will allow the student to present evidence to substantiate the appeal and shall render a written decision to the student within forty-five (45) days after the meeting. If the University decides not to amend the record, it shall inform the student of the right to place a statement in the record commenting on the contested information in the record or stating why he/she disagrees with the decision of the committee.

NOTE: This procedure does not provide for a hearing to contest an academic grade.


The right of a student to access his/her education records does not include access to:

  1. financial records of parents or any information therein;
  2. confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation; or
  3. records to which access has been waived by a student. (This applies only if a student, upon request, is notified of the names of all persons making confidential recommendations and if such recommendations are used solely for the purpose for which they were intended.)

Complaint Process

Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. Such complaints may be submitted to:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901

Notice to Students

MTSU informs its students of the policy governing privacy rights of students’ Education Records (FERPA) via the online catalog; annual email, and the University website. A listing of the types of records and related information follows.

Revised: July 22, 2011

Educational Records at MTSU

Type of Educational Record   Information in Record
  Persons with Access   Custodian Who Reviews/Expunges Record
Academic Record   Courses, grades, degrees, entrance examination scores   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Locator Information   Personal address, e-mail addresses, telephone no., class schedule   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Nonrelease Lists   Information concerning nonrelease of records   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Withdrawal Records   Demographic; reason for withdrawal   Faculty/staff with official need   University College and Registrar
Student Folder (Undergraduate)   Application for admission, receipt for admission fee, high school transcript, previous college transcript, general correspondence, admission test scores   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Student Folder (Graduate)   Application for admission, previous college transcripts, general correspondence, references, test scores (Miller’s Analogy, Cooperative English, GRE, ACTSB, GMAT, TOEFL)   Faculty/staff with official need   Dean of College of Graduate Studies
Application to Upper Division Form   Name, degree, major, minor(s), courses, grades   Faculty/staff with official need   College Graduation Coordinator
Teacher Reports of Incomplete, Change of Grade Forms   Grades for particular courses   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Grade Records   Students in each class and final grade   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Drop/Add Forms/Transactions   Class change data   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Change of Major Academic Program Forms   Major change, advisor’s name   Faculty/staff with official need   Department/School of Major and Registrar
Military Veteran’s Files   Enrollment data; dates of attendance   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Change of Name, Address, Telephone Number Form/Transaction   Name, address, telephone number changes   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Transcripts from Previous Institutions   Courses and grades   Faculty/staff with official need   Registrar
Test Scores (ACT/SAT, GED, academic assessment)   Scores on tests required for admission   Faculty/staff with official need   Director of Admissions
Application for Admission   Demographic   Faculty/staff with official need   Director of Admissions
Residency (undergraduate, graduate)   Residency classification and information   Faculty/staff with official need   Director of Admissions and Dean of College of Graduate Studies
Application for Admission and Test Scores (International)   Demographic and scores on tests required for admission   Faculty/staff with official need   International Education Office
Financial Statement (International)   Information concerning student’s finances   Faculty/staff with official need   International Education Office
Educational Experiences Form (International)   Student’s previous schooling   Faculty/staff with official need   International Education Office
Form I-20 (International)   Eligibility certificates for international students   Faculty/staff with official need   International Education Office
Resumes and References   Personal data; personal recommendations  

Faculty/staff with official need

  Career Development Center Officer
Discipline   Violations and penalties   Personnel in Dean of Students’ Office   Dean of Student Life
Counseling Record   Demographic and counseling summary   Individual student   Director of Counseling Services
Payroll   Payments, withholdings   Payroll clerks, office supervisors   Business Manager
Payroll, Facilities Services   Number of hours worked and rate of pay   Facilities Services Office director/supervisor   Director of Facilities Services
Loans   Amount borrowed, repayments, correspondence   Loan supervisor and clerks in Loan Office   Bursar
Student Receivables   Amounts due from students for various reasons, i.e., rents, parking violations, fee errors   Business Office staff   Bursar
Dishonored Checks   Amounts of checks, correspondence, etc.   Business Office staff   Bursar
Student Deposits   Deposit amounts, date deposited, purpose, etc.   Business Office staff   Bursar
Student Registration Records (Payments)   Fees paid, type, etc.   Business Office staff   Bursar
Sun Belt Conference Eligibility List   Student’s academic standing for eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics   Staff with official need   Athletic Director