Academic Standing Policy

Guidelines of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee Medical College of Wisconsin Evaluation and Promotion System

The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee has attempted to formulate clear guidelines in regard to academic status and advancement. These guidelines are intended to present to all faculty and students the dispositions that may be applied to struggling students. It should be re-emphasized that the departments set the standards and determine if and when the standards have been met by the students. The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee will not recommend any alternative that requires less remediation than that required by the department. It may, however, require more. This should not be viewed by the faculty or the student as being punitive but as serving the interest of the students.

Professional ethics and appropriate personal and professional conduct are as essential to the practice of medicine as academic excellence. Unethical and/or inappropriate behavior will be considered by the Committee in its advancement and academic standing deliberations.

The Medical College's evaluation system consists of eight categories:

  • Honors (H), High Pass (HP), Pass (P), Satisfactory (S)
  • Low Pass (LP), Fail (F), Unsatisfactory (U), and Incomplete (I).

1. Promotion from one year to another is contingent upon completion of the required work of each year and the demonstration of appropriate professional conduct.

2. A student who is judged unsuited to enter the profession of medicine for reasons of conduct, behavior, ethics, or quality of work may be dismissed from the College.

3. All final course evaluations are due within one month of the completion of the course. All final evaluation forms become part of the student's permanent record which is maintained by the Office of the Registrar. 

4. Any student who encounters academic difficulties (including professional conduct related to academic performance) will be brought to the attention of the Committee. All options available to the Committee (listed below) may include placing a student on academic probation.

5. In reaching its decisions, the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee utilizes all information available to it. All evaluations by departments, individual faculty members, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, etc., are utilized to assess intellectual ability, motivation, and personality factors. Any student who encounters difficulties with academic and/or other professional development may be asked to meet with the Committee.

6. The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee considers a course evaluation of Low Pass to be a permanent grade which cannot be changed or removed from the transcript.  If a student has only one Low Pass, the academic status may not be significantly influenced. Two or more Low Pass evaluations may result in a requirement by the Committee for additional work up to and including repetition of the entire academic year. Further, several such evaluations or a combination of a Low Pass evaluation with any Fail evaluation may result in repetition of the academic year or dismissal from the College. 

7. A student failing to meet the standards set by a department for a course will be given a grade of F Fail or or a grade of U Unsatisfactory pursuant to the grade mode of the class.  Fail and Unsatisfactory evaluations must be accompanied by a statement from the department giving the requirements (repeat examination, repetition of the course, etc.) necessary to correct the deficiency.

8. One Fail or Unsatisfactory grade in a first or second-year course may be resolved by re-examination after further study or by repeating the course in a summer school program listed by the Association of American Medical Colleges.  This decision must be with the approval of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee after consultation by the Committee with the department involved. If the department concerned gives the student an evaluation of Pass for such work, the Committee on Academic Standing will concur. The grade of F Fail or U Unsatisfactory remains on the transcript; a new grade is added.

9. When two F failing and/or U unsatisfactory grades are posted in either the first or second-year curriculum, the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee will consider the requirements of the departments to correct the failures. A student usually cannot accomplish two course repetitions during a summer. Therefore, repetition of the year may be necessary. The Committee has the option to require the student to repeat the year if it believes a stronger base for subsequent work is needed.

10. Repetition of the year, assuming space and equipment are available, is limited to students believed to have sufficient ability to do medical school work but who are slow to adapt to such work, were inadequately prepared, have personal or health problems affecting performance, etc.  Students repeating the year will usually take all courses.  Exceptions may be made in circumstances where both the department and the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee agree the student has demonstrated adequate knowledge of the course material.

11. A student who does not obtain a grade of P Pass, S Satisfactory or better when repeating a course or courses will be considered for dismissal from the Medical College.

12. An evaluation of I Incomplete is used to identify a student who, at the time a course has ended, has not yet completed the usual course requirements, but has been temporarily excused (e.g., because of illness) from doing so by the department. The grade of Incomplete can be used only when a student has not been able to complete course requirements for some acute and unexpected circumstance beyond the student's control. The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee expects that the Incomplete will be converted as soon as possible.  If a supplementary evaluation is not received by the Registrar by August 1 following the academic year in which it was received, each I Incomplete grade will be converted to a Fail or Unsatisfactory. Both the Incomplete and the Fail or Unsatisfactory will remain on the student's permanent record regardless of when the final evaluation is received after August 1.

13. Students who have had academic difficulties or who have taken a leave-of-absence because of illness may be permitted alterations in the curriculum so they may be eligible to begin a residency program as close to the regular schedule as possible.  Each case will be considered individually.

14. Students who have serious emergencies (e.g., extended illness) may request that the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee waive one month of senior elective work. Students who fail the United States Medical Licensing Examination, Step 1 (administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners) will not be allowed routinely to waive one month of senior elective work. Each case will be considered individually.

15. For students with less than P Pass or S Satisfactory evaluations, the Committee may restrict the number of courses taken away from the college in the clinical years.

16. Students wishing reconsideration of decisions involving their record, with or without a personal appearance before the Committee, should send a written request that includes their reasons for reconsideration to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for consideration by the Committee.

17. The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee may request that the Associate Dean for Student Affairs communicate with course and clerkship directors regarding individual students.

18. Policy and Procedures for Examinations administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners:  

  1. Students enrolled at MCW are required to report a passing score on the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE), Step 1 before beginning their senior year.
  2. Students enrolled at MCW shall have three opportunities to pass the USMLE, Step 1.  Failure to pass the examination on the third attempt will be considered grounds for dismissal from MCW.  Only in exceptional extenuating circumstances, and with the permission of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee, will any student be permitted to take the examination a fourth time.
  3. Students enrolled at MCW are required to take and report a passing score on the USMLE, Step 2-CK in order to graduate. Students planning to graduate in May or June of the senior year must report a passing score to the Medical College no later than March 1 of the fourth year (MCW-Milwaukee) or the third year (MCW-Green Bay or MCW-Central Wisconsin).

i. Students shall have three opportunities to pass the USMLE, Step 2-CK. For those students who fail to post a passing CK score by March 1 of the senior year (and were scheduled to graduate in May or June), a passing score must be posted by no later than 6 months subsequent to the May or June graduation date in order to maintain degree candidate status for receipt of the Doctor of Medicine degree.  Failure to do so may place the student in jeopardy of losing degree candidate status and denial of the M.D. degree by MCW.

ii. USMLE Step 2-CS must be taken and a score reported by no later than March 1 of the student’s senior year for students planning to graduate in May or June.

ii. The scores earned on both parts of the Step 2 examination may be considered by the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee in making graduation decisions.

d. Students admitted with advanced standing into the second-year class will be required to follow these guidelines. Students admitted with advanced standing into the third-year class must have reported a passing score on the USMLE, Step 1 examination prior to admission, as dictated by the Admissions Committee. They will be required to follow paragraph "C" above regarding USMLE Step 2.

19. Family Leave Policy. The Medical College of Wisconsin recognizes the need of students to assume family duties, which sometimes requires time away from the curriculum.  In the interest of providing both a solid medical education and time for family responsibilities to students, the Medical College administrators will utilize all possible curriculum flexibility when family needs arise.  Students who need family leave must plan their schedules individually and as far in advance as possible with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.  Requests for alternatives other than those allowed by the usual curriculum flexibility will be brought to the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee.  Students who require a leave-of-absence for several months should be aware that their graduation date may be delayed as a result. Each case will be considered on an individual basis.

20. Policy Regarding Vacation in MCW-Milwaukee, M3 and M4 Years. Students enrolled at MCW-Milwaukee are entitled to a total of two months of vacation during the M3 and M4 years. This time may be taken by the student at any time during this two-year period. 

Students may elect to cluster vacation time to accommodate personal needs, allow time to review and prepare for the United States Medical Licensing Examinations, interview for residency or some other purpose.  Students should discuss an atypical schedule with their clinical advisor and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.   Students may not, however, take more than 8 consecutive weeks of vacation, including winter break. 

Students must register for Individual Professional Development (IPD) in the M4 year to be used for USMLE preparation and/or residency interviews.  IPD is not considered vacation.

Revised and Adopted by the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee on: January 5, 1994; July 20, 1994; November, 1994; April 11, 2000; October 8, 2002, November 17, 2004; October 12, 2006; November 15, 2007 and December 15, 2011.

Procedures for the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee Regarding the Dismissal of Students

  1. Whenever the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee determines, on the basis of available information, that a student's performance might warrant dismissal from the Medical College, it should initiate a hearing by mailing (registered or certified mail, return receipt requested) or personally delivering a written notice* to a student which:
    1. Indicates that the possibility of dismissal is under consideration;
    2. Describes the basis upon which dismissal is under consideration;
    3. Notifies the student that a hearing is to be conducted by the Committee before final action is taken;
    4. Notifies the student of the date, time and place of the hearing;
    5. Encloses a copy of these procedures or notifies the student of the office where a copy may be obtained without charge;
    6. Notifies the student that legal and/or academic counsel may accompany or represent the student at the hearing.  If the student will be accompanied or represented by legal counsel, the student should notify the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee of this fact no less than three (3) business days prior to the hearing.  The student may choose not to be present;
    7. Notifies the student that he/she may withdraw at any time prior to the beginning of the dismissal hearing. Once the hearing begins, withdrawal is no longer an option.
  2. The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee should conduct the hearing subject to the following:

a. Hearings should be held not less than five but no more than 15 business days after the date the notice is sent to the student.  Extensions of time for hearings should be authorized only for good and compelling reasons, and should be submitted in writing not less than three (3) business days in advance to the hearing;

b. The file pertaining to the student's case should be made available to the student or the student's advisor in advance of the hearing;

c. The student should be able to present any witnesses, data or evidence deemed appropriate by the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee and should have the right to confront witnesses, if any.  If the student wishes to present any information that is not contained in his or her permanent record, this information should be provided to the Committee two business days prior to the hearing.  If the new data or evidence is not provided in advance, the Committee may choose not to consider it.  The student should provide the Committee with a list of witnesses.  This information should likewise be provided two business days in advance; if not, the Committee may choose not to hear those witnesses.  The student and/or counsel, advocates and witnesses will have no more than 90 minutes to present evidence or testimony to the Committee;

d. If the student does not appear (personally or through counsel) without any satisfactory explanation for the absence having been made, or leaves the hearing before its conclusion, the hearing should proceed and a decision should be rendered based on the available evidence just as though the student had been present throughout the hearing;

e. The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee should maintain an orderly hearing and permit no person to be subjected to abusive treatment.  The Committee should also be able to question witnesses.  The Chair of the Committee is the presiding officer of the hearing and should rule on all questions of procedure or admissibility of evidence, and this ruling should be conclusive;

f. The hearing is not public and should be closed to anyone other than members of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee, the student being reviewed, appropriate advisors for each (legal counsel, faculty advisor, student's family and friends), the person designated to record the hearing, and witnesses while they are presenting evidence.  The student may have a total of two (2) advisers (counsel, witnesses, family members) present at any time.  Additional witnesses, if any, will be called one at a time and shall leave the hearing and may not return after presenting testimony except upon request of the Committee

g. The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee should make a summary of the hearing.  Tape recordings of the conduct of the hearing should be permitted and may be requested by the student;

h. Following presentation of evidence, all other participants should be asked to withdraw and the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee should privately consider the evidence and reach a decision.  A majority vote of the Committee members present and voting should be required for a binding decision.

  1. The Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee will make a decision, which will be effective immediately.
  1. Should the Committee find that dismissal of the student is warranted, the student should promptly be so notified.
  2. Should the Committee find that dismissal from the Medical College is warranted, the Committee should promptly prepare a written report, which should contain:

i. A brief summary of the facts found;

ii. A finding that the facts found demonstrated that the student failed to meet the academic and/or the professional standards of the Medical College;

iii. A statement of the action that the Committee has decided to take and the effective date of the action.

  1. A copy of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee's report should be delivered to the student personally or by registered or certified mail.
  2. The decision of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee will be treated as conclusive and binding unless appealed by the student.

*All correspondence with the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee should be directed to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, who serves as its corresponding secretary.

Developed by the Ad Hoc Committee of the Executive Committee of the Faculty and Committee on Academic Standing (1976-78). Approved by Executive Committee of the Faculty - May 9, 1978 Revised and Adopted by the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee, April 11, 2000.

Procedures for Appeals of Dismissal​

  1. A student may appeal a decision of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee or an Ad Hoc Hearing Committee to dismiss him/her from the Medical College by giving notice, in writing, of his/her intention to do so, to the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs within ten (10) days of the date on which the decision was mailed or delivered to the student. A student who does not give such notice within ten (10) days shall be deemed to have waived his or her right to appeal.
  2. The Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall inform the Dean of the Medical College of the student's appeal.  The Dean shall appoint an Appeals Committee of three senior faculty members to consider the appeal and shall appoint the Appeals Committee Chair. At least one of these faculty members shall have previously served on the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee.  The Appeals Committee is advisory to the Dean; that is, the Appeals Committee will make a recommendation to the Dean.  The Dean may accept or reject the recommendation of the Appeals Committee.
  3. The Appeals Committee shall set a date for hearing the appeal which shall be not more than thirty (30) days after its creation, and shall give written notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing to the student by personal delivery or by certified or registered mail.
  4. At least three days prior to the appeal hearing, a written report stating the decision of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee or an Ad Hoc Hearing Committee and the summary of the hearing conducted by that Committee, shall be delivered to the Appeals Committee Chair.
  5. At least three days prior to the appeal hearing, the student, or his/her representative shall submit to the chairman of the Appeals Committee a written statement detailing the grounds on which the appeal is based.
  6. The Chairman of the Appeals Committee shall distribute a copy of both these documents to members of the Appeals Committee at least two days prior to the appeal hearing.
  7. The Appeals Committee shall conduct its review in the following manner:
  1. The Appeals Committee will confine its consideration to the written report submitted by the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee and the written statement submitted by the student.  No new information and no new witnesses or advocates will be considered.  The student, his/her faculty advisor and/or legal counsel may appear and present a statement.  A representative of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee or Ad Hoc Hearing Committee may appear and explain the context of the particular committee’s decision, make statements, ask questions and interact with all persons present at the hearing.  Members of the Appeals Committee may question those present on pertinent matters, but these matters must relate to the grounds for the appeal or the basis for the particular committee’s findings.

The Appeals Committee must determine whether the substantial rights of the student have been violated by virtue of the fact that:

  1. The decision of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee is arbitrary and capricious;
  2. The decision reflects an unfair or incorrect application of college policies.
  1. No irregularity in the procedure or deliberations of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee or Ad Hoc Hearing Committee shall be a ground for rejection of the Appeals Committee's decision so long as it has conformed substantially to suggested guidelines, unless the substantial rights of the student have been prejudiced by any such irregularity.
  2. The Appeals Committee shall recommend to the Dean of the Medical College that the decision by the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee or Ad Hoc Hearing Committee to dismiss the student be confirmed or reversed.
  3. Hearings before the Appeals Committee are not public.  Members of the Appeals Committee, the student, his or her faculty advisor and/or his or her legal counsel, a representative of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee, or Ad Hoc Hearing Committee, legal counsel for the Medical College, and a person designated to record the hearing may be present.  All hearings may be recorded.
  4. Following the presentations and questioning, the Appeals Committee shall consider the matter privately.  A majority vote of the three-member committee will determine its recommendation.  The legal counsel for the Medical College may remain for the deliberations of the Committee, if the Committee members so request.
  5. The Appeals Committee will inform the Dean of the Medical College of its recommendation in writing and also in person, if the Dean so desires.  In its written statement, the Appeals Committee shall state its recommendation and rationale.
  1. The Dean of the Medical College shall consider the recommendation of the Appeals Committee and shall render his/her decision regarding the student appeal within seven (7) days. The Dean may investigate further, clarify issues and communicate with all persons involved in the case. The Dean may reconvene the Appeals Committee, if necessary.  If the Dean requires additional time, he/she will notify the student when the final decision will be made. The Dean shall either:
  1. Accept the decision of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee to dismiss the student;
  2. Reverse the decision to dismiss the student. If the Dean reverses the decision, the case may be returned to the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee for further consideration.
  1. A written copy of the Dean's decision shall be delivered with reasonable promptness to each of the following:

a. The Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs;

b. The student, in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested;

c. The Chair of the Academic Standing and Professionalism Committee or Ad Hoc Hearing Committee.

  1. The decision by the Dean of the Medical College shall be final.

Approved by the Executive Committee of the Faculty, July 11, 1995

Page Updated 08/24/2017