Academic Regulations

The School of Graduate Studies administers university policies as they pertain to graduate programs, including the Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Professional MPA (PMPA) programs at Queen’s University.

An online calendar, updated annually, provides comprehensive information on Queen’s graduate programs. It also provides information on admissions, awards and registration, and serves as a record of the policies and procedures of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

General regulations are posted through the School of Graduate Studies.

This select listing is intended to be used as a quick reference for the convenience of students and faculty in the School of Policy Studies. Related policies and procedures established by the School of Policy Studies are also included here.

Academic Integrity Policy

Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. For more information visit the International Center for Academic Integrity's website. These values are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the “freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas” essential to the intellectual life of the University. See the Senate Report on Principles and Priorities.

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the Academic Integrity Policy of the School of Graduate Studies.

Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen's. Given the seriousness of these matters, actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning and the loss of grades on an assignment to the rescinding of a degree.

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Students are expected to attend all classes, except for reasons of medical or exceptional personal circumstances. Whether or not class participation is formally recognized as part of the course grade, the interaction and quality of classroom learning is significantly enhanced by full attendance.

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Ethics Review at the School of Policy Studies

The School works with the University's Vice-Principal of Research office's Ethics Policies and Procedures. As a member of the University community, it is expected that you will abide by this policy in your research work. It means respect for the rights and dignity of the people involved in your research. A few relatively straightforward steps will make this possible.

Recruitment of subjects and data collection cannot begin without the necessary ethics approval. So, plan ahead and get organized.

Does my project need ethics review?

All applicants who will be undertaking "human subject research" must have their project reviewed and approved by the appropriate institutional Research Ethics Board (REB) prior to starting their research. Which REB will depend on the risk and subject matter (see note on health-related ethics review). All reviews must go through the School’s Unit Research Ethics Board (UREB) in the first step.

How to get started:

Instructions for filling out the Application Form for Ethics Clearance are posted on the VPR's website.

Faculty are required to fill out and submit the application form online.

Graduate students doing research in a course or for a Master's Research Project that involves human subject research should fill out the application form online but not submit their application for online. Instead, they will be required to submit their application form in hard copy form to the UREB Administrative Coordinator. Be sure to discuss your ethics requirements with your course instructor first since the instructor may have already obtained a class coursework ethics approval.

Required CORE Training

The VPR has provided a short online tutorial to acquaint researchers with research ethics. 

Please note that all graduate students are now required to complete the CORE training prior to engaging in any course or thesis-based research. We also recommend that all faculty and staff engaged in research take the CORE training.


Applicants should allow the Unit Research Ethics Board (UREB) committee a minimum of 15 working days to review their application and at least 6 weeks for the review by the University level General Research Ethics Board (GREB). For further information, contact one of the current members on the Unit Research Ethics committee.

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Grading System

The Senate approved the following official grading system comprising letter grades with pluses and minuses be implemented in May 2011.

Graduate students must attain a minimum grade of B- in all courses approved as part of their degree program.

The following criteria are used by instructors in the School of Policy Studies:

  • A grade of A or above is a mark of excellence and rare. Students who demonstrate superior understanding of the material may expect to receive a grade of A-.
  • A student who demonstrates competence in the accomplishment of class objectives should expect to receive a grade in the B to B+ range.
  • Students who show only an adequate grasp of the material may expect to receive a grade of B-.
  • Students who do not master important aspects of the material or fail to accomplish key objective should expect to receive a failing grade of C+ or less.
Letter Grade Grade Points Percentage Equivalents
A+ 4.3 90-100
A 4.0 85-89.9
A- 3.7 80-84.9
B+ 3.3 77-79.9
B 3.0 73-76.9
B- 2.7 70-72.9
C+ 2.3 67-69.9
C 2.0 63-66.9
C- 1.7 60-62.9
D+ 1.3 57-59.9
D 1.0 53-56.9
D- 0.7 50-52.9

Failed Courses

Where a student does not achieve a final grade of B- in a course, the student may be allowed to take a repeat examination or assignment within two terms after the term in which the course was offered.

In cases of non-marginal failures and in cases where a student with a marginal failure has failed the repeat examination, the Program Director, after consulting with the course instructor and Student Progress Committee, may recommend to the Graduate Committee for Planning and Policy Programs that the student:

  1. repeat the examination or assessment exercise (as the case may be) within one year after the original examination or assessment took place; or,
  2. repeat the course; or,
  3. take a substitute course approved by the Graduate Committee for Planning and Policy Programs; or,
  4. be asked to withdraw from the Program.

The failed course and grade will not normally be removed from the transcript. Students failing two courses will be asked to withdraw from the Program.

If such a recommendation is not made by the Student Progress Committee or, if made, is not approved by the School of Graduate Studies, any student who fails to obtain the required standing in any of the primary courses shall be required to withdraw.

Grades are collected by the Program Coordinators and approved by the Program Directors (or the School's Director in his/her absence) before being reported to the School of Graduate Studies. The official transcript forms part of the student file.

The Student Progress Committees includes all regular faculty, all adjuncts teaching during a given academic year who have taught in a previous academic year and, in the Fall and Winter terms, all adjuncts teaching courses in the term in question. The committee reviews aggregate student performance in the Fall and Winter terms, and it is provided the information on students in academic difficulty, necessary to make a recommendation on the student's continuance in the program.

Incomplete Grades

All students are expected to meet assigned deadlines in the completion of course requirements. A student who is unable to meet an approaching deadline, due to serious medical or personal reasons, should immediately notify the course instructor. In such cases the instructor may agree to accept outstanding work by a later date.

Students with a disability that may affect their academic performance or who are facing serious medical or personal difficulties should see the appropriate counsellor at Queen's Health Counselling and Disability Services who will advise the School on any necessary accommodations including whether the student will need to negotiate longer deadlines for assignments.

If the agreed deadline for submission of outstanding work extends beyond the term in which the course is offered, the instructor will submit an "Incomplete" (IN) grade. The instructor should also provide a provisional mark for the student file that reflects the work actually completed by the student. If an incomplete grade is not replaced by a final grade before the end of the term following the term in which the course was offered, the School of Graduate studies will automatically change the “incomplete” grade to a “failure”. In extenuating circumstances, on the request of the instructor, the Program Director may recommend for consideration by the School of Graduate Studies that this deadline be extended.

All outstanding work must be submitted before the start of the next academic year. Students with incomplete grades will not normally be permitted to register for the next academic year. If the missing work is not submitted by the end of August, the School of Policy Studies may report the provisional grade as the final mark for the course. This could mean a failing grade. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved in writing by the Program Director, who may consult the Student Progress Committee before making a decision.

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Facilities and Services at the School


All emergencies should be reported to Campus Security and can be reached by calling 613-533-6111.

Office/Building Hours

The General Office (MackIntosh Corry Hall, C321) is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The front doors to Robert Sutherland Hall are normally opened at 7:00 am and locked at 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. With the exception of PMPA weekends and occasional special events, the building is normally also locked on Saturdays and Sundays. Queen’s security staff conduct a security check each night.

Keeping Safe

Working alone always increases risk. We suggest that you avoid working alone, whenever possible, in the building. Work with a buddy or a group when in the building, or work in a public space such as the Library. If you are working alone outside normal business hours, we suggest that you:

Advise Queen’s Security (613-533-6080) that you are in the building and let them know where you are (i.e. your office number) and the approximate time that you expect to leave the building. They are available to call you every hour for a security check. Remember to let them know when you are leaving the building.

Walking after Dark

Safe Walk

Campus Security provides escorted walks from one point on campus to another for staff, faculty and students when Walkhome is off duty. This service is provided at any time, day or night, all year round.

Anyone who wishes to be escorted can call 613-533-6080. Security Staff will be sent to meet you and will escort you to your destination.

AMS Walkhome

Walkhome is a service provided by the Alma Mater Society (AMS) that offers safe walks to students, both on the Queen’s campus and within the Kingston community.

Stop by the kiosk in the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC), or call 613-533-WALK (9255). See hours of operation.

Note that there is an emergency phone at the main entrance to the building.

Student Lounge

The Student Lounge is located on the third floor of the Robert Sutherland Hall and is accessible during regular business hours.

Meeting Rooms

Meeting rooms for larger groups (8-16 people) are also available for student use. Reservations can be made by contacting the General Office (Mackintosh Corry Hall) or by email at least 24 hours in advance.

Reference Letters

Students and alumni who require reference letters need to grant faculty permission to access their files and by filling out a Academic Reference Request Form.

Once completed and before access to the student's file may be granted, this form must be submitted to the SPS main office. The completed form will be retained in the student file for a period of time.

The form is not a request for a letter of reference. Requests for letters must be made directly to the relevant faculty. This form simply grants permission for the file to be accessed by the letter writer. Whether such access is required to write a letter of reference is up to the letter writer and the individual making the request.

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Refund Policy

The School of Policy Studies collects program, registration and/or administration fees for various activities including conferences, special events and supplementary academic activities relating to class trips, exchange programs, etc.

Supplementary Academic Activities

(incl. International Exchange/MPA Class Trips)

An administrative fee of $75 will be applied to all cancellations. In addition, where the School has already paid a third party for services that cannot be refunded, that portion of the cost will not be refunded.

Review of Academic Decisions

These procedures supplement, but do not replace, the general regulations for the review and appeal of academic decisions as set out by the University Senate in the Student Appeals, Rights & Discipline document. Any academic decision may be appealed. Procedures for appealing a grade in a course are set out below. Appeals of other academic decisions should first be made informally to the instructor or to the MPA Program Director. The student must ensure that the Program Director is aware of all the facts that the student believes should bear upon the reconsideration of the decision. This should be done within two weeks of the receipt of the decision. If the student is unable to resolve the problem by informal discussion, an appeal may be lodged with the Program Director of the School of Policy Studies, who will normally respond to the appeal within two weeks. If the student is still not satisfied, s/he may invoke the procedures in of the School of Graduate Studies regarding Appeals Against Academic Decisions.

Initial inquiries about a grade assigned to a student should be directed to the course instructor. The student should make clear to the instructor the reasons for his/her concern and communicate all facts that the student believes relevant to the determination of the grade. The instructor should make clear to the student the reasons for the evaluation.

If the student and instructor are unable to resolve the matter and the student deems the grade academically improper, the student may formally appeal the grade in writing to the Program Director. If the course instructor is the Program Director, the appeal should be made to the Director of the School. The request to appeal a grade should be done as soon as possible and normally within one month of notice of the grade to the student. Within two weeks of receiving written notice of the appeal, the Program Director (or Director of the School) will have 7 days to request and then 7 days to receive from the instructor:

  • a copy of the course requirements;
  • a copy of the instructor's directions to students for the course element being appealed;
  • an unmarked copy of the paper or examination question, the grade of which is being appealed;
  • the instructor's reasons, in writing, for awarding the grade which is being appealed.

Within three weeks of receiving written notice of the appeal, the Program Director will choose a second reader from the School's faculty or from within the University's faculty and provide the new reader with a copy of the instructor's directions for the relevant assignment(s) and a clear unmarked copy of the student's submitted work. The grade and any significant written comments by the instructor will be removed from the assignment(s). The second reader will normally be asked to make a recommendation within three weeks.

If the second reader recommends that a substantially different grade (i.e. more or less than 3 marks) is warranted or the new grade crosses a threshold (i.e. 65 or 80), the Program Director may recommend a change in grade. The result of the appeal will be reported to the student and the course instructor.

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