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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Student Admission

faculty handbook

Graduate Student Recruitment

Potential graduate students are invited to spend a day in the Department; admission decisions are made after that day.

How Graduate Students are Allocated to Faculty

Graduate students are funded by GSAS, and we are given a fixed number of GSAS stipends. Additional graduate students can be funded by a faculty member with external funding to support the graduate student.

The Graduate Admissions Committee uses the following guidelines to allocate graduate student applicants supported by GSAS stipends. These guidelines were approved by the faculty on February 24, 2010.

1. Faculty who request to admit graduate students need to have an active program of research, as evidenced by a recent history of publishing in peer reviewed journals.

Rationale: Without a history of publishing, faculty cannot provide the kind of training that students need in order to be competitive on the post-doctoral and job market.

2. Faculty who want to have a graduate student covered by GSAS should either hold a current grant or be actively applying for grants. It is understood that junior faculty may well not yet have grants, but they should be actively applying.

Rationale: Grant support is needed to cover student summer support. For the last several years, the Department has had excess stipend money that was used for summer support for non grant-funded students, but we cannot count on this surplus being available year after year.

3. Faculty with grants should cover their student summer salaries with grant funds and/or REG funds. Faculty without grants who have graduate students must apply for summer Research Expense Grants to help towards summer support, and yearly Research Incentive Grants which, if funded, could fully cover summer salary.

4. In most cases, junior faculty are given priority over senior faculty for graduate students.

Rationale: Junior faculty need graduate students to get their labs running so that they can be as research active as possible in preparation for tenure review.

5. Faculty who ask to admit a particular student should have a secondary advisor in place who has reviewed the student’s folder before contacting the admissions committee. The secondary advisor is part of the student’s committee and should be an integral part of the mentoring of the graduate student as the student develops his/her plan of study. If the relationship between primary advisor and student does not work out, the secondary advisor is committed to serving as primary advisor as long as the student is in good standing. However, the student may be required to change research areas and perhaps even dissertation topics given the expertise of the new advisor. In such cases, the student will not count as one of the faculty member’s allocated GSAS doctoral student stipends.

Rationale: This ensures that two faculty members consider the student worthy of admission, and that two faculty members work with the student to develop the plan of study. This also ensures that the student has an advisor to turn to if the primary advisor relationship does not work out.

6. Students whose first language is not English should be interviewed in person or by phone by the primary advisor to make sure that their spoken/aural English is good enough for graduate study. The writing in the application’s statement of purpose should be weighed carefully in terms of what this tells us of the student’s writing skills in English.

Rationale: High standardized test scores on the TOEFL are not always sufficient to determine how well the student can speak English.

7. Faculty who serve as primary and secondary advisors commit to attending all of the student’s important committee meetings: M.A. thesis defense, Ph.D. dissertation proposal defense, and Ph.D. dissertation defense. Faculty who are on sabbatical are expected to attend these meetings, if necessary by Skype.

8. All primary advisors who submit grant applications must include at least one 12-month funding line for a graduate student for the duration of the grant. If the grant is awarded, the faculty member is expected to use these funds towards supporting the graduate student, unless the graduate student obtains an outside fellowship. These procedures must be followed if the faculty member is to continue being granted students from the departmental allocation.

Rationale: In order to expand the size of our graduate program, we need to be able to fund as many students as possible on external funding.