The questions below have been posed by graduate students at various
stages of their careers. They seem to fall into two categories:
technical, and those which ask what happens if I (and to what extent
can and how do I) do things which are perceived to be beyond the
written policies of the department.
The remarks below represent an interpretation of current policies
by the Graduate Program Committee, but just as our own court system
constantly refines its interpretation of laws, the interpretations
below can and no doubt will change with time.
Let the questions begin
- The most important question: Who or what is the
definitive source for answers about policies affecting your status in
the graduate program?
- Registering for Classes: What is the department
policy on signing up for independent studies, taking classes outside
the department, dropping or adding a class late? What does it mean to
sign up for thesis research versus graduate research versus a reading
course versus independent research versus supervised teaching, etc.? What
classes count towards the 15-course requirement for a master's degree? What
should you do if you haven't taken enough "real" classes?
- Opting out/auditing of required courses: What do you do if you don't
want to take one of the core courses on which the written
certification exam is based (because you've already seen the
material)? Can I audit a class?
- Grades in Classes: How do grades in graduate
classes work? What does it actually mean if you get a low pass? Do
graduate students have classes on days that undergrads get off?
What do you do if
What circumstances warrant an
extension? How does the GPC view missing a deadline?
How do qual deadline impact the
teaching seminar and advancing to candidacy?
What happens if you don't make the deadlines?
- you think you won't be able to make a deadline (including extended
- you think you want to change your committee?
- you're having trouble finding a
time before deadline that both committee members can be there?
fail part of a qual (both traditional and non-traditional ways that
people have been asked to finish their qual)?
- Travel Funding: What kinds of funds are
available for graduate students to attend conferences? How do I
request funding? What are examples of the kinds of things that have and
haven't received funding?
- Teaching Seminar: What is the teaching seminar?
What are my responsibilities within it? What are my responsibilities
in addition to it? Does passing the seminar mean I am in charge of my
- Seminars: What seminars exist in the department?
Should you attend them if you haven't picked a research area yet? How do you
find out about seminar talks? What about colloquia? What's the point
of going to talks if you get lost all the time?
- Being away from the department: for a day, a
week, a month, or forever -- when does going on vacation count as a
leave of absence? What do you do if you're a first or second year,
and your potential advisor tells you you should go to a conference,
but the professor teaching your course says you shouldn't? If you
don't get GPC approval before leaving to do something math-related,
what happens? What's department policy on leaving campus during
- How much trouble am I in?:
If you're not on probation, do you automatically count as a student in
- Outside Funding and Tutoring:
Can I receive outside funding? Can I get a tutoring job? Can I get
paid by a summer workshop or REU?
- I've passed quals, now what?
- Choosing an Advisor:
What are good strategies for finding an advisor (and secondary advisor)?
- Advancing to Candidacy: What forms? Where do you get
the forms? To whom do you turn them? What do you do if you don't have
enough thesis passes?
- Having Trouble with a Thesis Advisor::
What do you do if you're having a problem with your thesis advisor?
What do you do if you want to change thesis advisors?
What's the department policy on
interdisciplinary work and thesis advisors outside the math department?
What about thesis advisors at other schools?
- Language Exam: I didn't know there was a deadline...
- Thesis Defense: What happens if you don't finish your
thesis on time or need to reschedule your thesis defense?
- Teaching: What are the policies on using other people's
problems or tests? What's the procedure if you're going to fail
someone? What do you do if you have problems with your evaluation by the
teaching committee? What happens if the department is unhappy with
- Fifth Year Teaching Experience: How do I propose a
project and to whom? What are some possibilities for what to do?
- Who's Who: What are the roles of the GPC,
the Graduate Student Representative, the Graduate Student Advisor,
Advisor to First Year Graduate Students, Head of the Graduate Program,
the Graduate Admissions Committee, Department Administrator,
Department Secretary, etc? What kinds of questions do each group or
- Tea: How do I handle tea (getting the card, setting up,
cleaning up, turning in receipts), plus what to do if you forget or
lose the card?