Graduate Studies

The following sections provide some general guidelines to ensure that new graduate students have a relatively easy transition to graduate studies. It focuses on how to develop a healthy working relationship with a supervisor, supervisory committee, and department, as well as the larger administrative offices such as the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR). It also provides a graduate student with important information on his or her rights and responsibilities and outlines what to do when disputes occur.

Introduction

A graduate student usually enters a program with two tasks in mind: the completion of senior level coursework, and the researching of a thesis or other major project under the guidance of a supervisor. The program takes from one year (course-based Master’s programs) to six years (especially in PhD programs). It is generally expected that a graduate student will have an understanding of university policy and his or her rights and obligations. It is also assumed that a student will become familiar with rules and procedures regarding course requirements, withdrawal deadlines, assignment deadlines, deferred exams, and the appeal process. Yet a student’s undergraduate program may be considerably different from a graduate program, a student may come from a school with a very different academic tradition, or a student may have taken a break in university studies for several years. For a number of reasons, a graduate student may feel uncertain about this new role and the attendant stresses and strains.

Graduate Student's Responsibilities

  • Ensure the completeness and accuracy of their registration
  • Read and become familiar with the graduate portions of the current Calendar and any other departmental or FGSR documents or regulations pertaining to their program
  • Be aware of any specific departmental or FGSR requirements with respect to their thesis. This includes being familiar with the contents of the Thesis Handbook: A Manual of Regulations and Guidelines for Thesis Preparation
  • Be aware of deadlines for possible scholarship applications and seek advice from their department in making applications
  • Maintain open communication with their supervisor and Graduate Coordinator concerning any perceived problems Inform their supervisor regularly about progress, and provide the supervisor with an annual report for distribution to the supervisory committee
  • Make research results accessible (beyond their appearance in a thesis) to an appropriate audience

Supervisor's Responsibilities

  • Provide an environment for the student that is conducive to research and in which the student can grow intellectually
  • Assist the student with program planning and ensure that he or she is fully aware of all program requirements, degree regulations, and general regulations of the department and the FGSR
  • Provide appropriate guidance to the student on the nature of research and the standard expected, and be accessible to give advice and constructive criticism. At the beginning of the supervisory relationship, the student should be made aware of the normal expectations held by the supervisor and the department
  • With the student, establish a realistic timetable for completion of various phases of the program
  • Stay informed of the student’s research activities and progress
  • Consider the graduate student a "junior colleague in research"
  • Ensure that there are sufficient supervisory resources for each student under supervision
  • Work with the student to establish the supervisory committee as soon as possible after the start of the program, and ensure that it maintains contact and formally meets with the student at least once a year
  • Ensure that the graduate student conducts his or her research in full accordance with the provisions of all relevant ethical codes and in a manner that is as effective, safe, and productive as possible
  • When going on leave or an extended period of absence, ensure that the student is adequately supervised by the provision of an acting supervisor
  • Set up committee meetings and examinations after consultation with the student
  • Ensure that the student is aware of his or her guidelines (as listed above) and, when necessary, assist the student in meeting these

Contact Ombuds@ualberta.ca for more information or questions.