Departmental Graduate Handbooks

Clear expectations lead to better retention, degree completion, and efficient degree progress as well as greater student satisfaction.  The program handbook provides a guide for students and is usually their first and main source of information about policies and procedures.

Suggested Outline for Graduate Handbooks

  1. Introduction to degrees and your department
    1. Be sure to use the official names of your major(s) and any subplans.
    2. Include information on career opportunities for each major or degree.
    3. For readability, if you want to list all faculty with their interests, you may prefer to do that in an appendix.
    4. Departmental organization and contacts.
      Organization should include the role that students play in departmental governance. Examples I_d.
    5. Identify internal procedure for student appeals. Examples I_e.  
    6. Physical resources and facilities
    7. Student responsibilities and professional conduct. Example I_g.
    8. Advising, including expectations. Examples I_h.
  2. Important links
    1. Graduate College (from here students may access Graduate College policies, contacts, information about resources, deadlines, and other useful information):  Do not cut and paste policies since these may change.
    2. You should direct attention to resources for parents, for professional development, for health and wellness, etc:
    3. General catalog
    4. Academic integrity:
    5. Responsible Conduct of Research:
    6. Stress that the student is responsible for knowing policies. Examples II_f.
  3. Funding
    1. Who gets funding, for how long, requirements for assistantships, etc. Example III_a. Good to link to our funding page
  4. Degree requirements (For each degree, certificate)
    1. For each program, list requirements, number of credits, etc. A grid format is easier to read. 
    2. List expected outcomes.Examples IV_b.
    3. List any program-specific requirements such as grade requirements for core classes, departmental rules on committee service, transfer credit, qualifying exams, etc. Examples IV_c.
    4. Articulate an incomplete policy (such as limiting number of outstanding incompletes. Example IV_d. Please require use of incomplete form found on the university policy page
    5. For comprehensive exams, describe the process, rules for re-take, expectations. Examples IV_e.
    6. Give program requirements for the dissertation, master’s thesis, or master’s report. These might include rules on collaborative work, the use of papers, expectations regarding timely feedback from advisor, etc. Include any formatting guidelines. Example IV_f.
    7. Give standard time to degree.
    8. Outline the program’s satisfactory academic progress rules. A grid or chart showing a timetable is helpful. Examples IV_h. Be sure to articulate consequences of not meeting each standard and conditions under which exceptions can be made. Explain the program’s process for remediation of unsatisfactory progress.
    9. Information about remediation.Example IV_i.
    10. Annual review process. Example IV_j.
    11. Under what circumstances may a master’s student progress to a PhD? It should be made explicit that master’s students must apply through GradApp (and pay application fee) to apply to the doctoral program. Example IV_k.   
    12. Information for dual degrees or Accelerated master’s. 
  5. Minor requirements
    1. Spell out your requirements for students to minor in your program. Include information on comps. Example V_a.