Graduate Program Handbooks

Every graduate degree and certificate program is required to have a Graduate Program Handbook. Graduate Program Handbooks are published annually in the University Catalog and should also be available to graduate students via program websites and onboarding materials. Programs should review and update their handbook annually in time to be published with the Catalog. By logging in with your Netid, you may submit a requset for non-substantial graduate program change form to have your Handbook updated in the Catalog. Please review the Office of Curricular Affairs Dates and Deadlines to make timely requests to ensure your revised handbook is updated in the Catalog. Graduate Program Handbooks are reviewed during the program's Academic Program Review and periodically from the Graduate College to ensure accuracy and student support. 

Graduate Program Handbooks are important. Clear expectations lead to better retention, degree completion, and efficient degree progress as well as greater student satisfaction.  The handbook provides a guide for students and is usually their first and main source of information about policies and procedures. The Graduate College also uses Graduate Handbooks to help make decisions regarding graduate student dismissals, probation, and academic standing.

Suggested Outline for Graduate Handbooks

  1. Introduction to degrees and your department
    • Provide a statement that is inclusive and student-centered.
    • Be sure to use the official names of your major(s) and any subplans.
    • For readability, if you want to list all faculty with their interests, you may prefer to do that in an appendix.
    • Departmental organization and contacts.
      Organization should include the role that students play in departmental governance. Examples I_d.
    • Identify internal procedure for student appeals. Examples I_e.  
    • Physical resources and facilities
    • Student responsibilities and professional conduct. Example I_g.
  2. Degree requirements (For each degree, certificate)
    • For each program, list requirements, number of credits, etc. A grid format is easier to read. Requirements should match what is listed in the University Catalog as that is the official source for degree requirements and credits. Any deviation requires approval from the Graduate College and Curricular Affairs. 
    • List expected outcomes.Examples IV_b.
    • List any program-specific requirements such as grade requirements for core classes, departmental rules on committee service, transfer credit, qualifying exams, etc. Be mindful that departmental policies must also be in alignment with University and Graduate College Policies. Examples IV_c.
    • 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
    • For comprehensive exams, describe the process, rules for re-take, expectations. Examples IV_e.
    • 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.
    • Give standard time to degree.
    • 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.
    • Information about remediation.Example IV_i.
    • Pleaes fully descript process for student annual review process. Example IV_j.
    • 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.   
    • Provide information about stackable certificates, dual degrees or accelerated master’s. 
  3. Minor requirements
    • Articulate the requirements for students to earn a doctoral minor in your program, including the expectations for minor comprehensive exams (which occur during the major comprehensive exams). Example V_a.
  4. Funding
  5. Mentoring, Advising, and Student Support
    • Include information on career and professional development opportunities for each major or degree.
    • You should direct attention to resources for graduate student parents, for professional development, for health and wellness, etc:
    • For Doctoral Programs, please include career placement data from Academic Analytics;  you will also need this information for your for your Academic Program Review (see page 23 of the APR manual outline). Expectations for Faculty or Professional Advising. Please note, UArizona Academic Program Reviews require mentors and graduate students to conduct an annual Individual Development Plan that includes support for employment goals in multiple career pathways and for professional development needs. Examples I_h.
    • The Graduate College recommends programs include the Graduate Mentoring Agreement Template in their handbook with expectations to update the mentoring plan at least annually.
    • The Graduate College expects mentoring plans for all students, but please note that graduate students involved in National Science Foundation funded research are required to have a mentoring plan. NSF requirement
    • Graduate Faculty and graduate student mentor/mentee training is also required for most training grants. We believe this is good practice for all programs. Please join the MENTOR (Mentorship through Effective Networks, Transformational Opportunities, and Research) Institute for workshops and trainings. 
  6. Important links