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FAQ for Current Graduate Students

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

  1. The most important question: Who or what is the definitive source for answers about policies affecting your status in the graduate program?


  2. 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 8-course requirement for a master's degree? What should you do if you haven't taken 8 "real" classes?


  3. 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?
  4. Answer/Opinion

  5. 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?
  6. Answer/Opinion

  7. Quals: What do you do if
    • you think you won't be able to make a deadline (including extended deadlines)?
    • you think you want to change your committee?
    • you're having trouble finding a time before deadline that both committee members can be there?
    • you fail part of a qual (both traditional and non-traditional ways that people have been asked to finish their qual)?
    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?
  8. Answer/Opinion

  9. 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?
  10. Answer/Opinion

  11. 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 own courses?
  12. Answer/Opinion

  13. 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?

  14. Answer/Opinion

  15. 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 Dartmouth breaks?
  16. Answer/Opinion

  17. How much trouble am I in?: If you're not on probation, do you automatically count as a student in good standing?
  18. Answer/Opinion

  19. 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?
  20. Answer/Opinion

  21. I've passed quals, now what?
  22. Answer/Opinion

  23. Choosing an Advisor: What are good strategies for finding an advisor (and secondary advisor)?
  24. Answer/Opinion

  25. 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?
  26. Answer/Opinion

  27. 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?
  28. Answer/Opinion

  29. Language Exam: I didn't know there was a deadline...
  30. Answer/Opinion

  31. Thesis Defense: What happens if you don't finish your thesis on time or need to reschedule your thesis defense?
  32. Answer/Opinion

  33. 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 your teaching?
  34. Answer/Opinion

  35. Fifth Year Teaching Experience: How do I propose a project and to whom? What are some possibilities for what to do?


  36. 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 person handle?
  37. Answer/Opinion

  38. 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?
  39. Answer/Opinion