Policies for Graduate Students

PhD Student Expectations
and Responsibilities

This page outlines the principles governing graduate education in Arts, Sciences and Engineering at the University of Rochester.

Goal of Graduate Education

The primary goal of graduate education at the University of Rochester is to prepare promising students for outstanding scholarly and professional achievement, by educating them in the skills of a discipline and in the intellectual and ethical foundations of research, instilling in each student the capacity for independent critical judgment, and inspiring students to use their knowledge and training for the betterment of society.

Graduate Student Policies and Procedures

Policies and procedures governing graduate students at the University of Rochester can be found in the Graduate Bulletin. Additional policies for graduate students in Arts, Sciences and Engineering (AS&E) can be found on the AS&E Graduate Studies website. Students should discuss departmental or program-specific policies with their program Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Students should be aware of and comply with all university, AS&E and departmental policies governing their program.

PhD Student Expectations

As with most worthwhile endeavors, success in graduate study cannot be guaranteed and often depends on the mutual efforts of faculty and student to work diligently and form a productive professional relationship. Graduate students may reasonably expect the following, related to their research, their teaching and their general program support. The exact way in which these goals may be met can vary, depending on the program and the department.

Research, Teaching and Training

  • Resources: to receive appropriate resources, including reasonable access to faculty, appropriate course offerings to meet the student’s approved program of study, and facilities to allow the student to complete the program.
  • Guidance: to receive advice and direction regarding the student’s academic program as well as thesis research.
  • Training: to receive training on the current best practices in research and teaching, including appropriate techniques, tools, methods and equipment needed to successfully carry out the student’s research or teaching duties.
  • Appropriateness: to have projects and tasks that are assigned to the student be appropriate for the student’s program of study and designed to help the student make continued progress towards completion of the degree.
  • Expectations: to be informed of the expectations, including timelines, for the successful completion of any duties, such as research projects, teaching assignments, and thesis work.
  • Evaluation: to receive timely and fair assessment of the student’s work, including course work, program exams, research and teaching.
  • Support services: to be provided with professional and personal development support services if requested, such as those offered by the Career Center, Disability Services, The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and access to English as a Second Language instruction (for a fee), that enhance the student’s professional and academic experience.
  • Professional development: to be provided in appropriate cases with opportunities to publish the student’s research, present the student’s work, apply for patents and copyrights for the student’s work, and attend colloquia, seminars, and workshops to support the student’s professional development.

Community and Administrative

  • Non-discrimination and non-harassment: to be treated in a fair, impartial, and professional manner in all dealings in accordance with university policies governing discrimination and harassment (as per the University of Rochester Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment).
  • Collegiality: to have a collegial, welcoming environment in which to pursue the student’s research, teaching and professional activities, where students are respected as valuable members of the community.
  • Fair treatment: to be given appropriate credit for the student’s work and provided clear guidelines on authorship, data ownership and research practices when engaged in joint research projects.
  • Conflict of interest: to receive appropriate instruction about conflicts of interest so the student can avoid being placed in a situation that creates a conflict of interest (see the UR Guidelines on Research Integrity and Conflict of Interest for Graduate Students Policy).
  • Policies: to receive guidelines on academic policies and procedures, as found in the Graduate Bulletin, on the AS&E Graduate Studies website and provided by the student’s program.
  • Feedback: to be provided feedback on performance and given clear guidelines on the required areas of improvement when performance is deemed poor and the student is in jeopardy of being removed from the program.
  • Appeal: in ways prescribed by University policies, to have the opportunity to petition for an exemption to an existing policy, to appeal decisions related to policies and procedures, and to issue a complaint when standards of fairness may have been violated.

PhD Student Responsibilities

PhD students are responsible for working towards completion of their degree programs in a timely manner. In addition to gaining expertise in a particular field of study, PhD students are expected to expand the knowledge of that disciplinary field by discovering and pursuing a unique topic of scholarly research, resulting in the PhD dissertation. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure continued progress of his or her academic program and thesis research. Students have a responsibility for the following aspects of their program.

Research, Teaching and Training

  • Timeframes: to work effectively towards completion of the degree in a timely manner.
  • Academics: to learn the existing theories, practices and research methods of the discipline and to apply these in the student’s research and teaching.
  • Thesis: to discover and pursue a unique topic of research in order to construct new knowledge and to apply this knowledge to existing problems and issues.
  • Communication: to communicate regularly with faculty advisors and thesis exam committee members, providing these faculty with updates on the student’s progress within the program and updates on results of research activities.
  • Integrity and ethics: to assume the highest integrity and maintain ethical standards in all aspects of the student’s work, especially in the tasks of collecting, analyzing, and presenting research data. Special care should be taken to follow guidelines established by the University's independent review boards for research, such as the Research Subjects Review Board (RSRB).
  • Laboratory notebooks: where applicable, to maintain detailed, organized and accurate laboratory notebooks and records. When a student leaves the lab, the notebook and all research data remain the property of the laboratory.
  • Teaching: to take teaching duties seriously and to use all teaching experiences to enhance the student’s effectiveness as an instructor.
  • Professionalization: to contribute, wherever possible, to the scholarly discourse of the discipline through presentations and publications. The student should attend and participate in appropriate meetings, colloquia, seminars and group discussions that are part of the educational program, and the student should submit all relevant research results that are ready for publication in a timely manner.
  • Work environment: to help maintain a clean and safe work environment, including, but not limited to, office space, laboratory spaces and common spaces.
  • Mentors: to seek out a range of faculty, professional and peer mentors who can help the student prepare for a variety of professional and career roles and responsibilities, and to serve as a mentor to others when appropriate.

Community and Administrative

  • Collegiality: to promote collegiality and a welcoming environment in the student’s classrooms and laboratories and in all aspects of the student’s program, ensuring that all students, faculty and staff are treated with respect.
  • Familiarity with policies: to take responsibility for keeping informed of and complying with regulations and policies and to complete all required paperwork and other degree obligations in a timely fashion (policies and important deadlines). Note that individual programs may have additional policies, and it is the student’s responsibility to understand and comply with these policies as well.
  • Effort: to devote full time and effort towards completing degree requirements (for full-time students). Students are expected to be on campus and completing degree requirements during the academic semester. Students must check with the program Director of Graduate Studies for program-specific limits on vacation time and must receive approval for all vacation time from their advisor and/or the program director. Students away from campus for an extended period during any academic semester (e.g., for field research) must register in Absentia for the semester.
  • Employment: not to simultaneously be employed full-time while maintaining full-time student status, unless it is an internship related to the student’s academic program and supported by the student’s advisor, the program Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean of Graduate Studies. Part-time employment for full-time students is limited by individual programs—any part-time employment must be approved by the student’s advisor and the program Director of Graduate Studies. International students must discuss with the International Services Office (ISO) any special rules and regulations for internships and part-time employment.

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