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The Graduate Director assigns each incoming graduate student to an initial advisor, based on area of interest. Students may change from this initial advisor to another faculty member at any time during the program, subject to approval by the Graduate Director.

At the end of their first semester, graduate students should hold a meeting with their advisor to give them a chance to discuss any problems and ensure that they are making good progress.

In addition to the end-of-the-first semester review, all graduate students will be evaluated in an annual review process that takes place at the end of each spring semester. The annual review of all graduate students is to make sure students are equipped to continue in the program. The possible outcomes of this review are:

  • Pass (student continues with the normal next year of the program)
  • Fail (student is recommended for academic dismissal)
  • Probation (student is counseled to take specific courses or other actions to achieve the necessary readiness to continue in the program)

Master’s degree students must identify a Paper Advisor who need not be the same faculty member acting as their initial advisor. This Paper Advisor must be identified by the beginning of the fourth semester. This is the faculty member who works with the Master’s student in his/her final semester to develop a high quality paper on a topic of the student’s choice. While the paper will be developed in a class, it must be read and approved by the student’s Paper Advisor as well as the instructor for the class.

The Ph.D. student’s advisor helps determine the student’s schedule of classes each semester, answers general questions about the program, and helps the student define his/her research orientation. The advisor also serves as the chair of the qualifying exam committee and the dissertation committee, and helps the student to form these committees.

Currently, the department’s Graduate Director is Professor Hamil Pearsall, who can be contacted at