Graduate Director Responsibilities

Approved by Graduate Council April 15, 2020

The Graduate Director (also sometimes called director of graduate studies or program director) is responsible for the administration of one or more specified graduate programs in each academic unit. The Graduate Bulletin serves as the authoritative record of university policy with regard to graduate programs. The Graduate School website provides additional detail on how particular policies are implemented.

The role of the graduate director may vary depending on the program and administrative unit, however administration of every graduate program includes the following basic responsibilities. In most cases, these are performed by the graduate director, but the Graduate School recognizes that in some units, specific graduate functions may be performed by someone other than the graduate director.

Graduate director responsibilities for directors of all types of graduate programs include:

  • Implementation of Graduate School, school/college, and departmental policies on graduate education. Functioning as liaison among these units.
  • Coordination of the department's recruitment and admission of graduate students. Collaboration with the Graduate School on outreach and recruitment efforts, and with the Office of Graduate Admissions.
  • Orientation of incoming graduate students to the university and familiarizing them with departmental resources, policies and expectations. Provide each incoming student with a current copy of the program's graduate handbook.
  • Ensuring that incoming graduate students have advisors and acting as advisor for students who do not yet have one.
  • Maintaining an updated master file of the department's graduate students and reporting to the Graduate School in writing any students who have left or have been dismissed from the program.  
  • Resolve problems related to graduate students and advise students about the procedure for appeals as needed, as well as support resources such as the university Ombuds office. The Associate Dean for student success can provide advice to graduate directors when needed for these types of cases.
  • Attend meeting of graduate directors convened by the Graduate School.
  • Participate according to program needs in assessment, self-study, accreditation and Academic Program Review processes.

Responsibilities specific to PhD program graduate directors include:

  • Informing students about the Responsible Conduct for Research course (GS0900) and verifying registration in this course for all new Ph.D. students.
  • Reviewing and approving the paperwork for all Ph.D. milestones: Plan of Work and Transfer of Credit, Report on Oral Exams, Ph.D. Candidacy forms, Prospectus and Conflict of Interest, Final Defense Report, and Time Extensions.

Assure that the department has in place a Ph.D. student academic progress policy and an annual review process. Review and approve an Annual Review/Individual Development Plan for each doctoral student each year.