Graduate Student Guidelines: Overview of Financial Support and Satisfactory Progress

Faculty Document 2007-13

October 9, 2007

This document outlines Department policies regarding admission, guaranteed financial support, evaluation of progress, and eligibility to be a TA for our Graduate Students. These issues are linked to one another as detailed in Faculty and Staff Documents. The overview here is intended to answer questions asked frequently by students and their advisors about these issues. Please consult the Faculty and Staff Documents posted on our web pages (noted below) for details.


See Staff Document 2017-06 (

  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

• Students with geology degree must take 6-8 credit field camp before starting Graduate School.

• Students admitted with deficiencies must file a plan for removal of those deficiencies upon arrival for graduate work and remove the deficiencies during the first year. A deficiency in the field course requirement should be removed (or a waiver of the requirements obtained) before commencing graduate study.


See Faculty Document #01-17 (

• Department provides guaranteed support in the form of fellowships, RAs, PAs, and TAs. Selection process held annually in Spring.

• Length of Guarantee for students entering with bachelor’s degree:

– 4 semesters of guaranteed support can be offered to Master’s degree students   – 4 additional semesters of guaranteed support can be offered to students who continue onto the Ph.D. degree contingent on completion of Master’s degree in 4 semesters and G&E Committee and Graduate Studies Committee approval.
– Outstanding applicants are eligible for one additional year of support as Weeks RA.
– Students approved to skip the Master’s degree by their G&E Committee receive 8 semesters of guaranteed support plus 2 additional semesters   if offered a Weeks RA.

• Length of Guarantee for students entering with Master’s degree:

– 6 semesters for work toward a Ph.D. degree
– outstanding applicants are eligible for one additional year of support as Weeks RA

• Continuation on guaranteed support is contingent on the student making satisfactory progress (see next section). Master’s degree students continuing to the Ph.D. must complete their degree before the 5th semester begins if they wish to be considered for guaranteed support as a Teaching Assistant.

SATISFACTORY PROGRESS (Toward degree and to continue on guaranteed support)

See Staff Document 2017-06 (

• By the start of the first semester, each student will have a main Advisor who will select, in consultation with the student, additional members of the G&E committee. The Department requires a G&E Meeting once each year until prelims have been completed. The meetings should occur at least two weeks before the end of classes in the spring semester. For entering students, it is recommended that the G&E committee meet during the first semester.

• Students must register for at least 8 credits each semester and for at least 3 credits each semester if a dissertator.

• Must complete Master’s degree, or be certified by the G&E Committee to continue directly toward the PhD, by the end of the 5th semester (but see conditions for continuation of guaranteed support, above).

• Must complete a minor program before becoming a dissertator.

• Must take preliminary exam within 5 years after entrance to graduate school if entered with a bachelor’s degree, within 3 years of completed Master’s degree.

• Final Oral examination must be taken within 5 years of passing the preliminary exam.

• The Department expects Graduate Students in the M.S. and Ph.D. programs to publish the results of their research. These and other expectations for Graduate Studies are detailed at: ( )


See Staff Document 2008-02 (

• Teaching Assistantship


– student must be in good academic standing (satisfactory progress above)
– student must have suitable background in course subject matter
– student must pass SPEAK test if international student (see )

• Criteria for students who do not have a degree in Geology:

– students with no geology courses must take G202 & G204 before becoming a TA for 100-level geology courses
– A student who has taken a 100-level geology course but not the equivalent of Geology 202 and Geology 204, can TA a 100-level course during their first semester provided the student enrolls, concurrently, in any remaining required courses (Geology 202 and/or Geology 204, depending on what other geology courses the student has previously completed).

• In the case that a graduate student has not satisfied the requirements for completion of or concurrent registration in Geology 202 and 204 (or equivalent), she/he may be eligible to TA for a particular course in a given semester if the course instructor requests that graduate student as the TA for the course.

• Additional subject matter background in specific areas of geology and geophysics is required for teaching assistants in most intermediate and advanced level courses. Graduate students with a strong background in biological sciences, including evolutionary biology, may be considered for teaching assistantships in Geology 110, Evolution and Extinction, and in Geology 107, Life of the Past.