Tracking Degree Progression
Each student and their faculty advisor must complete an annual progress report. This is assessed during the Spring semester, and the paperwork is submitted to the Graduate Program Director (GPD). The GPD will track each student’s progress to make sure they are moving toward degree completion in a timely manner, and maintaining an overall GPA of 3.0 or greater. The faculty advisor will evaluate student progress, providing a written assessment in the progress report. Courses taken and grades earned are also charted. Both the student and faculty advisor sign off on the completed progress report and submit it to the GPD.
The M.S. and Ph.D. Committees: General Rules
Generally toward the end of the first academic year, students will begin formulating a thesis or dissertation topic with their faculty advisor. At this point, the student and advisor will put together a committee consisting of the advisor (who chairs the committee), GES faculty members, and faculty members outside the department (as deemed necessary). Specialists or experts in the subject matter may be recruited from outside UMBC, i.e. to serve as a reader on the committee. The number of committee members varies with the type of graduate degree. The committee will convene on several occasions throughout the student’s academic career to help chart and assess research progress, and they will determine the outcome of the final thesis or dissertation defense.
Please note that the Graduate School requires that certain forms be filled out by the student and advisor. The paperwork starts once the student forms the committee. The student is ultimately responsible for timely and accurate submission of these forms to the Graduate School. The forms can be found at the UMBC Graduate School website, and are organized by type of degree, and progress during the degree.
It is also prudent to exercise due courtesy when requesting a committee meeting, or soliciting the committee’s advice. The graduate faculty serve on multiple committees and attend to busy teaching, administrative and research schedules. Some committee members may be professionals at outside institutions. Students are asked to provide plenty of advance notice when setting up a committee meeting and to reserve the meeting space in advance. It is also helpful to send gentle reminders to the committee about upcoming meetings. If signatures are required on paperwork, faculty should not be asked to deal with this at the last minute.
The Master’s Thesis Committee: Specific Procedures
3-5 committee members, including committee chair, minimum of 3 must be members of UMBC Graduate Faculty
Enrollment Day 10 of terminal semester: Application for Diploma for Master’s Degree
2 months prior to defense: Nomination of Members For The Final Examination Committee
10 business days prior to defense: Certification of Completion of Master’s Thesis
3 weeks prior to commencement: Approval Sheet; Certification of Completion of Master’s Degree Requirements
The Ph.D. Committee: Specific Procedures
5+ committee members including committee chair, minimum of 3 must be regular members of UMBC Graduate Faculty, and all members must hold a Ph.D.; one individual must be outside the department (Dean’s representative); two members must be designated as readers
Upon passing the comprehensive examination: Application for Admission to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Enrollment Day 10 of terminal semester: Application for Diploma for Doctoral Degree
6 months prior to defense: Nomination of Members For The Final Examination Committee
10 business days prior to defense: Announcement of Ph.D. Dissertation Defense; Certification of Completion of Doctoral Dissertation
3 weeks prior to commencement: Approval Sheet
The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination
Ph.D. students who are completing coursework and preparing for the comprehensive exam are said to be in pre-candidacy status. Once a student has taken and passed the examination and defended the dissertation proposal, they then advance to candidacy, meaning status is “ABD” (All-But-Dissertation).
The comprehensive exam has both a written and an oral component. Weeks beforehand, students will meet with their doctoral advisor to identify key topics that are “fair game”, and to establish parameters of the exam. The committee is comprised of 4 faculty members, and all must hold a terminal degree in their field. Members of the doctoral committee will then be asked by the committee chair to submit questions. The written exam itself will be taken at a time and location agreed upon by the student and doctoral advisor. The advisor will submit the student responses to the responsible committee member. The student and the various committee members may wish to meet individually, e.g. the committee member may request clarification on an item, or suggest additional reading on a particular topic.
The onus is on the student to schedule the date, time and meeting location of the comprehensive oral examination. This should be established several weeks in advance of the exam. A 3h time block is normally reserved for the oral phase of the exam, and it is conducted as a closed-door process. Once the student has finished to the satisfaction of the committee, they will be dismissed from the room while the committee discusses the responses. Each committee member registers a vote of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The student is then called back into the room. The student passes if no more than one Unsatisfactory vote is registered. The committee may have requirements for the student upon passing. If the student failed, the committee has the option of (1) recommending cancelling the student’s matriculation, or (2) re-scheduling the defense. Paperwork is then signed. If all goes well, the student will begin preparing for the dissertation proposal defense.
The Ph.D. Proposal Defense
By the end of the semester following successful completion of the comprehensive exam, the student must successfully defend their research proposal to their committee. This is a closed-door exam. The student schedules the date, time and meeting location of the proposal defense. This should be established several weeks in advance. The committee is comprised of 5 faculty members, one of which must be from outside GES. All must hold a terminal degree in their field. Once the student has finished to the satisfaction of the committee, they will be dismissed from the room while the committee discusses the student’s performance. Each committee member registers a vote of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The student is then called back into the room. The student passes if no more than one Unsatisfactory vote is registered. The committee may have requirements for the student upon passing. If the student failed, the committee has the option of (1) recommending cancelling the student’s matriculation, or (2) re-scheduling the defense after meeting requirements set forth by the committee. Upon passing, the student advances to candidacy.