Graduate Program

Time to Graduation

It is expected that an MS degree will take two years normally and three in some cases. A PhD is harder to predict but should take no more than five years on average and six in some cases. We recognize that unavoidable delays may occur in some cases. Dissertation topics, advisors, or even the area of specialization may change. Personal challenges may arise. BYU graduate studies allows eight years for the PhD and five years for the MS degree thus giving a two or three year cushion respectively to allow for the unknown.

An overly long time to graduate reflects poorly on the student, advisor, and department. Students should not jeopardize their investment of time and resources by dragging out the time to graduate!

Weekly Evaluations

Beginning students should meet with their advisors frequently - even daily if necessary. Meetings will naturally become less frequent as the student becomes more capable and comfortable with his or her research. But even the most advanced students should meet with their advisors at least once a week.

Yearly Evaluations

All graduate students are formally evaluated three times yearly by their graduate advisor and graduate committee. These evaluations are an opportunity to ensure that progress is constant and satisfactory. A summary of each evaluation is submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for review. Serious concerns are transmitted in writing to the student to ensure there are no misunderstandings.

A reviewed student's progress is rated as either satisfactory, marginal, or unsatisfactory. Each category has a specific meaning:


Students making marginal or unsatisfactory progress are informed in writing of the following:

  1. What they need to do to make satisfactory progress
  2. When each task needs to be accomplished
  3. What faculty member(s) they should contact for more information or support
  4. What will happen if these tasks are not accomplished (e.g., an unsatisfactory rating for the next semester or termination from the program)

Upon completing the requirements, a student's status is restored to satisfactory.