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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:

  • Satisfactory: The student is on track in all things to successfully graduate within the proper time frame. There are no obvious roadblocks or concerns.
  • Marginal: The student is deficient in several areas. He or she is on probation and has one semester to take the necessary steps to improve. Examples of what can cause a student to be given a marginal rating are:

    1. Failure to submit a program of study within the first two semesters
    2. Failure to establish a graduate committee within the first two semesters
    3. Registering for thesis hours but doing little or no work
    4. Failure to submit an approved thesis/dissertation prospectus within the first two semesters
    5. Minimal contact with the chair or advisory committee members

    If the rating does not change to satisfactory by the following semester, the student will not be allowed to register. He or she then has one semester more to remedy the problems and return to satisfactory or they will be automatically dropped from the graduate program.

  • Unsatisfactory: The student is in danger of being dropped from the program and will be dropped unless immediate action is taken. Examples of what can cause a student to be given an unsatisfactory rating are:

    1. Earning an unacceptable grade in a study list course
    2. Failure to submit a program of study within the first two semesters
    3. Failure to establish a graduate committee within the first two semesters
    4. Registering for thesis hours but doing little or no work
    5. Failure to submit an approved thesis/dissertation prospectus within the first two semesters
    6. Minimal contact with the chair or advisory committee members
    7. Not progressing at a rate necessary to finish all courses in a timely manner
    8. Not meeting the requirements set forth in a previous marginal evaluation
    9. Poor performance in research
    10. Lack of ethics
  • Students rated unsatisfactory have one semester to remedy the problems. If the rating does not change to satisfactory then they will be automatically terminated from the graduate program.

Remediation

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.