The Department of Physics and Astronomy is committed to the success of all students admitted. The Department provides all who are progressing properly with teaching or research assistantships, laboratory space, instruments and supplies, and the support of our faculty and staff to teach and support them in all ways necessary. The Department provides some students with full-tuition scholarships. The Department has a large investment in their graduate students.
The Department supports students to enable them to finish their degrees in a timely manner. Because the Department subsidizes all in the program, the Department expects a serious commitment in return. The graduate student who looks upon his or her assignment as an eight to five job for five days a week has a mistaken understanding of the purpose of graduate study. It is not unreasonable to expect graduate students to spend fifty to sixty hours per week in the laboratory, in the library, or at the computer doing either research or course work. Those with teaching assistantships will need to divide their time between teaching, research, and course work, but the total commitment should be the same. This means arriving early and working late, and often coming back in the evenings and on Saturdays (but not on Sundays).
Students must use judgment and spend a proper amount of time with family and friends. However, extended holidays and breaks between semesters are valuable opportunities to accomplish important work with minimal interruption. Be wise. This is a time of sacrifice but the rewards that go with the successful completion of a graduate degree are great.
To be a student in good standing one must keep up with the program requirements. If a student is not in good standing, their academic performance will be reported to the Office of Graduate Studies as marginal, and the student will be so notified in writing. Failure to be removed from marginal status after the following semester will cause a student's performance to be rated as unsatisfactory, and may result in dismissal from the program or result in the Department withdrawing financial support.
The graduate student experience is expected to be much more than just taking course work. The Department wants every student to have a meaningful teaching experience, to participate actively as a good citizen in the Department, and to contribute professionally to the Physics community through his or her research. The ratings good standing, marginal, or unsatisfactory will also be used in rating citizenship and teaching. If a student's T.A. assignment or citizenship is judged unsatisfactory, this may result in the Department withdrawing financial support.
Good citizenship in the Department is not defined by a specific set of requirements. It is up to the students to find out how they can contribute best to creating an atmosphere of collegiality among faculty and peers that is conducive of academic excellence. Remember that a student's career and professional success depends on more than technical achievements. Take advantage of time in graduate school to develop good interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a group as well.
An important component of good citizenship is to treat everyone in the department with civility and consideration. This applies in particular to tutoring responsibilities. Punctuality in the tutorial lab, punctuality and thoroughness in grading, and the absence of any condescending attitude towards undergraduates are just a few ways to show caring and understanding about the teaching and learning process. Take substitute duties every bit as seriously as regular assignments. Attend meetings and training sessions for tutors.
Communication with Department and Community
The Department communicates with students either via the mail box assigned each graduate student in the Physics Office, Room N283 ESC, or via email using the graduate email list. These messages will be sent to the address that appears in a student's Route Y information. Students can change which email address they receive Department messages from by editing their information on the graduate email list. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the graduate secretary is aware that they need a Department mail box and that the information on file with the Department and the University is current. To remain current, give all necessary information to the graduate secretary in N273 ESC.
Talk with fellow students. Show interest in their courses and research. Share your experiences. Every year in March, the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences organizes a Spring Research Conference, where students get a chance to formally present their research efforts and achievements. Welcome this opportunity to reach into the profession. Attend and participate. Ask questions. Give feedback. Everyone's research will improve from it. Attend Department colloquia and research group meetings. In general, give feedback and welcome feedback. Share and promote ideas.
Take Care of Department Resources
All members of the department share computer and laboratory resources (including time!). This demands that everyone takes responsible care of the equipment, instruction manuals, and resources. As new students start out, they will be assisted by upper classmates in obtaining some special skills. Make a special effort to share knowledge with new students.
Participate in Departmental Activities
Every spring BYU hosts a Science Fair and the Department is asked to furnish judges to rank the exhibits and judge the scientific proficiency of the elementary, junior high, and high school participants. Every Fall the Department participates in Science Day when high-school students come visit BYU and learn about science careers. Talks and demonstrations are presented by faculty and students giving them the opportunity to communicate enthusiasm for the profession to the next generation.
The Department organizes social activities for department members and their families. Feel welcome to participate and share experiences. Every year new students join the program. More than anyone else, upper classmates can help new students in their orientation and acclimatization within the Department and the community.