COURSE LOADS AND OVERLOADS
The normal course load varies depending on the student's situation. For example, for a student who is devoting full time to an academic program (i.e., who is not employed as a teaching assistant or otherwise), the normal course load might be 16 hours in a semester and 8 hours in a summer session. Students who are employed (as assistants or in outside work), of course, will have smaller normal loads. For a person holding a half-time assistantship, for example, a normal load would be 8-12 hours per semester and 4-8 hours in the summer.

The maximum number of hours a student can take in a given term depends on the level of the student's University appointment (if any) according to the table below. These maxima cannot be exceeded except under unusual circumstances; a petition to the Graduate College is required at the time of registration for approval of an overload.

Maximum Credit Loads (in hours)

Percent time appointment

Fall/Spring

Summer 1

Summer 2

0 - 10%

24

6

12

11 - 25%

18

6

10

26 - 40%

16

4

8

41 - 60%

14

4

8

61 - 74%

12

4

6

75 - 90%

10

3

6

91 - 100%

8

3

4

Persons holding a Graduate College or University Fellowship must enroll for a minimum of 12 hours during a semester, and must enroll for at least 4 hours during Summer 2 term. Specific information about the Graduate College definitions of course loads may by found in the Graduate College Handbook here.

EXCUSED GRADES: INCOMPLETE AND F-BY-RULE
It is possible for graduate students to receive I (Incomplete) grades in courses in which they are enrolled, but whether an I grade is received in a given case is a matter between the student and the instructor. Some faculty, for example, have a policy of not giving I grades, and hence students should not presume the availability of such grades. When an I grade has been received, a grade must be reported by the instructor not later than reading day at the end of the next regular semester. If a grade is not reported by the deadline, the I grade automatically converts to a grade of F-by-rule (as distinguished from an "earned" grade of F). For details on the general policy of the Graduate College with respect to this matter, see The Graduate College Handbook; for the specific deadlines in a given semester. See the university calendar (follow the calendar links from the Graduate College here).

Save in exceptional circumstances, the department will not approve requests seeking: (a) the extension of the deadline for reporting a grade to replace an I grade, (b) the replacement of an F-by-rule grade with some other grade, or (c) the retroactive withdrawal from a course in which an I or F-by-rule grade is in place. The import of this departmental policy is that students receiving I grades should take care to ensure that the necessary work is completed in a timely fashion so that a grade can be reported before the deadline. The deadline cannot be extended, and if the deadline is not met, then the resulting F-by-rule grade is in place forever and ever.

Note: in a few non-thesis courses (such as CMN 595, the independent study course), it is possible to receive either a DFR (Deferred) grade or an I (Incomplete) grade. But in such courses, the two grades function identically--same time limits for grade reporting, same automatic conversion to F-by-rule, etc. Thus, everything said above about I grades (including the department's policy on deadline extensions, etc.) also applies to DFR grades received in non-thesis courses. (DFR grades received in the thesis course, CMN 599, are another kettle of fish altogether; those DFR grades never convert to F-by-rule grades, but instead remain as DFR grades until the thesis/dissertation defense is held.)

CMN 595 and 599
CMN 595 is used for two purposes: Independent studies and Preliminary Exams. Independent Studies involve work on a topic or project that is not related to a thesis or dissertation. Students register for these using the CRN of the faculty member who is directing the independent work.

Preliminary exams are graded using the 595 option. Prior to the semester when Ph.D. students plan to defend their preliminary examinations, they generally should register for 8 hours of CMN 595 using their advisor's CRN. They should also register for 4 hours of 599 to get their total number of hours to 12.

Whether it is for an independent study or preliminary exams, if you take a DFR or I in CMN 595, you must complete the work and your instructor must submit a grade change before reading day of the following semester, or your grade will automatically convert to a grade of F-by-rule.

CMN 599 is used for dissertation research. Most Ph.D. students done with course work should enroll in 12 hours of CMN 599. If you are taking one other course, you can enroll for 8 hours. The key is to get the total to 12 hours. If you are in residence and still on assistantship, you must register every semester for CMN 599 while working toward your degree. Generally speaking, if you are done with classes you should always enroll for 12 hours of CMN 599; the one exception is during the semester in which you defend your preliminary exams. Then, you'll enroll for 8 hours of 595 plus 4 hours of CMN 599 as explained above.

CHANGES IN RESIDENCE
There are instances when doctoral students are no longer in residence and not on assistantship (e.g., they take another job before finishing their dissertation). In such cases, it is not necessary to be registered every semester while writing the dissertation (so long as the student is not making substantive use of department or university resources). Doctoral students must, however, be registered in semesters when they defend preliminary exams and defend the dissertation. If students are not in residence and not on assistantship during the semesters when they schedule these defenses, it is possible to enroll for zero hours of 599. Enrolling for zero hours substantially reduces the fees and tuition due for students not receiving waivers. However, students who are still on assistantship must continue to enroll for 12 hours. If you have questions about your specific circumstances, consult with the director of graduate studies about the best course of action.

LEAVE OF ABSENCE (NEW IN 2014)
Sometimes students find that for personal or academic reasons, it makes sense to take a formal leave of absence from the program and the university. The Graduate College has established a formal policy for this purpose. If you think you may be interested in taking a leave of absence, talk with your advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies and be sure to review the Graduate College Academic Leave of Absence Policy. Students requesting a leave should be sure to understand the consequences of taking a formal leave; these include deactivation of the net id and loss of access to the library as well as loss of graduate student employment, health insurance, and loan deferment.

PETITIONS

Some college or university requirements may be modified upon petition by the student if circumstances warrant. Such petitions require the approval of the advisor, the department and the Graduate College. Petitions should be submitted as soon as the need for modification is perceived. Petitions are handled as follows: First, the student discusses the matter to be petitioned with the advisor. If the student's request is approved, a petition form is acquired (from the Graduate College web page and completed by the student. The form is then electronically forwarded to the advisor for comment and signature, and then to the Director of Graduate Studies for comment and signature. The petition is then electronically submitted to the Graduate College by the department (not the student). Petitions without adequate justification by the student, or without supporting comment by the advisor and Director of Graduate Studies, may be rejected or returned by the Graduate College.

ANNUAL REVIEWS
The Graduate College requires programs to conduct annual reviews of all graduate students in the program. The annual review is an important component of your graduate education, because it allows you, your advisor, and other faculty to share information and allows you to receive useful, timely feedback about your academic development and performance. In late March of each year, you will be asked to send a CV to your advisor and to fill out a PDF form outlining your activities over the past year. After the faculty meets for the annual review, your advisor will fill out and sign the advisor portion of the form and provide you with a copy for feedback. Your advisor may also schedule a one-on-one meeting to talk with you about the results of the review. A copy of each year’s form will also be placed in your department file.

Annual Review Form for MA students
Annual Review Form for PhD students

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
A copy of the department's Policy and Procedures on Grievances by Graduate Students is available on request from the Director of Graduate Studies or from the Head of the department. A grievance may arise when a graduate student believes that her or his status as a graduate student, or University appointment based on student status, has been adversely affected by an incorrect or inappropriate decision or behavior. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: inappropriate application of a department or University policy; being unfairly assessed on a preliminary examination;  being improperly terminated from a program; being required to perform personal services unrelated to academic duties; being required to meet unreasonable requirements for a graduate degree that extend the normal requirements established by the campus or by the department and are inconsistent with the scholarly standards in the discipline; being the subject of retaliation for exercising his/her rights under this policy; or  being the subject of professional misconduct by a student’s graduate supervisor or other faculty or staff member. Please note that this policy does not apply to employment-specificissues covered by collective bargaining agreements (i.e., teaching assistantships and administrative graduate assistantships). In addition, cases involving alleged capricious grading should be appealed to that committee, following the committee's established procedures.

In brief, the policy encourages a student who believes he or she has a grievance to begin with all appropriate avenues for informal resolution before initiating a formal grievance. Students are encouraged to first discuss the issue with the faculty or staff member with whom the problem has arisen. If the matter is not resolved, the student should turn to his or her advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, or the Head for assistance in reaching a resolution that is acceptable to the parties involved.

In the event that informal attempts at resolving a grievance prove unsuccessful, a student may pursue a grievance through the formal channels described in the department's Policy and Procedures on Grievances by Graduate Students.