College of Fine Arts Graduate Funding and Time to Degree Policy
The College of Fine Arts strives to matriculate outstanding doctoral (PhD, DMA), terminal masters (MFA) and non-terminal masters degree (MA, MM) students and provide them with the training, experience and support necessary for successful completion of their respective degrees and placement in academic and other training-related jobs upon graduation.
As higher education comes under increasing scrutiny for its ability to deliver quality education within a reasonable time frame, issues of time to degree and level of support for graduate education naturally draw focus. Graduate student support takes the form of fellowships, external grants and work appointments as Teaching Assistants (TA), Assistant Instructors (AI) and Graduate Research Assistants (GRA).
The College of Fine Arts, responsive to the issues of support and sensitive to the corollary dynamic surrounding student debt, monitors graduate student enrollment and overall program populations, encourages multi-year support offers as part of recruitment, and calculates average time to degree of all programs, particularly relative to per-student average levels of funding support.
It is the general expectation that graduate students maintain full-time status for the full duration of their study, remain in residence while completing their respective degrees, and include summers in their program of work when appropriate. All forms of support will be contingent upon progress toward the degree as reflected in meeting the milestones for doctoral programs (on file with the Graduate School) as well as program timelines established for master’s degrees.
We expect our departments to have doctoral students enter candidacy at some point during their third year but no later than the fourth year in the program. In general, the College expects students to complete their PhD or DMA by the end of their sixth year if not sooner. Most terminal degree MFA candidates complete their programs in three years; some programs have now engineered completion to occur in two years linked by summer study.
While the College will consider individual exceptions, all entering and current doctoral students should work with a clear expectation of no College funding beyond their sixth year. This policy was originally implemented in Fall 2014. MFA and MA students should expect no College funding beyond the milestone determined by their program.
Petitions for exception, which will be rarely granted starting Fall 2017, must include compelling and exceptional justification, be supported by the department chair, and should be directed to the Senior Association Dean for consideration. All doctoral program faculty and advisers are strongly encouraged to mentor students toward timely completion.
College of Fine Arts Parental Accommodations and Family Emergency Accommodations for Graduate Students
With the endorsement of the department chairs and school directors, Dean Dempster adopted this policy for the College of Fine Arts on February 20, 2020.
To aid graduate students in balancing their scholarly and parenting/family responsibilities, the College of Fine Arts encourages departmental accommodation to qualifying graduate students for childbirth, newborn care, and adoption, as well as emergency family needs resulting from illness or death. These accommodations are available to full-time enrolled Fine Arts graduate students (enrolled for at least nine credit hours each long semester) who are in good academic standing. It is the responsibility of a graduate student anticipating a birth or adoption to inform his or her graduate adviser and research supervisor of any anticipated accommodation needs as early as possible. Accommodations may affect the following: Academic Responsibilities, Work Appointments, Time to Degree progress, and Leave of Absence.
1. ACADEMIC RESPONSIBILITIES
Eligible students are allowed a one-semester extension of the Academic Milestone document created by the department. The extension includes coursework, qualifying exams, committee meetings, presentations, and any other required academic responsibilities. The extension may be taken either during or immediately following the semester in which the student’s child is born or adopted. After an accommodation period, students are expected to resume progress toward degree completion, and faculty are encouraged to remain flexible in their expectations so that students can meet the demands of graduate study while adjusting to new demands in their parental roles.
2. WORK APPOINTMENTS
The College of Fine Arts encourages departments to provide non-TA/AI support for graduate students during the semester in which a child is born or adopted. If this cannot be done, new parents may request to be appointed to TA or GRA positions whose duties can be done in flexible environments and on flexible schedules. Flexibility regarding the distribution of specific TA duties within a semester is strongly encouraged for supervisors of students anticipating the birth or adoption of a child. The student and graduate adviser (or other supervisor) should agree to review these TA duties on a periodic schedule to ensure that work is being completed in a timely and satisfactorily manner. A TA whose accommodations include performing at least some duties away from campus should review University guidelines regarding telecommuting and may be asked to sign a Telecommuting Agreement.
3. TIME TO DEGREE PROGRESS
Each graduate program has completed a Milestone document that outlines timely progress toward completion of a degree. The College of Fine Arts Funding and Time to Degree policy specifies the timeline for graduate student funding relative to the Milestone; the Dean’s office will consider any applications made for extension of funding (fellowships, work appointment) relative to the policy, upon review of the accommodation request.
4. LEAVE OF ABSENCE
In some cases, a complete break from all employment and academic responsibilities may be most appropriate: AUTHORIZATION FOR LEAVE OF ABSENCE (For Master’s Students and Doctoral students not in candidacy)
forms are available from the Graduate School. This leave is unpaid, and – unless the student qualifies for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – employee health insurance premium sharing is unavailable for any full month of leave (see the Human Resources Parental Leave webpage.) Please see your department’s graduate adviser or graduate coordinator, for assistance.
After consulting with their supervising professor, students must apply in writing to their graduate adviser for a Parental or Family Emergency accommodation. This application must conform to all Graduate School guidelines for leaves and must be approved by the graduate student’s academic supervisor. A copy of this leave/accommodation should be forwarded to the College of Fine Arts Senior Associate Dean.
As with all academic employee appointments, future financial support is contingent upon satisfactory academic progress as defined by the student’s GSC, and satisfactory job performance as defined by the employing unit.
International students are strongly encouraged to consult in advance with the International Office about possible visa implications.
If medical conditions indicate that additional accommodations may be necessary, students should contact Disability and Access office and student employees can contact the Center for Equity and Inclusion instead to determine what additional accommodations are reasonable.
Leave or appointment disputes unresolved at the department/school level may be brought to the attention of the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Fine Arts for further consideration.