As a student of a previous institution, you will be familiar with the steps necessary for completing a degree: enrolling in major coursework, completing a sufficient number of credits with satisfactory grades, meeting general knowledge requirements through electives and required courses, and potentially completing a culminating project or thesis.
While a number of the steps for obtaining a graduate degree are identical, how a graduate student obtains a degree is based on a different set of expectations throughout the program. In fact, there are expectations for graduate students, departments, and the entire institution, as students progress towards graduation. These expectations can be positive, by allowing you to create your own ability to manage and meet the university’s goals, and they can be negative, in showing you precisely which conduct is prohibited, especially for future professionals in the your field of study. Let's look at the expectations for students first.
Graduate students have their own set of academic expectations, all of which are structured to make graduate students active participants in their own education. There are three general expectations of graduate students at UF:
How you pursue and satisfy these three expectations will vary throughout your graduate career. Some may carry more emphasis later in your degree program (e.g. when you seek professional development guidance in preparation for a new career in your area of study), or may be practiced differently within your program of study compared to many others (e.g. how to work well with your advisor as a distance learning master’s degree student may differ significantly from doing so as an on-campus master’s or doctoral student). Let’s discuss each of the expectations separately.
Graduate students will be held responsible for meeting academic requirements set by their own graduate program, as well as any college-level, or university-level, requirements that must be met in order to qualify for graduation. You should:
For our Ph.D students, you should develop an individualized development plan (IDP) with their advisor, and check-in periodically with your advisor on your progress.
For Master's and distance learning students, you may work directly with your graduate coordinator or graduate staff member to confirm your academic progress, or schedule a chat session to discuss coursework and degree requirements. In some cases, the graduate coordinator will also be your advisor for meeting program-specific requirements.
To be a successful graduate student, you must master the ability to not only comprehend the relevant literature in your field, but also acquire the skills to synthesize previous research to produce new insights.
Some degree programs will require that you become a regular contributor to research, and publish your findings to build knowledge in your respective field. Others will train you to understand and monitor the current research literature, and create applications of your acquired knowledge for a future professional career outside of academia. All programs will required that you uphold the ethical and quality standards of published work and professional engagement set by peers and colleagues.
Many graduate programs provide professional development training and background information that is specific to the aims they have identified for their graduates. It is important to work with your advisor, graduate staff and graduate coordinator to both know about and to pursue skills that can prepare you for your future career and personal goals.
Programs may offer workshops on specific topics for professional development, especially if there are unique skills to be developed (e.g. writing an article and preparing it for publication may have different norms in different fields of study). The Graduate School and its partners (particularly the Career Resource Center) also hold professional development workshops throughout the year on a variety of topics for developing skills in your program as well as for your future career plans.
For the expectations set by your program, please consult your departmental handbook or visit our listing of graduate program handbooks.
As a graduate student at UF, you can expect to have support within your graduate program, and within the institution, to pursue and complete your degree program. You can find this support throughout a variety of resources on campus, based on the role they play in your graduate career.
You should receive a stated policy handbook or set of policies from your graduate program, to follow throughout your graduate career. It will outline program-specific requirements for your major, as well as exam/project policies, enrollment procedures, committee requirements, and other regulations you will need to follow to successfully complete your degree.
Your college will support your academic pursuits, and provide structure for related graduate degree programs. They will also review and evaluate petitions and exemptions, should you require an adjustment to existing Graduate School or university policy. The Dean’s Office will be your conduit for navigating petitions and other requests that may need approval outside your department.
The Graduate School will outline relevant policy for the general requirements for graduate degrees of all types at UF. You will find updated documentation available in the Graduate Catalog and Graduate Handbook, for maintaining your status as a graduate student.
As students at the University of Florida, you are expected to produce your own academic work and participate in the academic community in ways that preserve it as a location for open and inclusive dialogue and research.
To do so, students must follow the Student Honor Code, and commit to producing their own work throughout their academic careers. Similarly, acting responsibly at UF requires following the Code of Conduct, which outlines the potential academic violations that may result in disciplinary charges from a campus-wide committee.
For any questions about the procedure for reporting academic dishonesty, appealing a decision, or managing conflict within the classroom, please contact the Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution unit, in the Dean of Students Office.
Graduate students at UF are expected to follow appropriate protocol for research practices on campus. For those students funded by federal grants or fellowships from the NIH, NSF, or USDA NIFA, you must complete Responsible Conduct for Research training in accordance with UF policy.
Students who are conducting or assisting with research on human subjects may also be required to submit a proposal for approval by UF’s Institutional Review Board (IRB).
The next page in this series will discuss how to maintain your progress as a graduate student.