Student Handbook

Academic Environment

The Graduate Environment: An Overview

A primary objective of graduate education at the University of Central Florida is to prepare the next generation of professional, scholarly, and educational leaders. In order to achieve this, we seek to instill in each student an understanding of and capacity for scholarship, independent critical judgment, academic rigor, and intellectual honesty. It is the joint responsibility of faculty and graduate students to work together to foster these ends through relationships that encourage freedom of inquiry, demonstrate personal and professional integrity, and foster mutual respect.

High-quality graduate education depends upon the professional and ethical conduct of both faculty and students. The graduate education to which we are committed, moreover, encompasses at least four separate components:

  • Experience in a variety of learning opportunities relative to your program of study;
  • Development of an individual research agenda or exposure to the research in your chosen field of study;
  • Opportunities for professional career development; and
  • Active participation in a disciplinary or professional community.

Each party in the graduate process – faculty, graduate students, your graduate department or program, and the College of Graduate Studies – has particular responsibilities in ensuring the achievement of these primary academic designs.

Graduate Faculty Members/Advisory Committees

Members of the graduate faculty serve a variety of critical roles as model teachers and researchers, as well as graduate student advisers and mentors. These faculty provide intellectual guidance in support of the scholarly and pedagogical efforts of graduate students, and are responsible for ongoing evaluation of graduate students’ performances in academic and research activities. As mentors and advisers, faculty are responsible for assisting graduate students to discover and participate in appropriate channels of scholarly, professional, and disciplinary exchange; and for helping students develop the professional research, teaching and networking skills that are required for a variety of career options, both within and outside academia.

Graduate Students

Graduate students are responsible for working toward completion of their degree programs in a timely manner. It is expected that graduate students in all programs will gain expertise in a particular area of study and, especially in PhD programs, seek to expand the knowledge of that disciplinary field by discovering and pursuing a unique topic of scholarly research. As professionals-in-training, graduate students should learn how to impart disciplinary knowledge through appropriate forms of instruction and publication, and how to apply that knowledge to particular business, industrial, and social problems. Where appropriate for their career trajectories, graduate students should seek out and utilize in their own teaching the best pedagogical practices.

The Graduate Department/Degree Program

The graduate degree program bears primary responsibility for publicizing specific and accurate guidelines and procedures governing study in the discipline. It should

  • provide all incoming and enrolled students with a clear structure of the expected stages of progress towards the degree(s);
  • offer a curriculum and appropriate forms of instruction necessary to ensure timely completion of that degree;
  • provide specific details regarding likely career opportunities for those seeking the degree; and
  • provide students with accurate information about the costs they will incur in graduate study and realistic assessments of future prospects for institutional and other forms of financial support.

This information should be included in written guidelines that are given to all students in the program. These guidelines should also spell out normal departmental and university processes for dealing with student grievances, as well as processes for assessing students’ satisfactory progress toward the degree.

The Graduate School

The Graduate School is responsible for general oversight of graduate programs. It must

  • maintain, through periodic review and assessment, the highest standards of quality in all degree programs;
  • evaluate graduate curricula to assure that they are equipping students with the knowledge and skills required for a broad array of postgraduate careers;
  • provide resources to attract the very best graduate applicants; and
  • provide both financial and other mechanisms to ensure that graduate student life is not one of ongoing struggle, isolation, and penury.

In its efforts to ensure quality in all aspects of graduate education, the College of Graduate Studies should provide clear and appropriate avenues of redress wherever particular faculty or student experiences fall short of the expectations articulated in this document.

In the individual sections below, we have tried, in more itemized fashion, to specify particular expectations we believe appropriate for each component of the graduate community at the University of Central Florida. We have organized these expectations loosely under four general categories:

  • Graduate research
  • Graduate teaching and/or training
  • Graduate students’ professional development/progress toward degree
  • The academic community

Standards of Conduct and Responsibility Expectations of Graduate Faculty