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«Doctoral Program in Communication Studies University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate Handbook of Policies and Procedures For students ...»

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Doctoral Program in Communication Studies

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Graduate Handbook of Policies and


For students entering 2012-13


This handbook contains the policies that structure graduate study in the Department of

Communication Studies at UNC. Students are responsible for making certain that procedures,

deadlines, requirements, and policies described here are met. If there are questions about any

of the policies described here, a student should consult with his/her adviser first. If there remain questions, s/he should ask the Director of Graduate Studies (DoGS). The website of the Graduate School also may provide answers to questions that arise.

All students are admitted to the program as doctoral students. The sections in this handbook cover department policies governing the period from entry into the program through the defense of the dissertation. If a student enters the program with a bachelor’s degree, s/he can earn a master’s degree along the way. Interests sometimes change, so some students decide to leave the program with the M.A. rather than continuing to pursue the Ph.D. Policies regarding the M.A. option are also contained in this handbook.

All policy documents are subject to review and change, and this is no exception. Over the next few years, this handbook will take on a new structure and with some revision of a few of the policies. Importantly, the student is covered by whatever version of this handbook was in place at the time s/he was admitted. Although some revisions may occur to your year’s handbook after you’ve begun the program, these will not entail changes in the requirements you must meet. Any changes will consist of clarifications to policies, changes in language to align with the Graduate School Handbook, or minor, non-substantive edits (including moving or copying of important information into multiple sections for clarity).

The handbook, in recent years, has been structured as a list of “frequently asked questions.” That structure remains, although some of the FAQs have been removed from this document and the information moved to documents about admission, etc. To ensure clarity and consistency across time, the numbering of items remains stable, although the numbers will no longer follow in perfect sequence. For example, FAQs 1-11 and 18 were about admission, and so that information has been reformatted and will be moved to other areas of the website and brochures. As policy adjustments are completed, the FAQ structure of the handbook will be phased out altogether. But that will take time. The faculty decides policy changes democratically, and democracy is frequently slow. Also, any major policy revisions must be approved by the Graduate School, which also slows the process. Hence, we will have “messy” handbooks for awhile. We hope that will not create problems.

Changes made to any version of the handbook are dated; all of these changes are for clarification only. Each version (now according to date of admission) will be a little different, as substantive revisions to policy occur. Any such revisions will be reflected only in the handbooks for newly admitted students. Please feel free to consult with the DoGS for answers to questions about these clarifications and revisions.

Students who entered the program prior to 2010 should consult their paper copies or see the Graduate Student Services Manager for information.

–  –  –

1-11. Items updated and moved to admissions materials.

12. For how many hours do I need to enroll in order to get a tuition waiver and assistantship?

13. Will the department cover my tuition if I enroll for hours after the university’s add period?

14. Can I get tuition remission or in-state tuition awards during summer sessions?

15. How are teaching assignments made?

16. How much time should I expect to devote to assisting a large class?

17. With whom should I raise concerns about a particular teaching assignment?

19. What are the degree requirements?

20. How many independent studies or hours of “directed research” can I take?

21. How do I enroll for courses at other universities?

22. How many 500-600 level courses can I take?

23. May I take courses below 600 or taught by advanced graduate students?

24. How long will it take for me to complete the program?

25. What is a “Plan of Study”?

26. Can I petition to change any of the requirements of the degree program, for special circumstances?

27. Can I get transfer credit?

28. What if I want to pursue a minor?

29. How are graduate courses graded?

30. What are the norms and expectations for seminar papers?

31. What if I get a low pass or failing grade in a course?

32. What if I need to take an Incomplete in a course?

33. Do I need to learn a language?

34. What are the areas of teaching emphasis in the department?

35. Item updated and moved to professional development section of the website.

36. How do I get an adviser?

37. What does my adviser do?

38. If I am an M.A./Ph.D. student, what is the process for completing my M.A.?

39. Can I choose to discontinue doctoral studies and still get an M.A.?

40. Who can or should be on a doctoral committee?

41. What does my committee do?

42. What steps do I take in preparation for the Ph.D. comprehensive exams? 1

43. What is the format of the comprehensive exams?

44. How do I schedule the exams?

45. Who schedules the exam defense meeting—and when does it happen?

46. What happens during a comprehensive exam/dissertation proposal defense meeting?

47. How are the exams evaluated?

The term “comprehensive exam” has replaced “qualifying exam” throughout this document (spring 2013) to avoid confusion with the terminology of the Graduate School.

48. May I see copies of other students’ exams in preparation for my own?

49. What is a dissertation proposal?

50. May I see copies of other students’ proposals?

51. How is the proposal evaluated?

52. Do I need to get university approval for my dissertation study?

53. When do I become a Ph.D. candidate?

54. What IS a dissertation?

55. How many dissertation hours do I take?

56. How long do I have to complete the dissertation?

57. What if I need an extension?

58. Who schedules the dissertation defense meeting—and when does it happen?

59. How is the dissertation evaluated?

60. Is my progress in the program monitored?

61. Can you give me a picture of progress towards completion of the Ph.D.?

62. Item updated and moved to professional development section of the website.

63. What UNC policies should I be aware of?

1-11. Items updated and moved to admissions materials.

12. For how many hours do I need to enroll in order to get a tuition waiver and assistantship? (Item revised for clarity, spring 2012) You must be a full-time student. Before completion of coursework, to be “full-time” you must enroll for 9 hours. (The UNC Graduate School, not the department, imposes this rule for students who are teaching one course, assisting in two courses, or doing other service of approximately 20 hours/week. Because the state underwrites a substantial portion of all UNC students’ expenses, it expects UNC to encourage students to take full course loads and complete degrees in a timely manner.) If you have completed your coursework and have only dissertation hours remaining in your program, you make take fewer than 9 hours and still be considered a full-time student (rules for student loans differ).

13. Will the department cover my tuition if I enroll for hours after the university’s add period?

No. The University gets appropriations from the legislature based on the number of student hours that are registered on the last day to add courses. Because the university does not get funding for courses added after that date, students must absorb the additional costs. Make sure that you adhere to UNC’s deadlines, even if you are taking courses at other universities in the area.

14. Can I get tuition remission or in-state tuition awards during summer sessions?

No. You must pay your own tuition and fees during summer sessions.

15. How are teaching assignments made?

Each semester, the Assistant Chair of the department circulates a form, soliciting student teaching assignment interests. This form must be completed in consultation with your adviser, who must approve your selections. Assignments are made with these

considerations in mind:

1. Teaching assignments are guided by a number of criteria: departmental needs, faculty evaluation of teaching experience, past courses taught, overall professional development, and progress toward the degree. Your preferences are given strong, but not overriding, consideration.

2. To qualify to teach a section of your own course, you must have completed at least 18 hours of graduate classes, assisted in the course (or its equivalent) you wish to teach, and have strong teaching evaluations from faculty whom you assisted in teaching. You must also be making progress toward the degree. If you meet these requirements, you are qualified to teach your own section of a course and may be asked to do so when sections are available.

3. Teaching assistants are not normally assigned to assist faculty with 400-level courses, with the exception of some media courses. If you would like to assist with an advanced undergraduate course, please list the course, professor, and how the course is relevant to your professional development. Also, please have the professor provide a letter explaining why your assistance is necessary and describing your responsibilities. Please note that, if you are assigned to a 400-level course, the course's enrollment may be increased.

4. The range of course offerings in relation to the needs of the undergraduate curriculum may change from term to term. Unanticipated changes in courses offered and resulting opportunities for graduate students to, for example, occasionally teach courses of their own design, may occur between the time teaching interests are first solicited and the beginning of the semester to which they apply. We will do everything to keep such changes to a minimum, but you need to remain aware that any such changes result from a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control. At times such changes may mean a delay in the circulation of the final graduate teaching schedule until the issues resulting from such issues are resolved.

16. How much time should I expect to devote to assisting a large class?

The general expectation is that you will devote an average of 10 hours/week to each quarter-time assistantship (usually assisting one course). Hours will vary across the semester. For instance, T.A.s may spend more time on assisting in courses in weeks that involve grading papers or exams, and less time in others.

17. With whom should I raise concerns about a particular teaching assignment?

After assignments are made and before the start of the term, you may consult directly with the Assistant Chair.

During the course of a particular assignment, consult first with the teaching supervisor and then, as necessary, with the Director of Graduate Studies.

18. Item updated and moved to admissions materials.

19. What are the degree requirements?

The Ph.D. program requirements have 7 components, which are explicitly laid out in the

Plan of Study:

1. Core courses (4 courses), introducing students to foundational research and professional paradigms;

2. Elective research courses (10 courses), organized by two “lines of inquiry” and including courses necessary to achieve appropriate methodological competence;

3. Optional minor/certification in an area outside of Communication Studies;

4. Language proficiency (as determined in consultation with the student’s adviser);

5. Additional elective courses, as necessary to pursue the designated research questions;

6. Professional development training (4 credit hours);

7. Completion of requirements for candidacy and graduation (successful completion of written comprehensive exams, oral defense, and oral defense of the dissertation).

While the essential structure of the program is the same for all students, each student’s program will vary because of the differing designation of primary research questions.

Based on these questions, each student will identify two lines of inquiry that must be pursued through coursework and supplemental research (possibly including fieldwork) in order to begin to answer the primary questions. The core courses and structure of the program thus provide a firm foundation for interdisciplinary communication study.

20. How many independent studies or hours of “directed research” can I take?

No more than 9.

21. How do I enroll for courses at other universities?

If you are interested in taking a course on another campus, you will need to fill out the Inter-Institutional Approval Form (http://registrar.unc.edu/files/2012/03/CCM1_042585.pdf). The form will need to be signed by your adviser, the Graduate School and then forwarded to the Registrar’s Office.

For more information on Inter-Institutional Registration, please go to http://registrar.unc.edu/registration/special-enrollments/inter-institutional-programs/

22. How many 500-600 level courses can I take?

600-level courses are considered bridge courses; they are open to graduate and undergraduate students. With the approval of their committees, doctoral students may take up to 9 hours of credit below the 600-level.

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