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Graduate Programs

BEST PRACTICES

Summer Research Fellowship

The Department can nominate two applicants (an official nominee and an alternate) to Graduate Studies each year for this fellowship. The Graduate Committee will accept and judge applications for the Summer Research Fellowships. For this award, Graduate Studies gives preference to students from underrepresented groups who are actively writing dissertations. Students must apply on their own behalf by submitting a C.V. and a letter describing the project and its significance, and outlining the proposed research plan for the fellowship period. No faculty letters will be considered in the selection process, but once the nominees are chosen, a faculty member (usually the dissertation director) will be asked to write a letter on the nominee’s behalf.

Leaves of Absence

In extenuating circumstances, students may petition for a leave of absence—typically for one semester or one academic year. However, after an absence of five years a doctoral aspirant or candidate loses status as such and must apply for readmission to the program. In addition, please note that the Office of Student Financial Aid marks the timeline for Satisfactory Academic Progress as starting from the first day of enrollment.

Mail

All English GTAs and first-year graduate students have a mailbox. Non-teaching graduate students who wish to keep their mailbox after their first year must request one from the Graduate Secretary. These mailboxes should be checked frequently, and they should not normally be used for the transmission of valuables or confidential communications, since they cannot be locked. Graduate students should keep the departmental office and Registrar informed of any changes in their names, mailing addresses, and e-mail addresses.

Graduate students may use departmental stationery for professional correspondence such as letters regarding participation in conferences and submission of articles for publication.  The Department will also pay for mailing articles to journals. Leave items to be mailed in the appropriate outgoing basket, and office staff will apply the postage. Please be prudent in order to conserve supplies and to avoid impropriety. Using State property for private benefit is illegal.

[Return to Graduate Handbook index]

Loan Fund

The Kansas University Endowment Association manages a small English Department Student Loan Fund. Graduate students in English, as well as undergraduate English majors, may borrow up to $500, interest free, for periods up to a year from this fund, as long as the money lasts. Potential borrowers should speak to the department chair about their needs. The chair will ascertain if these can be met from available resources at any given time, and will write the necessary note of introduction to KUEA.

Grants

Grants enable students to take time away from teaching to focus fully on the dissertation project and speed time toward degree. Grant-writing may also strengthen the dissertation proposal, parts of the dissertation itself, or the cover letters and abstracts for the academic job market. Grant-writing experience looks enticing to employers outside of the academy as well. Consider crafting a list of possible grant and fellowship opportunities early in the academic year, since deadlines are set as early as October, and the proposal writing process often involves intensive revision and polishing. See the Office of Graduate Studies webpage on internal and external resources and the Hall Center for the Humanities page to get started.

Thesis and Dissertation Defenses

After a successful defense, Master’s students and Doctoral students must submit their theses and dissertations in an electronic version to fulfill graduation requirements. Instructions and guidelines for submitting the thesis in may be found at the Graduate Studies ETD (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) website. Please see the Embargo policy for information on how to delay digital publication of your thesis or dissertation.

It is the responsibility of the student to bring to his or her thesis defense a printed copy of the Title Page and Acceptance Page. These two pages must be signed by the appropriate committee members and submitted to the College Office of Graduate Affairs (COGA) by the deadline for graduation. The correct format and layout for these are on the COGA website.

Post-Degree Employment

During the early fall of the academic year in which a graduate student plans to apply for full-time teaching or non- teaching positions, he or she should make his or her availability  and particular needs known to the Job Placement Advisor (JPA) --the faculty member in the Department primarily responsible for helping graduate students find employment. After one or more such conversations, each candidate should register with the University Placement Office in the Burge Union, and file copies of his or her curriculum vitae or resume with the JPA. The Department is notified of many job openings and will make such notices available to interested and qualified graduate students who are known to be looking for positions; in order to get on the list of job seekers, the candidate should contact the JPA. He or she regularly posts e-mail notices of job openings to those on the list. The Department also offers access to the on-line Job Information List published by the MLA.

It seems fairly clear that, for the foreseeable future, those who confine themselves exclusively to traditional literary specialties will have a relatively hard time finding teaching positions. Those applying for academic jobs should carefully consider the advantages of doing some work in fields like education, journalism, speech and drama, film, linguistics, rhetoric and composition, English as a second language, or foreign languages, since many positions call for candidates proficient in more than one subject.

Many English graduate students who do not want to pursue an academic career find rewarding positions in business, industry, non-profits, and government, all of which remain extremely interested in job seekers with the skills afforded by an English degree. However, students seeking such employment should be aware of the requirements and expectations of the non-academic world. For information, contact the JPA and/or visit the University Placement Center.

It is impossible to generalize about some of these questions. The best advice is to work as closely as possible with the JPA and to use the information about employment that the Department makes available.

[Return to Graduate Handbook index]

Best Practices for Chairs and Committee Members

It is important that committee members give students timely feedback on their dissertation work, as well as exam lists, drafts of Reviews of Literature, dissertation proposals, and grant proposals. Generally speaking, items should be returned with comments within two to three weeks—this includes items submitted near the end of the spring semester. Students should be able to progress with confidence through the summer. It is also helpful to schedule a meeting with the student to discuss revisions of each chapter. Such a meeting provides more extensive feedback, and also sets a de-facto deadline by which the chapter will have been read.

Committee members should be honest and straightforward with graduate students about the degree of revision required before a chapter would be ready to defend. If students ask for an assessment of whether a chapter (or the dissertation as a whole) has been revised satisfactorily, committee members should be willing to offer a candid assessment of this.

As the final oral exam approaches, dissertation directors need to be offering their advisees feedback not just on necessary (or desirable) revisions but on whether the director feels the dissertation is close to ready to defend. Directors do their students no favors by being reassuring as the defense date approaches at the expense of a clear - sighted assessment of readiness. If a student is producing substantial new writing at the last minute, or is producing revisions which have not had time to be properly vetted by the committee, the defense date should in all likelihood be postponed. Also see the Advising and Mentoring section of the handbook.

[Return to Graduate Handbook index]

 


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