Graduate School Glossary

    Posted on Monday, Nov 28, 2016
    Graduate school is a lot of things. It’s exciting, overwhelming, hard, fun, relaxing, challenging…the list could go on and on! But I think that more often than not graduate studies can be CONFUSING because of all the new terms, policies, ideas, procedures, etc. floating around our everyday life. In talking with fellow graduate students in my department (HLKN) and others from across campus there seems to be a need for clarification on many terms, concepts and ideas which are universal to graduate students regardless of their discipline. Some kind of common sense things which can be very confusing and leave students feeling uneasy and not confident in asking questions.
    So….this week’s blog is dedicated to all the graduate students at TAMU who ever thought, “What the heck does that mean?” I know I’ve felt that way more times than I can count, so hopefully this blog glossary can help debunk some of those questions.
    For more resources about the crazy graduate studies vocabulary, check out these great links:
    1. Texas A&M University, Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (2016). New & Current Students.
    2. University of Nebraska, Office of Graduate Studies (2016). Graduate School Glossary/Terminology.
    3. Peterson (2016). Graduate School Acronyms and Jargon.
    *Disclaimer: Remember people, this list has been generated from my communication with TAMU graduate students all over campus via the student organizations I engage with – it is not universal and I am definitely missing some things! Please add information to the comments section and share with your peers to generate more terms/concepts to the glossary!
    Term Explanation
    PhD Candidate After completing a substantial amount of the credit hours on the program of studies and all research/language tools (if required), passing a comprehensive examination (written and potentially also oral), in whatever form the academic department administers it.
    A.B.D. This is an acronym for "All But Dissertation." These will be the initials behind your name if you've completed all your Ph.D. coursework in graduate school, but not your thesis
    Tuition Waiver A benefit of an eligible assistantship that grants the student full-time tuition remission for the academic semester of employment.
    College An administrative unit overseeing one or more academic departments or programs. Examples: The College of Education and Human Development or The College of Architecture.
    Assistantship Assistantships are available at many grad schools with graduate programs and can be teaching or research centered. In exchange for completing some work or research for the graduate program, you're offered free or reduced tuition, as well as other possible benefits, such as health insurance and a monthly stipend.
    Academic Graduate Education This is a graduate education that emphasizes performing and evaluating research in a specific field, such as literature or biochemistry.
    TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language; one of the exams applicants can use to demonstrate English proficiency, if required.
    Proposal A statement of the dissertation topic, how the research will be conducted, what it will entail and what it will accomplish.
    Defense Generally an oral presentation to a committee of people where you provide a summary of your thesis/dissertation and the research results you obtained. An examining committee then presents you with questions and you must respond and defend your work. There's usually a time limit.
    CV Curriculum Vitae; The CV is used to apply for college and university positions as well as for fellowships and industrial research jobs.
    Time-to-Degree The amount of time a graduate student has to complete his or her degree program from the time of admission into graduate school.
    Master’s Thesis In a nutshell, a thesis is one huge gigantic research paper! A thesis is almost always required if you're pursuing a Ph.D., but some master's programs require them as well. Your thesis is an original and significant contribution to research in your field.
    ELP English Language Proficiency; TAMU international graduate students whose native language is not English must fulfill an English proficiency requirement through either English Proficiency Verification or English Proficiency Certification. This proficiency requirement should be met early in a student’s program, and it must be completed before scheduling either the final examination for the master’s degree or the preliminary examination for the doctoral degree.
    Graduate Handbook A policy handbook for graduate study, with links to lists of available programs and courses. All graduate students and the faculty and staff who work with them should be familiarize with it!
    Ombudsperson In conflicts, the ombudsperson remains equally open and accessible to all parties.
    ISS International Student Services; ISS serves as an information resource for all partners in the international education process, those both on campus and off. In addition to issuing documents for students to obtain non-immigrant visas to study at the University, the office works with other University departments concerning admissions and enrollment.
    TAMU CTE The Center for Teaching Excellence offers a wide range of consultation and support services to faculty, programs, and departments. CTE has cultivated many collaborative relationships across campus to help provide interdisciplinary professional development opportunities for faculty, staff, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students.
    Under Review A paper (manuscript) which has been fully submitted to an outlet (e.g., academic journal) for peer-review consideration.
    In Press A paper (manuscript) which has been accepted for publication in an outlet (e.g., academic journal) and it undergoing editing, proofs, and final stages before release.
    FAFAS The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the sole form needed to apply for any federal student aid program.
    Full-Time Refers to enrollment in a minimum graduate-level credits per semester. At TAMU, the minimum graduate level courses needed to be a full-time student is 9 hours.
    Oral Exam These comprehensive exams are presented verbally and are usually graded by a small committee of professors who will require you to demonstrate your mastery of the concepts you've covered in your studies.
    Hooding An official ceremony celebrating the completion of a doctoral degree program, the highest level of educational achievement. At this ceremony, graduating students receive their doctoral hood. At TAMU, hooding is part of the commencement ceremony.
    Tenure Track The path to tenure. In a job ad, modifying "assistant professor," it indicates that the position can lead to promotion to tenure.
    IDP Individual Development Plan is an essential tool designed to help graduate students (a) Identify professional goals and objectives; (b) Assess current skills; and (c) Communicate with their advisor and mentor to develop an action plan to achieve short- and long-term objectives. Check out the TAMU OGAP’S website for more details:
    Fellowship Fellowships are essentially scholarships or grants that are awarded to doctoral students in grad schools. Awards vary but could include enough money to cover the cost of everything, including tuition, housing, and food. Sometimes, they have strings attached, such as working on a very specific type of research, or publishing a set amount of articles in a specific field
    IRB Institutional Review Board: an internal administrative body at TAMU who is responsible for reviewing and authorizing study protocols for research involving human subjects.
    GMAT Graduate Management Admission Test, which is the standardized test required for admission to a graduate business school.
    GRE Graduate Record Examination, which is a standardized exam usually required for admission to graduate schools.
    Internship Work experience as part of a field of study, which usually takes place over several months. It may be full-time, may require you to move, and you may be paid.
    Ph.D Doctor of Philosophy: This is an advanced degree, beyond the master’s level, which requires further courses, as well as several years of original research culminating in a dissertation.
    Job Talk A presentation about your research that you give when invited for a campus visit as part of the process of applying for academic faculty positions. It can vary in length. The audience may include only faculty members, or some mix of professors and students.
    Post-Doc Postdoctoral fellow: Someone who holds the Ph.D. (or M.D., other doctorate, or the equivalent) and goes to a university, research center, industrial business, or other institution with the purpose of engaging in research or participating in advanced training programs.
    Research Compliance Federal law requires which students who intend to engage in research that involves any of a number of subjects such as human or animals, radiation, biohazardous agents, etc. receive approval of their research procedures before beginning to collect data.
    Residency for Tuition A student's status as either Texas Resident or Non-Resident, in part determining that student's tuition rate.
    Soft Money A term for grant-supported research and positions. Sometimes the occupant of a position that is partially or wholly financed by "soft money" (i.e., grants) is responsible for raising the dollars for the position and paying their salary.
    Specialization A well-developed area of study formally established within one or more major-degree programs.
    Leigh Szucs | Health and Kinesiology

    Leigh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Health & Kinesiology, pursuing a doctoral degree in Health Education. Her research and teaching experiences focus on the effectiveness of teen pregnancy prevention program (TPP) implementation practices among curriculum-based intervention models.

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