Graduate Student Lingo
ABD: All But Dissertation (or All But Done). A term used to denote a student who has completed all other requirements of a doctoral degree besides the dissertation.
Add/Drop: The period of the first twelve class days of a fall or spring semester and during the first four class days of a summer term or a 10-week summer semester during which a student may add or drop a course with no penalty. Following this period, if approved by the Dean or designee of the College or his or her designee, a student may Q-drop a course without academic penalty through the 60th class day of a fall or spring semester, the 15th class day of summer term or the 35th class day of a 10-week summer semester.
Aggie: A student or former student of Texas A&M University.
Aggie Spirit Bus: An alternative to driving to and from campus, as well as around campus.
Aggieland: The city of College Station, Texas. Home of the Fightin’ Texas Aggies.
The Alumni Association: there is really no such thing as an Ex-Aggie; there are only Former Students. Once an Aggie, always an Aggie!
Block: A restriction on your student record (because you owe money, need to see your advisor, etc.) preventing class registration. Blocks are listed in
Candidacy: A doctoral student is admitted to candidacy when they have completed all formal coursework for their degree plan, have a GPR of at least a 3.0, have successfully passed the preliminary exam, and have an approved research proposal on file with the Grad School.
Chair: Graduate Committee Chair. Also referred to as your Advisor or Research Advisor. The faculty member who supervises your thesis or dissertation work and who typically provides the facilities and supervision necessary to conduct your research.
Committee: The group of faculty who supervise your thesis or dissertation research. The committee is composed of at least one person who will serve as your chair, and additional members from your field or other disciplines, provided they are approved to serve on a graduate committee. See your department for specific guidelines on how to create your committee.
CTE: Center for Teaching Excellence.This office provides resources and support for graduate students serving as Teaching Assistants and for those looking to teach in academia after graduation. Visit the website
CPT: Curricular Practical Training. Authorization for off-campus work related to field of study and designed towards an established academic objective for F-1 international students.
CV: Curriculum Vitae or Vitae. A detailed and comprehensive description of one’s academic credentials and achievements. A CV is used for graduate degree holders (Master’s or Doctoral) in place of a resume when applying for a teaching or research position at a college, university, or research institution.
Defense: For Doctoral or Master’s Thesis Option students, also referred to as the final exam. Once students submit their completed Thesis or Dissertation to their committee, they will be assigned a date to defend their work. During a defense, the student gives a presentation over their research to their committee followed by questions from committee members. The committee then votes to decide whether or not the student passes the defense.
Dissertation: A written document that summarizes a student’s research. It is the final step of a PhD program, and the culmination of a student’s doctoral studies.
Degree Plan: A degree plan formally declares your degree objective, the membership of your advisory committee, and the specific courses you will be required to complete as part of your degree program. All graduate students must submit an official degree plan to the Grad School for approval.
eCampus: An online platform used for students to access course materials. Many professors use eCampus for students to view and submit assignments, view grades, etc.
ELP: English Language Proficiency. All international graduate students whose native language is not English must meet minimum English proficiency standards.
ELP Verification: Required for international graduate students to achieve admission to Texas A&M University.
ELP Certification: Required for international graduate students to become eligible to teach in positions such as
Graduate Assistant-Teaching, Instructor, Lecturer, etc.
Fellowship: A graduate school fellowship is a financial award given to students entering graduate school. Fellowships are generally merit-based awards designed to help students cover academic and personal expenses while working full-time on advanced degrees. Graduate school fellowships are offered by individual universities, professional societies, the U.S. government, non-profit organizations and private corporations.
G.R.A.D. Aggies: A program run by the Grad School to help students engage in activities and resources to better prepare them for professional life after graduate school. Visit the website.
Graduate Assistantship: A graduate assistantship is a way for a graduate student to work for a university in his or her chosen field, generally while being paid a small stipend in combination with a free tuition waiver. Graduate assistantships are quite competitive and will vary by departments or programs. Texas A&M offers three types of assistantships: GAR (Graduate Assistant, Research) - Students employed by a department who help faculty with academic research responsibilities as research assistants. GAT (Graduate Assistant, Teaching) - Students employed by a department who help faculty with instructional responsibilities as teaching assistants. GANT (Graduate Assistant, Non-Teaching) - Students employed by other, non-academic units such as athletics or the Career Center.
Graduate and Professional Student Government: The graduate equivalent of the Student Government Association. Visit the website.
Graduate Catalog: Provides information about the graduate and professional programs at Texas A&M University. The catalog includes requirements for admission to graduate and professional studies at Texas A&M, services available to students, course offerings and listings of administrative officers and graduate faculty.
Grad Fac: Graduate Faculty. Faculty approved to teach graduate level courses and to serve on research committees for graduate students.
Howdy: Traditional Aggie greeting; a derivative of “hello.” Name of the website to access student record information and register for classes.
ISSS: International Student and Scholar Services. Office for international student resources and services located in the Pavilion room 110. Visit the website.
IRB: Institutional Review Board. The purpose of the IRB is to assure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in a research study. All researchers at Texas A&M must obtain approval from the IRB before conducting research related to human subjects.
Kyle Field: The football field and stadium where staunch Aggie fans yell for an eager team.
MSC: Memorial Student Center. The student union on campus that also houses student organizations, programs, the bookstore, dining options, art galleries, and the living room of campus.
NetID: Your campus user name; also used to log into some other campus systems & services, such as the myLibrary area of TAMU Libraries website.
Research Compliance and Biosafety: Office that exercises regulatory oversight for research involving issues of biosafety and/or human or animal research.
Grad School: The Graduate and Professional School. Provides support services to all graduate degree programs. Visit the website.
Ombuds: The Ombuds Officer at Texas A&M serves as an informal, independent, neutral, and confidential resource for persons to discuss questions and concerns related to graduate education. More information can be found here.
OPT: Optional Practical Training. Temporary employment related to field of study available to F-1 international students.
Orals: A portion of the preliminary exam given to doctoral students. See entry for Prelims.
Prelims: Preliminary Exam. Exams given to attain the level of doctoral candidacy and begin research. Doctoral students must first pass a doctoral preliminary examination usually consisting of a written exams and oral portion depending on the requirements of the degree program.
Q-Drop: The process of dropping a course after the designated add/drop period without penalty.
Registrar: The Office of the Registrar maintains student academic records, oversees class registration procedures and graduation ceremonies.
Research Advisor: See entry for Chair.
Research Proposal: A written document submitted by a Master’s Thesis or Doctoral student to their committee that outlines the research plan that must be approved before the student begins their research.
TA: Abbreviation for teaching assistant - a graduate student who instructs one or more classes.
Thesis: A written document that summarizes a student’s research. A master’s thesis is similar to a doctoral dissertation, but it is generally shorter and more narrowly focused. It is the culminating step for a Master’s Thesis Option student towards completing their degree requirements.
Twelfth Man: Aggies not actively engaged in an athletic event but who support the team.
UIN: The Universal Identification Number (UIN) is a unique combination of nine numbers that the University uses to permanently identify people in its computer system and for recordkeeping purposes. Current students’ UINs are printed on their student IDs, or are available with a picture ID from the Office of the Registrar or Help Desk Central.
Uncover: Remove your hat in reverence, usually at the Memorial Student Center.