Graduate Student Handbook
for Incoming Engineering Students
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What do I do if my funding disappears?
First, don’t panic. Look into what options are open for you in the immediate term. Depending on where in your graduate program you are, you might think about getting a MS degree, becoming a teaching assistant, switching to another research group (or another program) or start looking for a job (in case you already have a MS).
Be aware that there are other assistantships on campus available to all graduate students. You don’t always have to receive funding from your own department. There are also summer jobs on campus that can help you in the short term. Find part-time on-campus job listings here.
Discuss your situation with your colleagues. Sometimes senior students may know more than you think, and they might have the right advice, who to contact, where to ask help, etc.
You might want to contact someone on the WIE steering committee for information and advice. The membership of this committee is available on the web. The committee consists of two experienced graduate students from each engineering department on campus as well as two faculty members who actively work with students on the improvement of graduate life.
- How can I judge my progress?
Discuss your progress with your advisor. What does she/he expect from you? Compare yourself to the other students in the group or the department. How much work did they have to do to publish their first paper, go to their first research conference or to graduate?
- What is a typical daily schedule of a graduate student?
Graduate student schedules vary with the year of the student (e.g., first year students may be primarily taking courses, final year students are devoting full time to research) and the type of project (some lab schedules need to be coordinated, while computing can be done almost anytime). The best advice would be that you discuss your work schedule with your advisor. Don’t feel afraid to talk directly or ask when are you expected to show up and for how long. Also, ask older students as they might have experience with your advisor.
- How many days of vacation do grad students have each year?
There are no rules regarding vacation but certainly you should take vacation once a year. It is recommended that you take a break and clear your mind to come back with energy for another full year of research. However, the timing of your vacation should be cleared with your advisor well ahead of time. Advisors don’t like surprises. Additionally, you may find your advisor is more focused on research when he or she is not teaching, so normal vacation times may well be better reserved for intense research. For information about what paperwork needs to be completed if you plan to leave the country, please visit the Office of Foreign Student and Scholars.
- What other campus organizations or offices are suitable for graduate students?