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DGS Responsibilities

  • Serve as an “emissary” of the Graduate School to your department/program(s)
  • Understand your responsibilities as a coordinator and communicator
  • Ensure the success of graduate students from recruitment through graduation
  • Have a passion for improving the impact and relevance of each graduate and professional degree program
  • Continuously improve our scholarship of graduate education and serve as an advocate on campus
  • Know your students and post docs

Duties & Tasks

Formally speaking, the Directors of Graduate Studies are only mentioned in the Graduate Handbook surrounding the Degree Requirements as approving the supervisory committees (if the department chair does not do it). However, in practice the DGS does many things to ensure the success of the graduate and professional students. These may vary from department to department, but in general the DGS performs most of these tasks.

  1. Departmental Graduate Handbook

    The DGS keeps track of Departmental graduate handbook, and keeps it up to date. The Departmental Graduate handbook is the manual for incoming and current graduate students. It should contain everything a student needs to navigate through graduate school successfully.

  2. Meet with Graduate Students

    Meets informally as needed with graduate students to resolve issues, especially for students who appear to be stuck and not making progress towards finding a research supervisor, completing degree, etc.

  3. Maintain Departmental Web Content

    Maintaining a departmental web page (or web page content) for graduate students.

  4. Communicate Financial Support Options

    Making students aware of fellowship and scholarship and travel support available (either at departmental, University, or external levels).

  5. Monitor and Communicate Policy Changes

    Keeps track of changes in university policies regarding graduate student support, and ensures department chair is aware of important changes that may affect graduate student support in the department.

  6. Student Support

    Help resolve issues of graduate student support when they inadvertently 'fall through the cracks' of a policy.

  7. Attend DGS meetings

    Attend the DGS meetings and participate in discussions of graduate student support across campus and help to motivate campus wide change, when needed. This also includes clarification of Graduate School policy when it is unclear.

  8. Yearly Student Town Meeting

    Run a yearly graduate student town meeting to assess issues in the department that are affecting graduate students, and provide feedback as appropriate to chairs, deans, to solve any identified problems.

  9. Assist Future Students

    Respond to future students inquiries regarding degree and program offerings, and assist with new student recruitment. This may involve one-on-one meetings with students and tours of the department (or organizing faculty and staff to provide such tours). Some departments have separate graduate recruitment committees; the DGS might serve on this committee.

  10. Graduate Admissions Process

    Organization of graduate admissions, including selection of students, assignment of TA/GA offers, etc.  Some departments have separate committee to handle admissions where the DGS serves as a member of the committee.

  11. Incoming Student Orientation

    Run/organize orientation sessions for incoming graduate students.

  12. Attend Thesis Proposal & Defense Meetings

    Attend public thesis defense meetings, thesis proposal meetings for all graduate students. The purpose is to assess student outcomes over longer period of time by sampling the final product of the graduate degree program consistently. This occurs sometimes in smaller departments, where it is feasible. It is difficult for a single DGS to attend all thesis defenses in a large department; other strategies might be used.

This list is not exhaustive. There may be additional departmental or college wide responsibilities added to the list by the department chair and/or dean. To balance workload, some of the above items might get assigned to somebody else in the department, except #7,  the DGS is required to attend the monthly DGS meeting.

Additional Support

The Graduate School does not mandate additional support for a person who is the Director of Graduate Studies in a department.

Instead, many departments will generally reduce the level of other committee assignments for the DGS. It is usually a good idea to maintain the same DGS for multiple years (3 year terms are typical) so that there is some continuity and expertise built up in the department.

Last Updated: 8/14/23