Graduate Student Advising

During the first year of study, you will be advised by one of the Directors of Graduate Studies. You are expected to become familiar with the research areas and interests of a number of faculty members during this time. The Department Chair, the Director of Graduate Studies, or any faculty member with whom you become comfortable can assist with introducing the student to other faculty who have interests in various specialized areas. Selection of a major professor is by mutual agreement between the student and a faculty member.

The major professor will advise the student for the remainder of his or her program in selection of appropriate courses, formation of a graduate committee, and completion of degree requirements. In particular, the major professor will direct the student in the preparation of a “creative component” for the MS or a dissertation for the PhD.
Major Professors, Committees, and Graduate College Forms

A graduate degree consists of more than taking classes and passing exams. You will be given an opportunity to work directly with your major professor on a research problem. Hence the process of selecting a major professor is critical to both you and the faculty member. In order to give both individuals an opportunity to make an informed decision, all new students are assigned a temporary advisor for the first year, typically one of the Directors of Graduate education. This faculty member will assist you with course selection, academic problems and any other issues. After the first year, the temporary advisor helps you choose a permanent major professor. Typically, you will speak with several faculty members and then ask your first choice if he/she will be your major professor. If both parties agree, you will switch from your temporary advisor to your major professor. The next step is to form a committee. A masters committee typically consists of three faculty members (major professor, another statistician and someone from outside the department). You and are your major professor decide who should be asked to serve on this committee and you then contact these faculty members to see if they are willing. Once a committee has been selected, a Committee Appointment Form must be completed and sent to the Graduate College. This should be done by the third semester in the program.

The selection of a major professor and committee for a PhD student is a similar procedure. You will spend about two years working with a dissertation advisor so it pays to be well informed before making this decision. A good way to obtain information is to attend various working groups and seminars where the faculty discuss their research. Then you should discuss possible research topics with faculty who share your research interests. The committee selection process is the same as for the MS although this committee typically consists of five members with one being from outside the Department.

Once a Committee Appointment Form has been submitted to the Graduate College, you need to complete a Program of Study (POS) Form. This form contains a list of all courses being applied to the degree. Once it is signed by all committee members, the Department Chair (or DOGE) and the Graduate College it becomes your contract with ISU regarding degree requirements. The coursework required for the degree is given on that form. This is the first time you know for sure what courses are required for their degree. It is advantageous for you to get this form signed as soon as possible. This is typically done late in the third semester or early in the fourth semester. In the first week of the semester of graduation you must submit an “Application for Graduation” form to the Graduate College. (Summer graduates submit this form at the end of spring semester.) A “Request for Final Oral Exam” must be submitted to the Graduate College at least three weeks before the date of the exam. If this form is not submitted on time, you will not be allowed to take the Final Oral Examination.

PhD students have a preliminary oral exam sometime after the written exam and at least six months before the final oral exam. A “Request for Preliminary Examination” form must be submitted to the Graduate College at least two weeks before the proposed date of the exam. The format of this Preliminary Exam varies according to the policies of the major professor and the recommendation of the faculty during the evaluation of the written exam