VII. Graduate Advising


VII.1.   Preamble

    Overall responsibility for advising at the graduate (M.A./Ph.D.) level lies with the Director of Graduate Studies. The Director is also responsible for dealing with any difficulties and problems which students may encounter as they progress through their graduate programs. The Director organizes productive and effective interaction between graduate students, the Graduate Faculty of the Department, and the Graduate Studies Committee. The Director also acts as liaison with the Graduate School.

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VII.2.   M.A./Ph.D. Advising

   All incoming graduate students will be assigned a faculty member as temporary advisor, based as closely as possible on the students’ expressed interests. To the extent possible, students will be given the name of their assigned temporary advisor prior to their arrival on campus. Temporary advisors will contact the students assigned to them as part of the recruiting process and be available to respond to the students’ queries from that point forward.

Students should feel free to request a change of advisors at any time during their programs. To change advisors, the student will speak with the involved parties (the former and future advisor) and then notify the Director of Graduate Studies in writing of the desired change. This change must also be communicated to the Graduate Coordinator in order to update the student’s record. In the temporary or prolonged absence of the regular advisor, the Director will assume advising duties for the student, or assign a different advisor on a temporary or regular basis.  

Ph.D. students must have as regular advisor (and prospective dissertation director) a member of the Graduate Faculty of the Department who has Category P standing. The student and the regular advisor jointly decide the composition of the student’s Advisory Committee. This should be done as early as possible in the program. The advisor has primary responsibility for advising the student in all matters.

These guidelines also apply to students in the separate M.A. and Ph.D. programs. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss any questions.  

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VII.3.   Change of Advisor

    There are reasonable situations in which a student may choose to request a change of advisor (e.g. as a result of the alteration of disciplinary orientation, pursuit of a specific research interest, prolonged absence of an advisor, difficulties of communication, and so on). Whatever the reason for a desired change, the student should discuss the situation with the Director of Graduate Studies, whose responsibility it is to oversee the advising of all graduate students in the Department. The Director will help the student to decide on the correct course of action and to arrange the necessary paperwork. 

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VII.4.   Suggested Advising Best Practices

    The relationship between a graduate student and advisor is one that can greatly impact the academic achievements and life of a graduate student. This relationship has the potential to greatly encourage the academic pursuits of the graduate student, proving to be one of the most influential interactions of the scholar’s life. However, a relationship in which mutual expectations are not understood has the ability to diminish a graduate student’s potential. Ultimately graduate advising must be viewed as a relationship with two vested parties both with the expectations that the other part will fulfill certain, often unwritten, best practices. Following are suggested best advising practices for both parties.

VII.4.1.  Graduate Student

    Conduct academic pursuits in an ethical manner while developing professionalism by upholding the Student Code of Conduct, including, but not limited to, sections explicitly related to academic pursuits; and by pursuing opportunities that would advance one’s career as a graduate student and beyond.

·         Take ownership of academic progress by devoting significant and productive time toward degree, and by staying abreast of requirements toward degree completion;

·         Take an active role in initiating communication with the advisor by actively and often discussing issues such as progress toward the degree, clearly communicating career goals and concerns related to academic progress;

·         Such communication should occur as much as possible in person or over the phone in order to reduce ambiguity and possible misunderstandings. Written communication, e.g., via mail and e-mail, is appropriate to document potentially contentious issues. However, e-mail is prone to misunderstandings. Recognize that social media can blur the line between professional and personal lives and therefore should be only used if deemed appropriate by both parties;

·         Clearly and immediately address any problems that arise, so that both parties can work to remedy issues in an expedient manner;

·         Respect the vast responsibilities of the advisor by maintaining open communication through phone, e-mail, conference call, web chat, etc., when face-to-face communication is not possible. Allow significant time for the advisor to provide feedback in advance of pending deadlines, and keep up with graduate student responsibilities even when the advisor is not present.

VII.4.2.  Graduate Advisor

·         Conduct advising in a clear and direct manner, being upfront with new advisees about such matters as completion of degree, publication expectations, etc.;

·         Interact with graduate students in a way that is not considered discriminatory, as defined by law or applicable University policy;

·         Maintain communication with graduate students in a professional manner by clearly stating expectations and requirements. This may most effectively be done in written form, even if just a written summary of an in-person meeting;

·         Provide regular evaluation of the student’s progress toward degree, using the Department’s annual review procedure;

·         Providing written feedback on student professional writing in a timely manner, to promote student progress;

·         Recognize that social media can blur the line between professional and personal lives and therefore should be used only if deemed appropriate by both parties;

·         Clearly and immediately address any problems that arise so that both parties can work to remedy issues in an expedient manner;

·         Aid in preparing students by actively initiating communication with an advisee not only about academic progress, but about career goals, both traditional and non-traditional;

·         Help graduate students develop professional skills that will make them competitive for employment in their given field;

·         Encourage students to take part in activities that will enrich their academic development, e.g., by participating in professional conferences and other networking activities;

·         Respect that students may have non-academic responsibilities by allowing reasonable time for advisees to prepare requested materials, and by not requiring that a student continue to provide a service (e.g., teaching, mentoring of other students, etc.) beyond departmental norms, potentially hindering their progress to completion of the degree.

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VII.5.   Advance Enrollment

    Advance Enrollment for Autumn and Spring semesters takes place during each preceding semester. It is essential for all continuing students to consult with their Advisor during this period to formalize the choice of courses for the next semester and to register online during the individual window of enrollment.

       Prior to each enrollment period, descriptions of the courses to be offered in the upcoming semester will be made available to students and faculty Advisors via email and/or on the departmental web page. Students and Advisors should also consult the list of all graduate courses being taught during the entire academic year (circulated via email the previous spring), in order for students to make curricular decisions that ensure their progress toward their degree. By the end of the first and second years of graduate studies, a plan for the remaining curriculum should be on file with the Advisor. This Curriculum Plan is subject to change whenever necessary, but a final revision must be in the hands of the Director of Graduate Studies no later than the filing of the Application to Graduate form, in the case of students that wish to apply for an M.A., and no later than the end of the first week of the semester of the Candidacy Examination. 

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VII.6.   Course Selection

    Students are responsible for enrolling for courses in a timely manner to avoid course cancellations and/or to incur late registration fees. Important deadlines for enrollment are listed in detail on this Enrollment Deadlines [PDF].

    Except for the special circumstances to be noted, the Department requires all GTAs to register each semester for a minimum of three courses that carry graduate credit and that count toward the degree sought. As stipulated by the rules of the Graduate School, the three courses together must total at least 8 hours. Students who are on a fellowship must register for a minimum of 12 graduate credit hours in order to maintain a full-time program.

    During the semester of initial appointment, GTAs must register for Spanish 7801, College Teaching of Spanish and Portuguese. This course counts as one of their three courses.

    All full-time graduate students are required to enroll each semester in a one credit-hour Colloquium course: Spanish 8894, for students in Iberian Studies, Latin American Cultural and Literary Studies, and Studies of the Portuguese-Speaking World, and Spanish 8893, for students in Hispanic Linguistics. The colloquium is a critical component of professional development through increased opportunities for exchange of ideas, exposure to new areas of interest and aspects of the profession, and public presentation of scholarly work. Attendance is generally required at no more than 6 colloquium meetings per semester, but instructors are encouraged to show flexibility for enrolled students taking their exams that semester.  If students have reached the maximum enrollment (16 credit hours) through other coursework, they are not required to enroll in 8893/8894, but they are expected to attend the colloquium meetings to the extent possible.

    With the exception of courses taken to fulfill the language requirement, all courses taken within the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in fulfillment of curricular course requirements must be at the level of 5000 or above. Courses taken outside the Department must be at the level of 4000 or above.

    Reading courses in a foreign language may be at the 4000 level; such courses count as graduate credit, but not in fulfillment of curricular course requirements. When students enroll in these courses, it is expected that they will take at least one other course that carries graduate credit and that counts in fulfillment of curricular course requirements.

   In selecting the courses for a given semester it is very important that the formal prerequisites of the various courses be strictly observed. These prerequisites are stipulated in The Ohio State University Course Offerings Bulletin. It is essential that students take prerequisite courses early in their program.

    Post-candidacy doctoral students should generally register for no more than three credit hours per semester, whether they are funded by the Department or self-funded. Post-candidacy doctoral students who take three credit hours per semester are considered full-time students. Such students are required to take SPAN 8893 or SPAN 8894 (1 credit hour) and thus should register for SPAN 8999 for 2 credit hours.

    For those admitted for Autumn 2008 and after, continuous academic year registration is now required for post-candidacy doctoral students. For further information about the continuous enrollment policy, see Section 7.8 of the Graduate School Handbook.

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VII.7.   Independent Study Courses (Autumn and Spring Semesters)

    During the Autumn and Spring Semesters, Independent Study courses, labeled 8193.01 (Individual Studies), are not generally available for the purpose of fulfilling degree requirements and students should not anticipate their approval. Approval for these courses during the semesters specified is given only in those unusual circumstances where departmental offerings are clearly insufficient to serve the curricular needs of the student. Students and Advisors alike should realize that it is in the best interest of the student to enroll in a regular course which normally offers more effective preparation for the degree examination and which represents a more substantial element on the academic transcript (8193.01s are not identified by topic on the transcript, and the only grade given is S/U). If departmental offerings within a given period of time do not allow for the possibility of taking a certain course to meet an area requirement and the student and Advisor determine that an Independent Study Course is essential to make progress toward the degree sought, students may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for substitution of another course of related content. Complete the Independent Study Request Form and submit all materials to the Director of Graduate Studies.

The petition must be submitted as early as possible on the departmental request form. Only when approval has been given by the Director of Graduate Studies may registration be completed.  If students plan their program well in advance and take courses as they are offered, rather than waiting for them to be given during future semesters, they should experience little, if any, need for requesting an Independent Study Course. In this way, the Department will also be better able to offer a variety of advanced courses that meet the stringent enrollment minimums mandated by the College of Arts and Sciences.

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VII.8.   Summer Courses

    Because of severely reduced course offerings throughout the University during the summer, certain courses are made available under circumstances in which they are not normally approved during the two semesters of the academic year. Those courses include 7193 (MA Exam Preparation), 8193.01 (Individual Studies), 8193.02 (PhD Exam Preparation), and 8999 (Research for Dissertation). Fulltime enrollment is four credit hours for pre-candidacy GTAs and six credit hours for fellows; maximum enrollment, unless Graduate School permission is sought, is eight credit hours. Post-candidacy students should register for three credit hours of 8999 (Research for Dissertation). Pre-candidacy students may choose from among three options:

1.       Independent Study (8193.01) to fulfill graduate degree requirements. This option is available only when departmental offerings have been or are clearly insufficient to complete requirements for the degree sought, and the student must seek approval in advance from the Graduate Studies Committee using the departmental request form. The grade at the end of the Summer Semester will be assigned by the supervising Instructor.

2.       Independent Study (8193.01) to prepare a publishable paper or a research proposal (limited to doctoral level students.) The purpose of this option is to enable the student to research and write a scholarly paper for submission for a conference or for publication, or to prepare a research proposal. This option must be contracted with the Advisor and the Instructor involved (if different from the Advisor). No departmental request form is needed. The grade at the end of the Summer Semester will be assigned by the supervising Instructor.

3.       7193 (MA Exam Preparation) and 8193.02 (PhD Exam Preparation) in order to prepare for an upcoming examination. The purpose of this option is to read and take notes upon a portion of the reading list that will constitute a significant part of the upcoming examination. Prior to the commencement of the Summer Semester, students will, in consultation with their Advisors, draw up a list of the titles that they propose to cover during the summer. No departmental request form is needed. The grade at the end of the Summer Semester will be based upon the successful completion of the work agreed upon by the student and the Advisor, as verified by submission of reading notes. The grade at the end of the Summer Session will be assigned by the individual Advisor.

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VII.9.   Grade Grievances

    A graduate student who believes a grade received in a course is inappropriate should first discuss and try to resolve the matter directly with the instructor, if at all possible. If the graduate student is not satisfied with the results of this discussion, he or she can appeal the grade to the chair. The chair will investigate the situation and may appoint a special review committee if he or she believes it necessary.

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