Student Year-End Assessments

At the end of every academic year, the students are sent a letter evaluating their progress during the year. The content of the letter will be based on faculty discussion of students’ performance, and will be written by the Director of Graduate Studies. The intent of the assessment is to provide constructive feedback on individual students’ strengths and weaknesses, indicating areas that they can build on or need to develop during subsequent years in the PhD program. In the event that a student’s performance during the year leads the faculty to conclude that the student will not succeed in the PhD program, the function of the year-end assessment letter sent by the Director of Graduate Studies will be to communicate the decision that the student cannot continue in the program and may file paperwork to receive a terminal MA if the requirements for the MA are met.

The faculty will base their assessments of first-year students on their performance in the courses they have taken. Performance in courses is also taken into account in second- and third-year assessments, but special emphasis will be placed on students’ performance in their Qualifying Papers. Assessments of students in their fourth year and beyond will be based on their performance in courses (should they take any during the year), and also on their dissertation-related work, including successful defense of a dissertation proposal by the end of the fourth year in the program.

In a student’s second and later years in the program, their performance during the year may lead the faculty to conclude that the student has not made satisfactory progress towards successful completion of the program. The main reasons for reaching this conclusion include the student failing their qualifying paper (at end of the second year for the first paper, at end of the third year for the second paper), or the student not passing a dissertation proposal defense by the end of the fourth year.

The first time a student’s progress is deemed as not satisfactory by the faculty, the year-end assessment letter sent by the Director of Graduate Studies will inform the student that they should complete the missed requirement (passing a qualifying paper or dissertation proposal defense) by the end of the summer. If the student fails to meet this deadline, the faculty may conclude that the student will not succeed in the PhD program, in which case the Director of Graduate Studies will write them a letter notifying them of the faculty’s decision that they cannot continue in the program, and the student may file paperwork to receive a terminal MA if the requirements for the MA are met.

The second time a student’s progress is deemed as not satisfactory in their year-end assessment, the faculty may conclude that the student will not succeed in the PhD program, and the function of the year-end assessment letter sent by the Director of Graduate Studies will be to communicate the faculty’s decision that the student cannot continue in the program, and the student may file paperwork to receive a terminal MA if the requirements for the MA are met.