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 student’s 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 successfully completing their dissertation proposal by the end of the fourth year in the program. In assessing a student's performance during these years, the faculty will also decide whether or not to grant the student an extension to complete a missed requirement (qualifying paper or dissertation proposal) by the end of the summer. The year-end assessment letter sent by the Director of Graduate Studies will inform the student of this decision. No further extensions beyond the summer will be granted, and no extension will be granted in a given year if the student was granted an extension for a different requirement in a previous year.