Graduate Studies

MSC 03 2180
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Physical Location:
Humanities Building
Suite 107

Phone: (505) 277-2711
Fax: (505) 277-7405

Guide to Graduate Study

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These guidelines supplement the regulations and general guidelines posted in the UNM Catalog and the policies and procedures stipulated by your department or graduate program. While we hope that these guidelines answer some of your questions about what it means to be a graduate student at UNM, it is very important that you also learn the particular policies of your department and/or program, as well as the general policies in the UNM Catalog. Many departments have graduate handbooks available from the graduate adviser or the faculty graduate director. If you familiarize yourself early on with the full range of requirements and procedures, you will better be able to plan your studies and graduate in a timely manner.

Getting Started In Graduate Studies

Transition to Graduate Academic Life

As an undergraduate your major responsibilities were to acquire new knowledge and learn to synthesize and evaluate that knowledge to shape what you learned into meaningful ideas and practices. As a graduate student, your major responsibilities are to produce new knowledge and to contribute your research, critical analysis, and creative work to others in your field. Thus, you are transitioning from being a student to becoming a disciplined professional in your field, so you must gradually develop a sense of yourself as a professional, scholar, creative artist, and/or teacher. With that transition come new responsibilities, expectations and obligations. You will need to be self-disciplined, self-motivated, well organized, and goal-oriented. You will need to set reasonable but ambitious goals for your work, plan your work carefully, keep abreast of new developments in your field, and develop professional connections with peers and faculty in your area(s) of specialty. Your success as a graduate student depends in part upon careful planning, ongoing personal commitment and dedication, and learning to find and draw upon available resources, including your faculty, mentors, advisers, peers, and even family and friends.

Purposive planning.  Of the many factors under your control that are key to success in graduate school, articulating a clear sense of purpose and crafting a careful plan with benchmarks for success are two of the most important. Departments and the University of New Mexico set time-to-degree limits that restrict the amount of time you can take to complete a Master’s, M.F.A., or PhD degree. Ideally, you will set a timeline for yourself so you can complete your degree well within those limits. Remember that for every semester you spend in graduate school you incur opportunity costs—things you could be doing such as working, spending more time with your family, traveling, or earning more income. It’s important to keep in mind opportunity costs when considering graduate school in the first place, and it’s even more important to keep them in mind as you set goals and expectations for completing your degree.

You are here because you made a commitment to obtaining a graduate education for a specific purpose—to obtain a specific degree related to a specific career choice. To realize your goal, you should first identify the specific program requirements for your degree. What pre-requisites are required for advanced coursework? What language requirements do you have to fulfill? What comprehensive examinations will you need to take? What written work must you produce? When are certain required courses offered—once a year, once every two years? Does your program require some kind of work experience or internships? You need to answer these questions in order to set a tight timeline for completing all requirements for your degree. 

Armed with full knowledge of your degree requirements, you can map out a trajectory for completing those requirements on a spreadsheet or table. That way you will be sure not to miss a course, forget to fulfill a language requirement, or neglect to complete a required research project or examination. In addition, you will have the confidence going forward that you have some control over what is often a daunting set of tasks. Moreover, you can make every class count towards your degree. Knowing in advance that you have to produce a portfolio, thesis or dissertation, you can treat each lab experiment and/or course assignment as a building block toward your larger project—the culmination of which, of course, is your graduation with the degree.  We also recommend that you review your UNM transcript each term to be keep tabs on the courses you have taken, your posted grades, earned graduate credits, and cumulative GPA.

Helpful guides. There are a number of books, blogs, and on-line resources with tips for surviving and thriving in graduate school.  Here are a few that you might find helpful. Mentioning them here does not mean an endorsement of their complete contents, and of course there are many other such resources.

Bloom, Dale F., Jonathan D. Karp, and Nicholas Cohen.  (1999) The Ph.D. Process: A Student’s Guide to Graduate School in the Sciences.  Oxford University Press.

Cahn, Steven M. and Catharine R.Stimpson. (2008) From Student to Scholar: A Candid Guide to Becoming a Professor.  Columbia University Press.

Farkas, Dora. (2008) The Smart Way to Your PhD: 200 Secrets from 100 Graduates.  Your PhD Consulting.

Jerrard, Richard.  (1998) The Grad School Handbook. Perigee.

Karp, Jason. (2009) How to Survive Your PhD: An Insider’s Guide to Avoiding Mistakes, Choosing the Right Program, Working with Professors, and Just How a Person Actually Writes a 200-Page Paper.  Sourcebooks, Inc.

Peters, Robert. (1997) Getting What you Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning a Master’s or Ph.D.  Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Rossman, Mark H. (2002) Negotiating Graduate School: A Guide for Graduate Students. 2nd ed. Sage Publications.

Semenza, Gregory Colón. (2010) Graduate Study for the 21st Century: How to Build an Academic Career in the Humanities. 2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan.

 And for some comic relief to relieve stress and recognize that you’re not in this alone, see Jorge Cham’s comic strip: “Piled Higher and Deeper” at http://www.phdcomics.com/

University Values, Academic Integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research

 As researchers, writers, scholars, producers of creative works, teachers and members of the UNM community, all graduate students are expected to follow the University of New Mexico values and guidelines with regard to responsible conduct of research (RCR), professional ethics, and academic integrity. Graduate students are responsible for learning and adhering to the specific university, college, and departmental policies and procedures regarding academic honesty and responsible conduct of research, including IRB and IACUC guidelines when appropriate.  The paragraphs that follow provide an overview, but please consult the UNM Catalog, Pathfinder, and college and departmental resources for specific policies.

UNM Values

The central UNM values are: Academic Freedom, Diversity, Creativity and Initiative, Excellence, Integrity and Professionalism, and Access and Student Success. Paraphrasing the UNM Faculty Handbook, the university protects the exploration of ideas and encourages inquiry and creative activity, while opposing statements and activities that promote bigotry and prejudice and that consequently diminish active participation by all members of the university community. The university values the diversity of students, faculty and staff, because diversity enriches and strengthens our educational process and broaden our viewpoints. The university is committed to promoting and rewarding creative and scholarly initiative and encouraging excellence among its faculty, students and staff.  And it aims to ensure that every member of the community receives appropriate support to advance his or her chances of success. It is important that every member of the UNM community act in accordance with these values in order to build confidence in the academic and professional mission of UNM and the academic enterprise.

Academic Integrity. As stipulated in the UNM Catalog and the UNM Pathfinder, "Each student is expected to maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity in academic and professional matters.” Academic integrity includes, but is not limited to, honesty in quizzes, examinations, and assignments; properly acknowledging the work of others in papers, theses, and dissertations; and following ethical practices when conducting research.  At stake is nothing less than public trust in the research, writing, and creative work produced at the university. Thus, UNM expects all students, faculty and staff to follow the highest standards of ethical practice and academic integrity, and, as stated in the catalog and Pathfinder, UNM “reserves the right to take disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, against any student who is found guilty of academic dishonesty or otherwise fails to meet these standards.”

Responsible Conduct of Research. To achieve excellence in research and maintain public trust in research outcomes, it is important to create an environment that promotes and sustains the Responsible Conduct of Research (“RCR”).  To that end, the Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR) program serves as a central resource and coordinates instruction on campus for the responsible conduct of research. Guided by a Research Ethics Advisory Committee, the RECR program has produced a Scientific Integrity Plan (SIP) that sets appropriate standards for instruction in research ethics and responsible conduct of research, as well as to ensure compliance with the regulations set by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The RECR office provides a number of resources and outreach services to keep researchers informed about the responsible conduct of research. 

The RECR program is available to help all researchers develop training plans.  For more specific information, contact the office at 277-6128 in the OVPR or 277-3488 at 1717 Roma, MSC05 3480, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131 or visit the Office of the Vice President for Research website http://research.unm.edu/. See also the RECR website for guidelines, news, and events related to research compliance and instruction: http://research.unm.edu/researchethics/.  The Graduate Student Funding Initiative, the Graduate Resource Center, and the Office of Graduate Studies conduct workshops throughout the semester on RCR and issues relating to research ethics.  Please check their calendars for updated information about these workshops.

Graduate Student Grievance Procedures

Graduate students are expected to abide by the university values and guidelines for professional practice, academic integrity, and responsible conduct of research; they are also protected by those same values and guidelines. Academic grievances include, but are not limited to, issues related to progress toward the degree, improper implementation of academic procedures, and unfair treatment. When at all possible, graduate students should attempt to resolve their complaints directly with the parties involved.  If the complaint cannot be resolved at that level, the student may meet with department or college/school administrators (chair, dean, or dean’s designate) or the Dean of Graduate Studies to discuss the concerns, clarify the rules and procedures that should be followed, and explore constructive means to resolve the problem. If a formal grievance is necessary, the graduate student should follow the procedures stipulated in the University Catalog and UNM Pathfinder.  If a grievance or complaint involves alleged discrimination or sexual harassment, it must be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO).

Funding Your Graduate Education 

Of critical concern to most graduate students is the question of how to fund their graduate education without incurring significant debt.  Even with financial support, such as assistantships, fellowships or scholarships, the opportunity costs of graduate study can place a considerable burden upon students who may give up or pass by employment opportunities as they build for the future.

 Graduate students at the University of New Mexico generally draw upon multiple sources of funding to support their studies.  These sources include assistantships; scholarships, fellowships, and awards; on and off-campus employment; and student financial aid including grants and loans.

Assistantships

The Office of Graduate Studies, the colleges and departments offer over 1500 competitive assistantships for graduate students across the university. These include Teaching Assistantships, Graduate Assistantships, Research Assistantships, and Project Assistantships. Assistantships provide valuable experience in teaching and research, and the primary goal of assistantships is to provide opportunities for students to gain valuable experience and to broaden and enhance their academic profile.

Most assistantships are either .25 FTE (ten hours a week) or .50 FTE (twenty hours a week). Assistantships of .25 and above include the GPSA fee and health care insurance.  All assistantships carry a stipend or hourly wage and a waiver of the non-resident portion of tuition costs. Many (but not all) assistantships include a complete waiver of tuition for a specified number of credit hours. Before you sign an assistantship contract, be sure you understand the terms of the tuition waiver and any responsibility you may have for fees and/or tuition differentials.

Due to federal tax regulations, domestic students may not hold more than a .75 FTE position or combination of positions; international students may not hold more than.50 FTE.  To expedite completion of your program, OGS recommends that you not exceed.50 FTE while you are taking classes and writing your dissertation.

While OGS sets minimum salary guidelines, assistantship salaries vary across departments. Departments and programs take primary responsibility for hiring graduate assistants, so check with your graduate unit for information about availability, eligibility, terms of employment, and application requirements and deadlines. To remain eligible for holding assistantships, graduate students must complete mandatory trainings, maintain a minimum enrollment of six hours in graduate courses, meet basic standards for academic progress, and be in good academic standing. For complete details on eligibility requirements for holding an assistantship see “Eligibility for Assistantships” on OGS website http://www.unm.edu/grad/employment/assistadmin.html.

Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards

OGS administers and coordinates a variety of national, state, university, and OGS fellowships, scholarships and awards. Scholarships, fellowships and awards typically require no service in return and are awarded on the basis of academic merit. Many such awards are tied to meritorious work already accomplished—from excellence in mentoring to dissertation awards. Other awards, such as the Higher Education Department (HED) 3% scholarship, are awarded on the basis of residency requirements and financial need.  

In some cases, you may self-nominate and apply directly to OGS or to a funding agency to receive a scholarship, fellowship or award; in other cases, your department may need to nominate you for a particular award. For a complete list of OGS-administered scholarships, fellowships and awards visit the “Funding” site on OGS Website: http://www.unm.edu/grad/funding/nonservice.html

The Office of Graduate Studies, the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), departments, and some student groups also offer competitive grants to fund research and travel to conferences to present your work. To support student research OGS offers the Research, Project and Travel (RPT) grant and the Graduate Research Supplement; to support travel for professional development, OGS offers the Future Faculty Grant. GPSA offers several grants to defray costs of research and travel, including the Student Research Allocations Grant (SRAC), Specialized Travel (ST) grant, and Graduate Research and Development (GRD) Grants. 

Colleges, departments, graduate units, research institutes, and other student organizations also provide funding to support research. Check with your department and college for more details about their opportunities.  In addition, graduate students at UNM apply to external funding agencies for research support., such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Mellon Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. The Graduate Student Funding Initiative provides workshops, individual consultations, and certificate programs to help students identify potential funding sources, write successful grant proposals, and administer research programs. For more information, see the GSFI website at http://research.unm.edu/graduatefunding/.

Financial Aid

The UNM Office of Financial Aid can advise graduate students who want to apply for financial aid, including federal loans. OGS recommends that graduate students who intend to apply for any form of financial aid maintain an updated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application form. Even if you do not anticipate needing a FAFSA for federal financial aid, some scholarship and funding agencies rely upon the FAFSA to verify financial need. Thus, it is a good idea to update this form annually. For more information on financial aid see the Office of Financial Aid website at http://financialaid.unm.edu/

Employment

Many UNM graduate students rely upon part-time or full-time employment to support their graduate study. OGS often sends announcements for employment opportunities on the graduate student ListServ, particularly when those jobs involve teaching and/or research and will contribute to developing an expanded academic portfolio for graduate students. To join OGS ListServ, follow the directions listed at
http://www.unm.edu/grad/contact/listserv.html.

Getting to Know UNM

To access services at UNM, you will need to obtain a UNM Lobo ID card, set up a Net ID for e-mail, and learn how to negotiate LoboWeb, UNM’s registration system.  So that you are sure to receive important announcements about funding opportunities, professional development workshops, deadlines for scholarships and awards, and events on campus, you will also want to join OGS Listserv and join us on Facebook. Here are a few things you should do to get started:

Get a UNM ID card. The Lobo Card allows you to check out materials from the libraries, access athletic events, the Student Health Center, recreational services (Johnson Center), campus meal plans, and other services. In addition, there are user-activated options available both on and off campus, including use as a bank debit card, ATM card, and telephone calling card.

To get a new Lobo Card: Visit the Lobo Card Office. The office is located in the lower level in the north end of the Student Union Building, room 1077, directly across from Zimmerman Library. Bring a government-issued form of identification with you, such as your driver's license, passport, or military ID. For more information visit the Lobo Card website AT http://lobocard.unm.edu/get-a-lobocard.html

Create a UNM NetID. Each student must create a UNM NetID. Your NetID and password will provide access to various online services. You need your NetID to: use your UNM email account, register for classes, customize your UNM Web Portal, buy a parking permit, take online classes via WebCT, check your financial aid, and other computer and network services.  Students employed at UNM may need access to university information systems (your supervisor will inform you if you need this access). Click here to create your NetID. https://netid.unm.edu/form_new_netid.php

Join OGS Graduate Student Listserv. If you matriculated at UNM after Spring 2011, you automatically should have been added to OGS Graduate Student Listserv.  This listserv provides you with notices of upcoming events, workshops, graduate school deadlines, and other useful information, including announcements of job openings for assistantships. If you are not on the listserv, follow these steps to join:

  • Step 1: Follow the link UNM Listserv
  • Step 2: Click on 'Subscribe to a list'
  • Step 3: Type 'Grad-L' as the list name
  • Step 4: Enter your email address, name, and click on 'Join Grad-L'

Once the subscription request is approved, a notification will be emailed to you. You will need to confirm your subscription by clicking on the link in the confirmation email.

Register for Classes. The University of New Mexico course numbering system information is described in the UNM Catalog. Courses numbered 500-600 are graduate courses and they carry graduate credit for all graduate students, whether in your area of study or not and will be calculated in your cumulative graduate grade point average (GPA) if taken while in graduate status.

Some 300 and 400-level courses are available for graduate credit if listed in the UNM Catalog with either a single asterisk (*) or a double asterisk (**). If you enroll in any 300/400-level courses listed with a single asterisk, you are automatically taking the course for graduate credit, whether in your area of study or not. Those 300/400-level courses listed with a double asterisk are available for graduate credit only to students outside that particular area of study. In order to receive graduate credit for a course with a double asterisk, an eligible student must complete and fully process a “Graduate Credit Authorization Form” by the published dates.

Courses numbered 700 are generally considered “professional courses” and may not carry graduate credit.

To register for classes follow these steps:

  1. Log on to My UNM (my.unm.edu) with your NetID and password.
  2. Select the 'Student Life' Tab and 'Enter LoboWeb'.
  3. Once in LoboWeb, select 'Registration and Records' and then select 'Registration (Add/Drop classes)'.

Note: Non-degree students are limited to registering for a maximum of nine semester hours per semester.  Students who do not have their tuition paid by the deadlines will be subject to disenrollment. Visit the Bursar's Office website to find payment deadlines.

Establish and customize your web portal. A campus portal is a web site that provides a customizable, personalized front end to University services, resources and community. From a single point using a single sign-on, via a computer, palm pilot or cell phone, the UNM community can have access to: university services such as e-mail, calendar, news items and chat; information specific to individuals, such as money owed, important deadlines, graders, class schedule; favorite bookmarks; and information from outside the University, such as weather and international news.

You can establish your web portal by going to the portal web site, my.unm.edu, and entering your NetID and password. 

Online Orientation. More information about maintaining your Enrollment Status, contacting Program Advisement, calculating Grade Point Average (GPA), and finding information about Assistantships, Fellowships, Scholarships, Grants, and Loans may be found on OGS Website http://www.unm.edu/grad/online_orientation/online_orientation.html.