Directors of Graduate Studies

As the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), you play a vital role in the success of your graduate students and in the success of your graduate program(s):

  • You are a primary resource for ensuring that students understand their academic responsibilities, and for providing them with information on how to access various resources.
  • You are central to the Graduate School mission because you play a key role in fostering excellence, innovation and inclusivity in your graduate program(s).


Best Practices: Fostering Success in Your DGS Role*

  • Strive to maintain balance between your role as a student support resource and your role in protecting the integrity of your graduate degree program. In most situations student needs, faculty demands, and overall program requirements will be in alignment.
  • The DGS does not work in isolation. Most programs have a graduate affairs or advisory committee that assists with difficult issues, appeals, or exception requests. Involve graduate students in these committees when appropriate to secure feedback from all perspectives.
  • Feel comfortable consulting other DGSs and staff in the Graduate School about unusual situations. There are many campus resources and most situations need not be handled alone.
  • Communicate with your program's graduate faculty and staff regularly, and rely on them to provide input on student progress and to engage with their students. Solid advising and routine feedback is essential for students to make continued progress. The entire program must be involved in these efforts, especially when dealing with below standard performance.
  • Consider individual meetings with each graduate student at the beginning of each academic year to maintain connections, check in on progress, and identify any issues.  Share relevant information with other graduate faculty.  Consider recording notes of these meetings, as they represent a continuous assessment of progress as part of the student’s records.
  • Consider exit interviews with graduate studentsand make use of institution-wide surveys and other data to identify areas of strength and an opportunity for the program. Implement suggested changes accordingly.
  • Within your department/program, initiate conversations about, and advocate for, improvements that promote excellence, innovation and inclusive community building. Use data and student input to support your efforts.


* Thanks to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for permitting us to adopt their guidelines:


Fall and Spring DGS Meetings

These 90-minute meetings take place each October and May. At each meeting, we try to allow some time for small and large group discussion on such topics as recruitment, professional development, and student support.

Agenda and slides from recent meetings:


Guidelines for Good Practice in Graduate Education

The Graduate School developed Guidelines for Good Practice in Graduate Education to serve as a resource for graduate students and faculty members. A copy of it is provided to all new graduate students who attend the Graduate School's fall orientation events. Students are encouraged to use it in setting expectations for themselves and for their relationship with their advisor or faculty mentor. It is a great tool to use as a springboard for discussing expectations early on and as issues emerge.


Preparing Graduate Students for Careers Inside and Outside Academia: Opportunities and Resources

  • Drop us a line! We would like to hear about the professional development opportunities your department/program currently provides to your students as well as any new ideas for professional development on which we could partner.  Send your ideas to Sara Hodges (

  • There are a number of existing  student opportunities that would benefit from your partnership and involvement:

  1. Graduate Student Research Forum

  2. Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

The Council of Graduate Schools and the Chronicle of Higher Education are excellent resources for gathering best practices, learning about national and international trends in graduate education, and more:


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