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Graduate School Handbook: Information for All Graduate Students

Coursework
     Tuition Unit versus Academic Credit
     Grading Standards
     Grade Options
     Graduate Credit
     Summer Courses
     Deadlines
     Grades of INC (Incompletes)
Conference Travel Funds
     Conference Travel Fund Reimbursement Instructions
     Conference Travel Funding Through the Graduate Student Council
International Travel Fund
     Eligibility and Requirements
          International Travel Fund Application
          International Travel Reimbursement
Language Requirements
     English Language Proficiency
     Foreign Language Requirements
Application of Prior Graduate-Level Coursework
     Limits
     Transfer Credit for Research
Registration at Other Universities
     Cross-Registration
          Steps for Cross Registering at Harvard
          Steps for Cross Registering at RISD
Employment, Health Insurance, and Loans
     Outside Employment: Students on a Stipend-Based Appointment
     Outside Employment:  Students Not on a Stipend-Based Appointment
     Student Health Insurance
     Student Loans
     International exchanges
Leaves of absence
     Categories of Leave
     Notes on Childbirth Accommodation and Family Leaves
     Childbirth Accommodation
     Family Leave of Absence
     Medical or Psychological Leave of Absence
     Professional Development Leave of Absence
     Academic Probationary Leave of Absence
     Personal Leave of Absence
     Leaves and Progress in the Program
     Filing a Dissertation or Thesis While on Leave
Readmission from Leave
Part-Time Status
     Ph.D.
     Master’s
     Financial and Legal Implications of Part-Time Status
Codes of Student Conduct
     Academic and Student Conduct Codes
     Sexual Harassment
     Grievance Procedures
Commencement
     Prizes and Awards
          Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award
          CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award
          Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching
     Procession and Ceremony
Post-Graduation
     Student Privileges
     Alumni Relations
     Student Records

Coursework

Tuition Unit versus Academic Credit

Tuition units refer to a portion of a student’s tuition obligation. Specifically, one tuition unit equals one-eighth of full-time tuition. Academic credits refer to credits earned upon the successful passing of a course. The two, tuition units and academic credits, are loosely coupled. Academic credit requires that tuition be paid. That is, tuition unit credit is required for academic credit to be earned. For example, a student could pass a course, but if the student were responsible for the tuition payment on that course and did not fulfill this obligation, the academic credit for the successfully completed course would be earned.

The converse is not true; tuition credit stands even if the student fails the course, or even if the student did not register for as many courses as were paid for. This becomes important for degree requirements for both doctoral students because they are required to satisfy the residency requirement which is 24 tuition units. Full-time doctoral students are billed for four courses per semester, even if they register for fewer. The importance of tuition units for masters students is that the achievement of tuition units is also linked to degree requirements. Masters programs may differ in terms of length, e.g., 8 tuition units, 16 tuition units, etc., and in terms of the structure of the timing of how the units are billed each term. For example, one 8 tuition unit program might be structured as a two-term, 4 tuition unit + 4 tuition unit program, while another 8 tuition unit program might be structured as a three term, 2 tuition unit + 3 tuition unit + 3 tuition unit program.

Doctoral students with teaching or research assistantship appointments normally take three courses in a term, but are billed for the four tuition units. Thus, in these cases the student who successfully passes all three courses would earn three academic credits while simultaneously earning four tuition unit credits. Doctoral students entering with a Master’s degree could petition for up to 8 units of transfer credit at the end of their first semester.

Doctoral students are normally required to enroll for 4 course credits (3 if an RA or TA) per semester during their first 3 years (2 years if transferring in 8 credits). They may not drop a class if it brings them below the 4 course credits (3 if an RA or TA). After a doctoral student has met the residency requirement (normally after three years) and satisfied a given program’s academic credit requirement, to remain an “enrolled student,” the student must enroll in either a full-time independent study, a thesis preparation course, or take the equivalent of a full-time course load. Any deviations from full-time enrollment in any given semester must first be approved by the program DGS and the Graduate School in advance of that semester or else the student or the program will be responsible for full-time tuition-related charges.

Masters students are required to enroll full-time in accordance with the program’s degree requirements. Any deviations from full-time enrollment in any given semester must first be approved by the program DGS and the Graduate School in advance of that semester or else the student or the program will be responsible for full-time tuition-related charges.

Grading Standards

The Graduate Council has set no more specific standards for the grades that graduate students must achieve than that implied by the grading scale itself: a “C” is a passing grade. Individual graduate programs may set more demanding standards such as requiring a B average, or grades of B or better in specified courses. Students need to be aware of the standards they must meet; such standards should be explicitly stated in each departmental handbook for students. Grades of A or B should not be given for sub-standard work. If a student’s performance is poor enough that s/he will be asked to leave the program, his/her grades should have indicated that fact.

Grade Options

Some programs restrict graduate courses to the S/NC grade option, while others insist that all graduate courses be taken for a grade of ABC/NC. Since the Registrar does not allow professors to restrict the grade option to ABC/NC for all students, students must be advised to register for that option when necessary. Similarly, a professor who does not intend to grade more precisely than S/NC should restrict the grade option of the course (Graduate Council approval required) or clearly advise the students to register for S/NC. Change of a grade option after the deadline is not impossible but requires a strong rationale, a dean’s permission, and is strongly discouraged.

Graduate Credit

Courses numbered less than 1000 do not normally carry graduate credit, but with permission of the instructor, a graduate student may do extra work to earn credit towards a graduate degree. It is essential that the student who makes such an arrangement to register in the course for credit type “E” (for “Extra”). The tuition credit for undergraduate courses automatically counts towards the tuition needed for the graduate degree. Since Ph.D. programs normally do not require 24 academic credits, allowing a doctoral student to take an undergraduate course without earning graduate academic credit does not present a problem. But Master’s students who do not want to take or pay for more than the minimum number of courses required should be counseled to make arrangements for graduate credit when a nominally undergraduate course is an appropriate part of their program.

Summer Courses

Graduate students may register for one or two independent study or research courses in the summer, by special arrangement with the instructor, and be charged at the rate of one tuition unit per course. This option is only available to students who do not have a multi-year guarantee of support from the Graduate School.

Courses in the Brown Summer and Continuing Studies Program in the Office of Continuing Education are open to graduate students. If a graduate student wants graduate credit for a summer session course to count towards the residency requirement for a degree, s/he must obtain the approval of her/his DGS and the Dean of the Graduate School; regular tuition will then be charged rather than the undergraduate summer fee. The ordinary restrictions on graduate credit for courses numbered under 1000 apply (see above).

Deadlines

Graduate students are subject to all of the Registrar’s deadlines regarding course registrations. Students should also be encouraged to look at the reports the Registrar generates for each program early each semester and to make any necessary changes. Changes after the deadlines are possible with departmental approval and a Dean’s signature, but are to be avoided. Changing a grade option to S/NC in order to avoid a low grade is particularly discouraged, will generally not be approved by the Graduate School dean, and may not be allowed by the department.

Grades of INC (Incompletes)

Graduate students may (and do) request grades of incomplete. Students should be aware, however, that failure to complete courses on time can lower their standing in the eyes of the faculty and jeopardize their funding. Two or more incompletes will, at minimum, result in a shift from good to satisfactory standing. The Graduate School may delay approval of a teaching appointment or other funding until course work has been completed. An instructor may allow a student to complete course work after the normal deadline, but after one year, the permission of a Dean is required for a grade to be given.

Conference Travel Funds

Presenting papers at professional conferences is important to graduate students' academic careers and growth as professionals, and is relevant experience for careers both inside and outside of academe. The knowledge gained from attending a conference, when shared with peers at Brown, contributes to the scholarly development of the entire campus. Graduate students who present at academic conferences can apply to the Graduate School for up to $500 to cover related travel expenses. Given funding limitations, application does not guarantee support.  Some programs have independent funds to support such travel; students should check with the director of graduate study for more information.

Eligible graduate students will be approved and reimbursed through the Conference Travel Fund for a maximum of one conference per fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) as determined by the end date of travel; reimbursement will not be granted for merely attending a conference.

In order to insure that the Graduate School's limited conference-travel funds are distributed as equitably as possible, only graduate students (i.e. doctoral students and master’s students) in their first through fifth years of study are automatically eligible to apply for conference travel funding. On a case-by-case basis, the Graduate School will consider applications from sixth-year doctoral students, but the application must be signed by the student’s director of graduate study (DGS) and must include a brief statement from the DGS regarding how the conference will assist the student in the timely (i.e. within the 6th year) completion of graduate studies.

The application for conference travel funding is available here

Completed application forms should be saved in PDF format for submission to the Graduate School.  Conference travel application forms and related questions should be submitted to Carrie Honneman via email.

Note:  All students in the Division of Biology & Medicine must also have prior approval for conference travel requests; please see BioMed's information about policies and conference travel application.

Conference Travel Fund Reimbursement Instructions

After travel is completed graduate students should submit the following documentation to their home program for approval and electronic processing of the reimbursement request. If the documents submitted do not correspond to the following guidelines, reimbursement requests will be returned for completion:

  • Official documentation regarding presentation in the conference. This can be an official letter of invitation to present at the conference or a program from the conference with the student’s name and presentation title listed.
  • Approved application form with all required signatures.
  • Travel receipts- All receipts should show proof of payment.  Paper receipts must be attached to an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of blank paper to facilitate processing into Workday.  Reimbursements will not be made on per diem estimate.  Itineraries from the airline and credit card statements are not sufficient; be sure to print the payment receipts before exiting the airline web site..
  • A copy of a letter of support from Director of Graduate Study (if applicable.)
  • Please forward all documents to the home program for submission of the electronic expense report.   The program’s designated administrator will process reimbursement requests electronically in Workday.
  • Completed travel reimbursement requests should be submitted to the home program no later than 30 days after completion of travel; those submitted after 45 days will not be reimbursed.

Conference Travel Funding Through the Graduate Student Council

The Graduate Student Council offers conference travel funding of up to $200 for students ineligible for conference funding through the Graduate School.

International Travel Fund

The International Travel Fund provides funding for graduate student conference presentations and research studies abroad.  Awards range from $200-$1,000..  Funding decisions are based on the distance of the international conference from the continental United States, the budget requested, and the availability of funding at the time the request is received by the Graduate School. 

Only one award will be made per student within an award cycle (September-August).  These awards may be used in combination with other Graduate School travel awards, but are treated as funding internal to the Graduate School and therefore do not satisfy external award matching requirements other travel awards may require.

Eligibility and Requirements

Graduate students within years 1-5 are automatically eligible to apply for the international travel fund award.  

Graduate students in the sixth year are also eligible but are required to have a letter of support from the Director of Graduate Studies of the home program in addition to the international travel fund application. Students beyond the sixth year are not eligible.

In addition, post-doctoral fellows may apply for a limited number of awards each quarter.  Applications must include a letter of support from the primary advisor. 

All applications require proof of presentation at a conference or research summary for research travel, and a brief budget summary. 

International Travel Fund Application

Applications for the International Travel Fund may be found here.

The Graduate School must receive complete applications at least one month prior to travel.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis according to the available funding for each academic quarter (see the table below), and funding will be awarded in this quarterly system according to the dates of travel.  Applicants will be notified of a decision as soon as possible in advance of the proposed departure date and are encouraged to apply early as funding is limited.

Quarter 1
Sept.1-Nov. 30

Quarter 2
Dec. 1-Feb. 28

Quarter 3
Mar. 1-May 31

Quarter 4
June 1-Aug.31

International Travel Reimbursement

Applicants should submit the following documents to their home program’s administrator for electronic processing of conference or research travel reimbursements (travel expense reports) within 30 days of return from travel: 

  1. a copy of the approved application form
  2. proof of conference presentation (letter of invitation to present or program from    the conference with the student’s names and presentation title), or research summary for research travel (one-page summary of research outcomes)
  3. travel receipts- All receipts should show proof of payment.  Paper receipts must be attached to an 8 ½  X 11 sheet of blank paper to facilitate processing into Workday.  Reimbursements will not be made on per diem estimate.  Itineraries from the airline and credit card statements are not sufficient; be sure to print the payment receipts before exiting the airline web site.
  4. letter of DGS or advisor support (if applicable)

Reimbursement requests submitted after 45 days will not be reimbursed by the Graduate School.

Language Requirements

English Language Proficiency

All international applicants whose native language is not English must submit an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. The recommended minimum TOEFL scores for admission are 577 on the paper-based test, 233 on the computer-based test, or 90 on the Internet-based test. The recommended minimum IELTS overall band score is 7.

Admitted students whose native language is not English and who will potentially have a teaching assistant appointment will be tested upon their arrival for English proficiency before they begin teaching. If a student’s English language skills do not meet the minimum standards of certification, provisional approval of the appointment may be made on the condition that the student enroll in an English-language training course during the first semester of the appointment, and that the student be assigned to other duties that will prepare her\him for teaching.

Foreign Language Requirements

Each program determines its own foreign language requirements. Changes in the program language requirements must be approved by the Graduate Council. Each program sets the criteria for passing its requirement, whether by previous course work, passing a course at Brown, or a departmental exam. Once a student has passed a language requirement, the DGS should send a memo to the Registrar indicating what language has been passed and the date; the dates of satisfying language proficiency requirements are printed on transcripts. This information must also be included by the DGS in the annual census.

Application of Prior Graduate-Level Coursework[i]

Graduate-level academic credit earned outside of and prior to a student’s current degree program at Brown may accelerate the time to the completion of the tuition unit requirement of the degree.

Limits

For PhD students: Up to 8 courses may be used to satisfy the tuition requirement of a doctoral degree.

For Masters students: One course may be used to satisfy the tuition requirements of an 8-course master’s degree. Two courses may be used to satisfy the tuition requirements of a 14-16 course master’s degree.

Only advanced coursework taken while the student was a graduate student either at Brown or another institution may be used for graduate credit at Brown. With the exception of Brown undergraduates continuing on for a fifth-year masters degree, courses taken while the student was an undergraduate may not be used, no matter how advanced was the course work. Likewise, undergraduate courses may not be used even if the courses were taken while the student was a graduate student.[ii]

Transfer Credit for Research

Students who have not otherwise reached their limit of transfer credit may be able to get transfer credit for research done away from Brown. When there is no transcript to show that the student was effectively engaged in full-time study or research, other evidence can suffice. Proof of holding a fellowship such as a Fulbright and/or letters from libraries or archives can make the case. A Dean’s signature will be required in order for the Registrar to accept transfer of credits for which there is no transcript.

Forms for the transfer of credit come from the Registrar’s office and need the signature of the DGS. They are returned to the Registrar’s office. Only when the request is not justified by a transcript or when it is desired to round up semester-hours to the next higher multiple of 4 does the request need the approval of the Graduate School. 

Registration at Other Universities

In addition to the transfer of credit earned at other universities, there are three ways for students to earn credit for work done elsewhere without formally transferring it in the work: cross-registration available through the Harvard University Faculty of Arts & Sciences (FAS) and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), registration in the Exchange Scholar Program, and international exchange programs.

Cross-Registration

There are agreements in place between Brown and the Harvard University Faculty of Arts & Sciences and Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design to allow cross-registration of graduate students in courses without paying tuition to the host institution.

A Brown graduate student is required to get the appropriate cross-registration form from their Registrar’s office and obtain the signatures of the DGS of their graduate program and a dean from their Graduate School.  The Brown graduate student would then receive instructions to electronically enroll at Harvard FAS or manually at RISD.

Steps for Cross Registering at Harvard

Brown

  1. Brown students will come to the Registrar’s Office to get the Harvard cross-registration form (this will need to be updated at some point). 
  2. The student will get the approval of a department representative (usually the DGS) to take the course.  If approval is given, the department representative will sign the form.
  3. The student will secure approval from the Graduate School (Dean Tyler or Dean Walton) to take the course.  If approval is given, the Graduate School representative will sign the form.
  4. Once both signatures are obtained, the student will return the form to me at which point I will give the student instructions on how to register online at Harvard.

Harvard

  1. The first time a student cross-registers they need to create an XID. https://xid.harvard.edu/xid-apps/displaySSCreateForm.do
  2. Their XID and password information will be emailed to them.
  3. They should go to coursecatalog.harvard.edu and login with their XID using the link in the upper right hand corner.
  4. Once a course has been found, click on “Add to Petition.”
  5. After they have added all of the courses they would like they should select “Go to my cross registration list.”
  6. For each course they will hit the “Submit petition” button.
  7. An additional data form will pop-up requesting information that we need in order to create a Harvard University ID number. This is a one-time form that will not need to be completed in the future.
  8. The petition will be created and electronically flow through for faculty and ultimately the Harvard registrar’s office for approval and registration.
  9. The Harvard registrar’s office will send the Brown student an email with their HUID and instructions on  how to obtain a pin.
  10. Harvard will communicate with the Brown Registrar’s Office as usual regarding cross-registered students.  FAS will be in particularly close communication with Brown to ensure that students have been approved by their Dean for cross-registration.

Steps for Cross Registering at RISD

Brown

  1. Brown students will come to the Registrar’s Office to get the RISD cross-registration form and the Brown University Graduate School Application for Cross-Registration at RISD.
  2. On the Graduate School Application for Cross-Registration at RISD, the student will get the approval of a department representative (usually the DGS) to take the course.  If approval is given, the department representative will sign the form.
  3. The student will secure approval from the Graduate School (Dean Tyler or Dean Walton) to take the course.  If approval is given, the Graduate School representative will sign the form.

RISD

  1. The student will take the RISD cross-registration form to the first day of class at RISD.  If the instructor is willing to allow them into the course, he/she will sign the form.
  2. The student will take the form to the RISD Registrar’s Office for their approval.  If they approve, an office representative will sign the form.  Because cross-registered students are registered at both RISD and Brown, the student should expect to complete further paperwork for RISD’s registration purposes.
  3. Once the student has all of the necessary approvals, he/she will bring the form back to the Brown Registrar’s Office.  A Registrar’s Office staff member will sign the form and will register the student for the course.  

Employment, Health Insurance, and Loans

Outside Employment: Students on a Stipend-Based Appointment

Brown’s doctoral programs are residential degree programs that require full-time dedication in order to reach the goals of superior scholarship envisioned for all students.  Brown University awards doctoral students generous stipends, tuition and health insurance with the express expectation, and for the express reason, that students devote themselves fully to the prospect of becoming the very best possible scholar during their time as a graduate student at Brown.

In any given semester, a graduate student’s stipend is attached to a particular activity, either a fellowship, teaching assistantship, research assistantship, or proctorship as a part of the candidate’s scholarly training. The Graduate School has a longstanding policy that a student should spend no more than twenty (20) hours per week on these activities, a policy designed to protect a student’s time available for scholarly activities such as coursework, reading, research and writing that are also a part of graduate training. The Graduate School also recognizes that various training opportunities outside stipended appointments can play important roles in preparing graduate students for careers both inside and outside of academe. For stipended graduate students in good standing, the Graduate Council is supportive of such additional training opportunities. Consistent with the rationale behind the policy limiting assistantships and proctorships to twenty (20) hours per week, such paid activities by graduate students in receipt of Graduate School stipends should not exceed twelve (12) hours per week. Students wishing to exceed this limit must obtain permission from the Graduate School, which students may seek through consultation with one or more of the following: Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Associate Provost for Academic Development and Diversity or the Associate Dean of Student Life. The Graduate School recommends that students ideally avoid or minimize time spent on paid activities unattached to their stipended appointments. Regulations of outside agencies that provide funding to specific students, as well as those governing visas for international students, must be observed at all times.

Students on a stipend-based appointment who desire to work in an outside employment position at Brown are only eligible to be employed in an exempt position; such students are not eligible to work in a ­non-exempt position at Brown while receiving a stipend.

Outside Employment: Students Not on a Stipend-Based Appointment

Graduate students who are not supported on full-time, stipend-based appointments (e.g. master’s students, doctoral students beyond year 5 who do not receive a stipend) may choose to find hourly employment. The Student Employment Office operates an online clearinghouse and electronic bulletin board for employment opportunities in the local area, both on and off campus. Students may subscribe to receive email notifications when positions suiting their interests become available, or they can browse available postings any time. Any current, unsupported graduate students are eligible to work through the student employment program without regard to financial need. International students should check with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services on the visa implications of hourly student employment.

Doctoral students employed full-time as an adjunct instructor at Brown or another institution may be eligible for a professional development leave of absence during the period of their employment. Professional development leaves are normally for a maximum of one year (two semesters). In extraordinary situations the Graduate School will consider a request for one, and one only, extra year of professional development leave.

Student Health Insurance

All Brown students are required to provide proof of health insurance while they are enrolled at the University. All registered students are automatically enrolled in the University’s Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). The plan has a variable annual premium. The deadline for waiving SHIP is June 1 for the following academic year; academic-year coverage is effective from August 15, to August 15. The plan’s spring-semester premium is pro-rated and has a January 1 deadline for spring-semester coverage; the plan is effective from January 15 to August 15. Students may waive SHIP coverage by presenting proof of comparable insurance to the University’s Insurance Office.

Students' dependents may be enrolled in SHIP at an additional cost. Eligible dependents include a legal spouse or domestic partner, unmarried children under the age of 19 or a full-time student up to the age of 23, or a newborn infant born while the student is covered by SHIP. A spouse or partner is generally expected to be living with the covered student in order to be eligible for coverage. Students who receive health coverage through their financial support packages from the University will need to cover the cost of adding dependents to the plan.

We urge graduate students who are offered a health insurance subsidy, but who could be covered by another comparable health insurance plan to waive the University plan. Students, who waive the University plan and are eligible for a health insurance subsidy from the Graduate School, can receive a buyout of $400 ($200 for spring-semester coverage) from the Graduate School upon request. This buyout will be distributed through the student account system. If students have a credit balance on their student account at the time the buyout is disbursed, they will be able to request a refund from the Bursar’s Office. If they do not have a credit balance at this time, the $400/$200 will be applied to their student account. Students can determine if they were automatically enrolled in the University plan by checking their student account statement for a "Health Insurance Fee." If students do not wish to participate in SHIP, they must waive by the deadline. If after reviewing the tuition bill, a student discovers that s/he was not enrolled in the student health insurance plan, s/he is still eligible to participate. Please contact the Brown Office of Insurance and Risk for waiver instructions.

Students who choose coverage through both the University’s health insurance plan and an alternate plan should be aware that the University plan includes a "Coordination of Benefits" provision. A student may want to contact his/her other insurance company to inquire about a similar provision in that plan. "Double coverage" may affect the timely processing of claims between the two plans.

Student Loans

To supplement other forms of support they receive from Brown, students may also be eligible for federal direct student loans and other loans. Student loans for graduate and undergraduate students are administered through the Office of Financial Aid. To be considered for any student loans, domestic students are required to submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA should be submitted online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. (Brown University’s graduate code for the FAFSA is: E00058).

The Federal Direct Student Loan program may provide loans to eligible applicants. International students are not eligible for these loans. In order to be considered for a federal loan, students must submit the FAFSA form, Brown’s supplemental financial aid form (available at the Office of Financial Aid), and the student’s most recent federal income tax return before the loan application can be processed. Brown University also has a limited number of federal Perkins loans available. These are awarded based strictly on financial need and are disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis. Students should consult the Office of Financial Aid for the maximum borrowing eligibility. A FAFSA must be on file for the student to be considered for these funds. Should a graduate student require additional loans beyond federal eligibility, various alternative loans are available in the commercial marketplace. Eligibility is based on credit and both U.S. citizens and international students (with an eligible U.S. citizen co-borrower) may apply.

To learn more about loan borrowing options please visit the Office of Financial Aid’s website for graduate students at or write to the Graduate School Financial Aid counselors at GS_Financial_Aid@brown.edu.

For small amounts, a Griffin Memorial Short term loan may be available to help students in an emergency. Click here to access the online application form for short term emergency loans. Also, you may contact the Brown Loan Office directly if you have questions about short term loans. 

International exchanges:

Brown has several approved exchange programs with international institutions. Some are general exchange or study programs, while others are restricted by field. Some provide the opportunity for advanced doctoral students to have an international faculty dissertation co-supervisor, while others, like the program with the Chinese University of Hong Kong provide opportunities for Master’s and doctoral students to train in various fields of study. Here is a partial list of international exchange programs for graduate students:

  • Université de Paris VI, France (Applied Mathematics and Mathematics)
  • Zhejiang University, China (Science and Engineering)
  • National University of Singapore (Computer Science)
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong (Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Humboldt Universität, Germany (German Studies)
  • Salamanca University, Spain (Hispanic Studies)
  • Universidade de Santiago da Compostela, Spain (Hispanic Studies)
  • Université de Dijon (French Studies)
  • Università da Bologna, Italy (Humanities)
  • Università Catholica des Sacro Cuore, Italy (Bio-Med)
  • University of Cape Town, South Africa (History and American Civilization)
  • University of Porto, Portugal (Portuguese and Brazilian Studies)
  • Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda (Public Health)
  • INTERZONES EMJD project funded by the European Commission for Education and Culture (humanities)

Leaves of absence

The Graduate School strongly recommends that students do not interrupt their studies during the first three years, during which time they should be able to complete coursework and pass qualifying exams. It is recognized, however, that during the course of graduate study a student may need to request a leave of absence. Applications for leaves of absence (with the exception of medical or psychological leaves) should be sent to the Graduate School at least four weeks before the start of the semester in which the leave is to be taken. Failure to inform the Graduate School means that the student will still be considered active and will be billed for tuition. Directors of Graduate Study must approve all leave of absence applications.

Students must use the standard form to request a leave (found here on the Graduate School website) and should attach a separate note explaining the reason for their request. The leave request process then follows these steps:

  1. The Department Chair and the program DGS must sign the form to indicate awareness and approval of the leave request.
  2. The completed and signed form, along with the applicant’s note explaining the rationale for the leave are then forwarded to the Graduate School for approval by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.
  3. If a student has existing Federal Title IV Aid funding or prior Federal student loans, the leave form must then be signed by Brown’s Office of Financial Aid. Since students on leave are not enrolled, students with loans lose their eligibility for student loan repayment deferral. Whether or not students on leave will enter or continue repayment is a function of federal regulations on student loan repayment. Students can receive information on this topic from the Office of Financial Aid.
  4. If a student is an international student the form must also be signed by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.

Leaves of absence are normally granted for one to two semesters.

To extend a leave of absence for a second year, students must file a request for an extension with the Graduate School prior to the expiration of their leave; this request must be accompanied by a supporting letter from the program DGS. Students who do not file extension requests will receive a warning from the Graduate School and may be automatically withdrawn from their graduate programs at Brown.

The DGS should be aware that approving a leave implies that the program will be willing to readmit the student, though sometimes only if certain conditions are met; any such conditions should be put in writing and clearly understood by all parties.

Students on an academic or personal leave do not normally have access to the library or other facilities, including the University’s electronic resources. Upon presentation of a petition, a student may, with justification, and support of his/her DGS, request one year’s extension of privileges. If the student is an alumna/us (such as a master’s degree holder) he or she may use the library under that status. Borrowing privileges may also be purchased for a nominal fee.

Students who take an approved leave of absence and who have been previously insured under the Student Health Insurance Plan for the enrollment period immediately prior to taking the leave of absence are eligible to enroll in the Student Health Plan for a maximum of one (1) year.

Categories of Leave

  • Childbirth Accommodation: This leave is granted for childbirth or adoption. (See below for more details.)
  • Family Leave: This leave is granted for family needs. (See below for more details.)
  • Medical or Psychological Leave: This leave is granted for a serious physical or psychological problem encountered by a graduate student. (See below for more details.)
  • Professional Development Leave: This leave is granted for an approved educational or professional development opportunity that advances the student’s pedagogic goals. (See below for more details.)
  • Probationary Leave: This leave is granted to students for problems with academic performance. (See below for more details.)
  • Personal Leave: This leave is an elective leave taken for personal reasons. (See below for more details.)

All leaves except probationary and personal leaves allow students to extend the terms of their guaranteed funding and should not affect their academic progress or standing.

Notes on Childbirth Accommodation and Family Leaves

Effective September 1, 2006, the Graduate School established two policies related to birth and family care. Brown University recognizes that life events such as becoming a parent can interrupt a student’s academic career. We are committed to supporting all of our graduate students in their professional development, and to finding ways to accommodate life events in that process. Students who wish to take either of these forms of leave should use the Graduate School’s standard leave of absence form, which requests that students articulate their reason/s for taking a leave on a separate page.

We are also committed to supporting women who are pursuing the advanced degrees that will prepare them for leadership positions in academia, industry, and government. It is important to acknowledge that a woman’s childbearing years are often the same years she is in graduate school. The childbirth accommodation policy described here is designed to partially ameliorate the intrinsic conflict between the “biological” and the “research” clocks for female graduate students. While this leave is primarily designed for female students giving birth, it also covers one parent for the adoption of an infant.

The family leave policy aims to provide a way of “stopping the clock” for graduate students facing special family needs that require their full-time attention. While the childbirth accommodation policy covers female students giving birth and one parent during the early weeks of adoption of an infant, the family leave policy allows student fathers and co-parents to take necessary time for family care.

The childbirth accommodation and family leave policies establish minimum standards for accommodation for graduate students giving birth or having family emergencies. It is expected that advisors, academic staff, and departmental leaders will work with sensitivity and imagination to provide more than this minimum, according to the particular circumstances of the student. For example, women whose research involves working with toxic chemicals or requires extensive travel to remote archives or field areas may need some form of accommodation during the entire term of their pregnancy and during lactation. Taking care of an infant is time-consuming and sleep-depriving, so advisors need to have realistic expectations about rates of progress on research. For their part, new parents or students “stopping the clock” for a Family Leave should keep the lines of communication with their departments open. Once they return to full-time status, they should be careful to demonstrate to their advisors that they are academically engaged and making progress on coursework and research. Nothing in the Childbirth Accommodation and Family Leave policies replaces the communication and cooperation between students and their programs, and the good-faith efforts of both to accommodate family needs. It is the intention of these policies to reinforce the importance of that cooperation, and to provide support where needed to make that accommodation possible.

Childbirth Accommodation

A student in a graduate program at Brown who anticipates giving birth or adopting an infant during the academic semester, or during the period covered by stipend support, is eligible for an academic accommodation period, normally eight weeks. This period will typically cover late-stage pregnancy, delivery, and post-natal recuperation, and may also cover the process of adoption. The student should initiate discussions with the advisor(s) and director of graduate study (DGS) at least four months prior to the anticipated birth in order to make arrangements for arranging and identifying the childbirth accommodation period. This will provide the time necessary to rearrange teaching duties for those students supported by teaching assistantships, or to adjust laboratory or other research schedules.

One of the purposes of the childbirth accommodation policy is to make it possible for women to maintain their full-time student status so that they continue accumulating credits toward the degree, and to avoid triggering any interruptions in on-campus housing, insurance coverage, eligibility for student loan repayment, and deferment of student loan repayment. By remaining full-time students, the visa status of international students is not affected. While it is usually better for the student to remain enrolled full-time, in some cases, depending on the coursework appropriate to the stage of the academic program, part-time enrollment may be more appropriate. This will require careful consultation, in advance, to ensure that the implications for academic progress, visa status, loan eligibility and deferment, etc., have been thoroughly investigated.

Student parents on full-time status who receive stipends from Graduate School or departmental funds are entitled to draw support while on leave for eight weeks during the academic year. If the student parent is a teaching assistant, the Graduate School will fund a replacement teacher for the affected period. The actual length of a supported leave for students on external fellowships or with research assistant appointments on external grants may be longer than eight weeks for some funders. Students in master’s programs will need to coordinate the fulfillment of requirements with their advisors, department chairs or DGSs. They may find that arranging a leave of absence for a semester is the best solution (see below).

Eligibility: Female student giving birth, male or female co-parent who is the primary care-giver of a newly born baby, or a male or female student adopting a child. Limit of one parent per family.

Length of Leave: Up to 8 weeks, duration to be determined in consultation with the advisor and DGS.

Financial Terms: Fellowship stipend or TA stipend continues and is funded by the Graduate School. RA stipends from external grants continue according to the rules established by the funder. For TAs, the Graduate School will aid in funding replacement teaching, if necessary. Students in master’s programs need to consult closely with the Office of Financial Aid regarding the implications of a leave for financial aid, student loans, and the Brown policy regarding tuition refunds.

Approval: Paperwork required for a childbirth accommodation leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program, with the Graduate School (see either the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, or in the Biology and Bio-medical programs see the Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), and with the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life

Family Leave of Absence

A student in the Graduate School at Brown University may take an unpaid family leave of absence for the birth or adoption of a child, for childcare, or for care of an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) with a serious health condition.

Students may take a family leave of absence for one or two semesters. The student is expected to notify the DGS in writing of his/her plans to take a Family Leave at the earliest possible date, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.

  • Family leave “stops the clock” on the student’s academic requirements, including service requirements, for the duration of the leave.
  • Students who take an approved leave of absence and who have been previously insured under the Student Health Insurance Plan for the enrollment period immediately prior to taking the leave of absence are eligible to enroll in the Student Health Plan for a maximum of one (1) year, and are responsible for the payment of the premium.
  • Students on approved family leave will retain their Brown University email accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  • Funding commitments from Brown are deferred until the student returns from family leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  • Teaching and research requirements will be met by the student following return from family leave.

Requests for extension of family leave beyond one year, or for repeated family leaves, may be made. Approval of extensions, deferral of funding and continued academic accommodation is at the discretion of the deans of the Graduate School.

Eligibility: Any currently enrolled student with a family emergency. Limit of one student per family.

Length of Leave: Up to 2 semesters, duration to be determined in consultation with the advisor and DGS.

Financial Terms: No financial support given during the leave period. Students in master’s programs need to consult closely with the Office of Financial Aid regarding the implications of a leave for financial aid, student loans, and the Brown policy regarding tuition refunds.  

Approval: Paperwork required for a family leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program, with the Graduate School (see either the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, or in the Biology and Bio-medical programs see the Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), and with the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life

Medical or Psychological Leave of Absence

A student experiencing a serious physical or psychological problem that affects his/her academic performance may be granted a leave for treatment and recovery. A student experiencing difficulty in this realm should consult with the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life (as well as University Health Services and/or Psychological Services). Unlike other leaves, a medical leave of absence request originates in the office of the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life. Students may request a medical or psychological leave at any time. Paperwork required for a medical or psychological leave must be completed with the student’s department, with the Graduate School (see the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, or in the Biology and Bio-medical programs the Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), and with the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life. (No confidential information need be shared except with the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life and health care providers.) Leaves taken for psychological reasons are recorded by the Graduate School as Medical leaves. The student’s transcript will read only “Leave of Absence.” Medical and psychological leaves are for a minimum of one year (although students may request to return after one semester). Readmission from a medical or psychological leave must be approved by the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life and University Health Services and/or Psychological Services.

  • Medical or psychological leave “stops the clock” on the student’s academic requirements, including service requirements, for the duration of the leave.
  • Students who take an approved leave of absence and who have been previously insured under the Student Health Insurance Plan for the enrollment period immediately prior to taking the leave of absence are eligible to enroll in the Student Health Plan for a maximum of one (1) year, and are responsible for the payment of the premium.
  • Students on approved medical or psychological leave will retain their Brown University email accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  • Funding commitments from Brown are deferred until the student returns from medical or psychological leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  • Teaching and research requirements will be met by the student following return from medical or psychological leave.

Requests for extension of medical or psychological leave beyond the initially approved period may be made, with approval the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life and the deans of the Graduate School. The Graduate School reserves the right to deny extensions for medical or psychological leaves beyond a total leave of two years.

Eligibility: Any currently enrolled student with a serious medical or psychological condition that affects academic performance, with approval.

Length of Leave: 2 semesters.

Financial Terms: No financial support given during the leave period. Students in master’s programs need to consult closely with the Office of Financial Aid regarding the implications of a leave for financial aid, student loans, and the Brown policy regarding tuition refunds.

Approval: Paperwork required for a medical or psychological leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program, with the Graduate School (see either the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, or in the Biology and Bio-medical programs see the Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), and with the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life. The request for a medical leave originates with the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life.

Professional Development Leave of Absence

A graduate student may take a one to two semester leave for an approved educational or professional development opportunity that advances the student’s pedagogic goals. Examples of reasons for a professional leave include full-time professional internships, or short-term teaching or research appointments at another institution. Applications for a professional leave must be completed with the student’s department, and with the Graduate School (see the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs), and should be made at least four weeks before the start of the semester in which the student would like to take the leave.

  • A professional leave “stops the clock” on the student’s academic requirements, including service requirements, for the duration of the leave.
  • Students who take an approved leave of absence and who have been previously insured under the Student Health Insurance Plan for the enrollment period immediately prior to taking the leave of absence are eligible to enroll in the Student Health Plan for a maximum of one (1) year, and are responsible for the payment of the premium.
  • Students on approved professional leave will retain their Brown University email accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  • Funding commitments from Brown are deferred until the student returns from professional leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  • Teaching and research requirements will be met by the student following return from professional leave.

Professional development leaves are normally for a maximum of one year (two semesters). In extraordinary situations the Graduate School will consider a request for one, and one only, extra year.

Eligibility: Any currently enrolled student in good academic standing.

Length of Leave: Up to 2 semesters.

Financial Terms: No financial support given during the leave period. Students in master’s programs need to consult closely with the Office of Financial Aid regarding the implications of a leave for financial aid, student loans, and the Brown policy regarding tuition refunds.

Approval: Paperwork required for a professional leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program and with the Graduate School. 

Academic Probationary Leave of Absence

A graduate student may take a one to two semester academic leave at the recommendation of her\his graduate program for problems related to academic performance. Probationary leaves must be accompanied by a plan of action that describes what the student needs to accomplish during the leave in order to be considered for reenrollment in the program. Applications for a probationary leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program and with the Graduate School (see the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs), and should be made at least four weeks before the start of the semester in which the student would like to take the leave. Probationary leaves are granted for one to two semesters, with the possibility of extension for up to one additional year. Students on a probationary leave may only reenroll with the written permission of the Director of Graduate Studies.

  • A probationary leave does not “stop the clock” on the student’s academic requirements.
  • Students who take an approved leave of absence and who have been previously insured under the Student Health Insurance Plan for the enrollment period immediately prior to taking the leave of absence are eligible to enroll in the Student Health Plan for a maximum of one (1) year, and are responsible for the payment of the premium.
  • Students on probationary leave do not retain their Brown University email accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  • Funding commitments from Brown are not deferred while a student is on probationary leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  • Teaching and research requirements will be met by the student following return from a probationary leave.

Requests for extension of a probationary leave may be made to the Graduate School.

Eligibility: Any currently enrolled student.

Length of Leave: Up to 2 semesters.

Financial Terms: No financial support given during the leave period. Students in master’s programs need to consult closely with the Office of Financial Aid regarding the implications of a leave for financial aid, student loans, and the Brown policy regarding tuition refunds.

Approval: Paperwork required for a probationary leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program and with the Graduate School. 

Personal Leave of Absence

A graduate student may take a one to two semester leave for personal reasons. Applications for a personal leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program and with the Graduate School (see the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs), and should be made at least four weeks before the start of the semester in which the student would like to take the leave. Personal leaves are granted for one to two semesters, with the possibility of extension for up to one additional year.

  • A personal leave does not “stop the clock” on the student’s academic requirements.
  • Students who take an approved leave of absence and who have been previously insured under the Student Health Insurance Plan for the enrollment period immediately prior to taking the leave of absence are eligible to enroll in the Student Health Plan for a maximum of one (1) year, and are responsible for the payment of the premium.
  • Students on personal leave do not retain their Brown University email accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  • Funding commitments from Brown are not deferred while a student is on personal leave; this means that a student who takes personal leave in any years 1-5 in the program forfeits guaranteed funding from the Graduate School equal to the duration of the personal leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  • Teaching and research requirements will be met by the student following return from a personal leave.

Requests for extension of a personal leave beyond one year may be made to the Graduate School.

Eligibility: Any currently enrolled student.

Length of Leave: Up to 2 semesters.

Financial Terms: No financial support given during the leave period. Students in master’s programs need to consult closely with the Office of Financial Aid regarding the implications of a leave for financial aid, student loans, and the Brown policy regarding tuition refunds.

Approval: Paperwork required for a personal leave must be completed with the student’s graduate program and with the Graduate School. 

Leaves and Progress in the Program

Students have five years from the time they advance to candidacy to submit their dissertation. Extensions to candidacy may be granted by the Graduate School. If time on leave will place a student past the five year post-candidacy deadline for completion, then the student must request both a leave of absence and an extension to candidacy.

Filing a Dissertation or Thesis While on Leave

Students may file their thesis or dissertation while on leave. A nominal filing fee will be charged for filing a thesis or dissertation while on leave.

Readmission from Leave

To return to active status, and to be eligible for funding in the next academic term, students must notify the Graduate School in writing by May 1 for a fall-semester return or November 1 for a spring-semester return. Readmission of a student from a leave of absence does not require a complete formal application, unless the program faculty request one, and only in the case of an academic probationary or personal leave. A student who has taken an academic probationary or personal leave of absence should write to his or her program requesting readmission; if the requested is supported by the program, the DGS should endorse and forward the request to the Graduate School for approval by the Dean.

In order to request readmission from a medical leave, a student should submit a letter requesting readmission to the Office of Student Life. Additionally, she or he should have all relevant health care providers send a letter to OSL as well. These letters should be received in the Office of Student Life by November 1st for a January readmission, or May 1st for a September readmission. It is CRITICAL that these deadlines be met. Details regarding the content of these letters, along with additional information regarding medical leaves and readmission, are available on the Office of Student Life website. A committee of deans in the Office of Student Life, along with campus health care professions, reviews the submitted letters and renders a decision regarding readmission. If a student is denied readmission, she or he may appeal the decision to the Graduate Associate Dean in the Office of Student Life.

 The medical leave readmission process is designed to ensure that the student is sufficiently recovered to return to campus and that any recommended continuing care is available. Policies governing readmission address our need to be confident, in consultation with the student and his/her health care provider that the student will be safe in the unsupervised student environment at Brown, that the students health allows him/her to work autonomously and up to potential without disruption or undue strain on others in the University community, and that the student can adequately monitor his/her own health. The procedures also provide a review of the ongoing supports which a student may need (e.g. medications, and/or continued psychotherapy appointments, and/or continued medical appointments).

For additional information please view the Office of Student Life website or call the Office of Student Life at 401-863-3145.

A Readmission Fee is charged to: (1) students who reenroll after an approved Academic or Personal Leave of Absence, and (2) students who reenroll after a withdrawal with the advance permission of the Dean of the Graduate School. The Readmission Fee is equal to 6.25% of half the annual tuition (based on 2012-13 tuition, the Readmission Fee would be $1,338). Students who reenroll after a childbirth accommodation, family, medical/psychological or professional development leave approved by the Dean of the Graduate School will not be charged a Readmission Fee.

 Return after an extended leave: Before students are readmitted from an extended absence, chairs and DGSs need to take special care to re-orient them. Completion requirements and the processes for determining financial support and appointment types, among other things, are likely to be different than when that person was previously enrolled. Advisors and faculty may have changed, as well as training and degree requirements.

The student should write to the program requesting readmission, and if the request is approved by the program, the DGS should endorse and forward the request to the Graduate School.

Part-Time Status

Part-time study requires written prior approval of the Dean of the Graduate School and the DGS of the program.

Ph.D.

In many degree programs it is possible for doctoral students to study on a part-time basis, with the approval of the program director of graduate study and the Graduate School. Enrollment in fewer than four courses per semester does not in itself make a student part-time. Without a formal change to part-time status, the student will be billed for four courses even if he or she is enrolled in fewer.

Three courses per semester is considered full-time enrollment and normally incurs a bill for full tuition. Students whose financial aid covers tuition for only three courses are considered full-time.

A doctoral student on enrolment fee can (with the support of the DGS and the Graduate School) be considered part-time, if necessary.

Master’s

Tuition Requirements for the Master's Degree: The minimum total tuition that must be paid for a master’s degree is an amount equal to one annual tuition payment (eight tuition units). Some multi-year master’s programs have either a higher total tuition requirement or an eight unit requirement spaced out for more than 2 semesters. If the Graduate Council approves a standard program leading to a master’s degree that requires fewer than four courses per semester, but more than one year of the equivalent of full-time enrollment, or in the event that the normal enrollment pattern is not consistent with the normal academic year (e.g., the MAT and MFA programs), students officially enrolled in such programs will be charged at the rate per semester as set forth by the Graduate Council or by approval of the Dean of the Graduate School for the length of the program.

Financial and Legal Implications of Part-Time Status

Half-time (two courses per semester) is usually enough to maintain eligibility for student loan deferrals, but students should be encouraged to check the fine print of their specific loan agreements before relinquishing full-time status. International students should also be aware of potential impact on their visa status, and should confirm any change with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS).

Additional information on the tuition implications related to part-time status can be found on the Office of the Registrar’s website here. Once financial and legal implications have been considered, the student should request part-time status and the DGS endorse the request and forward it to the Graduate School.

Codes of Student Conduct

 Academic and Student Conduct Codes

Graduate students are expected to be aware of, and to conduct themselves in accordance with, the principles of the Brown community as set forth in the Academic and Student Conduct Codes: Graduate Student Edition. This document can be found here on the Graduate School website. Students are also responsible for rules and regulations set forth in the University-wide version of the Academic and Student Conduct Codes, found  here on the website of the Dean of the College. The fundamentals are the same in the Codes, though the processes in each are geared to different student populations. For issues of student conduct, the University-wide Code takes precedence. Ignorance of the Code is not accepted as a defense for violation of any of the rules and regulations specified in the Code. Procedures for identifying and treating violations of the Code are described in the above mentioned documents.

Sexual Harassment

Graduate students in their roles as students, research assistants, teaching assistants, and teaching fellows are expected to refrain from behaviors that constitute sexual harassment as specified by Brown University’s Policy Statement on sexual harassment. This policy can be found online here. Graduate teaching assistants and fellows are especially advised against having an amorous relationship with a student who is enrolled in a course taught or staffed by the graduate student. Additional information on what constitutes sexual harassment and what a student should do if they feel they are the victim of sexual harassment by another student or a faculty member can be found at the website of the Brown Human Resources Department and at this location on the Brown Health Services website.

Grievance Procedures

The Graduate School expects that each student will have the best possible relationship with colleagues and faculty during the course of their graduate work at Brown. It is possible, however, that difficulties will arise. Should a student have a grievance, it is important to know how it can best be handled. It is University policy that each and every graduate student is entitled to a fair and prompt hearing of grievances. It is also policy that all other avenues of resolution are to be exhausted before a formal grievance procedure can begin. According to Section 10 of the official Faculty Rules and Regulations, the student must attempt to resolve the issue directly with the person or persons involved.

In the event that the attempt is unsuccessful, the next step is to take the issue either to the departmental director of graduate study (DGS), or to the chair. It is the responsibility of the chair or DGS to have an informal discussion with all involved parties, in order to achieve a resolution via mediation. It is also the chair or DGS’s obligation to prepare a memorandum outlining the problem, steps taken, and the proposed solution; copies of this memorandum are given to all concerned parties.

If this step does not result in a mutually satisfactory outcome, the next step is to ask the DGS or chair to determine whether or not the question at issue is departmental in nature. If it is, a written request for a review with the chair of the department should be filed. If it is not determined to be a departmental issue, no further action can be taken at the departmental level. Instead, the issue must be taken to the Dean of the Graduate School, where the aggrieved can seek advice and direction in the matter. If there is disagreement with the determination of whether the issues are departmental in nature, an appeal concerning that decision may be made to the Dean of the Graduate School, whose decision is final.

If the issue at hand is indeed departmental in nature, a written appeal must be filed with the chair of the department. This appeal must ask for a review of the question and must specify the alleged injury, the reasons for the student’s belief that he or she is aggrieved, and the remedy sought. The chair may either refer the appeal to a committee of review or to the departmental Faculty. For more on the difference between these two bodies and the procedures regarding disputes please refer to the Faculty Rules and Regulations.

As expeditiously as possible the committee of review will hear the student, consider the evidence, confer with other persons concerned, and prepare a comprehensive report of findings and a response to the appeal. Committee decisions are made by a simple majority vote of the members. It is the chair’s duty to carry out the directions of the committee. Once a decision has been made, a memorandum of the resolution is prepared and a copy is given to the student.

Commencement

Prizes and Awards

Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award

The Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award is an annual prize awarded by the Graduate School for superior achievements in research by students who are completing their Ph.D.s. The awards may be given to up to four students per year, one from each of the four main areas: the humanities, the life sciences, the physical sciences, and the social sciences. The award carries an honorarium and is given out at the Graduate School Commencement ceremony.

The award is open to completing doctoral candidates from any department or program. Each candidate must be nominated by his or her program, and each doctoral program may submit only one nomination. See the Graduate School website for more detailed information on the nomination procedure.

CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award

The Graduate School is eligible to nominate for the open fields in the Distinguished Dissertation Award, which is jointly sponsored by the Council of Graduate Schools and ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, a Division of ProQuest Information and Learning. CGS/ProQuest makes awards annually to individuals who, in the opinion of the award committee, have completed dissertations representing original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline. Two awards are given annually in two different broad areas (biological sciences; social sciences; mathematics, physical sciences and engineering; and humanities and fine arts). These awards are given at the December meeting of the Council for Graduate Schools.

Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching

The President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching is an annual prize awarded by the Graduate School to recognize outstanding pedagogical achievement by a Brown University graduate student. The award is given out at the University Awards Ceremony, which is held annually in early May.

The award is open to teaching assistants or teaching fellows from any program. Each candidate must be nominated by their program, and each program may submit only one nomination. Nominations must contain ALL of the following elements:

  1. A letter from the program’s DGS, and up to three additional letters of support from other program faculty.
  2. A first-hand account of a class visit by a faculty member from the program or from another independent observer (this account may be one of the additional letters of support from faculty).
  3. A letter of support from a former student.
  4. A copy of the graduate student’s most recent annual evaluation.

Please note: undergraduate student evaluations should not be included as part of the nomination and will not be considered during the selection process.

Procession and Ceremony

Only students who are receiving advanced degrees from Brown are permitted to march in the Commencement procession and participate in the Graduate School graduation ceremony. The College allows undergraduates who are almost finished with their baccalaureate degrees to march with their class, but the Graduate School insists that degree requirements be complete. The only exception to this rule is for a diploma that is withheld for financial reasons. In this instance, a student may march and receive a blank piece of paper instead of the diploma. Departments are free to include students who are almost finished in their departmental ceremonies.

After degree requirements are complete but before the next Commencement, a student may request a Certificate of Completion from the Registrar’s office. This document satisfies potential employers that the student has completed all degree requirements.

Post-Graduation

Student Privileges

Students transition from student status to alumni status as of the date of graduation. This transition entails a number of practical changes of which students should be aware. Brown card access is terminated on May 31, the day after Commencement; students who need access to card-controlled buildings should make arrangements with the appropriate program staff. Students must return keys to Brown facilities once they graduate unless other arrangements are made with their program. Brown student email accounts are deactivated on September 25, shortly after the start of the fall semester.

Students who have graduated and were covered by the Brown University health insurance program will continue to be covered by their insurance until August 15. While insurance coverage remains active during the summer, access to Health Services ends with the close of the academic year for students who graduate.

Alumni Relations

Brown University is proud of the accomplishments of its students, and the University encourages students to remain in contact with their program staff, faculty members, the Brown Alumni Association, and the Graduate School. Students who have graduated may contact the Brown Alumni Association to request activation of an alumni email account and to establish alumni borrowing privileges at the Brown libraries.

Student Records

Students may order official documents at any time from the Office of the Registrar. Students who complete and file their dissertations during the summer or fall semester may request a Certificate of Degree Completion once their degree requirements have been fulfilled. Students who file mid-year will receive their degree in May and their official date of filing will be recorded on their transcript.


[i] This section was revised August 15, 2013 to include language covering prior credits earned at Brown. For prior language see version 11 of the Handbook.

[ii] The more restrictive language “…, and that course may not have been used to fulfill the requirements for any other degree” was removed by a vote of the Graduate Council in the March, 2012 meeting.