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Departmental Policy for the Distribution of Graduate Laboratory Assistantship (GLA) Support

Departmental Policy for the Distribution of Graduate Laboratory Assistantship (GLA) Support

This policy sets forth the rules for the distribution of GLA support in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Although first year students are almost always guaranteed GLA support through the first year, it is important to stress that GLA support is a privilege and is never automatic.  GLA support for any student is always contingent on satisfactory progress throughout the student’s academic career.  These rules are designed to ensure that incoming graduate students in the PhD program will have sufficient support while they go through the bulk of the coursework and select a research group to join.  Guidelines are also adopted to ensure that senior students will be supported in as equitable a way as possible if funds are available and if the student is making good progress towards his/her degree.  It is understood that the teaching mission of the Department cannot be compromised by the implementation of these rules.

(1) Policy Principles, Objectives and Boundary Conditions

First-year graduate students that are admitted to the PhD program are guaranteed full support at a level of at least 4/9ths (hereafter, just 4/9) during their 1st year of study.  This holds strictly for PhD students.  First-year students in the MS program may be supported or not via GLA funds contingent on what was promised in their particular offer letter.

Currently (as of Fall 2013), the Department typically receives about 92 ninths of GLA support from the University each semester. The Department’s recruitment goal is to have 10-12 new students admitted and enrolled each year. If each new student is to receive departmental GLA and/or GRA support at a guaranteed level of at least 4/9 (GLA and GRA combined) during his/her 1st year, new student support is estimated to require 40-48 ninths of GLA funds, minus any GRA support which some new students may be able to obtain already during their 1st year. 

The remaining ninths are to be distributed according to the following guidelines:  (1) Second-year students in the first semester of their second year are still taking core courses and so will be entitled to at least 3/9 GLA support for that semester. By the end of the first year, most of these students should have selected a research group and GRA support should be sought after to reach the 4/9 level.  (2) Any ninths that remain will be distributed to eligible graduate students in years 1.5-6 (hereafter defined to be Senior Students) on a case-by-case basis. Specific eligibility requirements for a senior student to receive GLA support are listed in section (2) below.  Requests for any GLA support of an eligible senior graduate student in years 1.5-6 must be initiated by his/her research advisor. The Graduate Coordinator and the Department Head will review the GLA requests and distribute the remaining ninths. 

Graduate students who have been in the PhD program for 6 full years will not be eligible for GLA funds after the end of their 6th year.

(2) Senior Student GLA Eligibility Criteria

The student must have joined a research group and be under formal research supervision of a specific faculty member in order to be eligible for GLA support after completion of his/her first three semesters of graduate study.

The student must be making satisfactory progress towards his/her degree as judged by the yearly progress reports in the students’ academic folder in the Front Office.

(3) Implementation, Discretion, Conflicts of Interest, Future Revisions

The responsibility to implement this policy, including any discretion in its implementation and any discretion in the interpretation of its rules, rests with the Graduate Coordinator.

Exceptions to the above rules may be granted by the Graduate Coordinator in special cases where these rules would impose an undue hardship on the student or in those cases where the teaching mission of the Department may be compromised.

In exceptional circumstances that cannot reasonably be dealt with under the rules set forth in the sections above including, but not limited to circumstances of severe GLA funding shortages or a faculty member leaving the department, said rules may be substantially modified or suspended at the discretion of the Graduate Coordinator, in consultation and with approval from the Department Head. The faculty shall be notified in a timely manner by the Graduate Coordinator of any such substantial modification or suspension of the rules.

In cases where the Graduate Coordinator finds him/herself to be in a conflict of interest relative to the exercise of the foregoing responsibilities, the Graduate Coordinator shall transfer said responsibilities to the Department Head or to the Associate Department Head.

This policy should be reviewed by the faculty for possible revision in Fall 2015.