Satisfactory Academic Progress

Criteria for Good Standing in Communication Arts

The Department minimum criteria for “good standing” are:

  1. Timely progress through the program, consisting of successful completion of degree requirements and compliance with coursework, advising, and dissertation expectations.
  2. A cumulative GPA for coursework within the Department of 3.5 or above.
  3. No outstanding grades of “incomplete.” Any grade of “Incomplete” on the student’s record must be changed to a letter grade by the end of the semester following that for which the incomplete was issued. Graduate students are generally discouraged from taking an incomplete, and a history of frequent incompletes may count against a student’s qualification for awards and teaching assignments, except in cases of established hardship.
  4. Fulfillment of responsibilities for Teaching/Project Assistantships or Lectureships.

Students are expected to carry a full load, defined as three courses (nine credits) plus colloquium (one credit) per semester, unless a student’s advisor or the Graduate Committee has allowed an exception. Dissertators in residence must register for two Research and Thesis credits (CA990) plus colloquium, for a total of 3 credits. Dissertators living outside Madison must register for 3 credits of Research and Thesis. Students must receive their advisor’s approval for each semester’s coursework before registration.

All students are assigned an initial faculty advisor when they enter the program, and must have a regular advisor by the end of their first year of PhD study or, for students in Media and Cultural Studies, a dissertation advisor by the end of their coursework. (see section II. ADVISING). It is the student’s responsibility to meet with the advisor on a regular basis, to consult with them on selection of courses, and to receive feedback on progress through the program. Dissertators living outside of Madison must make sure that an acceptable substitute for such a meeting is agreed upon with the advisor. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in an “unsatisfactory” grade in Research and Thesis, and could lead to dismissal from the program.

The Department holds strict expectations for graduate students with respect to grades. Grades lower than an “A,” while they might occasionally occur, are generally considered an indication that the student is not performing at a desirable level. An “AB” grade given to work of any kind is an indication that there is room for improvement and that the graduate student should address stated concerns. A grade of “B” indicates serious deficiencies and the student should meet with the faculty member to discuss concerns as soon as possible. A cumulative Department GPA below 3.5 over a period of two semesters will be considered a failure to meet the “good standing” criteria. Overall, students should strive not only to meet course expectations, but to excel. Any absence from class requires explanation, and should ideally be cleared in advance. All work should be handed in on time, and should aim for a professional level of research, writing, and presentation. All work must be original and specific to each class.

Dissertators receiving a grade of U (Unsatisfactory) in successive semesters for CA 990 will also be considered not to be meeting the “good standing” criteria. The Department aims to be sensitive to different plans of study, and thus no “one size fits all” guideline exists for what constitutes satisfactory progress on the dissertation. Rather, benchmarks for satisfactory dissertation progress in subsequent years should be set with one’s advisor as part of the exercise of completing and discussing the yearly PAR and Year-End Report.

Professional Activities Report

To demonstrate satisfactory progress toward the degree and to facilitate determinations of good standing, graduate students must complete a Professional Activities Report (PAR) each spring. A PAR indicates a student’s academic and professional activities on and off campus each year, and identifies scholarly and professional goals for the next academic year. The Graduate Coordinator will circulate the PAR at the beginning of March and expect a completed PAR no later than April 1. The PAR is shared with a student’s faculty advisor and is utilized in the annual evaluation of student progress. A PAR represents one means of communication between graduate students and faculty, providing graduate students with an opportunity to enumerate their activities in a single document.