III. Graduate Student Academic Policies and Requirements

In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School, the following departmental rules and regulations apply:

A.  Scholastic Requirements

The student must maintain a cumulative average grade of not less than “B” (3.0) in graduate courses taken at The University of Alabama to be eligible for renewal of either a teaching or research assistantship. Courses in which a student has earned a grade of “P” are not considered in making evaluations of academic standing. Graduate students will be permitted a maximum of 2 grades of less than “B” in lecture courses. Regardless of grade point average, receiving three grades of “C” or failure in any course (“D” or “F” grade) will result in a review of the student’s performance by the Graduate Committee. This review will determine whether the student will be allowed to continue in the graduate program and will occur prior to registration of the student in any subsequent term of study.

B. Placement Examinations/Assessment Baselines

Diagnostic examinations covering the traditional areas of chemistry (general, analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical) are used by the Graduate Committee for advising/placement and are used as data for program assessment purposes. All students will take a general chemistry exam. In addition, each student will choose two area exams in the disciplines most closely related to their research interests.

C. Enrollment Policies for Graduate Teaching/Research Assistants

The following is a summary of the current graduate school policies regarding course loads for all teaching assistants and research assistants. Note that a “full” TA or RA is a 0.5 FTE (full time equivalent) appointment. When considering enrollment, students and advisors should also consider the degree requirements (see sections IV and V).

Enrollment Guidelines

1. General

Graduate assistants must be full-time graduate students during academic semesters (Fall & Spring) in which they receive financial assistance from the University. Students holding “full” TA and/or RA appointments (0.5 FTE) should register for ≥6 credit hours. Under-enrollment will usually only be allowed in the final semester in the program. A suggested registration schedule can be found in Appendix C (page 35).

A fellowship, as a non-service award, is outside the scope of these policies. Under the terms of their appointments, graduate fellows are required to undertake full-time graduate study (≥9 hr per semester).

Once a doctoral student has achieved “candidacy”, they must register for a minimum of 3 credit hours of dissertation research (CH699) in every Fall/Spring semester. During the semester of their dissertation defense, the Graduate School permits students to enroll for as few as three credit hours. Under some circumstances, a student completing their dissertation after the semester’s deadline for graduation may be able to register for reduced hours. Note that the visa requirements for international students generally do not permit under-enrollment.

2. Summer Session

Students are not required to register/enroll in Summer provided they were enrolled in the preceding semester and will be enrolled in the following Fall. Summer enrollment is not required to maintain full-time status, health insurance coverage, and immigration status. Generally only students who require summer registration for graduation will enroll. Students should consult with their faculty advisor and the Graduate Director to determine whether to register.

3. Exceptions

Exceptions to the rules described above must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

D. Policy of Financial Support

Department admission letters describe a specific offer of financial support. Generally, incoming students are offered a TA position for the first year and may be moved to RA support (paid from faculty contracts or grants) at the discretion of the faculty mentor and depending upon the availability of funds. While any student in good standing may hold an RA appointment, only PhD students in years 1-5 and MS students in years 1-2 are normally eligible for TA support. All students must remain in good academic and programmatic standing to qualify for support. Good standing means maintaining a graduate GPA > 3.0, meeting the program requirements in a timely fashion. In addition, unsatisfactory teaching or research performance can result in termination of student financial support.

E. Selection of a Research Project

  1. Faculty members will present their current research during the early part of the fall semester.
  2. Students are required to interview no fewer than four faculty to discuss available research opportunities. The signatures of each interviewed faculty member should be collected on the “Choice of Research Advisor” form.
  3. Students may select research groups at any time after completing steps 1 and 2. Each student will list their top three choices for advisor and will choose a major area of study in chemistry. Placement will occur after all selection forms have been submitted (late November). The student will be informed of their placement after consent of the advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies has been obtained.
  4. Students are “free agents” until placement is finalized. Students are encouraged to spend time in the labs of potential advisors prior to placement. This can allow for a better-informed choice of group as well as providing an early start to a research project. However, while such arrangements will be considered in the placement process, they do not guarantee assignment to a specific research advisor.