Directors of Graduate Studies


The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) is the liaison between the department and GSAS. In some programs, the M.A. Program Advisor assumes the responsibilities of the DGS.

A crucial responsibility of the DGS is to make students aware of the department’s academic expectations, including specific standards for good academic standing. DGSs should also communicate immediately to students if at any point their performance does not meet those expectations and standards. The Graduate School relies on DGSs to maintain clear and effective communication between departments and programs and their M.A. and Ph.D. students.

The Graduate School has prepared a DGS Handbook (.pdf) to assist DGSs in carrying out their responsibilities.

DGS Responsibilities

As the primary responsible party for graduate education in the department or program, the DGS:

  • Maintains complete and confidential academic records on all graduate students
  • Advises new students: The DGS is the initial advisor of all graduate students. Departmental practice after initial advising varies: in some departments the DGS remains the advisor until a sponsor is chosen; in others, faculty advisors are assigned to students shortly after arrival.
  • Advocates for continuing students and for the graduate program: The DGS is the advocate for the needs of graduate students and degree program(s), both within and outside the department.
  • Evaluates each student’s academic progress and standing each semester and ensures that students remain informed of degree requirements and expected milestones
  • Serves as chair of departmental graduate recruiting, admissions, and fellowship committees—or delegates such responsibilities where appropriate
  • Nominates entering and continuing students for fellowships
  • Requests Teaching Fellow (TF) appointments: Before each term, the DGS conveys to Vice Dean Andrea Solomon the teaching needs of the department and a list of TFs proposed for assignment to each class. There is a spreadsheet used for this specific purpose, and is sent with explicit guidelines and the current rank list of funded students.
  • In collaboration with the DAAF, reports all student funding to GSAS, including teaching and research appointments, Dissertation Writing Fellowships, and outside awards
  • Forwards relevant announcements that are sent by GSAS or the University to graduate students
  • Alerts students of departmental, disciplinary, and professional fellowships and research opportunities, and encourages them to apply
  • Promotes GSAS rules and regulations: The DGS is the official departmental or program interpreter of GSAS rules and regulations. Please contact GSAS if you are uncertain about how to interpret a specific GSAS policy.
  • Ensures that departmental practices and guidelines conform to GSAS and university policy
  • Ensures that departmental academic requirements are explicitly communicated to students, especially on the department's website
  • Works with the GSAS associate deans on cases involving student complaints and grievances, student conduct, students in psychological difficulty, and other issues
  • Transmits to GSAS requests for transfer of graduate credit, advanced standing, leaves of absence, reinstatements, extensions of time, and probationary conditions for students in academic difficulty
  • Certifies students for receipt of the M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees