MEME GRADUATE HANDBOOK
Academic Information for Graduate Students
Graduate Program in Computer Music and Multimedia (MEME)
Department of Music
1.1 Tuition units.
1.2. Course requirements.
1.3. Master’s Thesis.
1.4. Qualifying Review.
1.5. Duration of Study.
1.6. Students with Prior Graduate Degrees.
2. The Ph.D. Degree
2.2. Tuition units and residency.
2.3. Duration of study.
2.4. Course requirements.
2.5. Selecting a Dissertation Committee.
2.6. Ph.D. qualifying examination: overview.
2.6.1 Selecting exam areas
2.6.2 Reading/Listening/Viewing List (due June 15 or earlier)
2.6.3 Qualifying Exam Proposal with Questions for Three Essays (due September 15 or earlier)
2.6.4 Essays (February 15 or earlier)
2.6.5 Oral Exam (March 15 or earlier)
2.7. Dissertation proposal and advancement to candidacy (May 15 or earlier)
The MEME Graduate Handbook is intended to help guide new and continuing students through their graduate studies in the MEME program (Computer Music and Multimedia)* *at Brown. It contains a mixture of rules, regulations, rationales, and advice. For clarification and additional information on policy, speak with the MEME Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). DGSs are responsible for all graduate-related issues and act as liaisons between graduate students and the Graduate School. DGSs are expected to send annual updates to graduate students informing them of their academic standing and expected progress and are the primary point of contact for students who may need to make special requests regarding deferred admission, travel, leaves of absence, etc. Additionally, each graduate student should meet regularly with the DGS to discuss goals, course planning, and progress.
The Student Affairs Officer in the Music Department administers the department’s graduate program and should be contacted first on administrative matters having to do with the Graduate School, such as regulations, forms and deadlines. The first part of this handbook is a summary of the regulations concerning degrees. The second part expands on the first, offering suggestions about each year of study, and explaining procedures governing evaluation, financial aid, and the qualifying examinations (prelims).
General information for graduate students is contained in the Catalogue of the University, the Catalogue of the Graduate School, and on line at the Graduate School website. You should consult these other sources of information as well as this handbook. The most up-to-date information is here in the MEME Graduate Handbook.
PART ONE: Degree Requirements
Overview of Requirements
The MEME doctoral program requires a minimum of thirteen courses, although most students take about twenty courses during their first three years of study. With the consultation of the student’s advisor, courses will be chosen in order to suit an individualized plan of study. Towards the end of the third year, the candidate will take a three-hour oral qualifying examination. Passing the qualifying examination authorizes the student to proceed to the doctoral dissertation, which is completed during the fourth and fifth years.
1. The M.A. Degree: Requirements
You are admitted to the graduate program with the expectation that you will be a full-time student. Most students will earn both the M.A. and Ph.D. An M.A. is awarded as an intermediate step during the second year of study provided you have completed eight courses, an approved master’s thesis, and passed the qualifying review.
1.1 Tuition units. For the M.A. the Graduate School requires a minimum of eight tuition units (eight courses), although students typically complete fourteen courses by the end of the second year (including independent studies). A Fellowship pays four tuition units per semester while a Teaching or Research Assistantship pays three tuition units per semester. (For explanations of Fellowships, Assistantships see below under Financial Aid.)
1.2. Course requirements. For the M.A. you must complete a minimum of eight approved semester courses with a grade of B or higher. (Courses with a mandatory S/NC grade option must be completed with a grade of S.) Required courses will include at least four graduate level seminars offered by MEME. Most students will take the general graduate composition/production seminars each semester during their first two years (MUSC 2230/2240 Seminar in Computer Music and Multimedia Composition, and MUSC 2280, Large-Scale Projects), plus one or more additional MEME seminars. The remaining courses may be chosen, with approval from your advisor, from any graduate or upper-level undergraduate courses at Brown or RISD (see RISD’s Digital Media listings).
1.3. Master’s Thesis. The thesis will be a substantial creative project and accompanying paper that must be approved by two faculty members. The project should demonstrate original ideas and techniques, with the form determined by the student (examples include, but are not limited to: audio/visual installation; electronic performance using interactive technology; new instrument design and performance; fixed media work; and hybrid combinations of the above). Professional documentation of your work (typically a CD, DVD, or website), along with a paper describing aesthetic concepts, background information and technical realization of the work is required. (The paper is typically 30-50 pages).
A detailed thesis proposal, typically 5-10 pages, must be submitted and approved by your main advisor the summer before the thesis will be completed (deadline June 15th). The proposal should include a summary of the project, a detailed aesthetic/artistic description and rationale, a detailed technical description including research needed to complete the project, and a detailed timeline. The typical timeline includes:
- presentation of prototypes at the end of the third semester
- ongoing critiques of work-in-progress in the first half of the fourth semester
- a final project critique at least two weeks before the work is shown
- a final showing of the work by March 15
- a completed first draft of the paper by April 5
- a final copy of the paper by April 15
- the completed thesis and all documentation approved and submitted to the Graduate School by May 1. Three copies: one to the graduate school, one to the Music Library, and one for MEME.
1.4. Qualifying Review. In the fourth semester, after a public presentation of the M.A. thesis project, each student will undergo a Qualifying Review and critique administered by a committee of at least two faculty members (including the co-directors of the Computer Music and Multimedia Program).
The committee will review reports by instructors, the student’s progress, samples of work completed at Brown, and the M.A. thesis. The committee will then meet with the student, which will give the student the opportunity to communicate with the committee. The goal of the meeting is to be retrospective as well as to discuss future directions including suggestions and possibilities for qualifying exam areas. Based on an evaluation of the student’s progress in the M.A. program, the committee will make a decision to either admit the student into the Ph.D. program or (rarely) determine that the student may not proceed in his or her studies and award a terminal M.A.
1.5. Duration of Study. Students are expected to complete the M.A. within four semesters of full-time study. Students who petition to have previous graduate work accepted may proceed more rapidly.
1.6. Students with Prior Graduate Degrees. Students entering with a master’s degree from another institution may petition to have up to eight graduate course credits transferred. If you have completed a master’s thesis similar to the one required by the MEME program, you may also petition to have your thesis accepted as part of your requirement towards earning Brown’s Ph.D. degree.
Students whose thesis is accepted and who transfer eight credits may be able to complete their Ph.D. in four years, instead of five, and will not receive the M.A. from Brown. These students will still meet the M.A. two-year course requirements, and they will begin preparing for their qualifying exam during their second year.
2. The Ph.D. Degree: Requirements
2.1. Prerequisites. You must complete all our M.A. requirements before entering the Ph.D. program.
2.2. Tuition units and residency. For the Ph.D. the Graduate School requires the payment of sixteen tuition units beyond the eight for the M.A. You must spend at least two semesters beyond the M.A. in full-time study in residence at Brown.
*2.3. Duration of study. *Most students should plan on five years of full-time study for the completion of the Ph.D. Some students entering with a master’s degree may proceed more rapidly. The Graduate School requires students to complete the dissertation no later than five years after advancement to candidacy.
2.4. Course requirements. Requirements for the Ph.D. include ongoing MEME composition seminars, independent study, and additional courses relevant for the Ph.D. thesis. Most students receiving the M.A. and Ph.D. take about eighteen courses, during three years of full-time coursework. The additional course credits needed to meet the graduate school’s requirement of twenty-four are counted when a student is researching and writing the dissertation. (See section eight for a schematic of typical course loads).
2.5. Selecting a Dissertation Committee. Soon after a student is admitted into the Ph.D. program (after completion of the M.A. at the end of the second year), it is time to select and meet with a dissertation advisor, who will be the student’s primary advisor and advocate, chairing the Dissertation Committee and guiding them through the process of the qualifying exam and the dissertation. The dissertation advisor must be a member of the Brown Music Department and must hold a doctorate degree. Students may choose any Music Department MEME faculty member to be their dissertation advisor. Alternatively, students may elect to choose two MEME faculty to serve as co-advisors.
The student and dissertation advisor(s) collaborate to assemble the Dissertation Committee, including the dissertation advisor(s) and usually two (or three) additional professors chosen for their area of expertise. Two members of the committee must be Music Department faculty or approved by a Director of the Computer Music and Multimedia program, with the possibility of a third chosen from outside of the department. This advisory committee will see the student through the qualifying exam to the completion of the dissertation.
2.6. Ph.D. qualifying examination: overview. The qualifying exam comprises four distinct components:
- A reading/listening/viewing list for study and research
- A qualifying exam proposal with questions / topics for three essays
- Three essays (History & Critical Theory, Technology, Analysis)
- An oral exam
Provided normal progress is made towards the degree, students will take the qualifying oral exam during the first half of the sixth semester (before March 15).
A detailed exam reading/listening/viewing list must be submitted to the student’s Dissertation Committee no later than nine months before the exam (June 15 or earlier). Subsequently, the full qualifying exam proposal must be submitted and approved no later than six months before the exam (September 15 or earlier).
2.6.1 Selecting exam areas
After completion of the M.A. thesis (end of the second year), a student will meet with the dissertation advisor(s) to define three specialized areas for the qualifying exam. The selected exam areas should delimit fields pertaining to the student’s projected dissertation research, and should address these topics:
- History & Critical Theory: One of these areas must address the history and critical theory of computer music and multimedia fields (in general and specifically as it relates to the work of the student).
- Technology: Another area must highlight technical aspects, including programming, software design, or other technological concerns (such as acoustics, electronics, digital signal processing, etc.).
- Analysis: The third area should reflect the specific artistic goals of the student, analyzing and discussing exemplary creative work that may be influential on the final dissertation project. That said, all three essays should point to the relevancy of research as it applies to creative work.
2.6.2 Reading/Listening/Viewing List (due June 15 or earlier)
The first stage of the qualifying exam process is the preparation of a reading/listening/viewing list based on the three chosen areas of specialization. Each student will create a core reading/listening/viewing list in consultation with his or her advisors. This list should be divided into the three areas designated for the qualifying exam, and may be composed of scholarly texts, musical scores, and audio-visual material. The list will be submitted to the Dissertation Committee along with a descriptive statement on the areas of study and the focus of inquiry.
2.6.3 Qualifying Exam Proposal with Questions for Three Essays (due September 15 or earlier)
The qualifying exam proposal comprises a set of questions the student will address for each of the three chosen areas of specialization. These questions directly lead to the essay writing, and so should be constructed as prompts for the research to follow. The reading/listening/viewing list for each area should be attached as a bibliography for each set of questions.
All members of the Dissertation Committee must accept the qualifying exam proposal, on a signature page, before you can proceed. The committee reserves the right to refuse to examine you in an area in which it feels insufficiently competent. Therefore, you should gain informal approval of an area before you begin to prepare yourself in it. In the rare instance where you wish to postpone the examination you must petition the Graduate Committee no later than the beginning of the sixth semester.
Once the set of questions is approved, the student will commence study, culminating in three essays.
2.6.4 Essays (February 15 or earlier)
Each essay begins with a set of questions it will address, and proceeds with a definition of the area and a review of relevant scholarship and creative work. In so doing, you outline the major intellectual, technical and aesthetic issues of the field. The essays should include your insights, thoughts, and analyses of critical problems facing each area. These essays, along with the bibliography, will be given to committee members at least one month before the oral exam. (The essays are typically 15-20 pages, not including a bibliography, and should be accompanied by audio/visual examples, when possible). It is advisable to have your main advisor read the essays and make comments before they are sent to the rest of the committee. Keep in mind that committee members will make suggestions and comments, and will want to see the rewrite at least one week before the exam.
2.6.5 Oral Exam (March 15 or earlier)
During the oral exam (up to three hours) the essays and bibliography will be used as a basis to center discussion. The student will have an opportunity to lead off with a short presentation, and must demonstrate understanding of his or her areas and the advances and debates within them. The advisory committee will review the student’s competence and knowledge in the areas where research is planned.
Upon completion of the exam, the committee will come to one of the following determinations: (a) the student has passed; or (b) the student must retake the exam. Students may retake the exam once. Upon passing the qualifying exam, the candidate may proceed to the dissertation.
2.7. Dissertation proposal and advancement to candidacy (May 15 or earlier)
After passing the Ph.D. qualifying examinations, you will work with your dissertation advisor to develop a thesis proposal (you should have begun discussing your thesis topic in the previous year in preparation for the qualifying exam).
The detailed proposal must include:
- a statement of artistic concept to be investigated
- a description of your Ph.D. project
- a review and bibliography of the relevant scholarly literature
- a description of the research methods you will use
- a projected timetable
- a discussion of the feasibility of the project
- a statement of its significance for the field.
The dissertation proposal is typically 10-20 pages.
The dissertation proposal should be circulated to the members of the student’s dissertation committee by May 15 of the sixth semester, and discussed with individual committee members. A dissertation proposal meeting will be held with the candidate, at which time the committee will either approve the proposal or recommend revisions. A file copy of the approved proposal will be signed by all members of the dissertation committee and will be provided to the Director of Graduate Studies of the Computer Music and Multimedia program. This is typically done by the end of the sixth semester.
Once the dissertation proposal is accepted, you are advanced to candidacy for the degree. At this point you have completed all of the requirements for the doctoral degree except the dissertation (ABD).
A dissertation proposal often undergoes some modification as the research progresses and you are in communication with your dissertation advisor. Any major change in topic or research method requires approval of a revised proposal. No dissertation will be accepted from a student who has not had a research proposal accepted.
The dissertation is an original work of art/music/performance (the dissertation “project”) that makes a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field; plus a detailed paper that describes the project’s overall concept, technical methods, historical/theoretical/artistic context, and a detailed analysis (the paper is typically 100-120 pages long). The dissertation project must be performed/shown in public well before the written portion is completed (by October 1 of the fifth year). A formal critique of the project takes place with all committee members present. Also note: A final formal critique of the finished work will take place no later than three weeks before the first public presentation.
For a commencement at the end of May, a first draft of the written thesis must be sent to the dissertation advisor for comments by February 1, with a final draft completed by March 1 and sent to the dissertation committee.
While the work on the dissertation is under way, a written progress report by the student is required each semester. The report should be sent to the DGS, who will send it to the dissertation advisor.
The Graduate School has a very specific set of rules regarding the format of the dissertation text and the procedures surrounding its submission. The paper must be accompanied by audio/visual documentation. (SeeGraduate School website for details).
NOTE: If you are in your fifth year, preparing your dissertation, you need only register for the non-credit-bearing course MUSC2990 -- Thesis Preparation -- in order to remain active, regardless of whether or not you are on campus or in the field doing research.
To summarize the important milestones in the dissertation:
- Final formal critique at least 3 weeks prior to the first public presentation. This is for your committee members
- Public presentation by October 1 of the fifth year
- First draft of written thesis to primary advisor by February 1 of fifth year
- Final draft of written thesis to full dissertation committee by March 1 of fifth year
- Contact Music Student Affairs Officer second week of March to begin arranging defense
- Dissertation defense during the period of April 1 - April 6 (see below for details)
- Final version of written thesis, incorporating suggested revisions, to dissertation committee by April 15
- All materials and paperworks submitted to the Graduate School by May 1
The dissertation defense is scheduled approximately four weeks after the committee receives the written dissertation, with the expectations that there will be some revisions required (April 1-6). A final version, incorporating suggested revisions, must be sent to the committee for approval by April 15. All materials and paperwork must be received by the Graduate School by May 1.
The defense is in the form of a one-hour artist’s talk, followed by questions and comments from members of the committee (60-90 minutes), followed by questions and comments from other audience members. The defense it typically open to the community.
In order that the defense paperwork can be properly prepared, three weeks prior to the defense date you will provide the following information to the department's Student Affairs Officer:
- a list of previous degrees awarded, the institution(s) that conferred each degree, and the date the degree was awarded
- date, time, building, and room number for the defense
- official title of the dissertation
- committee members names, differentiating your committee director (dissertation advisor) and the readers. (If members are not Brown affiliated, then also provide the name of their institution and department)
NOTE: Since the defense is often the one time that the entire dissertation committee is in one place together, we recommend that you bring three copies (on acid-free paper) of your properly formatted dissertation signature pages, so you can get the committee signatures
PART TWO: Normal 5-year timetable for progress towards the degree
(A 4-year timetable is possible with accepted master’s thesis and eight transfer credits. In which case, the student would begin at year 2, below).
Number of Courses
Total of 8
Total of 6
M.A. Thesis Proposal approved by June 15.
Draft showing of M.A. Thesis project by end of third semester
M.A. Thesis project (March 15), Written thesis first draft (April 5) final draft (April 15). Graduate School deadline (May 1). Post thesis Qualifying Review & critique
Total of 6
Ph.D. Program, Meet with Thesis Advisor
Select dissertation advisor(s). Discuss preliminary dissertation topic, Identify 3 areas for Qualifying Exam, assemble committee. Submit reading list by June 15.
Qualifying exam proposal approved by September 15.
Completed essays sent to committee (February 15) Qualifying Exam (March 15) Write and submit dissertation proposal (May 15)
Dissertation Projects presented (Oct. 1)
Dissertation - First draft for main advisor (Feb. 1). Final draft sent to committee (March 1). Dissertation defense (April 1-6). Final revised dissertation sent to committee for approval (April 15). Graduate School deadline to receive completed dissertation and signed paperwork (May 1)
The first year
MEME faculty jointly serve as advisors to first-year graduate students. (Your dissertation advisor assumes responsibility for advising you once you have advanced to that stage.) First-year students are awarded fellowships, in order to concentrate entirely on class work without job responsibilities.
Prior to or upon arrival at Brown you should consult with the MEME DGS about your program of courses so that you may register for the fall semester. The DGS will join you in assessing your strengths, your needs, and your goals. Your course work should lead to the knowledge in computer music/multimedia that will enable you to make an original and substantial contribution to the field in your doctoral dissertation. The DGS will help you make a rough plan of your course work for the next three years. During the first year you should:
- Take required MEME seminar courses.
- Take elective courses that will help you acquire new skills and develop critical thinking with a view toward developing three areas for the Ph.D. qualifying examination and the dissertation.
- Begin preliminary research for the M.A. thesis
- Summer after the first year: submit M.A. thesis proposal (June 15). Begin research and production for the M.A. thesis
The second year
At the beginning of the year you should meet with the DGS to discuss your progress and make plans for the future. Students will have an opportunity to teach and to get advanced and practical technical training through TAships. We encourage students to take advantage of the Sheridan Center, which offers workshops and advice for graduate students who are planning on a teaching career. Informal mentoring in your teaching practice also takes place when you are a teaching assistant.
Some of the things you must accomplish in your second year:
- Finish the M.A. course requirements
- Complete the M.A. thesis. (Project: March 15, written first draft: April 5, final draft: April 15)
- Choose your dissertation advisor and dissertation committee members
- Begin to do more independent work on areas leading to the qualifying examination
- Summer after the second year: submit reading list for Ph.D. qualifying exam (due June 15)
The third year
This year you will finish your course work, take your qualifying examinations, and prepare your dissertation proposal. Now is the time to take any remaining required courses, perhaps take an independent study course to help you prepare for your qualifying examination, or take courses outside the Music Department related to your dissertation research.
Working towards your qualifying exam includes:
- Submit Ph.D. qualifying examination proposal (due September 15)
- Receive approval from your dissertation committee for your qualifying exam proposal
- Study and research for qualifying exams, write the three exam essays
- Take the qualifying examination. You must take the examination no later than the middle of your sixth semester (usually March 15th). Your essays must be given to your committee members no later than one month before the exam.
After your qualifying exam:
- Submit the dissertation proposal (due May 15). Since your qualifying examinations will include your dissertation area, it will give you the opportunity to review the literature and study relevant topics for your thesis. The usual length of the proposal is 10 - 15 pages, excluding bibliography, discography, and filmography.
- Committee meeting to approve of the dissertation proposal
The fourth year
You will spend your fourth year doing dissertation research. You should be working primarily on your thesis creative project, but also keeping notes and starting to form an outline for the written component. Some students may want to travel to other research institutions during this year to gain additional expertise and/or access to specialized facilities. Keep in touch with your advisor during this time. A dissertation progress report is required after the end of each semester.
During your fourth year, you should:
- Complete the bulk of research and production for your thesis project.
- Write a detailed outline and complete several chapters of the written portion of your dissertation.
The fifth year
In the fifth year you will usually be supported with a Dissertation Fellowship, but you will not take any courses while you work on your dissertation. The fifth year is devoted to completing and showing your thesis project, and writing your dissertation.
The final steps towards your Ph.D. include:
- Critique process. Starting as early as the fourth year, the thesis project will be shown, in stages, for critique by other students and faculty. A final formal critique of the finished work will take place no later than three weeks before the first public presentation.
- Public presentation. The work must be presented in public no later than October 1 (earlier is better to give you more time for writing). If possible, all committee members should attend.
- First draft. Send a first draft of the written dissertation to your advisor before February 1. The committee should get a finished, edited copy of your thesis by March 1. This should be a very complete draft (not a “rough” draft), already seen by your primary advisor and possibly other committee members. Your committee members will make suggestions and suggest revisions. Keep in mind that committee members must be given adequate time to read the next (and hopefully, final) version of your dissertation, which will include revisions based on their feedback. We usually ask for comments back within two weeks of receiving the manuscript.
- Dissertation defense. The defense will take place 3-4 weeks after the thesis has been sent to the committee (April 1-7). The defense is in the form of a one-hour artist’s talk, followed by questions and comments from members of the committee (60-90 minutes), followed by questions and comments from other audience members. The defense it typically open to the community.
- To graduate in May, the final, revised copy of the dissertation must be sent to the committee by April 15. The Graduate School deadline to receive all signed paperwork and dissertation copies is May 1.
PART THREE: Evaluation and Advising
Acceptance by the Music Department and Graduate School implies that you have the potential for successful study at Brown. Thereafter the faculty offers you guidance and criticism to help you realize this potential.
Each year, at the end of the fall semester you will meet with the MEME faculty for an individual advising/evaluation meeting. As a result of the meeting you will receive oral and written evaluation indicating whether you are making satisfactory progress. Progress is judged by your coursework, artistic output, work as a TA (when applicable), and participation in MEME events. You are also expected to arrange public showings of your work and to seek professional opportunities to present at conferences and festivals.
Evaluation during the first year.
Any student who is not making satisfactory academic progress may be denied financial aid for the second year, or asked to leave the program at the end of the first year.
Evaluation during the second year (first year for students with prior accepted M.A. thesis).
Any student who is not making satisfactory academic progress in the M.A. program may be asked to work for an M.A. as the terminal degree. In such a case, any financial aid will cease after the second year.
Evaluation during the third year (second year for students with prior accepted M.A. thesis).
The qualifying examination is taken during the final semester of the third year.
Evaluation during the fourth and fifth year (ABD) (third and fourth years for students with prior accepted M.A. thesis).
Semester updates on progress and final completion of the dissertation.
If you enter with financial support, Brown guarantees that you will receive financial support for at least five years, so long as the quality of your academic and other work (e.g., TA) is satisfactory. Support also includes a summer stipend for four years, which students are expected to use for preliminary dissertation research. The five years of support is for five consecutive calendar years, with no possibility of deferral (except for medical and family leaves).
Financial support for graduate students is normally distributed in the form of Fellowships, Teaching Assistantships, Technical Assistantships, Teaching Fellows and Proctorships, each with a tuition scholarship, health benefits, and a cash stipend. A Fellow receives a tuition scholarship and a cash stipend. Other positions normally require up to twenty hours of work per week during the school year. (In some weeks the workload is more than twenty hours, in other weeks less; it will average out to twenty hours or less.) A graduate Teaching Assistant is assigned to one or more professors and courses, and may be asked to give occasional lectures and teach workshops as part of the mentoring process. A Technical Assistant works with the MEME faculty and Technical Director and may be asked to help maintain the studios, offer technical and logistical support for concerts and other special events, and assist with studio projects.
No graduate student is permitted to grade other graduate students. In some cases, Teaching Assistants may be asked to help the professor to whom they are assigned with research, thus permitting the professor to spend more time in teaching.
Travel to present your work at significant festivals and professional meetings is a very important aspect of graduate study. The Graduate School and the Music Department offer funds to graduate students for these purposes. Be sure to check with the Graduate School and Music Department well in advance of any travel about the availability of funds.
*Policy on the Use of Departmental Equipment*
All department-owned equipment (musical instruments, audio and video recorders, cameras, computers, editing equipment, etc.) is used at your own risk. Ordinary wear excepted, if you break it, or lose it, you are liable to pay for repair or replacement.
Independent Study Courses
Students are eligible to take independent study courses for credit in advanced subjects not offered in the departmental curriculum, with the approval of the DGS or advisor. To do so, you approach a member of the faculty and propose to pursue a subject of study; you and the faculty member discuss the proposal and determine the procedure. Ordinarily you meet with the faculty member at regular intervals and complete a project during the course of the independent study.
Most faculty members require a written proposal before approving an independent study. The proposal contains a description of what you intend to do, how you intend to do it, a statement of the kind and degree of the faculty member's involvement, and the basis for the faculty member's evaluation of what you accomplish. Usually you propose the independent study informally some weeks prior to the semester and gain the faculty member's tentative approval, then propose it formally during the first week of the semester. Faculty members may refuse to offer independent studies in areas where they do not feel sufficiently competent, or when their schedule does not permit it. Faculty members almost never offer independent studies in subjects already covered by course offerings.
*Protection of Graduate Students' Rights*
The Student Affairs Officer maintains a file of information on you that contains your transcript, faculty members' evaluations of your coursework, memos, proposals, the written qualifying examination, and various miscellaneous papers. You have the right to inspect this material under the Buckley Amendment but you must give a week's advance notice during the school year, and more notice during vacation periods.
If you have a complaint against a student or faculty member, you should first try to resolve the problem at the department level. In most cases all that will be necessary is to speak to the person against whom you have the complaint. If that does not suffice, you should next speak with your faculty advisor. Usually your advisor can help you resolve the problem informally, but if not, you should speak with the Director of Graduate Studies. If you still feel that your problem is unresolved, the next step is to speak with the Department Chair. If all these resources of departmental clarification and conciliation have been tried and failed, you may turn to the Dean of the Graduate School.