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Not Enough CourseWork credit


Ryan4
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This is my third semester in the Masters program and I still need 22 credit hours. I have not completed any Thesis work. I am in panic mode, what do I do? I'm afraid that nobody can help me! My adviser says I'm on track to graduate, I've only got one course registered for next semester!!!!! WHAT DO I DO! 

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15 hours ago, Psygeek said:

talk with people in your program. Whos the head of the grad program? Who knows more about the requirements? Who to talk to for an exception maybe, etc.

They have changed out both my Academic adviser and Master's Coordinator over the course of my past three semesters, and their website is poorly updated with who is the head of the biology department. I actually do not know who is in charge of telling me about a concentration/specialization I'm interested in, they have all been very vague and unhelpful. I keep looking for Professors to meet but they either never respond or are never at their office and have no posted office hours. My adviser right now does not seem to know any specific details regarding the specialization I want to focus on, and I have not been able to make any connections with people in the Biology Graduate Student Association. 

Edited by Ryan4
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It seems odd that a department wouldn't make the head of the department's name widely available.  Your advisor doesn't even know who that is?  If you're 3 semesters into a 2 year Master's program then I'm unclear of how you can be on track to graduate if you you still have so many remaining credit hours, are only currently taking one class, and haven't started your thesis.  Is your program actually 3 years?  Regardless it seems appropriate for you to be reaching out to the dean (or their assistant) of the college/school your department is a part of and explain your situation and ask who the appropriate person is for you to have ongoing guidance. 

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I hope I can track them down, it’s so ridiculous. One professor is listed as being in one building (set to be demolished!) and only one person has been able to tell me his real office location. All of the official college sources list his old office. It’s been months since he moved office!

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Did you get a Graduate Student Handbook for your department/program? It might've been paperback or digital (we all got a PDF emailed to us which we looked over during orientation). That should lay out the requirements (hours, exit exams, etc) and classes. It also might be available on your departments website. 

I am also concerned that basic information isn't available. If you feel comfortable, feel free to PM me your school's name and I can try to help find information.

This might not be the same for every school/program, but we had to pick a concentration when we applied. Was it the same for you? If not, when were you supposed to decide?

Edited by TwirlingBlades
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Also, how long is this program? 3 years? Are you a supposed to be a full-time student (you wouldn't be with just one class)? How many hours is a full-time student at your university?

I'm confused as to how you have been there 3 semesters with 22 hours left, when many MS programs are 30-36 hours total (which is why I ask if you are a part-time student).

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9 hours ago, TwirlingBlades said:

Did you get a Graduate Student Handbook for your department/program? It might've been paperback or digital (we all got a PDF emailed to us which we looked over during orientation). That should lay out the requirements (hours, exit exams, etc) and classes. It also might be available on your departments website. 

I am also concerned that basic information isn't available. If you feel comfortable, feel free to PM me your school's name and I can try to help find information.

This might not be the same for every school/program, but we had to pick a concentration when we applied. Was it the same for you? If not, when were you supposed to decide?

Other departments have handbooks listed on their Graduate resources pages, but not the biology department. You can find graduate forms for thesis progress and an outdated list of classes to take for a concentration, I believe it is from 2016 and many of them don’t exist anymore. 

As far as I know, you don’t pick a concentration during your application. I honestly didn’t know which concentration I wanted to focus in during my first semester, my adviser just said to pick what I was interested in. They didn’t say when I had to decide. I applied to the graduate program right after my bachelors, it was my fault for being so underprepared and not knowing what kinds of concentrations my school offered. 

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10 hours ago, TwirlingBlades said:

Also, how long is this program? 3 years? Are you a supposed to be a full-time student (you wouldn't be with just one class)? How many hours is a full-time student at your university?

I'm confused as to how you have been there 3 semesters with 22 hours left, when many MS programs are 30-36 hours total (which is why I ask if you are a part-time student).

It’s 46 total credit hours, 26 for coursework, 4 for Biochemistry, 2 for seminars,  and 14 for thesis work. I think a full-time student requires 6 enrolled hours? (correction: 9+ hours for full-time, 6-8.9 hours for “three quarter time”) I’m a “three quarter time” student, I was overly cautious during my first year and took two classes per semester so I could dedicate that time to thesis topic decisions (I failed miserably at that). I got the biochemistry and seminar courses out of the way the first semester, but I was in panic mode during my second semester over my lack of progress in my thesis. I was taking 8 hours during my second semester but withdrew from one course due to stress and failing grades. 

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30 minutes ago, Ryan4 said:

It’s 46 total credit hours, 26 for coursework, 4 for Biochemistry, 2 for seminars,  and 14 for thesis work. I think a full-time student requires 6 enrolled hours? I’m a full-time student, I was overly cautious during my first year and took two classes per semester so I could dedicate that time to thesis topic decisions (I failed miserably at that). I got the biochemistry and seminar courses out of the way the first semester, but I was in panic mode during my second semester over my lack of progress in my thesis. I was taking 8 hours during my second semester but withdrew from one course due to stress and failing grades. 

If you're classified as full time and your school participates in federal student aid programs then full time for graduate students is usually 9 credit hours in the Fall, 9 credit hours in the Spring, and 6 credit hours in the Summer (if your program requires Summer).  Exceptions are often made for students that are only doing their thesis/dissertation or are required to do a full time internship offsite.  If you are paying out of pocket or through an outside funding source (employer, scholarship, etc) then the number of credit hours to be considered full time may be different.  So it seems to me that a few things need to happen.  1) Connect with the dean of your departments school/college to find out who is in fact the head of your department, where you can access a graduate student handbook, and if your department is even going to continue to exist given the difficulty in accessing basic information.  2) Contact the registrar to find out how many credit hours are considered full time for your department and if you are currently classified as full time or part time.  3) If you are receiving any federal funding or are funded as a TA or RA through your University then contact the Financial Aid department to make sure you are registered for the correct number of credit hours to receive the amount of funding you are getting.

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41 minutes ago, MarineBluePsy said:

If you're classified as full time and your school participates in federal student aid programs then full time for graduate students is usually 9 credit hours in the Fall, 9 credit hours in the Spring, and 6 credit hours in the Summer (if your program requires Summer).  Exceptions are often made for students that are only doing their thesis/dissertation or are required to do a full time internship offsite.  If you are paying out of pocket or through an outside funding source (employer, scholarship, etc) then the number of credit hours to be considered full time may be different.  So it seems to me that a few things need to happen.  1) Connect with the dean of your departments school/college to find out who is in fact the head of your department, where you can access a graduate student handbook, and if your department is even going to continue to exist given the difficulty in accessing basic information.  2) Contact the registrar to find out how many credit hours are considered full time for your department and if you are currently classified as full time or part time.  3) If you are receiving any federal funding or are funded as a TA or RA through your University then contact the Financial Aid department to make sure you are registered for the correct number of credit hours to receive the amount of funding you are getting.

Sorry you were right, it was 9 hours for full-time. I’m a “three quarters time” student according to the registrar, I’ll have to see what financial aid covers for that.

I’m looking into the concentration I’m interested in and they have a professor to go to for that, unfortunately it’s the professor I’ve previously mentioned that moved offices. No posted office hours so it’ll be trial and error to see when he’s at his office and when he might be at his lab (no room number posted officially, have to search the lab building for it).

This College is oriented towards athletics and sports, so they seem to drop the ball in how they manage their other departments.

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1 hour ago, Ryan4 said:

It’s 46 total credit hours, 26 for coursework, 4 for Biochemistry, 2 for seminars,  and 14 for thesis work. I think a full-time student requires 6 enrolled hours? (correction: 9+ hours for full-time, 6-8.9 hours for “three quarter time”) I’m a “three quarter time” student, I was overly cautious during my first year and took two classes per semester so I could dedicate that time to thesis topic decisions (I failed miserably at that). I got the biochemistry and seminar courses out of the way the first semester, but I was in panic mode during my second semester over my lack of progress in my thesis. I was taking 8 hours during my second semester but withdrew from one course due to stress and failing grades. 

If it's a 46 hour two-year program, then I would assume full time would be 9 (fall) + 9 (spring) + 6 (summer). I would assume summer is *required* or else it would take 2.5 years to graduate at 18 hours per year. I keep asking about the length of the program because you are either supposed to only have 1 semester left (2 year program), or 3 semesters (3 year program), *not* counting summers. Those are 2 very different situations. 

 

My MS program was 36 hours (recently switched to 30 so people could graduate in 3 semesters, which many non-thesis students did). 9 hours per semester for 4 semesters= 2 years. Summers weren't required unless you have a TA/RA through the department, and even then I think summers only required 3 hours. So that is what I'm using as reference and trying to put together your requirements based on the info you have given. 

 

I believe I saw in another post that you didn't want to go into research. What are other exit exam options? Do you have to do a thesis? My program had 4 exam options. 

 

I second all of MarineBluePsy's advice. The first priority is to track down someone who can give you the department head's name, and ideally give you info on your program requirements as well. Find the dean of school that biology is in (for example, biology fell under the "college of arts and science" at my school). They will know. Did you go to the same school for undergrad, and if so, were you a bio major? If so, you should know who the bio department head is, or the very least, the dean of the college bio is under. 

 

Do you have friends in the program you can ask? That also might be a good place to start. 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Ryan4 said:

Sorry you were right, it was 9 hours for full-time. I’m a “three quarters time” student according to the registrar, I’ll have to see what financial aid covers for that.

I’m looking into the concentration I’m interested in and they have a professor to go to for that, unfortunately it’s the professor I’ve previously mentioned that moved offices. No posted office hours so it’ll be trial and error to see when he’s at his office and when he might be at his lab (no room number posted officially, have to search the lab building for it).

This College is oriented towards athletics and sports, so they seem to drop the ball in how they manage their other departments.

Did they give you an email for this professor? You can usually google a professor's name + school and the email will come up. For example: "Dr John Smith University of Grad Cafe email"

 

Edit: I'm not sure who "they" is referring to in your second paragraph. Did you talk to someone who told you the professor's name? Or are you talking about the program in general? Either way, try to find their email.

Edited by TwirlingBlades
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12 minutes ago, TwirlingBlades said:

If it's a 46 hour two-year program, then I would assume full time would be 9 (fall) + 9 (spring) + 6 (summer). I would assume summer is *required* or else it would take 2.5 years to graduate at 18 hours per year. I keep asking about the length of the program because you are either supposed to only have 1 semester left (2 year program), or 3 semesters (3 year program), *not* counting summers. Those are 2 very different situations. 

 

My MS program was 36 hours (recently switched to 30 so people could graduate in 3 semesters, which many non-thesis students did). 9 hours per semester for 4 semesters= 2 years. Summers weren't required unless you have a TA/RA through the department, and even then I think summers only required 3 hours. So that is what I'm using as reference and trying to put together your requirements based on the info you have given. 

 

I believe I saw in another post that you didn't want to go into research. What are other exit exam options? Do you have to do a thesis? My program had 4 exam options. 

 

I second all of MarineBluePsy's advice. The first priority is to track down someone who can give you the department head's name, and ideally give you info on your program requirements as well. Find the dean of school that biology is in (for example, biology fell under the "college of arts and science" at my school). They will know. Did you go to the same school for undergrad, and if so, were you a bio major? If so, you should know who the bio department head is, or the very least, the dean of the college bio is under. 

 

Do you have friends in the program you can ask? That also might be a good place to start. 

 

 

I don’t see any information about an exit exam, just a thesis or non-thesis option. The non-thesis option is essentially just a chosen paper to review and present. My Masters program director doesn’t exist, it’s a vacant position right now. I’ve recently seen the new masters program coordinator but she is fairly young for the position. 

Unfortunately during my bio undergrad, I was an introvert that never made friends with students or talked to my professors. I don’t have any friends to help me, sadly, but I’m trying to get in touch with the Biology Graduate Student Association to meet with their members 

Edited by Ryan4
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13 minutes ago, TwirlingBlades said:

Did they give you an email for this professor? You can usually google a professor's name + school and the email will come up. For example: "Dr John Smith University of Grad Cafe email"

 

Edit: I'm not sure who "they" is referring to in your second paragraph. Did you talk to someone who told you the professor's name? Or are you talking about the program in general? Either way, try to find their email.

I have emailed him in the past but never heard back, I’m going to try again to see if he’ll respond.

Sorry, “they” was referring to my old adviser and what she told me about area advisers but my new adviser (masters coordinator) seemed to know his (area adviser prof.) new office location.

Edited by Ryan4
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19 minutes ago, Ryan4 said:

I don’t see any information about an exit exam, just a thesis or non-thesis option. The non-thesis option is essentially just a chosen paper to review and present. My Masters program director doesn’t exist, it’s a vacant position right now. I’ve recently seen the new masters program coordinator but she is fairly young for the position. 

Unfortunately during my bio undergrad, I was an introvert that never made friends with students or talked to my professors. I don’t have any friends to help me, sadly, but I’m trying to get in touch with the Biology Graduate Student Association to meet with their members 

Okay, so your program does have a non-thesis option. Since, based on the info you have given, it seems you are behind. Once you find someone to meet with, I would ask about the non-thesis option. If you are not planning on getting a PhD, I wouldn't break your back doing a full thesis if you don't have to.

Did you meet with the new coordinator? Her being young isn't relevant if she is knowledgable. She might be able to help you. 

Did you email the dean of whatever college biology is in? If you can't find the department head, I would go higher. 

 

Have you asked any secretaries in the biology building/office? Even just asking "Hi, I'm a student and I am looking for the biology department head's email. Do you have this information?" The secretaries were invaluable to me in grad school. The also might know office/room numbers. It's their job to keep track of this information.

 

Edit: by exit exam, I mean the thing you have to pass to graduate. Your school might not call them exit exams. The department I graduated from has a thesis, research paper, comprehensive written exam, and practicum option. Everyone had to pick 1. It looks like your school has 2 options. 

Edited by TwirlingBlades
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7 minutes ago, TwirlingBlades said:

Okay, so your program does have a non-thesis option. Since, based on the info you have given, it seems you are behind. Once you find someone to meet with, I would ask about the non-thesis option. If you are not planning on getting a PhD, I wouldn't break your back doing a full thesis if you don't have to.

Did you meet with the new coordinator? Her being young isn't relevant if she is knowledgable. She might be able to help you. 

Did you email the dean of whatever college biology is in? If you can't find the department head, I would go higher. 

 

Have you asked any secretaries in the biology building/office? Even just asking "Hi, I'm a student and I am looking for the biology department head's email. Do you have this information?" The secretaries were invaluable to me in grad school. 

I don’t see any information about a biology department dean, but I have met once with the new coordinator. I asked her about the location of the area adviser I was interested in talking to, but that’s all. I’ve tried to ask the secretary of the biology department for specific people by position, such as for the hiring manager, but she did not know without me asking for a specific name.

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5 minutes ago, Ryan4 said:

I don’t see any information about a biology department dean, but I have met once with the new coordinator. I asked her about the location of the area adviser I was interested in talking to, but that’s all. I’ve tried to ask the secretary of the biology department for specific people by position, such as for the hiring manager, but she did not know without me asking for a specific name.

Hmmm, this all seems very strange. I would email the coordinator that you met with (since you know she exists) and ask her about a student handbook and course questions. Getting registered and on track for next semester is the most urgent thing to get done at this moment.

You've said that you don't know who the biology department head is, but I'm asking about the dean of the college that biology is in. If you can't find one person, go higher up. What school/college is biology in? Find the dean. (Obviously it is hard to help without knowing the name of the university you are at, so I am giving you general direction.)

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7 minutes ago, TwirlingBlades said:

Hmmm, this all seems very strange. I would email the coordinator that you met with (since you know she exists) and ask her about a student handbook and course questions. Getting registered and on track for next semester is the most urgent thing to get done at this moment.

You've said that you don't know who the biology department head is, but I'm asking about the dean of the college that biology is in. If you can't find one person, go higher up. What school/college is biology in? Find the dean. (Obviously it is hard to help without knowing the name of the university you are at, so I am giving you general direction.)

I never thought about going higher up, maybe the Arts and Sciences? I’ll check into that, thanks! 

I’ll talk to the coordinator about a handbook, maybe she might know something. The history department has a graduate student handbook on the official webpage, idk what’s going on here.

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11 minutes ago, Ryan4 said:

I never thought about going higher up, maybe the Arts and Sciences? I’ll check into that, thanks! 

I’ll talk to the coordinator about a handbook, maybe she might know something. The history department has a graduate student handbook on the official webpage, idk what’s going on here.

Yes, I would think about contacting the dean of arts and science. If you've been here 3 semesters and still can't get basic information, it's time to escalate. Obviously be respectful and professional, but be firm. 

Definitely meet with the coordinator *asap*. It's up to you if you want to meet with her before contacting the arts and science dean. If she can meet with you and answer your questions, then I would hold off on emailing the dean (but it's totally up to you).

 

I would bring a list of questions to the meeting with the coordinator, in order of urgency (handbook/requirements, scheduling for next semester, issues with academic advisor/timeline for graduation, not being able to contact professor in the concentration you would interested in, etc). Let her know that you might need a longer meeting (30+ minutes). Don't be afraid to be firm in your assertion that you have felt you have lacked getting basic support. If she is new, she probably wants to take suggests on how to make the department better and she might have other students that have come to her with the same issues. 

 

Let us know how it goes. PM or comment if you need more help,  I've navigated many grad issues, lol. 

 

Edit: You might also want to ask/email the a biology secretary/front desk about a handbook. I needed an updated one last year and they emailed me a PDF.

Edited by TwirlingBlades
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7 minutes ago, TwirlingBlades said:

Yes, I would think about contacting the dean of arts and science. If you've been here 3 semesters and still can't get basic information, it's time to escalate. Obviously be respectful and professional, but be firm. 

Definitely meet with the coordinator *asap*. It's up to you if you want to meet with her before contacting the arts and science dean. If she can meet with you and answer your questions, then I would hold off on emailing the dean (but it's totally up to you).

 

I would bring a list of questions to the meeting with the coordinator, in order of urgency (handbook/requirements, scheduling for next semester, issues with academic advisor/timeline for graduation, not being able to contact professor in the concentration you would interested in, etc). Let her know that you might need a longer meeting (30+ minutes). Don't be afraid to be firm in your assertion that you have felt you have lacked getting basic support. If she is new, she probably wants to take suggests on how to make the department better and she might have other students that have come to her with the same issues. 

 

Let us know how it goes. PM or comment if you need more help,  I've navigated many grad issues, lol. 

 

Edit: You might also want to ask/email the a biology secretary/front desk about a handbook. I needed an updated one last year and they emailed me a PDF.

Thank you TwirlingBlades, I’ll give updates as I get more information. Right now it’s a US holiday week (Thanksgiving) so I’ll email the coordinator for a time to meet next week.

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