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Role of the Director of Graduate Studies

A director of graduate studies (DGS) plays at least two crucial, overarching roles in the development and maintenance of the highest quality of graduate education.

Maintaining overall academic integrity

The DGS has the primary responsibility for maintaining the overall academic integrity of the graduate degree program he or she serves. To do so, the DGS must:

  • Function as the primary point of articulation among the graduate degree program, the academic department and college, the graduate school and the graduate student.
  • Facilitate the recruitment and admission of a diverse group of highly talented graduate students.
  • Monitor the progress (and lack of progress) of students through the program and prepare relevant student learning outcomes, placement and graduate program assessments on an annual basis.
  • Model and encourage excellence in scholarship and teaching.
  • Provide leadership in the periodic review of the graduate curriculum and in the design and implementation of enhanced graduate student professional development opportunities in the advancements of graduate education at the University of Missouri.

Promoting student success

The DGS serves a vital role in promoting the educational and career success of individual graduate students.

  • The DGS sometimes serves as the adviser for all newly admitted graduate students and is centrally involved in decisions before a student finds a mentor and forms a committee. The DGS may assign temporary advisers or help students find permanent advisers.
  • Even after a student’s committee is formed, the DGS often continues to provide advice and assistance on the development of professional networks, career choices and extramurally funded fellowship opportunities.
  • Based on the annual review of graduate students, the DGS works with advisers to provide useful feedback to maximize the likelihood of timely completion of the degree.
  • The DGS may also serve as a representative within the department or program for graduate students with concerns or grievances.

Resources required

In order to successfully discharge this complex role, it is critical for each DGS to have adequate resources to meet the  administrative demands associated with it. In addition to responsibilities associated with processing required application, admission, matriculation and graduation paperwork, activities such as recruitment and advising also require a fundamental personal and individualized investment of time by the DGS.

  • It is imperative for a DGS to have release time from teaching, research or other service obligations and to have staff support both within the office and/or through new centrally provided admissions and student record software.
  • To be most effective, the DGS also should have access to the resources that support such programs as campus visits for prospective students, competitive stipends and benefits packages, and conference travel for current students.
  • The provision of resources should be a shared responsibility of the graduate program/department, the academic college, the Graduate School and central administration.

Status of the DGS

Because of the important role the DGS plays in leading curricular and programmatic change, and because the DGS often serves as a mediator in various graduate student/faculty disagreements, it is desirable that the role be filled by a person already tenured and with the rank of associate professor or higher. However, at any rank, it is vital that the important work done by the DGS is recognized in departmental and college merit review processes.

Developed by an ad hoc committee of directors of graduate studies at the request of the vice provost for advanced studies and dean of the Graduate School. November 2001. Reviewed and accepted by a meeting of directors of graduate studies on 11/15/01 with the recommendation to bring this to the Graduate Faculty Senate for adoption. Adopted by the Graduate Faculty Senate on 11/27/01.