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Every director of graduate studies is a leader.
They maintain the overall academic integrity of the graduate degree program and promote the educational and career success of individual graduate students.
Each academic program has a director of graduate studies (DGS) who coordinates graduate education for their unit. They, along with student services staff, are primary points of contact for faculty, current and prospective students, and the Office of Graduate Studies.

Role of the Director of Graduate Studies

The DGS has the primary responsibility for maintaining the overall academic quality of the graduate degree program they represent.

To do so, the DGS must:

  • Function as the primary point of articulation among the graduate degree program, the academic department and college, the Office of Graduate Studies, and graduate students.
  • 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 advisor 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 advisors or help students find permanent advisors.
  • 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 advisors 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 be successful in 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 the 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 and accommodated workload assignments to account for the DGS responsibilities and to have staff support both within the office and/or through admissions and student record software (e.g., Perceptive Content/Image Now, Slate).
  • To be most effective, the DGS also should have access to the resources that support programs such 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 Office of Graduate Studies, and University 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 Office of Graduate Studies. 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.