Graduate students play an integral part in the ability of the university campus to
provide the breadth and quality of educational experiences expected of a Carnegie
RU/HA (Research University with Higher Levels of Research Activity) institution. Graduate
student supplement and complement the teaching and research activities of the faculty,
and in doing so allow the faculty to engage more students in individualized instructional
opportunities. They also provide the institution with an ability to more rapidly adjust
the educational opportunities to meet student needs and preferences that can be accommodated
for by the faculty alone. It is important that the campus community recognize and
support the important role played by graduate students in enabling the campus to address
its research, teaching, and outreach mission.
A major purpose of graduate education at The University of Memphis is to instill in
each student an understanding of and capacity for scholarship, independent judgment,
academic rigor, and intellectual honesty. Graduate education is an opportunity for
the student to develop into a professional. Graduate research and teaching assistantships
offer an “apprenticeship” experience in the academic profession as well as financial
support. It is the joint responsibility of faculty and graduate students to work together
to foster these ends through relationships that encourage freedom of inquiry, mentoring,
demonstrate personal and professional integrity, and foster mutual respect. This shared
responsibility with faculty extends to all of the endeavors of graduate students,
as students and as members of the larger academic community.
Each right of an individual places a reciprocal duty upon others, the duty to permit
the individual to exercise the right. The graduate student, as a member of the academic
community, has both rights and duties. Within that community, the graduate student’s
most essential right is the right to learn. The University of Memphis has a duty to
provide for the graduate student those privileges, opportunities, and protections
which best promote the learning process in all its aspects. The graduate student also
has duties to other members of the academic community, the most important of which
is to refrain from interference with those rights of others which are equally essential
to the purposes and processes of the University. While this document is not legally
binding, violations of the standards contained within may serve as grounds for filing
grievances through the existing University procedures. It is also acknowledged that
situations may arise which this document is not able to foresee or prevent, and in
such cases this document should be viewed as a guideline and as a set of minimum standards.
Some of the standards contained within are already specified as rights or responsibilities
of students in existing official university literature and are restated here to ensure
that graduate students are aware of such standards.
The following principles illustrate what graduate students should expect from their
programs and what programs should expect from their graduate students to help achieve
I. Graduate Students Have The Right:
II. Graduate Students Have The Responsibility:
- To be respected as individuals and as developing professionals.
- To matriculate through the degree programs in a timely fashion.
- To an advisor.
- To be provided with clear degree requirements.
- To have progress towards their degree objectively evaluated by the appropriate faculty
- To reasonable confidentiality in communications with professors, defined as:
- When the graduate student had an expectation of confidentiality AND
- When a reasonable person in the same situation would have an expectation of confidentiality.
- To only perform tasks that are related to their professional/academic development
or within the confines of a contractual obligation or relevant assistantship duties.
- Not be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, disability, religion, socioeconomic
status, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
- To due process regarding grade appeals, grievances, or issues before Judicial Affairs.
- To student representation in decisions regarding curriculum and program development.
- To be appropriately recognized for significant contributions to the research process
- To sufficient supervision when appointed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant or Graduate
- To petition for a change in advisor/major professor or thesis/doctoral committee membership
at any point in their academic career without incurring any undue future negative
academic/social consequences as a result of this change, with the exception of academic
- To be informed in a timely fashion about a change in their advisor or committee members'
status as it relates to their thesis/dissertation completion or research agenda.
- To expect professional interaction from faculty, staff, and peers.
- To read pertinent catalog/website information and college/departmental handbooks regarding
successful completion of courses, forms (e.g., intent to graduate and candidacy),
composition of masters and doctoral committees, comprehensive and qualifying examinations,
and theses/dissertation defenses.
- To acknowledge the contributions of faculty members in their scholarly presentations
- To conduct themselves in a manner befitting their professional area of study
- To matriculate with integrity through the degree in a timely fashion.
- To take the initiative to ask questions and access information about degree requirements,
program completion, and financial arrangements.
- To inform appropriate faculty members in a timely fashion about any changes in program
status, advisor, or committee membership.
- To familiarize themselves with the university and college level student codes of conduct.
- To follow all University policies and procedures when conducting research, including
those specified by the Institutional Review Board and the Institutional Animal Care
and Use Committee.
- To interact with faculty in a professional and civil manner.
- To behave in a professional and appropriate manner in class.