First Year Graduate Students

What are the rights and responsibilities of graduate students at University of Memphis?
You can find those here and here.

How long does it usually take to complete the program?
It varies according to many factors. Full-time students can complete the MA in two years and the PhD in four years. See timelines for completion of the MA and PhD.

How much time do I have to complete my degree?
It depends on your degree. See here under "Time Limitations" for the MA and the PhD

What do I have to do before I start classes as a new student?
Before classes start, each new student must complete a brief series of online trainings and attend University and Departmental orientation sessions. Relevant information on training and orientation will be emailed to you in the months before you enroll.

Are there required courses that all graduate students must take?
All students must adhere to the minimum requirements set out by the graduate school. Consult the advising guides for the COMM MA and PhD for further detail on departmental requirements.

Who will advise me when I enter the program?
The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) advises all incoming students on their course selection until they form a permanent advisory committee.

Registering For Classes

How do I register for courses?
You need to be cleared by your advisor first, and then you can register for courses through your MyMemphis portal. For step by step information on how to use your MyMemphis portal following this link.

How many credits do full-time students register for each semester?
Students enrolled full-time typically take nine (9) hours a semester during their coursework.

Who do I contact to get a PIN for registration?
Contact your advisor and ask to be CLEARED for registration.

I need a permit for a class, whom should I contact?
Contact the instructor of the course. The instructor will then request a permit be created on your behalf. You will receive an automotive email once the permit has been put in.

The deadline for regular and late registration has passed, but I need to add a course. What should I do?
If you have missed the regular and late registration period, you will have to fill out the Request for Approval to Register after Late Registration form (Link) along with the Instructor Sign-Off for Late Registrations/Late Adds form (Link). Follow the directions on both forms. Please understand there are multiple fees associate with late registration.

If I want to take a graduate level course in another discipline, can I take the class and have it apply toward my degree?
Yes, as long as your committee approves it as part of your plan of study. All PhD students must take two (2) courses outside of the department.

Can I apply graduate course credits from another institution to my degree?
Only after you have enrolled and only if your advisory committee approves. See here for University regulations on transfer credits. Forms are needed for transferring credits toward the MA and the PhD.

Advisory Committees/Plan of Study/Comps

How do I form an advisory committee?
A faculty member must agree to be your major advisor, and then you work with that person to form the full committee.

What is an advisory committee?
An advisory committee (chaired by your advisor, and composed of 2-3 additional faculty members in the student's area) supervises a student's progress and helps the student form a plan of study appropriate to the student's scholarly goals. PhD students at the dissertation stage (or before, if they wish) must add one member from outside the discipline of communication to their committee. See here for more information.

What is a plan of study?
A two to three page document that defines a student's research agenda, lists the courses the student will take during their time in the program, and offers a timetable for completing the major milestones the degree requires. Advisors should provide sample plans for their students to review as they draft their own.

When does the plan of study have to approved?
The plan must be approved by the entire committee before the student completes 18 hours of coursework.

I am preparing for my comprehensive exams, but am a little confused. What are the steps?
While your advisor will supervise this process, you can consult this document for the basics.

Graduate Teaching/Research Assistant:

What tasks do you assign to graduate assistants?
Graduate assistants enhance their scholarly and professional training through teaching basic and advanced undergraduate courses (usually two per term, and usually COMM 2381: Oral Communication), supporting faculty research and creative activity, and service to the Department and University more broadly.

What are the expectations for graduate assistants in the Department of Communication and Film?
In addition to their core tasks, graduate assistants must attend orientation sessions, academic presentations by faculty and peers, "special sessions" tied to professional development, job presentations by visiting candidates, and other similar kinds of gatherings scheduled on the departmental calendar. All graduate assistants who teach must also submit a yearly "Pedagogical Self-Assessment" to the Basic Course Coordinator.

Are there opportunities for Graduate Instructors to teach in the summer?
Yes, but there's no guarantee that every request can be granted. Find the link to apply for summer teaching on this page.


Is funding available for conference travel?
Yes, the department and the graduate school have limited funds to reimburse graduate students for travel. Find the link to travel funding request forms on this page.

I have an outstanding balance on my account. Can I still register for classes?
Depends. Contact the Registrar to get more information on your status.

I am having difficulty finding housing. Are there any resources I can go to?
There are multiple resources to help students find affordable housing. You can reach out to the Director of Graduate Studies for assistance.

I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed, and it's affecting my schoolwork. How can I get help? Is there someone I can talk to?
Yes. U of M offers multiple services to students in distress. Go here for more information. You can also contact your advisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies for help.