Graduate School Glossary


"All But Dissertation." Indicates that you’ve completed all your Ph.D. coursework, but not your dissertation. program, thesis/dissertation
advisor, faculty
The faculty member appointed to mentor and guide a student through the completion of a graduate degree. program, advising
A merit-based, university-funded award whereby a student receives a financial stipend for services rendered; may include a tuition scholarship. costs and funding
The final stage in a doctoral student’s education, after completing a substantial amount of the credit hours on the program of studies and all research/language tools (if required), passing a comprehensive examination (written and potentially also oral), in whatever form the academic department administers it. Candidacy primarily involves conducting research and writing the dissertation. program
A policy handbook for graduate study, with links to lists of available programs and courses. We encourage all graduate students and the faculty and staff who work with them to familiarize themselves with it. admission, enrolling, program, thesis/dissertation, exams
An administrative unit overseeing one or more academic departments or programs. At Nebraska all graduate programs are in the Graduate College. academic structure
Also called a dissertation committee.  A committee of graduate faculty members of professorial rank (full, associate, or assistant). The number of members and make up of the committee is dictated by the department and the Graduate College. This committee guides the student through the process of determining a program of study, choice of research topic and final approval of the dissertation. program, advising
committee, graduate
A departmental faculty committee responsible for the maintenance of regulations concerning the department's graduate program. Typically also responsible for reviewing applications from prospective students and making admission decisions. admission, program
committee, supervisory
A faculty committee that advises the student on academic matters and is usually the examining committee for the master's/doctoral comprehensive and/or defense-of-thesis/doctoral examinations. program, advising
committee chair, graduate
A faculty member designated to advise students and represent the Graduate School in matters pertaining to graduate study. The chair makes administrative decisions at the departmental level that pertain to university policy and serves as a liaison to the Graduate School. admission, advising, program
comprehensive exam
An exam administered by the student’s academic major program to discover whether the student’s knowledge of the subject areas of study are sufficient to advance to the dissertation writing stage. At the doctoral level a written exam is required; some programs additionally require an oral exam. program, exams
Also called a curriculum vitae, or just "vita," the CV is used to apply for college and university teaching positions as well as for fellowships and industrial research jobs. Individuals applying for administrative positions in academe may be asked for either a résumé or a CV. development
Final requirement for a dissertation or thesis and the final oral examination on doctoral candidate’s dissertation. program, thesis/dissertation
An administrative unit overseeing one or more academic objectives, sometimes instead called a school. Many align closely with majors (e.g., History, Mathematics, School of Natural Resources and major in Natural Resource Sciences) or encompass multiple majors (e.g., Special Education and Communication Disorders), while others have more complex structures and relationships (e.g., Ethnic Studies at the graduate level is a minor and a specialization within other majors). academic structure
depositing a thesis or dissertation
Uploading the thesis or dissertation in its final form, then submitting the required materials to the appropriate office(s) to place it in the archives of the institution. program, thesis/dissertation
A substantial academic research paper written, detailing in-depth research and analyses demonstrating high scholarly achievement, independent original research and advancing a new point of view. Usually presented as one of the final requirements for the doctorate. program, thesis/dissertation
An academic objective: one degree with two majors, awarded as one diploma so work must be completed at the same time. E.g., MS with majors in Statistics and Natural Resource Sciences. Compare to: dual degree. academic structure
dissertation proposal or prospectus
A statement of the dissertation topic, how the research will be conducted, what it will entail and what it will accomplish. program, thesis/dissertation
An academic objective: concurrent pursuit of two different degrees, awarded as two separate diplomas. E.g., MLS in Legal Studies and PhD in Psychology. Compare to: double major. academic structure
English Language Test. An exam used to assess English proficiency and identify students who would benefit from an additional course to build English communication skills. admission
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the sole form needed to apply for any federal student aid program. costs and funding
A study grant of financial aid usually awarded to a graduate student without requiring services in return. May include tuition benefits. Can either be from an external source (government, private) or internal funding source. costs and funding
The process of certifying the student’s enrollment status while they are less than full time (9 hours) enrolled. This allows the student to maintain full time enrollment status while working on dissertation research or the masters thesis. Different rules apply for doctoral or masters. program
Refers to enrollment in a minimum graduate-level credits per semester. At Nebraska the minimum graduate level courses needed to be a full-time student is 9 hours. program
Graduate Assistant.  A graduate student who is being paid 13 to 20 hours per week working with administrative units on the university campus. May be specifically teaching (TA) or research (RA). costs and funding
Graduate Management Admission Test. A standardized test that measures verbal, mathematical and analytical writing skills, used as an entrance exam for graduate programs in the College of Business Administration. admission
Graduate Record Exam. A standardized test intended to gauge aptitude for graduate study that is required for admission to many graduate programs. admission
An official ceremony celebrating the completion of a doctoral degree program, the highest level of educational achievement. At this ceremony, graduating students receive their doctoral hood. Each institution has a doctoral hood unique to them. At Nebraska hooding is part of the commencement ceremony. program
International English Language Testing System. One of the exams applicants can use to demonstrate English proficiency, if required. See also TOEFL. admission
Institutional Review Board. An internal administrative body of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln responsible for reviewing and authorizing study protocols for research involving human subjects. program, research
Institute for International Teaching Assistants. An intensive training program that focuses on instructional strategies, classroom management and active learning, English pronunciation and intonation, and cross-cultural communication. development, teaching
A presentation about your research that you give when invited for a campus visit as part of the process of applying for academic faculty positions. It can vary in length. The audience may include only faculty members, or some mix of professors and students. It may even be advertised campuswide, so make sure you clarify all these important details at the time the campus visit is scheduled. development
An academic objective. It displays on a transcript. academic structure
Also known as a plan of study. At Nebraska it must be filed before the student has received grades (letter grades, no reports, or incompletes) in more than one-half of the prescribed program, and must be approved by the student's adviser, the departmental Graduate Committee, the Graduate Committee(s) in the student's minor(s) in other departments, and the Dean for Graduate Studies. program
An academic objective in addition to a major. It displays on a transcript. academic structure
A broad category in which students may be admitted and enroll at the graduate level without a graduate degree as their objective. Subcategories exist for those pursuing graduate certificates, obtaining or renewing state teaching certifications, or visiting from other institutions. It can also be a way to take a few courses for personal enrichment or (in some fields) to try out an area of study while deciding whether to pursue a degree. Coursework completed as a non-degree student is often but not always applicable toward a later degree program. academic structure
Essentially final exams for graduate school, common for doctoral degrees and sometimes required for master’s-level programs. These comprehensive exams are presented verbally and usually graded by a small committee of professors who will require you to demonstrate your mastery of the concepts you’ve covered in your studies. program, exams
Preparing Future Faculty.  A program that helps advanced doctoral students prepare for academic careers. development
After completion of a bachelor's or equivalent degree. academic structure
Postdoctoral fellow.  Someone who holds the Ph.D. (or M.D., other doctorate, or the equivalent) and goes to a university, research center, industrial business, or other institution with the purpose of engaging in research or participating in advanced training programs. Postdocs receive appointments for a specified number of years. We urge candidates to look at particular positions to be sure they will indeed be receiving professional development rather than merely serving as underpaid laboratory workers. development
Preliminary examinations.  Usually required by the Graduate College; may be oral or written or both, depending on the unit's policy. Designed to evaluate overall and specific knowledge in the field. Usually also include an oral presentation to review the feasibility and appropriateness of a student's dissertation research proposal. Practices vary by department. program, exams
An outline or plan of coursework to be taken fulfilling the requirements of a doctoral degree. May include transfer credits from a previous masters degree or graduate work. Approved by the doctoral committee. program
qualifying exam
Also known as Quals. Common to many science and math graduate departments. Students who have completed coursework for a doctoral degree must pass an examination before embarking on the dissertation. A qualifying examination may be oral, written, or both, and must be passed in order for the student to continue. program, exams
Research Assistant.  A graduate student paid to work 13 - 20 hours a week conducting research for the professor under which the student is employed. costs and funding, research
research compliance
Federal law requires that students who intend to engage in research that involves any of a number of subjects such as human or animals, radiation, biohazardous agents, etc. receive approval of their research procedures before beginning to collect data. Consult the Office of Research Responsibility to assure compliance. program, research
The requirement to enroll in a specified number of credit hours related to the degree within a specific timeframe to provide cohesiveness to the educational experience. program
A student's status as either Nebraska Resident or Non-Resident, in part determining that student's tuition rate. admission, costs and funding
rolling admission
An application review schedule in which reviews and admission decisions are made on a continuous basis throughout the year rather than at fixed application deadlines. Many programs have deadlines instead of rolling admission; applicants should check their program's requirements. admission
satisfactory progress
Demonstrating good academic standing and overall performance in program requirements, based on an approved graduate program time frame. program
soft money
A term for grant-supported research and positions. Sometimes the occupant of a position that is partially or wholly financed by "soft money" (i.e., grants) is responsible for raising the dollars for the position. At other times, someone else has the primary responsibility for fund raising. In either case, such positions are usually thought of as less secure than those supported directly by the employing organization itself. costs and funding, research
A well-developed area of study formally established within one or more major-degree programs. It displays on a transcript. Some programs may offer "emphases" or "concentrations" but those are not approved by the Graduate Council or recognized on transcripts. academic structure
A document that describes course content, outlines topics to be covered in an academic course, and explains course policies and procedures such as grading, attendance, academic honesty, and mutual respect. Should clarify what the course is about, why the course is taught, what the students will learn, and what will be required for them to be successful in the course. enrolling, teaching
Teaching Assistant.  A graduate student who is being paid 13 to 20 hours a week to assist in teaching undergraduate courses, grading, or conducting laboratory sessions. costs and funding, teaching
tenure track
The path to tenure. In a job ad, modifying "assistant professor," it indicates that the position can lead to promotion to tenure. Some forms of temporary or permanent appointment cannot; for example, a position as a "lecturer," "instructor," or "visiting assistant professor" typically does not offer the possibility of tenure. development
terminal degree
A degree that does not provide access to any higher degree in the same area. academic structure
A substantial master's level paper presenting independent work, but not necessarily original research. It need not make a unique and independent contribution to the literature. program, thesis/dissertation
The amount of time a graduate student has to complete his or her degree program from the time of admission into graduate school. program
Test of English as a Foreign Language. One of the exams applicants can use to demonstrate English proficiency, if required. See also IELTS. admission
An official record of the student’s enrollment, grades, and any degrees awarded. program, enrolling
tuition, differential
A special tuition rate for courses in certain areas. At Nebraska these areas are Business, Engineering, and Architecture. costs and funding
tuition remission
A benefit that waives tuition. costs and funding
tuition waiver
A benefit of an eligible assistantship that grants the student full-time tuition remission for the academic semester of employment. costs and funding


Doctoral Degrees

Doctor of Musical Arts. A post-baccalaureate degree awarded upon completion of specialized study in the field of music. The degree culminates with a formal dissertation document.
Doctor of Education. A post-baccalaureate degree emphasizing the application of theory to the improvement of educational practice, awarded upon completion of full-time specialized study and a formal dissertation with a major research contribution to the field of education. The test of knowledge is the ability to demonstrate applicability to a variety of educational situations. Emphasis is on the development of decision-oriented inquiry skills in which the educator applies theory and knowledge to the solution of educational problems. A person holding the Ed.D. is a practitioner of education, but one whose practice is drawn from a highly developed, scholarly study of educational theory coupled with skills of analysis which permit direct application of that theory.
Doctor of Philosophy. A post-baccalaureate degree awarded upon completion of at least three years of full-time specialized study, together with a major research contribution to the discipline that demonstrates independence as a scholar. The degree culminates with a formal dissertation.

Masters Degrees

Master of Applied Science
Master of Architectural Engineering
Master of Arts. A post-baccalaureate degree awarded upon completion of 30-36 hours, typically in the field of fine arts, humanities or the social sciences.
Master of Arts for Teachers
Master of Business Administration. A post-baccalaureate professional degree in Business, Management, or Business related studies.
Master of Community and Regional Planning
Master of Education. A post-baccalaureate professional degree that emphasizes applied coursework; the student is not required to carry out and defend an independent research project.
Master of Engineering Management
Master of Fine Arts
Master of Legal Studies
Master of Music
Master of Professional Accountancy
Master of Science. A post-baccalaureate degree awarded upon completion of at least 30 semester hours of graduate credit. Research and a thesis are required in most of the sciences.
Master of Science for Teachers

Other Objectives

6-year certificate
An administrative certificate for completion of post-baccalaureate study leading to qualifications for a superintendent position within an established P-12 school system.
Educational Specialist degree. A post-baccalaureate professional degree. The Ed.S. prepares educational practitioners for specialized positions in public and private schools. It is especially appropriate for those who want preparation beyond the masters degree level, but who are not interested in doctoral work with its emphasis on research. The Ed.S. is a terminal degree and should not be viewed as a substitute for the doctorate nor as work completed toward it.
educator certifications
Certifications and endorsements for the State of Nebraska's Department of Education (NDE).
graduate certificate
A certificate received after completion of designated coursework in a specific area related to a major program.