Graduate School Glossary


Here are some terms that apply to almost all graduate programs.

Academic Residency Established after a student has met the requirement to enroll in a specified number of credit hours related to the degree within a specific time frame. Academic residency ensures a cohesive educational experience.
Advancement to Candidacy Occurs when the student has completed a substantial number of the credit hours in his or her Program of Study and all research/language tools (if required), and has passed the comprehensive examination (oral or written, in whatever form the academic department administers it).

The final stage in doctoral education, which primarily involves conducting research and writing the dissertation.

Comprehensive Exam

An exam administered by the academic home department to discover if the student’s knowledge of the subject areas of study issufficient to advance to the dissertation writing stage. Comprehensive exams may be written or oral.
CV 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. Those applying for administrative positions in academe may be asked for either a résumé or a CV.

The final requirement for the dissertation and the final oral examination on a doctoral candidate’s dissertation.

Full-time Certification

The process of certifying a student’s enrollment status while enrolled less than full time (9 hours). Certification allows the student to maintain full time enrollment status while working on dissertation research.
Full-time status Refers to enrollment in a minimum number of graduate-level credits per semester. At UNL, fulltime status requires enrollment in a minimum of 9 
graduate level credit hours per semester.
Hooding An official ceremony celebrating the completion of a doctoral degree program, the highest level of educational achievement. Each institution has a unique doctoral hood. At UNL’s graduate commencement ceremony, doctoral students are “hooded” by their faculty advisers.
IRB The Institutional Review Board is an internal administrative body of the University of NebraskaLincoln responsible for reviewing and authorizing 
study protocols for research involving human subjects.
Memorandum of Courses Also known as a program or plan of study. At UNL, it must be filed before the student has received grades (letter grades, no reports or incompletes) in no more than 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 of graduate studies.
PFF Preparing Future Faculty is a program that helps advanced doctoral students prepare for academic careers.
Postdoc Short for “postdoctoral fellow,” this term refers to 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. Refer to the UNL Office of Postdoctoral Studies Web site for more information.
Program of Studies An outline or plan of coursework to be taken to fulfill the requirements of a doctoral degree. May include transfer credits from a previous master’s degree or graduate work and must be approved by the doctoral committee.
Qualifying Exam Also known as “quals,” these exams are 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.
Research Compliance Federal law requires that students who intend to engage in research that involves human or animalsubjects, radiation, biohazardous agents, etc. receive approval of their research procedures before beginning to collect data. Go to the Office of Research Responsibility Web site to find out how to assure compliance.
Supervisory Committee A faculty committee that advises the student on academic matters and is usually the examining committee for the doctoral comprehensive and/or oral defense.
Time-to-degree The amount of time a graduate student has to complete his or her degree program from the time of admission into graduate school.