A graduate degree is granted in recognition of high attainment in a particular field of study, rather than in simple recognition of a certain number of courses taken or years in residence. It therefore requires independence of spirit and accomplishment — and it also depends upon close collaboration between student and teacher.

A student getting advice from her advisor. As soon as you arrive on campus you should schedule a conference with the Graduate Director, who will help you learn about your new environment and help plan a preliminary program of study. Within the first few weeks of the semester you will be assigned a temporary faculty advisor, who will be a principle source of information about the Department and the University.

During your first year you will have ample opportunity to become acquainted with the faculty and learn of their particular interests and abilities. By the end of the year you should select an academic advisor from among the graduate faculty. It is your responsibility to determine which faculty member will be the best match for your educational goals. Keep in mind that many factors, particularly the number of advisees he or she already may have, may make it impossible for a given faculty member to accept this role.

While your advisor will assist you in achieving your academic goals, it is your ultimate responsibility to make sure that you are in compliance with all University and Departmental policies.

Advisor Responsibilities

  • To help you devise a program of study and complete the Program of Study worksheet with the Graduate Advisor's approval.
  • To assist you in forming an advisory committee to help develop a final project (either Plan I or II). It is your responsibility to obtain the consent of the faculty members who will serve on the committee. The committee must be formed before you take your comprehensive Qualifying Exam. All committee members must have an appointment to the UAB Graduate Faculty. The Graduate Director and Department Chair will be de facto members of all committees.
    • Plan I: the committee will include your academic advisor, one other member from inside the department, and one UAB faculty member outside the Department of Communication Studies.
    • Plan II: the committee must consist of at least three faculty members, including your academic advisor and two other faculty members from the department. 
  • To prepare and administer, with the help of the advisory committee, a comprehensive examination. Members of the committee from the department will submit exam questions. The outside member may submit questions, but is not required to do so. This examination will be read and evaluated by the committee.
  • 4. To assist (in consultation with the advisory committee) in developing your Plan II final project or Plan I thesis, and chair the final defense.
  • 5. To keep the department, the Graduate Director, and the Graduate School informed about your progress.

Upon mutual consent, a student may change advisors or members of the committee. The Graduate Director should be notified if the committee membership changes for any reason. No record of the reason for change will be created.