Frequently Asked Questions About the Graduate Program

Some frequently asked questions from prospective and current graduate students...

What is the deadline for applying?

Completed applications, including an application for an assistantship (if one is desired), are due by 1 March for Fall admission. For Spring admission, we will consider applications until the deadline set by the Graduate School.

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Can I enter in the Spring semester?

We strongly discourage this. Typical courses taken by a first-year graduate student have two parts: one in the Fall and one in the Spring (which requires the Fall course). You would be out of sequence and have a hard time finding courses that you would be qualified to take. Nevertheless, we will consider Spring admission, but graduate teaching assistantship offers are only made for Fall admission.

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I've applied for a GRA but was offered a GTA. Why?

The Department typically cannot guarantee Graduate Reseach Assistantships (GRAs) to incoming students. These are funded by individual faculty members from their external contracts and grants (from, e.g., NASA, NSF, etc.). If you request a GRA, we make every attempt to pair you with the appropriate faculty member and secure GRA funding for you. However, the faculty member(s) may simply not have the money available at this time. It is also common for a faculty member to want to see a student's academic performance at UAH before committing to GRA funding. A Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) is the typical option for incoming students.

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I'm a new student. Who is my advisor?

See the Department Chair when you arrive.

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I want an MS degree. Which route should I take?

If you are sure that the MS will be your terminal degree and you will definitely not pursue a PhD, then the thesis option is usually best. Employers like to see evidence of being able to perform a good, closed-end piece of research in a timely manner. If you think you will likely go on for the PhD, then the non-thesis/Comprehensive Exam route is best. You need to take the Comprehensive Exam as the first step in PhD candidacy anyway, and taking the exam soon after your coursework (while it is still relatively fresh in our mind) will be easier than waiting until later.

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