Program Expectations

M.A. Program Expectations

Graduate work is rather different than undergraduate work, and in order to do well in an MA program, you will need to prioritize school, focus, and study. 

Courses you will be taking as a graduate student, while fewer in number, are more challenging and rigorous than undergraduate classes. Therefore, you will need to engage with the material in a serious and systematic manner.  

In order to help you make the most of your studies, we offer some pointers, expectations, and requirements: 

  • Seminars are the cornerstone of graduate education. Seminars allow students from different cohorts to enter intoan intellectual conversation with faculty and with each other. Doing well in seminar is the key to doing well in graduate school! 
  • Graduate seminars are usually offered once a week. You must attend all class meetings. Missing a 3-hour graduate seminar is not acceptable and should be avoided. Similarly, plan your schedule so that you are not late to class. If you miss a class due to a University-approved reason (such as illness), make sure that you communicate with your professor and provide appropriate documentation of your absence in a timely fashion. 
  • Graduate courses are small and intense. Most often professors will expect you to contribute to the conversation systematically and thoughtfully, and in a way that shows that you have thoroughly done the readings assigned. Make sure you begin to analyze the readings at home, before you enter the classroom!
  • Graduate courses require extensive engagement with the material, your professors, and your colleagues. Oftentimes a seminar will not include a lengthy lecture by the professor, but rather a discussion among students (with input from the faculty member). This means that you must be prepared and ready to speak.
  • Graduate courses have weekly assigned reading lists, and you must show up to class prepared. The assigned articles and books must be read every single week.  
  • Recognize that you may find the readings assigned to be long and/or difficult. They may even be outside your area of interest. Nonetheless, it is your job to have studied the readings to the best of your ability. Think of reading as studying and engaging, rather than as a passive act. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to do the assigned reading. It is often best to read material more than once. Take copious notes on the reading, andbring the notes and the readings to class. The better prepared you are, the more you will be able to contribute to the seminar, and to learn. 
  • If you have questions on the course material, ask the professor. Faculty members in our department are happy to help you with concepts that you do not understand. Ask questions in seminar and attend office hours when needed.
  • The Graduate Coordinator is here to help you navigate the program. It is important that you meet with the Graduate Coordinator at least once a semester to discuss your progress in the program.