Director of Graduate Studies

In our department, the DGS is the representative of the Graduate School responsible for facilitating the admissions process, assigning temporary advisors, helping with registration issues, and approving requests for exams and defenses. As the chief representative of the students in the department, the DGS also consults with the Department Chair about course schedules, serves as a resource for information about funding, and manages department communications to students. The department administrative assistant responsible for student services, Katie Cross Gibson, assists the DGS. She handles most of the registration and exam scheduling processes; many of these processes now occur electronically. Students should pay careful attention to the official University calendar to ensure that they meet deadlines for submission of key forms.

Temporary Advisor

Each student has been assigned a temporary advisor for his or her first few semesters. It is strongly recommended that you make an appointment to meet with your temporary advisor sometime during your first semester to plan your immediate program. Do not worry if you do not have the opportunity to meet in person…a phone call or email exchange will do at first. You may also contact the Director of Graduate Studies if you have further questions.

Program of Study

Our department values the diverse experiences and interests of our students and these values are represented in the highly individualized nature of our programs of study. Each degree program has a program of study planning sheet to help you design your program. Your first step is to decide upon your concentration (your specific area of study within the degree) and then work to build a plan that will provide you the skills and knowledge to achieve your goals. Your advisor can and should help you with this process.

Choosing a Major Professor

During your first year of study, you will want to identify your major professor. (Note: For all MSHE students, Dr. Bieber will serve as your major professor.) This individual will serve as your primary advisor for the rest of your program and will help you with completing your program of study, developing your advisory committee, and completing your exams. Your major professor must be a regular member of the department faculty.

Faculty Status

For advising purposes, there are two types of faculty members: those who are full members of the UK Graduate Faculty and those who are associate members. Full members of the Graduate Faculty are able to serve as advisors independently. Associate members may serve as co-chair; the other co-chair of the committee must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty. (Note: Adjunct faculty may serve as members of a program committee and they may serve as co-chairs of a committee.)

For a complete list of our regular department faculty and adjunct faculty, click HERE.

It is important to get to know the faculty, especially as you look forward to identifying a major professor and advisory committee. To find a major professor, students should familiarize themselves with faculty interests including both courses offered (syllabi are available on the department website) and with current research projects (faculty research briefs are also found on the department website). Look for areas in which your interests and those of the faculty intersect. Note: this does not have to be an exact fit; however, the more you learn about the faculty, the better your planning will go.

Program of Study…Choosing Courses

Your program of study should tell the story of your interests and your skills and provide evidence to support your candidacy for your degree. Again, to choose your courses, review the faculty websites, read the course syllabi, and ask questions. Don’t see what you want? There may be faculty in other departments with whom you can study to supplement your program. (Courses outside our department are actually required of some programs.) Overall, you should be able to find a core of courses that represent your interests in our department if you have a good “fit” with EPE.

What level of coursework should you take? Students may take any level graduate course (500 and up). Some of our 700 level courses are seminars and might be appropriate for a new student; others are part of increasingly complex sequences. When in doubt contact the faculty member to find out more or check the department blog and website for course descriptions.

Research Requirements

All of our degree programs have a research requirement. Master’s students are required to take at least one research course. Doctoral students must take 9-12 hours of research coursework depending on their program. What counts as a research course? Any course in which you acquire inquiry skills and/or conceptual understanding of research design may fulfill the research requirement in EPE. A history course, for example, in which you learn to design and implement an archival study, would serve as a research course as would a course on multivariate statistical design. Not all students in the same class will categorize a course in their program of study in the same way. It depends on what they want to get out of the class.

EPE Myth: EPE 557 is a required course. Not True! To be an effective consumer of educational policy information in our society, statistical literacy is necessary. We do not, however, require our students to take EPE 557 (informally known as the intro stats class). This is a good foundational course for many students and an individual student’s advisory committee may require it for that particular student, but it is not a department-wide requirement.

What is the purpose of the research requirement? We expect our students to be able to read, critique, and produce research in the field of education at a level appropriate to their degrees. Master’s students may wish to choose courses that provide practical inquiry skills such as evaluation or improve their research literacy with introductory statistics. Doctoral students will want to pursue a program that prepares them to complete independent research in their areas of interest. Historical, qualitative, quantitative, and evaluation research are equally prized in the department. The methods of inquiry you choose to learn should allow you to answer the questions you find interesting, not the other way around. Doctoral students should take care to strive for an appropriate depth of skill and knowledge to produce a quality dissertation.

Core Subject or Area of Concentration

Each student’s program of study includes a primary area of concentration. Think of this as the answer you might give when someone asks you “What are you studying in Graduate School?” For some of you it might be broad in scope, “I’m studying higher education”; for others more specific, “I’m studying the history of early childhood education”. Your concentration might include courses from outside the department and outside the College of Education. A higher education focus, for example, might include a Sociology class on social inequality; a student interested in youth culture might take a class in Family Studies. Any course that fits under YOUR DEFINITION of your concentration could be considered one of your concentration courses, pending advisory committee approval.

Contextual Studies

Courses in this area will vary a great deal from program to program. This category is not a catchall for courses you happened to take unrelated to your core interests. Contextual studies are courses that provide context to your topic of interest. Context can be conceptual by providing a different theoretical perspective. Context can be geographic by providing information about a region or place. Context can be topical by providing further background to a subject tangential but important to your concentration. Some examples of areas of contextual studies include courses in gender and women studies, courses in Appalachian studies, or courses in leadership. Further, courses taken in other “areas” of our department may also serve as contextual courses.

Graduate Certificates

EPE plays an active role in three graduate certificate programs: the Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Learning, the Certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies, the Graduate Certificate in International Education, and our new Certificate in Research Methods in Education. Certificate programs demonstrate in-depth study in a particular area and are intended to complement your degree program. EPE is in the process of designing a Graduate Certificate in Community & Technical College Leadership, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Student Services. To complete a certificate, apply for and follow the requirements of the certificate program as part of your regular degree program.

Academic Progress

The Graduate School requires that each department conduct an annual review of the academic progress of its students. We do this through a process of faculty review and by monitoring grades and performance on qualifying and master’s exams, as well as doctoral defenses. Students are provided information and support to meet deadlines required to making timely progress toward degree. EPE students are strongly encouraged, however, to develop self-directed learning behaviors that are the mark of high quality independent scholars and practitioners.

EPE tip: Don’t take grades for granted. Read margin notes and faculty comments on papers carefully even if you are satisfied with the grade awarded to improve your critical thinking and writing abilities. Well reasoned arguments well presented are critical to good scholarship and success in our graduate programs.

Changing Programs & Concurrent Degree Programs

EPE is fortunate to have a number of students who choose to study educational policy in conjunction with another degree program or in some cases to change programs to focus more directly on education as their topic of study. Please consult the Graduate School Bulletin on how to successfully make these changes. All parties must be informed and must agree to the changes through formal communications with the Graduate School.