Graduate Student Guide: Satisfactory Progress

Duration of graduate programs

The University requires all work for the PhD to be completed within ten years. Most students complete the MA in two years and the PhD within five to seven years from the date of entrance. The department expects every student to make “satisfactory progress” toward a degree; if in the judgment of the Graduate Program Coordinator and the Chair of the student's committee, the student is not making adequate progress, disciplinary action may be recommended. Every student should have a clear understanding with his/her committee chair regarding the dates s/he intends to complete the various degree requirements.

Satisfactory Progress Deadlines

The following deadlines should be met as evidence of satisfactory progress in the program.

1. By the end of your 3 rd quarter (end of your first academic year):

Establish your Chair or Interim Advisor and choose two fields of study for the M.A. Submit the Notification of Advisor Appointment form to the GPA by the date announced in the beginning of spring quarter. You are strongly encouraged but not required to establish your Master's Supervisory Committee.

2. By the end of your 6 th quarter (excluding summer): Complete the Masters requirements and defend your MA Essay of Distinction.

3. By the end of two quarters following completion of the M.A.: Establish your three fields of study and the three-member supervisory committee who will serve as your examiners in these fields.

4. By the end of nine quarters in residence, or third year: Complete the course requirements for three fields and establish the reading lists for three fields. Submit the “The Written Exam Reading Lists Agreement” and “The Program Worksheet for PhD Requirements” to the Graduate Program Assistant.

5. By the end of your tenth quarter or beginning of your fourth year:

Complete your Comprehensive (written) exams in three fields and your Oral exam.

6. By the end of two quarters following the Comprehensive Exams: Complete and defend the dissertation prospectus. This is the General Examination that determines advancement to candidacy.

7. It is generally expected that the dissertation will be completed and successfully defended within two years of advancing to candidacy (Ph.C.) .

Grade Point Average

Students must maintain a 3.0 graduate GPA to remain in graduate standing. When a student's graduate GPA falls below this minimum, the Graduate School will send the department a “low scholarship” notice. It is then up to the Graduate Program Coordinator to decide whether the department will recommend disciplinary action. It is departmental policy that students must receive at least a 2.7 in all courses satisfying the requirements of their degree program.


Two incompletes shall be permitted at the time of the MA examination and three incompletes at the time of the PhD examination. However, the MA and Ph.C. examinations cannot be scheduled until all I and X grades in the courses necessary to fulfill degree requirements are changed to permanent grades.

Disciplinary Action - Reference Graduate School Memorandum #16.

Disciplinary action may include any or all of the following: departmental warning, Graduate School warning, probation, final probation, dismissal. The Graduate Program Coordinator in consultation with the Chair of the student's supervisory committee issues warnings and probationary actions. Final probation and dismissal are recommended by the student's committee and implemented by the Department's Graduate Program Coordinator.

Students will be warned if

1. their cumulative graduate GPA falls below 3.0 and/or

2. they are not making satisfactory progress in fulfilling the departmental degree program requirements as outlined in this guide.

If the deficiencies which caused the warning are not corrected during the quarter following the warning, then probation may be recommended. Probationary status length is usually no more than two academic quarters. Final probation is recommended if the deficiencies are not corrected during the probation period. Final probation status length is one academic quarter. If the student fails to correct the deficiencies, then a drop recommendation is made.

Students on probation or final probation are expected to concentrate on their own studies in order to correct identified deficiencies. Students on probation and final probation will have their department funding status reviewed. Funding may be terminated during the probationary period. Decisions about funding will be based on student progress on the stated goals of probation, student funding eligibility, and department funding availability for the quarter in question. 

Students may appeal the decisions of their supervisory committee, or the Graduate Program Coordinator. If the student remains dissatisfied, s/he may appeal the change of status decision directly to the Chair of the Political Science Department. Appeals beyond this point must follow the process laid out in Graduate School Memorandum No. 33, Academic Grievance Procedures.


The department takes the issue of plagiarism very seriously. Suspected cases of plagiarism should be reported to the Graduate Program Coordinator and a student's committee chair.

Students in the graduate program are expected to adhere to the university's guidelines for student conduct, including its policies on plagiarism. These can be found on the university's webpage at: . The procedures for handling cases of plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct are contained in the University Handbook, Volume 4, Part 9, Chapter 1 and in WAC Chapter 478-120.

Plagiarism is an important educational issue and eliminating it is critical to the integrity of graduate education.