Graduate Program Chair
The chair is the academic leader and administrative head of the graduate program. The chair automatically has signature authority on all forms and petitions related to the program.
The official duties of a Graduate Program Chair are equivalent in departmental or group-based programs, and these duties are outlined in Appendix A of the UC-wide APM 245, and in the UC Davis APM 245B Exhibit A.
Graduate Program Chairs advise program members and students on:
- Policies that govern graduate education
- Student records and student progress and advising
- Funding, tuition remission policies
- Options and processes for student educational leaves
- Student disqualification procedures
- Campus resources and student services
- Mentoring guidelines and best practices
- Course curriculum and degree requirements
The Graduate Program Chair is responsible for overseeing the work of the Graduate Advisors. Please see responsibilities of Graduate Program Advisors below.
In department-based graduate programs, the department chair is also the graduate program chair. The dean of a college nominates the department chair to the Chancellor, who then appoints the chair (APM 245A). In group-based graduate programs, the Dean of Graduate Studies nominates the graduate group chair (based on procedures endorsed by the Graduate Council) to the Provost, who then appoints the chair (APM Section UCD-245B).
The graduate advisor addresses academic matters affecting graduate students and their academic programs. The role of a graduate advisor is distinct from that of the major professor, in having official authority through Graduate Studies. In all programs, a graduate advisor’s signature is the only signature (other than the chair’s) that Graduate Studies recognizes as an official signature.
In general, a graduate advisor acts as a student’s first source of academic information and provides assistance with the details of each student’s plan of study in the graduate program.
- Review and approve the program of study for each graduate student who has not advanced to candidacy
- Review and take action on each petition submitted by a graduate student to drop/add courses, or to take courses on an S/U basis, as well as make recommendations on petitions from graduate students who want to drop or add courses beyond the fifth week of classes
- Review and approve student petitions for Planned Educational Leave (PELP) and then forward such petitions to Graduate Studies for approval
- Provide general course advising
- Advise on policy
- Provide referrals to campus resources
- Advise students and faculty on mentoring best practices
- Approve release of academic holds, leaves, grade extensions, and change of degree objectives
- Approve advancement to candidacy, thesis, dissertation, and QE committees
- Review interim and annual progress reports
- Advise on disqualification procedures and appeal processes
- Approve petitions for exception
Each program has at least one graduate advisor officially appointed in accordance with the policies and procedures of Graduate Studies to a term of two years. It is recommended that each graduate program/group should have a sufficient number of graduate advisors to establish a student to advisor ratio of approximately 15:1 and not to exceed this number. The Associate Dean for Programs will send out a call for nominations in June of each year to the chair of the department or graduate group soliciting nominations. Nominations are then then submitted on the Graduate Advisor Appointment Nomination (GS400) form and sent back to Graduate Studies for approval and appointment. This is also the time to review your current advisors and make any changes necessary to current advisor appointment. Given that only the chair and the graduate advisor’s signature is accepted by Graduate Studies, any requested change in graduate advisors during the academic year must be reported immediately to Graduate Studies and approved through the same process.
Only the graduate admissions advisor (in addition to the program chair) has delegated signature authority for admissions, readmission, or change of major petitions for graduate students. The graduate admissions advisor may also have responsibility and signature authority for awarding graduate program fellowship allocation funds. In many programs, the graduate admissions advisor is chair of an admissions committee charged with reviewing program applications.
One graduate advisor in each program may be designated as the graduate admissions advisor. This person is nominated and appointed according to the same procedures noted above for graduate advisors.
The major professor is the faculty mentor with whom the graduate student works most closely (often their primary investigator). The major professor guides the graduate student through the process of identifying a desired area of focus, pursuing a course of study that builds skills in that area, honing in on a research topic, completing the research, and preparing for a career after graduate school. All PhD students are required to identify a major professor in their third year, whether or not the student is ready to embark on a research topic at that time. It is important that each student have a faculty mentor who is guiding them through their graduate school journey. If a student has no major professor, then it is appropriate for the graduate advisor to serve as that student's major professor.
The major professor is not formally appointed by Graduate Studies. However, when the student declares their thesis/dissertation committee (by submitting a form to Graduate Studies), the major professor usually serves as Chair of the Thesis/Dissertation Committee.
Program members must meet the same eligibility as outlined in the Service on Advanced Degree Committees policy:
- members of the Academic Senate of the University of California (including professors, lecturers, senior lecturers with security of employment, professors in residence, professors of clinical “__,” acting professor series);
- professors emeritus/a, if specified in the graduate group bylaws;
- research professors;
- visiting professors;
- certain members of the Academic Federation (clinical professors in Health Sciences [not volunteer series], adjunct professors, supervisors of physical education, Unit 18 lecturers, academic administrators [not academic coordinators]);
- specialists in the Cooperative Extension who also hold a concurrent appointment as educator without salary;
- academic researchers in the professional research series (including associate research ___ [not research associate or project scientist]) who also hold a concurrent appointment as educator without salary.
Rights and Privileges
Graduate program members are expected to contribute to the program in order to maintain their membership status. Acceptable membership contributions may include:
- teaching graduate courses in the program (educators without salary may not participate in classroom instruction or be Instructor of Record, unless they hold a concurrent instructional title).
- effective mentoring of graduate students
- serving as a major professor
- serving on administrative committees of the program,
- serving as Graduate Program Chair
- serving as a graduate advisor
- serving on advanced degree committees.