Annual Reviews for Doctoral Students
During your first year of study, you will complete courses in technical communication and rhetoric, your minor, and research methods. You also must complete the first-year review and doctoral degree plan.
The first-year review, along with your admission materials and coursework, assesses your ability to complete requirements for the PhD. It takes the place of a preliminary exam in the TCR program, and it offers an opportunity for mentoring.
This review, in your second semester in the program, is the first of the annual reviews of your progress toward the PhD conducted initially by your advisory committee and later by your dissertation committee.
The review is based on a portfolio composed of a revised paper from a course in your first semester; your report of achievements and plans; evaluations by your first-semester instructors; and an interview with your advisory committee.
The first-year review provides both the student and faculty members a means by which success in the program can be predicted and needs and goals can be determined. The review will indicate your ability to read professional texts critically, to extract important data and to analyze thematic content in professional texts, and to articulate research problems and methods of solving them. The interview provides an opportunity for you and the committee to discuss course choices and possible dissertation topics. The chair of the advisory committee prepares a written report of the review for the Director of Graduate Studies in Technical Communication and Rhetoric (DGS TCR) including recommendations of the committee. The DGS TCR forwards a report to the Graduate School Dean, per the graduate school rules.
The doctoral degree plan specifies your plans for meeting the requirements of coursework, including research methods courses, and residence. It defines your dissertation area in general terms. You must prepare the doctoral degree plan, in consultation with the DGS TCR and your advisory committee, upon completion of the first-year review but within one year of your initial enrollment. The DGS TCR forwards the degree plan to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval.
The DGS TCR completes the paperwork for all graduate students in the Technical Communication and Rhetoric program, including the doctoral degree plan and annual reviews. In addition, this person advises students in the early stages of their doctoral program.
During your first year of study, you will be assigned an advisory committee consisting of two graduate faculty members in TCR. This committee will help you navigate the choices early in your doctoral studies, possibly helping you decide on a minor, research methods courses, courses in technical communication and rhetoric, and even dissertation projects.
Your advisory committee will also conduct your first-year review and subsequent annual reviews of your academic progress until you have selected a dissertation committee. You will meet with your advisory committee at least once a year, and it is recommended that you meet with individual members of your advisory committee more frequently.
By the end of your second year you will be required to select a dissertation committee of three faculty members. This committee may consist of some or all of your advisory committee, or it may comprise an entirely new group.
The dissertation committee will assume the duties of the advisory committee, including an annual review of your academic progress. It will also compose and grade your qualifying examination, advise you regarding your dissertation, and conduct your final oral presentation. The chair and other members should have expertise in the area of your dissertation research.
Each year (early in the spring semester for on-campus students and during the May Workshop for online students) either your advisory committee or your dissertation committee will provide the DGS TCR with a written review of your academic progress. This review will consider your accomplishments in the past year and includes a personal interview conducted by your committee. The purpose of the annual review is to provide you and the technical communication and rhetoric faculty a clear assessment of your strengths, to identify opportunities for professional development, and to support timely and effective completion of the program.