Frequently Asked Questions from Graduate Students
|Q1||Do you have money for new RAs?|
|Q2||May I do an independent study project with you?|
|Q3||Will you be my MS Thesis advisor?|
|Q4||Will you be my PhD advisor?|
|Q5||Will you be my (non-thesis) advisor?|
|Q6||What courses should I take?|
|Q7||Will you be on my committee?|
|Q8||If you're on my committee, how involved do you want to be, and when should I contact you?|
|Q9||As my committee member, what instructions do you have on the preparation of my thesis, and preparation for my thesis defense?|
|Q10||What are your research areas?|
|Q11||I'm a current PhD student looking for an advisor. May I sit in on your PhD group meetings to see who your students are and what their topics are?|
|Q12||How will you help me if I select you as an advisor?|
|Q13||How do I know if I'm suited for research?|
|Q14||How do I get started on research (i.e., on what should I work)?|
|Q15||What if I have my own ideas about what to work on for a thesis topic?|
|Q16||Where can I find information about the requirements for the degree, and about requirements / standards for the thesis?|
|Q17||What are your requirements for a thesis?|
|Q18||What should I do when it comes time to schedule the defense?|
|Q19||How long does it take to get a MS with thesis, or a PhD?|
|Q20||Can I do a co-op or internship even if I'm going to start, or already working on, a thesis?|
|Q21||Is it OK if I start working and finish my thesis part-time while I work full-time?|
|Q22||What are the ethics about citing other people's work, and about publishing my own work in multiple places?|
|Q24||What are my chances of admission, can the fee be waived, do I really need GRE scores, ...?|
|Q25||Will you support me?|
|Q26||How do I get support?|
|Q27||What should I do to get off to a good start at NC State?|
|Q28||Will you be my advisor (i.e., may I join your research group)?|
A: No. Funding prospects through December 2008 for any new students are zero. My funding level is the lowest it has been in a long time.
A: No. I'm not a fan of independent study projects. My experience is that most students considering an independent study (a) seriously underestimate how difficult research is, (b) overestimate how prepared they are to do research, and (c) do not budget enough time to do something worthwhile, original, and of good quality.
A: See me during office hours, or make an appointment, to discuss.
A. See me during office hours, or make an appointment, to discuss.
A: Non-thesis students don't need an advisor, they just need a few questions answered. I will try to answer questions during office hours, whoever you are. Please don't bombard me with emails.
A: You'll have to meet me during office hours and tell me your goals and your background for me to help you.
A: Possibly. You'll have to check with me, preferably in a meeting in my office.
Typically committee members see students at their exams. In some cases, the committee member is actually helpful to the student in his/her work, in which case they meet as needed. "Pinging" your committee member, in person or by email, every 6 months just to let them know you are still alive and making progress is a good idea.
A. I'm glad you asked. :-)
Since the answer is long, see Guidelines for Graduate Theses and Exams .
The areas in which I am currently working are:
Advisees are welcome to suggest new directions.
(See also Q4 above) My style of working with students constantly changes and at present we don't have regular group meetings. Current students and their areas are listed here.
A: For the most part, I share my research experience, give advice, and ask (and answer) questions. I rarely explicitly solve a technical problem; more likely I suggest a possible technique to investigate. Advisees have a lot of freedom to define what they work on and how they proceed. I try to redirect them if they are not making progress. I currently support several RAs, and provide equipment, space, funding for travel, etc.
A: You can only learn this by diving in and trying it. If you have a high degree of curiosity and self-confidence, have a strong work ethic, are self-motivated and willing to think for yourself, and have the patience to work on something that may take a year or two to bear fruit, those are good signs.
If you get impatient with research papers, think they are exercises in academic navel-gazing, want to work on something that will be finished in 3-6 months, ..., then my advice is to go to industry and be a gazillionaire. I don't think you will be happy doing research. Likewise, if you are cautious, unwilling to take risks, need someone to tell you what to work on and why, or what to think and why, ...; in my opinion, you won't be happy pursuing a PhD (at least with me as advisor).
A: Another lengthy subject with its own page: Getting Started on Research .
As Dr. Jon Doyle says: "Identifying and defining the research problem is an essential part of the graduate experience, particularly at the PhD level."
A: This is fantastic!
See Guidelines for Graduate Theses and Exams .
A: thesis = publication . I will not advise theses whose only significant output is "I learned a lot". Expect to submit papers before you graduate.
For an MS thesis, I expect useable data/software, and/or a publication. For a Ph.D., I expect to gain new insights, new funding opportunities, and 5+ publications. That's a lot!
A: Clear the date with your committee, get their signatures, send confirmation by email, and submit the required university form.
Contact the department to schedule the conference room / projector .
Remind me to pick up your folder an hour before the exam. Also send a reminder to your committee the day before your exam about the time and place.
Talk with the graduate secretary in your department (ECE or CSC) about filling out all the necessary paperwork to graduate .
A: Since there is no formula for degrees, I can only answer this in a general sense based on past experience (no lawsuits, please). A typical MS student takes 2 years overall, and should be working on a concrete thesis problem 9-12 months before they plan to graduate.
A typical PhD student (already having a MS) takes 4 years (the first year is mostly filled with classwork). Here is my "recipe" for the PhD (already having a MS):
This is doable, but it doesn't happen automatically or easily. To make this schedule you need to stay on track every step of the way (if you slip 3 months on one stage it will be very hard to cut 3 months from the next stage).
A: Early in your research, yes. Having more experience, particularly in a research lab, is a plus both before and after graduation. Later in your research is probably not a good idea; you lose momentum and delay graduation (perhaps forever) in this case.
A: I discourage this. Vastly better to complete the degree and then start the new job with your full attention and energy.
Please see the great statement about this topic by Professor Wes Snyder (used with permission).
A: These are all questions for the graduate administrator, and most of them are answered on the department web pages for graduate students. I will simply ignore questions like these by email.
A: No. I do not provide financial support (i.e., research assistantships) to first-year students.
Funding decisions for first-year students are made by the admissions committees of my two departments; contact the department directly.
It's a pretty good bet that the top-quality (upper 25-35%) graduate students will get a research assistantship after their first year or two, from some faculty member in the department. My best advice to brand new students is therefore to a) pick courses in areas in which you plan to specialize, and b) excel in your studies in your first year.
A: See Q26 above.
First, get admitted to the department. Second, enroll. Third, interview potential advisors during your second semester of graduate study. I will not respond to this question by email from students not yet enrolled at NC State.
Dr. Annie I. Antón has a very good page for graduate students ; highly recommended.
Dr. Douglas Comer of Purdue University also has some pithy and highly amusing pages. (Also see his web page for further advice if you are a tenure-track assistant professor!)
I wish you good results and a truly enjoyable experience in your studies.