You've probably already realized graduate school has its own vocabulary and maybe you feel silly asking what different words or acronyms mean... well then this information is for you! Review the information below to learn more about graduate school jargon and how graduate school differs from your undergraduate experience.
Google "X University Graduate Bridge Program" to learn whether your university has this. Can't find anything? Email your PI and/or graduate program to learn what options might exist.
All universities and graduate programs should have a graduate program handbook. SAVE THIS to your computer and READ IT when you start. The graduate program handbook has rules that apply to you (dates, deadlines, requirements) and are helpful to demystify your experience in the program.
Location, distance from your research group on campus, public transportation, monthly price, deposit, is there an application fee?, lease term, square foot area, cost of utilities (water, trash and sewer, electricity, gas, heat, internet (and speed)), A/C, parking, appliances (microwave, dishwasher, furnished), on call/on-site maintenance?
You can expect to ask about the following exams as you start in your doctoral program:
Committee - You will develop your committee as you complete exams and benchmarks in your graduate program. Your committee is made of faculty members, can be both internal and external to your university, and includes your research advisor. Members of your committee should help guide your research project in meaningful ways and can be other excellent faculty mentors. You should plan to meet with your committee at least once a year and your committee will also be present and ask you questions at your defense.
Transitioning from Master's to PhD track - if you complete your Master's level coursework and decide that you would like to continue on for your PhD, then typically you can wrap up your master?s as a non-thesis master?s and transfer your courses and research directly to your PhD study. You should definitely check with your department and university, but this is a fairly common practice.
Pass through Master's degree - If you came into a direct-PhD program, it is common that you will complete all courses required for a non-thesis MS degree on your journey to PhD. If so, many universities will allow you to obtain a pass through MS degree (non-thesis MS).
The alphabet soup of trainings and programs - The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program), Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and Institutional Review Boards (IRB) are just some of the acronyms that you will encounter as a graduate student in STEM.
Becoming a PhD Candidate - Once you complete all of the required coursework and exams for your program, you then move from "PhD Student" to "PhD Candidate." Check in with your program to understand what is required for this!
Developing your Professional Profile - In addition to LinkedIn, once you start publishing, you will want to set up a few different professional profiles:
What is tenure?
Tenure - an academic appointment for a faculty member. Typically, Assistant Professors are pre-tenure and have not completed the 5 -7 year tenure review process (timing can vary by institution). Typically, Associate Professors or Full Professors have completed the tenure process and are therefore tenured. Tenured faculty have indefinite academic appointments that can only be terminated under the most extenuating circumstances. Learn more about tenure here: https://www.aaup.org/issues/tenure
How does tenure affect graduate students? If you join a research group with a faculty member who is pre-tenure, then you should have a conversation regarding what would happen the faculty member does not achieve tenure at that institution.
Another great resource for personal finance is here: https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/wiki/index
Banking and Budgeting - Consider the following for banking:
It is important to think about building your credit responsibly.
Consider the following for budgeting so that you know where your money is going:
Learn how to budget during Grad School here: https://graduatedebris.com/how-to-budget-during-grad-school/
Use a budget calculator with help from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS): https://gradsense.org/gradsense/budget-calculator
Your graduate student salary or national fellowship might be subject to taxes. You should consult a tax professional or service to determine the appropriate course regarding taxes.
Check with your graduate program and university to understand your graduate student health insurance benefits. If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to your administrators and/or human resources.
Learn more about deductibles, co-payments, out of pocket expenses and in-network providers in the adjacent image. There are many important things to consider when determining what insurance works best for you.