Sunday, April 19, 2009

Grad School: A Glossary

Every so often, a non-academic reader (I have those!!!) will ask me what the heck I am talking about as I spew some alphabet soup sentence like, "OMG I can't believe what that ABD said to the DGS". Fair enough. Here are some basic terms and my take on all of them.

ABD: all-but-dissertation. No more classes, just writing. Major academic milestone, akin to learning to crawl.

AdComm: Admissions Committee, usually some assortment of faculty that read through the application files and ultimately decide your future.

CGS: Council of Graduate Schools. Most relevant is their membership list and their resolution, which stipulates that applicants have until April 15th to decide on their offers. Non-CGS members do love exploding offers. Stand back.

Comps: Comprehensive Exams, also qualifying exams or quals. Involves reading, writing about and talking about hundreds of books. Something of a hazing ritual, it quantifies your life.

DGS: Director of Graduate Studies, i.e. Grad Director. A faculty member saddled with the administrative responsibility of keeping us students from falling off the academic wagon.

Diss.: no, not an insult, but rather a dissertation. Can also be a verb, 'to diss' or 'to dissertate'.

Funding: Money. The dough. Cash. Moo-lah. Comes in full, partial, or nonexistent varieties.

Grad Coordinator: A wonderful human being employed in the department office who will help you run your grad student life. Bring them cookies and never make them angry.

LOR: Letter of recommendation. I blathered on at length about these sometime in February.

SOP: Statement of purpose. Describes in some detail why you and your project are awesome. More on this later.

As Kristina once said, we grad students speak our own language, but fear not, readers who have real lives: while true fluency requires enrollment in the program of your choice, real-worlders can definitely become conversational in Ivory Towerish.

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