Frequently Asked Questions for Current Students
This listing has been made to address the questions that are most often asked by graduate students in our program. The answers to these questions are described in detail in the other materials that are distributed or available, but sometimes it is helpful to have them summarized in one place. From time to time, the rules and regulations change, so this document is to be used only as a guide. The official answer to the questions may still be found in the latest rules of the University of Florida, the Graduate School, and the Department of Physics. Naturally, if you have any questions or if you would like further clarification, please meet with the Graduate Coordinator or one of the Program Assistants in the Office of Student Services, NPB 1210.

FAQs are provided in the following subjects:

   [Definitions]    [Appointments]    [PhD Program]    [MS Program]    [Research]

                          [General Advice]    [Qualifying and Final Exams]

GENERAL ADVICE

Why do I need to improve my English communication skills?
The communication skills that you develop and improve will be useful to you in whatever career you pursue after UF. These skills are required for you to interact effectively with students, faculty, and staff. Furthermore, your research needs to be presented at professional meetings and in your thesis. With no doubt, fluent communication skills will improve your opportunity for success.

How can I improve my English communication skills?
There are many ways to improve your communication skills and if you want some novel ideas, please talk to the Graduate Coordinator. There is no secret that practice is the key ingredient to success and progress.

Do I have to attend Colloquia and Seminars even if I am not registered for them?
All junior graduate students are strongly encouraged to attend the Departmental Colloquia, as this lecture series should expose everyone to recent developments in a variety of sub-fields in physics. All senior graduate students are expected to follow the seminar series that most closely matches their research program. Junior graduate students should also consider attending seminars as a means of being introduced to the subject and to members of the research groups.

I am struggling in a class. Should I stop attending the lectures since I seem to get nothing useful out of them?
No, you are always expected to attend every lecture class. If you do not understand the material being presented, you should meet with the Instructor during Office Hours or make an appointment.

I am not used to the environment that I have found in Gainesville, and as a result, I am not doing very well. What can I do?
First, you should know that you are not the first student to experience this situation. Most students find it helpful to talk to the Graduate Coordinator, the Instructors, the Program Assistants in the Office of Students Services, and other graduate students. You can also seek free, confidential advising and counseling on academic and health issues, and the Offices in Peabody Hall can direct you to the appropriate program.

On rare or routine instances, my performance for coursework and exams is not a reflection of my abilities. When do I have to notify the Professor about these types of issues and can I take an "Incomplete" grade?
In general, if a student has any reason to believe that the performance of coursework or an an examination will be comporomised by an extenuating circumstances, the student is expected to inform the Professor as soon as reasonably possible, which normally means in advance of the due date of the material or exam. If privacy issues are a concern, the student may seek advice from the UF Counseling Center in Peabody Hall, and the Counselors will be able to assist the student in notifying the Professor and Department. "Incomplete" grades are usually only used in extreme cases, which have had a full discussion involving the student, the Professor, and the Graduate Student Advisor. The rules governing Incomplete Grades are well-defined by The Graduate School and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (for more specific information, please see the resources available from these Colleges).

Why are my career goals an important issue?
If you have career goals for immediately after your PhD degree and for at least 5 years after your degree, then you should be in a better position to judge what you might want to do for your thesis project.

How can I learn more about "being a scientist" and about "responsible conduct" in research?
The National Academy of Science has published a brochure that is available on-line. This resource provides an excellent discussion on "proper behavior" related to research, publications, and interactions with other scienctists. See: "One Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition", (1995)

Wow, this is a lot of information. How can I learn more about everything?
Talking to other graduate students is an excellent means of learning about how the Department works. However, there is no substitute for knowing the formal answers to some questions. So, please do not hesitate to meet with your Faculty Advisor, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Program Assistants in the Office of Student Affairs.

Any other words of advice?
The road to a PhD degree is not an easy one. You have to be willing to invest a great deal of effort, but the journey can be fun. "Anything worth doing is worth doing well."