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]


What is a TA?
TA means Teaching Assistant, and the Department provides a salary based upon the assigned teaching duties. These positions are a key element to the success of the Department, and the teaching assignments must be performed in a completely professional manner.

What is a RA?
RA means Research Assistant, and a research grant (or similar) provides a salary based upon the assigned research duties. These positions are generally viewed as the most favorable to have as they allow for additional professional flexibility not afforded by a TA assignment.

What is a GA? GA means Grading Assistant, and the Department provides a salary based upon the assigned grading duties. These positions may be offered to students who have not successfully passed the TSE (Test of Spoken English). Typically, students are expected to pass the TSE during their first year in Gainesville. Failure to successfully complete the requirements of the TSE potentially jeopardizes future funding of the student as a TA since GA appointments are not generally extended past the first year.

What does FTE mean?
FTE stands for "full-time equivalent", and it is a bureaucratic term used to measure how much time is committed to a project. Pay periods from the State come in biweekly units, and 40 hours per week is considered a standard workload. So an appointment at a FTE of 0.33 would indicate that approximately 13.2 hours per week might be spent on the task.

What does 'reasonable progress toward a PhD degree' really mean?
Reasonable progress depends on the unique program of each student, but globally it refers to maintaining a GPA above 3.00 and timely completion the requirements for a PhD degree.