African and African Disapora Studies Department
African and African Disapora Studies Department

Frequently Asked Questions for Current Students

General

How do I get card swipe access to GWB for after-hours entry?

AADS graduate students are automatically granted card swipe access to the GWB building, including the student areas on the 2nd floor, when they are admitted to the program. Students must have a valid student ID card and upgraded UT EID.

How do I upgrade my EID?

Obtaining a student ID card or upgrading your UT EID are done through the UT ID Center. Due to COVID-19, the ID Center has revised their processes.  If you are a freshman, transfer, international, or graduate student admitted by May 15 (including students under 18), your EID will be automatically upgraded on May 16. If your admission is completed between May 16 and June 2, your EID will be upgraded the day after it is recorded. This will not impact your ability to register for classes during orientation. Students may obtain their ID card when the campus resumes normal onsite operations. Information regarding EID upgrades or student ID information is available on the UT ID Center website.

Where can I get information regarding Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)?

SSD is a department of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. SSD is located in Office Suite 4.206 of the Student Services Building. SSD works with students with hearing disabilities, visual disabilities, learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, mobility disabilities, psychological disabilities, medical disabilities, Autism, temporary disabilities, and Traumatic Brain Injuries. You can call SSD at 471-6259 (voice) or 512-410-6644 (VP) for additional information.

How do I transfer credit into my master’s or PhD program?

Students working toward master’s degrees. A master’s student seeking to use coursework completed at another institution must provide the AADS Graduate Studies Committee with an official transcript, the official explanation of the institution’s course numbering system and grading system, and the course description from the catalog of the institution.

Along with these documents, the Petition to Transfer a Graduate Course From Another Institution form should be submitted by the AADS graduate adviser for approval by the graduate dean. This form must be submitted before 12 hours of graduate coursework are completed at UT Austin.

  • A maximum of six semester hours of work from other institutions may be approved for use on the program of work.
  • The grade must be either A or B.
  • The course must be graduate level. 
  • Courses may not have been used toward another degree.
  • Coursework earned on the quarter system is normally calculated at two-thirds of the credit for courses offered on a semesterly basis. Thus, a three credit-hour course taken on the quarter system may be transferred as no more than two credit hours.
  • Coursework taken abroad or on other credit-hour systems will be recalculated for semester-hour credit and the amount of credit approved will be determined by an evaluation of the content of the course as compared to an equivalent UT Austin course.
  • If approved for use on the program of work, the course must be used within the six-year time limit. Courses older than six years may not be transferred.
  • The course may not be taken at another institution during the semester of intended graduation at UT Austin, because the grades may not be received in time to certify the student’s program of work.

Students wishing to transfer credits should contact the AADS Graduate Coordinator (link to email) for assistance with the process.

Students working toward Ph.D. degrees. There is no official Graduate School process for transferring graduate level credits into the Ph.D. Program. PhD students should contact the Graduate Coordinator for assistance with the transfer of credit process for AADS Ph.D. students.

Registration

Students are strongly encouraged to post registration deadline reminders on their personal calendars as late registration fees range from $50 to $200.

How do I register for classes?

Detailed registration information is on the Registrar’s Registration  pages. You should register and complete your registration at your earliest opportunity. This will help ensure that the courses you want will be offered, as courses with low enrollments are frequently cancelled. As always, the list of courses is subject to change. Those who register late must pay a processing fee to do so. Information about registration periods, including late registration, can be found in the Course Schedule under Registration and Payment Deadlines and on the Graduate School website.

 

Registration is a multi-step process. Simply adding classes to your schedule does not complete your registration. In addition to making sure you have no bars that will affect your ability to register and selecting your courses, you must also pay your tuition and fees and confirm your attendance by the payment deadline or your entire schedule will be cancelled (“zapped,”) you will be charged a late registration fee, and you will have to begin the registration process over. Registration is not complete unless all of the steps have been followed.

Step 1. Check your Registration Information Sheet for access times and registration bars. Bars must be lifted before you will be allowed to register so don’t wait until the last minute and risk missing the registration window.

  • Registration Bars. All AADS students have advising bars that need to be lifted before they can register. To lift your registration bar:
  1. Discuss your class schedule with your primary advisor.
  2. Submit your proposed schedule to the AADS Graduate Coordinator who will work with your primary advisor and the Graduate Advisor to make sure your schedule fulfills program requirements and will lift your bar. It is helpful to provide a note for each class that says what requirement it is intended to meet.

Step 2. If you are a non-resident TA, AI or GRA, you must claim your resident tuition waiver in UT Direct (search for “My Tuition Waivers”).

Step 3. You must pay your bill.

  • If you don’t have a balance (zero bill), select the “Confirm Attendance” button on the My Tuition Bill site.
  • If you have a balance you must take one of the following actions on the My Tuition Bill site to complete your registration.
    • Make a Payment
    • Click the “Pay with Financial Aid” button  

Once your registration is complete, you will see a sentence on My Tuition Bill in green which states “your registration is complete and your courses are secure.” If you do not see this, you are not registered and still have an action to take.

If you fail to follow all the steps for registration during the registration window your fellowships may be significantly delayed. This is particularly true for the spring semester. In other words, if your rent is due on Jan 1st, failure to register on time means that you may not have any money. Your fellowships will not disburse until you have paid your bill and completed your registration. 

How do I register for AFR 396: Conference Course in Black Studies?

To register for AADS Conference course(s), complete the required conference course form, have it signed by the instructor or your primary advisor, and submit it to the Graduate Coordinator for processing during the regular registration period.

 

If you have taken all the courses required for your doctoral program of work, and your registration for conference courses serves solely as a “placeholder” because you have applied for candidacy and your application has not been approved, state that on the conference course form, provide the number of credit hours requested (3, 6 or 9), indicate the grade is CR, and provide the name of your dissertation supervisor on the instructor line. Once your application for candidacy has been approved by the Graduate School, we may be able to drop the conference course/s and replace the credits with dissertation hours if the candidacy is approved before the end of the semester.

How do I register for dissertation hours?

If you have advanced to candidacy you must register for dissertation hours. Students who have registered for dissertation hours in past terms are automatically registered for dissertation hours in subsequent terms; however, it is wise to double-check your registration each term to make sure that your dissertation hours are correct. If this is your first time registering for dissertation hours, email the Graduate Coordinator for assistance.

I need to be registered as a full-time student. What is considered full-time?

The Graduate School at The University of Texas at Austin recognizes nine semester hours during a long session semester and three hours during a summer session as a minimum full-time course load. Students on TA/GRA/AI appointments, and who have Graduate School-administered fellowships and scholarships, must be registered as full-time students.

 

Agencies that grant loans or provide for educational funding may establish different definitions of full-time status. Students should be familiar with the regulations of any agency to which they have an obligation.

Certification of full-time status, when needed, is provided by the Office of the Registrar.

Grades and Credit

What is the minimum GPA required for graduation?

To graduate, all students must have a graduate grade-point (GPA) average of at least 3.00. (An individual Graduate Studies Committee may set GPA requirements of 3.00 or higher for all or a portion of their students’ coursework.) The GPA includes all graduate courses and upper-division undergraduate courses in which the student earns a letter grade while he or she is enrolled in the Graduate School. Additional information about Grades and Credit is available on the Graduate School website.

How many courses with grades of Credit/No Credit can be applied toward my program?

At most, 20 percent of the hours on the master’s Program of Work may have been taken on the Credit/No Credit basis, and no more than a comparable portion of the Program of Work for a doctoral degree. The 20 percent Credit/No Credit limitation does not include dissertation, treatise, thesis, report or master’s recital courses. Additional information about Grades and Credit is available on the Graduate School website.

I received a grade of Incomplete. How long do I have to complete the course?

If a student does not complete all the assignments in a course before the end of the course, the instructor may report work incomplete (X) to the Office of the Registrar in place of a grade. 

 

The student must then complete the course requirements by the last class day in his or her next long-session semester of enrollment.  If the deadlines are not met, the X is converted to an I—permanent incomplete. 

Can grades of incomplete affect my federal student aid?

Yes! Students who do not receive a satisfactory grade in at least one of their semester’s courses risk losing that semester’s federal student aid. If you are unable to submit documentation of a satisfactory grade in at least one course to the Office of Financial Aid:
  • You will be considered unofficially withdrawn.
  • You will be billed for the financial aid you received and will need to pay it back.
  • You will not be able to receive future federal funding or re-enroll at UT until this debt is paid.

If academic activity cannot be proven through the 60% point of the semester, the financial aid office must cancel and return all or a portion of funds released to you for the semester per federal regulations. For more information, contact financial aid at Texas One Stop.

Qualifying Exams - QE pt. I and QE pt. II 

How do I sit for the Qualifying Exam?

The AADS QE consists of a written component and an oral component.

Written (QE pt. I). To prepare for the written component (QE pt. I), which usually takes place in the fall semester, you will register for AFR 397 Literature Review. The written component (QE pt. I) consists of:
  1. Three 60-80 text reading lists;
  2. Three 3000 to 6000-word essays (one for each list) providing a framework for and engaging the texts in the list, and discussing the relevance of the list and its key texts to the dissertation project;
  3. One course syllabus for each list, with at least one suitable for a survey course, and at least one suitable for an upper-division seminar or graduate course.

Oral (QE pt. II). In the following spring semester, you will register for AFR 395Q: Qualifying Exam Prep and sit for a two-hour oral examination during which the committee will pose questions about the written materials and the student’s overall comprehension of the three reading lists. 

You should complete the appropriate QE form (QE pt. I or QE pt. II) and submit it to the Graduate Coordinator 2 weeks prior to each part of your exam so that it can be routed to your committee for signatures through DocuSign.

When you have completed all of your coursework, passed both parts of your qualifying exam, and written an approved dissertation prospectus, you will apply for candidacy and officially become a doctoral candidate.

Who should be on my QE Candidacy Committee?

Your Candidacy committee will oversee your Qualifying Exam in the fall semester and approve your prospectus in the following spring semester. The Candidacy Committee must consist of five individuals including:
  • The student’s faculty supervisor
  • Three UT-Austin GSC faculty members, at least two of which must be members of the AADS GSC.
  • At least one committee member from outside the AADS GSC.

It is important that you carefully choose your candidacy committee as this committee will also be your doctoral defense committee.

Additional details and information about advancing to candidacy are available in the Graduate Handbook and on the Graduate School website.

Advancing to Candidacy

I have passed both parts of my QE exam. How do I officially apply for candidacy?

You will apply to the Graduate School to advance to candidacy after you have:
  • Completed all required Ph.D. coursework;
  • Completed an informal program of work audit with the Graduate Coordinator;
  • Successfully completed your qualifying exams (typically in their 2nd or 3rd year);
  • Received candidacy committee approval for their prospectus.

After you have completed the QE pt. II, the Degree Candidacy Application must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School electronically

My application to advance to candidacy is pending approval. What do I register for?

If you have completed both your QE pt. I and QE pt. II exams, and submitted the electronic Degree Candidacy Application you should register for AFR 396: Conference Course in Black Studies while you are awaiting approval of your application for candidacy. The Conference Course form must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator during the regular registration period. If the electronic Degree Candidacy Application is approved before the end of the semester, the Graduate Coordinator will drop the Conference Course and replace it with Dissertation Hours. Additional information about Conference Course registration is available in these FAQs.

I am in candidacy and have taken the required number of dissertation hours. Must I continue to register?

Yes, continuous registration is required by the university. Once you have been admitted to candidacy for a doctoral degree, registration in the dissertation course, the equivalent, or International Independent Study and Research is required. The _99W course must be registered for continuously during the spring and fall semesters until the degree is completed. The “_” represents the number of credits in the dissertation course – 3, 6 or 9. For example, a 9 credit AFR dissertation section will be listed as AFR 999W while a 3 credit AFR dissertation section will be AFR 399W.

Graduation

Master's Graduates

I have completed the AADS master’s degree requirements. How do I apply for M.A. graduation?

Step 1. If you expect to complete your degree during a given semester, file to graduate by submitting the Master’s Graduation Application form online. The form must be completed and submitted during the appropriate time period: Late graduation applications are not accepted. Students who miss the graduation deadline will need to apply to graduate in the next term.

 

Step 2. All students must be registered in their final graduating semester. Thesis Option students must be registered in 698B and Report Option students must be registered in 398R to submit a graduation application.

Step 3. Students must upload the thesis or report to TDL and submit all final paperwork to the Graduate School BEFORE submitting the required pages.

Step 4. Required pages.

Additional information, including deadlines and submission instructions, is on the Graduate School website.

I tried to apply for master’s graduation but the system returned an error code. What do I need to do?

The UT system allows students to be admitted to one (1) degree program at a time, i.e. the M.A. or the Ph.D. but not both. Students who receive errors when they apply to graduate are usually not admitted in the degree program for which they are applying to graduate, e.g. students on the system coded as Ph.D. students are trying to graduate with the M.A. and vice versa.

To correct the error, students must:

  1. Complete the ApplyTexas online application and apply for admission into the desired degree.
  2. There is no need to pay the application fee, or to provide GREs scores, writing statements, recommendations, etc.
  3. A transcript fee is charged to cover the cost of transmitting your unofficial transcripts to the graduate admissions office.

PhD Graduates

What are the deadlines if I plan to graduate with my PhD this semester?

Students should visit the following website for Digital Submission Requirements and Graduation Deadlines & Submission Instructions. Please note that you *must* apply to graduate and to schedule your dissertation defense with the Graduate School or you will not receive your degree.

I tried to go online and apply to graduate with my PhD degree but the system returned an error code. What do I need to do?

The UT system allows students to be admitted to one (1) degree program at a time, i.e. the M.A. or the Ph.D. but not both. Students who receive errors when they apply to graduate are usually not admitted in the degree program for which they are applying to graduate, i.e.. students on the system coded as M.A. students are trying to graduate with the Ph.D. and vice versa.

To correct the error, you must:

  1. Complete the ApplyTexas application and apply for admission into the desired degree.
  2. There is no need to pay the application fee, or to provide GREs scores, writing statements, recommendations, etc.
  3. A transcript fee is charged to cover the cost of transmitting your unofficial transcripts to the graduate admissions office.
  4. Notify the Graduate Coordinator so that the department can coordinate processing with the graduate school admissions office.

How do I schedule my final defense?

Information about scheduling your Final Oral Examination (i.e., dissertation defense), including forms and supplementary materials, is on the Graduate School's website. You should:
  • Determine a time and date for your defense.
  • Each member of your committee must receive a copy of your dissertation at least four weeks prior to your dissertation defense date.
  • You must schedule the dissertation defense with the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the defense date by completing the Request for Final Oral Examination form. All members of your committee must sign your request form indicating their intent to be present at your final oral. Your graduate adviser must also sign this form to indicate you have been approved to defend.

If you want help with signatures, submit a completed oral exam form to the Graduate Coordinator at least 2-3 weeks prior to the exam so that the form can be routed to your committee for signatures through DocuSign.

My dissertation committee has changed since I advanced to candidacy. Do I need to do anything?

Yes! Any changes to your dissertation committee need to be approved by the Graduate School. You will need to submit the Request for Change in Doctoral Committee form to the Graduate School at least 30 days before you schedule your dissertation defense. Along with the form you must submit a CV for any new committee member who is not a member of the Graduate Studies Committee.

What if I’m not sure that I’ll complete my degree this semester?

If you apply to graduate this semester, but don’t complete the requirements to receive your degree by the submission deadline, there are no consequences as far as the application for graduation is concerned. So if you’re not sure that you’ll make the deadline for this semester, go ahead and apply anyway.  Just remember that you will need to register for the dissertation course and apply for graduation again during the semester in which you intend to receive your degree. 

 

Step 1. Request for Final Oral Exam.

Complete the Request for Final Oral Examination form, have it signed by your committee, and submit it to the graduate school along with the following supplementary materials:

  • A copy of your dissertation committee membership page
  • A copy of your dissertation title page
  • A copy of your dissertation abstract page
  • A copy of your dissertation table of contents and lists of figures and tables
  • A Statement on Research with Human Participants form with IRB materials.

If you would like to route your documents via DocuSign you should send those to the Graduate Coordinator at least 2 weeks before your exam.

Step 2. Report on Doctoral Dissertation form

Within 2 weeks of their defense, doctoral students are required to submit a copy of the following pages to the Graduate School at GradStudentSvcs@austin.utexas.edu by 3 p.m. CDT on the relevant graduation deadline. All paperwork must be submitted together in one packet. Incomplete packets will not be accepted:

  • The Report of Dissertation Committee with signatures of your supervising committee - no proxy signatures allowed. ALL committee members and the GSC Chair (or representative) must sign the report. This form will be emailed to you at the time of your defense (you do not create it yourself);
  • Statement on Research with Human Participants form; and
  • Any requests to Delay Publication.

Submit the forms whether you used human participants or not. If you did use human participants, attach a copy of the IRB approval letter or waiver or exemption notification of the form.

Additional information, including deadlines and submission instructions, is on the Graduate School website.

Students who would like to route their documents via DocuSign should sent those to the Graduate Coordinator for processing.

I have completed all my graduation requirements but my degree has not been added to my transcript. Where can I get a letter certifying the degree requirements have all been met?

Students can order enrollment certifications after degrees are conferred, but before Diplomas may be received by students. Enrollment Certifications can be issued free of charge if ordered by mail, email or fax- and $5 for same day, in-person pick up at Texas One Stop.

Tuition

Where can I find information about tuition deadlines?

Tuition deadlines are set for each term.  Your registration is only complete when payment has been received. In order to avoid being "zapped" (losing your schedule and having to register all over again), be sure your bill is paid by the deadline. Even if your tuition bill is zero, you have to confirm your schedule. Detailed information about registration is contained in these FAQs.

When is my funding going to be applied to my bill?

Before we can process tuition remission and/or departmental fellowships, we must wait for CoLA to provide us with the up-to-date instructions. This means that, in many cases, the department will process tuition remission and fellowship shortly before the start of each semester (but well before the bill due date). Don’t worry. You will still have time to pay your bill and confirm your enrollment before the registration deadlines. If you have questions about the registration process, detailed registration instructions are in these FAQs. 
  • AADS “top-off.” Top-off fellowships pay each year on September 1st.
  • AADS fellowships. AADS fellowships are processed shortly before the start of each semester.
  • Non-AADS fellowships. Students with non-department fellowships will see those funds disbursed by the method described in their fellowship document. If you have questions about your outside fellowships, contact your donors directly.  
  • Federal Student Aid. If you are expecting to receive federal student aid (e.g. loans), you should be communicating with the about the disbursement of those funds.

I can't pay my bill and the registration window has nearly closed. What do I do?

If you need assistance paying your tuition bill on time, short term tuition loans are available for the remaining balance of your tuition bill. To apply, go online to Tuition Loans on UT Direct. A high assurance UT EID is required to view this page.

 

Repayment is due 30-90 days from the date the promissory note is signed, depending on how far into the semester the loan is awarded. If you have questions about this process, reach out to Texas One Stop for assistance.

What is the Tuition Reduction Benefit (TRB)?

TRB is a benefit available to students holding TA/GRA/AI appointments. Students without appointments are not eligible for TRB.

 

If you are a TA, GRA or AI, the department will process your Tuition Reduction Benefit shortly before the beginning of the term, before bills are due. Remember to claim your resident tuition waiver following the instructions in Step 2 of the Registration Steps (above) if you are a non-resident so that your TRB benefit can be applied.

I have a TA/GRA/AI appointment or am on a full fellowship. Why do I still have a bill?

In many cases, student who are on appointments but still have a bill have not claimed their resident tuition waiver. If you are a non-resident TA, AI or GRA, you must claim your resident tuition waiver (search for “My Tuition Waivers”).

Student Health Insurance

Is health insurance coverage mandatory or optional?

Domestic Students. All students are encouraged to have health insurance coverage. The Student Health Insurance Plan is an optional University of Texas System negotiated health insurance plan available to currently enrolled University of Texas at Austin students.

 

International Students. The  University of Texas Board of Regents requires all international students in a F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 visa status to have health insurance coverage which complies with the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). For this reason, enrollment in the UT Student Health Insurance Plan is automatic at the time of registration, and the cost of the policy is included in the student’s tuition and fee bill.

Insurance Waivers. Detailed information about insurance waivers for international students is on the Texas Global website.

Students with a benefits-eligible TA, AI or GRA assignment are provided UT Select staff health insurance and are eligible to waive the cost of the UT Student Health Insurance Plan. Students with TA, AI or GRA appointments should apply for a waiver online by logging into UT Direct and searching/selecting “Waive Insurance.”

Graduate students with fellowships valued at $10,000 or more are eligible to enroll in either plan, but Academic Blue is more cost effective for fellowship students since they do not receive premium sharing dollars to offset the cost of UT Select.