For current grad students

General Graduate Student Responsibilities

It is important to note that the department has clear expectations for all graduate students, in addition to making adequate progress toward (and eventually completing) the Master’s Degree. The following are general graduate student responsibilities:

  • Attend classes and be in contact with professors regularly
  • Complete all assignments, papers, and exams for classes
  • Resolve incompletes within two semesters
  • Choose a thesis or comprehensive track (and stick to it!)
  • Be available for NMSU and departmental communication
  • Use NMSU email addresses at all times
  • Be respectful with fellow students, faculty, and staff
  • Follow up with any outstanding assignments in a timely manner
  • Participate in departmental opportunities and events
  • File all necessary paperwork for theses, exams, and graduation
  • Practice professional communication at all times
  • Complete a departmental progress report each semester
  • Problematize, contextualize, synthesize, analyze, articulate, dialogue,critique, and argue in all academic efforts
  • Report issues and concerns directly to the Department Head
  • Be the best graduate student possible

All graduate students can use one of the offices designated for graduate student use as a quiet space to study, prepare for class, use computers, or print assignments. Check with the Director of Graduate Studies for which offices are available, and please be respectful of fellow students and faculty in close proximity.

Departmental Graduate Student Progress Reports

Graduate students (both on-campus and online) are responsible for submitting a “Graduate Student Progress Report” at the end of each semester. The progress report documents a student’s progress in completing core course requirements and additional coursework, progress in either the thesis track or comprehensive exam track, completion of GA duties for the semester, and documents any engagement in professional activities. Failure to submit a progress report by the last official day of the semester may result in a hold being placed on course registration or delay the filing of graduation. Progress reports are not needed for summer sessions.

Sociology Graduate Student Organization

The Sociology Graduate Student Organization (SGSO) is a university-sanctioned organization for sociology graduate students. The SGSO is a great way to meet and socialize with fellow colleagues, participate in university/local service, and obtain funding for research and academic conferences. The SGSO usually meets bi-weekly, and has both organizational and social meetings. Officers are elected each semester, and the SGSO is open to both on-campus and online students who wish to attend.

Graduate Student Forms

All Graduate School forms (Application for Degree, Examination Fee Form, Request for Transfer of Credit, Thesis/Dissertation Intake, Degree Audit Exception, Course Exception, STAR Degree Audit) are available on the Graduate School website:

All Department of Sociology forms (Graduate Student Progress Report, Comprehensive Exam Registration Form, Master’s Thesis Proposal Approval Form, Master’s Thesis Defense Form, Graduate Assistant Application Form, Graduate Assistant/Faculty Contract Agreement, GA/Faculty Evaluation Form) are available in the department’s administrative office, through the Director of Graduate Studies, and on the Department of Sociology Graduate Program website:

General Policies for Current Graduate Students

The NMSU Graduate Catalogue has detailed policies regarding adding/dropping courses, auditing courses, substitutions and waivers, challenging graduate courses, changes in registration, residency requirements, leaves of absence, appeals, student behavior, and general requirements for all graduate students enrolled at New Mexico State University. Please access the most current graduate catalogue for general policies on graduate students online at:

Graduate Assistantships

Current students interested in being considered for a GAship should also fill out a “Graduate Assistant Application Form” by March 15th for a Fall GAship or October 15th for a Spring GAship. Current Graduate Assistants do not need to reapply for future GAships but should inform the Graduate Director that they wish to be considered for subsequent semesters. Please note that renewal of a GAship is not guaranteed.

The Department considers a number of factors in awarding and renewing GAships, such as a graduate student’s overall GPA, graduate coursework, professional conduct, progress toward degree completion, faculty evaluations of GA work and effort, number of outstanding incompletes, thesis proposal approval, and comprehensive exam timeline.

The Director of Graduate Studies works with the Department Head to award GAships, allocate hours, and assign GAs to faculty within the department each semester. GA assignments may stay the same from semester to semester, or they may change based on the needs of the department, faculty, or GA. NMSU policy states that graduate students can be funded for no more than four semesters.

Graduate Assistantship Responsibilities and Duties

NMSU requires that all Graduate Assistants complete a university-wide orientation, which is usually held by the Graduate School a few days before classes begin in fall semester. The Department of Sociology also requires all Graduate Assistants participate in a departmental GA training session, held by the Director of Graduate Studies. Failure to participate in both these orientation training sessions may result in a student losing a GAship.

Graduate Assistantships start the week before classes and end when final grades are turned in (usually the Tuesday after finals week). GAs must be geographically present to begin the semester during the week before classes, and are responsible for contacting the faculty member to initiate a meeting before classes begin. GAs must also be geographically present at the end of the semester until grades are turned in and the faculty member no longer needs the GA to complete course duties.

Graduate Assistants are required to complete a “Faculty/Graduate Assistant Contract” with their assigned faculty member at the start of each new semester. This will allow both the student and the faculty member to exchange contact information, clarify expectations, and resolve any issues before classes begin. Contracts must be turned in to the Director of Graduate Studies by the end of the second week of classes. At the end of the semester, both GAs and faculty members will complete an evaluation of the work experience.

The norms for each GA are different since the expectations and needs of each faculty are different. The faculty to whom the GA is assigned should discuss the requirements of the position while completing the faculty/graduate assistant contract. All GAs in the Department of Sociology are expected to:

  • Provide instructional support for faculty
  • Grade assignments, exams, and papers
  • Hold at least 1 office hour per week
  • Be present in class/lecture (as requested)
  • Tutor students
  • Proctor exams (as requested)
  • Serve as a conduit between students and the professor
  • Attend to bureaucratic responsibilities in a timely manner
  • Set a positive example for others
  • Complete contracts with assigned faculty
  • Experience an evaluation process each semester
  • Be the best graduate student possible

Professional Communication Expectations

The department expects all graduate students to behave professionally in the classroom (on-campus and virtual), around departmental offices, and at department and university-sponsored events. Thanks to a technologically savvy, social media-centered culture, students should also be aware that they are representatives of NMSU and the Department of Sociology even when they are not in classes, on university property, or engaging in graduate program duties. Online photos, discussions, comments, and the like reflect on both the student as well as the university. Students should actively engage in professional communication on the telephone, in person, and over email between faculty, staff, and fellow students. Graduate students are advised to report any issues, concerns, or any experiences with hostility, harassment, or inappropriate interactions within the department directly to the Department Head.

Outstanding Graduate Student Awards

The department celebrates the accomplishments of sociology graduate students at the end of each semester through Outstanding Graduate Student Awards. Faculty are asked to submit written nominations to the Director of Graduate Studies for each award. Recipients are honored with a certificate at the year-end departmental celebration.

 Outstanding Graduate Student Scholarship: This award recognizes a graduate student who demonstrates achievement in scholarship, which may include the student’s own research, thesis, participation in collaborative research, writing, presentations, publications, or creative work accomplished while in the department.

Outstanding Graduate Student Service: This award recognizes a graduate student who demonstrates significant contribution to the department. Significant activities might include informal or formal help to other students, organizing events, mentoring students, or public activities bringing favorable attention to the department and NMSU.

Outstanding Graduate Assistant: This award recognizes a graduate student who excels with GA duties in the department. This may include advanced course support, positive interactions with students, efforts to improve teaching, or innovative contributions to teaching and curricula.

Important Deadlines for Master’s Students

Below is a list of important departmental and university deadlines. These deadlines are the responsibility of the student, and should be discussed with the student’s advisor and/or thesis chair when necessary. Specific university dates and deadlines are updated annually and can be found on the Graduate School website:

Students are responsible for locating and submitting all forms indicated below. Forms that are required by the Graduate School or Graduate Student Services can be found on the Graduate Student Services website:

Forms that are required by the Department of Sociology can be found in the Department’s main office or on the department’s graduate student website:

Thesis Track Deadlines (all forms are indicated in bold italics)

1)       File the Master’s Thesis Proposal Approval Form by October 31st to be considered for Spring/Summer thesis defense, or by April 30th to be considered for Fall thesis defense. This form is completed during the Master’s Thesis Proposal Approval Meeting and filed with the Department of Sociology.

2)       File for graduation using the Application for Degree with the registrar’s office (myNMSU) within one week of starting the final semester of study.

3)       File the Master’s Final Examination Form at least 10 working days before the thesis defense with Graduate Student Services. Verify thesis defense deadlines by semester/academic year with the Graduate School.

4)       Hold the thesis defense by the deadline established through the Graduate School.

5)       Complete the Thesis Intake Form to submit with the thesis for review to the Graduate School.

6)       Submit three required copies of the thesis to the Branson Library by the deadline set through the Graduate School.

7)       Submit one required copy of the thesis to the Department of Sociology by the last day of finals in the graduating semester.

8)       Complete a STAR Degree Audit verifying that all departmental and university requirements have been satisfied.

Comprehensive Exam Track Deadlines (all forms are indicated in bold italics)

1)       File the Comprehensive Exam Registration Form at the beginning of the exam semester, and no later than one month prior to the exam date. This form is filed with the Department of Sociology.

2)       If not enrolled in at least 1 credit during the exam semester, file the Examination Fee Form and pay the fee no later than one month prior to the exam date with Graduate Student Services.

3)       Complete a STAR Degree Audit verifying that all departmental and university requirements have been satisfied.