• When in Doubt...
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Dissertator Status

Where do I find general introductory information about the Wisconsin School of Business and the university?

You will receive an “Orientation Guide” via mail prior to the semester of matriculation. This useful booklet contains much of what you need to know to get acquainted with your new school and the UW campus. It also contains useful information that extends beyond the campus to the City of Madison and the many resources available to you. You may also wish to utilize the following web locations for extensive information about:

To whom should I go for answers to questions about my program?

Your primary resource will be Belle Heberling, Assistant Director of Research Programs and Ph.D. Coordinator, (Room 3115 Grainger Hall, 262-3749, bheberling@bus.wisc.edu). Belle is your primary liaison with the Graduate School and should probably be your first stop when you cannot find an easy answer online. You may also contact Phil Miller (3115 Grainger Hall, 265-5105, pjmiller@bus.wisc.edu) with questions of a general academic nature.

When you have questions relating to your academic department, your major, degree requirements, or course-related questions, always check with your departmental advisor. That individual must sign off on course choices and other academic and research matters relating to your degree.

How do I know what dates are important?

It is important that you become familiar with the academic calendar and with dates that are significant on your way to degree completion. In general, any forms or requests related to prelims and defenses should be completed three to four weeks in advance. Because the Graduate School is actually your “school of record”, the Ph.D. Programs Office needs as much time as possible to route all paperwork through appropriate channels. Always ask in advance and double check that things are in order so that you may avoid costly penalties or additional tedious appeal hurdles for yourself and your advisor. The staff of the school does its best to look out for you, but ultimately you, the degree student, are responsible for completing all required forms and actions.

How do I choose my research emphasis and dissertation topic?

In addition to academic coursework and independent reading and research undertaken during your initial years in the program, you will participate in departmental seminars (both in your own department and possibly in others), faculty presentations, guest lectures and presentations, attendance at conferences, and other activities designed to facilitate development of a suitable topic for original research. We urge you to check calendars diligently for opportunities throughout the school and across the campus. Critical relationships that will assist you in this process should be cultivated with your academic advisor, with other faculty members in your own or in complementing departments, and your peers in the Ph.D. Program, whether dissertators or non-dissertators. Discuss your ideas and interests with faculty members and seek out their opinions and guidance. Ultimately, you are looking for a faculty member who will chair your dissertation committee. This may or may not be the advisor to whom you were assigned upon entry into the program.

How do I "get cleared" for registration?

After you meet with your department’s Ph.D. advisor (see list below), you will be eligible to register. You should already have set up your NetID and obtained access to the University’s Online Registration System. Once you register, you are eligible to obtain your UW ID card (see http://www.union.wisc.edu/photoid/ for more information).

  • Accounting — Hollis A. Skaife
  • Risk and Insurance — Joan Schmit
  • Finance and Investment Banking — Bjorn Eraker
  • Management and Human Resources — Charlie Trevor
  • Marketing — Dr. Joann Peck
  • Operations and Information Management — Greg DeCroix
  • Real Estate and Urban Land Economics — Abdullah Yavas

How do I know if I am making satisfactory progress toward my degree objective?

Each year, customarily after the completion of the spring semester, each department administers a written review of its Ph.D. students. In that letter, students receive explicit feedback on their progress and an indication of whether their progress is satisfactory or not. Copies of these letters become a part of the student’s permanent file. Failure to meet satisfactory progress standards may lead to the student being placed on academic probation and, ultimately, may lead to the student being dismissed from the degree program. It is important that students maintain an ongoing dialog with advisors and other departmental faculty in order to be aware of perceptions regarding their level of progress throughout the duration of the program.

What should I do when I am in doubt about a policy, process, or procedure?

We expect our students, as mature adult learners pursuing a degree that is largely “independent study,” to take responsibility for knowing what is needed and then achieving it. However, do not hesitate to let others know when you need clarification, guidance and support.

What does it mean to be a dissertator?

Dissertator status is conferred by the Graduate School upon successful completion of the preliminary exam. After confirmation of successful completion of prelims is filed with the Graduate School, you will receive formal notification that you are classified as a dissertator. You are then expected to engage in full time research to produce your dissertation. You will be informed about the minimum dissertation credit load requirement and tuition charge. You MUST maintain registration in every subsequent fall and spring semester as a dissertator or face enormous financial penalties as a result of failure to do so. Fellowships, TA/PA appointments, or other stipend packages for most Ph.D. students cover the cost of dissertator status, just as they do for non-dissertators. However, any penalties incurred by failing to meet registration requirements are borne by the student, not the university, the school, or the department. If, after completing your prelims, you do not hear of your official change in status to dissertator prior to registration for the following term, contact Belle Heberling (Ph.D. Coordinator) to verify that all proper steps have been taken and that you are in the correct status!

What is required for the preliminary exam?

Every department has a different standard and practice for this important step in the achievement of the Ph.D. It customarily occurs at the end of the third year of Ph.D. study. You should talk at length with your advisor (and other faculty members) about the nature of the preliminary exam in your respective department. What are their expectations; what activities will you undergo; how are you evaluated; what happens upon completion of the prelim, from the department’s perspective. Regardless of how your department approaches the prelim, all Ph.D. students are required to do several things prior to becoming a dissertator (the status achieved upon successful completion of prelims). When you are preparing for prelims, be sure to notify Belle Heberling at least four weeks ahead of the scheduled date as certain forms must be prepared, signed by specific individuals, and filed.

After becoming a dissertator, may I register for academic course credits?

Rules of the Graduate School normally prohibit registration for course credit once dissertator status has been achieved. If there are any courses or seminars you wish to take for academic credit (and wish to show on your transcript as such) you should register for them prior to becoming a dissertator. While you will not be permitted to “back out” of dissertator status for a semester to take a desired course, there may be unique circumstances under which you may be permitted to register for variable credit seminars after becoming a dissertator. Please contact the Ph.D. Office for further information about this situation.

What happens when I complete my dissertation?

There are a number of prescribed steps for defense and filing of the dissertation prior to conferral of the degree. This is an important and frequently stressful time in your life. You do not need added surprises, last–minute hassles, or unnecessary delays in any steps at this time. It is critical that you familiarize yourself with everyone’s expectations: your dissertation committee’s; the school’s; and the Graduate School’s.

Two very useful Graduate School online resources are:

Once again, be sure to stop by and talk with Belle Heberling (Ph.D. Coordinator) well in advance of your impending defense (at least four to six weeks). She will ensure that all of the deadlines are on your calendar and all arrangements are in order.