Milestones Agreement Form:
UT System Board of Regents Approved Mandate

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See the Degree Plans: Milestones, Timelines & Requirements page to see links to completed program documents.

Latest version of Timeline - Program Requirements / Options form (pdf)
The best way to complete the form is to download it from your browser to your desktop and then open the form using Adobe Acrobat Reader (free reader) or Adobe Acrobat Pro (application). When you have completed the form, go to File > Save As > and save the file under a different name (preferably "degreecodeID.pdf"). Then you can attach that document to an email sent to julie.meyer@austin.utexas.edu. This method will prevent any issues common to browser handling of pdf documents or caused by direct submit using the "submit" button. There are known issues using the Google Chrome browser and Firefox handles pdfs differently based on the version of Firefox you are using and any plugins you use related to Firefox. If Safari uses Adobe Acrobat you will be okay but some of the newer versions use "Preview" to view the page and will submit your document with blank form fields. The "Submit" button has been removed from the document to prevent users from submitting the form directly from their browsers as we have found this damages the form fields. Thanks for your patience.

Background

In 2011, Chancellor Cigarroa committed to address Ph.D. students' time-to-completion in his Framework for Advancing Excellence throughout The University of Texas System. The Milestone Agreement Form is the result of a task force of graduate deans formed in response to Cigarroa's call to shorten the time to Ph.D. completion.

Further information about the Framework and the Milestone Agreement can be found at the following links:
https://www.utsystem.edu/sites/utsfiles/speeches-and-statements/Cigarroa-advancing-excellence-may2011.pdf
http://www.utsystem.edu/sites/utsfiles/news/assets/FrameworkActionPlan-08-25-11.pdf
http://www.utsystem.edu/news/2012/11/15/new-agreement-phd-students-shorten-time-degree-completion
The template approved by UT System can be found on their Web site (pdf). 
https://www.utsystem.edu/sites/utsfiles/offices/academic-affairs/forms/MilestonesAgreementForm.pdf

On November 15, 2012 the Board of Regents approved use of a standard, system-wide Milestone Agreement Form template to be tailored for each doctoral program’s unique requirements.  The purpose of the form is to provide students with a timeline and list of academic milestones to be met while earning their Ph.D. degrees.

Starting Fall 2013, students seeking a Ph.D. at UT System institutions will sign, with their departments, agreements providing the expected timelines for the attainment of their academic milestones and graduation.

UT Austin's Implementation

Key features of the Graduate School’s plan to implement this mandate are:

  • Identify a general list of milestones that can be applied and tracked for all UT doctoral programs.
  • Use of on-line tools versus a paper document – not only is this a “green” approach to meeting this mandate, but it will better facilitate easier access, updating, tracking and reporting.  
  • Provide advising aids that detail the requirements and provide a timeline with a list of milestones to be met in obtaining each degree. 
  • A method of tracking milestone attainment. 
  • The advising aids, milestones, and anticipated timelines for each degree plan will be available for current as well as prospective graduate students; tracking for individual students will be available to the students, their graduate advisers and graduate coordinators.
  • Create an electronic signature page to verify that the graduate adviser and student have reviewed the advising materials.
  • Timeline for implementation
    • March 2013 – post information about Framework on Graduate School Web site; post milestones
    • March to May - modify EASI GCD to accommodate the display and tracking of milestones
    • May / June – testing and training
    • July – programs create a Degree Plan ID (if not currently available) and supply timeline and degree requirement information on each PhD plan in their program; Graduate School provides milestone training
    • August – Graduate School will post milestones, timelines, degree requirements on its Web site, continue milestone training
    • Fall 2013 – implementation begins with advising of incoming students

Degree Plan ID

In order to coordinate the milestones, timelines and degree requirements with particular degree plans or areas of study within a degree plan, we will need all programs to have unique Degree Plan IDs.  A Degree Plan ID consists of five parts (e.g., US History HIS990USD20132) with the first two and last two parts easily defined, leaving only the area of work code in the middle as unique to identify different tracks within the same degree program. Approximately 30% of our graduate programs already have unique IDs, for those that do not:

  • the EASI GCD Degree Plan Maintenance function will automatically generate the unique Degree Plan ID when the graduate adviser or graduate coordinator creates a Degree Plans for PhD degrees in EASI
  • the display of Degree Plans in EASI will be modified to display the Degree Plan ID, and
  • the Degree Plan ID should be included on each form describing a particular degree plan.

We will be providing further information later (probably in June) on when to create a unique Degree Plan ID if your program does not already have one. 

The advising tools will be available on the Graduate School Web site for both current and prospective students, while the tracking for individual students will be done using the GCD within EASI so both the students and their advisers have ready access to this information.  Electronic signatures will be captured to track the progress of each student.

Milestones

The first step was to identify a common set of milestones that were common landmarks along the degree path for all of our nearly 100 PhD programs.  In practice, because of variations that result due to “areas of study” within a given PhD program, there will be several hundred sets of timelines associated with meeting these milestones.  The Table below shows the milestones as recommended in the template provided by the UT System and those we have agreed are the milestones that we want to track at UT Austin.  Each program will be asked to furnish the recommended timeline for meeting these milestones and programs have the option to add additional area specific milestones that they want to track (e.g. satisfying an internship requirement, etc.).  Note that the majority of the nine milestones listed are already tracked within the current administrative system.

Milestones with anticipated timeline for completion (example show below is for a PhD in History)

Milestones: Timeline Illustration for PhD Students in History: Degree Plan ID: HIS990USD20132

UT System Template List UT Austin Milestones Expected Time of Achievement
  First semester enrolled into program  
Review of student's progress with (adviser, doctoral studies committee - program specific method should be noted here) Review degree requirements and milestones agreement form with adviser First semester
Successful completion of oral and/or written qualifying exam Successful completion of all exams (oral and/or written) needed to advance to candidacy End of 3rd year (before beginning of 7th semester)
Coursework successfully completed Complete all required coursework End of 2nd year
Dissertation Committee appointed and approved by Graduate School Advancement to candidacy 4th year
Dissertation proposal completed and approved
Student admitted to doctoral candidacy
Research protocols and/or IRB approval (as applicable) IRB (human) / IACUC (animal) approvals (if needed) Beginning of 4th year
Dissertation completed, successfully defended, and approved by committee Dissertation/treatise (or equivalent) completed, successfully defended, and approved by committee End of 5th (or 6th) year
Student completes and files all paperwork required for graduation Student completes and files all paperwork required for graduation End of 5th (or 6th) year
Dissertation accepted by Graduate School Dissertation/treatise (or equivalent) accepted by Graduate School End of 5th (or 6th) year
Exit interview completed and submitted to Survey of Earned Doctorates Exit interview completed and submitted to Survey of Earned Doctorates End of 5th (or 6th) year
Other program specific requirements Other program specific requirements  
Other program specific requirements Other program specific requirements  


Degree Requirements / Steps

Another component of the advising tools will be to compile a detailed list of typical requirements / optional steps involved in reaching each degree or each area of study within each degree. Each program will be surveyed to select its degree requirements / optional steps from a comprehensive list of degree requirements (see the current list of degree requirements /options). In order to make the list as broad as possible, contact Marv Hackert if your program has additional degree requirements or options to add to the comprehensive list.

Tracking

This will be done via the Graduate Coordinator Desktop tools in EASI.  A Degree Plan ID will be added and modifications made to enable tracking of when milestones are attained.  While a few of the milestone dates will have to be entered by the graduate advisers or graduate coordinators, the majority of these dates will be added programmatically by the Graduate School.

Training

The Graduate School will provide training sessions for graduate advisers and coordinators on the Milestones Agreement Form and its implementation in early summer, and additional details will be provided on this Web site as they become available.

See March 26, 2013 presentation to the Graduate Coordinator Network.

See April 30, 2013 presentation to the Graduate Coordinator Netowrk.

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