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Information For Current PhD Students

Please bookmark the CSE graduate program guide (Google Doc) and Course Requirements (Google Sheet) for the most up to date program information. This section provides a summary of milestones throughout the PhD process.  If you have additional questions, please reach out to the Graduate Program Office

FAQs about the PhD program in CSE

Got a question about the CSE PhD program and can’t find an answer? You might be able to find an answer to frequently asked questions below.

Guaranteed funding

What is guaranteed funding?

It is a guarantee from CSE that you will have funding to cover your tuition, health insurance, and a stipend for 5 years. The length of the guarantee changes to 4 years if you entered the PhD program with a relevant master’s degree, or 3 years if you entered the PhD program from the CSE master’s program.  This is true for both domestic and international students.

Can your advisor take it away?

Departmental fellowship funding is typically for one year (other fellowships may have longer duration) and in most cases will not be discontinued as long as the terms of the fellowship award are being met. Faculty advisors, in most cases, cannot take away fellowship funding. This funding type is reserved for some first-year PhD students.

GSRA funding is by term (4 months) and typically is not discontinued in the middle of a term. This type of funding is managed by individual faculty and it is possible for it to discontinue  in future terms if the faculty member deems it appropriate.

If your advisor determines that GSRA funding is unavailable for a term you will need to sign up to be a GSI until new funding is identified by your advisor. If this is an instance of your advisor indicating that the relationship isn’t working out and advising you to find a new advisor, you should apply for GSI funding and talk to the graduate programs coordinator immediately.

GSI funding is by term (4 months) and in most cases will not be discontinued as long as the terms of the GSI appointment are being met. Note, there is an application period for GSI funding that takes place several months before the beginning of a term so students should plan accordingly.

What if something happens in the middle of the term and you can’t get a GSI; does the department still guarantee your funding?

GSRA appointments run for an entire term so this is unlikely to happen. If it does happen it is the responsibility of your advisor to continue funding you for the remainder of the term and you are still guaranteed funding. If this happens to you please reach out to the grad programs coordinator for advice. Note, there is an application period for GSI funding that takes place several months before the beginning of a term so students should plan accordingly and apply for a GSI appointment if conversations with their advisor indicate that GSRA funding may not be available in the following term.

What happens if you do not receive a paycheck?

This shouldn’t happen.  If it does, please contact Karen Liska (liska@umich.edu).

Changing advisors

How do I change advisors?

You may have some questions, such as: How do I have a conversation about changing advisors?  Who should I talk to?  Who should help me with my concerns about changing advisors?  How do I maintain a positive relationship with my old advisor?  When is it time to switch advisors?  Does my current advisor want me to find a new advisor?  What do I do if my advisor wants to go in a technical direction that is different from my current research plan?  Is the funding still guaranteed while searching for a new advisor? How much time do I have to search for a new advisor? What happens to the prelim while I’m in the middle of switching advisors? What if my advisor tells other advisors not to accept me as a student? 

Detailed information about changing advisors can be found on this page.

Logistically, you will submit this form, completed and signed by your old and new advisors, to the graduate programs office.

Am I allowed to have a primary advisor outside of CSE?

Yes, however, a CSE faculty must be found to act as an academic advisor. This will help to make sure that you remain aware of CSE’s milestones and procedures. The academic advisor may also act as a research co-advisor, but this is not a requirement. More information may be found in the CSE Graduate Programs Guide (Google Doc).

Mental health and wellness resources

Where can I find mental health resources?

To see a listing of U-M on-campus resources for concerns related to mental health issues, visit the University Health Services Resources for Stress and Mental Health page. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is also a great resource for students.

Conflict mediation

During the course of your time in the program, you may have a concern or conflict arise within your lab. While it is normal to have differences of opinion when working with others, it is important to know who to reach out to when you’re unsure of how to resolve a situation. We encourage students to reach out to the Graduate Programs Office and/or the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies to seek assistance, as we are here to offer support and resources for CSE graduate students. Other resources on Conflict Resolution and Student Grievances are offered through Rackham Graduate School, and we encourage students to utilize these confidential resources.

Students who are interested in a safe and confidential resource regarding conflict or other challenges should also consider reaching out to Rackham’s Graduate Student and Program Consultation Services.

What if I still have questions?

We are happy to talk with you about any of your questions. Please contact the Graduate Programs Office for further information or for suggestions of others with whom you can discuss your situation.

If after browsing this list and the resources on this website you still have a question you may submit it via this Google form.

Additional resources for current students