The faculty conducts an annual review of progress for each graduate student. As of 2024 part of this process requires all Allen School doctoral students to create an Individual Development Plan (IDP), discuss the plan with their faculty advisor(s), and report these activities to the Allen School Review of Progress Committee (RPC) annually.  (The IDP is very similar to the ROP forms we utilized prior to 2024, but addresses NIH guidelines and upcoming NSF guidelines encouraging institutions to document the use of Individual Development Plans for all graduate students and postdocs funded under these grants). Those who have created an IDP in a previous year should review and update their IDP for the upcoming academic year. Annual updates to IDPs are important for each student to review their own progress to see if personal and professional goals are being met and to plan for the next year. Additionally, the Allen School hopes that this process will facilitate regular discussions throughout the year between student and advisor(s) about progress, goals, and expectations.

The creation and annual review of an IDP complements the role of the faculty advisor(s) for each student. The faculty advisor(s) help the student prepare a plan of study both in coursework and in research. The Review of Progress Committee (RPC)’s role in this process is to assess whether or not the student is progressing in a timely manner through the milestones of the program: the Qualifying Evaluation, the General Examination, and the Final Exam/Dissertation defense. Ultimately, it is the student's responsibility to make the progress necessary to achieve their goals in the graduate program.

Students should be aware that there is no ideal schedule for progress through the program. There is a great deal of variation depending on the student's background, the particular course of study, and personal circumstances. The RPC is sensitive to this variation. Students with an RA, TA, or Fellowship are required to be full-time in the PhD program. Students are also required to make satisfactory progress to remain in the program and such progress is expected to be consistent with a full-time focus on research and education work.

See also the UW Graduate School’s guidelines for developing Individual Development Plans.

The Review of Progress Process

  1. Each Ph.D. student completes their Individual Development Plan (IDP) within the CSE Review of Progress Tool. The IDP form includes a self-assessment of progress and a brief plan for the next year. Optionally students can choose to complete the following additional sections:
    • Confidential sections which students can use to convey concerns better addressed by the School.
    • Feedback for their faculty advisor(s) which will be anonymously included in their annual review.
    • Feedback about the CSE Review of Progress process.
  2. Faculty advisor(s) are notified by email when a student completes final submission of their IDP form.
  3. Each student then meets with their advisor(s) or temporary advisor(s) before the end of April, to discuss the progress made during the previous year and the plans for the future. The faculty advisor(s) should be sure that the student has completed the IDP form before the meeting as a basis for the discussion.
  4. The faculty advisor(s) will then provide their overall assessment of the student's academic progress to the RPC by the end of the review period.
  5. The RPC will meet shortly thereafter to review student self-assessments and faculty reviews. Feedback from the RPC in the form of a letter viewable in the CSE Review of Progress Tool should be provided to each student before the beginning of summer quarter.

Faculty advisors are asked to provide an assessment of student progress by selecting one of five (5) options. This assessment will appear in a Review of Progress letter refereced above, typically released in the CSE Review of Progress Tool by the start of summer quarter. 

An explanation of these options is outlined below:

Student is performing at the top of their cohort, well above academic and research expectations.
Exceeding Expectations
Student is exceeding academic and research expectations.
Meeting Expectations
Student is meeting academic and research expectations.
Requiring Improvement
Student is meeting academic or research expectations in part, but improvement in some areas is necessary. Review of Progress letter must outline points of concern and expectations for improvement.
Student is not meeting academic or research expectations. Advisor has serious concerns about ability to successfully complete the Ph.D. Review of Progress letter must outline points of concern and expectations for improvement.

If an advisor selects "Requiring Improvements" or "Unsatisfactory" they must include in the Review of Progress letter specific feedback about why and advice on how the student can improve. The contents of the Review of Progress Letter are not visible to anyone outside the Review of Progress Committee, the listed advisor(s), and the student. The RPC is interested in this information as a means of encouraging communication about progress between students and advisors and to help highlight any situations that may need additional support.

Review of Progress is a great time to make sure your advisor(s) are correct in the department database. The Allen School assigns what we call a temporary advisor to all new Ph.D. students. The temporary advisor has administrative, advising/research advising, and mentoring roles. As much as possible, we try to match students to faculty who share their research interests. Temporary advisors often become permanent advisors at some point within the first few years of the program. That being said, this designation is identified as “temporary” on purpose in order to allow for flexibility.

To formally change a listed advisor, please complete this Advisor Change Form. The Graduate Advising Team will confirm the request, and make the change in the advising database.

The RPC, in consultation with the student's advisor(s), may issue an internal departmental warning based on the following:

1. Academic Performance and Progress

All students are expected by the UW Graduate School to maintain of a minimum GPA of 3.0 cumulatively and for every quarter of coursework. Computation is based only on courses numbered 400-599; courses graded I, S/NS, and CR/NC are excluded, as are the 600-800 series.

Note that part of the Ph.D. Qualfying Evaluation covers coursework. Most students who demonstrate academic excellence by their course grades will have a grade of at least 3.4 in most of the quals courses. However, there is no simple formula that the faculty applies to the grades (e.g., minimum grade at least 3.4, average grade at least 3.4, etc.). Prequals students who do not earn satisfactory grades in quals courses may be reviewed by the RPC.

Progress to Milestones
The RPC expects that students and their advisors will work together to ensure the student makes timely progress towards the Ph.D.

Qualifying Evaluation: Within 1.75 years of study.
General Exam: Within 3 years of study or 1.25 years after quals (whichever is later).
Final Exam/Dissertation Submission: Within 5 years of study. The maximum allowed by the UW Graduate School is 10 years of study.

2. Research Performance and Progress

In general, the RPC uses the Annual Review of Progress assessment form and the Review of Progress faculty meeting to assess overall research capability, performance, and progress. Included in this assessment is performance during informal coursework and seminars, activity in group meetings, student engagement with their advisor, and more. Any student who receives an assessment of “Requiring Improvements” or “Unsatisfactory” during the annual review period should consider that assessment an internal warning from the department. If the student does not receive an assessment of at least “Meeting Expectations” in the next annual review they may be further reviewed by the RPC.

Note that in order to successfully pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Evaluation students must have formally identified a permanent advisor who is committed to seeing them through the remainder of the program. Students who do not have such a commitment form a permanent advisor may be granted a Master's-level pass at the qualifying evaluation and will be reviewed by the RPC if they choose to continue in the program.

Next Steps

Students who receive an internal department warning letter are expected to correct the deficiences within the timeline established jointly by the RPC and the student's advisor(s). Students on departmental warning status will be reviewed by the RPC at the end of each quarter. If the student does not correct the deficiences stated in the letter, the RPC may recommend that the student be placed on on Probation with the UW Graduate School. This is the first in a series of steps that may forcibly remove a student from our graduate program.

Please see the UW Gradute School's Policy 3.7 on Academic Performance & Progress for more details.

  1. What are your goals for the next year?
  2. What are your long-term career goals?
  3. Name one thing we (advisor or department) could do better to help you reach these goals.
  4. When do you plan to complete your next milestone? (quals, general exam, final exam)
  5. In reviewing your goals for this past year, how did your accomplishments measure up to your planned goals? (First-years: you may choose to reflect on your first year, and how your experience has measured up to your expectations going in.)
  6. Do you have any concerns about your progress in the program? If so, please indicate so that we (advisor or department) may be able to help.
  7. How often do you meet with your advisor(s) one-on-one?
  8. Do you participate in a regularly scheduled lab meeting with your advisor(s)?
  9. Briefly describe what you feel are your most important research or academic accomplishments over the past year(i.e. classes completed, papers submitted or published, special recognition, awards, fellowships received, etc.,).
  10. Do you feel that your advisor is helping you grow into an independent researcher?
  11. Give a short description of your current research project (3 sentences max).
  12. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how excited about it are you?
  13. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how excited about it do you think your advisor is?
  14. Name one additional form of advising or other support you could receive that would benefit you on this project.
  15. Over the past year, have you worked on any projects that you did not find particularly interesting? If so, briefly describe the circumstances surrounding these projects.
  16. What sources of financial support do you anticipate receiving for the next academic year?
  17. Please describe any non-research activities you have participated in over the last year (i.e. department service, TAing, mentoring, internships).
  18. Please explain any circumstances which may have impeded your progress this year.†
  19. Are you getting the advising or co-advising you need? (eg. Are you meeting often enough? Are day-to-day interactions productive?) If not, what are you not getting?†
  20. Is there anything you would like the Review of Progress Committee to take up on your behalf regarding the department or any member of the department?†
  21. Optional: Please include some feedback for your advisor(s) that will be passed along verbatim, but without your name attached, to a committee of senior faculty that will be responsible for the next review of your advisor. Any related feedback the review committee chooses to provide to your advisor will also be anonymized.
  22. Optional: Do you have any recommendations, suggestions, or general feedback for how we can improve the ROP process?
† The following questions are visible only to the grad advising staff, Associate Director of Graduate Programs and the Review of Progress Committee Chair. We hope to use the information submitted here to improve advising and the environment in the Allen School in various ways.
  1. How would you assess the student's progress in the program? (If you select "Requiring Improvements" or "Unsatisfactory" the RPC will follow up with you directly)
    • Explain your overall assessment, if desired. Students will not see this selection, it will only be used for internal tracking and follow-up.
  2. When will the student complete their next milestone (Quals, Generals, Final Exam)? Please specify year/quarter.
  3. How do you anticipate the student will be funded next year?
  4. What are you struggling with (if anything) when it comes to advising this student?
  5. Is there anything you wish the Review of Progress Committee to pursue with the student?
  6. Please use this space to provide a message that is viewable by your student. You should take this opportunity to congratulate them on their accomplishments as well as to provide constructive criticism that will aid their progress in the program. This section will be used, verbatim, in the student's review of progress letter. If you selected "Requiring Improvements" or "Unsatisfactory" in Question 1, you must provide specific feedback here about why and how the student can improve.
  7. Optional: Do you have any recommendations, suggestions, or general feedback for how we can improve the ROP process?
  8. Optional: Please indicate here if this student should be flagged for fast follow-up.