Advice to new graduate students

You are starting a new graduate program in the Fall.  What better time to seek out some advice from scholars who have been down this road before you?

We highly recommend the blog post from our very own Grad Center student, Danica Savonick entitled Dear Fellow Graduate Student.   Additionally, we recommend reading two great articles for new graduate students appeared that appeared in The Chronicle several years ago: An Open Letter to New Graduate Students and Too Much Self-Doubt? Try Thinking Like a Creator.

And while you haven’t even started yet, here is a short article giving some great advice on how not to become a PhD non-completer.

Have you read any advice about starting graduate school that you’d like to share with other incoming students?  Post a link in the comments section!

credit to David Whittaker @rundavidrun

Doctoral Certificate Programs at the GC

Although getting  your Ph.D. might seem like enough work (for a lifetime…), the GC offers several unique opportunities for additional bells and whistles to add to that fancy degree, like Doctoral Certificates! These certificates allow you to engage in interdisciplinary research in areas that are related, but outside, your home discipline. These doctoral certificates are approved by the state and give you the experience to work and teach in interdisciplinary fields for which there is no Ph.D. degree at the Graduate Center.

You can earn a doctoral certificate in the following areas:

Each of these programs consists of about five classes, or 15 credits: two or three core courses and two electives from anywhere at the GC (often these come from your home discipline, but don’t have to). Depending on the courses taken and the certificate program, you might even be able to use a cross-listed course twice for two different–yet applicable–certificates! This means that your New American Cinema class might count for both the Film Studies elective AND the American Studies elective! Use the links above to contact the Certificate Program with any questions or for more information.

So why bother? The certificates give you a theoretical and practical foundation through core courses in an interdisciplinary field of interest. In addition, because they are recognized by both the GC and the state, they appear on your transcript, which may come in handy when you’re on the market [for a *fingers crossed* tenure-track job]. Some of these interdisciplinary subject areas are also ones that are difficult to find in doctoral programs (although not impossible), so the doctoral certificate is an excellent way to demonstrate your interest in multiple areas at a doctoral level while earning your Ph.D. in one of the 30+ programs available at the GC. Consider it an enhanced non-related minor in a different discipline.

The upshot: If you have the time and desire, the certificate programs are a great way to broaden your knowledge and credentials to cover a wider range of interesting, interdisciplinary work. You’ll meet people from many different programs at the GC in your core classes, and learn new perspectives and methodologies.

Ask me; I’m earning five certificates, both for my own edification and research, as well as for my future job prospects. It does increase time-to-degree: I’m taking an extra year of coursework to finish everything (plus I came in without a M.A., so I am not as pressed for time as some of my colleagues who entered with one). That said, if you can spare the extra couple of classes, the certificate programs are a wonderful way to interact with colleagues from many different fields and work on complex problems with new, different, and exciting tools.

Gwendolyn Shaw is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Art History Program at the Graduate Center.