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Math Graduate Student Handbook

August, 2022



General Information

Doctor of Philosophy Programs (Ph.D.)

Master’s Degree Programs

…..Master of Science Degree (M.S.)

…..Master of Mathematics Degree (M.M.)

Intercollegiate Graduate Minors

University Retention Standards

Graduate Student Assistantships

…..Types of Assistantships

…..Requirements for Teaching Assistants

…..Administrative Procedures

…..Suggestions for Teaching Assistants

…..Student/Parent Complaints and Classroom Behavior Problems

Miscellaneous Information

Distribution of Previously-Published Material

Sexual Harassment

Policy on Consensual Romantic or Sexual Relationships

Computer Ethics

Emergency Situations

Important Resources �

Welcome to the UT Math Department, the largest department on the UT campus!  We are a comprehensive math department and offer a wide range of subjects for teaching and research which essentially cover all pure and applied math areas.  All of these areas have not only a profound richness and depth in themself but also a large and significant impact and many applications in all domain sciences, engineering, and industry. We hope your journey with our department will be personally, intellectually, and professionally rewarding and memorable.

-Xiaobing Feng, Department Head


In order to serve the mission and vision of the Graduate School and preserve the integrity of Graduate Programs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, information related to the process of graduate education in each department is to be provided to all graduate students.

Based on “Best Practices” offered by the Council of Graduate Schools, it is important that detailed articulation of the information specific to the graduate degrees offered in each department/program be disseminated.

The Mathematics Department Graduate School handbook does not deviate from established Graduate School Policies noted in the Graduate Catalog, but rather provides the specific ways in which those policies are carried out.

The purpose of this handbook is to provide information to mathematics graduate students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. It does not supersede any material found in the Graduate Catalog. The Mathematics Department (227 Ayres Hall), the Office of Graduate Records (111 Student Services Bldg.), and Hilltopics are good sources for additional information. Information on appeals procedure and the Graduate Assistant Handbook are available on the Graduate School website at

Graduate students are expected to be aware of and satisfy all regulations governing their work and study at the University.

Graduate Program Director: Dr. Tim Schulze, 208 Ayres Hall, 865-974-2464,
Graduate Program Coordinator: Ms. Pam Armentrout, 208 Ayres Hall, 865-974-2464,

Mathematics Department graduate policies are determined by the Department Head (who may delegate this authority to the Graduate Associate Head), the Mathematics Department Graduate Committee and, when necessary, a vote by the Departmental Faculty. Decisions on graduate program admissions and on the students receiving assistantship offers are made by the Department’s Admissions and Assistantships Committee.


To obtain a graduate degree, a student must fulfill requirements of both The Graduate School and the Mathematics Department. The requirements of the Graduate School for advanced degrees may be found in the Graduate Catalog (now available online only). Departmental requirements are described in subsequent sections of this handbook.

The First Year Advising and Mentoring Committee advises first year students for courses during the August orientation period. Each first-year student is assigned a mentor–a member of this committee chosen by the committee chair. The mentor’s role includes advising the student regarding course choices and changes, keeping track of their academic progress and addressing concerns regarding academics or their work as teaching assistants.

The first-year mentor remains as the student’s main faculty contact of record, until the student chooses a different faculty member for this role, or picks a M.Sc. thesis advisor or PhD dissertation advisor (typically during the academic year after both preliminary examinations have been passed.) The student must keep the Graduate Director informed of any changes of academic advisor.

In preparation for the Oral Specialty Exam, PhD students pick a dissertation advisor and, in coordination with the advisor, the remaining members of their PhD committee. After a student’s supervisory committee is formed, the Director of Graduate Studies must be informed promptly by the student of any changes in this committee.

In the following material describing the various degrees available, we shall use the terms “preliminary examination” and “comprehensive examination” according to the following definitions. The comprehensive examination is the complete examination required for admission to Ph.D. candidacy. In mathematics, the comprehensive examination consists of written examinations and an oral specialty examination. The preliminary examination is an “in house” term referring to any of the written examinations required in the comprehensive examination. Section III describes other requirements which must be met before the comprehensive examination may be completed.


Mathematics Department faculty are fully committed to the Graduate Program. Graduate students are expected to participate in Mathematics Department professional activities, for example, attend seminars and colloquia.

It is extremely important that Graduate Students be aware of and satisfy all University regulations concerning their program in a timely fashion.


The Graduate and International Admissions Office handles all graduate admissions submitted to the University of Tennessee. Their online admission application may be found at International students should pay particular attention to deadline dates since this may impact your admission into our program. For admission to the University of Tennessee Mathematics Department, a potential student should complete the admissions application, pay the admission fee, and submit official transcripts. Detailed information is available on the Admissions web site at

Generally, any student who meets the Graduate School requirements and has a strong mathematics background or the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in mathematics, will be admitted to our program. Admission into the program does not include financial support (see Financial Support).

The University of Tennessee has special admission categories such as non-degree, conditional, probationary, etc.; for more information about these categories, contact the Graduate Admissions Office or refer to the Graduate Catalog.


The Mathematics Department adheres to the policies of the Graduate School governing full and part-time status for graduate students and graduate assistants. Specifically, if a student has a 50% time assistantship and carries at least 6 hours of graduate credit during any academic year semester, that student is considered full-time. Graduate students on their own funding are not required to carry any specific number of hours. International students should check with the Center for International Education for hour requirements due to visa status. Generally, international students are required to carry from 6-9 hours each fall and spring semester, but may not be required to carry hours during the summer. Math 502 (Use of Facilities) may be used by students who require use of facilities (Department resources, Library, etc.) during any semester or by international students who have completed all required hours, but need to register for a minimum of 9 hours.

Use of Math 500 (masters thesis hours) and Math 600 (Ph.D. dissertation hours) is restricted to students enrolled in those programs. Students must also have permission from their advisor to enroll in either Math 500 or 600. Once you register for Math 600, you must continually register until you graduate, this includes the summer semesters. You also must have a total of 24 hours of Math 600 as a requirement of the Graduate School to earn your Ph.D.



Candidates have eight calendar years from the time of enrollment in The Graduate School to complete the Ph.D. degree. For the Ph.D. program in Mathematics, the student must meet the following five requirements in addition to those of the Graduate School: 

1. Demonstrate competency in undergraduate-level Analysis (Advanced Calculus) and Linear Algebra by satisfactory performance on a Diagnostic Examination, by August of the student’s second year in the graduate program. For GTAs this is a condition for continuation of financial support beyond the second year. The exams will be offered twice a year, in May (after finals) and in August (during orientation). More information regarding the Diagnostic Exam (list of topics, bibliography and old exams) is available at

The committee for the Analysis diagnostic test (resp. Linear Algebra) on a given academic year (August and May tests) consists of the faculty member teaching M448 (resp. M453) the previous spring (chair in August) and the faculty member teaching those courses in the spring of that year (chair in May). The DGS will contact the committee members in January, and be informed of any conflicts. 

The topics lists for the diagnostic tests are also posted on the department web site. Adjustments to the current topics for the tests on a given calendar year (May and August tests) will be the responsibility of the May test committees (same topics in May and August), in consultation with the DGS. The committee chair will transmit any changes to the topics lists to the DGS by the end of January of that calendar year. The topics list for the Linear Algebra test will be written in consultation with the faculty member teaching M458 on that spring term. 

 2. Satisfy the examination and course requirements in either the standard program or the interdisciplinary mathematical biology concentration. A student intending to work in mathematical biology may complete either, but is encouraged to complete the interdisciplinary mathematical biology concentration. 

3. Pass an oral examination in the field of specialization. This examination will be given by a committee appointed by the department head. A student may take this specialty examination at most twice. 

The Oral Specialty Exam (OSE) must be passed within 18 months after the student passes the second written preliminary exam. For the OSE, students are expected to have selected a PhD dissertation advisor, and to have decided on a research topic. The goal of the OSE is to establish the student is ready to conduct research in the area, and is aware of possible problems to work on. As with the deadlines for passing the first and second prelims, the 18 months are an upper bound, not intended to be typical. We expect most PhD-bound students to be able to reach this milestone, or at least to be working with a PhD advisor and learning about a thesis topic, within about a year after passing the second prelim. 

4. Take at least two different one-semester research seminars and Math 599 Seminar on Mathematical Presentations. To maintain satisfactory academic progress toward their degrees, graduate students who have completed their written examinations are expected to register for and regularly attend one or more departmental research seminars each fall and spring semester until graduation. Exceptions due to scheduling or other conflicts may be requested through the Director of Graduate Studies. 

5. Course requirements for GTAs: In any academic year semester in which they are supported by a GTA position in the Math Department, graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum number of regular courses (in Mathematics or a related discipline, numbered 400 or higher, not including seminars) as follows: (1) before passing two preliminary exams: three regular courses per semester, or two prelim courses; (2) after passing two preliminary exams and before passing the Oral Specialty Exam: two regular courses per semester; (3) after passing the Oral Specialty Exam: No regular courses are required. Students must also follow university requirements concerning minimum course loads, GPA requirements, and required courses such as Math 600 (dissertation). 

Requirements 1 – 4 must be completed no later than the start of the student’s seventh year (as a mathematics graduate student at UT). 

Standard Program 

1. A student must pass written examinations on two of the following year-long sequences: algebra (551-52), analysis (545- 46), computational and applied mathematics (571-72), differential equations (535-36), stochastics (523-24), and topology-geometry (561-62). A student must pass one examination by the middle of his/her third year and both examinations by the middle of his/her fourth year. 

2. In addition to the two year-long sequences chosen for the preliminary examinations, a student must take the following: 

1) A 600 level sequence outside the student’s area of specialization;
2) Six additional one-semester 500-600 level mathematics courses which must include
          a. a one year-long sequence in a third area (i.e. an area different from those represented in the two preliminary examinations); and
          b. At least one course in a fourth area (this fourth area must be distinct from the two preliminary exam areas, but may coincide with the area of the sequence used to satisfy (1)). 

          Students must earn a grade of B- (B minus) or better in each of these six courses. 

Mathematical Biology Concentration 

1. A student must pass written examinations on mathematical ecology (581-82) and one of the following year-long sequences: analysis (545-46), computational and applied mathematics (571-72), differential equations (535-36), and stochastics (523-24). A student must pass one examination by the middle of his/her third year and both examinations by the middle of his/her fourth year. 

2. In addition to the two year-long sequences chosen for the preliminary examinations, a student must take the following:

1) A 600 level sequence outside the student’s area of specialization;
2) Six additional one-semester 500-600 level courses. Two of those courses may be from the area of biology (courses from the School of Biology, College of Veterinary Medicine or Public Health) approved by their advisor.

          These six courses must include
          a. a one year-long mathematics sequence in a third area (i.e. an area different from those represented in the two preliminary examinations); and
          b. at least one mathematics course in a fourth area (this fourth area must be distinct from the two preliminary exam areas, but may coincide with the area of the sequence used to satisfy (1)).

          Students must earn a grade of B- (B minus) or better in each of these six courses.

Policy on Outside Supervisor

Any mathematics student wishing to write a dissertation under the direction of someone who is not a regular member of the Department of Mathematics at the rank of assistant professor or above must first obtain approval from the Graduate Associate Head. The student must have successfully completed the written preliminary examination requirement before requesting approval. A co-advisor in the Mathematics Department must agree to serve on the student’s dissertation committee, which must include at least two Mathematics faculty.

A faculty member in another UTK department (or appropriate ORNL staff) wishing to serve as chair of a mathematics PhD dissertation committee must apply for and obtain joint or adjunct status in the Mathematics Department.

The Graduate School policy on direction of student’s dissertation research and chairs of the dissertation committee may be found in the Graduate Catalog under the heading “Academic Policies and Requirements for Graduate Students”.

Rewarding Rapid Progress

Starting fall 2020: It is the Department’s policy to reward any GTA who passes certain PhD program milestones sooner than required with an Academic Performance Assistantship (APA). An APA includes a one-year fellowship, or a one-year salary increase of $1,000 for each milestone completed early, renewable if progress through milestones sooner than required continues. Awards will be made for: (1) Passing both Diagnostic Exams in August at the beginning of the first year in the program. (2) Passing both preliminary exams by August at the beginning of the 3rd year ($2,000 for one year) and (3) Passing the Oral specialty Exam by May 31st in the third year ($1,000 for two years).

Recommended Timeline to Meet PhD Requirements

The majority of students earning a PhD in five or six years meet program requirements well before the deadlines; we expect the following to be typical for supported PhD students (GTA or GRA). Please keep in mind that these guidelines reflect the typical progression; there are certainly individual circumstances that would lead to a different timing. The academic progress of all students is examined by the Graduate Committee each spring, shortly after annual advising.

First year: prepare for diagnostic tests, if needed, by taking 400-level courses. Take a prelim sequence if possible.

Second year: take one or two prelim sequences. The goal is to pass both prelims by August at the start of the third year (perhaps the second one in January of the third year.) Attend a few seminars each semester, and start making contact with faculty members to find out about their research.

Third year: choosing a PhD advisor; specialized reading, courses and seminars in a research area, leading to the Oral Specialty Exam about one year after passing the second preliminary exam.

Fourth and fifth year, preferably starting already on the third: PhD dissertation research, which may extend into a sixth year. Support for a sixth year is contingent on ongoing dissertation research; support is rarely given for a seventh year.

General Comments

1. The written examinations are scheduled in early January and immediately before the fall semester every year. To help the student prepare for the written examinations, the faculty has compiled lists of topics and references which are posted on the department’s web site. Previous examinations will be forwarded by the exam committees to the graduate coordinator shortly after each exam, and posted on the department’s web site.

2. Each written examination is created, administered, and scored by an Examination Committee of faculty appropriate to the topic. At the end of the examination cycle, the various Examination Committees present their recommendations at the departmental Preliminary Examination Meeting where the final decisions are reached. Only then are results communicated to the student. Each written examination results in a “pass” or “fail”.

The committee for a preliminary exam on a given academic year (August and January exams) ordinarily consists of the faculty member teaching the sequence on the previous year (chair), and the two other faculty members teaching it most recently. The DGS will contact the committee members by the end of the spring term, and be informed by the committee chair if the prelim group prefers a different composition. 

After consulting with the prelim group, the prelim committee chairs for the coming academic year (August and January prelims) will transmit prelim topics lists to the DGS by May 15, for posting on the department’s web site. Adjustments to the current topics list for a written preliminary exam on subsequent years will the responsibility of the prelim groups, with the prelim chair informing the DGS of any changes by May 15 of each year. 

3. Upon passing the written examinations, the student selects a field of specialization (i.e., a field in which to do his/her doctoral research) and must then pass an intensive examination in that field of specialization. This examination will be given by a committee appointed by the Department Head. The specialty examination may be taken at most twice.

4. If a graduate student changes the major area of study after completing his/her comprehensive examination, that student must satisfy the new doctoral committee as to level of competency in the new area.

5. The dissertation is a written presentation of original and significant research completed by the student. The student’s dissertation director, a faculty member who works closely with the student in this project, also serves as chair of the student’s Doctoral Committee. The student’s Doctoral Committee, consisting of at least four faculty members (including one from outside the math department), reads the dissertation and administers the defense of dissertation. In this oral examination, the student usually describes the work in the dissertation and answers any questions the committee may ask.

Procedures for Fulfilling Requirements

1. Begin course work.

2. Pass two preliminary examinations.

3. Establish a doctoral committee.

4. Pass intensive examination in field of specialization.

5. Pass a one-year 600-level course outside the area of specialization.

6. Take at least 2 different one-semester research seminars and 599.

7. Write dissertation (while registered continuously for Math 600- dissertation hours).

8. Submit Doctoral Committee Form (this form must be submitted prior to or along with the Admission to Candidacy form).

9. Apply for admission to candidacy (at least one semester prior to graduation–consult Graduate Schools web site at for all forms and deadlines). Forms should be completed online, printed, and require original signatures of at least 4 committee members, then submit to the Graduate School, 111 Student Services Bldg.

10. Place name on graduation list through MyUTK.

11. Apply for diploma.

12. Schedule defense of dissertation with us and Graduate School (111 Student Services Building), at least 2 weeks prior to defense.

13. Submit dissertation to doctoral committee (at least 2 weeks prior to defense).

14. Defend dissertation.

15. Obtain approval from the Graduate School of final copy of dissertation (after dissertation defense and at least 2 weeks prior to commencement).

*Dates for fulfilling these requirements are posted outside 225 Ayres Hall as well as on the Graduate School web site.


  A. Master of Science Degree (M.S.)

Candidates have six calendar years from the time of enrollment in The Graduate School to complete the Master’s degree. Students who change degree programs during this six-year period may be granted an extension after review and approval by The Graduate School. In any event, courses used toward the degree must have been taken within six years of graduation.

1. Departmental Requirements.

a. Thesis Option.

i. A total of 30-credit hours in courses numbered above 400, including at least 6 credit hours of thesis (Math 500) and 15 hours in mathematics courses numbered above 500. Of the 24 nonthesis credit hours, 6 may be earned in courses approved by the Supervisory Committee in fields other than mathematics. (More than 6 hours of Math 500 may be taken, but only 6 hours will count toward the degree.)

ii. Sequence Requirement (see c.).

iii. Thesis and Oral Examination.

b. Nonthesis Option.

i. A total of 30 credit-hours in courses numbered above 400, including 21 credit hours (with at least 15 in mathematics) numbered above 500. Of the 30 credit hours, 9 may be earned in courses approved by the Supervisory Committee in fields other than mathematics.

ii. Sequence Requirement (see c.).

iii. Non-thesis option:  A student must take the reading course, Math 598, in which a term paper or project is required. The instructor and student must agree that the term paper or project will be the student’s nonthesis Master’s project, and the student must make an oral presentation of the results of the project to the director and the reader of the project.
Preliminary exam option:  The student must pass one PhD preliminary examination in mathematics with a PhD level score as required in the PhD program.

c. Sequence Requirements

All M.S. degree candidates must pass one year-long sequence. Any pair of graduate-level mathematics courses appearing as a sequence in the Graduate Catalog is acceptable. One of the three sequences may be at the 400-level and may have been taken at UT or elsewhere for undergraduate or graduate credit. All pairs of 400-level mathematics courses appearing as sequences in the Graduate Catalog (available online) are acceptable and so are the following pairs of courses: 423-424, 423-425, 431-435, any two of 460-462-467, 471-472. A graduate sequence from a field other than mathematics may be used with approval of the DGS.

2. General Comments

a. The purpose of the thesis option is to give students an opportunity to study an area of mathematics under the supervision of a faculty member and to organize and present their findings in writing. The Master’s Committee for the thesis option consists of the major professor and two other faculty members. The Committee reads the thesis and administers the oral examination in which the student usually summarizes the thesis and answers any questions the Committee may ask.

b. .   The purpose of the project sub-option is to give students an opportunity to study an area of mathematics under the supervision of a faculty member and to organize and present their findings in a written report and oral presentation. The Master’s Committee for the project option consists of the faculty member directing the project under the Math 598 reading course and a reader. The Committee reads the project report and administers the oral examination in which the student usually summarizes the project and answers any questions the Committee may ask. This option does not require submission of a thesis to the graduate school.  The purpose of the course-work option is to give PhD students a convenient way to obtain an MS degree along the way to their PhD.

Procedures for Fulfilling Requirements.

a. Begin course work.

b. Obtain a thesis advisor and Master’s Committee, or obtain written approval of Supervisory Committee for nonthesis option.

c. If applying for concurrent MS, complete concurrent MS form and email to the Director of Graduate Studies.

d. Apply for admission to candidacy (at least one semester prior to graduation–consult the Graduate Studies web site at for all deadlines). Forms should be completed online, printed, and require original or digital signatures of 3 committee members.

e. Complete course work and write thesis, if necessary.

f. Place name on graduation list via MyUTK.

g. Apply for diploma.

h. Schedule oral examination (not later than three weeks before thesis deadline), or, for nonthesis option, schedule presentation.

i. Pass oral examination.

j Submit project report approved by project supervisor and reader, if in non-thesis program.

k. Remove all incompletes (not later than one week before commencement).

l. Obtain approval by the Graduate School of final copy of thesis if thesis option has been elected (after oral examination and no later than two weeks before commencement).

B. Master of Mathematics Degree (M.M.)

This degree is intended primarily for teachers of high school or 2-year college mathematics. Before admission to this program, the applicant must have either (a) certification for teaching secondary mathematics in at least one state, or (b) three years of teaching experience. In exceptional circumstances, part of admission requirement (b) might be satisfied concurrently with course work. Applicants for admission to this program must have successfully completed one year of calculus (141-42 or equivalent) and a course in matrix algebra (251 or equivalent).

1. Departmental Requirements.

a. A total of 30 credit hours, of which 21 must be at the 500 level and include core courses Math 504 (Discrete Mathematics for Teachers), 505 (Analysis for Teachers), 506 (Algebra for Teachers), 507 (Probability and Statistics for Teachers) and 6 hours in 509 (Seminar for Teachers). At most, 6 hours may be taken outside the Department of Mathematics and must be selected in consultation with the advisor.

b. Complete a comprehensive portfolio

2. General Comments

This program is intended for educators interested in expanding the breadth and depth of their mathematical knowledge. Our MM program complements UTK’s more traditional Master of Science (MS) programs in Mathematics or in Education by offering rigorous mathematics training paired with practical applications in the classroom.

Procedure for fulfilling Requirements

a. Begin course work.

b.  Apply for admission to candidacy (at least one semester prior to graduation–consult Graduate Schools web site all forms and deadlines). Forms should be completed online, printed, and require original or digital signatures of 3 committee members.

c. Place name on graduation list (during registration for the final semester).

d. Apply for diploma.

e. Remove all incompletes.

f. Submit comprehensive portfolio

g. Complete all course work and pass final examination, file Report of Final Exam/Defense of Thesis (Pass/Fail) Form ( with Graduate Records Office (111 Student Services Bldg.).


The Interdisciplinary Graduate Minor in Computational Science (IGMCS) is a formal academic program at the University of Tennessee established to allow students to earn a minor in Computational Science simultaneously with a master’s or doctorate in another academic discipline. The program is open to graduate students in all departments, which have an approved minor. The program is administered by a committee composed of representatives, including program faculty, from all colleges that have approved the IGMCS program and which have minor programs.

For more information contact Dr. Terry Moore at or visit

The Intercollegiate Graduate Statistics Program (IGSP) is a formal University of Tennessee, Knoxville, academic program established to enable students to earn either a minor or an MS in statistics simultaneously with a master’s or doctoral degree in another department. Approved coursework taken to meet doctoral requirements in the student’s home department may also be credited toward the MS in statistics. Similarly, approved coursework in statistics taken to meet the requirements for a master’s or doctoral degree in another department may also count toward the minor in statistics. The program is open to graduate students in all departments, which have an approved minor, and/or MS joint major curriculum offered through the program. The program is administered by an executive committee, consisting of college representatives from all colleges with approved programs, with advisory input from the program faculty.

For more information contact Dr. Russell Zaretzki at or


The department has established guidelines for continuation of assistantships, which are given in the next section. In addition, the university has academic retention standards for all graduate students.

Academic Standards: Graduate education requires continuous evaluation of the student. This evaluation includes not only periodic objective evaluation, such as the cumulative grade-point average, performance on comprehensive examinations, and acceptance of the thesis or dissertation, but also judgements by the faculty of the student’s progress and potential. Continuation in a program is determined by consideration of all these elements by the faculty and the head of the academic unit.

The academic records of all graduate students are reviewed at the end of each semester, including the summer term. Graduate students must maintain a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on all graduate courses taken for a letter grade of A-F. Grades of S/NC, P/NP, and I, which have no numerical equivalent, are excluded from this computation.

Academic Probation: Upon completion of nine hours of graduate coursework, a graduate student will be placed on academic probation when his/her cumulative GPA falls below 3.0. A student will be allowed to continue graduate study in subsequent semesters if each semester’s grade-point average is 3.0 or greater. Upon achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.0, the student will be removed from probationary status.

Dismissal: If a student is on academic probation, the degree or non-degree status will be terminated by the Graduate School if the student’s semester GPA falls below a 3.0 in a subsequent semester. When the particular circumstances may be deemed to justify continuation and upon recommendation of the appropriate academic unit and approval of the Graduate School, a student on probation whose semester GPA is below a 3.0 may be allowed to continue on a semester-by-semester basis.

Dismissal of a graduate student by a department or program is accomplished by written notice to the student, with a copy to the Graduate School. In those cases where the department’s requirements for continuation are more stringent than the Graduate School requirements, the Graduate School will evaluate the student’s record to determine whether the student is eligible to apply for a change of status and register in another area of study. Registration for courses in a department from which a student has been dismissed will not be permitted, except by written authorization from that department.

Early Termination/Withdrawal: If a student is terminated or withdraws from a program prior to the end of the semester, the student will be responsible for payment of tuition and other fees from the termination/withdrawal date until the end of the semester. The responsibility for paying tuition and fees will apply to all students, including those who have tuition waivers during the semester in which they are terminated/withdraw early. Please see the graduate catalog for additional information about early termination/withdrawal: and If you are considering early withdrawal, you should contact the Bursar’s office to inquire about the financial ramifications for early withdrawal.

Academic Honesty: Each graduate student in the Department of Mathematics is expected to conform to the highest standards of academic honesty in all classwork, homework, examinations, research and writing, and to the highest standards of professional behavior in teaching. Any violation of this policy, such as plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty, will result in penalties such as penalty grades, loss of financial support, and/or expulsion from a degree program. Each punitive action taken by the Department or any of its professors against a student must be documented by a letter to the Department describing the violation and the penalty assigned. A copy of the letter must be sent to the affected student. Each punitive action taken may be appealed through the following channels, successively: Graduate Committee, Department Head, Dean of the College, and Dean of the Graduate School. More information regarding Graduate School Grievance and Appeals procedures may be found at

Evaluation: All graduate students will meet with their respective advisor, or the Graduate Student Advising Committee, during the spring semester. During this meeting, the student and advisor will review the student’s academic plan for the upcoming year as well as discuss requirements and policies that impact their degree within the Department. This face-to-face meeting will provide feedback regarding academic performance, and plans for fulfilling requirements towards their respective degree.

Incompletes: If you have received an incomplete in one of your mathematics courses, you have at most one year to complete the course work or the grade will convert to an “F”. In the unlikely event you need to request an incomplete, contact the course instructor to determine if an incomplete is appropriate. If it is deemed necessary, you will discuss how the incomplete will be finished and the time-line of completion. A departmental form must be completed and signed by both you and the instructor.


Occasionally, a need may arise for an exception to departmental graduate program requirements. As a first step, the student shall meet with the Director of Graduate Studies, who will inform the student of their options and discuss how to proceed. Requests for exceptions are made in the form of a petition to the DGS, who forwards it to the Graduate Committee for discussion and vote. Petitions must describe the circumstances that justify an exception, and should be accompanied by supporting documents and, whenever possible, a letter of support from a faculty member.

Student petitions to the Graduate Committee which are motivated by the outcome of a written preliminary exam must be sent to the DGS within one month after exam results are announced, or they won’t be accepted. 

Any accommodation for a disability that interferes with the student’s ability to pursue their degree will be referred to, and arranged by, UT Student Disability Services.

Only after grievances have been duly processed, without resolution, through appropriate appeals procedures at the department and college levels, a student may choose to pursue an appeal with the Graduate School. Policies governing this process may be viewed at


The major source of support for graduate students in mathematics is the teaching assistantship. There are also awards such as Science Alliance Associateships, Dryzer Teaching Fellowship awards, and research assistantships available through the Department to students. Mathematics students may also compete for fellowships which are administered directly by the Graduate School, and which may be combined with a graduate teaching assistantship position. For more information regarding Graduate School Fellowships, please review their site at

Contracts from DOE, NSF, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories also support several students within our Department.

University Fellowships are available for new graduate students interested in programs within the mathematics realm. These fellowships offer tuition waivers and stipends up to $30,000 per year. For more information, and to see if you qualify, please review the information below:

UTK/ORNL Distinguished Graduate Fellowships:

General assistantships, offered by other departments, may also be viewed at


This section contains information for those graduate students who have accepted an offer of a graduate assistantship and its associated responsibilities.


The Faculty Handbook describes four categories of assistantships:

Graduate Teaching Assistant: Graduate Teaching Assistants work under the direct supervision of a regular faculty member in activities such as helping to prepare lectures, teaching discussion sections, conducting laboratory exercises, grading papers and keeping class records. In consultation with the supervisor, the Teaching Assistant works to gain teaching skills and an increased understanding of the discipline. Appointments are normally on a one-fourth to one-half time basis, and the annual stipend is payable in either nine or twelve monthly installments. The assistantship is accompanied by a waiver of fees for the period of appointment in accordance with university policy.

Graduate Teaching Associate: Exceptionally experienced graduate students may be assigned primary responsibility for teaching undergraduate courses, including the assignment of final grades. The Teaching Associate usually carries one-fourth to one-half of a normal teaching load. The annual stipend is payable in either nine or twelve monthly installments. The associateship is accompanied by a waiver of fees for the period of appointment in accordance with university policy.

Graduate Assistant: Graduate Assistants are appointed primarily to perform various types of duties other than teaching. Any assigned instructional activity is conducted under careful supervision. The annual stipend is payable in either nine or twelve monthly installments. The assistantship is accompanied by a waiver of fees for the period of appointment in accordance with university policy.

Graduate Research Assistant: Research assistantships are generally financed through gift, grant, or contract funds. Persons holding such appointments pursue a work and study program like that expected under the other types of awards. Graduate research assistantships are accompanied by a waiver of fees for the period of appointment in accordance with university policy.


1. Your selection as a graduate assistant (when written without capitalization, “graduate assistant” refers to all four categories of assistantship) at the University of Tennessee was based on your record and the recommendations of your references. It is our expectation that you can complete a degree program. Continuation of your appointment depends on the Department’s evaluation of your performance as student and as assistant. This evaluation involves various matters, such as course grades, performance on special examinations (Master’s final exam, prelims, oral specialty exam, etc.), work on a thesis or dissertation, and subjective appraisal by the faculty of your progress and potential. The Department will notify you by April 15 concerning your progress and the renewal of your assistantship.

The Department has established the following guidelines for continuation of assistantships:

a. Course requirements: In any academic year semester, in which they are supported by a GTA position in the Math Department, graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum number of regular courses (in Mathematics or a related discipline, numbered 400 or higher, not including seminars) as follows: (1) before passing two preliminary exams: three regular courses per semester, or two prelim courses; (2) after passing two preliminary exams and before passing the Oral Specialty Exam: two regular courses per semester; (3) after passing the Oral Specialty Exam: No regular courses are required. Students must also follow university requirements concerning minimum course loads, GPA requirements, and required courses such as Math 600 (dissertation).

b. By the end of a graduate assistant’s second year, he/she will have completed successfully (with an average of B or better) at least two semesters of at least one 500- or 600-level sequence in mathematics.

c. For graduate mathematics students whose native language is not English, attaining and maintaining the level of Graduate Teaching Associate is subject to satisfactory performance on the Graduate School’s required OPIc test for spoken English proficiency. Each such student must score at least a 45 (AM) by March 1 of their second year in the Mathematics program to have their teaching assistantship renewed for the following year and must maintain a score of at least a 45 (AM) to assume or continue their teaching responsibilities. Resumption of support will be considered after the student scores at least a 45. Students who score at least a 50 (AH) are not required to retake the test, and students who have not scored at least a 50 by the end of their first year are required to take the appropriate English Language Institute course during the summer. Students who score less than a 45 (AM) at any time (even if they have previously scored a 45) will not be allowed to assume primary teaching responsibilities in the classroom and will lose the rank of Graduate Teaching Associate, if it has been attained. The rank of Graduate Teaching Associate can be reinstated once the student scores at least a 45 on a subsequent test. To receive and keep the bonus for passing the Oral Specialty Exam, a student must be a Graduate Teaching Associate.

d. In the unlikely event a GTA/GRA must resign his/her assistantship, a signed letter stating his/her intention and the date effective should be provided to the Director of the Mathematics Graduate Studies Program.

Priority for awarding and renewing graduate assistantships is given to students pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics. Exceptions to the guidelines, particularly for students pursuing interdisciplinary programs, may be made. Prior to the creation of the Supervisory Committee, any exception must be approved in advance by the Graduate Student Advising Coordinator; after creation of the Supervisory Committee, any exception must be approved in advance by the Supervisory Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies (or Head).

2. A graduate assistant teaching two courses or doing equivalent work should have no outside employment. A graduate assistant teaching one course or doing equivalent work who has outside employment is expected to report that employment to the Director of Graduate Studies. The no-work rule also applies to those whose teaching is reduced by Science Alliance or grants.

3. The Graduate School limits the number of years a graduate assistant may be appointed to an assistantship. A Master’s student is limited to three years, a doctoral student with a Master’s degree is limited to five years, and a doctoral student with only a baccalaureate degree is limited to eight years. The department may request an extension beyond the applicable limit.

The Department of Mathematics limits assistantships to 6 years. Extensions of assistantships beyond the 6th year will be granted only in exceptional cases and will be subject to approval by the Graduate Committee.

4. All teachers in the department are required to use teaching evaluation questionnaires in each class they teach. Furthermore, all first-year GTAs are required to discuss their student evaluations with a representative of the department who will initiate the discussion. You are encouraged to use teaching evaluations to assess your teaching performance and to keep the results in case you decide to participate in the department’s GTA Teaching Awards competition. A memorandum is distributed near the middle of each semester to remind teachers about the department’s policy and how to obtain the questionnaires.

5. Meeting your classes at all scheduled times is imperative. Since it is occasionally necessary to miss a class, the Department has established the following procedure. At the beginning of each semester, provide the office, 208 Ayres Hall, with the name of another teaching assistant who is willing to substitute for you, if necessary. Before missing a class, inform the office (974-2461) of your expected absence and indicate who will be substituting for you. There are absentee forms in the departmental office that you are to fill out prior to leaving.

6. Seek advice and assistance from faculty members about teaching problems. Teaching assistants who do not yet have 18 semester hours of graduate credit in mathematics normally are assigned to teach recitation sections associated with a large lecture taught by a regular faculty member, and this faculty member serves as an advisor on matters related to teaching. Other assistants are assigned a regular staff member who will be available for advice and consultation, and who will assist in constructing tests and assigning grades.

7. Each 100-level course has a course coordinator. They will supervise your teaching of that course. Attendance at course meetings prior to the start of each semester, as well as during the semester, is mandatory. You will also be asked to provide copies of your course materials (exams, syllabus, etc.) to the coordinator; this is also mandatory. Typically, the syllabus should be submitted to the coordinator by the 1st day of class and exams should be submitted at least one week prior to the examination date.

8. Grading of final examinations in lecture/recitations usually is done as a group in one sitting or divided among those involved in teaching the course and completed by a specified time. GTAs are also expected to assist with proctoring the final examination. Any GTA involved in teaching such a course needs to do a fair and reasonable part of the proctoring and grading, but the proctoring and grading effort should not impact the GTA’s own performance on a final examination. Lecturers and their GTAs should work out mutually satisfactory conditions for proctoring and grading; in any case, GTA’s should have at least two hours of free time before taking a final examination.


1. Adding and Changing Sections
The department has a centralized system for dealing with student requests to add or change registration in math classes. When the section is closed (most math sections are closed, that is, full, at the time classes begin), a departmental stamp is required to enter the section. Your signature, as instructor, is NOT sufficient. Please DO NOT SIGN ANY registration documents. Your signature will embarrass you and the department if we have to deny the student’s request. Students should be told to see Burnette Crombie in 247 Ayres Hall.

2. Drops and Late Drops
Students may drop courses until the 10th calendar day from the start of classes with no notation on the academic record. From the 11th calendar day until the 84 calendar day, students may drop courses and will receive the notation of “W” (Withdrawn). After the 84th day, no drops are permitted. Failure to attend a course is not an official withdrawal and will result in the assignment of an F grade. The Timetable of Classes will contain the official withdrawal deadline calendar dates.

3. Other Registration Problems
About ten days after the semester starts, you will receive a roll that should be complete. If you have students attending your class whose names are not on that roll, promptly send them to 247 Ayres Hall so that we can investigate the problem. Students must be officially on the roll to receive a grade.

4. Room Assignments
Your class meets in the room(s) shown on your teaching assignment. This is frequently different from the room shown in the schedule book, which is published months in advance. DO NOT CHANGE ROOMS.

If you need an additional room for a review session, or have another problem related to room assignment, contact Burnette Crombie, 247 Ayres Hall.

5. Grades
The valid grades at UT are A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F. We urge you to use this scale exclusively, not only for the final grades but also for all tests and quizzes throughout the semester. The grades have the following numerical equivalents: A = 4, A- = 3.7, B+ = 3.3, B = 3, B- = 2.7, C+ = 2.3, C = 2, C- = 1.7, D+ = 1.3, D = 1, D- = .7, F = 0.

Although you have some freedom to construct your own grading system, it is important that your students know what it is. Furthermore, students need to know how they are doing in the course. For this purpose, it is almost essential that you use letter grades on tests and quizzes. Whatever grade system you decide on, explain it to the students. It is imperative to be fair to the student; so if you decide your system is too lenient, do not try to toughen it during the semester. If you decide your system is too strict or makes too many demands on you, talk to your Teaching Advisor or Course Coordinator about adjustments you might make.

6. Incomplete Grades
Students may ask you to give them a grade of I (incomplete) for various reasons. Although it is possible for you to give the grade, GIVING AN I IS A BAD IDEA. If there is a valid reason why the student cannot complete your course, send the student to seek a Late Drop. Otherwise, give the student an F on the incomplete work. If you give a grade of I, you are personally responsible for supervising the work to be made up. Students have one calendar year to complete your course. They may wait until after you have left UT, which would certainly be awkward. If you think the circumstances warrant the grade (refer to the departmental policy on I grades), get a written agreement with the student as to how and when the work will be made up and file it with Main Office. The staff in the Department office will not accept a grade sheet bearing an I unless you describe, on a form they will provide, how the course will be completed.

7. Change of Grades
You occasionally may need to change a grade after it has been given. For example, you may discover an error in the grade calculations. The Department Undergraduate Office, 247 Ayres Hall, has forms for this purpose.

8. Students with Extracurricular Activities
You are likely to have one or two students in your class who are athletes, members of the Band, or members of some other organization sponsored by the University that requires them to miss class occasionally. Department policy is that work missed by students who are off campus under university sponsorship will be made up, provided the student notifies you in advance that he/she will be absent, presents a letter from the organization involved stating the dates, and that the interruptions do not prevent the student from making normal progress in the course.

If difficulties arise involving the Athletic Department or some other campus organization, consult with Dr. Brodskiy.

9. Student Problems
When students have a problem, of whatever nature, they may approach you first. In other instances, you may be the first to realize that a student has a serious problem. The Math Information Office, 247 Ayres Hall, has been established to handle curricular problems of all kinds. Send students there whenever they ask about placement, course prerequisites, transfer credits, degree requirements, University academic regulations, or related topics. Don’t venture an answer yourself unless you are 100% sure it is correct; in the beginning, this will almost never be the case.

For personal problems and crises of all kinds, the University has a Counseling Center located inside the Student Health Clinic. Please encourage students who need that type of assistance to go there.

10. Syllabus Policy: Every student in each of your sections must receive a written course syllabus within the first 10 calendar days of the semester. Your syllabus is a contract between you and your students. Explicitly explain all class policies in your syllabus.

Your syllabus should contain:

–General information: course name and number, meeting time and place, instructor name and contact information, office hours, course description and prerequisites, text information, calculator policy.
–A detailed grading scheme, showing how each student’s average will be calculated. Keep it simple whenever possible. A good grading policy allows a student to know with reasonable certainty where he or she stands at any given time during the semester, and what he or she needs to do for the remainder of the semester to make a certain grade.
–A detailed grading scale, showing the point range needed to earn each letter grade, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F.
–Your policy about make-up exams, quizzes, and late homework assignments. This policy should be applied to ALL students in class, regardless of membership on an athletic team or other University group. Recommendation: spell out the circumstances that will qualify a student to either take a make-up exam or replace a missed exam grade with another grade.
–Academic Standards of Conduct discussion or statement (see item #11).
–Projected dates of exams and projects due and other important dates (such as add/drop dates and UT holidays). A calendar outlining the order of topics covered and assignments for each class are encouraged.

Other Syllabus ideas

Provide a list of course objectives: statements of what students should be able to do or know after participating in class sessions and completing the homework. This gives the students a written list of important items that must be learned for successful completion of the course.

Include a section in your syllabus titled “How to Succeed in This Class.” Be specific about how much time they should invest in the course, how important attendance will be for their grade, how to approach homework assignments, how to work for understanding, and how to study for exams.

Include a section outlining “Classroom Etiquette.” Many of our younger students simply do not know the rules for proper classroom behavior, and it may be part of our responsibility to help them grow and mature. Some problems that you might want to address are: side-talking, arriving late, leaving early, preparing to leave before class is over, skipping class, reading the newspaper or working on items for other courses during lecture, and cell phone use during class. Most students will appreciate knowing your expectations (whatever they are) at the beginning of the course. You might want to state that these rules acknowledge respect for professors, for class time, and for fellow students (from “Teaching Large Classes,” by Elisa Carbone).

Academic Integrity Policy

Each faculty member is responsible for defining, in specific terms, guidelines for preserving academic integrity in a course. Included in this definition should be a discussion of the Honor Statement. Faculty members at their discretion may also encourage their students to acknowledge adherence to the Honor Statement by “pledging” all graded class assignments and exams. The form of pledge may include writing the honor statement on the assignment, signing the printed statement, or simply writing “Pledged.” Additionally, it will be the responsibility of each faculty member, graduate teaching assistant, and staff member to act on any violation of the Honor Statement. It is also incumbent upon faculty to maintain an atmosphere conducive to academic integrity by insuring that each quiz, test, and exam is adequately proctored.

Academic Standards of Conduct

All students are expected to abide by the University Honor Statement. In mathematics classes, violations of the honor statement include copying another person’s work on any graded assignment or test, collaborating on a graded assignment without the instructor’s approval, using unauthorized “cheat sheets” or technical devices such as calculators, cell phones or computers for graded tests or assignments, or other infractions listed in “Hilltopics”. These violations are serious offenses, subject to disciplinary action that may include failure in a course and/or dismissal from the University. The instructor has full authority to suspend a student from his/her class, to assign an “F” in an exercise or examination, or to assign an “F” in the course. The instructor shall give written notification (countersigned by the department head) of the penalty and the route of appeal to the student. Students who contest the penalty should first appeal to the instructor, then the Head of the Mathematics Department. If the student is unable to resolve the penalty with the instructor and department head, he/she may appeal to the Academic Review Board within 7 calendar days of receiving written notice of the penalty. See “Hilltopics” for more complete information.

The Honor Statement

“An essential feature of the University of Tennessee is a commitment to maintaining an atmosphere of intellectual integrity and academic honesty. As a student of the University, I pledge that I will neither knowingly give nor receive any inappropriate assistance in academic work, thus affirming my own personal commitment to honor and integrity.”


Either of your roles at U.T.–graduate student or teaching assistant—can be more than a full-time job. You should plan for an adequate amount of preparation time for each lecture you give and for each class you take. How much lecture preparation is needed depends on how much experience you have with the material. Inadequate preparation is usually apparent to most students, and a chronically unprepared instructor will soon lose the respect of the class. Before meeting your classes for the first time, think about the items listed below. Where necessary, decide what your policy will be and LET YOUR STUDENTS KNOW THIS POLICY IN WRITING AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEMESTER. You should also give your students a brief course outline and a schedule.

1. Best Practices in Teaching Program

The Best Practices in Teaching program provides opportunities to discuss teaching-related issues with new and experienced faculty and peers from across the university. This program does not take the place of programs in pedagogy that an academic department may offer but supplements that coursework. This program will, however, offer broader discussion of best practices in teaching than any one department or unit can offer and will introduce participants to excellent teachers/mentors from across the disciplines.

Graduate Teaching Assistants and Associates, Postdoctoral Lecturers, and New Faculty are encouraged to participate in this two-semester program by registering online at You can also find more information about the program at that site.

The first session is normally scheduled for the first week of September and registration is required before that session.

2. Record Keeping

At the beginning of each semester, be sure that students are properly enrolled in your class. Either their name is listed in Canvas or they should show you a computer-printout specifying your section. The office may ask for the number of students attending your first few class meetings. As soon as the class membership has stabilized, establish a well-annotated grade book. Your grade book should contain an explanation of your grading scheme as well as class records. At some time in the future, you or the department may have to defend the grades you have given. Keep student finals for one
semester per University policy; it is recommended by the Math Department that you keep them for one year. If a student wants their final, keep a copy. Keep grade sheets indefinitely.

3. Office Hours

Give a written schedule of your office hours to your students and to the Department office. One hour for each two hours in class is a reasonable policy. It is wise to urge students to tell you in advance, (e.g. just after class) if they wish to see you outside of class.

4. Tutoring

Tutoring for freshman-level courses is available in the Hodges Library Commons area. The location and schedule of the department’s tutoring lab will be posted on the Math Place website. There is no fee to the student. If students ask about private tutoring, they may find an email list on the Math Place website. Please note, you may tutor students in other classes, but not your own class.

5. Attendance

Students should be impressed with the fact that non-attendance will, at least indirectly, affect their grades, especially in elementary courses. Frequent quizzes will help motivate students to attend class. YOU SHOULD CHECK ATTENDANCE DAILY AND KEEP A RECORD OF ATTENDANCE.

6. Course Grades

Explain carefully how final course grades will be determined. Include the portion of the grade determined by hour- tests, quizzes, homework, the final, and/or other items. Try to use letter grades as much as possible. At the end of the semester, do not post grades. It is a violation of federal law to post grades by name or social security number. Give the students an opportunity to bring you stamped self-addressed envelope, or use the University sponsored web site to post grades promptly. This system offers a fully integrated course management tool that allows an instructor to create and deliver content, communicate with students, deliver surveys and exams, receive homework in digital form, maintain and distribute grades, and more, without having to know Web-design or Web- design tools. In addition, course materials and student information in a course are secure. Instructors have the ability to make their course widely available or only accessible to those enrolled in the course.

7. Tests, and the Final Examination Period

Announce the exact date of each test well in advance (at least one week). Most course outlines suggest convenient times for scheduling tests. Consult the timetable for the official schedule of your final examination. All final exams must be given during the specified times. The following is quoted from the Undergraduate Catalog and represents university policy, which all teachers must follow.

“Any final exams must be given during the final exam period at the scheduled time, although alternative uses of the scheduled exam period may be designated by the instructor.

Students are not required to take more than two written exams on any day. The instructor(s) of the last non-departmental exam(s) on that day must reschedule the student’s exam during the exam period. It is the obligation of students with such conflicts to make appropriate arrangements with the instructor at least two weeks prior to the end of classes.

No in-class, written quizzes or tests counting more than 10% of the semester grade may be given the last five calendar days prior to the study period. Courses that are exempt from the policy are so indicated in the catalog course description.”

Mathematics classes taught by GTA’s are expected to have examinations during the examination period. If you think there is some reason to use this time for some other purpose, you should consult with your Teaching Advisor or Course Coordinator.

You are encouraged to schedule a review session for your students during the study period. If you do, check with Burnette Crombie, 247 Ayres Hall, to be sure your classroom is available.

8. Makeup Exams

There are various methods for providing a fair way for students with legitimate reasons for missing an exam to make up the grade. The most important thing is for you to determine your policy and explain it carefully to your class at the beginning of the semester.

9. Quizzes and Homework

Give your students a clear statement about whether you will give quizzes and/or homework which will count in the final grade. Keep in mind that you must use your time carefully. Teaching assistants, in general, cannot obtain paper graders. Some combination of quizzes and homework seems desirable to encourage students to work regularly, but it can also lead to grading chores that deprive you of valuable study time. After teaching for a couple of semesters, you probably will find the procedures that work best for you. Don’t hesitate to ask other graduate assistants or members of the faculty for their comments and suggestions.

10. Disability Services: It is recommended that your syllabus contain the disability clause: “If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a documented disability or if you have emergency information to share, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 100 Dunford Hall or 974-6087. This will ensure that you are properly registered for services.”

Students, who have a disability and want special consideration, must register with Student Disability Services at least two weeks before using the service. The student is required to bring you a letter from SDS explaining the services that they are entitled to receive. The student should then discuss with you which services he/she would like to use. The instructor is to comply with the requests, as stated in the letter. If a student needs extra time or a quiet place for exams, the instructor is to make the arrangements. If it is not possible to work out these arrangements with the student, SDS will administer the exam. In this case, the student is required to bring you a form arranging for SDS to pick up the exam. The instructor is to fill out the student information label on an envelope in the departmental office and sign across the seal. It will be placed in your mailbox when it is returned.


Sometimes a student comes to the department office to complain about his/her instructor. The Lower Division Chair or Associate Head for Undergraduates will talk with the student and attempt to identify the problem(s) and to remind the student of his/her own obligations in the course. This initial conversation is simply a “fact-finding session” after which the instructor may be asked to come in to discuss the situation and to give his/her side of the matter. The department’s main concern is that good instruction is provided, fair grading policies are used, and a pleasant atmosphere conducive to teaching and learning is maintained. Because students are often hesitant to discuss their concerns directly with the instructor, working through the departmental office is sometimes the only way for an instructor to learn that his/her student is troubled. The Lower Division Chair and Associate Head for Undergraduates are always willing to work with instructors to resolve problems.

Do not talk with parents about a student’s progress or grade in class. Advise parents that you are not legally permitted to share this information with them. All information about their child’s progress must come from the student. Explain to the parent that if the student has questions about their progress or grade for the course that you would be happy to meet with the student during office hours to discuss this. If this does not satisfy the student or parent, advise them to call the Mathematics Undergraduate Program office, 247 Ayres Hall, at 974-1478.

If you have behavioral problems with a student in your classroom, please seek the advice of the Associate Head for Undergraduates or Lower division chair. They will attempt to help you solve classroom difficulties. Some additional resources:  Reed, R. (1997). Strategies for Dealing with Troublesome Behaviors in the Classroom [Electronic version]. The National Teaching & Learning Forum , 6 ( 6 ) . Retrieved March 19 , 2 0 0 4 , f r o m

 Texas Tech University. (2002). Faculty Guide — Civility in the Classroom: Tips for Dealing  with  Troublesome  Behavior 2002 – 2003 . Retrieved March 19, 2004 , from



Telephones are provided for local use only, and they may not be used for long distance calls. The office will not give your number to students, but will take messages and put them in your mailbox or email you.


Any maintenance problems that you have (e.g., heating, lighting) should be reported to the office as soon as you are aware of them.


The Common Room, 408 Ayres Hall, is available to all faculty and graduate students in the Mathematics Department for relaxation and informal discussion. Many graduate students find the Common Room an ideal place to meet fellow students and faculty. A microwave, refrigerator, and sink are available in the Common Room, and many who bring their own lunches eat there. Coffee is available throughout the day. To maintain the room for the purposes intended, teaching assistants should not consult with their students in the Common Room.


The Mathematics Department regards the colloquium lectures as a part of a student’s graduate education, and graduate students are expected to attend these lectures. Speakers at the Mathematics Colloquia include mathematicians from outside the university, our own faculty, and other members of the university community. Most talks are based on the speaker’s current research interests, or are expository talks on advanced topics. They are general in nature, with technical details left to special seminars.


The Graduate Student Senate in cooperation with the Dean of Students and the Dean of the Graduate School awards funding for graduate and professional students to travel, present work, and participate at scholarly conferences and events.

Three travel award announcements are made throughout the year, designed to roughly coinciding with the academic term periods. These awards are based on merit and are given to provide partial reimbursement of certain allowable expenses such as transportation, lodging and registration expenses. Applications are considered by a committee composed of graduate students, faculty members, and university administrators.

Applications must be submitted to and received by the Office of the Dean of Students by specified deadlines which will be posted when available. Only applications submitted on the official form will be considered for awards.

Limited travel funds may also be available through the Mathematics Department. Please make an appointment with the Department Head, Dr. Xioabing Feng, 227 Ayres Hall, to discuss funding availability.


The Science Alliance is a partnership between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory with joint funding from the state of Tennessee and DOE and additional funding from industry. It provides an unusual concentration of people, facilities, and funds to support scientific research, technological development, and educational excellence. It also provides financial awards for mathematics graduate students.


All graduate students in the Mathematics Department are invited to participate in student governance of their department. In particular, the Mathematics Graduate Student Council (MGSC) is an elected body composed solely of mathematics graduate students. Its primary purposes include: promoting cohesion and cooperation among mathematics graduate students, lobbying for and/or supporting the interests of mathematics graduate students, and serving as a liaison between mathematics graduate students and the department’s faculty, staff, and administration. All mathematics graduate students are encouraged to run for MGSC office, as well as share with the MGSC any ideas/concerns/suggestions they may have. In addition, the MGSC organizes Town Hall meetings at least once each semester for all graduate students in the Mathematics Department. For more information on the MGSC, visit, where you can find the official by-laws, or email


The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics is a leading international organization for the promotion of applied mathematics and its many varied disciplines. One way that the society seeks to foster the continued development of applied mathematics is through the information generated by student chapters. UT is one of the first institutions to have organized such a chapter. Most members are graduate students from the Mathematics Department, although other students are welcome. A nominal annual fee obtains this membership and the privilege to participate in election of chapter officers. Activities of the chapter include the sponsorship of lectures of particular interest to the membership, participation in national and regional SIAM meetings (including presentation of research papers by students in competitions in which UT students have been particularly successful) and, of course, social gatherings. All interested students are invited to attend meetings of the chapter.


Before leaving the department you will be asked to turn in to the department your grade records, textbooks, office keys, equipment that has been checked out to you, and in some instances copies of examinations. A GTA’s final paycheck may be withheld until any missing item is supplied. Often the department must handle questions concerning grades–sometimes several years after the grade has been assigned. It is impossible to do so without adequate records. The need to return keys, books, and equipment is obvious. Although the department must pay for all key replacements, our real concern is for loss of security when keys are not adequately controlled. Cooperation of graduate assistants in these matters is appreciated.


Each completed assistantship application with its related material (such as transcripts and reference letters) is filed in the department. During the selection process, only those faculty involved in deciding who should receive support have access to the file. Files of applicants who do not receive support are maintained by the department in accordance with federal law. The file of each applicant who receives support becomes part of the individual’s departmental employee personnel file.


The University of Tennessee will remain open except in the most severe weather conditions. The Chancellor may officially close or suspend selected activities of the University because of extreme weather conditions. When a decision to close is reached, you will be notified via the UT app if you have registered for those notifications, posted on the campus website, and will be broadcast via local radio and TV stations will be notified so that appropriate announcements may be made. In the event of inclement weather when the University remains open, all faculty, administrators, and staff will be expected to make every reasonable effort to maintain their regular work schedules, but are advised to avoid undue risks in traveling. Employees who anticipate arriving late or not arriving at all should notify their immediate supervisors. Students will be responsible for any academic work that they miss due to absences caused by severe weather conditions. It is the individual student’s responsibility to take the initiative to make up any missed class work, and it is the instructor’s responsibility to provide a reasonable opportunity for students to complete assignments or examinations missed due to such absences.


Do not copy previously published material for distribution to your class. A memo from the College dated March 23, 1993, reminded faculty that “… providing copies of published material to students for class use with or without costs to them and/or without permission of the original publisher is illegal. Copyright laws in general apply to all such material.” It also noted that “[f]aculty members who choose to make such copies of published information available for public use, especially when it involves University owned equipment invite legal action toward themselves and the institution as a whole.”


The following information on sexual harassment is from the publication Sexual Harassment: A Guide for Faculty, Staff and Students distributed by the Title IX Office.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is committed to providing an environment free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment by any member of the University community is a violation of both the law and University policy and will not be tolerated. Both males and females can be victims of sexual harassment, and both males and females can be perpetrators of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is an issue which may affect any member of the University community and will be dealt with promptly by the University administration.

Definitions of Sexual Harassment

FOR EMPLOYEES, harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of Section 703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines define sexual harassment as follows:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when 1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; 2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or 3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

FOR STUDENTS, harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when 1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term of condition of an individual’s status in a course, program, or activity; 2. submission to such conduct is used as the basis for academic decisions affecting the individual, including, but not limited to, grades or academic progress; or 3. when the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual’s academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.

The basic point to remember is that sexual harassment is unwanted, unsolicited, or undesired attention of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment is a breach of the trusting relationship that normally exists between the employer-employee and/or the professor-student. Boundaries between the professional role and the personal relationship blur because the harasser introduces the personal element into what should be a sex-neutral situation.

Sexual harassment can be exhibited verbally or physically. Examples of sexual harassment include: unwelcome sexual innuendos, suggestive or insulting sounds, whistling in a suggestive manner, or humor and jokes about sex or (wo)men in general, implied or overt threats, and unwelcome patting, pinching, or touching.


UT’s educational mission requires an atmosphere of professional behavior based upon mutual trust and respect between faculty and students. Relationships between students and their teachers, advisors, and others holding positions of authority over them should be conducted in a manner that avoids potential conflicts of interest or exploitation. Given the inherent differences in power between faculty and students, all members of the university community should recognize the possibility of intentional or unintentional abuse of that power.

Commonly accepted standards of professional behavior and ethics require that faculty members not hold evaluative power over any student with whom they have a romantic or sexual relationship.

Faculty members who engage in these relationships leave themselves vulnerable to charges of sexual harassment or conflict of interests. Even when both parties initially have consented, such a relationship renders both the faculty member and the institution vulnerable to possible later allegations of sexual harassment in the light of the significant power differential that exists between faculty and students. Thus, faculty members should not initiate or accept such a relationship with a student over whom they have an evaluative role.

Should such a relationship develop between a faculty member and a student, the faculty member shall remove him/herself from the evaluation of the student’s work.

Faculty members are therefore obliged to be aware of these problems and of their individual responsibility to protect themselves, their students, and the institution from harmful effects of such relationships.


Policies and procedures regarding computer ethics, computing practice, information security, etc., may be found on the Office of Information Technology web site at



The following procedures should be followed in the event of an emergency situation:

1. Notify other building occupants of the existence of an emergency. The best way to alert others is by activating the building’s emergency alarm system as you leave the building. The alarm system will sound when the activation handle is pulled out or down.

2. Notify 911 of the emergency from a safe location. This may be an office or a room down the hall, your own office/room or a nearby building. When the 911 operator answers, describe the type of emergency, its exact location and the severity of the problem. Stay on the line, if you can safely do so, until you are sure the operator has all the information you can provide.

3. If it is not safe to use a building telephone, use the nearest “blue light” emergency telephone. The “blue light” telephones are connected directly to the University Police Department dispatcher who will relay the request for assistance to the appropriate response agency. Stay on the line until you are sure the dispatcher has all the information you can provide.

4. Procedures for evacuation: One of the most important responsibilities of each individual is to evacuate the building promptly and safely. In response to the sounding of an emergency alarm (or other notification) leave the building immediately. As you leave the area, close the door behind you to retard the spread of flames and smoke. Proceed along your previously determined escape route to the building’s exit. (If an exit is blocked, use an alternate path.) After you have entered a stairwell, be sure that the door closes and latches behind you. DO NOT USE THE ELEVATORS. The elevator may fail as a result of damage or it may move to the location of the emergency and the doors may open.

5. Once outside the building, move away to a safe location. Do not return to the building until instructed to do so by authorized personnel (Fire or Police Officer). If there are no authorized personnel on the scene, go to a nearby building or to a “blue light” emergency telephone and call for instructions.

If You Realize a Fire Has Occurred While You Are Inside a Room

1. Feel the door to see whether it is hot. If the door is hot, the area on the other side is probably involved in the fire. If the door is cool, kneel down and check the air coming into the room from under the door. If the air is cool, it should be safe to open the door.

2. Kneel behind the door and open it a crack, being sure to keep your face turned away from the opening. Listen and smell for smoke and fire. If the area on the other side of the door is on fire, very hot air and gases may rush into the room when you open the door. If this occurs, close the door immediately.

3. If you determine that it is safe to leave the room, close all the windows and then the door as you exit. When leaving a smoke-filled area, move quickly, crawling on your hands and knees. (Hot air and poisonous gases rise; fresh air will be nearer the floor.)

4. If you must stay in the room and wait rescue, place a wet towel or other material along the bottom of the door to impede the entry of smoke and gases. Check all windows for an escape route. If no unaided safe escape from a window is possible, attempt to open a window slightly and hang something out to show rescuers that you are there. The small opening will also provide fresh air.

Handicapped Individuals

Special arrangements must be made for individuals who have a handicap which would hinder their evacuation from the building. The head of a unit in which a handicapped individual is employed is responsible for making arrangements for provision of necessary assistance in the event of an emergency. The person or persons designated to assist the handicapped person should go to the handicapped person when the alarm sounds. The University Police Department should be informed of persons for whom special arrangements have been made.


1. Graduate and Undergraduate Catalogs:

2. Hilltopics Student Handbook:

3. Faculty Handbook: :

4. Final Exam Schedule:

5. Academic Calendar:

6. Key dates:

7. Best Practices in Teaching:

8. Center for International Education:

9. Counseling Center:

10. College of Arts and Sciences:

11. Funding, Fellowships, Assistantships for Graduate Students:

12. Graduate School:

13. Graduate Student Appeals Procedure:

14. Graduate Student Senate:

15. Graduate and International Admissions:

16. International House:

17. Student conduct & Community Standards:

18. Office of Equity and Diversity:

19. Office of Multicultural Student Life:

20. OPIc Exam (formerly the SPEAK Test):

21. Thesis/Dissertation Website:

22. Center for Health Education & Wellness (Distressed Student Protocol):

23. Library Website for Graduate Students:

24. OIT:

Forms and Additional Resources (available through
• Graduate Student Deadline Dates (also posted on the board outside 225)
• Admission to Candidacy Application – Master’s Degree
• Doctoral Committee Appointment Form
• Admission to Candidacy Application – Doctoral Degree
• Scheduling Defense of Dissertation Form
• Graduate Student Travel Award Forms (specific to department, college, and university (Graduate Student Senate Website))