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Current PhD Student FAQs

The Frequently Asked Questions on this page are geared towards current Doctoral Students.

Am I required to use the email address that UAlbany assigned to me for correspondence with the school?
Yes. All important University communications will be sent to your UAlbany account.  However, you may forward your University email to your preferred email by logging into your Webmail account, choosing “Options,” and selecting “Mail Filtering.”  You will add a new rule that performs an action on all incoming messages. You will be able to sign up for your program-specific listserv using any personal email account you choose.

I received an Advisor Verification Number (AVN) from my advisor before my first semester. Can I use this AVN to register for subsequent semesters as well?
No; you will need a new AVN from your advisor each semester you register for classes. Please meet with your advisor and discuss your academic plans for the remaining semesters.

How do I register for classes?
Registering for classes at is done through MyUAlbany. Follow these instructions.

Can I change my advisor?
Students may switch to another academic advisor by submitting a request form to switch academic advisors.

What is the Tentative Degree Program (TDP) worksheet and when is it due?
The TDP worksheet is designed to help you and your advisor determine your course schedule for the duration of your career at Rockefeller. You should complete a TDP by the end of your second semester. The TDP is kept in your student folder and can be changed if needed.

What is a Completed Degree Program (CDP) worksheet and when is it due?
The CDP worksheet lists all courses the student has taken in the program and details the courses, papers, and other requirements completed to meet the student’s field requirements. The CDP must be signed by the student’s advisor and the field chair, as well as by the PhD Director and Department chair. The CDP ensures that students have fulfilled their field requirements before being admitted to candidacy and is used by the University to clear the student for their degree. After the completion of the core and field requirements and before nomination for admission to candidacy, each student must submit a Completed Degree Program for approval by the Department.

What is the residency requirement?
All doctoral students in the program are required to spend at least two academic terms in full-time residence at the University. The terms do not need to be consecutive. The residency requirement must be fulfilled within four calendar years of the date of initial registration in the program.

What concentrations are available through the Public Administration Department?
PAD offers six concentrations: Comparative and International Administration; Decision and Policy Sciences; Organization Behavior and Theory; Politics and Administration; Public Finance; and Public Management. For further information on each of the concentrations, see the PhD Manual.

When do I have to choose a concentration?
Your field work courses are part of your TDP, which is generally due by the end of your second semester taking classes. Although the courses listed on the TDP may change, we suggest that you make your concentration decision by the time you hand in your TDP.

Can I take classes from other departments to fulfill my coursework requirement?
Yes, in fact we encourage you to explore what other departments may have to offer in your specific concentration. However, you should take these classes in close consultation with your advisor.

What is the difference between transferring and waiving credits?
Transferring credits means that a student has already taken an equivalent graduate course at another university. Transfer credits may be counted as an elective or substituted for a required/optional course in the PhD. They can also be used to help reach the 60 required credits for a PhD courses may be waived if a student can demonstrate that equivalent experience or non-academic coursework has been completed in another setting, e.g., someone who has attended a Police Academy or special management training may already have been given the information from the professional development courses. Courses may be waived based on a series of different experiences that are equivalent to the course being waived.

What do I need to do to transfer graduate course credits from another university?
A Transfer Credit form is used to request transfer of graduate credit from another institution. The transferred course may be used as an elective or as an approved substitution for a required/optional course in the PhD program. Students must receive a grade of B or better in order to transfer credit. In submitting a transfer of credit request to your advisor, include the description of the course to be transferred in, a detailed syllabus, and any papers and exams you have from the course.

What do I need to do in order to waive a core course?
PhD courses may be waived if a student can demonstrate that equivalent experience or non-academic coursework has been completed in another setting, e.g., someone who has attended a Police Academy or special management training may already have been given the information from the professional development courses. Courses may be waived based on a series of different experiences that are equivalent to the course being waived. You must file a waiver form. Note that your advisor, the professor teaching the class you wish to waive, and the department chair (in that order) all need to sign the form. You will need to meet with each of these people in order to waive a course.

When do I need to choose a dissertation committee?
The process of choosing a committee differs for each individual. Take time to get to know the faculty and speak with them about your research ideas. Choose your dissertation chair first and then work with him or her to put together a committee. Once your committee is put together, you need to fill out the Declaration of Dissertation Committee form.

How do I obtain admission to candidacy?
There are two basic routes to obtain candidacy depending on your concentration. If your concentration is in Politics and Administration, you are required to take qualifying examinations. If you have any other concentration, you are required to write a literature review and a publishable paper. Please read the requirements in the PhD manual for your concentration carefully. Once you have completed the requirements, you will need to fill out the admission to candidacy form.

Does my dissertation committee have to be the same committee that approves my candidacy?
No, you can have different readers for the candidacy requirements.

Will the department pay for me to attend conferences?
As the budget allows, the department will contribute to your travel expenses. You need to request the money in advance using the Travel Support Requet Form. Because of high demand, money may only be provided to students who are presenting at the conferences. To receive funding, students must apply for funding before they travel and conform to the University’s strict rules governing accounting procedures and use of approved travel agents.

What is the process for defending my prospectus?
Once your prospectus is written, the candidate presents the proposal at the Prospectus Defense, a formal meeting of the dissertation committee, for criticism and agreement. Normally, the departmental secretary works with the students and committee chair to publicize the time and date of the defense. You should submit an electronic version of your prospectus to the department secretary two weeks prior to your defense.

How long does my dissertation need to be?
UAlbany has no set requirement for dissertation length. You will work with your committee to determine how to write a thorough dissertation.

How is my dissertation supposed to be formatted?
Graduate Studies offers detailed information on the university requirements for dissertation submission, which includes formatting information.

I think I will graduate this semester. When may I apply?
Graduate students may apply for graduation on the first day of their last semester at the university. You apply electronically via your MyUAlbany account.

What must I do to apply for graduation?
Students are required to complete the electronic degree application through their MyUAlbany account. After this has been completed there are several steps concerning dissertation submission to the University that must be followed.

How do I sign up for an independent study?
The department has several course numbers designated to independent studies. First, you should contact the professor you wish to work with. If that professor agrees to work with you on an independent study, you should ask him or her for their class number of the appropriate independent study course and a permission number. The most popular options are PAD 697 – Guided Research (1-4 credits), PAD 695 – Readings in Public Management (4 credits), and PUB 691 – Independent Research for Public Affairs (1-12 credits). All independent study courses are S/U graded and do not contribute to your cumulative GPA. There are no graded options for independent study.

What do I do if I apply for graduation on MyUAlbany and it doesn’t allow me to choose a semester?
The most likely problem is that you missed the deadline to apply for graduation online. You must apply for graduation on MyUAlbany during the semester you plan to graduate. The deadline for that semester will be listed on MyUAlbany. If you miss the deadline, you must go to the Registrar’s office to apply for graduation in person.