Graduate Admissions Committee

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Purview of the GAC

  • In consultation with the faculty, review applicants for admission; make decisions on admittance; make offers of support.
  • Determine the number of new students to be admitted to the graduate program.
  • Assign Teaching Assistants to courses.
  • Choose recipients of Demi-fellowships from applicant pool.
  • Disburse any potential summer support funds.


The committee considers applications, including requests for transfers from the M.Sc. to the Ph.D. program or upgrades from part-time to full-time graduate student once a year [1].

The committee has three criteria that guide admission decisions:

  1. Quality of the applicant
  2. Current and projected demands on departmental funds by faculty members
  3. Availability of financial support

Quality of the applicant

The Committee will not admit any students to whom we would not give support.

Two situations are covered by this.

  1. A student who has sources of support independent of department resources, and who the committee agrees would be supportable with department resources, can be admitted.
  1. A student who has sources of support independent of department resources, and who the committee agrees is not supportable with department resources, will not be admitted.

Current and projected demands on departmental funds by faculty member

Precedence for new student admission, all other things being equal, will be given to faculty with the lowest current, recent, and projected demands on departmental resources (i.e., generally TA lines). All active faculty can generally expect some support for graduate students.

TA Assignments

New students are typically assigned to 100s level courses. The specific assignment will usually take into account the student’s background.

Returning students are asked to supply Anne St. Onge/the GAC with a ranked preference list of courses before each semester they would like to TA. At the same time, faculty who will be teaching in the following semester are asked if they have a preference for particular students as TAs[2]. Students who would like to TA a specific course are strongly encouraged to discuss their interest with the appropriate faculty member. Faculty should not communicate commitment of TA assignments to students without prior agreement from the Graduate Awards Committee.

The committee has 3-4 100s level courses and 3-4 upper level courses to staff each semester. The currents at the confluence of staffing requirements, TA preferences and faculty preferences are swift and unpredictable. However, within the constraints set by the particular courses and numbers of TAs that each requires, the committee attempts to maximize the number of matches for both TA and faculty preference lists. When these do not match, faculty preferences for upper division courses and other specialized assignments are given the greatest weight.

N.B. This means that neither faculty nor TAs always get their first choice.


  1. If faculty are aware of students who would like to matriculate in the middle of the year, those students should apply for admission the previous spring, with an indication that they would like to defer entry by one semester.
  2. Faculty might wish to take into account spreading around opportunities to TA upper level courses.