GUIDELINES AND RESPONSIBILITIES FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS
All full-time or part-time graduate students, PhD or MS, funded or unfunded, must adhere to the guidelines and responsibilities presented herein.
Aligning with Villanova’s principals of Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas (truth, unity, and love), which creates an environment that fosters exciting opportunities for learning and growth and makes Villanova distinctive, we value and seek to empower all members of our community to develop their potential, bring their full self to the goals of the College, and engage in a community of inclusion (view the University Mission Statement). Villanova University is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment that is free from harassment. Harassment based upon an individual's sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, any other legally protected characteristics, or any other reason will not be tolerated.
In engineering, a Graduate Assistantship (GA) is the most common way for students to fund their graduate studies. With a GA, the student is paid a stipend and perhaps tuition support in exchange for research or teaching assistant work. Research is normally done on the topic that is funded by an external agency or internally by Villanova, and on which the student will study to earn their MS or PhD. A teaching assistant might teach part of a lecture class or run problem sessions, hold office hours, organize and run a laboratory course, or grade for a professor. Learn more and find open positions here.
Many full-time graduate students receive financial support in their programs. Support can include stipend and/or tuition remission. A supported graduate student is categorized as a graduate assistant (GA) or teaching assistant (TA). Both a GA and TA are expected to attend the University and take at least one course each semester at the time of their assistantship. A GA or TA can only have one assistantship position at a time. A GA or TA cannot receive stipend or tuition support from the College if on athletic aid at the same time. Each performs various duties for their department. Generally, a GA performs research to assist faculty and to contribute to their own advancement in pursuit of a degree. A TA provides classroom or laboratory teaching assistance, conducts office hours or assists with grading. For more information, refer to the responsibilities and privileges of graduate assistants below.
All supported graduate students will receive an offer letter wherein the terms and conditions of the support will be specified.
For more information, refer to the Graduate Assistantship: Funding Opportunities webpage, as well as the responsibilities and privileges of graduate assistants outlined in the sections below.
Supported graduate students may be awarded tuition remission credits for each academic year. The tuition remission is for a total number of credits up to but not exceeding the number of credits required for the degree. If the supported student is compelled to withdraw from a course, the tuition for that course counts toward the total number of credits allocated. In this case, the student is responsible for paying for the additional course(s) to complete degree requirements.
Tuition remission will be credited automatically to the accounts of all Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants at the beginning of each semester. The supported student does not need to submit any paperwork for tuition remission. However, if the supported student receives an email notification regarding a new bill (referred to as a “V-Bill”) of an unpaid tuition, the student should contact their advisor immediately. The semester fee of $50 is covered by the student’s support unless the student is registered only for a course or courses having zero credits.
For further information view the financial aid web page.
*Several links in this document will require the student to be enrolled to be able to log in to the website of interest. If unable to access a link, please contact the appropriate department chairperson for the information.
If a supported graduate student is receiving a stipend, as stated in the offer letter, it will be paid on the last business day of each month. All taxes and other required deductions will be withheld. Please see the Payroll Office website for the schedule. In most cases, only a Graduate Assistant will receive a stipend; the award of a stipend is referred to as a Graduate Assistantship (tuition remission may or may not accompany this assistantship). Stipend rates are set by the Office of the Provost annually (click here and log in – then click on Graduate Assistants to download the pdf file of rates). The length of the Graduate Assistantship in the College varies by student as specified in the offer letter, but most are 9- or 10-month (corresponding to the academic year) or 12-month. The stipend amount typically increases slightly each year.
Some Graduate Assistantship funds are from external sources (i.e., grants) and these will almost always be for 12 months. In the case that this funding is suspended, which is highly unlikely, the department and the College will do everything they can to reasonably assist the student so that studies and employment will be uninterrupted.
Incoming Graduate Assistants will be notified by email regarding the employment onboarding process. As a Graduate Assistant, the student is an official employee of the University and is subject to all Employment Policies and Procedures, including the successful completion of background clearances and several employment forms. The student will be required to submit information via our employment applicant system, PeopleAdmin and must complete the Acknowledgement of Graduate Assistants Responsibilities form upon acceptance of their offer.
Students not receiving a stipend are not required to be onboarded.
All graduate students are required to maintain at least a "B" average (GPA of 3.00). Some departments require that assistants maintain a minimum grade point average that is above 3.00. More information on grading is available here.
PhD and MS Graduate Assistants are expected to work both independently and in teams, and to be professional and respectful in their conduct, work, and communication with their peers and advisor. Their work shall be conducted in a thorough and timely manner, adhering to all schedules set by the advisor. Students supported on external grants must adhere to data quality assurance procedures, which may include the development of work products such as project status reports, budgets, etc. Failure to meet these requirements can result in discipline up to and including dismissal and termination of the assistantship.
All supported graduate students are expected to participate actively in the intellectual life of their departments. They should attend all seminars and other forums provided by their departments and the College and assist in seminars and forums as directed by their chairperson or advisor.
Statement of Purpose
Academic integrity is vital to any university community for many reasons. Students receive credit for doing assignments because they are to learn from those assignments, and the vast majority do so honestly. A student who submits work that is not his/her own, or who cheats on a test or plagiarizes a paper is not learning, is receiving credit dishonestly and is, in effect, stealing from other students. As a consequence, it is crucial that students do their own work. A student who uses someone else’s work or ideas without crediting that source, or whom otherwise performs dishonestly in a course, is plagiarizing or cheating. Such dishonesty threatens the integrity not only of the individual student, but of the university community as a whole.
Academic integrity lies at the heart of the values expressed in Villanova University's mission statement and inspired by the spirit of Saint Augustine. When one comes to Villanova, one joins an academic community founded on the search for knowledge in an atmosphere of cooperation and trust. The intellectual health of the community depends on this trust and draws nourishment from the integrity and mutual respect of each of its members.
The information in this document applies to both on-campus (that is, in-class) students as well as distance education (or on-line) students.
The University Academic Integrity policy forms the basis for this document and can be found here.
Code of Academic Integrity
The following are rules and examples regarding academic dishonesty. Since academic dishonesty takes place whenever anyone undermines the academic integrity of the institution or attempts to gain an unfair advantage over others, this list is not and cannot be exhaustive. Academic integrity is not simply a matter of conforming to certain rules; it must be understood in terms of the broader academic purposes of a Villanova education.
While taking a closed-book and closed-note test or examination, students shall rely on their own mastery of the subject and not attempt to receive help in any way not explicitly approved by the instructor. For example, students shall not use notes, study aids, or another’s work. Such cheating includes trying to give or obtain information about a test when the instructor states that it is to be confidential. It also includes trying to take someone else’s exam, or trying to have someone else take one’s own exam.
Students shall not falsify, invent, or use in a deliberately misleading way information, data, or citations in any assignments. This includes making up or changing data or results, or relying on someone else’s results. It also includes citing sources that one has not actually used or consulted.
3. Assisting in or contributing to academic dishonesty
Students shall not help or attempt to help others to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
This includes situations in which one student copies from or uses another student's work. In such situations, both students are likely to be penalized equally severely. Students are responsible for ensuring that their work is not used improperly by others. This does not include team projects where students are told by their instructor to work together.
Students shall not rely on or use someone else’s words, ideas, data, or arguments without clearly acknowledging the source and extent of the reliance or use. The most common way to acknowledge this reliance or indebtedness is to use footnotes, references, or other documentation. It is the student’s responsibility to show clearly when and where they are relying on others, partly because others may want to learn from the same sources from which the original writer learned. Since this indebtedness takes a variety of forms, some definitions and examples of plagiarism follow:
a. Using someone else’s words without acknowledgement. If you use someone else’s words, not only must you indicate the source, but you must also put them within quotation marks or use some other appropriate means of identifying the words, and mathematical equations, whether or not they have been formally published.
b. Using someone else’s ideas, data, or argument without acknowledgement, even if the words are your own. If you use someone else’s examples, train of thought or experimental results, you must acknowledge that use. Paraphrasing, summarizing, or rearranging someone else’s words, ideas, or results does not alter your indebtedness.
c. Acknowledging someone else in a way that will lead a reader to think your indebtedness is less than it actually was. For example, if you take a whole paragraph worth of ideas from a source, and include as your final sentence a quotation from the source, you must indicate that your indebtedness includes more than just the quotation. If you simply put a page number after the quotation, you will lead the reader to think that only the quotation comes from the source. Instead, make clear that you have used more than the quotation.
The examples above constitute plagiarism regardless of the source. The words or ideas of a roommate, an encyclopedia, or notes from another class, require acknowledgment just as much as the words or ideas of a scholarly book. Introductions and notes to books also require acknowledgment.
The examples above constitute plagiarism even in cases where the student uses material accidentally or unintentionally. A paper can be plagiarized even if you have forgotten that you used a certain source, or even if you have included material accidentally without remembering that it was taken from some other source. One of the most common problems is that students write a draft of a paper without proper documentation, intending to go back later to "put in the references." In some cases, students accidentally hand such papers in instead of the footnoted version, or they forget to put in some of the footnotes in their final draft. The fact that the wrong draft was submitted is not a defense against an accusation of plagiarism. Students are held accountable for the work that they actually submit, rather than the work that they intended to submit. Furthermore, students are responsible for proper documentation of drafts of papers, if those drafts are submitted to the professor. In general, students are responsible for taking careful notes on sources, and for keeping track of their sources throughout the various states of the writing process. Notes must clearly identify the information you have obtained and where you acquired it, so that later you can acknowledge your indebtedness accurately. Do not look at a source without having something handy with which to take such notes.
You need not provide footnotes for items that are considered common knowledge. What constitutes common knowledge, however, varies from academic field to academic field, so you should consult with your instructor. In general, the harder it would be for someone to find the fact you have mentioned, the more you need to footnote it.
5. Multiple submissions of work
Students shall not submit academic work for a class which has been done for another class without the prior approval of the instructor.
In any assignment, an instructor is justified in expecting that a certain kind of learning will be taking place. Submitting something done previously may preclude this learning. Consequently, if a student hands in work done elsewhere without receiving his/her instructor’s approval, he/she is violating academic integrity and will face penalties.
6. Unsanctioned collaboration
When doing out-of-class projects, tests, homework, or other assignments, students must work individually unless collaboration has been expressly permitted by the instructor. Students who do collaborate without express permission of their instructor must inform the instructor of the nature of their collaboration. If the collaboration is unacceptable, the instructor will determine the appropriate consequences (which may include treating the situation as an academic integrity violation.)
7. Taking un-earned credit
Taking credit for work in a team project even when the student has made little or no contribution to the work of the team misrepresents the truth and violates the academic integrity code.
8. Other forms of dishonesty
Behaving honestly in an academic setting includes more than just being honest in one’s academic assignments; students are expected to be honest in all dealings with the University. Certain kinds of dishonesty, though often associated with academic work, are of a different category than those listed above. These kinds of dishonesty include (but are not limited to) the following:
a. Misrepresenting oneself or one’s circumstances to an instructor (for example, in requesting a makeup exam or due date for an assignment, or in explaining an absence).
b. Forging part of, or signatures on, official documents (including both University documents, such as drop-add slips or excused absence slips, and relevant outside documents, such as doctor’s notes).
d. Stealing or damaging library books.
e. Unlawfully copying computer software.
These serious offenses will be handled by the University’s disciplinary procedures.
1. University Penalty
Students who violate the code of Academic Integrity are referred to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research for a University penalty. There are two kinds of penalty. A full academic integrity violation is a Class I violation. Typically a student with two Class I violations will be expelled from the school. In some cases, the Dean may choose to treat a violation of the Academic Integrity Code as a Class II violation. Class II violations are usually appropriate for less serious cases, or in cases where there are mitigating circumstances. Typically, a student may receive only one Class II violation; all subsequent violations are treated as Class I violations.
Students who have committed an academic integrity violation will be expected to complete an educational program, supervised by the student's college Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, or his/her designee, to help the student come to a fuller understanding of academic integrity. Students who fail to complete the educational program to the satisfaction of the Dean, and within the timelines specified by the Dean, will have a hold placed on their transcript until the program has been completed.
Students who wish to dispute an academic integrity penalty may take their case to the Board of Academic Integrity which is described on the web page
2. Individual Course Penalty
The academic penalty will also be applied and this will be determined by the student's instructor. A student who violates the academic integrity code with a Class I violation in a course will receive an F for the course. Students may appeal their grade through the normal University procedure for resolving grade disputes.
The Office of the Provost and Falvey Library have collaborated to create the Academic Integrity Gateway (http://library.villanova.edu/help/academicintegrity/), a web site with information about academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism. All graduate students are required to visit the Gateway, read and understand the Villanova University Academic Integrity Code and Policy and associated writings on “Academic Integrity, Avoiding Plagiarism, and Writing College Papers,” and complete the interactive quiz. This is normally less than a one-hour activity. Students may return at any time to use the web site as resource for writing papers.
In addition to other requirements, all PhD students must pass the Qualifying Exam, Comprehensive Exam, and successfully defend your Ph.D. dissertation to earn the Ph.D. degree. Please familiarize yourself with all conditions and requirements in the PhD Handbook on the webpage Graduate Student Policies, Procedures and Forms
Graduate Assistants receive a stipend for compensation of 20 hours of work per week conducting research under the direction of their advisor. This effort satisfies programmatic requirements from either the College or a funding agency. Progress toward the academic requirements of the pursued degree requires additional time for academic activities, such as class work and thesis or dissertation research, which are beyond the above-referenced 20 hours per week. Any student performing research is expected to meet with their research advisor regularly (normally weekly) to review the progress of the research and respond promptly to all communication from the advisor and other research group members.
The research advisor will identify the times the Graduate Assistant must be in the lab or office on campus or elsewhere. All GAs are expected to follow these rules unless an approved exception is agreed upon between the advisor and student.
When a graduate student serves as a Teaching Assistant in the classroom or laboratory, they function as members of the faculty and should behave accordingly with students. Teaching Assistants are required to provide service to their department each semester as required by the department or advisor. Schedules vary by department and service may be required during Fall and Spring Breaks, depending on the nature of the work needed. The student should consult with their advisor to determine the distribution of these hours throughout the semester.
Teaching assistants supported with full tuition remission are expected to provide between 10 to 20 hours of TA service a week to their department as directed by the department or advisor. Teaching assistants supported with less than full tuition remission will have their hours of service adjusted accordingly.
Graduate Assistants will be provided an office to be shared with other GAs. Each student is responsible for maintaining a clean and neat appearance of their office area.
Graduate students receive nearly 5 weeks of vacation per year. Students should coordinate vacation days through their advisor; no student should leave for vacation without first discussing arrangements with their advisor. Under normal conditions, students will be excused from work on the following University holidays: Thanksgiving break, Christmas break (typically Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day), July 4th, MLK day, and Easter break. Every student can schedule one week of vacation during each of the summer, fall, and spring semesters. Note that this may not have to coincide with the traditional fall and spring breaks, and it must be scheduled in consult with the advisor. Unspent vacation does not accrue year-to-year. Personal (say, for a doctor visit) and normal sick leaves are handled as a matter between the student and advisor.
Full-time Graduate Assistants are not permitted to take other employment while holding their assistantship. This includes employment outside the University and within any other unit/office within the University. The advisor should be contacted with any questions on this requirement. Possible exceptions to this must be worked out in consultation with the research advisor and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and documented in writing.
Most spaces within the College are accessed via Wildcard permissions. Graduate students who have access to departmental offices and laboratories are responsible for the security of these facilities. If keys are required, all keys must be returned to the department before the student leaves the University.
Graduate assistants may borrow books from the library. They may keep books out for the standard 12 weeks and books may be renewed once. There are no fines for overdue Main Stacks books. Students are, however, responsible for replacement costs on unreturned books.
An interlibrary loan (ILL) form is used to request papers from a physical journal. When available, the papers are emailed to the student. ILL is also used to obtain textbooks from universities other than Villanova. Visit the library website for further details.
There is no housing on campus for graduate students. However, the student’s advisor or the Assistant Director, Graduate Program Operations, can help suggest housing options in the area.
Regarding healthcare insurance, all students are automatically enrolled in University-sponsored healthcare insurance. To opt out, students must go through the “hard waiver” process, which requires providing Villanova with proof of acceptable insurance. All domestic graduate students are required to have healthcare insurance under the Affordable Care Act. These students may purchase the University-sponsored healthcare plan on a voluntary basis. For more information, please visit the University’s Student Health Insurance Information and Requirements webpage.
Funded through the Office of the Provost and in close coordination with Financial Affairs/Bursar’s Office, matriculated doctoral students, both funded and unfunded, receive $1500 annually to subsidize their healthcare coverage. This payment will appear as a credit on their student account at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.
International students must provide address changes to the Graduate Studies Office, the Registrar, and Mr. Hubert Whan Tong in the International Student Office. To request an extension of program end date, the student’s advisor should contact the Graduate Office with reason and length of extension for processing.
All international students with student visas are required to carry a minimum of three credit hours per semester or, when courses are completed, must be registered in Thesis/Doctoral Research continuation until they have completed their degree.
Additional Graduate Assistant requirements and responsibilities, such as the need to work at off-campus sites, participating in public outreach, hosting campus visitors, etc., will be established between the advisor and student and acknowledged by the student by signing an agreement form.
Failure to meet the requirements outlined in these Guidelines and Responsibilities, including unsatisfactory performance, or a violation of University or College policies, can result in discipline up to and including dismissal and termination of the assistantship.
Students may learn more from the following campus resources. Some links will require log-in for enrolled students. If unable to access a link, please contact the appropriate department chairperson for the information.