Incoming students are assigned a temporary ‘first year advisor’ whose job it is to help them devise a course of study that will satisfy Department requirements and develop their particular interests. By sometime during their second year, students should have some sense of their eventual area of concentration and of which faculty they work with most effectively; in consultation with their first year advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and other faculty, they will then shift to a ‘portfolio advisor’ who will guide them through the development of their portfolio. The final step, after the portfolio exam, is to find a suitable ‘dissertation advisor’ (who will serve as chair of their Doctoral Committee).
Each spring, the LPS faculty meets to evaluate the progress of each graduate student in the LPS track. They review all work done in courses and seminars, all independent work done under faculty supervision, and all available evaluations of teaching performance. Courses and seminars are graded on the usual scale of 'A' through 'F', but for graduate students, a grade lower than 'B' is considered unsatisfactory (and will not satisfy a requirement). A grade of 'I' (‘incomplete’) can be given under special circumstances, but first and second year students should avoid carrying 'I' grades into the spring meeting (where they are viewed unfavorably). A grade of 'S' (‘satisfactory’, as opposed to 'U', ‘unsatisfactory’) in a graduate course or seminar functions largely as an audit grade, that is, it is awarded to anyone who does the reading and participates in all class meetings. First and second year students are advised not to take courses or seminars for 'S' grades except as an overload (that is, over and above the standard twelve units), because an 'S' provides little useful information at the spring meeting, but more advanced students should feel free to use this option. After each spring meeting, advisors give their advisees a written summary of the Department consensus (with special attention to any problem areas that are identified).