18 Characteristics Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

Why are departments required to provide new 18 Characteristics data every year?

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) requires that all doctoral programs offered at public universities report on the 18 Characteristics of Doctoral Programs on a yearly basis. The information provided not only helps the general public make decisions about their doctoral education, but can also be used for self-improvement by the programs themselves.

Where does the data in the Graduate Student Information System (GSIS) report come from?  

The information in these reports comes from student and faculty information maintained on several distinct campus information systems and databases. Participating divisions include: the Graduate School, the Provost’s Office, the Registrar’s Office, the Payroll Department, the Office of Accounting, Financial Information Systems and the Office of Sponsored Projects.

My data does not agree with the GSIS data. How do I proceed?

GSIS data are intended to help programs with this and other complex reporting tasks. The integrity of the report is limited by the data available, which makes your data so valuable -- it helps improve our shared information resources for the next iteration of reports. Upon receipt, graduate coordinators (or the designated 18 Characteristics preparer) should vet the GSIS data.  If the information from the GSIS reports does not agree with the information maintained by your program, please note the discrepancies in the “Comments” field.   Additionally, please send a description of any such discrepancies to Danielle Thoma at d.thoma@austin.utexas.edu so that we can update and improve our data sources.

What information does the GSIS provide, and what information must be provided at the program level?

The GSIS provides university data for 13 of the 18 measures.

Individual programs should use this information to vet their reports.  Please include comments regarding any discrepancies found between your information and GSIS so we can learn how to improve our sources moving forward.

Programs provide information for 5 of the 18 measures:

  • Item 5: Admissions Criteria
  • Item 11: Core Faculty Publications
  • Item 16: Date of Last External Review
  • Item 17: Date of Last External Accreditation
  • Item 18: Student Publications and Presentations

The data required for these items are not available from central sources. Please provide the best information available to you on the program level. Information about faculty publications is still being gathered, and your faculty are still the best source for information on their publications, as they may have gathered this information for internal use or for reporting within the university.

Do we provide data based on calendar year or academic year?

The reports include data summarized by academic year.  Academic years include the fall, spring, and summer semesters beginning with the fall of the year named; for example, Academic Year 2014 includes fall 2014, spring 2015, and summer 2015.

Our program expects students to earn their master's degree before we let them enter our PhD program. How do we calculate time-to-degree values in such cases? 

When calculating average time to degree, we include the total period of time between a student’s first enrollment in the program/field of study and the time when the degree is awarded in that program/field of study.  Therefore the time-to-degree for students who enter a UT graduate program with the goal of earning the Ph.D. but who earn the master's’ degree as part of that process will have the time required to earn the master's’ degree included in their time to Ph.D. degree. 

Item-Specific FAQs

Item 2: How were the graduation rates reported in GSIS calculated?

Graduation rates are defined as the percentage of students who graduated within ten years of first enrolling at that level in a given program.  The information itself is derived from student records maintained by the Registrar’s Office and verified by the Graduate School.

Item 4: How do I submit new or additional placements for the Student Employment Profile?

You can submit the new or additional placement information to GSIS using the Placements tab on the GSIS Student Profile page at https://utdirect.utexas.edu/apps/gsi/grad_profile.

Item 9: How are Core Faculty defined? 

For the purposes of the data reported by GSIS, core faculty is defined as the membership of the Graduate Studies Committee in the program for the year reported. The GSC number is a well-defined number and therefore easily reported.  However, we realize that some programs may have a different definition of their core faculty and they may use that definition for the purposes of this report.  In such cases, please define the population of core faculty about which you are reporting in the "Comments" column of the report.