The conduct of graduate work at The University of Texas at Austin is the responsibility of Graduate Studies committees under the administration of the Dean of Graduate Studies. The Handbook of Operating Procedures of the university provides that legislative functions with respect to graduate programs shall be exercised through a Graduate Assembly.
The Graduate Assembly has the power to legislate on all matters having to do with the academic character of the graduate programs of the university. In particular, it is charged with the following:
- Determining minimum criteria for admission and continuation;
- Approving new graduate programs and evaluating existing graduate programs at the request of the Dean of Graduate Studies;
- Recommending the abolition or substantial modification of existing graduate programs;
- Setting policy concerning graduate student programs and student welfare, including teaching and research appointments; and
- Setting policy concerning graduate student support.
The Graduate Assembly may advise the deans of the colleges or schools, the Dean of Graduate Studies, and the Vice President for Research on research support policies and other matters it deems appropriate or on which advice is requested by any of the above.
There are at least two scheduled meetings of the Graduate Assembly each long semester. Additional meetings may be called by the Administrative Committee or by the chair in response to a written request signed by five members of the assembly. Meetings are open unless, by a majority vote, the assembly decides to enter executive session.
The Graduate Assembly has 31 members elected by Committees on Graduate Studies, six student members and 17 ex-officio members. The chair of the Faculty Council serves ex-officio as a voting member of the assembly and as a member of its Agenda Committee. For purposes of election and representation, the Assembly is divided into three groups, as follows:
- Fine Arts
- Liberal Arts
- Public Affairs
- Social Work
- Natural Sciences
Only members of Graduate Studies committees are eligible for election to faculty seats in the assembly. Faculty representatives serve three-year terms, one-third of the body being elected each year. Representatives from each group are elected by members of the Graduate Studies committees belonging to that group. The six graduate students on the assembly are appointed for one-year terms by the Graduate Student Assembly. Each of the groups is required to have at least one graduate student representative.
The assembly has two officers, a chair and a secretary. Its work is carried out by three standing committees that study proposed legislation and then present their recommendations to the assembly for discussion and vote at its regular meetings. In addition, the committees function to keep the assembly apprised of other matters that may not require legislation but are closely related to assembly business. The committees and duties of each are:
- Flow of work to the assembly
- Relations with the Graduate School and the administration
- The Graduate Catalog
- Rules and regulations for teaching assistants and assistant instructors
- Student work loads
- Rules and procedures for the Graduate Assembly
- Quality of graduate programs
- Evaluation of existing graduate programs
- Development and adoption of new graduate programs
- Abolition or substantial modification of existing graduate programs
- Student programs
- Faculty work loads
- Minimum standards for admission of students to the Graduate School as candidates for the master’s degree and the doctoral degree, and as non-degree seeking students
- Minimum standards for admission to the doctoral degree for continuing students admitted for a lower degree
- Management of enrollment
- Continuation of graduate students
In addition to faculty members of the assembly, each committee includes at least one student, the chair of the assembly (ex-officio), the secretary of the assembly (ex-officio), and the Dean of Graduate Studies or a designated representative (ex-officio).
The chair of the assembly, its secretary, the chairs of the three standing committees and deans from the Office of Graduate Studies are charged with coordinating the work of the committees and with setting the agenda for each assembly meeting.