University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Appointments as Director of Graduate Studies

Policy Statement

This policy governs the requirement that every graduate program must have a director of graduate studies (DGS) and the eligibility requirements for that role.

Every graduate program must have a director of graduate studies (DGS).

Eligibility Requirements 

  1. Any University tenured or tenure-track faculty member with an earned doctorate or designated equivalent in an appropriate field from an accredited institution is eligible to serve as DGS.
  2. Collegiate units may develop additional eligibility criteria consistent with this policy.

Selection Requirements 

  1. Each collegiate unit makes publicly available a written statement regarding the DGS position that includes
    1. DGS responsibilities, reporting lines, and term of appointment;
    2. eligibility criteria for the DGS role;
    3. a description of the selection and approval process, including effective graduate program faculty involvement;
    4. criteria and process followed for evaluation; and
    5. criteria and process, including consultation with graduate program faculty when appropriate, for removing a DGS prior to the end of their term.
  2. The DGS is appointed by the collegiate dean on the Twin Cities campus, or chief academic officer (or designee) on a system campus, after consultation with graduate program faculty.
  3. Graduate programs not housed within a single collegiate unit must specify in the graduate program’s Memorandum of Understanding which collegiate dean will appoint the DGS and what selection process will be used.
    1. The Memorandum of Understanding for such programs may include the opportunity to appoint co-DGSs. Eligibility and selection requirements outlined in this policy apply.
  4. All-University graduate programs must provide a DGS on each campus the graduate program is offered. Eligibility and selection requirements outlined in this policy apply.


Collegiate deans/chief academic officers or their designated representatives at the collegiate level may, with the approval of the Provost, assign the role of DGS (or co-DGS) to an individual who is not otherwise eligible under this standard. The Provost may delegate the approval responsibility to the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education.

This policy does not apply to the J.D., M.D., Pharm.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., L.L.M., and M.B.A. [Twin Cities] degrees.

Reason for Policy

The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) represents the graduate program to faculty governance bodies, takes a leadership role in maintaining program quality and effectiveness, and communicates with collegiate deans and/or the Graduate School about the program's larger concerns.




Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is a faculty member who earned a Ph.D. degree at a non-U.S. university that is judged to be equivalent to an accredited institution in the U.S. eligible to serve as a DGS?


  2. Do minor-only programs require a DGS?

     Yes. The requirements for DGS also pertain to free-standing minors.

  3. Do post-baccalaureate certificate programs require a DGS?

    Yes.  The requirements for DGS also pertain to post-baccalaureate certificate programs.

  4. What University resources regarding management of implicit bias in the selection process and/or while in service as DGS are available?

    The Office for Equity and Diversity provides learning opportunities including diversity workshops. The Graduate School Diversity Office is a valuable resource, and its Graduate School Diversity Consultation Team offers Faculty Fighting Racism, an online, curated set of books, articles, videos, and podcasts for graduate faculty. 


Primary ContactToni Abts612-625-2815[email protected]
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Executive Vice President and Provost
  • Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education
  • Toni Abts


All-University Programs

Programs that have been approved by the Board of Regents for joint offering by two or more campuses. Such programs have substantial involvement from all participating campuses in such matters as oversight and administration, recruitment and admission of students, course development and course offering, faculty and student participation, commitment of financial resources, student funding opportunities and related student support, and other aspects of the academic program operation.


Collegiate Units/Programs

  • Develop and consistently apply a set of publicly available qualities/criteria that inform successful nomination/appointment to and service as DGS.
  • Develop and provide a publicly available nomination/selection process.
  • Develop and provide a set of publicly available written responsibilities regarding the DGS position.
  • Encourage connections with the Office for Equity and Diversity for information on managing implicit bias during the selection process, and during service as DGS.
  • Develop and apply a publicly available plan to ensure that DGS responsibilities are covered for the entire calendar year.

Collegiate Deans

  • Appoint Director of Graduate Studies after consultation with program faculty. Appoint an acting DGS, in consultation with program faculty, to cover an absence or temporary vacancy.
  • Encourage connections with the Office for Equity and Diversity for information on managing implicit bias during the selection process, and during service as DGS.

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)

  • Serve as the coordinator of graduate studies within a program.
  • Share responsibility with graduate program faculty, and department/collegiate leadership for guiding and improving graduate education within the program(s) under the DGS's jurisdiction.
  • Serve as liaison among the graduate students, program faculty, and the college and Graduate School administrations.
  • Understand and comply with University and collegiate policies that govern or have an impact on the graduate program and its students.
  • Be aware of and address implicit biases that negatively impact the program’s graduate students, staff, and faculty.

Related Information

There is no related information associated with this policy.



December 2020 - Comprehensive Review. No significant changes. No new information; rather, existing information is reconfigured into:


  • a Policy Statement in alignment with the U’s best practices for policy statements;
  • a policy section highlighting eligibility criteria; 
  • a policy section highlighting selection requirements; and
  • delegation of authority statement moved to the Responsibilities section.


February 2016 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision. Specifies that the provost may delegate approval responsibility. Expanded on the responsibilities for the collegiate units. Minor clarifications to the policy.


April 2012 - Policy now applies University Wide (there is no longer an exclusion for the Duluth campus).


September 2011 - New Policy, Comprehensive Review. Requires every graduate program to have a director of graduate studies (DGS). Continues the requirement that only tenured or tenure-track faculty are eligible to serve as a DGS, unless an exception by the Provost or designate has been granted.