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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Advancement Process

For those students who want to pursue a PhD, the PhD Advancement Process (AP) provides feedback to students and advisors about whether a student is making sufficient progress towards conducting PhD-level research. Typically, a student should plan to complete the Advancement Process in their 4th semester and no later than the end of their fifth full semester in the AOS program. If there are extenuating circumstances, the student may request an extension of this deadline.

Students will use the Advancement Process Portfolio and Tracking document to track their performance in the following activities. Each component will be reviewed to reach a recommendation on PhD advancement:

       1. Research Report: The student will provide written responses to two research-oriented questions developed by their advising committee. The reports should be concise and be completed without advisor input. Students will have up to 10 days to complete the research reports.

       2. Research Presentation: A public presentation of the student’s research will be given at an open department seminar. Both the research report and the research presentation will be discussed during the portfolio presentation and attended by at least two graduate advising committee members and a minimum of two advancement committee members.

       3. *Extended abstract: Prior to their research presentation, an extended abstract of roughly 2000 words that summarizes the research presentation should be submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator and the student’s advising committee.

       4. Core Courses: The student’s graduate transcript will be reviewed for performance in all classes especially the core courses in addition to the rest of the transcript. The student should have attained background from all the core courses or their equivalents.

       5. Other scholarly activity: In addition to the above material, the committee may also consider overall scholarly productivity including published papers, conference presentations, and awards as reported in graduate activity reports for supplemental evidence of overall potential.

*If a student enters the AOS PhD program with a prior research-based Masters in an atmospheric or oceanic science field, they are not required to submit an extended abstract, but will need to do a presentation and complete the research reports.

After these elements have been completed, the student meets with at least two graduate advising committee members and one advancement process committee member to discuss overall progress and expected recommendation to be made to the AP committee and faculty. The student should present the Advancement Portfolio for discussion with the committee members.

After the portfolio presentation the student’s primary advisor(s) provides a summary justification and one of the following three recommended outcomes of the advancement process to the AP committee:

       1. Recommendation to form a PhD committee

       2. Recommendation to undergo part of the AP evaluation again the following semester before proceeding to form a PhD committee, with possible recommendations of additional coursework, another research report, targeted independent study and/or other activities before re-evaluation, or

       3. Recommendation to graduate with a terminal Masters.

The AP committee then presents a recommendation to the full faculty, and the faculty approve the outcomes by vote. The faculty may decline the AP recommendation and request modifications of the outcome and/or feedback from the AP committee, who will revise the outcome and bring it back again before the faculty for another approval vote.

Finally, the result of the faculty vote is presented to the student. The student then presents the faculty-approved recommendation to potential Ph.D. committee members. Finally, the student formally enters the Ph.D. program by forming a Ph.D. committee.

A student should not undergo any AP element more than twice, except in unusual circumstances.

The AP Committee recommendation must be shared with all potential PhD committee members. A PhD committee may decide to form regardless of AP Committee recommendation.

It is the student’s responsibility to coordinate and schedule the required AP components with their GAC committee and the AP members as well as inform the Graduate Coordinator of their progress and timelines.