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Graduate School


What to Expect

Now that you have been admitted to graduate school, you may have all sorts of questions about what to do next. This guide will help you navigate  the start to your graduate career and also provides long-term planning advice to help you complete your degree. 

Attending graduate school is very different from an undergraduate experience. Graduate School is self-directed. Students are responsible for learning the policies and procedures necessary to earn the graduate degree. Students can expect academic rigor, including a higher level of reading and writing.

There are also wonderful opportunities that are part of the graduate student experience. Students often develop collegial relationships with other students. There are opportunities to conduct and present research, choose areas of research specific to interests, participate in department and college committees and development opportunities.

You will also find the traditional educational, cultural and athletic offerings of a university campus at NDSU.

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The Role of the Graduate School

The Graduate School is the processing center for all documents necessary for completion of the graduate degree, from admission to graduation. Graduate School staff work with students to provide policy interpretation, assistance with completing forms, auditing of completion requirements, and disquisition review. In addition, the Graduate School offers opportunities for professional development, support services, and funding.

The Student Service Associates work with specific colleges and the departments within those colleges. They serve as a liaison among the Graduate School, students, and the department; s/he monitors students’ progress, interprets policy, and serves as a resource for academic departments. Please contact your Student Services Associate for assistance. We want you to be successful in your graduate studies.

The Graduate School website includes policies, forms, links to resources, and information about upcoming events, including professional development opportunities.   

The Graduate School office is located in 201 Old Main. Old Main is south of Memorial Union and west of the President’s House.  Our phone number is (701) 231-7033. The Graduate School staff is here to help.  

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The Role of the Department and Adviser

Graduate departments and advisers play a key role in the academic life of students. When a graduate student enters a department to do graduate work, s/he is assigned a faculty adviser. It is the graduate adviser who formally approves students' programs of study, advises them on advancement to candidacy for higher degrees, etc.

Departments may hold their own orientation programs and activities.  To learn whether your department or program will have an orientation and specific activities please contact your department directly.

Things to do before you arrive on campus

  • Contact your department or adviser to see if there are specific tasks you must complete prior to your arrival. 
  • Review your department’s orientation schedule, if available prior to your arrival, to learn when activities and events are to be held.
  • Become familiar with the curriculum and verify whether you should register for courses prior to or after your arrival. 
  • Read your department’s student handbook and become familiar with the policies and procedures.  Many programs post their handbooks on their websites so they are easily accessible. 
  • Prepare any questions you have about your major or department to ask your adviser or other departmental contact person.

Things to do during your first few weeks on campus

  • Check in with your department. 
  • Meet your adviser. 
  • Complete any trainings required for your research or teaching assignments.
  • Attend any departmental activities or events to meet faculty, staff and students in your program.
  • Become familiar with specific facilities related to your area (e.g,. research facilities, libraries, computer labs, etc.)

The Graduate Advisee/Adviser Checklist will help you and your adviser facilitate your graduate school experience.

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Mandatory Training

Please check with your program to determine if additional training is required.  Check websites for face to face options for training sessions and contact information.

Training Topic

Who is required to complete training

How often

Training Available Online

More Information


Baseline Safety

All Graduate Students



 University Police and Safety Office


Harassment training – Harassment and Sexual Harassment

All Graduate Students

First year should include all training Sexual harassment training – annually

Sexual Harassment

Office for Equity Diversity and Global Outreach

100, 100.1, 100.2, 103, 154.1, 156, 158, 162, 162.1, 163, 163.1,168, 606

Defensive Driving

Those who drive State Fleet vehicles or NDSU leased vehicles

Once every four years


ND Department of Transportation


Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Those who work with infectious agents or recombinant DNA

Must be completed and documented prior to starting research or teaching. One time training.


 Institutional Biosafety (IBC)

University Police and Safety Office

166, 166.1, 347

Laboratory & Chemical Safety

Those who will be using hazardous chemicals in a laboratory, greenhouse, or field site

Once every three years. Should be completed prior to working in a laboratory.


University Police and Safety Office

166, 166.1, 711

Radiation Safety

Those who work with radioisotopes

Must be completed and documented prior to starting research


 University Police and Safety Office

166, 166.1, 711

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Those for whom any aspect of their work is funded by NSF or NIH (recommended for all Graduate Students doing research)

CITI modules should be completed and documented prior to starting research.

The CITI modules are, but face to face training is still required – check with program

NDSU Policy 348

166, 348

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Those whose research will involve human subjects

Must be completed and documented prior to starting research or teaching. Once every three years.


 Institutional Review Board (IRB)

166, 345

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Those whose research will involve vertebrate animals

Must be completed and documented prior to starting research or teaching. Refresher every three years.


 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

166, 346


*Become familiar with policies in the NDSU Policy Manual

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NDSU Graduate School
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7033
Campus address:  106 Putnam Hall
Physical/delivery address:  NDSU Graduate School/106 Putnam Hall/1349 12th Avenue Northwest/Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address:  NDSU Dept. 2820/PO Box 6050/Fargo, ND 58108
Page manager: NDSU Graduate School

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:14:48 PM