The role of the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) is to furnish graduate students and faculty with timely information about changes in program requirements and to clarify any ambiguities in departmental rules. They are also available to help students design a course of study that fits their intellectual interests and needs and to provide advice about course offerings, on issues of professional ethics, and about professional development. For example, the DGS helps coordinate mock interviews in early January for graduate students who will be interviewing for jobs at the AHA.
The DSG plays a particularly significant role in advising incoming and first-year students. After only a year, the department encourages students to formalize a relationship with a permanent advisor but until then the DGS meets regularly with incoming and first-year students to counsel them on course selection and other programmatic issues. The DGS also assigns temporary advisors to all incoming students; the temporary advisor is a faculty member in a field different from that of the student. In the first year, both the DGS and the temporary advisor introduce new students to the program, the department, and the Graduate School. Once a student has identified their permanent primary advisor, the DGS defers to that faculty member in decisions related to course selection and the construction of an intellectual agenda for the student.
The DGS, along with the department's Graduate Committee, also serves as a crucial conduit of information from graduate students to the department, offering feedback about graduate student concerns, as well as proposals to the Executive Committee and the faculty as a whole. In addition, the DGS offers assistance in mediating any complications or difficulties that arise in the advisor-advisee relationship.