How to Use This Handbook

section I, article 2

The best way to use your handbook is to read it. Cover to cover! The handbook becomes a reference document only once you understand what it contains in full. Reading and understanding program requirements equips you to take control of your Emory journey.

The graduate handbook is designed to allow graduate scholars to inform themselves about the policies and procedures in place for their program of study.


You can use colors to help you quickly navigate our graduate handbook. Specifically:

Section headers are yellow.
Links to forms are purple.

Links to anything OTHER than a form are green.

Dates and deadlines are pink.

Section summaries are in gray boxes.

Blue boxes contain examples/addendums within a section.

How Do I Know Which Handbook Policies Apply to Me?

The handbook in place in the year in which you enter the program is the handbook of record for your entire graduate career. A copy of this handbook is available in your electronic student file. It is important that you read and understand the handbook in place during your year of entry to place advice from other scholars, who may be bound by a different handbook, into appropriate context.

In the event that there is a substantial change to program policy, you will generally be offered a choice of adopting the new policy or continuing to follow the handbook for your year of entry (see blue box below for an example.)

New Timeline for Milestones

In 2018, the graduate faculty voted to adjust the timeline of chemistry’s milestone requirements. The Second Year Milestone was moved to the spring while the Fourth Year Milestone was moved to the fall. Scholars entering the program in 2018 were required to adopt the new timeline. Advanced scholars who had not yet completed the Second Year Milestone were asked to choose which timeline to adopt. Once scholars communicated their choice, this was recorded in their student file and they were held to the deadlines associated with their selected timeline. A similar process will be used in future if advanced students have an opportunity to adopt significant program changes contained in a revised handbook.

How Do I know if the Handbook is up to Date?

The front page of the handbook website includes the last revision date for the entire website.

Graduate forms referenced in the handbook will also have a revision date noted in the lower right hand corner.

You can assume that materials are accurate as of the last revision date and that all changes will be promptly added to these documents. That said, you are responsible for reading program emails that may address specific clarifications or changes. For instance, the program frequently emails deadline reminders to students via the weekly graduate email digest.

Two Handbooks

The graduate program handbook is intended to work in concert with the Laney Graduate School handbook and with university-level policies. Unless the handbook outlines a specific customization of an LGS policy, you should follow the rules of the LGS handbook. Where an LGS-level policy is not addressed in this handbook, you should follow the LGS policy (see blue box below for examples.)

Examples of LGS versus Chemistry Policies

LGS Policies not included in chemistry handbook
Chemistry policies not included in LGS handbook
  • milestone requirements
  • rotations
  • change of group

Note: This list is not exhaustive. It is important to read this handbook and the LGS handbook in full after which you can utilize them as reference documents.

When the Handbook Doesn’t Cover It

This handbook is a living document – its meaning and effectiveness may shift according to the people who put its language into practice. You may encounter a unique situation that is not covered here or, perhaps, your own interpretation of handbook language at some point in your career will be ambiguous. In this case, you have several paths available to you:

Discuss ambiguity with your P.I.

In the case of ambiguity in regard to a program requirement, consult with your P.I. If your P.I. cannot answer your question, you may consult any member of the graduate team for clarification.

If you cannot resolve a handbook issue with your P.I.

If you and your P.I. cannot come to an agreement on how to interpret a requirement, you should reach out to the Director of Graduate Studies for clarification and mediation.

If you cannot resolve a handbook issue with your D.G.S.

In cases where working with the Director of Graduate Studies presents a conflict of interest, you may reach out to any member of the graduate admin team or your Associate Dean of Students in Laney Graduate School.

When a requirement is clear but you would like to request an adjustment

Graduate scholars may petition the graduate committee to customize their path through the program where unique circumstances require a deviation and/or clarification of handbook policy. As an example, students may petition to complete a milestone requirement after the handbook deadline in the case of a significant competing academic requirement or personal circumstance. Requests should be written by the student and addressed as a letter to the Director of Graduate Studies. The P.I. may cosign the letter or submit an additional letter in support of the petition, but this is not required.

When a requirement is clear but you disagree with its meaning or application

In an instance where you believe that you understand a requirement but disagree with its meaning and/or the way it is applied, you may petition the graduate committee to address your concerns. Another option is to reach out to the University Ombuds Office as this office is charged with “a responsibility to address concerns about policies and procedures, including potential future issues, and provide recommendations for responsibly addressing them.”

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