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The Big Picture

Whether you are a new graduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a current graduate student, or you are considering UT for your graduate education, it can be challenging to understand the entire process from admission to graduation. Although each program will have its own requirements and culture, the Graduate School can help you grasp the main points, or “the big picture.”

Finding a Program

If you have decided to attend UT for your graduate education, you may already have decided on a program of study. If you haven’t decided, you can look through the many graduate programs we offer.

For the 2023-2024 academic year, UT has 60 doctoral programs, 84 master’s programs, 82 graduate certificates, 3 educational specialist programs and 2 professional programs.

Applying to Graduate School

Once you have decided on the program that is right for you, your next step is to apply to the Graduate School. The Office of Graduate Admissions can help you with your application, whether you are a new applicant or are seeking readmission.

If you are currently enrolled and want to add a graduate certificate program while completing your degree or after you graduate, read about the process for admission to a certificate program.

The Graduate School has deadlines set for each term, but departmental admissions deadlines override Graduate School deadlines, so do not forget to contact the department for your chosen program.

Pursuing Your Degree

Now that you’re a graduate student at UT, the bulk of your graduate career will be taken up with gaining the knowledge necessary for your chosen field. To complete your coursework, you’ll need to register for classes. At UT, registering for classes is done through MyUTK (be sure you get your NetID). UT’s OneStop has step-by-step instructions on getting registered for courses.

As you work towards completing your program, if you find that you need to change your program, read about the process of changing your program.

While you’re working towards your degree, the Graduate School and other campus units want to help you gain professional skills that can help you achieve success in your future career.

Theses and Dissertations

For many graduate programs, the thesis or dissertation represents the capstone event in the achievement of your chosen degree. When you begin your thesis or dissertation depends primarily on the culture of your department and your graduate advisor.

The Thesis and Dissertations section of the Graduate School website provides guidance on:

If you have questions during this stage of your program, you can contact the Coordinator of Student Services at


The graduation process can be very complex and challenging, but the Graduate School is available to advise you on the best way to complete the steps to graduation. The Director of Graduate Studies in your department is also a valuable resource for making this process as painless as possible.

Because the Graduation process is complex and dependent upon your degree, refer to the Steps to Graduation for specifics. Knowing the current deadlines and being proactive is one of the best ways to keep this process simple, and to ensure that you are able to participate in the Graduate Hooding Ceremony, where friends and family are able to share in the celebration of your achievement.