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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 programs on offer in the UT Graduate Catalog. To help with this search, the Graduate School keeps a searchable list of programs, with links to the Graduate Catalog.

Getting Admitted

Once you have decided on the program that is right for you, your next step is to apply to the Graduate School. Application for admission takes place online, but you should be aware of the various pieces of information you will need to complete a successful application. The Office of Graduate Admissions can help you with these requirements, whether you are a new applicant or are seeking readmission. The Graduate Admissions office has many admission specialists to assist you.

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.

When and How to Submit

The Graduate School has deadlines set for each term, but departments may have their own deadlines and these deadlines may be earlier. Departmental admissions deadlines override Graduate School deadlines, so do not forget to contact the department for your chosen program.

To begin your application, visit the Office of Graduate Admissions and get started.

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 service 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.

Theses and Dissertations

For many graduate programs, the thesis or dissertation represents the capstone or final examination to evaluate your readiness to receive your chosen degree. When you begin your thesis or dissertation depends primarily on the culture of your department and your graduate advisor.

As you begin considering the topic of your dissertation, there are a number of considerations. Avoid conflicts with previously published work and copyright violations by contacting the UT Libraries for consultation and assistance. Depending upon the nature of your research, you may wish to contact the Office of Research and Engagement to ensure your research plan is in compliance with regulations and guidelines around human subjects, biosafety, and radiation safety. As always, ask your graduate advisor about any preparatory contacts you should make.

As you write your thesis or dissertation, the Graduate School provides access to iThenticate to scan your work to ensure that all references are properly cited and that you have not inadvertently plagiarized the work of others. You may also visit the Theses and Dissertations section of the Graduate School website for information about preparing a thesis or dissertation for approval and electronic submission.


As your coursework is winding down, it is time to start preparing to graduate. 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. The Graduate School publishes the current deadlines, for your convenience. Knowing those 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.

If you are earning a graduate certificate, learn more about the steps to earning a certificate.