Life as a Graduate Student at URCS
Events and Activities
The grad student lounge (located on the seventh floor of the Computer Studies building) is a common hangout location for grad students, and is best known for the shelves of empty champagne bottles which line the west wall. As tradition goes, each graduating Ph.D. student opens and signs a bottle with their name and date of completion, resulting in several decades' worth of bottles.
Near the wall of bottles is a foosball table, usually occupied by several students. There is also a television and a Canadian game crokinole. Every Friday at 5pm, we have happy hour, a gathering for everyone in the department with free beer and snacks being served.
Once a year we have a department picnic to welcome the first-year grad students. The picnic has also been the venue for our annual river run.
Grad students also participate in various events and activities organized by the Graduate Organizing Group (GOG), including bowling, tango lessons, and day trips to nearby scenic locations.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
How many courses do you usually take per semester?
First year students typically take 3-4 courses, with the course load lightening for second year and dropping off sharply after that.
How many years does it take on average to graduate?
Most grad students complete their Ph.D. work in 5 or 6 years.
Do people work with faculty outside of the department?
Several of the department faculty are cross-listed with other departments (especially the Brain and Cognitive Science and the Electrical and Computer Engineering department), so a significant amount of research is done with members of other disciplines. Current projects also include members of the Center for Future Health, which is part of the medical campus.
What will be your TA responsibilities?
Teaching Assistants typically help to administer a course and provide lecture/grading support, but traditionally do not teach courses. The amount which the grad student will teach in a particular course is dependent on the professor and the course, so those who are interested in teaching should mention this when they are preparing to be a TA.
Are students involved in department work?
Every year, each grad student is assigned one or two departmental committees, like curriculum committee, grad lounge committee, lab committee, etc. The job involves providing a student perspective on important issues. Working on these committees provides students a great perspective on the functioning of an academic unit and may help in their future academic careers.
How are you connected to the outside world?
We have department seminars every Monday mornings where researchers from industry or other universities give a presentation of their work. Apart from that, we have regular group meetings involving valuable exchange of ideas.