skip to main content
Graduate School
The University of Mississippi

Excelling in Academics and Research

Return to In This Together

The University of Mississippi continues to promote the health and safety of the campus community while we support students in their academic pursuits. We know that excelling in your academics is important and we are here to help you navigate challenges due to the disruptions. We want to support your academic success in your courses, research, creative works, and professional skill development.


Academic Milestones for Graduate Students – Keeping Health and Safety in Mind

The Graduate School can assist faculty and graduate students as they engage in advising interactions and other evaluative processes (e.g., dissertation defenses). Please contact the Graduate School at for assistance.


What Does COVID-19 Mean for My Research, Scholarship, or Creative Work?

The University of Mississippi’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs reviews research that carries risk to human participants. All researchers should follow the policies set forth by that office to obtain the appropriate approvals for their research.


Any Tips to Continue Making Progress on My Thesis/Dissertation?

There several strategies that can be particularly helpful when working with unstructured time.


Set Goals and Deadlines. 

First, students who set deadlines and goals for themselves are more likely to finish large projects like a thesis/dissertation. How you set goals should reflect your style. Are you someone who is energized by meeting daily goals? If so, use small goals appropriate for the day so that you know where to focus your energy each day. Are you someone who needs a deadline for submitting drafts? Then, set deadlines on drafts. Using short-term/daily goals and long-term deadlines can be particularly helpful when used in combination.

Second, setting goals is particularly helpful when you share your goals with someone else. Share your goals with a fellow graduate student or your advisor or someone else who supports your educational pursuits.


Establish a Daily Writing Routine. 

Research shows that those who write for small periods of time each day are the most productive. Even 30 minutes a day works for this. The National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development (NCFDD) offers a number of resources and has 14-day writing challenges (a great way to track your efforts in establishing a daily writing habit). The NCFDD also offers a series of videos on completing a dissertation. Use your UM email to set up an account (the University has a membership for our campus).


Write With a Peer or Create a Peer Writing Group. 

For many, having a commitment to write with another person is an excellent accountability tool. Establish a time where you will both work on your thesis/dissertation (you can think about writing very broadly; anything that supports progress on your project). Just be sure you use the time to work and schedule a separate time (or extra time) so that you can connect socially.  

Writing groups vary in their structure. Some writing groups are groups where people spend the time writing as a group. Others have models that include reviewing one another’s work and providing feedback. The latter approach adds a new layer of accountability (you are accountable to bring something to the group for others to review) and offers you the opportunity to hone your own skills as you provide feedback to others. You might also set a goal of collectively writing a certain number of words or pages. Start by estimating where you are currently at and then set the goal to be proportional to the productivity you need to reach your individual writing goals.

Whatever your approach you use for your writing, use of tools like Zoom and Google Meet (attached to your go account) may be convenient for those who are very busy or working full-time. And, some may feel comfortable and prefer to meet in person. 

The Graduate Writing Center is also an excellent resource for one-on-one support. In addition, you may find this Writing Group Toolkit from UNC helpful.


What About My Thesis/Dissertation Meetings or Oral Exam?

The Graduate School allows meetings such as an oral exam, literature presentations, thesis/dissertation proposals, prospectus, and dissertation defenses to be conducted in person or via remote tools (e.g. Zoom. Some programs may require these milestones to be conducted in person. Graduate students should contact their programs for more details.

There is no need to notify the Graduate School that you are having an oral exam, prospectus, proposal, or defense meeting remotely.

Graduate students who have concerns about in person meetings for their thesis/dissertation or oral exam and who cannot find a resolution working with their program are encouraged to contact Student Disability Services (for accommodations), the Ombuds, or the Graduate School.


How Do I Submit Forms to the Graduate School?

All forms for the Graduate School (including those related to thesis/dissertation) can be submitted electronically to  The Graduate School will accept approvals via email with digital signatures. With the return to normal operations, the Graduate School is asking for digital signatures on forms (over separate emails from each committee member). Forms can be found on our website under the Resources tab in the Forms and Manuals Library.


The Future

Please continue to monitor your University email and the Office of the Provost COVID-19 website as we continue to respond to this evolving emergency.


Return to In This Together