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Language Technologies Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science

M.S. Degree in Language Technologies and Ph.D. Degree in Language and Information Technologies: Academic Rights and Responsibilities

LTI Policies for Graduate Students

There are significant differences between departments in philosophical approach, procedures, policies and regulations. Each department issues a handbook that informs graduate students of their program requirements and procedures and ensures that students have written access to the standard information outlined below. Copies of department handbooks are also available through the Hunt Library Reference Desk.

Please bear in mind that you are responsible for knowing and abiding by your department and college policies.

Reasonable Person Principle (RPP): One of the best traditions of the School of Computer Science is the "Reasonable Person Principle". Essentially, this says that we expect members of our community to act reasonably, and therefore we try to keep formal, written policies to a minimum (this handbook not withstanding!) The faculty tries not to burden the students with thousands of rules, and in return we expect the students to not try to find technical loopholes that violate the clear intent of these guidelines.

All LTI policies not explicitly described in this document conform to School of Computer Science (SCS), and/or university policies, as defined at the official University Policies website (including policies on cheating and graduate academic disciplinary actions).

Degree Attainment

For MASTERS Students - Achievement, timeline, and format requirements for the following:

(Please also see the description of the LTI Masters program.)

Course Requirements and Grades:

(For italicized course term definitions, see below.)

In order to complete the Masters in Language Technologies degree, a student must take (register for and pass) 120 or more course units at a senior or graduate level.

From these 120 units, six (6) courses must be LTI courses and two (2) other courses must be SCS courses; the remaining elective units may be any senior or graduate level courses.

In order to meet SCS-wide Masters Requirements, MLT students must also pass

For the remaining elective units, see On courses taken outside the department. Twelve of the remaining elective units may consist of 11-910 - Directed Research. (Until Spring 2001, there were course requirements regarding "LTI core courses". This distinction has been abolished, but there may be some old references to core courses in the LTI webpages. These should be considered obsolete, replaced by the current requirements. We have recently [May 2001] discovered that the new requirements are not strictly more liberal than the old ones; students who began under the "LTI core course" scheme are of course grandfathered, and may graduate under either set of requirements.)

Minimum Course Grade Policy: The LTI policy on class grades is that a grade of "C" is passing for Masters students; thus "C-" is not passing. Not passing (failing) a class means simply that the class does not count towards the student's degree. What effect failing a class has depends on the individual student's overall situation, as explained in the next point below. Note that (as of Fall 2006) any courses taken Pass/Fail, other than 11-910, will not count towards LTI graduation requirements.

Definition of a student being "in good standing": Following long-standing SCS tradition, the LTI does not have a fixed minimum grade-point average, or a fixed timeline for completion of the MLT degree, although two years is considered normal. Instead, we carry out a Student Evaluation at the end of each semester, typically at the time that final course grades are due. For each student, we write a letter indicating to them whether they are making "satisfactory progress" towards completing their degree. Students are in good standing as long as they are making satisfactory progress.

Optional Masters Thesis: Some MLT students wish to write a thesis as part of their Masters degree. To do this, an MLT student should follow the detailed description of the requirements for the Masters Thesis in the "Guidelines for the Optional LTI M.S. Thesis. Note in particular the October 31 proposal deadline. Each of the two courses described in the document counts towards 6 units of MLT-level LTI course credit; if the student goes on to an LTI Ph.D., the second course counts towards one Ph.D. lab requirement. Once the committee believes the thesis is finished, there will be a public defense. (Since the defense is public, the LTI graduate program administrator must receive all the information required for a public announcement at least one week before the defense.) Note that there is no strict timetable for the committee to approve the thesis; the student must therefore be prepared for the possibility of finishing and presenting the thesis during the summer, if the committee does not feel that it is ready at the end of the semester. The only format requirement for an LTI Masters Thesis is that the title page should be suitable to be issued as an LTI Technical Report.

Research Speaking Requirement: See Research Speaking Requirement under For ALL students.

Qualifying examinations and procedures: There are no qualifying examinations for the MLT degree.

Duration of Study: The timeline for the MLT track is 2 full years, or 24 months. Students should expect to graduate in August of the second year. Students are required to do 2 summers of research during this time in order to complete degree requirements.

Graduation and degree completion specifications and summary of requirements:

  • Program requires 2 full years, or 24 months, as well as 2 summers of research
  • A total of 120 units of senior-to-graduate courses
  • Within the 120 units, students must pass:

For PHD Students - Achievement, timeline, and format requirements for the following:

(Please also see the description of the LTI Ph.D. program.)

Course Requirements and Grades:

(For italicized course term definitions, see below.)

For the course-work part of the Ph.D. in Language and Information Technologies degree, a student must register for and pass six (6) LTI courses and two (2) SCS courses.

Of these eight courses, the student must take at least one from each of the LTI Focus Areas, and must take at least two (2) of the 6-unit lab courses. (These two labs must be in different research areas.)

Students are encouraged to consider taking additional elective courses beyond the eight required.

(Until Spring 2001, there were course requirements regarding "LTI core courses". This distinction has been abolished, but there may be some old references to core courses in the LTI webpages. These should be considered obsolete, replaced by the current requirements. We have recently [May 2001] discovered that the new requirements are not strictly more liberal than the old ones; students who began under the "LTI core course" scheme are of course grandfathered, and may graduate under either set of requirements.)

Maximum PhD Courseload: In order to encourage PhD students to focus on research, PhD students are normally only permitted to register for 24 units of actual coursework per semester.

Minimum Course Grade Policy: The LTI policy on class grades is that "B" is passing for PhD students; thus "B-" is not passing. Not passing (failing) a class means simply that the class does not count towards the student's degree. What effect failing a class has depends on the individual student's overall situation, as explained in the next point below. Note that (as of Fall 06) any courses taken Pass/Fail, other than 11-910, will not count towards LTI graduation requirements.

Definition of a student being "in good standing": Following long-standing SCS tradition, the LTI does not have a fixed minimum grade-point average, or a fixed timeline for completion of the PhD degree, although our target is five years. Instead, we carry out a Student Evaluation at the end of each semester, typically at the time that final course grades are due. For each student, we write a letter indicating to them whether they are making "satisfactory progress" towards completing their degree. Students are in good standing as long as they are making satisfactory progress.

Research Speaking Requirement: See Research Speaking Requirement under For ALL students below.

Qualifying examinations and procedures (Proficiency requirements): An LTI PhD student must demonstrate proficiency in the following areas:

  • Writing proficiency: This is satisfied by producing a peer-reviewed conference paper, or the equivalent (a written report that at least two SCS faculty certify as being of conference-paper quality).
  • Presentation proficiency: This is satisfied by the oral presentation of a conference paper, or the equivalent (an oral presentation that at least two SCS faculty certify as being of conference-talk quality).
  • Programming proficiency: This is satisfied by demonstrating competence in computer programming of language technology; this is normally satisfied in the course of the student's research and/or project work.
  • Teaching proficiency: This is satisfied by a successful Teaching Assistantship (TA), as determined by the faculty member for whom the student serves as TA. Beginning with the PhD class entering in Fall 2000, two (2) TA-ships will be required, due to an SCS-level requirement. Typically one of these will be for an undergraduate class, and one for a graduate-level class. Also, one of the two TA-ships may be in some form of pre-approved "alternate service", such as a v-unit. The program coordinator must be notified in advance of a TA-ship or it may not count.

Teaching requirements: See the above Teaching proficiency requirement.

Thesis/Dissertation Proposal: The dissertation proposal, normally presented some time near the end of the third year, is a document specifying the problem being addressed (the "thesis"); the significance of this problem and expected scientific contributions; relevant other research, including competing approaches; the student's preliminary results; the specific work remaining to be done and evaluation metrics; and a projected timeline for completion. A dissertation committee consisting of the advisor, at least two other Carnegie Mellon SCS faculty working in Language Technologies, and at least one external member should be approved prior to the proposal. Note: University rules require that the time and place of the proposal presentation be publicly announced at least one week prior to the presentation. This should be coordinated with the Chair of the Graduate Programs. Note also that the primary purpose of the public thesis proposal is to protect the student, both in guaranteeing that their thesis is interesting to someone in addition to their advisor, and that if they successfully complete the work described in the proposal, they will indeed be finished. (It is however quite common for the resulting dissertation to differ substantially from the work originally proposed.)

Thesis Defense (and other public presentations/examinations): The dissertation itself, normally expected in the fifth year, should include a detailed description of all the work done, including a clear evaluation and a discussion of its scientific contributions. There are no fixed style or document length guidelines or requirements; the only format requirement is that the title page should be suitable to be issued as an LTI Technical Report. The dissertation defense is a public presentation and defense of the dissertation results. Note: University rules again require that the time and place of the dissertation defense be publicly announced at least one week prior to the defense. This should also be coordinated with the Chair of the Graduate Programs. At the time of the public announcement, a draft of the thesis document must be made available online.

For other public presentations, see Thesis Proposal and Presentation proficiency, above.

Graduation and degree completion specifications and summary of requirements: To summarize, the requirements to receive the Ph.D. in Language and Information Technologies degree are:

  • Courses:
    • Six (6) LTI courses and two (2) SCS courses. Thus a total of at least 96 course units.
    • Of those, at least one course from each of the Focus Areas and at least two 6-unit lab courses in two different areas (counting as 1/2 course each).
  • Proficiencies:
    • Writing: Peer-reviewed conference paper, or equivalent.
    • Presentation: Oral presentation of a conference paper, or equivalent.
    • Programming: Demonstrated competence in computer programming of LT.
    • Teaching: Successful Teaching Assistantship (TA); two TA assignments.
  • PhD dissertation:
    • Proposal: Pass a public, oral proposal presentation, announced at least one week in advance.
    • Defense: Pass a public, oral thesis defense, announced at least one week in advance.

For ALL students:

Course term definitions - For the purposes of this document:

  • Elective courses are described below under "On courses taken outside the department..."
  • An LTI course is any 12-unit course with a number of 11-XXX; a 6-unit course with an 11-XXX counts as 1/2 of an LTI course. Unless otherwise specified, "course" means an actual classroom course, not credit given for research or independent study. Note that as a special case, PhD Machine Learning (10-701) will also count as an "LTI course."
  • An SCS course is any 12-unit course with a course number indicating a unit of the School of Computer Science (including LTI); a 6-unit course with such a number counts as 1/2 of an SCS course. Unless otherwise specified, "course" means an actual classroom course, not credit given for research or independent study. Note: Recommended electives outside of the SCS now count towards this requirement.
  • LTI Focus Areas are sets of courses defined on the LTI Course Categories page. If a student believes a new course should be added to a Focus Area, they should notify the Chair of the LTI Graduate Programs. The Chair will decide, with advice from faculty in the appropriate area, whether it should be in the Focus Area, and if approved it will be added to the LTI course webpage.

    In order to "reasonably" accommodate CompBio students within the LTI, we allow the substitution of one "hard-core bio course" for the Linguistic Focus Area, and one "hard-core bio course" for the Task-Orientation Focus Area. The definition of which students and bio courses qualify for this rests with the LTI faculty working in CompBio.
  • An LTI lab course is simply a course listed in the lab table.

Research Speaking Requirement: The LTI has established a Research Speaking requirement, in order to emphasize students' research activities, improve their public speaking skills, and increase awareness within the institute of local research work. The research speaking requirement will be met by a local, public, oral presentation, once per year for LTI M.S. and Ph.D. students, beginning with the F02 entering class. (The presentation will be optional for first-year M.S. students.) The presentation should consist of a 20-minute talk plus time for questions and discussion. The deadline each year for that year's talks is the end of May.

Each presentation must be attended by at least two LTI faculty members; the student's research advisor is generally expected to attend. The attending faculty members will convene briefly after the presentation, and will provide written comments on a standardized form. The attending faculty will sign and return this form to the Chair of the Graduate Programs, and a copy will be forwarded to the student. The feedback is intended to help students refine their speaking skills with respect to talk structure, content, and delivery.

The talk must be advertised to LTI mailing lists at least one week before the scheduled presentation, with the public invited to attend.

Semi-annual Student Evaluation: As mentioned above, the LTI faculty holds a Student Evaluation at the end of each semester, typically at the time that final course grades are due. Each student prepares a statement of their achievements in the current semester and their plans for the next semester using a standard form. The entire LTI faculty then meets and discusses the academic progress of each student. The student's advisor is expected to be the student's advocate in this process; this is one of many reasons why it is very important that your advisor knows what you are doing, and has a positive opinion of it. For each student, we write a letter indicating to them whether or not they are making "satisfactory progress" towards completing their degree. For Masters students, this evaluation is based solely on their coursework (including any Directed Research or Independent Studies). For PhD students, it is based on coursework, proficiencies, and research progress.

A good letter typically indicates that the student is making "satisfactory progress". If the student is doing exceptionally good work, a stronger adjective such as "excellent" might be used, but this is unusual.

If a student seems to be in trouble, the faculty determines whether it believes that this student can finish the degree in question, and tells the student what needs to be accomplished to get back on track. Thus a "bad letter" should be considered a wake-up call, and a warning. It is not a permanent "black mark" on the student's record; if the student begins making satisfactory progress again, there is no official record of the letter in the student's transcript.

(We wish to emphasize at this point that the faculty very much wants our students to succeed. At the time of admission, each student already represents a significant investment of faculty time and energy, due to the admissions and recruitment process. As time goes on, each student also represents a large investment of research funding. It is in the faculty's own interest that the students succeed! We do however have a duty to maintain the programs' standards.)

In the most serious cases, the faculty gives the student an "N-1 letter": this specifies a list of conditions that the student must satisfy by the next semester's evaluation, if they are to continue in the LTI graduate program. Failure to meet all of the specified conditions may result in the student's termination from the program (and loss of financial support). Due to this mechanism, it normally takes at least a semester to be removed from the program for poor performance. (In very unusual cases, e.g., severe ethical violations, a student may be removed from the program immediately.)

(The Semi-annual Student Evaluation is popularly called "Black Friday". This might be an unfortunate name, since it is needlessly ominous, but it is a long-standing SCS tradition that we are reluctant to try to suppress).

Support services for the student:

Advising

  • The role of the advisor (course work and thesis)

    (Adapted from the CSD's PhD document)
    With the possible exception of their first month in the program, each student has a faculty advisor charged with guiding the education and monitoring the progress of the student through the program. This personal student-advisor relationship ensures that every student receives the necessary faculty mentoring. Throughout the program, the advisor is responsible for guiding the student's research and education. For Masters students and beginning PhD students, the advisor guides the student along some research initiative and helps with strategic planning for courses and other educational activities. For PhD students, the advisor later helps to focus the student's research interests towards a thesis topic. Toward the end of the program, the advisor chairs the student's thesis committee, and helps to select the other members of the committee. The advisor also provides the student with career advice.

    During a PhD student's first two years, he or she should be doing directed research at least half time; once all coursework is completed and before doing thesis research, full time (except when teaching). Different students, and different advisors, have different ideas of what directed research means and how progress can be demonstrated. It is the responsibility of both the student and his or her advisor to formulate for each semester a set of reasonable goals, plans, and criteria for success in conducting directed research.

    (There is also some helpful "advice for advisors" at Indiana University, as part of the student advice cited below. Note that since these links are outside CMU, anything contradicting CMU/SCS/LTI policies should be ignored.)

  • The role of the student

    (Adapted from the CSD's PhD document)
    There is flexibility in the kind of relationship a student has with his or her advisor. Some students work more closely with their advisors than any other faculty member, and some students work more closely with another faculty member on a particular research project. A few students have two advisors. It is also relatively easy to switch advisors and is usually done because of a shift in the student's research interests.

    (There is also some helpful general advice for graduate students available from Indiana University, as part of a list of pointers there to helpful advice. Note that since these links are outside CMU, anything contradicting CMU/SCS/LTI policies should be ignored.)

  • How and when the advisor is selected: In our version of another long-standing SCS tradition, new LTI PhD students are matched to advisors via a "Marriage Process". The LTI faculty present a series of research talks at the beginning of the Fall semester. The new students attend all of the talks, and schedule one-on-one meetings with the faculty that they are most interested in working with. Each student then indicates a 1st, 2nd, and if possible 3rd choice for advisor. The faculty in turn indicate the number of new students desired and their preferences. Finally the entire LTI faculty meets as a "Marriage Committee" to find the optimum match. As a result of this process, the new students all have advisors before the end of September.

    Typically nearly all the new students get their first or second choice. Since some entering students wish to be certain of having a specific advisor in advance, it is worth noting that if a student and an advisor are each other's top choice (and the advisor has full funding for them), the match is guaranteed to happen.

    The matching of new MLT students to advisors is more diverse. Some entering MLT students are "pre-funded", that is, they have already received and accepted a funding letter from a particular faculty member prior to the Marriage Process. (Although they are already "matched", pre-funded MLTs are expected to attend the research talks to acquaint themselves with the variety of research projects in the institute.) The other MLT students are generally interested in being supported, so for them the process looks similar to that for PhDs, except that the MLT students are not guaranteed to get funding.

    Note that even self-supporting MLT students are expected to work on research with a faculty advisor, since experience in research is an important part of our graduate programs. Until a student has found a specific advisor, the Chair of the LTI Graduate Programs serves as their advisor.

  • How to change advisors: The initial advisor selection should be made carefully. However, it is possible to change advisors. To do so, the student should identify a potential new advisor, and discuss with them whether they are interested in working with the student, and can support the student. The LTI follows the long-standing SCS policy that both the new and old advisors need to agree to the change; typically this is not problematic, assuming the new advisor has agreed in advance, as described here. It is to the student's advantage to avoid switching advisors, especially late in their graduate studies, since this sets back the progress of their research. It is also very much to the student's advantage to have an advisor at all times, which is the reason for the deadline mentioned in the point above.

Procedure for written notification of "inadequate progress toward a degree": This is described under "Semi-Annual Student Evaluation", above.

Orientation and other professional development courses: Each Fall semester the LTI provides an "Immigration Course" for new students (and faculty), to familiarize them with the local environment, and to provide an opportunity for research projects to recruit new students. LTI students are strongly encouraged to make use of any SCS or university-wide professional development opportunities.

Policy

  • On courses taken outside the department and how these will be graded: Students are free to take elective courses outside the LTI, at Carnegie Mellon or cross-registered at the University of Pittsburgh, as long as the student fulfills the requirements of their program as described above. The student should discuss any such electives in advance with their advisor; the LTI has also compiled some general advice for students interested in certain areas that might be helpful: Speech, Linguistics, Statistics, and Human-Computer Interaction.

    Note: Such recommended electives outside of the SCS now count towards the SCS course requirement. See the detailed description.

    Note also that students need advance approval for any courses not covered by their normal tuition (e.g., summer courses). The grading of outside courses is the responsibility of the department offering the course; however the LTI's Minimum Course Grade Policy described above still applies ("B" is minimum for PhD, "C" for MLT).

  • On when a student is defined as ABD, and ABD in absentia (ABS): Following university policy, an LTI Ph.D. student is considered "All-But-Dissertation" (ABD) when they have completed all requirements for the LTI's PhD degree except for the thesis defense (in particular, this includes having a thesis proposal that has been publicly presented, and accepted by their committee). Note that ABD status is different from ABD in absentia (ABS) status. A student in ABS status does not receive any support from the university (including any research projects within the university), cannot use most university facilities, and does not pay any tuition until they are ready to defend their thesis. ABS students must register for five (5) units of dissertation research in the semester they defend; in keeping with university policy, the LTI (and its projects) will not pay for these five units. The student can (and should) register for these five units only after they defend, just in case the defense date slips to the next semester.

  • On Leaves of Absence: The LTI in general tries to discourage Leaves of Absence (LOA), since the student usually does not return, despite good intentions. However, a student in good standing may be granted a LOA of at most 1 year, upon written request to the graduate program administrator, with consent of the student's advisor. It is the responsibility of the student on LOA to contact the LTI and initiate their return.

  • On Graduate Course Transfers: The LTI may grant transfer credit for equivalent graduate courses previously completed at another institution. The decision on whether a course may be be transferred is made by the Chair of the graduate program that the student is enrolled in. Typically the student will provide the Chair with the syllabus of the external course, and the Chair will use that and the student's transcript to make their decision.

  • On residence requirements: A "residence requirement" applies to students who receive credit for, or exemption from, some of their course requirements due to courses taken elsewhere; it specifies the minimum amount of work that must actually be done at the LTI.

    To clarify the terms exemption and credit:

    • If a student is "exempted" from a required course (such as 11-711 for Masters students) due to prior courses/experience, this essentially means they should replace that course with an open elective. They do not get credit for it, but can take any course (that could normally count toward their degree) in its place.

    • If a student receives "credit" for prior coursework (done here or elsewhere), they are counted as receiving that many units of credit, and the total amount of coursework that they are required to take during their graduate study here is reduced by that amount.


    The only PhD residence requirements that the LTI has are those that it inherits from the SCS and the university (see below). For the MLT degree, the requirement is that eight (8) actual courses must be completed at CMU for this degree. The SCS currently has two rules:

    1. All Ph.D. students must take at Carnegie Mellon a minimum of 24 units of the total coursework required by their respective programs.

    2. A Ph.D. or Master's student who uses courses taken as a Master's student (here at Carnegie Mellon or elsewhere) toward their program requirements cannot use those same courses toward any other Master's degree offered by the School without prior approval.

      The LTI (like other SCS units) always allows our PhD students who have passed the requirements for our Masters degree to receive the Masters degree without any additional work. Any other sharing of coursework by an LTI student between more than one CMU degree (e.g., receiving a CALD Masters degree that includes courses taken as an LTI Ph.D. student) must be explicitly approved by the LTI, on a case-by-case basis, in advance.

    For Ph.D.s there is also a university requirement of at least one year of residency at Carnegie Mellon.

  • On transfer from master's to doctoral programs: The LTI does not allow direct "transfers" from the Masters to the Ph.D. program. Current masters students wishing to enter the doctoral program must apply. However, they do not need to retake their GREs or other exams, unless they want to try to improve their scores.

Student Rights

  • The establishment of a clear form of review/redress for academic conflicts: Graduate students are encouraged to first discuss their concerns with the faculty member(s) involved and their faculty advisor. If they wish, the Chair of the LTI graduate programs, his alternate, and the department head are also available at any stage of the process. All discussions will be considered confidential. See also the grievance procedure below.

  • The "grandfather" policy: The LTI has a "grandfather" policy that assures students that they can graduate under the policies in effect at the time they entered the program, or choose to change if/as new policies arise. In rare cases, when the student's graduation takes significantly longer than normally expected, it may be necessary to approximate as closely as feasible the original policies, if the original policies cannot realistically be followed exactly.

Financial Support

Explicit information about the requirements for the awarding of and expectations of continued funding: For all LTI Ph.D. students, full funding (tuition plus stipend) is guaranteed for their first year. This support is normally continued for at least 5 years (with possibility of further continuance), subject to continuing excellence in academic progress. The fellowship includes full tuition and a monthly Ph.D. stipend that is fixed across SCS. In addition, the LTI pays a dependency allowance of 10% of the student's monthly stipend to any student with a child, unless they have a spouse who earns more than $200 per month (this dollar limit current as of F2010). Typically Ph.D. support has been extended as long as satisfactory progress is maintained, as described above.

For LTI Masters students, funding (if any) is based on individual arrangements with specific research projects. However, if an LTI research project agrees to support an LTI Masters student, the project must give a two monthwarning before terminating support, as described below.

Note that all LTI students are required to inform us of any external fellowships that they receive; see other important information under "outside" fellowships, below.

Definition of the work required for various sorts of support (grading/teaching assistant/lecturer): The LTI's graduate students are typically supported as Research Assistants on LTI research projects. In return for full tuition and a stipend, we expect the student to work twenty (20) hours each week during the semester, and forty (40) hours each week during the summer. (Students can typically expect a two-week vacation in the summer, unless other arrangements are made with their project.)

In order to document the research done during the semesters, LTI students register for 11-910 - Directed Research (typically 24 units).

In order to document the fact that our students do research in the summers, they must also register for a summer research course.

Since coursework is generally easier at the beginning of the semester, and gets progressively more difficult through the final exams at the end of the semester, it is a good idea for students who are taking classes to try to accomplish more research early in the semester.

The normal LTI winter break policy is that we expect the student to work forty (40) hours per week for two weeks of the break, and to take vacation for the other two weeks.

Since Masters students' support is on a case-by-case basis, there may be additional requirements; these must be described in the hardcopy letter that is sent to the student when they are offered support.

In semesters when a Ph.D. student is TAing (serving as a Teaching Assistant for) a course, TAing for one course counts for one-third of the student's support, so they will be expected to work one-third less than usual for their research project if they are TAing one class.

Information on tax implications of financial support: It is our understanding that while the financial support provided by the LTI is Federally taxable, it is not subject to state taxes, but may be subject to city taxes, depending on where the student lives. This applies to both Ph.D. students and Masters students supported by LTI research projects.

Defined procedure for written notification of change in financial support and a stated minimum notice for such change: Since LTI Masters students are not guaranteed funding, and loss of funding can lead to a student dropping out of the program, the LTI has a policy that LTI research projects must warn a Masters student in writing two months in advance of any funding cut. The intent here is to give the student sufficient time either to improve performance (if termination is due to poor performance), or to arrange other means of support.

LTI Ph.D. students normally continue to receive financial support as long as they are making satisfactory progress for at least five years, as described under "Semi-annual Student Evaluation", above. As described there, Ph.D. students normally receive a one semester advance written warning of possible loss of good academic standing (and funding).

Information on recourses if funding is lost or reduced: If a Masters student loses their project funding, they are free to seek funding from other projects, or any other source.

Ph.D. students normally continue to receive support as long as they are making adequate academic progress. If a Ph.D. student loses funding as the result of the Student Evaluation process, their only recourse is to attempt to meet the requirements of their "N-1" letter, described above, and then petition the LTI faculty for readmission. In the unusual event of a Ph.D. student's funding source running out, they may seek to find a new advisor to support them.

Policies on "outside" employment/consulting: Students who are funded by LTI research projects are expected to work primarily for their projects. However, since consulting can be a useful educational professional experience, LTI students are generally permitted to consult at most 1 day per 7-day week, with their advisor's consent.

Policies on "outside" fellowships: If a student has been awarded an outside graduate fellowship (e.g., NSF, Fulbright or other), they are expected to accept it in place of our graduate fellowship. As an extra incentive to do so, we supplement the award so that the student receives full tuition and a combined stipend 10% higher than that of the standard LTI graduate fellowship. (If the stipend is already at least 10% higher than the LTI stipend, no extra supplement applies.) Note that all LTI students are required to inform us of any external fellowships that they receive.

A related issue is that of summer internships: Since the LTI, unlike some other SCS departments, guarantees summer support for its supported students, we expect that our students will in fact work here on project research during the summer. However, because we recognize that an "outside" internship can be a valuable educational experience, we have developed a policy to allow Ph.D. students in good standing to accept one (1) external internship during their Ph.D. studies here. The detailed policy is described below. It is important that students read this policy before negotiating an internship, and abide by its provisions. Note that unsupported students are of course free to do whatever they want. Finally, we caution all students to be aware of potential intellectual Property (IP) problems with internships, and review any IP agreements with their advisor before signing them. It is possible to lose control of ideas that you want to include in your thesis work!

Guidelines for Summer LTI Ph.D. Student Internships

The LTI guarantees year round funding for its Ph.D. students. As part of this arrangement, we expect the students to remain at CMU during the summer. But since external internships can provide a valuable learning experience, we have made the following provisions to accomodate external internship.

  1. Summer internships which are part of a fully-funded external fellowship (e.g., Microsoft Research Fellowship) do not require prior approval.

  2. LTI Ph.D. students in good academic standing (as defined in the LTI's department handbook) may apply for and accept one (1) external internship during their Ph.D. studies at CMU. The length of such an internship is generally 3-4 months.

  3. Internships are typically scheduled during the summer months (i.e., when students aren't taking classes). Students may apply for an internship during any summer after the first summer they are at CMU. Students who have completed all of their course requirements may alternatively schedule an internship during Fall or Spring semester. (A Fall or Spring internship is in fact preferable, when feasible. Our current [May 2001] understanding is that foreign students who are in the US on a student visa can participate in a Fall/Spring internship, but only by carefully meeting a variety of conditions; please see the LTI graduate program coordinator well in advance of any such plans.

  4. Internships are expected to further or broaden the student's educational objectives in language technology; Students should enroll for 11-935 - LTI Practicum for an appropriate number of units (see the LTI graduate program coordinator to determine the appropriate number of units). Foreign students are reminded that enrolling in this course is also necessary due to their student status.

  5. Students will notify their LTI faculty advisor in writing of their intent to apply for an internship. Notification must be made as early as possible; no later than when they apply, and no later than two weeks before they accept an external internship (if they are offered one without first applying). In general, an internship should be jointly planned by student and advisor. The LTI Graduate Student Advisor should be copied on this correspondance.

  6. All external internships will be reviewed by an LTI faculty committee, solely for the purpose of confirming the expectation set forth in point 3 above. The review committee will consist of the student's advisor and two other faculty members; at least one of the additional faculty members should represent the LTI in general, and not be affiliated directly with the student's current project or advisor. The LTI faculty will convene such a committee and review the student's request immediately upon receipt of written notification, reporting a decision within two weeks.

Guidelines for Spring/Fall LTI Student Internships

Internships taking place during the FALL or SPRING semesters are subject to the following:

  • PhD students must be ABD status (all requirements and paperwork completed).

  • Self-funded PhD students must register for 5 units during the internship semester and are responsible for all applicable fees.

  • CMU-funded PhD students (even partially supported) must register for 54 units during the internship semester.

  • MLT students (regardless of funding) must register for 54 units.

Regarding stipends during semester internships:

  • Self-funded PhD students (registered for 5 units while on semester internship) are not permitted to receive partial stipend for that semester, i.e. self-funded Student X has internship for October and November; Student X registers for 5 units for Fall semester; Student X cannot receive any stipend for September and December. (In this scenario, if Student X were to receive stipend for September and December, Student X's status would change from self-funded to CMU-funded and therefore must be registered for 54 units.)

  • Full time students registered for 54 units are eligible for partial stipend (both CMU-funded PhD students and all MLT students).

Policies on the availability of summer employment: Unlike some other departments in the SCS, the LTI financial package includes summer support for all supported students. Students who are offered "outside" (external) summer internships should see the point immediately above.

Policies on attending conferences and seminars: This depends on a student's funding source. Policy for students who are funded by a research project is set by their project. For non-project-funded students, they will have a budget of $700 for a refereed paper, or $200/year without a paper (as of 1998).

Graduate Student Concerns & Grievances

In the LTI, graduate students who believe that they have been treated inappropriately are encouraged to discuss their concerns with the faculty member(s) involved, and their faculty advisor. If they wish, the Chair of the LTI graduate programs, his alternate, and the department head are also available at any stage of the process. All discussions will be considered confidential to the extent allowed by law.

Graduate students wishing to file a formal appeal or grievance should refer to the University procedures.

Language Technologies Institute • 5000 Forbes Ave • Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3891 • (412) 268-6591