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Frequently Asked Questions

For general university guidance on COVID-19 measures, please visit the UTEP Resuming Campus Operations website.

If you have a question that is not listed here that applies to graduate students and/or graduate program faculty, please send it to gradschool@utep.edu.

Please send all Correspondence and Forms relating to completion or graduation to: gradschoolgraduation@utep.edu

Can I get electronic signatures on defense forms and graduation documents?

Answer: Yes. Some of our forms are filed electronically via login and others require an e-mail. Refer to the guidelines below. You can find all forms here (under the Graduation tab) and guidelines on all aspects of how to graduate here.

Thesis defense forms. Please note that defense forms no longer require department chair or college dean signatures. You can get electronic signatures in two ways:

(1) E-mail the thesis defense form found here and the signed signature page to gradschoolgraduation@utep.edu. If you scan the forms, please make all scanned documents are legible.

 OR

(2) Forward an approval message that routes through each committee member as an email chain to gradschoolgraduation@utep.edu.  Make sure the e-mail indicates the date of your defense and approval from each committee member for both the thesis/dissertation document and for the defense.  For example, I approved Paty Minera’s thesis and defense on August 4, 2021.  Please note that if you send this complete approval signature e-mail chain, the defense form and signature page are not required.

Thesis proposal defense forms.  Thesis proposal defenses and graduation applications follow the same process as outlined above.

Doctoral candidacy (dissertation proposal or prospectus defense) forms.  These forms are now electronic and will route automatically to obtain the necessary approvals after you log in and submit them.

Graduation applications and online degree evaluations.  These forms are now electronic and will route automatically to obtain the necessary approvals after you log in and submit them. 

Can I defend my thesis/dissertation/proposal online? What should I know about preparing for an online thesis/dissertation defense?

Answer: If necessary and approved by your program, you can defend online. There are many ways to design an online defense.  At the most basic level, you will need to consider who will be there, when, and on what platform.  It is most practical to use software that (1) allows you to share a link with participants to enable easy access and a public defense if applicable; and (2) offers breakout rooms, so that your committee can meet privately when the moment comes.  Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom both do this.  

A PhD graduate from Duke 山ּ compiled a practical, comprehensive that walks you through design and troubleshooting steps.  It even includes reflections on lessons learned.

We strongly suggest preparing and practicing with whatever software and equipment you intend to use and being ready to troubleshoot issues on the day of the defense.  Your committee chair and/or program director may be able to help. If you need to talk to tech support at UTEP, you can email or call the Help Desk, 915-747-HELP (4357).

I have met all of the graduation requirements and applied for graduation this semester. When will I be able to access my final transcripts, and when will I get my diploma?

Answer: It takes up to 30 days from the date grades are visible to you in Goldmine, for degrees to post.  Your transcript is immediately available at that time.  Diplomas take approximately two months to process and are mailed to the address you provided in your application for a graduate degree.  All inquiries regarding transcripts and diplomas after grades are posted should be sent to records@utep.edu.  If you need urgent proof of graduation during the waiting period, please contact gradschoolgraduation@utep.edu.

I have symptoms of COVID-19 or think I have been exposed to the virus.  What should I do?

Answer: UTEP student COVID-19 testing is an important part of the university’s strategy to control the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.  Testing is provided by UTEP’s Student Health and Wellness Center.  Testing is free and available to all UTEP students who are currently enrolled. No appointments are necessary.  Visit the Student Health and Wellness Center’s website or call (915) 747-7000 for essential information on testing, including where to go to be tested.

You can also visit the City of El Paso’s and the websites, or if you need help finding a doctor or accessing medical care, you can call 2-1-1.

I am feeling very overwhelmed by current events. What resources are available to me as a graduate student?

Answer: In recent years global events have brought new challenges and complexity into our lives.  This is stressful.  Stress can manifest differently in all of us: physically (e.g., upset stomach), psychologically (e.g., anxiety, depression), or behaviorally (e.g., substance abuse).  Support and resources continue to be available at UTEP and in the community.  The counseling staff and health providers on campus can help you cope and get on a healthy path.  They can also give you referrals to other programs. 

UTEP Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) delivers all services via video or over the phone. If you would like to speak with a counselor, please call 915-747-5302 Monday through Friday 8-5pm.   The Miners Talk Crisis Line is available (915-747-5302) after hours and on the weekends. For more information go to the CAPS website.

The Student Health and Wellness Center is also operating and has updated its intake procedures, please visit their website.

I’m not sure I can afford or find adequate food/nutrition options during this time.  What can I do?

Answer: Adequate nutrition is important to maintaining physical and mental health.  If you are facing food insecurity, the UTEP Food Pantry (located in Memorial Gym) is available to all currently enrolled students and is open Monday-Friday, 10:00am to 3:00pm. You must bring your Miner Gold ID card to access the Pantry.  Please check the Food Pantry website for updates on available supplies and hours of operation.  Additionally, Kelly Memorial Food Pantry has prepared special food packs with essentials such as grains, legumes, flour, and sugar.  They are centrally located on Florence Street, between Rio Grande and Montana.  For more information visit their .

Do I need to be enrolled in the summer to be employed as a TA?

The rule regarding summer employment recently changed. Graduate students  do not have to enroll in the summer to be employed as a TA/AI/RA if they will return in the fall. Specifically, the new policy says:Graduate students who will be returning in the fall do not need to be enrolled during the summer as long as they were enrolled at UTEP during the preceding spring and are enrolled for the upcoming fall.”

I graduate in the spring semester. Can I work on campus in the summer?

You can work on campus in the summer with approval from the Dean of the Graduate School. The policy on this states:  “graduate students who graduated in the spring semester may be allowed to work during the summer to complete projects started during the 9-month academic year, with the approval of the Dean of Graduate School.”

I work off-campus and am enrolled in an online Master’s program.  My advisor has research funds available for me to work on a project 10 hours a week.  Do I need approval from the Dean of the Graduate School?

Yes. However, please keep in mind that some programs are designed for individuals with full-time jobs outside of the university. There are health and persistence considerations attached to this kind of request, given it involves a high overall workload.

Research done at UTEP’s Center for Institutional Evaluation and Research Planning (CIERP) shows that working more than 20 hours per week is detrimental to students. Furthermore, findings revealed that the more students work (above 20 hours/week) the more likely they are to stop-out and not complete their degree. Additionally, mental health issues are exacerbated by high workloads

How do I know if I qualify for in-state tuition rates?

There are several ways you can qualify for in-state tuition rates, particularly if you will be employed by the 山ּ, are a Mexican National who qualifies for the PASE program, are the recipient of a competitive scholarship awarded by the Scholarship Office, are a resident of eight New Mexico counties, are an active-duty service member assigned to Fort Bliss, or are the dependent of an active-duty service member assigned to Fort Bliss.  The document linked on this webpage offers detailed guidance on in-state tuition eligibility and application processes. You can refer New Mexico residents to the forms listed here. Active-duty service members and their dependents should submit a military waiver to the Military Student Success Center to receive resident tuition.

I was approved for in-state tuition but was billed as out-of-state. What should I do??

If you are eligible for in-state tuition because you are an RA/TA/GA, please contact our staff at gradschool@utep.edu or 915-747-5491.

If you are eligible for in-state tuition as a resident of one of eight New Mexico counties, please fill out the “New Mexico Waiver” form linked here and send to gradschooladmissions@utep.edu with a copy of your driver’s license or state ID.

If you are eligible due to military status, please contact the Military Success Center at mssc@utep.edu or 915-747-5342.

If you are eligible due to a competitive scholarship, please contact the Office of Scholarships at scholar@utep.edu or 915-747-5478.

How do I know if I qualify for doctoral tuition remission?

Answer: Effective fall 2022, all students appointed as Doctoral Research Associates will receive tuition remission (provided they meet all eligibility criteria) for up to 6 years.  Doctoral students in their first or second year who are appointed under other titles (Doctoral Teaching Assistant, Doctoral Assistant Instructor, Doctoral Assistant) may receive tuition remission for up to 2 years if funding is available. 

Tuition Remission is $2,000 per semester for eligible doctoral students taking 9 semester credit hours (SCH), or $1,000 per semester for eligible students taking less than 9 SCH, provided they are enrolled in dissertation (6398/6399).

To be eligible for tuition remission, students must:

  • Be employed and working 20 hours/week as a Doctoral Research Associate, Doctoral Teaching Assistant, Doctoral Assistant Instructor, or Doctoral Assistant.
  • Be enrolled for 9 SCH or enrolled in dissertation credits (6398/6399).
  • Have a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on record (if US citizen or resident).
    • The FAFSA must be on record before the semester begins.
    • Students who file the FAFSA late will be eligible the following semester.
  • Be in good standing in doctoral program, as demonstrated by progress toward milestones documented in yearly Individualized Development Plan (IDP) submitted to the Graduate School.

Students do not apply for tuition remission.  The Graduate School works with the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, doctoral programs, and Colleges to identify students who are eligible for tuition remission and applies that support to student accounts.

For more information, please visit our webpage: /graduate/funding/doctoral-tuition-remission.html

What types of funding are available to pay for graduate school?

Answer: It’s always best to begin by contacting your program director and asking if there are program-specific appointments (RA, GA, TA, AI, etc.) or any funding available through your specific college. Beyond your program and college, you’ll want to check out the Graduate School’s Paying for Graduate School webpage to access funding resources and additional information.

I want to apply for external funding, but I’m not sure about the process or how to prepare an application. Where can I go for help?

Answer: The FUNDS (Fellowship Understanding, Networking, Development, and Support) Program featured on the External Funding webpage is designed to support you in applying for external funding and creating a competitive application. If you have specific funding application questions, email: gradfund@utep.edu.

Please note that in addition to the questions and answers listed below, you can find detailed information on international students and Covid-related issues on the Office of International Programs FAQ page.

If I am an international student who is not physically in the U.S., can I be appointed as a graduate assistant, teaching assistant, or research assistant if my assigned workload can be performed remotely and verified by the department and supervisors/advisors?

Answer: Yes, if your department approves it.  However, this can be challenging as your department must be able to pay you, which means you must already have a Social Security Number and meet Human Resources requirements.  To perform your job duties, you might also need to use software or equipment that requires local access.  Please contact your program director/department chair to discuss if this is an option.  We suggest reading more about this on the Office of International Programs FAQ page.

Can I return to my home country and remain enrolled at UTEP?

Answer: Yes, but definitely check in with the Office of International Programs (OIP).  OIP’s website has important information regarding the departure process for international students. You can find that information and a link to the form on this OIP web page.

I am a new international student and was able to get my student visa. What do I do if travel restrictions prevent me from arriving in the U.S. in time for the semester/academic year?

Answer: Please contact your specific program for guidance and updates. 

I’m an international student, but most of the funding resources I find are for US citizens or permanent residents. Where else can I look?

Answer: The Graduate School has funding resources curated specifically for international students accessible through the link on the External Funding webpage.  There is also additional information for international students listed on the Paying for Graduate School webpage.

I’m an international student who was set to graduate this semester, but I will not be able to finish as planned. Should I renew my I-20, which expires soon?

Answer: Consult with your advisor to see whether you have a good chance of finishing before your I-20 expires.  When discussing this, you should assume that things will be more difficult moving forward (e.g., collect data for thesis/dissertation, a required course might not be offered).  If you and your advisor believe that there is NOT a good chance of graduating before your I-20 expires, you should request an extension and be sure to follow all Office of International Programs guidelines and recommendations.

The program I’m applying to requires a standardized test but testing centers around me are currently closed.  Do I need to wait another semester/year?

Answer: ETS, one of the largest test administrators (including TOEFL and GRE) has expanded its services to enable at-home testing.  Visit the for updates based on the region of the world in which you live. 
If you need further assistance, please contact the Graduate School and one of our enrollment coordinators will help you.

Can I defer admission?

Answer: Deferments of up to a year are possible, but the final decision rests with your program/department.

If I deferred admission and was granted a fellowship, assistantship, and/or scholarship will I be able to keep it?

Answer: Usually. However, it depends on the funding source and continued availability of funds. Please contact your program/department chair to inquire about keeping your fellowship, assistantship, and/or scholarship.

What should I do if I cannot complete my thesis/dissertation within the normal time limit (6 years for thesis & 8 years for dissertation) or after I have had an extension approved by the Graduate Dean?

Answer: If you need an extension (or need a second extension), you must submit a request to the Dean of the Graduate School at gradschool@utep.edu