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1. General Information

1.1 General Information

The Graduate College is the center of advanced study, research, and creative activity at the university. Graduate instruction has been offered at the University of Oklahoma since 1899, seven years after the university opened its doors. The first master’s degree was conferred in 1900 to C. Ross Hume. The Graduate School was formally organized in 1909, and in 1929, the first doctoral degree was awarded to Dr. Mary Jane Brown. In 1942, the name was changed to the Graduate College.

The University of Oklahoma enrolls almost 32,000 students, has more than 2,800 full-time faculty members, and has 21 colleges offering 171 majors at the baccalaureate level, 167 majors at the master’s level, 90 doctoral–level majors, and 56 graduate certificates. The university’s annual operating budget is $2.02 billion. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution.

1.2 Campuses

Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic, and health-care needs of the state, region, and nation. The Norman campus serves as home to all of the university’s academic programs except health-related fields. The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges. Both the Norman and Health Sciences Center campuses offer programs at the Schusterman Center, the site of OU-Tulsa.

The university’s main campus and offices of administration are located in Norman. At OU-Tulsa, the majority of programs are located at the Schusterman Center; others are located at area clinics and hospitals. Students are able to enroll in OU courses on U.S. military bases around the world through OU North America and Europe (formerly Advanced Programs) and the College of Professional and Continuing Studies.

Immediately adjacent to the central campus in Norman is the 277-acre University of Oklahoma Research Campus. The Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center provides a home for world-class education programs, federal and military research programs, and innovative leaders in private industry. The National Weather Center houses the university’s research programs in meteorology and NOAA’s weather, research, and operations programs. The Partners Place facilities foster collaboration between research and business enterprises. Also located on the south campus are Andrew M. Coats Hall, housing the College of Law; the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History; the OU Foundation; Lloyd Noble Center and parking complex; and the Jimmie Austin University of Oklahoma Golf Course.

The north campus, one mile from the central campus, houses University Computing Services; Max Westheimer Airpark, the university-operated airport; Swearingen Research Park, where government agencies and industry have established facilities; and the Weather Center, a complex of federal, state, private, and university meteorological agencies, including the National Severe Storms Laboratory, National Weather Forecasting Office, Applied Systems Inc., and the NEXRAD Operational Test Facility.

Other research and study units associated with the university include the Biological Station at Lake Texoma; the Earth Sciences Observatory at Leonard near Tulsa; the Aquatic Biology and Fisheries Research Center in Noble and in Norman; Sarkeys Energy Center; the Oklahoma Climatological Survey; the Oklahoma Biological Survey; the Oklahoma Archeological Survey; Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville; and the Center for the Analysis and Prediction of Storms. The Oklahoma Geological Survey, a state agency responsible to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, also is housed on the Norman campus.

1.3 Graduate College Administrative Officers

Randall S. Hewes, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate College (also Professor of Biology)

James J. Sluss, Jr., Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate College in Tulsa (also Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs)

Sherri Irvin, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate College (also Presidential Research Professor of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies)

Liz Karr, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the Graduate College (also Associate Professor of Microbiology and Plant Biology)

Jennifer Kisamore, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the Graduate College in Tulsa (also Associate Professor of Psychology)

1.4 Authority and Responsibility of the Graduate College

The objective of the Graduate College is to guide, support, and enhance the educational experience of every graduate student at OU. The Graduate Council and the dean of the Graduate College supervise and evaluate the academic units of the university that offer master’s and doctoral degrees to ensure quality, observance of policy, and academic excellence in all areas of advanced study.

The Graduate College strives to develop in each student a firm grasp of a chosen field, the skills and methods of research, and the capacity for independent thought. The Graduate College carefully monitors the performance of all graduate students. Final determination of a student’s graduate status, from admission through graduation, rests with the dean of the Graduate College.

Faculty and students share an obligation to master the knowledge of their chosen fields, to add to that knowledge, and to present it to the scholarly community. The Graduate Faculty has responsibility for instruction, for the guidance of graduate students in the development of their programs, and for pursuing investigations associated with a particular field or discipline. Graduate students are expected to demonstrate initiative and assume responsibility for the progress of their studies. Students must master a body of knowledge, and coursework merely provides the foundation for wider personal inquiry. A graduate degree is conferred for mastery of a field and thorough understanding of its related branches.

1.5 Graduate Programs for Academic Excellence

Private donations have enabled the Graduate College to provide fellowships and scholarships in designated areas. Among these are the Alumni Graduate Fellowship, OU Foundation Fellowship, Kenneth L. Hoving Fellowship, Hudson Fellowship, and McNair Fellowship.

Additional programs, like the Eddie Carol Smith Scholarship, Robberson Travel and Research grants, and the Robberson and Wethington Scholarships, seek to reward and encourage scholars conducting and presenting original scholarship at the highest levels.

Dissertation Awards and Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards in three categories are given annually to reward excellence in dissertation research and teaching, respectively. The awards include a certificate and a monetary prize.

The Graduate College sponsors an annual Student Research and Creativity Day. Cash prizes and certificates are awarded for excellence in research and presentation. In addition, the annual Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT®) challenges students to communicate the significance of their research to a general audience in just three minutes. Cash prizes are awarded, and the finalists’ presentations are featured on the Graduate College website.

For more information on these programs and others that may be available, visit the Graduate College website.

1.6 Research Programs

Research is a critical dimension of the mission of the University of Oklahoma. It is vital to the growth, health, and progress of the state of Oklahoma, the region, and the nation. In fiscal year 2016, 551 grants and contracts were awarded totaling $102.7 million.

Participation in research and creative activity projects is fundamental to a graduate student’s training and development. Various projects that support graduate students are conducted in all graduate programs offered at the university. Information about current research projects is available from each academic unit.

Graduate students who are unsure of the norms in their academic unit for identifying research themes and faculty advisors are encouraged to contact the graduate liaison in their academic unit for guidance on how to proceed.

1.7 Use of Human Subjects in Research

All research involving human subjects or the use of data generated via human subjects research performed by faculty, staff, or students at the University of Oklahoma Norman or Tulsa campus or at Cameron University, which will result in publication or presentation, must be reviewed and approved by the University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Institutional Review Board (OU-NC IRB) prior to subject recruitment and data collection. The primary role of the OU-NC IRB is to determine if the rights and welfare of human subjects who volunteer to participate in research studies are adequately protected and to ensure that appropriate informed consent procedures are used. The University of Oklahoma Norman campus policy for the protection of human subjects in research activities and IRB application materials can be accessed at the OU IRB website.

If you have questions about compliance or the IRB approval process, contact the Office of Human Research Participant Protection at (405) 325-8110 or email

1.8 Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research

All research performed on live vertebrate animals or teaching that uses live vertebrates must be described for review and approval by the University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (OU-NC IACUC) prior to obtaining animals and data collection. The primary role of the IACUC is to ensure compliance with the U.S. Animal Welfare Act and Amendments and to ensure that animals receive humane care during procedures in accordance with federal regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare of the Public Health Service (OLAW/PHS).

If you have questions on the IACUC review process, contact the Office of Laboratory Animal Resources (405) 325-1052 or visit the OU IACUC website.

1.9 Intellectual Property Policy

The University of Oklahoma Intellectual Property Policy governs the ownership of certain inventions made by university students, staff, and/or faculty members. The policy provides, in part, that all discoveries and/or inventions, patentable or not patentable, which are made or conceived of while the inventor is a student at the university with substantial use of university facilities not normally made available to students, or are made with funds provided by or through the university (including research funds), are the property of the university. The policy protects and offers substantial benefits to the inventor, while simultaneously protecting the university’s interests in the invention. Students and faculty members are expected to be familiar with their rights and obligations under the University Intellectual Property Policy and to promptly report any inventions as outlined in the policy. The policy may be viewed online in section 3.29 of the Faculty Handbook.

Be aware that the University Intellectual Property Policy is subject to revision at any time. Students who make an invention or discovery that is covered under the stated conditions should contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at (405) 325-3800 or via email at

1.10 Embargo Policy for Theses and Dissertations

The Graduate College is committed to making research available to the broadest possible community. Open access to research supports the values of learning, teaching, and peer review essential to our academic standing and integrity; it allows scholars to disseminate their work to the widest audience; and it supports the discovery and advancement of knowledge for all. Therefore, University of Oklahoma theses and dissertations are presented at open oral defenses and made globally accessible in the SHAREOK Repository.

However, in some situations and some disciplines, it may be advisable to delay immediate access to a thesis or dissertation. Upon request, the Graduate College will approve embargo of a thesis or dissertation for a limited period, provided good cause is demonstrated. An embargo postpones the date on which a thesis or dissertation will become broadly accessible. However, an embargo does not waive the final submission requirement—a student who receives approval for an embargo will still need to submit the final thesis or dissertation in order to fulfill graduate degree requirements, in accordance with the policies in this bulletin. An embargo applies only to the work itself; the title, abstract, and subject categories provided by the student will be publicly available.

A student should discuss any potential need for an embargo with their committee as early as possible in the research process. Alternatives should be considered, such as embargoing only those portions of the work that may be published elsewhere. Theses and dissertations may not contain material that requires permanent restriction.

  1. The student’s thesis or dissertation research contains information that is protected from dissemination by applicable law or by contract, or contains intellectual property that may potentially be patentable. As soon as this is recognized, the student and committee chair should consult the “Disclosure of Patentable Inventions” and “Procedures for Research Holds and IP Holds” sections of the Graduate College Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet. In either case, the student and committee should inform their Graduate College counselor of the potential need for an embargo. The Graduate College will seek the advice of other offices as necessary to inform the student of how to proceed.

  2. The student’s thesis or dissertation research contains intellectual or creative property whose value will be diminished by immediate open access digital publication.

If it is determined that an embargo is necessary, the committee chair should prepare a request (see Requesting an Individual Embargo below).

An initial request for embargo may be approved for any length of time up to three years. An approved embargo will begin on the date that the student first submits the final thesis or dissertation to SHAREOK.

In some disciplines, open access publication is not yet the norm. Many or most of the graduate students in these disciplines may require an embargo. Therefore, the chair or director of an academic unit may request that the Graduate College pre-approve a specified embargo period for theses or dissertations produced within that academic unit.

As of July 24, 2018, the following pre-approved departmental embargoes for digital theses and dissertations are in effect. Students who want to use the pre-approved departmental embargo will need to opt in by checking the appropriate box on the online Request for Authority to Defend form.

Pre-approved Master’s Thesis Embargoes

Department of Anthropology: Two years
Department of Biology: Two years
School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering: Two years
School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science: Two years
Department of English: Three years
ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics: Three years
Department of Health and Exercise Science: Three years
Department of History: Three years
Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication: 18 months
Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology: Three years
Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics: Three years
Department of Philosophy: Three years

Pre-approved Doctoral Dissertation Embargoes

Department of Anthropology: Three years
Department of Biology: Three years
Michael F. Price College of Business: Three years
School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering: Two years
School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science: Two years
Department of Communication: Three years
Department of Economics: Three years
Department of English: Three years
ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics: Three years
Department of Health and Exercise Science: Three years
Department of History: Three years
Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication: 18 months
Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology: Three years
Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics: Three years
Department of Philosophy: Three years

A written request for embargo should be endorsed by the student, committee chair, and graduate liaison, and submitted to the Graduate College via the online Request for Authority to Defend form. The request should specify the length of embargo being requested and the justification for the embargo. Relevant supporting documentation may be attached. The Graduate College will notify the student and academic unit via OU email once a decision has been made concerning the embargo request.

Previously approved embargoes may be extended for good cause. An author who wishes to extend an approved embargo will be responsible for contacting the graduate liaison of the academic unit through which their degree was conferred to initiate the request for extension. Approximately three months prior to the embargo expiration date, the author should request that the graduate liaison submit a written request to the Graduate College. The request should specify the length of extension being requested and the justification. Relevant supporting documentation may be attached. The Graduate College will notify the author and academic unit via email once a decision has been made concerning the extension request.

Because the landscape of open access publication is rapidly changing, the Graduate College will revisit its embargo policy periodically.

Revised August 2020

1.11 Graduate Student Travel for Academic Purposes

Graduate students who will travel abroad in association with the University of Oklahoma must register their travel with the Office of Education Abroad by sending their full name, OU email address, dates and location(s) of travel to This will result in enrollment in mandatory international insurance and access to International Risk Management services.

Students who will be conducting research overseas may need approval from the OU Institutional Review Board (IRB) before conducting any research activities. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the IRB office to obtain any approval that is necessary. 

U.S. law limits the exportation of certain items, technology, and software to certain foreign destinations.  U.S. government approval may be required in some situations, including but not limited to, temporary exportation of OU equipment or property, in-country activities in certain countries (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria), and interactions with foreign military units and forces, regular or irregular, in any country. It is your responsibility to contact the OU Office of Export Controls to obtain any approval that is necessary.

Revised August 2018