Graduate Program Coordinators


This page is a resource for staff in the U of M's graduate programs - both research-based and professional.  If you're in this group, you're now a "GPC!"

What's a GPC?

The term Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) refers to staff in any graduate or professional program.  Previous terms for this group included "DGS Assistants" and "Plan-Level Coordinators" (PLCs).  However, neither of these terms reflected the wide variety of work done to support graduate programs.  While the term "GPC" is not an official HR job title, it will be used for important resources like our graduate programs guide.

What’s the GPC Network?

The GPC Network will serve as a forum similar to the Academic Advisors Network (AAN), a well-established group for undergraduate student services staff. While graduate education is more decentralized, there is still a strong need for GPCs to better communicate across colleges/campuses, share best practices, and develop skills/knowledge. The GPC Network will partner with central units like ASR, ISSS, and the Graduate School, but the goal is for GPCs themselves to run the group. 

What will the GPC Network do?

A lot! Some examples include:  sharing ideas for program orientations, open discussions about issues in higher ed such as affirmative action in admissions. a mentoring program for new GPCs, etc. Much of the future agenda will be determined by you and your GPC colleagues as the group evolves. Some activites of the GPC Network have already begun.

In response to the recent University-wide job family study, a small committee of GPCs created the GPC Responsibilities Guide, a draft of which is availalbe below.   

How do I receive monthly meeting invitations, and get on the GPC listserve?

Email to be added to the GPC Network listserv.

GPC Responsibilities Guide

Please note: The following outline includes responsibilities the GPC may find as a part of his or her position. Not every program may have every duty assigned to the GPC, but there certainly are programs where the GPC has all of these responsibilities.


GPCs counsel students on a variety of issues they may encounter throughout their program. GPCs are often the first people to work with students as they begin to think about a program or have questions throughout their career. They represent their program to students, and support them throughout their career. The responsibilities of a GPC can be divided into a number of interconnecting areas and levels of responsibility but may be done by GPCs regardless of program size or if the GPC is full-time or part-time with the program.

Direct counseling of students

Standard responsibilities

Counsel students to guide them through Program, College, and University policies and procedures, including providing direction on approved curriculum and program and/or college specific requirements to meet degree requirements.

Monitor students’ degree progress and ensure timely completion of their degree plan, assignment of preliminary and final oral exam committees, and graduation procedures.

Counsel students on individual issues that may arise and direct them to the best resources for resolving those issues.

Place or remove holds on student accounts and authorize registration, curricular, and some policy exceptions (e.g., extension of leave of absence).

Guide international students through their unique processes and work with ISSS to assure proper paperwork and compliance throughout the program.

Advanced responsibilities

In collaboration with program leadership and/or DGS, College, and/or central University offices, identify opportunities and strategize on solutions to improve student and program success and growth. This includes involvement with student support initiatives and influencing outcomes (e.g. time to degree)..

Define and execute best practices within program and/or in collaboration with the College and central University offices. This includes leading other GPCs in the development of best practices as needed to maximize efficiency across the University system and strengthen our programs.


Standard responsibilities

Oversee overall program admission process. Guide prospective students, applicants, and admitted students through the admission process and coordinate faculty involved in final admission decisions and post-admission recruiting.

Advanced responsibilities

Design and implement program admissions and recruitment strategy, from prospective student through orientation.

Build program reputation and “brand identity” with prospective students, applicants and admitted students.

Assess effectiveness of strategies and processes and make changes as needed.

Fellowship and financial administration

Standard responsibilities

Present individualized financial packages to admitted students

Track changes to student funding throughout program, including related budgets and coordinate with departmental and collegiate staff as necessary

Counsel students on all aspects of award (benefits, non-financial terms) Understand policies related to fellowships; counsel students in order to maintain compliance

Represent program to the Graduate School, College, and central University offices as needed for any questions related to student funding packages for the program.

Oversee international financial packages and ensures ISSS and I-20 guidelines are met.

Advanced responsibilities

Represents graduate program in overseeing external fellowship awards

Analyzes, assesses, and adjusts student funding package as needed (impact to original financial commitment if student receives fellowship award)

Teaching Assistant (TA) and Research Assistant (RA) administration

Standard responsibilities

Counsel department chair, director of graduate studies, and faculty regarding TA and RA assignments to ensure matches are compliant with graduate education policy and meets the needs of the program.

Monitor TA/RA/Grad. Instructor eligibility per University, college and program requirements (e.g. registration appropriate to job class; language proficiency)

Advanced responsibilities

Decide which TAs and/or RAs are assigned to specific course

Assign TAs/RAs to faculty members

Advise TAs and Grad Instructors on important policies and procedures required of those teaching undergraduate students

GPCs are integral to the success of graduate programs and graduate students as they develop and manage processes that support policy compliance and program-specific needs. GPCs connect their program to their college and the University as a whole and often serve as the only link between the faculty and the policies that all programs must follow.

Coordination for program with wider University   

Standard responsibilities

Serve as a liaison to College and central University offices and represent program and/or DGS (Director of Graduate Studies) on committees and working groups. Communicate and disseminate to the program information learned from central University committees such as RAC (Registrar’s Advisory Committee).

Advanced responsibilities

Influence College and central University offices towards adopting more efficient systems and policies that better serve students.

Data management, analysis and recommendations

Standard responsibilities

Act as program subject matter expert in systems such as Apply Yourself (AY), AppReview, PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, ImageNow, WorkflowGen, MyU, Reporting Center, GPAS, PCAS, and UM Reports.  Serve as a resource for the program to help support students and faculty in understanding how best to use systems and locate information.

Advanced responsibilities

Utilize reports to analyze and interpret data and provide recommendations to DGS/faculty.

Utilize system expertise and analysis and interpretation skills to strategically implement new program solutions with a high level of autonomy.  Identify and simplify ways to help students and faculty understand and use student information systems.

Represent program and/or DGS (Director of Graduate Studies) on committees and working groups with decision making authority.

Program growth

Standard responsibilities

Identify program needs (based on observation, data, and interactions with faculty, students, and other staff) and create optional plans for addressing (e.g. recruitment/retention, funding resources, research opportunities). Engage faculty and students in adopting plans.

Advanced responsibilities

Analyze current processes, identify opportunities, and with independent judgment, implement program business process redesign solutions.

Examples might include recruiting graduate students from underrepresented communities, developing alternate “professional” paths for placement post-graduation; providing space for creating stronger social community.

GPCs are the initial analysers and interpreters of policies for the program, College and University. They are the people on whom both students and faculty rely to have accurate and up-to-date information for whatever issues may arise.

University, program, and college policies and procedures

Standard responsibilities

Make decisions for the program on approval of registration exceptions and oral committee assignments.  Authorize and initiate changes such as advisor assignment and/or adding a minor or plan type to the student’s record.

Review all preliminary and final oral exam committee requests for the program and authorize approval of committees that meet University requirements.

Coordinates approval for external faculty becoming preliminary and final exam committee members and assigning affiliate faculty status within the U of M.

Alert DGS/faculty when the program is not in compliance with College or University policies and provide information about consequences. Identify plan to resolve as needed.

Advanced responsibilities

Interpret and provide clarity to students and faculty on program, College, and University policies governing student degree progress and related procedures.

Manage graduate program faculty assignments, including advising and committee roles, and determine that they comply with University policy.

Participate in professional development activities in order to gain knowledge and insight on current trends in higher education policy.

Seek out opportunities to participate and become actively involved in the development of program, College, and University policy initiatives.

Student Services

Workflow Gen

Initiate, review, and approve workflow requests

Serve on behalf of faculty and/or DGS approver as delegated

Serve as subject matter expert regarding workflow sequence and required approvals, e.g. Doctoral Exam Committee, Advisor, Registration Exceptions, Minor Plan Type

Image Now

Search and retrieve documents from Image Now Grad Drawer


Place appropriate holds

Understand navigation and ability to interpret various degree progress applications (e.g., milestones, committees, advisor center)

Reporting Center

Access and use all required operational reports and request additional data as needed

Skilled at interpreting and communicating data

PCAS (Program and Curriculum Approval System)

Manage curriculum decisions

Ensure catalog reflects accurate requirements to facilitate timely degree progress and programming of key systems (i.e., GPAS)

Faculty Role List Database

Manage graduate program faculty assignments including advising and committee roles

Understand University, college, and programmatic policies related to faculty roles, including exceptions

GPAS  (Graduate Planning and Audit System)

Utilize University systems to identify degree requirements and academic policies in order to effectively translate them into an understandable degree roadmap in PCAS.

Apply and integrate knowledge of University business processes to maximize the delivery of services to support graduate degree progress.

Serve as a subject matter expert to provide timely and accurate curriculum feedback to GPAS team.

Support the overall strategic communications efforts for student records and GPAS

Serve as liaison between between programs & colleges and GPAS team.


Recruiting (Connect)
Campus admissions system (ApplyYourself), App Review, National system (CAS) or both

Manage the application lifecycle

Configure application review software (e.g. AppReview) and create applicant bundles for faculty review

Create queries and export data as needed to support timely application review

Use ApplyYourself to send targeted communication as needed