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I don't understand some of the terms US/Canadian/UK/Aussie posters are using. What's going on?
Some terms that have commonly caused international confusion:
  • Supervisor: UK version of adviser.
  • Postgrad: A graduate student/graduate degree in the UK and Australia.
  • Extern: Short for "external examiner." A professor from another university in the UK appointed to examine theses/dissertations.
  • To "examine": To grade a thesis.
  • Comps: Short for 'comprehensive exam'. In the US, a field exam that usually takes place in the third year; after the student has passed this exam, they are usually considered a PhD candidate or "ABD" (all but dissertation).
  • Quals or prelims: Short for "qualifying exams" or "preliminary exams." In the US, these exams typically occur after first or second year coursework--similar to comps but usually not as comprehensive.
  • Flyouts: US slang for campus interviews (called flyouts because the candidate is typically flown out for a campus visit).
  • Adjunct: The US term for non-tenure track, usually part-time faculty who are associated with the department in either a teaching or research capacity, typically on a semester-to-semester contract. This incorporates PhDs who teach classes, work on course instruction, or serve on committees. The role of adjunct varies from department to department. An adjunct is different from the US non-tenure track position "visiting assistant professor" a position which typically involves an annual contract (and benefits) at a higher salary.
For more info, please see the following posts from the PhinisheD archives:

What's the U.S. Ph.D. process? by Saaed, who asks for an explanation of the dissertation process in the U.S.

Lou's post on the viva in the UK

Lou explains the UK Ph.D. system


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