Student Progress Assessment Help

Who is it for?

Graduate Students

Graduate students participate in a conversation with their major professor and graduate advisor who complete at least one progress assessment for each student each year. All currently enrolled graduate students are required to be assessed for their degree progress in SPA each year (usually in the spring) for each major and for the highest degree objective they are still pursuing in that major. This includes Credential/Masters students, although the Coordinator of the credential program can opt-out any students who are definitely pursuing the Credential only. Any Coordinator can opt out a student who either (1) graduated within the schoolyear, (2) was on PELP in spring quarter, or (3) is not continuing in the program, in any degree objective. After a graduate advisor has submitted an assessment, the student is asked to acknowledge the assessment, although the student's acknowledgement is not necessary for the assessment to be considered complete. How do graduate students use SPA?

Major Professors / PI

A major professor is a mentor who guides the graduate student in the process of identifying a desired area of focus, building skills in that area, honing in on a research topic, completing the research, and preparing for a career after graduate school. Major professors or principal investigators complete progress assessments in coordination with each of their graduate students. All PhD students are required to identify a major professor by the end of their third year, whether or not the student is ready to embark on a research topic at that time. It is important that each student have a mentor who is guiding them through their graduate school journey. If a student has no major professor, then it is appropriate for the graduate advisor to act as that student's major professor. How do Major Professors or PIs use SPA?

Graduate Advisors

Graduate advisors have official signature authority for students in their program and advise students on their course of study. In coordination with the major professor and graduate student who complete progress assessment, the graduate advisor ultimately electronically signs and submits the assessment. All graduate advisors must be appointed by Graduate Studies via the graduate advisor nomination form. We recommend a ratio of around 15 graduate students per graduate advisor. How do Graduate Advisors use SPA?

Program Coordinators

Program coordinators assign a major professor and/or graduate advisor to each student in their program and are also responsible for triggering the initial emails to the students. How do Program Coordinators use SPA?

Graduate Studies SAAs

The Senior Academic Advisors (SAAs) in Graduate Studies have access to all the graduate student assessments, but due to volume they primarily focus on Unsatisfactory assessments. How do SAAs use SPA?

Associate Dean for Graduate Students

The Associate Dean for Graduate Students communicates with graduate students with unsatisfactory progress reports via a letter, outlining expectations going forward.

Student Progress Assessment (SPA)
Table of Contents


During the 2016-17 academic year, in an effort to improve the mentorship experience of graduate students at UC Davis, Graduate Council, in consultation with Graduate Student Association representatives and Graduate Studies, revised the Mentoring Guidelines and developed a Graduate Student Mentoring Action Plan (GSMAP).

One action identified by the GSMAP was an overhaul of the paper-based Annual Progress Report (APR). The purpose of the web based Student Progress Assessment was to replace, what has often devolved into a perfunctory exercise, by a useful online tool that promotes productive discussions and the setting of clear goals and expectations, thus enhancing the mentor/mentee relationship. To this end, it is expected that the assessment will be completed during an in-person meeting between the mentor and his/her mentee. The online Student Progress Assessment content and format, while significantly different from the paper-based APR, has been approved by Graduate Council. Graduate Studies is responsible for the development, administration and support of the web application.

An annual progress assessment is expected to be completed for each graduate student between April 1st and June 30th. The student's major professor or graduate advisor can also initiate an interim or follow up assessment at any time through out the year.

Mentoring Questions

Preview of questions asked in the SPA annual progress report


  1. The program coordinator, Major Professor* (MP) or Graduate Advisor (GA) start by clicking Send which moves the workflow from Not Started to the Questionnaire: Student step where the student, MP* and GA can all fill out the questionnaire.
  2. When all the student questions are answered the workflow moves to the Questionnaire: Major Professor step.
  3. When the MP* clicks Confirm** the workflow moves to the Questionnaire: Graduate Advisor step.
  4. When the GA clicks Confirm** the workflow moves to the Student Acknowledge step.
  5. When the student selects Acknowledge and clicks Submit Final
    1. If the assessment is satisfactory or marginal, the workflow is marked as Done.
    2. Otherwise it moves to the Grad Studies Recieved step.
  6. Once the Graduate Studies SAA drafts a letter the workflow moves to the Associate Dean step.
  7. When the Associate Dean signs off, an email with the letter goes to the student, MP*, GA and program coordinator and the workflow is marked Done.

* Master's students not doing research and 1st or 2nd year doctoral student may not have a major professor.

** Confirm button only available after April 1st 

Workflow Diagram

What If?

Step is Never Completed

If the MP, GA or student never Confirm or Acknowledge the workflow will stay in that step until September 30 at which time the workflow will be marked as Incomplete.

Unlocking After Confirmation

The MP or GA can unlock the questionnaire up until the student acknowledges the assessment, at that point only the Graduate Studies SAA can unlock the questionnaire.

Opting Out 

The program coordinator can opt the student out of the assessment process if the student is on PELP (Planned Educational Leave Program) for the entire academic year, graduating in the Spring or Summer of that year or is not continuing their education. This will mark the workflow as Done and Opt Out and will be reviewed by Graduate Studies. We also allow the School of Education to opt out students who are pursuing a teaching Credential only, and are not actually pursuing the masters degree (or any other graduate degree) at the same time. Note that students who are enrolled in GEDC are taking masters classes at the same time (unless they are Credential-only, in which case they can be opted out).

Change of Major

Students who add a degree objective in a new major during spring quarter will not have the opportunity to complete an Annual Progress Report in that major. However, Graduate Studies recommends that a student complete an APR with their major professor or graduate advisor in prior degree objectives.