Each year, early in the Spring semester, the Department of Sociology holds a mandatory faculty meeting to review the progress of every student in the graduate program. Although students do not attend the review meeting, they should report their current progress to their committee chair or advisor by the beginning of the semester. Regular faculty members in the department who have any contact with graduate students are required to attend the annual review meeting, and affiliate faculty who work closely with graduate students are invited and encouraged to attend. During the meeting, formal advisors briefly report on how the student is progressing, and whether there are any issues that need to be addressed. Other faculty may also comment or ask questions. The department then places the student in one of three categories:
A - Indicates a satisfactory rate of progress.
B - Indicates that the student has fallen behind the satisfactory rate.
C - Indicates a serious problem that places students in jeopardy of being dropped from the program.
The criteria for satisfactory progress is based roughly upon advancement through the requirements at a rate that will lead to an MA in two years or a PhD in six, but other factors that the faculty deem relevant may be taken into consideration as mitigating circumstances.
After the meeting, students are sent a memo that explains their review status and describes any improvements that they are expected to make. Students who are in C status will be given specific instructions on what they must accomplish prior to the subsequent annual review - if they fail to do so they will be dropped from their program.
Unsatisfactory progress in light of the department annual review is not the only reason that a student may be dropped from their program. For PhD students, failure twice to pass a qualifying review, comprehensive exam, or dissertation defense will also cause students to be dropped. Failure to meet university requirements, such as Graduate Division standards for progress and conduct or the UH Mānoa Student Code of Conduct, can also result in dismissal.
Despite the potential for such negative outcomes, the annual reviews are designed primarily to provide students with concrete assessments and constructive mandates to facilitate their movement through the program, and thus avoid situations where dismissal is called for. Students who fall substantially behind department expectations for progress put themselves in a position where it will be difficult or impossible to eventually meet university requirements for graduation, and the reviews are designed to help prevent this from happening.