Doctoral degrees are conferred for work of distinction, in which the student displays original scholarship and achievement.  The student must prove their ability to design and complete a program of original research by preparing a dissertation that adds to existing knowledge. 


  • Additional information about the combined M.D./ Ph.D. and professional degrees can be found in the relevant college school section of the catalog.
  • Due to the consummate commitment required to complete a terminal degree at the doctoral level, students are not permitted to pursue more than one doctoral program at a time.

Advisory and Examining Committee

Upon admission to graduate standing, students are assigned a temporary advisor by the graduate program. At the completion of twelve (12) graduate credits, the student selects a permanent advisor who shall chair the student's advisory/examining committee. The student and the permanent advisor arrange the appointment of the advisory/examining committee, which along with the advisor and the graduate director of the program; supervise the student's course of study and examinations.

Committee Composition

Advisory/examining committees consist of at least five (5) members of the Graduate Faculty: the committee chair/ permanent advisory, at least two (2) faculty members from the student's major department, at least one (1) faculty member from a department in a field related to the student's major, and at least one (1) Graduate School representative. (For doctoral students, the research advisor may be a different faculty member than the permanent chair.) Students may request the appointment of a committee member from the faculty of another university or from a relevant discipline or profession, provided the prospective member has achieved a record of distinction. Formal approval of the student's advisory/ examining committee is made by the Graduate Dean.

For students going directly from the bachelor's degree to the Ph.D., the advisory/examining committee should be formed prior to the completion of 24 credits in graduate courses. Students entering a Ph.D. program with a master's degree should form the advisory/examining committee during their first semester of enrollment.

The Role of the Advisory/Examining Committee Members

All advisory/ examining committee members are involved in the approval of the student's program of study and in the topic design of the thesis/dissertation and in the conduct of all examinations.

The Role of Graduate School Representative Committee Members

All graduate school representative committee members are to represent the Graduate School, assure compliance with Graduate School regulations and procedures, and report any deviations from prescribed standards to the Graduate School.

Program of Study

Advanced degrees are conferred by the university upon recommendation by graduate faculty and the Graduate Dean, following the completion of an approved Program of Study Form. The approved program of study describes the student's specific plan of courses, research, and related activities. The graduate student's advisor, the graduate director of the program, and the advisory/examining committee determine the program of study for each degree candidate. This includes the dissertation and the acceptable courses for completion of the degree. The Graduate Dean has final approval of the program of study. Only graduate courses are applicable toward the graduate degree. Graduate courses are those numbered 600 and 700.


Subsequent changes may be made at any time via the online Change in Program of Study Form or Change of Advisory Committee Form, but only with the approval of the major professor, graduate director of the program, and the Graduate Dean. It is the responsibility of the student and the advisory/ examining committee to ensure that the graduate courses in the proposed program of study are consistent with the requirements of the Graduate School and the department.

Additional Courses

The student's advisory/examining committee may require the student to take additional courses if, in its opinion, additional training is needed to achieve the expected level of proficiency. Students should consult individual departments to find out the specific requirements for completing the degree.

Program of Study Course Limitations

A maximum of 24 credits of course work from a completed master's degree program or previous post baccalaureate graduate studies program (with grades of B or better) may be allocated toward the doctoral degree. These credits are subject to the approval of the advisory committee and the Graduate Dean. Credits completed as a Graduate Special or from a completed master's degree may not exceed twenty four (24) total credits when applying to a Ph.D. program. 

S/U Grades

A maximum of nine (9) graduate credits toward a doctoral degree of satisfactory/ unsatisfactory (S/U) grading, in addition to the S/U credits for the comprehensive examination including transfer credits, is acceptable. For graduate courses, a grade of "S" indicates achievement equivalent to a "B" or above. The grade of "U" represents performance equivalent to a "B-" or below.

A maximum of six (6) graduate credits of S/U grades, in addition to the S/U credits for the comprehensive examination, may apply to the Doctor of Education degrees offered by the College of Education

Dissertation Credits

A maximum of 24 dissertation credits may be applied to a Doctoral degree (unless otherwise specified by a particular graduate program's requirements, no fewer and no more than 24 dissertation credits may be applied to a doctoral degree).

Extension Courses

Graduate credits earned through extension courses are not accepted for transfer credit.

Correspondence Study

No graduate credit is allowed for correspondence study completed at another university.

Professional Courses

Generally course work from a professional degree (i.e. Medicine, Law) are not considered graduate level and not accepted for credit.

Qualifying Examinations

The qualifying exam helps assess the student's current knowledge and defines the departmental requirements yet to be completed. Each department will provide explicit guidelines about qualifying examinations to its students.

For the student entering the doctoral program without a master's degree, qualifying examinations should be completed before the student earns 24 graduate credits. For students entering the program with the master's degree, qualifying exams should be completed during the first semester of graduate study.

Programs use either the XXX 795--Comprehensive Examination, e.g., ENG 795--Comprehensive Examination, registration to enroll students in qualifying exams or develop separate course title for the qualifying exam.

Comprehensive Examination/ Admission to Candidacy

Admission to candidacy confirms that a student has successfully completed the departmental course requirements and university residency requirements (Two (2) consecutive semesters excluding summer sessions nine (9) credits each). In order to gain admission to candidacy, a student must meet all the following requirements.

  1. Hold at least a "B" average in all graduate work;
  2. Gain the advisory/examining committees formal approval for the program of study, including dissertation development; and
  3. A university department may, at its discretion, impose additional requirements for admission to candidacy.

Students pursuing doctoral degrees should file for candidacy no later than eight calendar months prior to graduation. The Admission to Candidacy Form is available online. The student's advisory committee, graduate director of the program and the Graduate Dean must approve the form. The examinations should be taken after completion of any language and all course requirements. The exam may be taken after a minimum of 75 percent of the student's required course work, beyond the bachelor's degree, is completed. This examination must be both oral and written, and test the student's mastery of a broad field of knowledge, and not merely the formal course work that has been completed. The written examination is designed and administered by the student's major department and the oral examination is conducted and evaluated by the advisory/examining committee. The student fails the exam if more than one (1) negative committee vote is cast. The examination may be retaken once, if additional study is approved, by the examining board. The advisory/examining committee determines the period of additional study.


Doctoral Degrees have a residency requirement that consists of either two consecutive semesters (excluding summer sessions) of enrollment in nine (9) graduate credits each or two convective semesters on a 20-hour assistantship with enrollment is six (6) garduate credits.

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