Doctoral Degree Coursework Requirements
The doctorate is a research or performance degree and does not depend on the accumulation of credit hours. The three requirements of the degree are admission to candidacy, residency, and completion and defense of a dissertation. The degree signifies that the holder has the competence to function independently at the highest level of endeavor in the chosen profession. Hence, the number of years involved in attaining or retaining competency cannot be readily specified. Rather, it is important that the doctoral student’s competency be assessed and verified in a reasonable period of time prior to conferral of the degree, generally five years from the admission to candidacy.
Graduate education, especially at the doctoral level, involves many learning experiences that take place outside the formal classroom setting. These involve observing and participating in activities conducted by the graduate faculty, using departmental and University libraries, attending lectures presented by visiting scholars, informally debating other students, and similar activities. However, because of the contractual nature of graduate study, an individual student or graduate committee may propose an alternative plan by which the student can gain equivalent educational experience. For example, the plan of study may require the student to spend time in residence at a national or foreign laboratory, institute, archive, or research center as partial fulfillment of the residency requirement.
Regulations described in the preceding sections governing admission, registration, etc., must be followed. In addition, the student must satisfy requirements specified by the faculty responsible for the major field. Students applying for admission to a doctoral program, after having received a master’s degree, must file a new application for graduate work with the Office of Admissions.
Doctoral Degree Time Limit
Because the qualifying examination attests to the academic competence of the student who will become an independent researcher or practitioner, the examination cannot precede the conferring of the degree by an extended period. The time allowed to complete the degree is not more than five years in which to complete remaining degree requirements. In the event a student fails to complete the doctorate within five years after admission to candidacy, an extension that may be obtained only by repeating the qualifying examination and meeting any other requirements specified by the student’s committee, including the setting of deadlines by which all degree requirements must be completed.
The candidate must submit a dissertation pursued under the direction of the faculty of the University on some topic in the field of the major subject. The dissertation must present the results of the candidate’s individual investigation and must embody a definite contribution to knowledge. While conducting research or writing a dissertation, the student must register at the beginning of each term or summer during which credit is being earned. No residence credit will be allowed for special field assignments or other work taken off the University campus without prior approval by the associate provost for Graduate Academic Affairs.
Final Examination/Dissertation Defense
The final examination/dissertation defense is not given until the term in which all other requirements for the degree are to be met. After the candidate’s dissertation has been tentatively approved, the final oral defense of the dissertation may be scheduled. At the option of the faculty responsible for the degree program, a comprehensive final written examination also may be required. All doctoral final examinations and dissertation defenses are to the public and the university community.
The student cannot be considered as having satisfactorily passed the final examination/ dissertation defense if there is more than one unfavorable vote among members of the examining committee. Results of each examination/defense must be reported to the school or college dean within 24 hours. Re-examination may not be scheduled without approval of the request by the school or college dean. All committee members are to be present for the final examination/ dissertation defense. One committee member (but not the chair) may attend by audio or videoconference, but should be available electronically during the entire time of the defense. If an examination cannot be scheduled at a time convenient to all committee members, the dean or designee may permit another faculty member to substitute for the original committee member, provided that the original committee member was not the chair. There can be no substitute for the chair. Only one substitute is allowed, and the request for a substitute must be made in writing prior to the examination/defense. The request for a substitute should be signed by the committee chair, the student, and both the original faculty member and the substitute faculty member. A substitute faculty member must have the same or higher graduate faculty status as the original faculty member and represent the same academic discipline or specialization.
The requirements for a doctorate include acceptance of the dissertation and submission of the electronic dissertation. If there is a substitute faculty member scheduled for the final examination, the final examination, the substitute signs the shuttle sheet; however, the original committee member is to sign printed copies of the dissertation. The dissertation must be presented to the University not later than the last day of classes of the semester or summer session in which the degree is expected to be granted.
The candidate is required to maintain close contact with the supervisor or chairperson of the graduate committee on these matters in developing a dissertation so as to incorporate the special requirements of the subject discipline.