General Regulations and Requirements for the Research Doctorate (PhD and EdD)

The formal requirements for the PhD degree are the following:

  • Completion of the course work mandated by the individual degree program.
  • Fulfillment of the residency requirement.
  • Formal training in the Responsible Conduct of Research for students as appropriate.
  • A comprehensive examination or equivalent if required by the degree program.
  • Continuous registration.
  • A final examination conducted by the student’s PhD committee.
  • Submission of a dissertation to the relevant graduate office and to ProQuest for archiving. The dissertation must be based on original and independent research.


All students admitted to a doctor of philosophy program must satisfy the general requirements for admission as a graduate student and the requirements for the specific PhD program.

Academic Classification and Degree Candidacy

Doctoral Student

Students in this classification have been admitted to a doctoral program.

Doctoral Candidate

Every degree program shall have a policy defining candidacy. Students in this classification will have completed all departmental, college, and university requirements except for the dissertation. These requirements vary by program but minimally include completion of approximately 30 semester hours of acceptable graduate work beyond the bachelor’s degree or possession of a previously earned master’s degree that is acceptable to the department and certified by the graduate office. The requirements frequently include a comprehensive examination or a proposal defense.


Every degree program shall have a policy defining residency for candidates for doctoral degrees. The committee in charge of the degree program defines residency and specifies the method by which any residence requirement is satisfied.

Course Requirements

The program committee in charge of the degree program specifies the doctoral course requirements.

Language Requirements

The committee in charge of the degree program establishes the nature of the language requirement, if any.

Responsible Conduct of Research

By the end of their third year, all doctoral students for whom the Responsible Conduct of Research training is required must have completed this training. Training sessions are highly recommended for all doctoral students. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research is responsible for ensuring that appropriate training is available for doctoral students.

Qualifying Examination(s) 

In departments that require qualifying examinations, students must be notified in writing of the nature and regulations governing these examinations and of how their performance on the examinations will affect their normal progress toward the degree. The graduate office should be made aware of the department regulations concerning such examinations.

Comprehensive Examination(s) 

Degree programs may require a comprehensive examination as the final step before becoming a PhD candidate. The purpose of this examination(s) is to test the knowledge and skills of the student in a particular area and his or her knowledge of recent research developments in the field. The PhD program faculty will determine the process by which comprehensive examination committees are established.


Candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy must complete a dissertation that embodies the results of extended research and makes an original contribution to the field. This work should give evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out independent investigation and to interpret in a logical manner the results of the research. The committee in charge of the degree program establishes the method of approval of the dissertation.

Candidates for the degree of Doctor of Education must complete a dissertation that embodies the results of extended, creative, and independent research and proper evaluation and interpretation of the results. The committee in charge of the degree program establishes the method of approval of the dissertation.

Final Oral Examination and Submission of Dissertation

The final oral examination will be carried out after the completion of all other requirements of the degree. The final oral examination will be on the subject matter of the doctoral dissertation and significant developments in the field of the dissertation. Other fields may be included if recommended by the examining committee.

Students must have completed all degree conferral requirements (including having successfully defended their thesis and having submitted their approved thesis as required by the department and to ProQuest) by the last day of the final exam period in order to be graduated in that semester. Graduate students must be continuously enrolled through the end of the term in which they have successfully completed all degree conferral requirements.

Time Limitation

After the establishment of degree candidacy, a maximum of five years will be allowed for the completion of the degree requirements. Under extenuating circumstances, a student may request an extension of this time frame.