Doctoral Degree: Performance Standards and Progress
Frequently Asked Questions
- When should students file the doctoral degree plan?
A degree plan should be approved at least three months before taking the preliminary oral examination; however students may submit the degree plan at any time after matriculating in the degree/major.
- Who approves the coursework on the degree plan?
The advisor and DGS (including DGS of the minor field, if applicable) must approve coursework on the degree plan before it is routed to the collegiate unit. Some programs may require full faculty review. Collegiate units may review coursework for compliance with collegiate and University policies.
- Some unexpected circumstances have arisen and I need to request an extension to the maximum time limit for earning the doctoral degree; by when do I need to request an extension?
Students must submit the petition for an extension prior to the end of the term in which the time limit will expire. Students are encouraged to apply for an extension at least three months in advance. If the petition for extension is not submitted by the deadline, the student will be terminated from the doctoral program (however, see question #4 about readmission).
- If a student is terminated from a program for exceeding the time limit on earning the degree, can the student apply for readmission to the program?
Yes. However, readmission is not guaranteed and the faculty in the major field may set any readmission conditions on the student's resumption of work toward the degree, such as registering for additional coursework, completing the degree within a specified time period, or other appropriate terms. If the student is readmitted, the program must specify a time limit for completion.
- Is there a time limit on the length of oral examinations?
The expected length of an oral examination may differ by program. However, examinations typically range from 1.5 to 3 hours.
- I took and passed my doctoral preliminary written and/or oral examination before transferring to my University graduate program. Can I use this examination to satisfy the degree requirement at the University?
No. You must take and pass the doctoral preliminary written and/or oral examination administered by your University graduate program in order to satisfy the degree requirements.
- Is it required that my advisor represent my major field on the preliminary oral examination committee?
Yes, your advisor must be one of the three people representing your major field on the examination committee.
- I have co-advisors. Do both of my co-advisors have to represent my major field on the preliminary oral examination committee?
At least one of your advisors must represent the major field. If you have co-advisors, one may represent the outside/minor field.
- Why does my preliminary oral examination committee have to include an outside committee member? Who qualifies as an outside member?
An outside committee member is required to both ensure fairness and due process for the student in the examination and to ensure that the student is examined across the breadth of knowledge represented by the student's field of study. An outside member is typically from a different graduate program than the student's major field; however see question #10.
- Can a faculty member representing a formal track within a graduate program that is different from the student’s track satisfy the requirement that one committee member represent a field outside of the student's major field?
Yes if approved by the program and collegiate unit.
- Do the student and the committee members have to be physically present on campus for the preliminary oral examination?
No, neither the student nor the committee members are required to be physically present on campus for the preliminary oral examination as long as all of the conditions required for remote participation in the exam are met.
- I am retaking my preliminary oral examination and need to replace one of my committee members due to an emergency situation. Is this allowed?
Yes. As with other committee substitutions that are necessitated by emergency situations, the substitution should be approved in advance, if possible and the advisor should consult with the appropriate collegiate unit staff before the start of the examination.
- Is there a requirement that a minimum amount of time elapse between a first attempt at the doctoral preliminary oral examination and an approved retake?
There is no University requirement that a minimum amount of time elapse between the first and second attempts at the doctoral preliminary oral examination. However, collegiate units and/or programs may set a minimum time requirement.
- Can a program assess a pass with reservations to a student’s preliminary written examination?
It is within the purview of the program to offer multiple attempts and/or the option to pass with reservations. Only the final outcome of the written examination is recorded in the central system of record as a pass or fail.
- How many S/N courses can I include on my degree plan?
A maximum of 1/3 of the courses on the degree plan may be S/N. Courses only offered S/N (that is, without the option of A/F grades) will not be counted as part of the student’s permissible number of S/N registrations.
- I was given "S" grades for course credits transferred from an international institution where an equivalent A/F grade could not be determined. Do these credits count toward the S/N limit?
No, the transferred credits will be treated similar to credits for courses only offered S/N, and will not be counted toward the S/N limit on the degree plan.
- I left the University after completing my master’s degree and want to come back to complete my doctoral degree in the same program. How will my time to degree be counted?
A student who completes a master's degree in a program, leaves the University, and returns to enroll for the doctoral degree in the same program will have their time to degree clock stopped after the master's and restarted upon enrollment in the doctoral program.
- Can a student pursue two Ph.D. degrees at the same time?
Students are not permitted to earn two Ph.D. degrees at the same time in two fields using the same program of study and dissertation. Although students are generally discouraged from doing so, special circumstances may warrant taking a second Ph.D. degree at a later date, but only when a completely separate program and dissertation are involved.
- I have been admitted to take graduate courses as a Graduate Professional Development (GPD) student. Do I have to register every term?
Yes. Students admitted for Graduate Professional Development status must adhere to the same registration requirements as other admitted students and must register in the fall and spring semesters. Registration during the summer is not required.
- My graduate program has admitted a student for Graduate Professional Development. How long may the GPD student remain in the program?
If the student is a domestic student, the graduate program determines how long the student may continue to take courses as a GPD student. Ideally, the period for which the student may remain a GPD student should be clearly stated in the letter of admission.
If the student is an international student, the period for which the student may remain a GPD student is in part determined by federal visa regulations and SEVIS requirements. International students admitted to GPD are given an I-20 for one year and must be admitted to a degree program if they wish to continue their advanced education at the University after the one-year period.
- A student admitted for Graduate Professional Development in my program is performing poorly and the program would like to terminate the student at the end of the semester. Can the program do this?
Yes. The program can terminate the student if clear expectations were set at the time of admission and the consequences of the student's failure to meet them were also clearly stated. If this information was not included in the letter of admission, the program should communicate performance expectations to the student in writing, along with the consequences for failure to meet them, before making a decision to terminate the student.
- Our program wishes to restrict the role of the advisor in the preliminary oral examination. Can we do this?
The advisor must be a member of the preliminary oral examination committee, and all committee members are expected to participate in the examination proceedings either in person or remotely. Committee members participating remotely must meet the conditions described in the policy appendix Required Conditions and Best Practices for Remote Participation in Graduate Examinations. Programs, may however, define the advisor's participation more narrowly (e.g., not allowing the advisor to chair the examination). Programs that choose to limit the role of the advisor in the preliminary oral examination must do so for all students in the program. Programs may NOT impose such restrictions on other committee members and especially not on the external member.
- My program would like to require a higher GPA for its master’s and doctoral students. May we impose higher GPA requirements?
Yes. Graduate programs may impose more stringent GPA requirements for their students. The higher GPA requirement may pertain to the overall GPA or to the degree plan coursework.
- My program would like to require higher grades on the degree plan than specified by the University policy. May we do this?
Yes. Graduate programs may impose more stringent requirements for grades included on the student’s degree plan.
- My program would like to require its graduate students to earn higher grades for particular courses in the major. May we do this?
Yes. Graduate programs may impose more stringent grading requirements for courses its students complete in the major.