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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

  1. Ph.D. Degree
    1. The Doctor of Philosophy degree is awarded for high achievement in an advanced specialized field of study. It requires competence in independent research and an understanding of related subjects.
    2. The degree is not awarded simply for the fulfillment of residence requirements and the accumulation of credits.
  2. Ph.D. Supervisory Committee
    1. Each supervisory committee consists of five faculty members.
      1. The committee chair and the majority of the committee must be tenure-line faculty in the student’s department.
      2. One member of the committee must be appointed from outside the student’s major department.
        1. The outside member is normally from another University of Utah department.
        2. The dean of The Graduate School may approve requests to appoint a committee member from another university where appropriate justification and supporting documentation is provided.
    2. The supervisory committee is responsible for
      1. approving the student’s academic program,
      2. preparing and judging the qualifying examinations (unless delegated to a departmental examination committee),
      3. approving the dissertation subject and final dissertation,
      4. and administering and judging the final oral examination (dissertation defense).
  3. Program of Study
    1. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree ordinarily must complete no fewer than three full years (six semesters) of approved graduate work (i.e., courses numbered 6000 and above) and a minimum of 14 dissertation hours.
      1. Some departments require more, check department’s handbook.
      2. More time may be required.
      3. In truly exceptional cases, a shorter period of time in graduate work may be approved by the dean of The Graduate School. 
    2. If a supervisory committee finds a graduate student’s preliminary work deficient, the student may be required to register for and complete supplementary courses that do not carry graduate credit.
    3. Ph.D. candidates must file the Program of Study form with their departments.
      1. This form, which lists course work and research hours, is due one semester before graduation in order for the graduate coordinator to enter that information online in a timely manner.
      2. Faculty Consultation, course number 7980, does not count toward dissertation hours or the fulfillment of degree requirements, and should not be listed on the program of study.
      3. Courses taken through alternative delivery methods (e.g., via EDNET or the Internet) are approved on a programmatic basis through the Graduate Council.
  4. Residency Enrollment Requirement*
    1. At least one year (i.e., two consecutive semesters) of the doctoral program must be spent in full-time academic work at the University of Utah.
      1. When a student proceeds directly from a master’s degree to a Ph.D. degree with no break in the program of study (except for authorized leaves of absence), the residency requirement may be fulfilled at any time during the course of study.
    2. A full load is nine credit hours.
      1. Three hours of Thesis Research: Ph.D. (course number 7970) is also considered a full load after the residency requirement is fulfilled.
    3. The Graduate Council may approve departmental or programmatic exceptions to the minimum residency requirements and proposals for new programs or academic offerings using distance-learning technologies and/or off-campus sites, as provided by Graduate School policy.
    4. *Does not refer to or fulfill State Residency Requirements
  5. Approval of Program of Study
    1. One semester prior to graduation, graduate students are required to meet with their graduate advisor to check that they have met all the requirements for their degree.
    2. Once enrolled in all required coursework, the graduate advisor will move coursework from the graduate student's transcript to their program of study in the Graduate Student Summary.
    3. The student's supervisory committee members and director of graduate studies will receive an email to review the coursework.
      1. They verify the graduate student has met all degree requirements then approve the program of study with their electronic signature.  
    4. After all approvals have been submitted, the graduate student's program of study will show as complete in the Program Plan Audit page of the Graduate Student Summary.
  6. Qualifying Examination  and Advancement to Candidacy
    1. Written and oral qualifying (preliminary) examinations are required of each student.
      1. The nature and format of these examinations are established by individual departments subject to approval by the Graduate Council.
      2. An examination or parts of an examination may be repeated only once and only at the discretion of the student’s supervisory committee.
    2. Qualifying examinations generally are prepared, administered, and evaluated by a student’s supervisory committee.
      1. A department has the option of appointing a departmental examination committee that administers the qualifying examinations and ensures that examinations are properly prepared and evaluated.
    3. Once a graduate student has passed their Ph.D. Qualifying Exam this advances them to candidacy.
  7. Registration
    1. The candidate must complete at least 14 hours of Thesis Research (course number 7970, Thesis Research: Ph.D.).
    2. The candidate must also be regularly enrolled at the University and registered for at least one course during the semester in which the final oral examination (dissertation defense) is taken.
    3. For details, see Minimum Continuous Registration as well as departmental and program requirements.
  8. Language Requirements
    1. The degree of proficiency in foreign language(s) required of candidates is determined by the policy of the academic departments.
    2. Proficiency is verified by the Department of World Languages & Cultures on the basis of examinations or academic courses completed in the language(s).
      1. In some instances, language proficiency may be verified by individual departments if appropriate procedures have been approved in advance by the dean of The Graduate School.
      2. In most cases, however, fulfillment of the language requirements must be verified by the Department of World Languages & Cultures.
    3. The Language Verification form for certification is available in the Department of World Languages & Cultures.
  9. Dissertation
    1. The candidate must submit a dissertation embodying the results of scientific or scholarly research or artistic creativity.
    2. The dissertation must provide evidence of originality and the ability to do independent investigation and it must contribute to knowledge or the creative arts.
    3. The dissertation must show a mastery of the relevant literature and be presented in an acceptable style.
      1. The style and format are determined by departmental policy and registered with the thesis and dissertation editor, who approves individual dissertations in accordance with departmental and Graduate School policy.
    4. At least three weeks before the final oral examination (dissertation defense), the student should submit an acceptable draft of the dissertation to the chair of the supervisory committee; committee members should receive copies at least two weeks before the examination date.
    5. The doctoral dissertation is expected to be available to other scholars and to the general public. It is the responsibility of all doctoral candidates to arrange for the publication of their dissertations. The University accepts two alternatives for complying with the publication requirements:
      1. The entire dissertation is submitted to UMI Dissertation Publishing, ProQuest Information and Learning, and copies are made available for public sale.
      2. The abstract only is published if the entire dissertation has been previously published and distributed, exclusive of vanity publishing. The doctoral candidate may elect to microfilm the entire previously published work.
    6. Regardless of the option used for meeting the publication requirement, an abstract of each dissertation is published in UMI Dissertation Publishing, ProQuest Information and Learning, Dissertation Abstracts International.
    7. Detailed policies and procedures concerning publication requirements, use of restricted data, and other matters pertaining to the preparation and acceptance of the dissertation are contained in A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations.
  10. Final Examination
    1. The student must pass a final oral examination before graduation.
    2. The examination must follow the receipt of the dissertation by the supervisory committee.
    3. The committee schedules and announces a public oral examination at which the candidate must defend the dissertation.
    4. This final oral examination may be chaired by any member of the supervisory committee consistent with departmental policy.
  11. Time Limit
    1. The time limit for completing a Ph.D. degree is determined by individual departmental policy approved by the Graduate Council.
    2. Requests to exceed established time limits must be recommended by a candidate’s supervisory committee and approved by the departmental director of graduate studies and the dean of the Graduate School.
    3. Students whose studies have been interrupted for long periods of time and who have been granted extended time to complete their degrees may be required to complete additional courses, to pass examinations, or otherwise to demonstrate that they are current in their field. (PPM 6-203 III.B).
    4. Most departments require a seven year time limit for their PhD students.
    5. Petition for an extension of a Graduate student career
  12. Exceptions
    1. Individual student exceptions to these general requirements for the Ph.D. must be approved by the dean of The Graduate School upon the recommendation of the student’s supervisory committee and director of graduate studies or department chair.
    2. Each program requires a distinct, complete set of courses. Course work used to meet the requirements of one program may not be used to meet the requirements of another.
Last Updated: 1/24/23