Graduate School

Doctoral Candidacy

Admission to doctoral candidacy is a student’s last formal requirement for earning the Ph.D. before the submission of his or her dissertation.

To be admitted, the student must have passed all other departmental requirements, usually including courses, language proficiency, and one or more written or oral examinations (prelims).

Each program’s handbook should clearly explain what the requirements are, how they may be met, and set a timetable or deadlines for meeting them. Most programs allow a second attempt at all or part of the preliminary exams. The program’s handbook should state clear standards for allowing the exam to be retaken and a reasonable time frame for a second attempt. If the exams are tailored to each student’s specific interests, the scope in each case should be clear to the examiners and the student.

The DGS must notify the Registrar and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in writing when a student is admitted to candidacy. The date of admission is printed on the student’s transcript, and the fact that he or she has been admitted is required for general reporting purposes within the University as well as many applications for external funding.

Extension of Candidacy

It is University policy that the dissertation should be completed within five years of achieving candidacy. Nevertheless, students often require more time, and in cases where the faculty believes the student will finish and accepts the reasons for delay, candidacy may be extended.

Annually the Graduate School will remind active students whose candidacy is about to expire that they must write to their DGS, explain why they are taking so long, and request an extension if they intend to finish. Extensions of up to an additional two years beyond the five years since achieving candidacy may be granted by the Graduate School; extensions beyond two years require a vote of the Graduate Council. The DGS must request any extension of candidacy from the Graduate School in writing. Note that the student must also write to justify the extension. Any extension must be to a specific date mentioned in the request.