Sep 28, 2020  
Graduate Record 2008-2009 
Graduate Record 2008-2009 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Doctor of Philosophy

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The Ph.D. degree is the highest academic degree awarded by the University. The primary purpose of the degree is to develop educational scholars who wish to conduct original research and interpret and communicate the results of such research as authors, university faculty, and governmental or research agency officials.  The requirements below pertain to students admitted into the Ph.D. program for the 2008-2009 academic year or before. Degree requirements for Ph.D. students beginning their studies in the fall of 2009 are posted on the Curry web site.

Admission Requirements Those desiring to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree must submit an application for admission to the Curry School of Education. Applicants must also:

  1. hold a baccalaureate degree, and in most programs, a master’s degree, from a collegiate institution of recognized rank;
  2. have an outstanding academic record;
  3. submit official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work;
  4. submit two references strongly endorsing him or her for doctoral work;
  5. submit official score reports for the Graduate Record Examinations (international students must also submit TOEFL scores);
  6. submit a statement of professional goals; and
  7. meet any additional department or area of specialization requirements.

Residence Requirement Ph.D. candidates must complete at least two consecutive semesters (fall-spring semester) of full-time (9 credits) graduate work. 

Enrollment Requirements Students must be continuously enrolled at the University during the fall and spring semesters while working toward the Ph.D. degree. If students are not taking courses or working with a committee, they may maintain enrollment by paying a University non-resident fee through the Office of Admission in the Curry School. Failure to maintain continuous enrollment will require students to reapply for admission. Students must be enrolled for dissertation hours during any semester in which they are working with their committee.

Time Limit All requirements must be completed within four years after passing comprehensive examinations and within seven years of admission to the Ph.D. program. In special cases, upon approval of the doctoral committee, department chair, and associate dean, out-of-date work may be revalidated by examination.


Program Requirements

To earn a Ph.D. degree the following minimum requirements must be met:

The student must successfully complete a program of study determined by the doctoral committee. The student must earn a minimum of 72 credits, including at least 54 credits for courses other than non-topical research or dissertation credit. Some programs may require more than the 54 credit minimum. A maximum of 24 credits from the master’s program may be counted toward the degree. A minimum of 36 credits (not including internships, independent study, practica and dissertation credit) must be earned on grounds after admission. Some program areas also require a preliminary examination.


The student must successfully complete a written comprehensive examination. In addition, an oral examination may be required. Comprehensives must be completed before the dissertation committee is appointed and before the dissertation proposal is defended.  The student must demonstrate research proficiency by meeting requirements set by the Ph.D. program area in which the student is enrolled.

The student must successfully complete all dissertation requirements, including defending a dissertation proposal as determined by the student’s doctoral committee; gaining approval from the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the protection of human subjects; planning and carrying out a research study (dissertation) appropriate to the field of specialization; and passing an oral final examination on the conduct and conclusions of the dissertation. All other requirements must be completed before this defense. Guidelines for dissertation work can be found on the Curry website.

Students must complete all additional requirements as specified by their department and program area in the Curry School of Education, doctoral committee, and advisor.

Record of Progress

Students must maintain an official Record of Progress Form. This form may be obtained online from the Curry website. The Record of Progress should be started upon initial registration and kept up to date throughout the doctoral program.

Doctoral Program Committee

Depending on the program area, the Ph.D. program of study is directed by the student’s doctoral committee or by program area faculty.  After approximately 12 credits of study, approved by the student’s advisor, a doctoral committee should be established. This committee is responsible for the design of the program of study and supervises the student until the comprehensive examination is completed. The committee must consist of a minimum of four faculty members of the University, appointed to the rank of assistant professor or higher, with at least two members from inside the major department (one of whom must agree to be the advisor/chair), and at least one outside of the student’s major program area. Ph.D. candidates are not required to designate minors or supporting areas. However, if such a designation is made, there must be at least one representative for each supporting area. An additional committee member from outside the University may be added if approved by the chair of the student’s major department, four University faculty who have agreed to serve on the committee, and the associate dean.

Preliminary Examinations

Preliminary examinations may be required by individual program areas. All committee members must verify that such examinations have been successfully completed by signing the record of progress.

Comprehensive Examinations

When nearing completion of the program of study, and with the approval of the major advisor, the student requests a written examination, or, in some areas, a comprehensive project in all areas appropriate to the student’s planned program. The time, place, content, specific format, and evaluation of the examination shall be determined by the doctoral committee. All committee members must judge the student’s performance to be satisfactory and must verify successful completion of the exams by signing the student’s Record of Progress form. If the student performs unsatisfactorily on the written exam, the committee may be petitioned for one re-examination. Subsequent failure on the written exam precludes further doctoral study in the Curry School of Education.

Research Skills

Ph.D. students must demonstrate research proficiency. The method for doing so is determined by the program area.


See the Curry Dissertation Manual for information about forming a dissertation and for a full description of dissertation guidelines, procedures, and deadlines.

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Requirements and policies for the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology are specified in the Department of Human Services and in the Curry Programs in Clinical and School Psychology handbook.

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