Doctor of Philosophy - Higher Education
Qualifying Exam & Dissertation
After completing all coursework, or during the last semester of coursework, Ph.D. students must pass a qualifying examination. Students and their major advisor can select one of three options for planning and evaluating the qualifying examination.
- Option 1 - The exam integrates the work in the student's specialization area, the cognate area, and required coursework. The majority of students choose this option.
- Option 2 - The exam is composed of sub-tests covering the specialization, the cognate area, and the required coursework.
- Option 3 - The student writes a formal, scholarly paper that demonstrates integration and synthesis covering knowledge in the specialization, the cognate area, and the required coursework. This paper cannot be used to fulfill part or all of the dissertation requirements. The paper is evaluated by all members of the student's Program of Study Committee.
After completing all coursework and passing the qualifying exam, the student is "admitted to candidacy." At this point, the student will prepare a dissertation proposal that identifies the research problem, surveys and evaluates the relevant literature, and describes the plan for conducting the research. While working on the dissertation, the student enrolls for a minimum of 24 Dissertation credit hours. Beginning with the semester immediately following admission to candidacy, the doctoral student must be continuously enrolled in dissertation hours (including summer term) until the dissertation is successfully defended. Exceptions to the continuous enrollment policy are possible, but a formal request must be made in writing to the student's Major Professor.
The student will defend the dissertation before a committee, comprised of a minimum of four members. The Dissertation Committee members do not necessarily have to be the same as those on the student's Program of Study Committee. In some instances, students' interest in a topic changes as they progress through the program. If so, students may wish to ask different faculty members to be a part of their Dissertation Committee, especially if these faculty members conduct research and/or have expertise in the dissertation topic.