The Doctoral Committee reviews each student’s performance every year and requires students to demonstrate a satisfactory rate of progress toward completion of the program requirements. Such progress is measured in terms of course work performance, completion of the qualifying exams, meeting specific requirements set by the faculty members in the student’s major field and proceeding steadily toward the completion of all other requirements for the PhD degree.

Among specific factors taken into account are the following:

  • Course grades
  • Scores on the qualifying exam
  • Work in the major field
  • Evaluation of the student’s progress and potential (especially as it relates to the ability to perform independent, original research)
  • The student’s evaluation of his or her own progress, time in the program, and potential for completion of the program

Since a satisfactory rate of progress is required at all times, the Doctoral Committee has an absolute right to terminate a student’s candidacy at any time for academic reasons and/or to deny the student readmission to the program.

Delays in Completing Degree Requirements

Candidates who hold a master’s degree should plan to complete their work for the degree within a four-year period. Students entering with a bachelor’s degree should complete work for the degree within four and a half years.

A prospective candidate must complete the requirements, including the defense of the dissertation, within six years if courses of advanced standing have been granted and within seven years without advanced standing. Exceptions may be made on the recommendation of the School to the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences when special circumstances warrant. Exceptions are rare, far from automatic and place the burden of proof for the extension on the student. A student must satisfy the academic requirements in force at the time the degree is awarded. Accordingly, if more than the normal time to complete requirements has been taken, the student may have to satisfy increased or changed requirements.

A student whose studies must be interrupted for a compelling reason, such as maternity leave, military service, or sustained ill health, may be granted a leave of absence for a stated period, usually not to exceed one year. Forms requesting leaves of absence can be obtained from the Doctoral Office. The period of a leave of absence is not counted as part of the time allowed for the completion of degree requirements.

If a student leaves the University without obtaining a leave of absence, application must be made for readmission to candidacy. If readmitted, the student becomes subject to all current requirements.

If a student interrupts work and seeks readmission more than five years after his or her latest residence, all earlier academic work is reassessed and the dissertation subject is reconsidered, either before the student is formally readmitted or during the first term of renewed residence. The amount of course credit granted the student is determined by the Doctoral Office in consultation with members of the faculty.