Doctoral Degree Requirements
Master's | Doctoral
All requirements for any advanced degrees to be awarded at a given degree-granting period (February, May, September) must be completed by the appropriate deadline—February: January 15; May: last working day of April; and September: last working day of August. The completed Eligibility for Degree Form, signed by the candidate, the Graduate Program Director, and the Department Chair/Head, must be submitted to the Graduate School Office of Degree Requirements by the specified date so that all the candidate’s credentials can be certified before the degree is actually awarded. Please refer to the Graduate Student Handbook (online at www.umass.edu/gradschool/handbook/Handbook.pdf) for further detailed guidance in the preparation and completion of a program of study. Guidelines for Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations is also available in the Office of Degree Requirements or online at www.umass.edu/gradschool/dissertationandthesis/index.html.
Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education Degree Requirements
The department Graduate Program Director is responsible for the following, all within the guidelines of the Graduate School and the candidate’s graduate studies program:
As soon as the student has passed the preliminary comprehensive examination, the Department Head/Chair or Graduate Program Director of the candidate’s major department* shall recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School the names of at least three members of the Graduate Faculty to serve as a Dissertation Committee. At least two of the Graduate Faculty so nominated shall be from the candidate’s major department.* One member shall be appointed from outside the candidate’s department* but from within the University community. The outside member shall, without exception, be a voting member of the Dissertation Committee.
*Refers to administrative entity for which degree has been authorized (i.e., department, program, school, etc.).
The doctoral degree is conferred upon graduate students who have met the following requirements:
1. Successful completion of all courses and projects specified by the adviser/guidance committee within the guidelines of the candidate’s graduate studies program.
2. Satisfactory completion of foreign language requirements under Graduate Council policy. (These requirements are listed in the departmental sections of this Bulletin.)
3. Passing a preliminary comprehensive examination conducted by the major department. Any student who fails the comprehensive examination may, at the discretion of the examining committee, be permitted a second and final examination.
4. Submission of an approved dissertation prospectus to the Graduate School at least seven months prior to the Final Oral Examination (defense of dissertation).
5. Preparation of a dissertation satisfactory to the Dissertation Committee and the Department Head/Chair.
6. Passing a final (at least partly oral) examination conducted by the Dissertation Committee on the Amherst campus. This examination shall be primarily upon, but not necessarily limited to, the candidate’s dissertation. This examination time and date shall be submitted to the Graduate Dean for announcement to the Graduate Faculty when all of the Dissertation Committee members and the Department Head/Chair agree that the dissertation is sufficiently complete to stand defense; approval of the dissertation, passing the defense, and/or recommending the degree are not implied by scheduling this examination.
7. Registration for the required number of dissertation credits (refer to the General Regulations section, item number 15).
8. A doctoral candidate must spend the equivalent of at least one continuous academic year of full-time graduate work (nine credits per semester) in residence at the university. The residency year must be either in fall/spring or spring/fall sequence. During this year, the student must spend some part of each week physically on campus. Doctoral students enrolled in recognized off-campus programs may satisfy this regulation at their off-campus site.
9. Doctoral students are required to complete their program within five years of achieving candidacy. Candidacy is recommended by the academic department upon satisfactory completion of coursework and passing the qualifying examination. Two-year extensions to this policy will be considered upon recommendation submitted to the Graduate School by the student’s Graduate Program Director.
Five College Cooperative Ph.D. Program
1. The professor responsible for the direction of the student’s research shall be the Chair of the candidate’s Dissertation Committee. Only members of the Graduate Faculty may be appointed to this committee.
2. It is the responsibility of the Chair of the Dissertation Committee to arrange a conference with other members of the committee and the candidate to discuss the research problem before approving the dissertation prospectus.
3. A copy of the candidate’s dissertation prospectus must be signed by each member of the Dissertation Committee and Department Chair/Head or Graduate Program Director to indicate that the prospectus has been approved and that a conference with the candidate has been held. The signed copy of the prospectus shall then be sent to the Dean of the Graduate School, via the candidate’s Graduate Program Director.
4. Prior to arranging for the final preparation of dissertations, candidates should refer to the Guidelines for Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations, available online at www.umass.edu/gradschool/dissertationandthesis/index.html.
5. The Dissertation Committee is responsible for preparation of an acceptable dissertation. The dissertation must have the tentative approval of this Committee and the approval of the Department Head or Chairman before arrangements are made for the final examination for the degree.
6. Because of the time required to give adequate consideration to the research, it is important that the dissertation be submitted to the Dissertation Committee at least one month before the Graduate School degree-granting deadlines.
7. Although different disciplines have distinctive research and presentation styles, the Guidelines for Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations (see 4 above) must be followed in order to achieve the maximum uniformity possible. As the Graduate School has every dissertation microfilmed, much attention is paid to the finished form. Both the Dissertation Committee and the Graduate School must approve the final format and appearance.
8. The Eligibility for Degree form and two original signature pages for the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School by the deadline for the appropriate degree-granting period.