Doctoral Degree Requirements
1. Credit Requirements
The number of courses required prior to a student taking his/her Preliminary Comprehensive Examination is determined by the student's adviser/guidance committee/Graduate Program Director. The Graduate School requires no minimum number of credits for a doctoral program, with the exception of dissertation credits.
2. Residency Requirement
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 a 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.
3. Language Requirement
No foreign language is required by the Graduate School; however, some departments do require language proficiency. Refer to the Graduate School Bulletin and program literature for foreign language requirements and competency levels.
4. Preliminary Comprehensive Examination
The Preliminary Comprehensive Examination is prepared and administered by the candidate's department/program. Notification of the result of the examination should be forwarded to the Graduate Student Service Center.
5. Doctoral Dissertation Committee
As soon as the student has passed the Preliminary Comprehensive Examination, the Doctoral Dissertation Committee is appointed by the Graduate Dean upon nomination and recommendation by the Graduate Program Director or Department Head/Chair. The Committee is composed of at least three (3) graduate faculty members: the chairperson, at least one other member from the candidate's department/program, and one member from outside the candidate's department/program. The committee has been officially constituted when the Graduate Dean sends formal notification of its formation to each committee member, the Graduate Program Director, and to the student. Members of the Dissertation Committee must agree to not only assist in the supervision of the dissertation project, but also conduct the Final Oral Examination. Selection of the committee is a matter of "academic judgement" which should be made by the Graduate Program Director and/or Department Chair and/or Advisor, and approved by the Graduate Dean. Students should be reminded that most faculty are on nine-month contracts and should not necessarily assume that committee members will be available during the summer months.
6. Dissertation Credit Requirement
The total number of dissertation credits required varies, by department/program, from 10 to 18 graduate credits. See course number 899 in the Graduate School Bulletin under the appropriate program for the required minimum number of dissertation credits. There is no maximum number of credits to which a student is limited; however, a student can register for only a maximum of nine (9) credits per semester/session. Doctoral candidates will not be recommended to the Board of Trustees for the doctoral degree unless they have the requisite number of dissertation credits. These credits will be graded IP (In Progress) until the dissertation has been accepted by the Graduate School at which time these credits will be converted to SAT (Satisfactory).
7. Dissertation Prospectus/Outline
After passing the Preliminary Comprehensive Examination, the graduate degree candidate must prepare a dissertation prospectus/outline describing the research to be conducted, analyzed, and presented in the dissertation. The cover sheet must be signed by each member of the Dissertation Committee to indicate approval of the topic and its plan of execution. The Graduate Program Director or Department Head/Chair signs and forwards the prospectus cover sheet to the Graduate Student Service Center. The signed prospectus cover sheet must be received at least seven (7) months prior to the Final Oral Examination.
8. Announcement of Final Oral Examination
All Final Oral Examinations/Dissertation Defenses must be announced on the Inside UMass Weekly Bulletin to allow interested Graduate Faculty and others to attend. The Graduate Student Service Center must receive written notification of the scheduling of a Final Oral Examination at least four weeks prior to the date of the defense. An examination cannot be held unless it has been publicly announced on Inside UMass. The examination must be held on the Amherst campus. All members of the Dissertation Committee must be present at the defense. (Note: All Graduate Faculty are invited to attend and cannot be excluded from a Final Oral Examination. Departments differ in allowing others to attend. Courtesy suggests that the Chair of the Committee, whose name is published on Inside UMass, be consulted by others attending the Defense, with the stipulation above.)
9. Final Oral Examination Results
The result of a Final Oral Examination is forwarded to the Graduate Student Service Center directly following the examination.
The dissertation must be typed in a prescribed style (see the Typing Guidelines for Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations) and submitted electronically through the University of Massachusetts Amherst dissertation submission site at ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst. The dissertation must be approved and signed by all members of the dissertation committee and the Department Head/Chair. The Graduate School is the final and only arbitrator of what is an acceptable dissertation. Inclusion of a copyright statement is required by the Graduate School, but registration of the copyright is optional. If registration of the copyright is chosen, the copyright registration fee must be paid to the U.S. Copyright Office. The dissertation will be cataloged in the Library of Congress and in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. Publication by ScholarWorks does not preclude the printing of the dissertation in whole or in part in a journal or as a monograph. As a service for students, we also have a list of binderies available at the Graduate Student Service Center for interested students.
11. Degree Eligibility Form:
The Degree Eligibility Form (available online or at the Graduate Student Service Center) must be completed by all doctoral degree candidates and signed by the Graduate Program Director and the Department Head/Chair. The candidate should verify the accuracy of the information on this form with his/her permanent record. The completed form, along with all materials (see Checklist for Doctoral Degrees) must be received at the Graduate Student Service Center by the posted deadline. These deadlines are strictly observed and will not be extended. Degrees cannot and will not be awarded retroactively.