Graduate College

GPP: Doctorate degree

Doctorate degree

Doctoral degree Plan of Study (iPOS)

Students must submit an iPOS before completing 50 percent of the credit hours required for their degree program. A student is not eligible to apply for the Foreign Language Examination (if applicable), comprehensive examinations, dissertation proposal/prospectus or dissertation defense (if applicable) without an approved iPOS.

Doctoral degree minimum credit hours

A minimum of 84 semester hours of graduate work is required for the doctorate degree at ASU. If a dissertation is required, 12 (and only 12) of the minimum required credit hours on an iPOS must be 799 Dissertation credits. Plans of Study submitted for doctorate degrees that do not have a dissertation requirement cannot include 799 Dissertation credits. Students may apply 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master’s degree toward their doctoral Plan of Study with approval of the degree program and the Dean of the Graduate College.

Doctoral degree maximum time limit

Doctoral students must complete all program requirements within a ten-year period. The ten-year period begins with the semester and year of admission to the doctoral program. Graduate courses taken prior to admission that are included on the iPOS must have been completed within three years of the semester and year of admission to the program (previously awarded master’s degrees used on the Plan of Study are exempt).

Any exception to the time limit policy must be approved by the supervisory committee, the head of the academic unit and the Dean of the Graduate College. The Graduate College may withdraw students who are unable to complete all degree requirements and graduate within the allowed maximum time limits.

Doctoral degree supervisory committee

Upon the recommendation of the head of the academic unit, the Dean of the Graduate College appoints the student’s dissertation committee. The committee must be comprised of at least three members, including either a chair or co-chairs. Doctoral programs may have additional requirements for committee composition. This committee serves as the intellectual guide for the student and must approve the research/scholarly focus and substance of the dissertation. The members of the dissertation committee have the necessary knowledge and skills to advise the student during the formulation of the research topic and during the completion of the research and the dissertation.

Dissertation chairs and co-chairs must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College and each degree program maintains the list of faculty approved by the Graduate College. Most resident faculty at ASU may serve on dissertation committees with the proviso that they have appropriate expertise in the discipline.

All PhD programs have a Graduate Faculty. The Graduate Faculty in a PhD program may also include highly qualified individuals from outside the university who have been approved to serve on committees. Each PhD program maintains the list of faculty approved by the Graduate College to chair or co-chair PhD dissertations. Additional information regarding ASU Graduate Faculty can be found at https://graduate.asu.edu/graduate-faculty.

Doctoral students (including PhD, DMA, DBH, DNP and EdD) are urged to communicate with their academic unit to confirm eligibility of faculty to chair doctorate committees.

The final committee membership must be appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College before the student may apply for comprehensive examinations, defend the dissertation prospectus, and register for 799 Dissertation course credits (if applicable).

Doctoral comprehensive examination

Students must be in good academic standing regarding GPA requirements (see previous section titled “Satisfactory Academic Progress”) prior to taking doctoral comprehensive examinations.

When students have essentially completed the coursework on an approved iPOS, they must request permission to take the doctoral comprehensive examination. The doctoral comprehensive examination must have a written component; however individual doctoral programs may require an additional subsequent oral component of the comprehensive exam for all of their students based on the academic progress policy of the program. These examination(s) are designed to assess a student's mastery of the field of specialization. Doctoral comprehensive examination(s) are administered by a committee consisting of a minimum of three members.

Foreign language requirements, if applicable, must be satisfied before taking the comprehensive examination(s).

During the fall, spring or summer session that the student takes the comprehensive examination(s), they are required to register for:

  • At least one semester hour of credit that appears on the Plan of Study; OR
  • At least one semester hour of appropriate graduate-level credit, for example: Research (792), Dissertation (799), or Continuing Registration (795); OR
  • At least one hour of a graduate-level course.

All comprehensive examination results must be reported to the Graduate College immediately upon completion. Academic units are not required to allow students a second opportunity; upon failing comprehensive examinations, academic units may submit a recommendation to the Graduate College requesting dismissal of the student from the degree program.

Failing the comprehensive examination(s) is considered final unless the supervisory committee and the head of the academic unit recommend and the Dean of the Graduate College approve a re-examination. Only one re-examination is permitted. A petition with substantial justification for re-examination, endorsed by the members of the student's supervisory committee and the head of the academic unit, must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College before a student can take the examination a second time. Re-examination may be administered no sooner than three months and no later than one year from the date of the original examination. Graduate College may withdraw a student from the degree program if the student's petition for re-examination is not approved, or if the student fails to successfully pass the retake of the comprehensive examination(s).

Students choosing to appeal the results of their comprehensive examinations must follow the grade appeals process outlined by their academic unit.

Doctoral prospectus defense

All doctoral degree programs that require students to complete a dissertation must require students to complete a dissertation proposal/prospectus and submit the results to the Graduate College. Failure of the doctoral dissertation prospectus oral defense is considered final unless the supervisory committee and the head of the academic unit recommend and the Dean of the Graduate College approve a second proposal defense. If a petition is approved, the student must submit the new prospectus by the end of six months (the six months begins from the date that the first doctoral dissertation proposal defense was held). If the academic unit does not grant the student permission to retake the proposal defense, or if the student fails to pass the retake of the proposal defense, Graduate College may withdraw the student from the degree program.

Students are required to register for at least one semester hour of credit that appears on the iPOS or one hour of appropriate graduate-level credit during the fall, spring or summer session in which they conduct their doctoral prospectus.

Doctoral candidacy

Doctoral students (with specific degree program exceptions approved by the Dean of the Graduate College) achieve candidacy status upon the successful completion of the comprehensive examination(s), the Foreign Language Examination (if applicable), and successfully defending the dissertation prospectus (if applicable). Doctoral students who have been advanced to candidacy are required to maintain continuous enrollment until all degree requirements have been completed and the student graduated.

Doctoral dissertation/dissertation defense

The written doctoral dissertation is based on an original and substantial scholarly work that constitutes a significant contribution to knowledge in the student’s discipline. The dissertation research must be conducted during the time of the student’s doctoral studies at ASU, under guidance of ASU Graduate Faculty, and in accordance with the Graduate College policies and procedures. The composition of the dissertation is defined by the degree program with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate College.

The dissertation research experience culminates in a final oral exam, commonly known as the “dissertation defense.” A final public dissertation defense is required. At least 50% of the committee must be physically present at the oral defense. Students must be physically present at the oral defense of their dissertation. During the semester that the student defends the dissertation they are required to register for:

  • At least one semester hour of credit that appears on the Plan of Study; OR
  • At least one semester hour of appropriate graduate-level credit, for example: Research (792), Dissertation (799), or Continuing Registration (795); OR
  • At least one hour of a graduate-level course.

Revisions to the dissertation are typical and must be completed in a timely manner. If the student is unable to complete revisions to the thesis and submit to UMI/ProQuest by the deadline for the semester in which the defense is held, the student must complete the revisions, remain continuously enrolled, and present the final document to UMI/ProQuest within one year of the defense. Failure to do so will require the re-submission of the document for format review and may result in re-defense of the dissertation to ensure currency of the research.