Doctoral of Philosphy (Ph.D.) Degree
The Major Professor and the Advisory Committee
Foreign Language Requirement
The Qualifying Examination
Pre-Qualifying Time Limit
The Final Examination
Time Limit for Doctoral Degrees
Assessment of Good Progress for Doctoral Students
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree
The Ph.D. degree is intended to represent the demonstration of independent and comprehensive scholarship in a specific field. Such scholarship must be manifested by both the student’s mastery of subject matter and capacity to do research. Every applicant for the Ph.D. degree must select a major area of study. The major area is one in which the student’s efforts are concentrated. Some programs also require one or more minor areas. Minor(s) must be approved by the student’s advisory committee. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is conferred upon a candidate who, after completing graduate work devoted to study of a special field of knowledge, 1) passes comprehensive examinations in the chosen field and the dissertation subject, 2) presents a satisfactory dissertation, and 3) shows evidence of scholarly attainment. Students should note that some doctoral programs have degree requirements that may exceed the minimum requirements of the Graduate Faculty.
The Major Professor and the Advisory Committee
The Director of Graduate Studies, or designee, serves as advisor to beginning graduate students until the advisory committee is appointed, normally not later than upon completion of 18 credit hours of graduate work. The advisory committee must be appointed at least one year prior to the qualifying examinations. The major professor and advisory committee are appointed by the Graduate Dean after consultation with the appropriate Director of Graduate Studies. The dissertation director, when selected, serves as the major professor. The advisory committee also provides advice to the student and specifically sets requirements (within applicable program, Graduate School and University regulations) which the student must meet in pursuit of the doctorate. In addition to advising and program planning, the advisory committee is also involved in the administration of the qualifying examination, the supervision of the preparation of the dissertation, and the administration of the final examination.
The advisory committee has a core of four members. This core must include a minimum of two faculty members from the graduate program (with one being the major professor as chair or co-chair), and one representative from outside the graduate program. All members of the core must be members of the Graduate Faculty of the University of Kentucky1 and three (including the major professor) must possess full Graduate Faculty status.
1Faculty members from other institutions may serve on dissertation committees if they meet the requirements for appointment as associate members of the UK Graduate Faculty.
The request to form (or modify) an advisory committee is accomplished via https://ris.uky.edu/cfdocs/gs/DoctoralCommittee/Selection_Screen.cfm . All decisions of the advisory committee are by majority vote of its Graduate Faculty members. Advisory committee decisions must be reported promptly to the appropriate Director of Graduate Studies who will be responsible for transmitting them to the Dean of the Graduate School.
The purpose of a residency requirement is to encourage doctoral students to experience contact with the academic community: colleagues, libraries, laboratories, on-going programs of research and inquiry, and the intellectual environment that characterizes a university. Such experience is generally as important as formal class work in the process of intellectual development. While the residency requirement is, by necessity, given in terms of full or part-time enrollment, the intent of the requirement is to ensure that the student becomes fully involved in an essential part of scholarly life. Exceptions to the normal residency pattern may be made with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School upon the written recommendations of the student’s advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Studies, which clearly demonstrate that the principle of residence is preserved. The ultimate goal of these requirements is to lead students to scholarly accomplishment, not solely to amass semester hours or time spent.
Students must complete the equivalent of two years of residency (36 credit hours of graduate coursework*) prior to the qualifying examination. An awarded master’s degree from the University of Kentucky or from another accredited school may satisfy up to 18 of this 36-hour pre-qualifying requirement. Such requests should be made by the DGS to the Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School. For students with extensive prior graduate work, a waiver of additional pre-qualifying residency hours may be appropriate. Requests should be submitted in writing by the DGS to the Dean of the Graduate School and should include a detailed justification and evidence that the student’s Major Professor and Advisory Committee support the request.
*some programs require more than 36 hours of graduate coursework prior to the qualifying examination.
Students are required to enroll in a 2-credit hour course after successfully completing the qualifying examination, XXX-767; Dissertation Residency Credit. The Graduate School will provide a scholarship for the out-of-state (OOS) portion of the (2) credit hours associated with a 767 course and the student will only be responsible for the in-state tuition rate plus mandatory fees*. This 767 OOS tuition scholarship will only be provided to students who are receiving no assistantship or fellowship funding that semester. Students who are receiving Assistantships (TA, RA, GA) will not receive this 767 tuition scholarship as they will already receive tuition scholarships appropriate to their assistantship level (half vs. full). Students must remain continuously enrolled in this course every fall and spring semester until they have completed and defended the dissertation. This will constitute full-time enrollment. Students are required to complete a minimum of two semesters of 767 before they can graduate.
*UK employees (0.75 FTE or higher) enrolled in the Employee Education Program (EEP) are not eligible for this out-of-state tuition scholarship.
Foreign Language Requirement
Some doctoral degree programs require a reading knowledge of one or more modern foreign languages for the doctorate. Accepted languages for fulfillment of this requirement are those currently taught at the University of Kentucky, subject to approval by the Director of Graduate Studies. Other languages may be recommended by the major advisor and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School on the recommendation of the Director of Graduate Studies. The Director sends this recommendation to the Dean. For more information, see the Master’s Degree Foreign Language Requirement. Any language requirement(s) must be satisfied before the applicant may sit for the qualifying examination.
The Qualifying Examination
A qualifying examination consisting of both written and oral components is required of all doctoral students. Its purpose is to verify that students have sufficient understanding of and competence in their fields to become candidates for the degree. In most programs, the advisory committee prepares and administers an individual qualifying examination; typically, that committee also judges the results of the examination. A majority vote of the core of the advisory committee is required for successful completion of the qualifying examination. Programs that give uniform, written qualifying examinations to all of their candidates shall have rules governing the role of the advisory committee in the preparation, administration, and evaluation of the qualifying examination. The examination is usually given after four semesters of graduate work or the equivalent, and after fulfillment of pre-qualifying residency. All program policy details should be included in the program’s Graduate Student Handbook.
The request to schedule the qualifying examination must be submitted a minimum of two weeks in advance via: https://ris.uky.edu/cfdocs/gs/DoctoralCommittee/Selection_Screen.cfm . The results of the examination must be reported by the Director of Graduate Studies to the Graduate School as soon as possible but within 7 days of its conclusion. If the result is failure, the advisory committee determines the conditions to be met before another examination may be given. The minimum time between examinations is four months. A second examination must be taken within one year after the first examination. A third examination is not permitted.
XXX 767, residency credit will be applied for a qualifying examination taken at any time during the first semester of enrollment in this course. Classes must be in session for the student to sit for the exam.
Pre-Qualifying Time Limit
Students are required to take the qualifying examination within five years of entry into the program. Extensions up to an additional three years may be requested. Extensions up to twelve months may be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School upon receipt of a request from the Director of Graduate Studies. Requests for extensions longer than twelve months must be considered by Graduate Council and will require the positive recommendation of the Director of Graduate Studies, the chair of the student’s doctoral advisory committee, and a majority vote of Graduate Faculty in the program. If the qualifying examination has not been passed at the end of five years, or at the end of all approved time extensions the student will be dismissed from the program.
This new time limit applies to all programs, but the graduate faculty of a doctoral program (or group of programs) has the option to petition Graduate Council for a shorter or longer time limit. If approved, this modification will then apply to all doctoral students in that program.
The Final Examination
The Final Examination includes a defense of the dissertation and may be as comprehensive in the major and minor areas as the advisory committee chooses to make it. It is conducted by an expanded advisory committee chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies or someone designated by the Director. The Dean of the Graduate School and the President of the University are ex officio members of all final examination committees. The examination is a public event and its scheduling is published and announced beforehand. Any member of the University community may attend.
At least 8 weeks prior to the final examination, the Graduate School should be notified of the intent to examine via: https://ris.uky.edu/cfdocs/gs/DoctoralCommittee/Selection_Screen.cfm . At this time the Graduate Dean appoints an Outside Examiner as a core member of the advisory committee. The specific time and date of the examination must be designated by the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the actual examination using the above link. All members of the committee except the outside examiner must have an opportunity to suggest revisions prior to scheduling the Final Examination. Thus, most revisions should have been completed at an earlier time. The final examination must take place no later than eight days prior to the last day of classes of the semester in which the student expects to graduate. Final examinations are public events and must take place while the University is officially in session. They may not be scheduled during the periods between semesters or between the end of the second summer session and the beginning of the fall semester.
The following are Graduate School procedures for conducting the Final Examination:
- At the outset of the Examination, the DGS or committee chair should verify that the Examination Card is available. If this is not the case, the committee chair or DGS must call the Graduate School (859-257-2411) to determine if the examination may proceed.
- The Examination may not begin until all voting members of the committee are present (these names are listed on the examination card)
- An Examination may be cancelled prior to its official start for substantive reason with no permanent consequences for the student. The student has not failed the examination in this case because it was never officially begun. Substantive reasons can include a missing committee member, a sudden difficulty in the candidate’s personal life that may affect performance, or a (late) opinion on the part of one or more committee members, for example that the dissertation is not ready to defend. In such cases, the committee may hold an open or closed discussion to review the issues at hand and reach a decision on whether to hold the examination or not. Furthermore, the candidate does have the right to cancel the examination prior to its start. If the examination is cancelled, it must be formally rescheduled with the Graduate School in the standard fashion. A minimum two-week interval is required for re-scheduling the examination
- Once the examination has begun, all committee members must remain present for the duration of the process, and it must be carried through until its end. A formal vote must be taken and recorded on the examination card, along with the signatures of all (voting) members. There are only two outcomes possible; by majority vote, Pass or Fail. The only suspensions permitted are short ones to permit the candidate or committee members to refresh themselves.
- If an emergency situation should arise during the course of an examination, the committee chair or DGS should immediately call the Graduate School (859-257-2411) to seek guidance.
In all decisions, the majority opinion of the Graduate Faculty members of the advisory committee prevails. If the advisory committee is evenly divided, the candidates fails. In the event of a failure, the advisory commitee may recommend conditions under which the candidate may be re-examined, if the re-examination is deemed appropriate. The minimum time between examinations is four months. A second examination must be taken within one year after the first examination. Should any vacancies on the Committee occur between the two examinations, the Dean of the Graduate School shall appoint replacements. A third examination is not permitted.
Each student must present a dissertation which represents the culmination of a major research project. The dissertation must be a well-reasoned, original contribution to knowledge in the field of study and should provide evidence of high scholarly achievement. Dissertations must be prepared in conformity with the instructions published by the Graduate School. Specific formatting instructions can be found at https://gradschool.uky.edu/electronic-dissertation-preparation . The dissertation in its final form must be received in the Graduate School within 60 days of the final examination. If this deadline is not met, the candidate may be required to undergo a second examination. All doctoral dissertations must be submitted in electronic format. Instructions are available at https://gradschool.uky.edu/electronic-dissertation-preparation . To view the current collection of ETD’s, go to http://uknowledge.uky.edu/gradschool/ .
All degree requirements for the doctorate must be completed within five years following the semester or summer session in which the candidate successfully completes the qualifying examination, but extensions up to an additional 5 years may be requested for a total of 10 years. All requests should be initiated by the Director of Graduate Studies and accompanied by a letter of support from the student’s advisor. Extensions up to one year may be approved by the Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School. Requests for extensions longer than one year must be considered by Graduate Council. All requests should be initiated by the Director of Graduate Studies and must include a recommendation on whether or not a retake of the qualifying examination should be a requirement of the extension. If requested, failure to pass the re- examination will result in the termination of degree candidacy; a second re-examination is not permitted. Failure to complete all degree requirements within 10 years of initially taking the qualifying examination will also result in the termination of degree candidacy.
A program may submit an appeal to the Graduate Council to allow a time-to-degree terminated student to be readmitted and pursue the degree without re-taking all required coursework. The appeal should:
Provide an explanation for the failure to initially complete the degree on-time. Provide a detailed description of the requirements that must be fulfilled in order to receive the degree. Provide confirmation that the appeal was approved by the majority of the program graduate faculty.
The Graduate Faculty of each doctoral program is required to define good progress toward completion of the doctoral degree. This information should be included in the program’s Graduate Student Handbook (it is recommended that the consequences of lack of good progress are also included in the handbook). Each doctoral student’s progress toward the degree will be reviewed (at least) annually by either the Graduate Faculty in the program, the doctoral advisory committee, or the graduate education committee. Students will be informed in writing of the results of that meeting by the Director of Graduate Studies or the chair of their designee. These reports should not be forwarded to the Graduate School.