Doctoral Program

The Doctor of Philosophy is conferred in recognition of the mastery of a special field of learning as shown by the satisfactory completion of a prescribed course of study and investigation, the successful passing of general examinations covering the major and minor fields, the preparation of an acceptable dissertation reflecting high achievement in scholarship and independent investigation, and the passing of a final examination on the dissertation and related subjects.

The degree is a research degree. It is not conferred merely upon fulfillment of technical requirements, but awarded in recognition of the ability to think and work independently, originally, and creatively in a chosen field.

Some departments have special requirements for the degree, and the student will be governed by those, including the ones listed in departmental statements under Courses of Instruction elsewhere in this Bulletin.

Admission

Prospective candidates for the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education are admitted under the same procedures and requirements outlined in the General Regulations elsewhere in this Bulletin. A student must be admitted to a specific doctoral program, but admission does not mean admission to candidacy for the degree, which occurs only after satisfactory completion of the general oral examination.

Course Requirements

The Graduate School requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of graded course work (7000-level and above) beyond the bachelor's degreeat least 18 hours of which must be completed as a graduate student. A doctoral student must also complete 30 semester hours of additional course work. A maximum of four hours of 7990 (Research and Thesis) from a completed master's program may be counted.

A doctoral student must enroll for a minimum of 10 hours of 8990. This may be taken at any time the student and the student's advisory committee deem appropriate. A student may enroll during any one semester for as few as one hour or as many as 16 hours of 8990. The requisite 10 hours of 8990 should be included in the Plan of Study. No grade is assigned.

Language Requirements

Language requirements for graduate degrees vary with departments. The Department of Foreign Languages offers proficiency courses in a number of languages. The department also offers reading proficiency examinations for those students who wish to demonstrate proficiency without taking a course. Such students must apply to the Graduate School for these examinations by the deadline listed in the calendar in the front of this Bulletin.

Residency Requirement

A significant part of the Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Education program is the residency year. This can be satisfied by the student's completing a minimum of 18 semester hours of on-campus course work during two consecutive semester. The residency requirement may not be satisfied by residence during summer semesters only. Interruption of a student's program for the summer semester does not constitute a break in continuity.

      The proposed schedule for accumulation of residency must be submitted to the Graduate School by the department prior to the initiation of the residence year. A form is available at the Graduate School.

Advisory Committee and Plan of Study

After the student has enrolled in the doctoral program, an advisory committee should be selected by the student, major professor and department head or chair. The advisory committee is responsible for developing the student's Plan of Study and conducting the doctoral general and final examinations. It should consist of at least three members of the faculty. At least two, including the major professor, must be members of the Graduate Faculty. The formal appointment of the advisory committee occurs when the Plan of Study is approved by the Graduate School.

      The Plan of Study should be prepared by the student and the advisory committee and filed with the Graduate School as soon as feasible. It should not be delayed beyond the second semester of doctoral work. The Graduate School recognizes that changes may be warranted, and a form is available for amendments as required by student needs, research interests and course availability.

General Doctoral Examination

A general examination, often called the "preliminary examination," is required of all applicants for the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education. It consists of written and oral testing by the student's advisory committee in the student's major and minor. The written portion of the examination does not require approval in advance by the Graduate School. The oral portion, however, does require such approval. Arrangements for the oral examination must be made by application to the Graduate School at least one week in advance of the examination. The primary purpose of the general examination is to assess the student's understanding of the broad body of knowledge in a field of study. The examination also affords the advisory committee an opportunity to review the student's proposed research and understanding of research methods and literature in the chosen field. If the general examination reveals deficiencies in any of these areas, the advisory committee may recommend remedial work, re-examination, or discontinuation of doctoral study.

The general oral examination should be conducted immediately after the successful completion of the written examination and well before the final examination. At least one complete semester--preferably more than one--must intervene between the general oral and final examinations. The two examinations thus cannot be taken either in the same semester or in consecutive semesters. Some departments have specific requirements for conducting these examinations, and the student should become familiar with these. Successful completion of the oral examination requires unanimous support of the student's advisory committee. If the general examination is failed, a re-examination may be given on recommendation of the committee and approval by the Dean of the Graduate School. Further examinations require exceptional circumstances and approval by the Graduate Council.

The student becomes a candidate for the degree on successful completion of the general examination and has four calendar years thereafter to complete all additional requirements. If unable because of reasons beyond the candidate's control to complete the requirements on time, the student may petition the Dean of the Graduate School for an extension. Otherwise, the student will revert to the status of an applicant and must petition the Dean of the Graduate School to retake the general oral examination.

Final Examination

After the first draft of the dissertation has been completed and has been approved by the student's advisory committee, it is submitted to the Graduate School. An outside reader will be appointed to review the dissertation. However, the student's advisor may request appointment of the outside reader at any time rather than waiting until after the dissertation is drafted. When the Graduate School has approved the dissertation, the student may apply for the final examination on a form obtained from the Graduate School. The application must be filed with the Graduate School at least one week in advance.

The examination is administered by the student's advisory committee. The representative of the Graduate School, the outside reader, also attends and participates. The examination, which generally is oral but may be both oral and written, includes the major and minor fields and a defense of the dissertation. Successful completion requires unanimous support of all members of the committee. Any member of the Graduate Faculty may attend.

If a student fails the final examination, a re-examination may be given on recommendation of the advisory committee and approval by the Dean of the Graduate School. Further examination requires exceptional circumstances and approval of the Graduate Council. In addition to successful completion of all examinations, final copies of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School before the degree is conferred. (See Calendar for deadline.)

Dissertation

A dissertation is required of all candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. It shall constitute a contribution to knowledge. The student conducts the research and prepares the dissertation under the direction of the major professor. Only dissertations prepared according to the Guide to the Preparation and Submission of Theses and Dissertations, available at the University Bookstore and on the web, are accepted by the Graduate School.

All dissertations must be microfilmed by University Microfilms International of Ann Arbor, Michigan, which publishes the abstract in Dissertation Abstracts. The student is required to pay for this service.

Summary of Procedures for Doctoral Degree Program

The student should:

  • Obtain application forms from the Graduate School and apply by submitting all required materials to the Graduate School by the deadlines published in this Bulletin. The Graduate School forwards the application to the appropriate departmental screening committee. The department head then makes a recommendation to the Graduate School dean, who sends a letter notifying the applicant of the decision.
  • Apply for an assistantship, if applicable, through the department involved.
  • Become familiar with the requirements for the doctoral degree as published in this Bulletin.
  • Consult with the departmental advisor and become familiar with departmental procedures.
  • Plan a schedule of study for the first semester with advisor.
  • Submit a proposed schedule for fulfilling the residency requirements. Forms are available at the Graduate School or on the web.
  • Establish an advisory committee through the major professor and department head. Official appointment of the advisory committee occurs when the Plan of Study is approved by the Graduate School.
  • Prepare a Plan of Study approved by the advisory committee and department head or chair and submit to the Graduate School.
  • Complete course work, including language requirements, if any, as detailed in the plan of study.
  • Arrange for the general written and oral examinations through the advisory committee. After the written examination, the advisor will schedule the general oral examination at least one week in advance using a form obtained from the Graduate School.
  • Submit the dissertation proposal for approval by the advisory committee and become familiar with the Guide to the Preparation and Submission of Theses and Dissertations, available on the web and at the University Bookstore.
  • Request graduation check in the Graduate School no later than the last day of the semester (graduation day) prior to the semester of graduation.
  • Notify the Graduate School of the intent to graduate no later than the fifteenth class day of the semester of graduation
  • Prepare dissertation and submit a committee-approved first draft to the Graduate School for review and approval by the outside reader.
  • Study recommendations of the outside reader and make appropriate changes in the dissertation.
  • On approval of the dissertation by the dean of the Graduate School, arrange for final oral examination.

For more information see the: Auburn University Bulletin
or visit the Auburn University Graduate School

Last Updated: September 20, 2013

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