PhD program checklist

There are four phases of the EES PhD: 1) application and admission, 2) pre-candidacy, 3) Comprehensive Exam, 4) candidacy, and 5) graduation.

This is a brief checklist that points out some of the important steps.  The official statement governing this PhD program are found on the Office of Graduate Studies website and the EES PhD guidelines.

Application and Admission

  • Application submitted
  • A primary adviser is identified
  • SOE admissions committee makes recommendations and students are sent letters of acceptance to the program
  • Admissions committee provides a list of up to three courses that the student must take upon entrance to the program
  • PSU Admissions office sends a formal letter of admissions
  • Student registers for courses and becomes an enrolled PhD student


    •  Students complete the CITI Responsible Conduct of Research training by the end of their first quarter. (Instructions: Access the site at Click on "New Users Register Here." Select "PSU" from the Participating Institutions drop down menu. Create username and password and pick the RCR learner group. After you are registered, pick the RCR learner group.For more information, please contact Cathleen Gal at or (503) 725-4288.)
    • After completion of nine credit hours adviser and student form an Advisory Committee using an ESR-006 form.
    • A course of study is established that includes admission committee recommendations, EES PhD requirements and other courses as determined by the Advisory Committee.
    • The student maintains continuous enrollment of at least one credit per term.
    • Every year by May 1 the student will submit an annual report that must be approved by their adviser to remain in the program.

    Comprehensive Exam

    • Student forms Comprehensive Exam Committee (can be the same as the Advisory Committee) using an ESR-007 form.
    • Student creates and submits to the committee a Comprehensive Exam Prospectus, including cover sheet ESR-008. (See examples on our Forms page.)
    • Student schedules a comprehensive exam and defense. Comprehensive exams should be taken by the beginning of the student's third year in the program.
    • After passing the written and oral portion of the Comprehensive Exam student submits Completion of Comprehensive Examination form ESR-004 to the SOE office.
    • Students have a maximum of three years from the completion of comprehensive examinations to advancement to candidacy.


    • Student completes all course work, verified by a DARS report run by OGS.
    • Dissertation committee is formed using the Appointment of Doctoral Dissertation form (GO16D). The dissertation committee must consist of 4-6 PSU faculty members. The chair of the dissertation committee and the Graduate Office Representative must be regular, full-time PSU instructional faculty, tenured or tenure-track, assistant professor or higher in rank. The other 2-4 committee members may include adjunct or fixed-term faculty.
    • Student prepares and presents a dissertation proposal. (See examples on our forms page.)
    • The dissertation committee approves the proposal and the student is recommended for advancement to candidacy via a Doctoral Request for Advancement to Candidacy (GO-23). Students have a maximum of three years from the completion of comprehensive examinations to advancement to candidacy.
    • Student completes research and writes dissertation. 
    • The candidate files the Application for Awarding of the Master’s or Doctoral Degree form with OGS no later than the first week of the anticipated term of graduation.
    • Student presents the dissertation in a public forum and defends it to the committee. A dissertation defense may be scheduled only during the regular academic terms, at least five weeks prior to the end of the term of anticipated graduation.
    • Dissertation is submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies using the Dissertation Signature Page and the ETD Access Form. The final dissertation must be submitted to OGS not later than three weeks prior to the close of the term of application for graduation.
    • After the dissertation is completed and appropriately published the student is recommended for the degree using the Doctoral Recommendation form (GO-17D). The candidate has a minimum of four months and a maximum of five years from the effective date of advancement to candidacy to complete all requirements for graduation, including defense of the dissertation and its final acceptance by OGS.


    • The Dean of students certifies that all requirements have been met.
    • Student is hooded by the primary adviser in one of the commencement ceremonies at PSU.