Summary of Procedures for Doctoral Degrees

The following outline summarizes the Portland State University procedural requirements for doctoral degrees. Additional information is in the Graduate School section of the Bulletin, on the Graduate School website, and on the applicable forms. Additional requirements may be imposed by specific programs.

Pre-Candidacy for the Degree

  1. After admission to a specific program, each student is assigned to a faculty adviser by the program director. A preliminary course of study is developed in consultation with the adviser.
  2. In some programs the student may be required to pass preliminary examinations.
  3. If transfer courses (courses taken at any time from another regionally accredited institution) are to be included on the program of study, the Proposed Transfer Credit form (GO-21D) must be submitted to the Graduate School. It is strongly suggested that this form be submitted early in the student's program.
  4. Upon satisfactory completion of 9 credits of coursework and not later than six months prior to the completion of the comprehensive examinations, an advisory committee consisting of at least three members is appointed by the program director. 
  5. Second language examinations, if required, must be passed before the comprehensive examination is taken. Notice of passing of the examination is sent to the Graduate School. 
  6. The doctoral residency requirement can be satisfied in one of the following ways:
    • Three terms of full-time enrollment (minimum 9 graduate credits applicable to the degree program each term) during the first two years after admission to the program.  This may include one or more summer terms.
    • Six terms of part-time enrollment (minimum 1 graduate credit applicable to the degree program each term) during the first two years after admission to the program.  This may include one or more summer terms.
    • A doctoral student who was enrolled in the same major at PSU, and whose matriculation to the doctoral program immediately follows (within one calendar year) the master's degree program, may fulfill the residency requirement during the period in which the student was enrolled in the master's program.
  7. A program of study is determined by the advisory committee in consultation with the student. The program of study is tracked in DARS using the official degree requirements approved for the degree by catalog year. All course work required for the degree, with the possible exception of seminar and internships, must be completed before a student can be advanced to candidacy. The program of study is verified in DARS by the Graduate School before the student is advanced to candidacy. For students entering a doctoral program with a master’s degree, a maximum of five years will be allowed from admission to completion of all required comprehensive examinations. For students entering with a bachelor’s degree, a maximum of two additional years will be added to this limit, for a maximum of seven years from admission to completion of all comprehensive examinations.
  8. The comprehensive examinations are scheduled and administered in accordance with established rules of the program. The results of the examination are reported to the Graduate School using the Report on Passing Comprehensive Examinations form (GO-22). Students have a maximum of three years from the completion of comprehensive examinations to advancement to candidacy.
  9. After passing the comprehensive examination and identifying a dissertation topic, a dissertation committee is appointed and the student must pass a proposal defense. The dissertation committee must be approved by the Graduate School using the Appointment of Doctoral Dissertation Committee form (GO-16D). The dissertation committee must consist of four to six PSU faculty members: the dissertation chair and a minimum of three and a maximum of five members. The chair of the dissertation committee must be regular, full-time PSU instructional faculty, tenured or tenure-track, assistant professor or higher in rank; the other three to five committee members may include adjunct or fixed-term faculty and/or one member of the OHSU faculty. If it is necessary to go off-campus for one committee member with specific expertise not available among PSU faculty, a curriculum vitae (CV) for that proposed member must be presented with the GO-16D form. This off-campus member may substitute for one of the two to four regular committee members. All committee members must have doctoral degrees. No proposal defense shall be valid without a dissertation committee approved by the Graduate School.
  10. The proposal meeting must take place in a formal meeting of the entire approved dissertation committee; the student will make an oral presentation of the written proposal. The doctoral program recommends the student for advancement to candidacy with the Doctoral Request for Advancement to Candidacy form (GO-23) once the dissertation proposal has been approved.
  11. After proposal approval, Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) approval must be obtained if human subjects are involved in the research in any way. The student must work with his or her adviser on this as only PSU faculty can submit HRPP (aka IRB) applications. A student cannot be advanced to candidacy until HRPP approval is granted.
  12. The student is informed by the Graduate School of advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree. 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 the Graduate School. Candidates must be continuously enrolled during that period.

Candidacy for the Degree

  1. Ph.D. students must register for a minimum of 27 hours of dissertation (603) credits before graduation; Ed.D. students must register for a minimum of 18 hours of dissertation (603) credits before graduation. A minimum continuing enrollment of one graduate credit is required through the term a student graduates. Doctoral programs may set higher minimums. 
  2. Under direction of the chair of the dissertation committee, and in consultation with the members of the dissertation committee, the candidate prepares a preliminary draft of the dissertation. The draft is revised and corrected as directed by the dissertation committee until it meets the approval of the committee. 
  3. The candidate applies for graduation by filing the Application for Awarding of Master’s Degree, Doctoral Degree, or Graduate Certificate form through Banweb no later than the first week of the anticipated term of graduation. Review the Graduate Candidate Deadlines for specific dates. Once you have applied, your application will immediately be reflected on your DARS audit.
  4. After preparation of the written dissertation, the candidate’s dissertation committee will conduct a dissertation defense. 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. For summer term graduation, deadlines apply to the regular eight-week Summer Session. The student must deliver a final draft of the dissertation to all members of the approved committee no fewer than two weeks before the dissertation defense. All appointed committee members and alternates approved in advance by the Graduate School must participate in the dissertation defense.
  5. The final, approved dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School not later than three weeks prior to the close of the term of application for graduation. For details about formatting, submission, and specific deadlines, see the Thesis and Dissertation Information page on the Graduate School website.
  6. Outstanding grades for all courses being used in the degree program (except 603 Dissertation credits) must be submitted by the instructor directly to the Office of the Registrar.

    All M (Missing) grades in graduate courses that could potentially be letter graded must be removed before graduation, even if the courses are not applied to the student’s degree program.
  7. The doctoral program completes the Recommendation for the Degree form (GO-17D) which is forwarded to the Graduate School. In-progress grades for 603 dissertation credits are changed on this form, eliminating the need for Supplemental Grade Reports for these courses. 
  8. The Graduate School verifies that all requirements for the degree have been met and awards the degree. You will be notified by email when your degree has been awarded.
  9. Diplomas are generally mailed within 2-3 weeks after the degree is awarded, except for fall term which will take 4-6 weeks due to holiday closures; additional information about diplomas is on the Office of the Registrar's website. (Please note that Commencement is not the same as graduation. Doctoral students must be certified by the Graduate School in order to participate in the PSU Spring Commencement ceremony.)