This section presents general degree requirements for doctoral level study at UMass Dartmouth. These requirements may receive greater specificity as additional doctoral programs are added to the university’s offerings. These requirements may be interpreted flexibly to accommodate doctoral programs that are offered jointly with another campus of the university.
In all cases the student is responsible for meeting the degree requirements, including the filing of appropriate forms, the scheduling of examinations and defenses, the preparation of the dissertation, and meeting of registration and fee requirements. All appeals of procedure and policies must be made in writing with supporting documentation to the appointed official of the doctoral program. The final authority in appeals is the Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
To satisfy requirements for a doctoral degree at UMass Dartmouth, the candidate shall:
- Successfully complete an approved program of study, by criteria stated for the degree program.
Modifications to the course requirements stated for each academic program must be approved by the department and college dean, with major departures also approved by the Office of Graduate Studies.
In the first semester in residence, each doctoral student is assigned a major advisor, who is familiar with the student’s area of emphasis and may later serve as the dissertation advisor. At least before the end of the first semester or the completion of six credits, and in consultation with the major advisor, the student will submit a program of study to the director of the graduate program.
- Qualify for candidacy.
Upon completing between 24 and 36 course credits—not including any deficiency courses—students must satisfy their program’s requirement for qualifying for candidacy. For students entering the program with a master’s degree in the field, the qualifying step would normally occur in the first year after admission. Each program shall establish its own means of determining candidacy. Students entering the program with deficiencies shall address them before attempting to qualify for candidacy.
- Pass the PhD comprehensive examination.
This step occurs near or at the end of a candidate’s formal course work and indicates readiness to undertake the research and scholarship for the dissertation. As a prerequisite for scheduling the PhD comprehensive examination, the student will have submitted to the appointed official of the doctoral program the names of proposed dissertation committee members and a formal dissertation proposal.
The comprehensive examination may be conducted by an approved or tentative PhD dissertation committee or by a different committee. It may be an oral examination, a written examination, or a combination.
- Select a dissertation committee and receive approval of a dissertation topic.
- The PhD dissertation committee must be formed twelve (12) months prior to the dissertation defense. The committee membership includes the dissertation advisor and no fewer than two (2) additional committee members. The dissertation committee may include faculty members from another university or qualified non-university professionals, with approval of the dean of the college. The majority of committee members and the dissertation advisor will be permanent members of the UMass Dartmouth faculty. By consenting to serve on the committee, the members agree to guide the candidate’s dissertation research and writing. The student consults with the committee and apprises them of the research progress at regular intervals. Changes to the dissertation committee may be made according to the rules of the specific doctoral program, and changes to the committee should not alter the date on which a defense can occur.
- The research proposal defines the work to be accomplished in the dissertation. The research proposal is prepared by the student in consultation with the dissertation advisor at or near the completion of course work. The proposal must be approved by the dissertation committee. The institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects must review and approve all research involving human or animal subjects; see the Graduate Life chapter, section on Research Administration.
- The research proposal must occur at least 90 days prior to the dissertation defense.
- Successfully complete a dissertation, present a satisfactory oral defense of the dissertation, and achieve library acceptance of the final document. The dissertation is a separate and mandatory requirement for the doctoral degree.
The oral defense is chaired by the dissertation advisor and is open to the university community. Students who do not successfully defend a dissertation are allowed one additional defense.
A Requirements for Theses and Dissertations manual prepared by the Graduate Studies Office gives full instructions on the process and requirements for a dissertation. It is posted on the Graduate Studies web page.
After the dissertation committee gives approval to begin the final preparation stage, the candidate will prepare one signatory page that shows the signatures of at least the following: the thesis committee members, the department chairperson—or, in the instance of college-wide programs, the college representative for graduate programs (as determined by the dean)—the Dean of the College, and the Associate Provost for Graduate Studies.
Two copies of the final, approved dissertation will be housed in the UMass Dartmouth library collection, bound for the permanent collection at the student’s expense.
The dissertation will receive grades of IP (in progress) until its completion and final approval by the major department. If never completed, IP remains the grade of record. Upon approval, a permanent grade will be given (according to the approved grading system for that program) and the title of the dissertation clearly stated on the student’s transcript. If desired by the major department and approved by the dean of the college, the thesis may be designated as “distinguished” and so noted on the student’s transcript. The posting of graduation and awarding of the degree occur after completion and approval of the dissertation.
Students are expected to submit dissertations for microfilming by University Microfilms International and for abstracting in Dissertation Abstracts International. Students will complete agreement forms for microfilming as one step in the final dissertation approval process in the Office of Graduate Studies.
- Fulfill the full-time residency requirement, satisfactory progress requirements, and any other requirements set for the specific doctoral program. Students not meeting these requirements may have assistantships reduced or taken away or may be dismissed from the program.
- Residency requirement. All PhD students must complete two consecutive semesters as full-time students. Full-time student status is usually defined as taking a minimum of 9 credits of course work or dissertation per semester. Students with research or teaching assignments in two consecutive semesters automatically qualify, independent of course load.
- Satisfactory Academic Progress. As must all graduate students at UMass Dartmouth, doctoral students must maintain satisfactory academic standing. Doctoral students must also complete program requirements at the appropriate point – such as filing the program of study, taking the qualifying examination, filing a research proposal, scheduling the comprehensive examination, scheduling the dissertation defense, or producing final copies of the dissertation.
- Credit longevity. Doctoral students must complete all requirements for the degree within seven years of being accepted to the program. In extenuating circumstances, a student may appeal to the appropriate college dean for relaxation of this requirement.
- A student must be currently enrolled in the university in order to defend the dissertation and to present it for acceptance in final form. Graduate students who continue to work on a dissertation after completing their formal course requirements must remain in “continuation” enrollment status for every semester in which they work on it, until it is completed, including the semester in which final approvals are given for library submission and graduation. These students register for Program Continuation at the registrar’s office and pay in lieu of tuition and regular fees a fee for each semester that they are in that status. Those who must interrupt progress toward their degrees should seek formal leave of absence. If a student neither requests a leave of absence nor registers for “continuation,” it is presumed that the student has abandoned pursuit of the degree; such a student must apply for re-admission to resume work for the degree (see Admissions chapter).