Curriculum Overview

General Curriculum Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 135 credit hours to receive the PhD degree. Included in these hours is a minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework in one's major and minor areas of study (the first 2-3 years, as well as 45 hours of dissertation credit (the final 1-2 years).

Degree Completion Time Frame

The PhD Program encourages completion of the entire degree within a four year period, as college funding is guaranteed for that period of time if satisfactory progress is maintained from year to year. Most students complete the degree in 4-5 years.

Annual Review

Each student's progress in the program is formally reviewed and discussed with the student annually. Students complete a self-assessment, showing one's academic, research, teaching and professional activities over the course of each year. Students meet with their adviser to discuss the annual review, and develop goals for the following year.


Your progress in the program will be measured by a series of formal evaluations. The evaluation process gives you feedback from faculty about your status relative to program requirements and goals.

  • Qualifying Examination. Depending upon major and minor fields, the student may be required to pass a qualifying examination prior to being eligible for the Candidacy Examination.

  • Minor Field Requirements. After completion of course work in the minor field, the candidate may be required to pass a written minor examination.

  • Candidacy Examination. Upon completion of all course work, preliminary examinations, and minor field requirements, the student takes the Candidacy Examination. This examination consists of both written and oral components. It tests the potential candidate's knowledge of the major and minor fields, the ability to express ideas clearly, and the ability to integrate knowledge across a variety of conceptual contexts.

  • Dissertation Proposal Defense. Some major fields require the candidate to defend a dissertation proposal prior to beginning the dissertation research effort.

  • Final Oral Defense. The final step in the program is the successful defense of the dissertation as a scholarly contribution to knowledge in the field. This examination is conducted by the candidate's final oral examination committee and is chaired by the candidate's advisor.