Doctoral Requirements (Graduate Studies)

The University of Missouri grants four types of doctoral degrees: the doctor of philosophy (PhD), the doctor of education (EdD), the doctor of physical therapy (DPT), and the doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Consult with individual departments to learn about the availability of degrees. To obtain a doctoral degree, a student must follow the general regulations of the Graduate Faculty Senate well as special requirements of the degree program. It is the student’s responsibility to adhere to all regulations and satisfy the graduation requirements of the Office of Graduate Studies and the degree program. An individual who has held, at any time, a regular tenure-track appointment in an MU academic program is not eligible for a doctoral degree from that department or the area program in which that department participates.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination or Process

Prior to official admission into a doctoral program, the student must pass a qualifying examination or process. A department or area program may limit the number of times this examination or process may be attempted. After the qualifying process is complete and the doctoral committee has been confirmed, the Qualifying Examination Results and Doctoral Committee Approval (D1) form should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies, no later than the end of the second semester of enrollment.

Selecting a Doctoral Advisor

The student selects an advisor or co-advisors, by mutual consent, from doctoral faculty members who are dissertation supervisors in the department or area program in which the major work is planned. In the event that an advisor retires or leaves MU, he/she may continue to serve as a student’s advisor unless there is written academic program policy prohibiting such an arrangement. If an advisor is unable or unwilling to continue to serve, the academic program, with the leadership of the director of graduate studies, will assist to ensure that a replacement is found.

Forming a Doctoral Program Committee

The doctoral program committee must be recommended by the student’s advisor and approved by the academic program’s director of graduate studies and the Office of Graduate Studies before one year has elapsed following the student’s first registration as a doctoral student. The Qualifying Examination Results and Doctoral Committee Approval (D1) form is due to the Graduate School office by the end of the student’s second semester.

Committee Changes

Changes to the committee must be submitted on the Change of Committee form.

Duties

All members of the doctoral program committee will be intimately involved and will actively participate in the activities of the doctoral student at all the stages of the student’s career at MU, except in some cases in the qualifying examination/process. The committee also may participate in the assessment of a student’s background and potential for success in the academic program’s doctoral program. Committee members may call a meeting of the full committee at any time to discuss the student’s progress.

Membership Requirements for Doctoral Committees

The doctoral program committee shall be composed of a minimum of four members of the MU graduate faculty and will include at least three members from the student’s doctoral degree program and an outside member from a different MU program. At least two of the doctoral committee members must be MU doctoral faculty. (Note: This policy is effective for students who begin their doctoral programs during the Fall 2005 Term. For students who began their doctoral programs before the fall 2005 semester, consult the appropriate catalog or the Office of Graduate Studies.)

Additional committee members with specialized expertise who do not meet the criteria for the MU graduate faculty or doctoral faculty may serve on a doctoral committees as a fifth or sixth member, with special permission of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies.

Graduate Committee Membership for Jointly Appointed Faculty

Chapter 320 of the Collected Rules and Regulations for the University of Missouri requires that all jointly appointed faculty members will have a designated Primary Appointment and Primary Department as well as affiliation with one or more involved departments or units. These affiliations affect membership status of jointly appointed faculty on graduate student committees as follows:

Committee Chair/Advisor

A faculty member may serve as advisor/committee chair when his or her primary appointment is in the graduate student’s home academic program. When the graduate student’s home academic program is the involved academic program for a jointly appointed faculty member, the person may serve as chair/advisor with the approval of the director of graduate studies from the student’s home academic program.

Doctoral Committee Member

A faculty member can serve only as an Internal Member when his or her Primary Appointment is in the graduate student’s home academic program. When a graduate student’s home academic program is the Involved academic program for a jointly appointed faculty member, he or she may serve as either an Internal or External Member of the committee.

Graduate Committee Membership for Adjunct Faculty

Adjunct faculty may serve as a committee chair or committee member only in academic programs in which they are appointed and approved for graduate or doctoral faculty membership as appropriate for the student’s degree (master’s or doctoral). Service on graduate committees outside the academic program in which an adjunct member is appointed requires a recommendation by the director of graduate studies from the student’s home academic program and approval by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies.

Back to Top

Doctoral Plan of Study & Degree Requirements

The doctoral program committee provides academic program approval of the student’s Plan of Study which will prepare the student for research or scholarly investigation in the chosen field of study. The plan of study includes a list of the courses and the credit to be earned. By successfully completing the plan by deadlines, a doctoral student will:

  • Prepare the student for research or scholarly investigation in the chosen field of study.
  • Satisfy the credit-hour and residency requirement of the academic program.
  • Satisfy any special requirements (proficiency in foreign languages, collateral field, doctoral minor, other special research skills) imposed by the department or area program.
  • Satisfy the requirement for a minimum of 15 hours of MU coursework at the 8000/9000 level (exclusive of research, readings, and problems).

The committee also recommends to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies, as part of the Plan of Study, any request for transfer of graduate credit. Changes to the plan of study should be submitted on the Plan of Study Course Substitution form.

Doctoral Credit-Hour Requirement

MU requires a minimum of 72 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree for the PhD and EdD degrees. The student’s doctoral program committee must approve all course work used to satisfy the credit-hour requirement and may require additional course work beyond these minimums.

Transfer Credit

The doctoral committee may recommend up to 30 hours of post-baccalaureate graduate credit from a regionally accredited university be transferred toward the total hours required for the doctoral degree. It is the responsibility of the doctoral committee to determine the appropriateness of course work for transfer credit. All requests for exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies.

Note: This policy applies to students who begin their enrollment during the Fall Term 2006 and subsequent semesters. For students who began their doctoral programs prior to the fall 2006 semester, consult the appropriate catalog or the Office of Graduate Studies for policies pertaining to transfer of credit.

Extension & Correspondence Credit in Doctoral Programs

The doctoral committee may recommend that courses taken through MU’s Extension division be counted toward the credit-hour requirement. Extension or correspondence course work from institutions other than MU may not be used to meet the total hours required for the doctoral degree.

Time Limits on Transfer Credits

All courses to be applied to the plan of study must be completed within eight years of filing the plan.

Grades at the Graduate Level

To become eligible for a degree, a doctoral student must have completed all MU graduate work attempted with a GPA of 3.0 (A=4.0) or higher. Review grading policies for more information.

Foreign Language Proficiency

In general, an English-speaking student may establish foreign language proficiency, if it is required, by demonstrating an ability to translate into English two foreign languages; or by demonstrating a high order of fluency in one language; that is the ability to read, write and converse in that language and to translate that language into English and English into that language.

Plan of Study Completion Before Doctoral Comprehensive Exam

The student must substantially complete the course work outlined in the Plan of Study to the satisfaction of the doctoral program committee and the Office of Graduate Studies before being declared ready for the comprehensive examination.

Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

The student must be enrolled to take the doctoral comprehensive examination. It is to be administered only when MU is officially in session. The comprehensive examination is the most advanced posed by MU. It consists of written and oral sections. It must be completed at least seven months before the final defense of the dissertation. The two sections of the examination must be completed within one month.

Written Section

The written section or sections of the examination may be conducted in one or both of the following two ways:

  1. The written sections may be arranged and supervised by the major advisor, in which case questions are prepared and graded by the doctoral program committee.
  2. The major advisor may delegate responsibility for arranging, preparing, supervising and grading the written sections of the examination to one or more departmental/program committees appointed for this purpose.

Successful Completion

For the comprehensive examination to be successfully completed, the doctoral program committee must vote to pass the student on the entire examination, both written and oral sections, with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote. A report of examination results, carrying the signatures of all members of the committee, must be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies and the student no later than two weeks after the comprehensive examination is completed.

Exam Failure

A failure of either the written or oral section of the exam constitutes failure of the comprehensive exam. If a failure is reported, the committee also must include in the report an outline of the general weaknesses or deficiencies of the student’s work. The student and the committee members are encouraged to work together to identify steps the student might take to become fully prepared for the next examination.

Request for Clarification

If the student believes that the advice given by the committee is inadequate, the student may send a written request for clarification to the committee. A copy of this request should be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies as well. The committee must respond to this request in writing within two weeks and a copy must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies.

Retaking the Comprehensive Examination

The student who fails may not take a second comprehensive examination for at least 12 weeks. Failure to pass two comprehensive examinations automatically prevents candidacy.

Back to Top

Doctoral Candidacy & Continuous Enrollment

Candidacy for a doctoral degree is established by passing the comprehensive examination. Status as a continuous enrollment doctoral student begins the term after the term in which the comprehensive exam was successfully completed. Students must maintain continuous enrollment during their candidacy (the period after successful completion of the comprehensive examination).

Procedure for Continuous Enrollment

Candidacy is maintained by enrolling in 9090 Research (or 9990 Research for some Engineering students) for two semester hours each fall and spring semester and for one semester hour each summer session, or an equivalent number of hours through enrollment in other coursework, up to and including the term in which the dissertation is defended. Continuous enrollment provides access to an advisor’s support, doctoral program committee guidance and university research facilities for completion of the dissertation. Failure to enroll continuously in the appropriate number of hours until the doctoral degree is awarded terminates candidacy.

Reestablishing Candidacy After Time Off

Candidacy may be reestablished by paying the registration and late fees owed and completing the requirements specified by the student’s doctoral program committee. Registration fees owed may not exceed the amount owed for seven terms, regardless of the number of terms beyond seven for which the student failed to continuously enroll. The committee’s requirements may include a second comprehensive examination or evidence of currency in the research field as suggested by publications in refereed journals. Candidacy is reestablished when the student’s advisor and the departmental, area program or divisional director of graduate studies submits a written request to the Office of Graduate Studies explaining the basis for the decision. Once approved, a Reactivation Form must be completed by the student and sent to the department/program for processing.

The Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation must be written on a subject approved by the candidate’s doctoral program committee, must embody the results of original and significant investigation and must be the candidate’s own work.

Enrollment Status and Reporting

The candidate must be continuously enrolled to defend the dissertation, which can only be defended when MU is officially in session. A report of the dissertation defense, carrying the signatures of all members of the committee, is sent to the Office of Graduate Studies before the deadline preceding the anticipated date of graduation. For the dissertation to be successfully defended, the student’s doctoral committee must vote to pass the student on the defense with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote.

Required Dissertation Format

Every doctoral candidate should review the Guidelines for Preparing Theses and Dissertations from Graduate Studies and should consult their director of graduate studies for academic program style requirements. All dissertation defenses shall be open to the general faculty.  Academic programs are encouraged to announce dissertation defense dates to academic program colleagues.

Submission of Dissertation to the Office of Graduate Studies

The final copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies electronically or as a PDF file on a CD-ROM. Specific instructions are provided in the Guidelines for Preparing Theses and Dissertations.

Reasonable Rate of Progress

Reasonable rate of progress is governed by both the campus wide policies of the Graduate Faculty Senate listed below as well as academic program regulations which may be more restrictive. Failure to satisfy the Graduate Faculty Senate's rate of progress policies leading to dismissal is handled by the Request for Extension process.  For academic advice or assistance with degree program planning, students should contact their advisors.  Dismissals arising from violation of academic program policies may be appealed using the Appeals Process. Students should also refer to the section on the Dismissal Policy for additional details.

Time Limits for Doctoral Degree Completion

Three Graduate Faculty Senate policies govern the Reasonable Rate of Progress established for doctoral students. To determine which is applicable to a particular student, see the policies below:

Students Who Began Their Program in Fall 2000 to the Present

Effective fall semester 2000, a doctoral student must successfully complete the comprehensive examination within a period of five years beginning with the first semester of enrollment as a PhD student. In addition, the program for the doctoral degree must be completed within five years of passing the comprehensive examination. Individual departments or area programs may stipulate a shorter time period. For an extension of this time the student must petition the Graduate School by submitting a request to the advisor who, in turn, submits a written recommendation to the Graduate School which has been endorsed by the department or area program director of graduate studies.

Doctoral Students Who Passed Comps Between Fall 1994 and Summer 2000

Doctoral candidates who passed their comprehensive examinations between the beginning of the fall semester 1994 through summer session 2000 will have no more than five years after passing the comprehensive examination to complete the doctoral degree.

Doctoral Students who Passed Comps Before Fall 1994

Doctoral candidates who passed their comprehensive examinations before fall semester 1994 must complete their degree programs within eight calendar years beginning with the first semester of enrollment as a doctoral student.

Back to Top

Doctoral Degree Extension Request

Regardless of when a student entered the program or passed the comprehensive exam, any candidate requiring additional time must submit a request for an extension. On petition of the candidate and the candidate’s academic program, an extension of time may be granted by the Office of Graduate Studies. Academic programs specifically reserve the right to re-certify currency in the discipline. All requests for extensions should be endorsed by the academic program’s director of graduate studies and accompanied by a description of the process whereby currency in the discipline is certified, if required by the academic programs. See also Active Duty Policy.

Doctorate of Education (EdD): Special Requirements and Policies

Admission

To be admitted into a doctorate of education program, the student must have attained the degree of master of arts with a major in education, a degree of master of education, or the quantitative and qualitative equivalent of one of these degrees from an accredited college or university.

EdD Qualifying Exam

If required, the qualifying examination must be successfully completed before the plan of study is determined by the advisor and the student in cooperation with the doctoral advisory committee. This program must constitute a well organized plan of professional specialization in one of the major fields of education, with one or more supporting fields.

EdD Plan of Study

A minimum of 72 semester hours of graduate level course work beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the degree of doctor of education degree. The plan of study is specifically intended to meet the professional needs of the candidate. As well as pursuing course work in the professional areas of specialization, the student must take courses in educational statistics, advanced educational statistics, methods of educational research and one research elective course. Foreign languages are not required, except as may be determined by the student’s doctoral advisory committee.

EdD Advisory Committee

The student’s advisor officially recommends for the approval by the Graduate School a doctoral advisory committee of at least five members. For students admitted Fall 2006 and later, the requirement is at least four committee members. In addition to planning the doctoral program with the student, this committee may administer a qualifying examination, which helps to assess the student’s general background and potential for the EdD degree. It also guides the planning of the plan of study.

EdD Comprehensive Examination

When the doctoral advisory committee determines that the needed course work has been completed with satisfactory grades, it plans the comprehensive examination (a written and oral examination that includes the candidate’s major field of interest) for the degree. This examination must be taken no earlier than the second year of graduate work and be completed at least seven months before graduation. A student must be enrolled to take the comprehensive examination. It is not administered unless MU is officially in session.

For the comprehensive examination to be completed successfully, the committee must vote to pass the student with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote. If failure is reported, the committee recommends suggested work or remedial measures.  See Comprehensive Examination under PhD Degree Regulations.

The student who fails may not take a second examination for at least 12 weeks. Failure on two comprehensive examinations automatically prevents candidacy.

Continuous Enrollment

EdD candidates are subject to the same policies and procedures as PhD candidates. See enrollment requirements for graduate studies.

Dissertation Defense

EdD candidates are subject to the same policies and procedures as PhD candidates. The dissertation must be reviewed and approved by the doctoral program committee

Time Limits for Doctoral Degree Completion

Effective fall semester 2000, a doctoral student must successfully complete

  • the comprehensive examination within a period of five years beginning with the first semester of enrollment as a PhD student.
  • the doctoral degree within five years of passing the comprehensive examination.

Individual departments or area programs may stipulate a shorter time period.

For time limit policies prior to academic year 2000-2001, consult the Graduate School Catalog archive dissertation format EdD candidates are subject to the same dissertation formatting and submission requirements as PhD candidates. The dissertation must be reviewed and approved by the doctoral program committee. Polices can be found at http://gradstudies.missouri.edu/academics/graduation-requirements/doctoral-grad-requirements.php.

Dissertation Submission

The final copy of the EdD dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School as a PDF file on a CD-ROM. Specific instructions are provided in the Guidelines for Preparing Theses and Dissertations.

Deadline for Submission of Dissertation/Thesis after Successful Defense

After successful defense of the thesis or dissertation, students must comply with their academic program’s and/or the International Center’s enrollment requirements. Students are required to submit their final dissertation or thesis by the end of the following semester after a successful defense unless a letter asking for an extension is submitted to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies by the student’s advisor and program’s DGS.

Doctoral Degree Extension Request

Regardless of when a student entered the program or passed the comprehensive exam, any candidate requiring additional time must submit a request for an extension. On petition of the candidate and the candidate’s academic program, an extension of time may be granted by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies.

Academic programs specifically reserve the right to re-certify currency in the discipline. All requests for extensions should be endorsed by the academic program’s director of graduate studies and accompanied by a description of the process whereby currency in the discipline is certified, if required by the academic programs. (See also Active Duty Policy.)

Back to Top

Doctoral Dual Degrees

Dual Doctoral-Professional Degrees

As the US workforce becomes increasingly interdisciplinary, some graduate students elect to concurrently pursue a PhD (doctoral) degree in combination with a law or medical (professional) degree. Examples include the MD/PhD and the JD/PhD. Dual degrees are cooperatively arranged between a graduate degree granting program and a professional degree granting program. The Graduate School oversees the doctoral (PhD) degree portion of the dual doctoral/ professional degree. Dual degrees are approved by the Graduate Faculty Senate.

Students must apply to both the Office of Graduate Studies and the professional degree program, notifying both of their interest in a dual program. Please refer to the A-Z list of graduate degree programs to learn what is currently available.

Because some students may not be aware of an approved dual-degree program before their arrival at MU, the option to participate in an approved dual-degree program may be postponed until no later than the end of a student’s second semester at MU.

The governing policies for dual degrees are the same for master’s and doctoral students. Please refer to the dual-degree information for master’s students for more information.

Dual Degrees for Medical Students

The MD/PhD program is for the student seeking a biomedical research career. Additional years are integrated into the medical curriculum to satisfy requirements for the PhD. (A MD/MS dual degree is another option). The graduate degree (MS or PhD) is typically accomplished after completion of the MD program. PhD programs are available in diverse areas at MU.

Students are accepted to the joint program by a single committee. Students interested in this dual-degree program should inquire at the dean’s office in the School of Medicine.

Financial Support

Financial support may be provided for the graduate portion of the dual-degree program. Fellowship support may be provided for the PhD portion of this program, while loan and scholarship funds may be available for the MD curriculum.

Applying Credit

Students participating in the MD/PhD Program at the University of Missouri may apply up to 30 hours of credit for courses taken during the preclinical phase of the MD program towards the 72 hour requirement for the PhD degree. These MD courses, however, cannot be used to satisfy the requirement for 15 hours of 8000/9000 of graduate level course work.

The following table lists the distribution of credits for the preclinical courses among areas of study that can be used by the student and their committee in determining how many credit hours should be applied toward the PhD.

Course Applicable Hours Toward the PhD
Biochemistry 6 hrs
Microbiology 4 hrs
Immunology 3 hrs
Pharmacology 4 hrs
Physiology 4 hrs
Pathology 6 hrs
Neurosciences 3 hrs

Advising & Committees

There will be a separate advisor and committee for each degree program.

Note: The option of a combined committee structure may be included in proposals for Graduate Faculty Senate consideration, e.g., co-advisors who would also serve as outside members, plus one additional member from each degree program, for a total of four committee members.

Dual Degree Progress Forms

Special dual degree program forms will be used to certify plans of study, committee members and final defense/examinations.

Timelines for PhD Completion

Policies governing doctoral degree completion, including but not limited to examinations, forms, continuous enrollment, and dissertation format, defense and submission, are detailed in the doctoral degree requirements section of the Graduate Catalog and web site.

Conferral of Dual Degrees

Upon completion of all degree program requirements, the Graduate School and the professional school will confer separate diplomas.

Back to Top