General Milestones

There are a set of milestones on the way to completing a Ph.D. degree in the department. Each of these milestones has an associated deadline. Failure to meet any of these milestones by its deadline may result in the loss of funding (TA- or RA-ships) and/or in the denial of candidacy for the Ph.D. Completion of all milestones at earliest possible time is encouraged. The milestones are summarized here in order of expected occurrence and explained in more detail below:

1. Admission to preliminary candidacy for a Ph.D. must occur within the first three years.

2. All students will meet with the Departmental Graduate Advisor before the start of classes of their first semester. They are also required to meet with the Departmental Graduate Advisor at least once before the end of the first semester, ideally around the time of enrollment for the second semester.

Pre-comprehensive Milestones

3. Within 12 months of entering the program the student must fulfill the requirements of the individualized plan of study for all graduate degrees.

4. All students will submit an annual report form to the Graduate Coordinator who will forward it to the Departmental Graduate Advisor. A meeting will be initiated with the Graduate Advisor if there are concerns. The first form must be submitted between the 10th and 14th month following each student’s entry into the program. Following this, the evaluation will occur at 10-14 month intervals for the duration of the student’s tenure in our graduate program.

5. Within 2 years of entering the program the student must fulfill requirements for preliminary candidacy.

6. Students will submit their annual report form to the Graduate Coordinator. The form will be evaluated by either the Graduate Student Evaluation Committee or by their research advisor, if requested by the student and agreed to by the advisor.

7. Before the end of a 12 month period following the preliminary candidacy, the student is expected to join a research group in the department, or, at least to have spent significant effort in seeking a thesis advisor. 

8. By 12 months following the entrance into preliminary candidacy, the student should have completed almost all lecture course work and started preparation for the comprehensive examination.

9. Before the end of an 18 month period following preliminary candidacy the student must chose an advisor, have completed the comprehensive exam, and should be carrying out Ph.D. research. A dissertation committee must be assembled, usually comprising the members of the comprehensive exam committee.

Post-comprehensive Milestones

10. The student is now a Ph.D. candidate and must abide by the rules for post-comprehensive enrollment. It is encouraged that the student schedule a meeting with their dissertation committee every twelve months after admission to preliminary candidacy.

11. Students will submit their annual report form to the Graduate Coordinator. Their research advisor will evaluate the form.

12. The student will prepare a dissertation based on the student's original research, which must be satisfactory to the departmental members of the dissertation committee, and will defend it in a final oral examination before the dissertation committee. This examination is open to the public.


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