About the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The University established this degree for the purpose of providing properly qualified students with the opportunity to pursue research and other scholarly activities beyond the point that is possible in programs for the master’s degree.

This degree will be granted in recognition of proficiency in research, breadth and soundness of scholarship, and thorough acquaintance with a specific field of knowledge, not upon completion of any definite amount of work prescribed in advance. Evidence of such attainment must be provided through the presentation of an acceptable dissertation based upon independent research and the passing of such written and oral examinations as may be prescribed.

Departments that have been approved to offer the Doctor of Philosophy degree may implement this degree program by the adoption of appropriate rules and regulations. Departmental rules and regulations may not, however, conflict with the policies, rules, and regulations of the Graduate School.

View PhD requirements below.

PhD Requirements

PhD Acceptance by Transfer

If graduate credit earned at an accredited institution constitutes a logical part of the student’s program, transfer of credit may be allowed when recommended by the student’s major professor, advisory committee, graduate coordinator, and when approved by the dean of the Graduate School. Such transfer of credit cannot exceed nine (9) semester hours and must fall within the time limit of the degree. No grade below B may be transferred. The courses to be transferred may not have been used to fulfill the requirements of a degree program at another institution. Transfer credit may not be used to satisfy the residency requirement. If the residency requirement has not been satisfied and the transfer course is taken during the Fall or Spring semester, a “break” in residency will occur unless the student is also registered at UGA. Transferred courses may not be included in the 16 hours of 8000- and 9000- level credit on the program of study. Transfer grades are not used in calculating cumulative averages. All requests for transfer credit, with accompanying official transcripts, must be in the Graduate School at least 30 days prior to the time the student plans to graduate. Courses taken prior to the student’s admission to their degree program at The University of Georgia are eligible for transfer.

PhD Admission to Candidacy

The student is responsible for initiating an application for admission to candidacy so that it is filed with the dean of the Graduate School at least one full semester before the date of graduation. This application is a certification by the student’s major department that the student has demonstrated ability to do acceptable graduate work in the chosen field of study and that:

  1. all prerequisites set as a condition to admission have been satisfactorily completed;
  2. research skills requirements, if applicable, have been met;
  3. the final program of study has been approved by the advisory committee, the graduate coordinator, and the dean of the Graduate School;
  4. an average of 3.0 (B) has been maintained on all graduate courses taken and on all completed courses on the program of study (no course with a grade below C may be placed on the final program of study);
  5. written and oral comprehensive examinations have been passed and reported to the Graduate School;
  6. the advisory committee, including any necessary changes in the membership, is confirmed and all its members have been notified of their appointment;
  7. a dissertation prospectus has been approved (if required for candidacy);
  8. and the residence requirement has been met.

After admission to candidacy, a student must register for a combined total of ten hours of dissertation or other appropriate graduate credit during the completion of the degree program. Students planning to graduate the same semester they enter candidacy must be admitted to candidacy by the published deadline for candidacy during that semester and register for ten hours. The student must also meet all other deadlines for graduation in that semester. A student must register for a minimum of three hours of credit in any semester when using University facilities, and/or faculty or staff time.

Once a student has been admitted to candidacy, the department has an ethical responsibility to ensure that appropriate faculty mentorship is provided to the candidate for completion of the degree.

PhD Admissions

An applicant may be admitted as a prospective candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree upon certification by the major department that he or she is a person of proper attainment and promise, that appropriate courses may be adequately given, and that the student’s research can be adequately supported and directed. Such admission must be to an authorized field and must be approved by the dean of the Graduate School.

PhD Advisory Committee

Scope. The advisory committee, in consultation with the student, is charged with planning the student’s program of study. It is also charged with approving the program of study, arranging the comprehensive written and oral examinations, approving a subject for the dissertation, approving the completed dissertation, and approving the student’s defense of his or her research. The committee should advise the student of required research skills and other requirements.

Composition. The committee must consist of a minimum of three UGA graduate program faculty members, including the committee chair. Additional voting members may be appointed to the committee, including no more than one non-UGA faculty member, who must hold the terminal degree in their field of study. If there are more than three members, there must be greater than 50% UGA graduate program faculty representation.

Appointment. Before the end of the first year of residence of a prospective candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree and upon the recommendation of the departmental graduate coordinator, the dean of the Graduate School shall appoint an advisory committee for the student. The committee will be recommended to the dean of the Graduate School by the graduate coordinator after consultation with the student and faculty members involved. Departmental recommendations for the advisory committee, and any replacements, shall be determined by procedures approved by a majority of the graduate program faculty of the department.

When nominating a non-UGA committee member, the graduate coordinator must submit the nominee’s current CV/resume with the appropriate forms and a letter addressed to the dean of the Graduate School explaining why the services of the non-UGA committee member are requested. The non-affiliated member must attend meetings associated with the appointment.

PhD Application for Graduation

An application for graduation must be filed with the Graduate School no later than Friday of the second full week (the first full week for summer) of classes in the semester of the anticipated graduation date. Application forms may be obtained online.

All requirements for the degree must be completed and reported to the Graduate School no later than one week prior to graduation. A student must enroll for a minimum of three hours of credit the semester in which graduation requirements are completed unless additional stipulations are required by other units of the university.

PhD Comprehensive Examination

A student must pass formal, comprehensive written and oral examinations before being admitted to candidacy for the degree. These examinations are administered by the student’s advisory committee.

The written comprehensive examination, although administered by the advisory committee, may be prepared and graded according to the procedures and policies in effect in the student’s department. The oral comprehensive examination will be an inclusive examination within the student’s field of study. An examination of the student’s dissertation prospectus (proposal) may precede or follow the oral comprehensive examination but may not take the place of the oral comprehensive examination. All members of the student’s advisory committee must be present simultaneously for the oral examination and prospectus (proposal) presentation.

The oral comprehensive examination is open to all members of the faculty and shall be announced by the Graduate School. The graduate coordinator must notify the Graduate School of the time and place of the examination at least two weeks before the date of the examination.

Following each examination, written and oral, each member of the advisory committee will cast a written vote of pass or fail on the examination. To pass each examination, the agreement of the advisory committee is achieved with no more than one dissenting vote. An abstention is not an appropriate vote for the comprehensive examination. The results of both examinations will be reported to the Graduate School within two weeks following the oral examination.

PhD Dissertation Approval & Defense

When the major professor is satisfied with the completed dissertation, he or she will certify that it has his or her approval and is ready to be read. The major professor will then distribute copies of the dissertation to the remaining members of the advisory committee and schedule a final oral defense. The graduate coordinator must notify the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the defense. Subsequently, the Graduate School will announce the time and place of the defense of the dissertation to the University community. The committee members must have three weeks to read and evaluate the completed dissertation.

Written assent of the committee members (other than the major professor) will be required before a dissertation will be approved as ready for a final defense. No more than one dissenting vote may be allowed for the approval of the dissertation. If the advisory committee declines to approve the dissertation as ready for the final defense, the major professor will notify the student and the Graduate School.

The defense of the dissertation will be chaired by the student’s major professor and attended by all members of the advisory committee simultaneously for the entire defense period. The defense will consist of a public presentation followed by a private defense during which only the student and advisory committee will be in attendance. The public presentation is open to anyone who wishes to attend. The student and committee chair must appear in person for both components of the defense, but other committee members can participate via teleconference or video conference, provided that the comments of all participants can clearly and consistently be heard. If the major professor is not able to attend the defense in person, they can designate a substitute chair who is a current member of the committee. The defense can be held completely remotely if approved by the graduate coordinator and the unit/department head. The advisory committee must approve the student’s dissertation and defense with no more than one dissenting vote and must certify their approval in writing. An abstention is not allowable for the final defense. The results of the defense of the dissertation must be reported to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to graduation for the current semester. If a University program would like to deviate from the above policy, the following steps must be taken: (1) request approval from the Graduate School for the revised policy that will be used for program level defenses, (2) documentation in the program’s handbook on the revised policy approved by the Graduate School for the program. Such deviations must be applied to all students in the program.

Once the dissertation has been approved by the advisory committee and the final oral examination has been passed, the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School for final approval no later than two weeks prior to graduation of the following semester. Dissertations which are not submitted by this deadline must be defended again and approved by the advisory committee before they will be considered by the Graduate School for final approval.

PhD Dissertation Planning

A student pursuing this degree must present a dissertation on some subject connected with his or her major field of study. The dissertation must represent originality in research, independent thinking, scholarly ability, and technical mastery of a field of study. The conclusions must be logical, the literary form acceptable, and the contribution to knowledge meriting publication.

Persons who serve on the advisory committee at the time the dissertation research is undertaken must be faculty members knowledgeable in the areas of the student’s research. They should be selected irrespective of their departmental affiliation.

The major professor has the primary responsibility for guiding research, but the student should consult all members of the advisory committee to draw upon their expertise in relevant areas.

The major professor and advisory committee shall guide the student in planning the dissertation. The student will prepare a dissertation prospectus. When the major professor certifies that the dissertation prospectus is satisfactory, it must be formally considered by the advisory committee in a meeting with the student. This formal consideration may not take the place of the comprehensive oral examination.

Approval of the dissertation prospectus signifies that members of the advisory committee believe that it proposes a satisfactory research study. Approval of the prospectus requires the agreement of the advisory committee with no more than one dissenting vote as evidenced by their signing an appropriate form, which, together with the approved prospectus, is filed with the graduate coordinator.

PhD Grade Average

To be eligible for graduation, a student must maintain a 3.0 (B) average on the graduate transcript and a 3.0 (B) average on the program of study.

PhD Programs of Study

A preliminary program of study, developed by the major professor and the doctoral student and approved by a majority of the advisory committee, will be submitted to the graduate coordinator by the end of the student’s first year of residence. The program of study should consist of 16 or more hours of 8000- and 9000-level courses in addition to research, dissertation writing, and directed study. No grade below C will be accepted on the program of study. To be eligible for graduation, a student must maintain a 3.0 (B) average on the graduate transcript and a 3.0 (B) average on the program of study.

The program of study for a student who bypasses the master’s degree must contain 4 semester hours of University of Georgia courses open only to graduate students in addition to 16 semester hours of 8000 and 9000 level courses. Doctoral research (9000), independent study courses, and dissertation writing (9300) may not be counted in these 20 hours.

A final typed program of study will be submitted to the Graduate School prior to notification of the comprehensive examination. This program of study must be submitted on the proper form for approval by the advisory committee, the graduate coordinator, and the dean of the Graduate School. The final program of study must show all graduate courses relevant to the doctoral program and not just courses satisfying the minimum degree requirement. Courses from the master’s degree and courses taken at other universities should be listed in the “Relevant Master’s or Other Graduate Degree Courses” section of the program of study form. The program of study must carry a minimum of 30 hours of course work, three hours of which must be dissertation writing (9300).

The department should evaluate carefully and fully each doctoral student’s progress and qualifications at the end of the first year of study in order to advise the student whether or not to continue in the program.

PhD Research Skills & Requirements

To pursue research effectively a student must develop a facility with certain research skills or tools such as statistics, computer science, or foreign languages. The student’s major department determines the skill or skills required of candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. A prospective student should request information concerning research skills requirements from the departmental graduate coordinator if the requirements are not described under the departmental heading in this bulletin.

PhD Residence

The granting of this degree presupposes a minimum of three full years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree. At least two consecutive semesters of full-time work (i.e., enrollment for a minimum of 30 hours of consecutive course work included on the program of study) must be spent in resident study on this campus. Undergraduate courses taken either to fulfill research skills requirements or to remove deficiencies may not be calculated in the 30 consecutive hours of resident credit.

PhD Submitting the Dissertation

One complete formatted copy of the dissertation must be electronically submitted to the Graduate School for a format check no later that four weeks prior to graduation.

The Graduate School must receive the Final Defense Approval form and an electronic submission of the corrected dissertation no later than two weeks prior to graduation. This official copy of the dissertation will be electronically submitted by the Graduate School to the main library for archiving.

A graduate student may not submit a dissertation to the Graduate School for format checking or the dean’s approval between the last day of classes and late registration of the following term.

PhD Time Limit

All pre-candidacy requirements for the degree (i.e. coursework on the program of study) must be completed within a period of six years. This time requirement dates from the first registration for graduate courses on a student’s program of study.

After passing the comprehensive examination and being admitted to candidacy, a candidate for a doctoral degree must complete all degree requirements, including the dissertation and final oral examination, within five years. A student who does not complete all degree requirements within five years of admission to candidacy will be required to take the comprehensive examinations again and be admitted to candidacy a second time.

A student may petition for an exception to this policy by writing a letter to the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School. This request for an extension of time must include the specific reasons that the student did not complete the requirements in the time allotted. The student must include a specific timeline for the completion of degree requirements. The student’s major professor must review the student’s request and write a letter to the Vice Provost and Dean stating approval or disapproval of the petition. The graduate coordinator and department head must review the major professor’s recommendation and indicate their concurrence by writing an additional letter. If they do not concur with the recommendation, further information should be provided by them in the letter. An extension of time may be granted only on conditions beyond the control of the student.


Unlocking potential. Building futures.

Apply Today