Policy Update: Doctoral Time Limits

On March 13, 2024, Graduate Council approved the following updated policy, effective for students who matriculate in Fall 2024 and later:


Doctoral Time Limits

Doctoral students must complete all requirements for the doctoral degree and the degree must be awarded within eight (8) calendar years after initial enrollment/registration in the program. For example, if the date of first registration for a doctoral student is the fall semester of 2024, the eight-year time limit expires in summer semester of 2032. The student’s time-to-degree clock starts with the first course approved for inclusion in their doctoral Program of Study, or the date of matriculation into the program, whichever occurred earlier. Individual colleges/schools or academic programs may have more restrictive requirements than the above stated Graduate School policy. The eight-year time limit does not include approved periods of leave. Additionally, doctoral time to degree is calculated separately for degrees obtained in each academic program.

Students who fail to complete their degrees within eight years after initial enrollment will be considered as not making satisfactory progress to degree completion and will be dismissed from Graduate School. The Graduate School will notify all doctoral students when they have reached the 7-year mark to warn them about the impending 8-year degree time limit.


Degree Time Limit Extensions

Doctoral students in good academic standing who experience extenuating circumstances that prevent them from completing their degrees within the requisite 8 years may petition for an extension of the degree time limit to the Vice Provost/Dean of the Graduate School. Such circumstances include military obligations, family and medical challenges, and other life events. A petition for an extension of the degree time limit requires support from the major professor, graduate coordinator, and academic unit head.

The petition for an extension of time must include the specific reasons why the student did not complete the degree in the time allotted and a detailed timeline proposal for the completion of the degree. The student’s major professor must review the extension of time request and write a letter to the Vice Provost/Dean of the Graduate School stating approval or disapproval of the petition. The Graduate Coordinator and department head/chair (or Dean/Dean’s delegate in instances where the School/College does not have departments) 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 justification should be provided in the letter.

The maximum extension of the degree time limit that may be granted is 24 months and the total time to degree shall not exceed 10 years.

If a petition for an extension of time is approved by the Vice Provost/Dean of the Graduate School, the student will be notified in writing of the expectations for progress, and of the expected timeline for degree completion.

If the petition is denied, the student will be notified in writing that they will be dismissed from the Graduate School. Students dismissed under such circumstances may appeal their dismissal to the Appeals Committee of Graduate Council.



This policy does not apply to students who are enrolled in dual-degree or joint-degree programs that have different time-to-degree requirements (e.g., DVM/PhD). Such students must follow the policies of their respective programs.



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