ARTICLE VI. GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY DEGREE
Section 1. Residency, Credit Requirements, and Admission to Candidacy
A minimum of six (6) credit hours per semester constitutes residency. A student must be in residence in the Graduate School for at least four (4) semesters in order to be recommended for a degree. Credits transferred from other accredited graduate institutions may not be used to meet the residency requirement.
B. Minimum Credit Requirements
The minimum course credits for the degree are 72 graduate credits (inclusive of dissertation) beyond the bachelor's degree. However, departments may require credits in excess of this amount, and various factors may result in a student’s taking more than the minimum number of credit hours prior to satisfactorily completing the degree requirements. No more than twelve (12) credits in dissertation writing courses may count towards the requirements for the degree. The completion of minimum course requirements or credit does not guarantee receipt of the degree.
C. Admission to Candidacy
Admission to the Ph.D. program does not automatically admit a student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. A student shall be admitted to candidacy upon completion of requirements for the Ph.D. degree, except the dissertation and internship/externship.
- A student can be admitted to candidacy upon meeting the following requirements:
- Submit a complete admission to candidacy form to the Graduate School. It must include a list of graduate courses completed, those in process, and those courses in the field yet to be completed.
- Pass all the required core courses.
- Pass the qualifying and/or comprehensive examination administered by the department (where applicable).
- Demonstrate proficiency in expository writing in addition to satisfying the RCR requirements as described in Article IV above.
- Pass the foreign language examination or fulfil the approved substitute (where applicable).
- Secure the approval of the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or other institutional committees as required for the research project.
- Receive approval of a dissertation topic via a process determined by the Committee on Graduate Studies in the major department. A copy of the approved dissertation proposal must accompany the request for the admission to candidacy.
- Receive the endorsement of the Committee on Graduate Studies in the major department; and
- Receive the approval of the Graduate School.
Admission to candidacy must be achieved at least one semester prior to that in which the student expects to receive the degree.
Candidacy for the Ph.D. degree shall be valid for no more than five academic years. Any student seeking renewal of candidacy must apply to the Graduate School through the department for readmission. The department in which the student is seeking the degree shall determine the conditions under which the student may be reinstated, subject to approval of the Graduate School.
The responsibility for fulfilling these requirements is that of the student. Students should consult the Director of Graduate Studies in their department if in doubt as to any of the requirements. Students should carefully note the specific requirements of their departments relative to admission to candidacy and regard them as additional to these general requirements.
Section 2. Course requirements
A. Length of Time for Completion of the Ph.D. Degree
Students are expected to complete a Ph.D. degree within a maximum of seven (7) years from the date of initial registration in the program. A student who exceeds this period may be dismissed. After seven years, students must petition for readmission and may be readmitted only upon fulfillment of conditions recommended by the departmental Committee on Graduate Studies and approved by the Executive Committee of the Graduate School, subject to the rules for readmission to the Graduate School in Article I, Section 7.
A Petition for Extension of Time to Complete Degree Requirements Form can be obtained from the Director of Graduate Studies in each graduate program or from the Office of Graduate Studies in the Graduate School. The form must be filed out completely and the necessary signatures must be obtained prior to submitting it to the Graduate School. Students who are in time-to-degree status will not be allowed to register for courses or enroll at the university as a former student returning until approval is granted to continue the program of study. If approval is not granted to continue, students will receive an official program dismissal notification letter from the Graduate Dean. Note that there are specific deadline dates that the form is to be submitted to the Graduate School for review and approval:
Fall Semester Review – August 15th
Spring Semester Review – January 15th
B. Course Viability
The Graduate School has a fundamental interest in ensuring that its graduating Ph.D. students have currency of knowledge in their fields. Therefore, the Graduate School places limits on the age of courses that can be counted toward the fulfillment of graduation requirements.
Credit for courses pursued more than seven and less than ten years, prior to the term in which the student presents herself/himself for the final examination, can be counted toward the fulfillment of degree requirements only if they are restored as described in this paragraph with the approval of the departmental Committee on Graduate Studies and the Dean. For a course to be restored under this paragraph, the student must pass an examination administered expressly for the purpose of restoration of credits in the course concerned or a comprehensive examination in the field in which the course falls.
Under no circumstances, however, may a student receive credit toward the degree for a course which the student pursued more than ten (10) years prior to the time the student presents himself or herself for the students’ final oral examination (dissertation defense).
In the event that a student has been granted a leave of absence pursuant to Article II, Section 3 on account of childbirth, adoption, illness, caring for incapacitated dependents, disability, military service, or similar circumstances, or if the student’s progress toward a degree has been delayed as a result of such conditions or circumstances but without the need for a leave of absence, the student may apply in writing to the departmental Graduate Studies Committee and the Dean for an exception to the foregoing limitations on course viability and course restoration. A copy of any such application must be provided to the Office of Special Student Services. Such exceptions are strongly disfavored where the courses exceed the foregoing time limitations because of the Graduate School’s fundamental interest in ensuring that graduating students have currency of knowledge in their disciplines.
C. Enrollment in Dissertation Writing Courses
A student should not register for dissertation writing until he/she has been admitted to candidacy. A student who is using the University facilities or is conferring in person with the dissertation advisor must continue to enroll in a dissertation writing course. The student must register as an auditor if he/she has already accumulated the maximum number of hours permitted for dissertation writing courses (12 credit hours).
D. Assignment of Grades for Dissertation Writing Courses
Dissertation writing courses will be assigned a grade of satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) while the work is in progress. The “S” or “U” grades up to 12 credits hours will receive a final letter grade upon successful passage of the final oral examination for the dissertation.
E. Enrollment in the Terminal Semester
A degree candidate must be enrolled and registered for at least one graduate credit hour during the semester in which the degree is conferred. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Section 3. Grades and Academic Status
A cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (B) is required for graduation.
A student will be permitted only two "C" grades. After the student receives a third "C" grade or below in a Ph.D. program at Howard, he/she will be dismissed from the Graduate Program. In most instances, the dismissal letter will be sent prior to the start of the following semester. If it is not, the dismissal is still in effect. Accordingly, students should correspond with their Director of Graduate Studies, Chair, and Academic Dean immediately upon earning the 3rd C grade or below "C" grades earned at the master's level at Howard University or elsewhere are not to be included in this count and cannot be counted toward degree requirements.
A student who falls below 3.00 GPA will be given due notice by the Graduate School that he/she must raise his/her quality point index to 3.00 in the next two terms in residence. Students failing to do so will be dismissed from the Graduate School. In most instances, the dismissal letter will be sent prior to the start of the following semester. If it is not, the dismissal is still in effect. Accordingly, students should correspond with their Director of Graduate Studies, Chair, and Academic Dean immediately upon earning the 3rd C grade.
A student who demonstrates an inability to perform satisfactorily at the graduate level may be recommended for dismissal.
Section 4. Program of Study
Each department in which the student is enrolled shall specify the programs and the requirements for each matriculating degree student. An approved Program of Study for each student must be filed with the Graduate School no later than the end of the first semester in residence. The responsibility of submitting the individualized Program of Study is that of the student. Failure to do so in a timely manner may result in suspension of enrollment privileges at the University.
Section 5. Earned Credit Transferal to the Ph.D. Degree
Students holding a bachelor’s degree who were admitted directly into the Ph.D. program may—with the approval of the Committee on Graduate Studies—transfer a maximum of 18 semester credit hours of graduate credits with a grade of B or better into the Ph.D. program.
Students holding a master’s degree from a recognized accredited institution (this includes Howard University) or an equivalent international institution may transfer no more than 24 graduate course credits with a grade of B or better into the Ph.D. program, dependent upon approval of the Committee on Graduate Studies in the major department. Official transcripts must accompany any request for transfer of credits.
Students currently enrolled in a program of the Graduate School who wish to seek admission to another program in the Graduate School must obtain written permission from the department in which the student is enrolled for transfer to another program. A copy of the approved document must be submitted to the Graduate School. The student must formally apply for admission into the new program. The rules on transfer of credits noted above will apply to students who desire to switch programs
Transfer to Another Graduate Program
Students currently enrolled in a program of the Graduate School who wish to seek admission to another program in the Graduate School must obtain written permission from the department in which the student is enrolled for transfer to another program. A copy of the approved document must be submitted to the Graduate School. The student must formally apply for admission into the new program. The rules on transfer of credits noted above will apply to students who desire to switch programs.
- Graduate students who wish to transfer to a different degree program must:
- Be in good standing (3.0 or higher).
- Receive written permission from the Chairs of the program to transfer out of the program.
- Not be in time-to-degree status
- Apply through the standard university admission process.
- Submit an admissions application by the program deadline.
- Only apply for transfer up to two times in an academic career.
- Receive a separate GPA for the new program.
- Check with financial aid regarding financial aid program transfer status.
Section 6. Foreign Language Requirement
The department in which the student is enrolled shall determine any foreign language requirement(s) or its substitute.
Students may satisfy the foreign language requirement by passing an examination prepared by the foreign language department at Howard University based on materials submitted by the department concerned.
Section 7. Ph.D. Qualifying and/or Comprehensive Examinations
The student will be required to pass a qualifying and/or comprehensive examination administered by the Graduate Faculty of the department in which the student is enrolled. This examination will be given only once each semester. A student should take the examination while earning his/her first 48 credits towards the Ph.D. degree, or as required by the department concerned. Students must consult their departments for specific information on the examination(s).
A candidate who fails such an examination on the first try may sit for a second examination. Once an examination has started, it is considered an attempt. The second examination cannot be administered earlier than two months from the date of the first examination. Failure (including an attempt) on the second examination will result in dismissal from the Graduate School. There are no exceptions.
Section 8. Dissertation Proposal, Committee, Document, and Defense
Ph.D. programs require the submission of a dissertation in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree. A member of the Graduate Faculty who shall act as the student’s advisor must supervise students preparing the dissertation document. Said advisor and at least one additional committee member (other than the external evaluator) must be a member of the department in which the degree will be granted. Students are advised to consult their departments concerning additional committee requirements.
A. Dissertation Proposal
The subject of the dissertation shall be determined as early in the program as possible. As a condition for admission to candidacy, the student must present an approved proposal for his/her doctoral dissertation research as authorized by his/her advisor and members of the dissertation committee.
The proposal should include an outline of the proposed research including the nature, scope, and significance of the problem, the theory, methodology, and a tentative title. A copy of the approved dissertation proposal must accompany the admission to candidacy form submitted to the Graduate School. The proposal and candidacy application must be approved by at least four members of the Graduate Faculty with at least two members from the department.
B. Dissertation Committee
The dissertation committee must consist of the dissertation advisor (a member of the graduate faculty that resides in the department where the degree will be conferred), at least three other members of the Graduate Faculty, and an external member of comparable stature as determined by the Committee on Graduate Studies. The student must not know, work with, have contact with, or have any affiliation with the external examiner. The external examiner must be a recognized authority in the area of research and scholarship treated in the dissertation to be defended. The examiner’s academic and professional credentials must be comparable to those of Howard University Graduate Faculty. The external examiner must have earned a PhD degree or a comparable degree from another academic system. Specialists in the area of the dissertation research who have been involved in any way with the dissertation or advisement thereof are not eligible to serve as an external examiner.
Each member of the committee is responsible for fully reviewing and approving both the process and the final dissertation document. Final approval of the dissertation, in all aspects, is the responsibility of the full dissertation committee acting on behalf of the Graduate School.
The appointed dissertation committee must designate a chair of the approved dissertation defense. Under no circumstances should the doctoral candidate’s dissertation advisor or the external examiner chair the final oral dissertation defense.
C. Dissertation Document
The candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree is required to present a dissertation, which is the result of significant and sustained research in his/her discipline. The student must demonstrate ability to organize and effectively present the findings and results of his/her research. When completed, it is expected that such research will make a meritorious contribution to the field of knowledge.
The document shall be prepared in accordance with the conventions of the discipline and conform to the requirements of the Graduate School as specified in the manual available in the Graduate School. Before the final oral examination is scheduled, the dissertation must be deposited with the Graduate School according to a schedule established by the Graduate School. The dissertation shall also be deposited in the department where the student is seeking the Ph.D. degree not later than three weeks before the date of the final examination for the degree. The candidate shall prepare three copies of the dissertation and four copies of the dissertation abstract in accordance with the prevailing Graduate School guidelines on preparing such documents.
D. Final Oral Examination and Defense of the Dissertation
The candidate shall be required to pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation. The examination shall be based primarily on his/her research, the field of his/her research, and related areas of study. The final oral examination/defense of the dissertation should be scheduled only after the advisor and committee members agree that the dissertation in draft is viable and ready for defense. This does not imply passing of the examination, it does, however, assume readiness to defend.
The oral examination (dissertation) committee shall consist of a minimum of five members, four of whom must be current members of the Graduate Faculty at Howard University, and at least one of whom shall be from outside the University and be of comparable stature (see: Article I, Section 4). Upon the recommendation of the Committee on Graduate Studies in the department where the degree is earned, the Dean of the Graduate School shall appoint members of the oral examination (dissertation) committee.
The process for the conduct of the final oral examination shall be as follows:
- The Committee on Graduate Studies in the major department shall request permission from the Graduate School to conduct an oral examination, adhering to the published deadlines. A copy of the approved candidacy form must accompany the request. Currency of courses as stipulated in Article VI, Section 2B must be established and affirmed in the memorandum to request the scheduling of an oral examination.
- The Committee on Graduate Studies in the department shall submit to the Dean a list of recommended examiners.
- The Dean or his/her designee shall appoint an examination committee and shall notify each member of the committee of the date, time, and place of the examination.
- The Dean and Associate/Assistant Deans of the Graduate School shall be ex-officio members of all oral examination (dissertation) committees.
The final oral examination shall be open to members of the faculty of the University and to other persons whom the candidate’s major department or the candidate may invite. Final approval of the dissertation in all aspects is the responsibility of the full committee acting on behalf of the Graduate School.
A candidate who fails the oral examination (dissertation defense) on the first try may sit for a second examination, provided that the second examination is not administered earlier than two months from the date of the first examination. Failure on the second examination will result in dismissal from the Graduate School. A student dismissed for this reason will not be readmitted to the Graduate School.
A department can recommend dismissal of a student who, after failing the dissertation oral defense the first time, does not resubmit an acceptable revision of the dissertation and present himself/herself for re-examination within a six-month period.