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Graduation Requirements

All thesis and dissertation must be submitted electionically. Please refer to the link at PROQUEST and for further information click here.

Credit Requirements

The completion of a course of study beyond the bachelor's degree shall cover a minimum of six semesters of full-time residence and graduate study in courses (at least 9 credits per semester) yielding 72 graduate credits (inclusive of dissertation) or the equivalent in such courses if extended over a longer period.

At least four semesters of residence and full-time study (at least 9 credits per semester) or the equivalent, shall be in the Graduate School, Howard University. Two of these four semesters of residence and full-time study, or the equivalent, shall be consecutive. A minimum of 12 credits of work toward the degree shall be pursued after admission to candidacy.

Grade Requirements

A student with no previous graduate work is subject to the academic requirements of the master's program until that student has earned the first 30 credits. A cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (B) is required for graduation. A department will recommend courses in which grades of B or better will be required. A student who falls below the grade point average of 3.00 will be warned and informed that the student's quality point index must be raised to 3.00 by the end of the student's next two terms in residence. If the student fails to do this, he or she will be dropped from the Graduate School.

Qualifying Examination

There are two types of qualifying examinations. The first type is a comprehensive examination which covers all or the major portion of the student's program and is administered and supervised by the department in which the degree is sought. Students are required to pass a comprehensive examination. The examination will be given only once each semester. Any student who fails the examination for a second time will not be allowed to continue study in the Graduate School. The second type is a screening examination which encompasses the early portion of the student's program and establishes that the student is of doctoral quality and capable of doing research at this level. Departments may require both a comprehensive examination and a screening examination or a comprehensive examination only.

The screening examination may be written or oral and must be administered during or as soon as possible after completion of the first two semesters in residence. Where screening examinations are not required, departments have the responsibility of informing students at the end of their first year of study of their strengths and weaknesses and the likelihood of their successful completion of the requirements for the doctorate.

In departments that require both a screening examination and a comprehensive examination, passing the comprehensive examination is a requirement for admission to candidacy.


The candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy is required to present a dissertation which is the result of significant and sustained research in the student's major field. The student must demonstrate an ability to organize and present effectively the findings and results of his research. When completed, the research is expected to make a contribution to knowledge.

Acceptance of the dissertation will be contingent upon a critical examination by a committee of at least three readers approved by the dean of the Graduate School, the recommendation of the department in which the student is specializing, and the approval of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School.

Students seeking the Ph.D. degree are required to submit to the Graduate School three copies of the dissertation for distribution as follows: a copy for the University Library, a copy for the student's department, and a personal copy for the student. 

As long as a student is using the University's facilities, or is conferring in person with his/her dissertation adviser, the student must continue to enroll in a dissertation course. Such a student shall register as an auditor if the maximum number of hours permitted for the dissertation courses have been accumulated. A student is advised to consult with the departmental chairman or the director of graduate studies for specific information regarding credit hours for the dissertation course. Incomplete (I) grades assigned dissertation courses shall be removed after the final oral examination.

Final Examinations

A candidate for the master's degree is required to take a final examination which is the final test of fitness for the degree. This examination is administered by the graduate faculty of the department in which the student is enrolled. It may consist of a comprehensive test in the courses taken by the student in fulfillment of the work required for the degree, or it may be a test of the student's grasp of the techniques of research in the major field as evidenced by an oral examination on the thesis.

Any candidate who fails the first examination may be allowed a second examination, provided that it does not come earlier than two months from the date of the previous examination and provided, further, that the application for the second examination bears the approval of the department in which the student is enrolled. Failure on the second examination is final. Additional details about the procedures and the process involved in administering the final oral examination of the master's thesis and the submission of this document are disseminated by the Office of Educational Affairs of the Graduate School.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to graduate study is not tantamount to admission to candidacy for a graduate degree. A student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree by vote of the Graduate Faculty.

A student can be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree if that student has:

  • secured an admission to candidacy form from the Office of the Dean for completion by a departmental representative;
  • submitted a list of graduate courses completed, being taken, and yet to be pursued in the student's chosen field of graduate study;
  • completed the number of credits in graduate courses specified by the department in which the student is enrolled;
  • passed the qualifying examination administered by the department in which the student is specializing;
  • satisfactorily demonstrated proficiency in expository writing to the Office of Educational Affairs;
  • passed the foreign language examination or fulfilled an approved substitute (where applicable);
  • received the recommendation of the student's major department;
  • secured the approval of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School.

The student's research/dissertation proposal along with the application for candidacy must be submitted to the Office of the Associate Dean for Educational Affairs. Individual departments may elect to require the student's research proposal to be submitted at some specified time prior to his/her application for candidacy. However, the proposal should bear the signatures of approval of the student's major adviser and by the departmental committee members appointed to supervise the studies upon which the student's dissertation will be based. The proposal also should include an outline of the projected research; a description of the nature, scope, and significance of the problem chosen for investigation; a sketch of the methodology to be used in the study; and a tentative dissertation topic.

Candidacy for the Ph.D. degree shall be valid for no more than five (5) calendar years. Any student whose candidacy has expired may apply for readmission to the Executive Committee of the Graduate Committee of the Graduate School.

The responsibility for fulfilling these requirements on time is that of the student.