Chapter 3: The Doctoral Degree
Admission and General Requirements
The Supervisory Committee
The Program of Study
Inactive Status and Probation
Dismissal and Reinstatement
Foreign Language Requirement
To gain admission to a doctoral program, the student must be approved for admission both by the graduate faculty of the department or interdepartmental program and by the Graduate School.
A Ph.D. is a research-based degree and is awarded to candidates who have demonstrated unique ability as scholars and researchers as well as proficiency in communication. The degree also certifies that the candidate has displayed familiarity and understanding of the subject matter in the discipline and possesses the ability to make original contributions to knowledge.
The Ph.D. requires at least three years of full-time study beyond the bachelor's degree, equivalent to at least 90 semester hours of course work and research credits. The Ed.D. requires a minimum of 90 hours beyond the baccalaureate, including course work and research credits. Both degrees require a dissertation. Students who hold a master's degree or a professional doctoral degree may request transfer of up to 30 hours of that degree toward either a doctoral degree (See section 3.D.5 and 3.D.6 below). The regulations governing supervisory and examining committees, preliminary and final examinations, and dissertations are the same for both degrees.
A graduate student who is recommended to change from master’s to a doctoral program may count up to 8 hours of thesis research toward the total number of hours required for the doctoral degree if recommended by the supervisory committee.
A Ph.D. is awarded to candidates who have demonstrated unique ability as scholars and researchers as well as proficiency in communication. The degree also certifies that the candidate has displayed familiarity and understanding of the subject matter in the discipline and possesses the ability to make original contributions to knowledge.
Upon admission to a doctoral program, the student confers with the head of the academic program and selects an advisor or major professor pro tem from among the graduate faculty who are certified to direct dissertations and who are willing to assume the responsibility. Upon the recommendation of the head of the academic program, the Dean of the Graduate School then appoints a supervisory committee consisting of the major professor, who chairs the committee, and at least three other members of the graduate faculty**. On doctoral committees having co-major professors, at least one must be certified to direct dissertations. One member of the supervisory committee must be a graduate faculty member from outside the major professor's department. In addition to the members recommended, the Dean of the Graduate School may appoint other members to the supervisory committee from the graduate faculty. All members of a student's supervisory committee participate as peers and have the responsibility for planning the program of study, advising the student, administering the preliminary and final examinations, ensuring that University regulations and program requirements are met, and ensuring that the student's doctoral program is of high quality.
The supervisory committee also is responsible for ensuring that no conflicts of interest exist. Conflicts of interest to be avoided include those that may arise from personal or professional relationships between committee members, committee members and the student, with funding sources, and with any other stakeholders.
Every doctoral student must file with the Graduate School a Program of Study, a formal list of the courses the student intends to take to fulfill the requirements of the degree. The program of study should consist solely of courses directly related to the doctorate. Full-time students must file their programs before the end of their second semester of graduate study, and part-time students must do so upon the completion of 9 credit hours. The student should prepare the program of study in consultation with the supervisory committee, all members of which must indicate their approval by signing the Program of Study form provided by the Graduate School. The head of the academic unit must then endorse the Program of Study and forward it to the Dean of the Graduate School, whose approval must be received within the first two semesters of graduate work. Subsequent changes in the program of study require approval of all members of the supervisory committee, and if changes are made, a Program/Committee Change form should be submitted to the Graduate School before graduation. General guidelines for preparing a program of study posted on the Graduate School website should be followed when preparing a program of study.
Graduate work leading to the doctoral degree demands a high degree of intellectual achievement. It necessarily depends on extensive prior preparation and involves the development of understanding and knowledge at the most advanced levels. Programs of study are therefore expected to reflect in the course selection an intensive specialization extending to the limits of knowledge in one's field. Credits that were earned more than 10 years prior to the date of final examination may not be used to satisfy degree requirements. With the support of their faculty advisor, students may petition the Graduate School to have expired credits examined for possible revalidation.
D.1 Course Levels
Doctoral students should earn a significant majority of their course work credit hours that are required by their programs of study in courses numbered 800 or higher. Although supervisory committees have considerable latitude in providing an appropriate program of study for their students, they are encouraged to follow these guidelines:
a. Of the 24 to 30 hours of course work credit hours beyond the master's degree normally required by the supervisory committee, 15 credit hours should be at the 800-level or above, in addition to doctoral research credit hours (see Chapter 3.A).
b. For course work beyond the master's degree, no more than 6 credit hours of 500-level courses are permitted in a doctoral program. No 500-level course taken in the student's major field of study, e.g., Department, may appear in the program of study.
c. For students who bypass the master's degree, the program of study must include at least 15 credit hours at the 800-level or above, in addition to doctoral research credit hours. No more than 12 credit hours of 500 level courses are permitted in a doctoral program. No 500-level course taken in the student's major field of study, e.g., Department, may appear in the program of study.
D.2 Problems Courses
Not more than 6 hours of problems or other individualized courses should ordinarily appear on the program of study for the doctoral program.
D.3 Short Courses and Workshops
A student enrolled in a short course or workshop during the summer session may also take regularly scheduled courses but must be able to attend all sessions of both. Enrollment in a short course or workshop does not affect enrollment in research or problems. In no case may a student enroll for more than nine credit hours during the summer session.
D.4 S Courses
Departments may choose to offer certain courses or course sections that are primarily intended to teach or provide practice in skills and principles deemed important to a particular profession or discipline but that may not be applied to a doctoral degree program. Such courses or course sections are designated by the letter S.
D.5 Courses Applied Toward Two Degrees
With the exception of accelerated programs (See Chapter 2, Section K), no graduate student may use credit from the same course to meet the requirements for both an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree. A graduate student may earn a master's degree or a doctorate at Kansas State University after receiving the same degree, in the same or another field, at another institution. The degree sought at Kansas State University is subject to the same provisions for transfer of credit as a first degree.
a. For students concurrently enrolled in the DVM program and a Doctoral program, a maximum of 30 graduate credit hours from the College of Veterinary Medicine DVM curriculum may be applied to their Doctoral program of study.
b. For students who have not yet earned a bachelor's degree and are enrolled in the DVM program and a Doctoral program the Doctoral degree shall be awarded concurrently with the DVM.
c. Subject to the recommendation of the supervisory committee, doctoral students with professional doctorate degrees (DVM, MD, etc.) may include a maximum of 30 graduate credit hours from a professional doctorate degree in their 90-hour PhD program. As an earned degree, the transfer credit is not subject to the six-year time limit.
D.6 Transfer of Credit
a. General conditions: Kansas State University accepts toward a doctoral degree graduate credit from another institution only under the following general conditions:
(1) The other institution is accredited by the cognizant regional accrediting association to offer graduate degree programs appropriate to the level of the credit to be transferred;
(2) The credit is fully acceptable to the other institution in satisfaction of its own advanced degree requirements; and
(3) The credit is applicable to the student's program of study for an advanced degree at Kansas State University.
b. Master's degrees: Students who hold a master's degree may request transfer of up to 30 hours of that degree toward a doctoral degree. The number of hours accepted depends on the relevance of the course work to a doctoral degree. Students with a master's degree in an area different from that in which they intend to seek a doctoral degree may expect to transfer far fewer than the maximum 30 hours allowed.
c. Other credit: Students may also request to apply graduate credit earned at other accredited institutions toward a doctorate at Kansas State University under the following limitations:
(1) Students who have not earned a master's degree may ask to transfer up to 10 hours of master's or doctoral-level work taken elsewhere. A graduate program may request additional credit be transferred for students in their doctoral program. Graduate programs granted such an exemption to the normal transfer limit, will present evidence of quality of the students' programs of study during periodic program reviews.
(2) Students who have transferred credit from a master's degree (up to the maximum of 30 hours allowed) may normally ask to apply up to 10 more hours of transfer credit for doctoral level work taken at another accredited institution. These hours must represent credit earned beyond a master's degree, even when the master's program included more than 30 hours. A graduate program may request additional credit be transferred for students in their doctoral program. Graduate programs granted such an exemption to the normal transfer limit will present evidence of quality of the students’ programs of study during periodic program reviews.
If a new faculty member requests the transfer to Kansas State University of one of her/his graduate students from the institution they are both leaving, a minimum of 12 Kansas State University credits must be completed before the student can graduate with a doctoral degree from Kansas State University. The supervisory committee must validate the transfer student’s qualifications in two ways: 1.) verifying compliance with the standards established by the University Research Compliance Office and 2.) reviewing and recommending for transfer to Kansas State University any credits from the student’s previous university that will be applied to the student’s new program of study at Kansas State University.
(3) Courses with the grade of C or lower are not acceptable for transfer unless they already form part of the candidate's master's degree received at another college or university.
(4) Credits that were earned more than six years prior to the semester in which the program of study is approved cannot be transferred except as noted above.
D.7 Research Outside the Program
Research conducted outside an academic program cannot be accepted for credit as part of a program of study.
D.8 Off-Campus Research
Special difficulties arise in guiding graduate students when they are engaged in protracted off-campus research, whether that research is in the field, in the laboratory, or in the library. Therefore, supervisory committees must take adequate steps to ensure appropriate guidance. As a minimal requirement, the student must submit to the supervisory committee a well formulated research plan, including objectives and methodology, and the committee must review and approve the plan before the student departs for the research site and indicate approval on the program of study. In addition, the supervisory committee may require:
a. that the major professor and/or a competent local authority who can reliably guide the student provide continuing on-site supervision.
b. that the student provide the supervisory committee with frequent, periodic estimates of performance and progress. The committee may also require that these be authenticated by a competent local authority.
c. that the major professor carry out local inspections of the student's activities.
Regardless of the location at which the research is conducted, the final oral examination must be given on the Manhattan campus. When unusual circumstances arise in the guidance of off-campus students, supervisory committees should consult with the Dean of the Graduate School.
E.1 Graded Work
Graduate work is graded A, B, C, D, F, credit/no-credit, pass/fail, incomplete, or withdrawn. For graduate credit, the grade in a course must be C or higher. To remain in good standing, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
To be awarded a graduate degree, the student (a) must not be on probation (see Section F.2), (b) must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on graduate coursework and on coursework on the program of study, (c) must meet all the requirements of the Graduate School, the student's academic program area, and the student's supervisory committee, and (d) must be enrolled during the semester in which the degree requirements are completed.
E.2 Non-Graded Work (pass/fail, credit/no-credit)
At the discretion of the graduate faculty of the department or interdepartmental committee, seminars or colloquia in which letter grading conflicts with objectives may be offered on a credit/no-credit or pass/fail basis. Seminars and colloquia that are to be so offered must be listed with the Dean of the Graduate School.
All courses in the program of study, except dissertation research and seminars or colloquia that have been approved for credit/no-credit or pass/fail, must be taken for letter grades. Research for doctoral dissertations is graded credit/no-credit exclusively. Incompletes for research credit hours awarded while research is in progress are not subject to the incomplete policy for course work.
No more than 6 hours of credit/no-credit or pass/fail course work may appear on the program of study for a doctoral degree.
Apart from the program of study, courses may be taken credit/no-credit or pass/fail with the approval of the major professor and of the professor offering the course. These courses do not apply toward a degree.
E.3 Incomplete Policy
The grade of Incomplete (I) is given in regular courses (except for dissertations and directed research courses) upon request of the student for personal emergencies that are verifiable. The faculty member has the responsibility to provide written notification to the student of the work required to remove the incomplete. The student has the responsibility to take the initiative in completing the work and is expected to make up the I during the next semester (Fall or Spring) after receiving the grade (except for dissertations and directed research courses). If the student does not make up the I during the next semester after receiving it, a grade may be given by the faculty member without further consultation with the student.
If after the end of the next semester the I remains on the record, it will be designated as F (previously IX) for record keeping and will be computed in the student's GPA, weighted at 0 points per credit. A grade of NR will be treated in a like manner.
E.4 Retake Policy
If the student received less than 3.0 in a course, the student may retake the course with approval of the major professor and the supervisory committee. If the course is retaken by the direction of the major professor and the supervisory committee, the original grade is noted as retaken and removed from the grade point average. The retake grade will always be used in computing the grade point average regardless of whether it is higher or lower than the original grade. A student may retake a course with subsequent removal of the prior grade only once for each course and for a total of two courses in the program of study. An approved program of study must be on file in the Graduate School at the time the retake request is submitted. Retake requests must be made prior to enrolling in the course.
F.1 Inactive Status
After consultation with the student's department, a student not yet admitted to candidacy will be placed in inactive status under the following circumstances:
a. He or she is not enrolled for two consecutive years, and
b. He or she is in good academic standing.
Once in inactive status a student must reapply to (and be accepted into) a graduate program before being considered for re-entry by the Graduate School. In order to be allowed to resume graduate studies, the student must meet all requirements for entry in force at the time of the new application. Inactive students who seek to regain active status will not, however, be required to recreate materials submitted with their original applications and held in their files by the Graduate School.
If allowed to regain active status, the formerly inactive student will be subject to all requirements in force in his or her graduate program and in the Graduate School at the time the student returns to active status.
Students may be placed on probation as a condition of their admission to graduate programs, if warranted by their academic record (Chapter 1.C).
In addition, students who fail to make satisfactory progress in their graduate programs will be placed on probation. Either of the following conditions will warrant probation:
a. A grade point average lower than 3.0,
b. The recommendation of the major professor or student's committee that the student's progress is unsatisfactory.
F.3 Removal from Probation
Students on probation as a condition of admission will acquire good standing if they achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the first 9 credit hours of graduate level course work.
Students placed on probation for deficient grades will be restored to good standing if they achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. This must be achieved within 2 semesters for full-time students and within 12 credit hours for part-time students.
Students placed on probation after recommendation by the major professor or supervisory committee may be restored to good standing only following the notification by the major professor and supervisory committee that the students are making satisfactory progress.
A graduate student will be denied continued enrollment at Kansas State University for any of the following reasons:
a. Failure of a student admitted on probation to achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the first 9 credit hours of graduate level coursework, or failure of a student to meet other conditions specified in the admission letter.
b. Failure of a student placed on probation for deficient grades to achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 within 2 semesters for full-time students and within 12 credit hours for part-time students (see F.3).
c. Failure to meet published departmental or University requirements.
d. Failure to maintain satisfactory progress toward a graduate degree.
e. Failure in the preliminary examination (see Chapter 3.K) or the final examination (see Chapter 3.N).
f. Failure to acquire mastery of the methodology and content in a field sufficient to complete a successful thesis or dissertation.
g. Qualifying for placement on probation a second time, except when the first period of probation is a condition of admission (Chapter 1.C) or when the second period is a condition of reinstatement (section G.2).
h. A recommendation for suspension or expulsion by the Honor Council.
A student who has been denied continued enrollment may petition for reinstatement to the same program or for admission to a different one. The procedures for reinstatement are described in Appendix C Graduate Student Reinstatement Procedure.
Students whose petitions are granted are readmitted on probation as a condition of readmission. In such cases, the Readmission Committee usually stipulates enrollment in a specific number of hours or courses, as well as other conditions for probation. To regain regular status, the student who has been reinstated must satisfy conditions described in F.3 for removal from probation.
Any foreign language requirement in a doctoral program is determined by the graduate faculty in that program and they shall establish their own standards. The specific foreign languages for a doctoral candidate are determined by the supervisory committee. In all cases where a language is required, it is understood that foreign language refers to languages other than English and that the languages required have a significant body of literature relevant to the field.
Doctoral students must meet any foreign language requirements at least seven months prior to the final examination.
A student must be in good academic standing to take a preliminary examination. The required written preliminary examination may be supplemented by an oral examination as prescribed by the supervisory committee. These are designed to test the student's breadth and depth of knowledge in the proposed field of specialization, as well as the student's ability to explore problems on the boundaries of knowledge. Satisfactory performance in the examination is an indication that the student is prepared to perform independent work toward the doctoral degree and results in the student being classified as a doctoral candidate upon affirmative recommendation by the supervisory committee. The examination may be scheduled after the program of study is filed and at a time deemed appropriate by the supervisory committee. The preliminary examination must be completed at least 7 months before the final oral examination.
Once the supervisory committee and the student decide when the examination is to be taken, the student should notify the Graduate School one month before the scheduled date. A ballot is sent to the major professor by the Graduate School. Copies of the examination are filed with the academic unit and made available on request to any graduate faculty member for a period of two years from the date of examination. Students must enroll in at least one credit hour during any and all semesters in which they are actively engaged in the preliminary examination process.
The results of the preliminary examination are indicated on the ballot by the signatures of those members of the departmental or program examining committee responsible for administration and grading of the examination. The format of the examination and the structure of the examining committee may differ among doctoral programs, and in some programs, the examining committee will differ from the supervisory committee. Within one week following the completion and determination of the results of the preliminary examination, including those of any oral portion, the supervisory committee must sign the ballot indicating that the preliminary examination has been completed and recommending approval or disapproval of the student's admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The student is considered to have passed the examination and to be recommended to candidacy if at least three fourths of the supervisory committee voted to approve candidacy.
In case of failure of the first preliminary examination, the supervisory committee may approve a second examination with no more than one dissenting vote. A second examination can be taken no sooner than three months following the initial failure. Once the supervisory committee and the student decide when the second examination is to be taken, the student should notify the Graduate School one month before the scheduled date. The composition of the supervisory committee shall not be changed before a final decision is reached on admission to candidacy. A second failure constitutes denial of admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree in the field of study of the graduate program. As with the first examination, the signed ballot must be returned to the Graduate School within one week of the determination of the results of the examination.
A full-time doctoral student should normally complete the preliminary examination within three years of entry into the doctoral program, and, upon satisfactory completion of the examination, the student is automatically advanced to candidacy for the degree.
The period of candidacy may last up to five years from the end of the semester in which the preliminary examination was passed. If a student fails to complete both the dissertation and final oral examination within this period, the student will be dropped from candidacy. Any student whose candidacy has thus lapsed may regain the status of a doctoral candidate by successfully retaking the preliminary examination.
Loss of candidacy occurs if a student fails to maintain continuous enrollment in at least one credit hour from the completion of the preliminary examination until the Graduate School accepts the dissertation.
J.1 Continuous Enrollment
A student working for a doctorate must be enrolled at Kansas State University during the semester in which the preliminary examination is taken and in each subsequent semester until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is accepted by the Graduate School. Failure to enroll will result in loss of candidacy. To regain candidacy, the student must successfully petition the Readmission Committee of the Graduate School. Although doctoral candidates may make arrangements to enroll by mail, they should request permission to do so by writing to the Graduate School prior to the enrollment period.
J.2. Leave of Absence
If it is necessary to interrupt progress toward the degree after the preliminary examination has been passed, the student or major professor may petition for a leave of absence of up to 1 year. The petition must be submitted at least 1 month before the effective date of leave. Approval must be granted by the major professor, the department head or chairperson of an interdepartmental program, and the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean will establish the conditions of the leave. An extension of a leave of absence beyond one year may be granted by the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation of the student's supervisory committee.
A dissertation is required of all candidates for the award of a doctoral degree. Its purpose is to demonstrate the candidate's ability to conduct significant original research of a type appropriate to the academic discipline, to analyze the information obtained from the research, and to present the results in a form acceptable to the supervisory committee. A dissertation must be written in a form appropriate to the discipline. General guidelines about the format of a dissertation appear in Appendix B.
See Appendix R of the Kansas State University Handbook (http://www.k-state.edu/academicpersonnel/fhbook/fhxs-1.html) for a full description of University policies and associated institutional procedures for intellectual property.
The candidate must provide a copy of the dissertation to each member of the final examining committee (see below) at least ten working days before the final examination. Following a successful final examination and approval of the final form of the dissertation by the examining committee, the candidate shall submit an electronic dissertation to the Dean of the Graduate School by the required deadlines associated with the commencement at which the degree is to be conferred.
The supervisory committee takes on the role of the examining committee for the final examination. The major professor or a co-major professor, as the representative of the Graduate School, is responsible for conducting the final examination in an orderly manner, evaluating it as a test of the candidate's expertise, submitting the final examination ballot, and making other reports as appropriate or required. The major professor or a co-major professor is responsible for returning the signed ballot and evaluation form to the Graduate School immediately after the oral examination.
At least 3/4 of the supervisory committee must sign the ETDR ballot before the ETDR ballot can be processed and the dissertation can be submitted to K-REX and ProQuest.
The major professor is responsible for submitting the ETDR ballot to the Graduate School. By submitting the signed ETDR ballot, the major professor indicates that they have reviewed and approved the final PDF file for electronic submission.
The responsibilities of the examining committee are:
1. A copy of the dissertation that has been approved by the major professor or co-major professors is presented to each member of the supervisory committee at least 10 working days prior to the oral examination. At least 3/4 of the examining committee must agree that it is in acceptable form before the final examination may be scheduled. All members must sign their approval or disapproval. By signing, a faculty member indicates only that the form of the dissertation is acceptable for review and that a final examination may be scheduled. Signing does not imply that the content of the dissertation is satisfactory.
2. If during the 10 working days prior to the scheduled defense, one or more committee members have significant concerns regarding the content or quality of the dissertation, the faculty should consult with the major professor or co-major professors. The major professor should confer with the other members of the supervisory committee and determine whether the orals should be held as scheduled or delayed. The supervisory committee should meet during the scheduled time to provide specific feedback to the candidate regarding the necessary changes. The ballot must be returned to the Graduate School. Once the student has addressed the concerns and made the necessary changes in the dissertation, the orals can be rescheduled. The candidate will provide the supervisory committee with a copy of the dissertation and obtain their signatures on an Approval to Schedule Final Examination form. This form must be submitted to the Graduate School 10 working days prior to the scheduled oral examination.
3. After the dissertation is deemed in an acceptable form, an oral examination at which the candidate presents and defends the dissertation is scheduled. All members of the examining committee (or substitutes appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School) are expected to be present throughout the examination. At least 3/4 of the examining committee including substitutes appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School must approve the candidate's performance before they are deemed to have passed. A refusal to vote by any member of the examining committee shall be recorded as a negative vote. With the permission of at least 3/4 of the committee, a failed oral examination may be retaken but no sooner than three months from the date of the failure.
Normally the oral examination will be open to the public. All or part of the exam may be closed at the request of the major professor with only the committee, candidate and others approved by the major professor, attending the exam. Such a request with a justification for the examination not to be open, such as presentation of data on a pending patent or confidential materials based on existing contract, must be received by the Graduate School before the exam is scheduled and must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.
The final oral examination may be taken when the student has completed the program of study and satisfied all other program requirements. All Final examinations must be given on the Manhattan campus and scheduled at least two weeks in advance with the exception of doctoral students completing their degrees via distance or hybrid delivery. Preference is for the doctoral students completing online doctoral programs to complete their final examination on the Manhattan campus. However, arrangements can be made for the doctoral student and the supervisory committee to conduct the defense via video conference. The student must work with the major professor and graduate program director to arrange a physical location for the on-campus faculty members and the public to view the video dissertation presentation. Separate video conference meetings should be scheduled for the open defense and supervisory committee deliberations. The major professor or co-major professors and on-campus faculty members should participate in the same location. The major professor or a co-major professor will be responsible for obtaining signatures on the ballot from all committee members. Committee members should sign the ballot and return the scanned copy to the major professor or a co-major professor or provide their vote via email. The original ballot with committee members’ signatures and the scanned ballots or email message should be delivered to the Graduate School.
When the dissertation has been approved, the oral final examination has been passed, the final examination ballot has been submitted to the Graduate School, the ETDR ballot has been submitted to the Graduate School, the dissertation has been submitted to K-REX and ProQuest, and all other requirements have been met, the candidate is recommended by the Dean of the Graduate School to the Faculty Senate for approval to award the degree.
** Special restrictions apply to visiting, part-time, adjunct, or emeritus faculty and to graduate faculty associates. See Chapter 5, Section D.