SECTION 10 - REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DOCTORAL DEGREE
Policy 1: General Statement
The doctoral degree is granted in recognition of (1) scholarly proficiency and (2) distinctive achievement in a specific field of an academic discipline. The first component is demonstrated by successful completion of advanced coursework (of both a didactic and an unstructured nature) and by adequate performance on the comprehensive examination. Traditionally, the student demonstrates the second component by independently performing original research, which is presented in the form of a dissertation, publicly defended before the university community. In certain doctoral programs, the dissertation may take the form of a major project undertaking, which, although not of a traditional research nature, presents the results of independent study.
The Graduate School also recognizes professional doctorates awarded in preparation for the autonomous practice of a profession. Professional doctorates are accredited programs of study designed to prepare students for the delivery of clinical services. Students in professional doctorate programs must demonstrate competence in clinical practice and scholarship but ate not required to conduct and defend original independent research. In lieu of a dissertation, students in programs designated as professional doctorates are required to demonstrate that they are capable of evaluating existing research, applying it to their professional practice, and expanding the body of knowledge on which their professional practice is based. This requirement is met by the design and conduct of a research or scholarly project submitted in writing and presented formally before the members of the program."
Immediately after a degree-seeking student enters the UAB Graduate School, a member of the faculty of the graduate program to which the student has been admitted should be assigned to serve as the student's advisor. This assignment may be a temporary arrangement. The student and the advisor should confer about the initial courses and any special work to be taken on the basis of the student's previous experience and the requirements of the graduate program.
As soon as possible, a graduate study committee should be formed to guide the student in a program of courses, seminars, and independent study, designed to meet the student's needs and satisfy program and Graduate School requirements. This committee should consist of at least five graduate faculty members, two of whom should be from outside the student's graduate specialization and each of whom should be able to bring some relevant insight and expertise to guide the student. Recommendations for graduate study committee membership are submitted by the advisor and the student to the program director, who subsequently submits these recommendations to the Graduate School Dean. Graduate study committee appointments are made by the Graduate School Dean, who is an ex officio member of all graduate study committees.
The Graduate School has minimum course credit requirements for students in doctoral programs. Program requirements for course work may exceed the Graduate School minimums. Graduate School minimum requirements are as follows:
1. If entering with a baccalaureate degree:
a. Completion of 48 credit hours of course work prior to candidacy
b. Up to 16 credits of the 48 can be as non-dissertation research credits
c. Up to 10 credits can be as lab rotation, seminar, or directed study credits
d. Doctoral students must satisfy one of the following: Must complete at least two semesters in candidacy and accumulate at least 24 semester credit hours in 799 dissertation research OR must complete at least two semesters as a student in candidacy and have accummulated at least 12 semester credit hours in other appropriate reesarch-based coursework, which has been approved by the graduate student's program. Courses which have been previously applied toward meeting the requirements of another degree are not eligible to satisfy the research credit requirement. The student's graduate department/program should provide a course planning curriculum worksheet detailing the courses taken which are intended to be used toward meeting degree requirements along with the application for degree.
2. If entering with a previous Masters degree appropriate to the doctoral degree field (Also applies to previously earned M.S., D.V.M., D.M.D., D.D.S., etc.):
a. Completion of 27 credit hours of course work prior to candidacy
b. Up to 6 credits of the 27 can be as non-dissertation research credits
c. Up to 6 credits can be as lab rotation, seminar, or directed study credits
d. Must complete at least two semesters in candidacy and accumulate at least 24 semester credit hours in 799 dissertation research. OR must complete at least two semesters as a student in candidacy and have accummulated at least 12 semester credit hours in other appropriate reesarch-based coursework, which has been approved by the graduate student's program. Courses which have been previously applied toward meeting the requirements of another degree are not eligible to satisfy the research credit requirement. The student's graduate department/program should provide a course planning curriculum worksheet detailing the courses taken which are intended to be used toward meeting degree requirements along with the application for degree.
Up to 12 credits of course work that have not been applied toward meeting the requirements for an earned degree taken at UAB or other institutions may be used to satisfy these course credit requirements upon approval of the graduate program director and the Graduate School Dean.
The Graduate School requires only 30 semester credit hours for a master's degree. Any credit hours earned at UAB beyond 30 semester credit hours may be applied toward a doctoral degree at UAB.
Because the doctoral degree is earned on the basis of satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examination and the dissertation, the Graduate School does not specify any minimum number of courses or semester hours that must be completed for award of the degree. Courses taken at other institutions and in other degree programs may be used to satisfy program requirements upon approval of the graduate study committee and the graduate program director. Doctoral students are expected to be registered for credit each regular term.
The usual minimal period in which the doctoral degree can be earned is three academic years of full-time study, or longer if the student has periods of part-time enrollment. The nature of doctoral study requires the closest contact between the student and the faculty of the graduate program, and the individual investigation or other special work leading to the dissertation must be done directly under the guidance and supervision of a full member of the UAB graduate faculty. Therefore, Ph.D. students should be in residence (enrolled) for three full semesters each year including summers during a three year period or collectively a minimum of nine semesters if the student has to take a leave or stop out during the course of their Ph.D. education.
In consultation with the faculty, the director of each graduate program will specify any additional requirements, such as a reading knowledge of a foreign language or a working knowledge of statistics, which are considered essential to mastery of the academic discipline. Such requirements become conditions for the completion of the degree.
The scholarly proficiency of a doctoral student in the chosen field of study must be evaluated by comprehensive examination. The conduct of these examinations is the responsibility of the graduate program in which the student is enrolled and may consist of individual examinations in several appropriate areas or of a single combined examination. Where both written and oral examinations are given, the written should precede the oral, so that there is an opportunity for the student to clarify any misunderstanding of the written questions.
Students must be registered for at least three semester hours of graduate work during the term in which the comprehensive examination is taken.
When the student has passed the comprehensive examination, has satisfied any program requirements for foreign language proficiency or special tool of research, and has presented to the graduate study committee an acceptable proposal for research or special study, the committee will recommend to the Graduate School Dean that the student be admitted to candidacy. A student must be in good academic standing to be admitted to candidacy. Admission to candidacy must take place at least two regular terms before the expected completion of the doctoral program.
Admission to candidacy is an important step forward in the student's pursuit of the doctorate. By this step, the graduate committee indicates its confidence that the student is capable of completing the proposed research project and the doctoral program. Since the committee meeting at which candidacy is discussed is so important, it should be scheduled through the Graduate School to allow the dean to attend.
Each candidate for a doctoral degree must signify the intention to complete the requirements by a particular graduation date by submitting a completed Application for Degree Form. Because this form is used to check requirements, order the diploma, and enter the student on the commencement program, it must be received in the Graduate School Records Office no later than 3 weeks into the expected semester of graduation. Students must be registered for at least 3 semester hours of graduate work in the semester they plan to graduate.
The results of the candidate's individual inquiry must be presented in a written dissertation comprising a genuine contribution to knowledge in the particular academic field. The document should also demonstrate the candidate's acquaintance with the literature of the field and the proper selection and execution of research methodology.
Signatures of committee members and program directors on approval forms indicate their assurance that they have examined the document and have found that it is of professional quality, technical correctness, and professional competency, and that the document conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation. The Graduate School is responsible for ensuring that the final version of the dissertation meets the physical standards required of a permanent, published document and for adherence to the requirements statedin the UAB Format Manual (availbe online at http://www.uab.edu/graduate/theses_dissertation/FormatManual.pdf).
No later than 2 weeks (10 business days) following the public defense, the completed, final version of the committee-approved dissertation, as a single PDF, must be submitted for final review. There is a $65 charge, paid online at the time of submission. This fee covers perpetual archiving and maintenance of the dissertation in the ProQuest/UMI database. Also subnitted online are the UAB Publication Agreement and the Survey of Earned Doctorates. One copy of the signed approval form is submitted to the Graduate School office. additional information concerning completing graduation requirements and the dissertaiton submission and publication process is available online at http://main.uab.edu/Sites/gradschool/students/current/theses/.
The final examination should take the form of a presentation and defense of the dissertation, followed by an examination of the candidate's comprehensive knowledge of the field. This examination must be scheduled through the Graduate School to allow attendance of the dean. The meeting must be open to all interested parties, should be publicized on the UAB campus and must take place at least 30 days before the expected date of graduation. Candidates must be registered for at least three semester hours of graduate work during the term in which the final examination is taken.
If in the opinion of more than one member of the dissertation committee, the student has failed the final, oral examination, there is no consensus to pass. The chair of the committee shall advise the student that the dissertation fails to meet the requirements of the Graduate School. The chair shall notify the student in writing about the reason(s) for failure. If the students resubmits or submits a new dissertation for consideration by the Graduate School at least two members of the new examining committee shall be drawn from the original committee. If the modified or new dissertation fails to meet the requirements of the Graduate School, the student shall be dismissed from the Graduate School.
Students who fail to submit a completed dissertation within one quarter following the final examination will be charged a degree completion fee each quarter. After two quarters students are required to schedule another meeting of the supervisory committee. Exceptions to the policy must be approved in advance of the deadline by the program director or graduate dean.
The candidate will be recommended for the doctoral degree to the Graduate School Dean by the graduate study committee and the graduate program director. This recommendation must be received no later than 20 days before the end of the term in which the candidate is expected to complete all degree requirements. Candidates must be in good academic standing to graduate, with no temporary grades (I or N) for courses required for degree on their transcripts.
Upon approval by the Graduate School Dean and payment of any outstanding financial obligations to the university, the student will receive the degree from the president of the university.