General PhD Requirements

All students must meet the minimum degree requirements of the Graduate School in addition to the requirements of their specific department. For more information, see the specific area of study.


Coursework requirements are determined by dissertator status. Non-Dissertator coursework occurs before a student completes 32 credits (two years) of coursework in the program and prior to sitting for their preliminary examination.

Dissertator coursework occurs after a student completes all major and minor coursework and successfully completes the preliminary examination in the format required by the major department.


Coursework consists of departmental PhD courses and seminars and any additional coursework needed to develop a competency for scholarly research. Refer to specific areas of study for additional requirements.

Non-Dissertators must:

  • Carry a minimum of eight credits per semester.
  • Maintain a 3.2 minimum GPA (some departments have a higher requirement)*.
  • Complete a minor program consisting of at least 10 credits.

* The Graduate School may impose probationary status on a student who falls below a 3.0 GPA.


Dissertators must:

  • Register for three credits of dissertation research each semester.
  • Work on the completion of the dissertation.
  • Collaborate with departmental faculty on papers and presentations.

Preliminary Exam

Students in all areas of study must pass a preliminary exam upon completion of their major and minor coursework requirements, usually administered at the end of the second year of study. While each department conducts preliminary exams in its own unique way, all students must pass the preliminary exam to successfully progress in the program.

Information on specific requirements and expectations are available from your advisor.

Teaching Requirements

Teaching will be an integral part of your training to become a tenure-track university professor. Teaching expectations and responsibilities vary by academic department. Each doctoral student will serve as the professor in charge for at least one course during their time in the program.

Most students also work as teaching assistants. Duties will vary, and might include helping a faculty member with grading and class preparation, leading discussion sections, and holding office hours to support undergraduate students.

Dissertation Defense

To successfully complete the program and obtain the degree, each doctoral candidate must successfully defend the dissertation to the dissertation committee and submit the dissertation to the Graduate School for review and archiving.

Dissertators must defend and deposit their dissertation no more than five years from the date of the preliminary examination.