Advancement to Candidacy

Every doctoral student must pass comprehensive exams (or equivalent requirements as defined by each individual graduate program) in order to advance to candidacy.

Advancing to candidacy signifies that the student has completed their coursework, as well as other requirements as defined by their graduate program, and is ready to move forward to the dissertation phase.


Process and Timing

The requirements for advancing to candidacy in a particular graduate program should be outlined in the graduate handbook or on the website for each graduate program. Additionally, the procedures for scheduling and approving exams or other requirements are specific to each program.

Students should contact the graduate coordinator or director of graduate studies in their department with any questions about departmental requirements.

Once a student has met the departmental requirements to advance to candidacy, the graduate coordinator for that program will record the completion of each requirement in GradWeb.

Once the advancement has been approved by the student’s advisor and the director of graduate studies and/or department head, the request is reviewed and approved by the Graduate School and the student will receive an email confirming that they are officially advanced to candidacy.


Dissertation Credits

Students may only enroll in dissertation credits (603) after advancement to candidacy. At least 18 dissertation credits are required in order to graduate with a doctoral degree (except for the DMA in music performance – refer to the School of Music and Dance website for details).


Dissertation Committee

Only after a student advances to candidacy can the department submit the names of the student’s dissertation committee to the Graduate School. Each department or program determines its own internal dissertation committee approval procedures. After the dissertation committee is approved by the department, the graduate coordinator submits the committee recommendation in GradWeb. Once the Graduate School has reviewed and approved the committee, the student and department will receive an email confirming that the committee has been approved by the Graduate School.

Departmental policies for membership of doctoral committees should be guided by Graduate School policy, but may be more restrictive than Graduate School policy. Petitions for exceptions to Graduate School committee policies may be submitted using the general petition form.

For PhD and DEd students, the dissertation committee must be on file with the Graduate School for at least 6 months prior to the date of the final oral defense. DMA students are not required to meet this 6-month requirement, but must be enrolled for at least two terms after advancing to candidacy.


Eligibility for GE Level III

Graduate employees become eligible for promotion to level III the term after they are officially advanced to candidacy.

Promotion is not automatic; upon receipt of the email confirming advancement to candidacy, the student should contact their hiring unit to request promotion to level III.