Academic Policies: Doctoral Degrees

Graduate School Requirements Applicable to all Doctoral Degrees

Credit Requirements

The Graduate School requires that every student seeking the Ph.D. or D.M.A. satisfactorily complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of dissertation credits (899); a student seeking an Ed.D. must satisfactorily complete a minimum of six semester hours of dissertation credits (899). The number of research and other credit hours required in the program varies with the degree and program in question.

Advancement to Candidacy

Preliminary examinations, or such other substantial tests as the graduate programs may elect, are prerequisites for advancement to candidacy. A student must be admitted to candidacy for the doctorate within five years after admission to the doctoral program and at least six months before the date on which the degree will be conferred. It is the responsibility of the student to submit an application for admission to candidacy when all the requirements for candidacy have been fulfilled. Applications for admission to candidacy are made in duplicate by the student and submitted to the graduate program for further action and transmission to the Graduate School . Application forms may be obtained at the Graduate School, Room 2123, Lee Building, or on the web. Paperwork must be received by the Graduate School prior to the 25th of the month in order for the advancement to become effective the first day of the following month.

Doctoral candidates are automatically registered for six (6) credits of Doctoral Dissertation Research (899), for which they pay the flat candidacy tuition.

Research Assurances

Human Subject Research

Everyone at the University of Maryland who is conducting research that involves human subjects must obtain approval in advance from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB is charged with approving the initiation of research involving human subjects and conducts periodic reviews of that research to ensure that all projects comply with Federal regulations. These regulations are strict, and the Graduate School urges all graduate students to consult with the IRB before beginning any research involving living subjects. For application forms and guidelines on such issues as research involving minors or prisoners, surveys, and the use of audio taping, videotaping, digital recordings, and photographs, please see the Institutional Review Board's website ( ).

Other Research

If the dissertation research involves the use of vertebrate animals, animal use protocols must be approved in advance by the Animal Care and Use Committee. If the dissertation research involves hazardous materials, either biological or chemical, or recombinant RNA/DNA, the research must be approved by the appropriate University committee. These research assurances must be approved prior to the initiation of any dissertation-related research, and the approvals must be provided to the Graduate School at the time the student submits the Nomination of Examining Committee form.

The Doctoral Dissertation and Examination

A dissertation is required of all candidates for a doctoral degree. The Graduate School has established the following procedures for the conduct of the doctoral dissertation examination.

Open Dissertation Examination

The dissertation examination will consist of two parts:

Procedures for the Oral Dissertation Examination

•  Passage or failure. The student passes if one member refuses to sign the Report, but the other members of the Dissertation Examining Committee agree to sign, before or after the approval of recommended changes. Two or more negative votes constitute a failure of the candidate to meet the dissertation requirement. In cases of failure, the Dissertation Examining Committee must specify in detail and in writing the nature of the deficiencies in the dissertation and/or the oral performance that led to failure. This statement is to be submitted to the program's Graduate Director, the Dean of the Graduate School, and the student. A second examination may be permitted if the student will be in good standing at the time of the proposed second examination. A second examination requires the approval of the program's Graduate Director and the Dean of the Graduate School . If the student fails this second examination, or if a second examination is not permitted, the student's admission to the graduate program is terminated.

Submission and Publication of the Dissertation

Dissertations are to be submitted to the Graduate School in electronic format after final approval of the dissertation by the Dissertation Examining Committee. See the University of Maryland Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) website at or the University of Maryland Thesis and Dissertation Style Guide ( for the details of this process.

Dissertations submitted to the University through the ETD process will also be deposited in the UM Library's online electronic archive, DRUM (Digital Repository at the University of Maryland, available at ). This is a free public archive of academic work by University faculty and graduate students. The submission of the thesis to the University in fulfillment of degree requirements grants the University the one-time, non-exclusive right to publish the document on DRUM. The students' and University's rights regarding dissertation and thesis submission and publication are outlined below.

The University's Rights

The University of Maryland retains non-exclusive distribution, reproduction, and archival rights to doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate Faculty in fulfillment of requirements for a graduate degree. Such rights entitle the University of Maryland to reproduce, archive, and distribute dissertations, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, as it sees fit. Distribution is subject to a release date stipulated by the student and approved by the University.

The Student's Rights and Responsibilities

As the owner of copyright in the thesis or dissertation, students have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, make derivative works based on, publicly perform and display their work, and to authorize others to exercise some or all of those rights. As a condition of graduation, each student's thesis or dissertation must be published. When the student submits his or her work to the Graduate School, they will be given several options regarding access to their document via ProQuest's Digital Dissertations and DRUM, the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland. The student's options include:

Inclusion of One's Own Previously Published Materials in a Dissertation

A graduate student may, upon the recommendation of the dissertation director, and with the endorsement of the home graduate program's Graduate Director, include his or her own published works as part of the final dissertation. Appropriate citations within the dissertation, including where the work was previously published, are required. All such materials must be produced in standard dissertation format .

It is recognized that a graduate student may co-author work with faculty members and colleagues that should be included in a dissertation. In such an event, a letter should be sent to the Dean of the Graduate School certifying that the student's examining committee has determined that the student made a substantial contribution to that work. This letter should also note that inclusion of the work has the approval of the dissertation advisor and the program chair or Graduate Director. The letter should be included with the dissertation at the time of submission.  The format of such inclusions must conform to the standard dissertation format. A foreword to the dissertation, as approved by the Dissertation Committee, must state that the student made substantial contributions to the relevant aspects of the jointly authored work included in the dissertation.

Inclusion of Copyrighted Materials in a Dissertation

Students are responsible for ensuring that their thesis or dissertation complies with copyright law. Copyright law gives the owner of a work exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the work publicly and to modify or adapt the work and the exclusive right to grant others permission to exercise any of those rights in the work, subject to certain exceptions . Students are responsible for determining if their use of another's work requires his or her permission or falls within one of the exceptions. 

Students should consider the following questions and consult the following documents for guidance on complying with copyright law:

Did the work ever qualify for copyright protection?

Has copyright in the work expired?

Is the proposed use a "fair use"?

Additional Requirements

In addition to those requirements specified above, each graduate program may impose additional requirements. For these requirements, consult the descriptions that appear under the graduate program listings or the special publications that can be obtained from the graduate programs or colleges.

Graduate School Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree is granted only upon sufficient evidence of high attainment in scholarship and the ability to engage in independent research. It is not awarded for the completion of course and seminar requirements no matter how successfully completed.

Foreign Language Requirement

Some graduate programs have a foreign language requirement for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The student should inquire in the graduate program about this requirement. Students must satisfy the graduate program requirement before they can be admitted to candidacy for the doctorate.

Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education

The Ed.D. programs in the College of Education are cohort-based, admitting experienced educational practitioners to emphasize applied research and evaluation, and advanced practice. A minimum of 6-credits of 899 are required for the culminating project. Consult the Graduate Studies Office in the College of Education and the individual graduate program for additional details.

Requirements for Other Doctoral Degrees

The particular requirements for the degrees of Doctor of Musical Arts and Doctor of Audiology are given under the corresponding program description. Contact the individual graduate programs with specific questions.

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