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Minimum Semester Hours Required
At least 96 from the baccalaureate or at least 64 from the master’s degree; some degree programs require more.
Credit for Prior Master’s Degree
Doctoral candidates who have previously earned a master’s degree or its equivalent from UIC or another accredited institution may be granted 32 semester hours of credit toward the doctoral degree if approved by the program and the Graduate College at the time of admission. Degree equivalency from foreign institutions is determined by the Office of Admissions. The 32 hours are subtracted from the total hours required from the baccalaureate. The 32 hours are not included in the maximum allowed transfer credit limit. A petition is not required.
At least 48 semester hours beyond the master’s level or its equivalent must be taken at UIC. The formal course requirements for a master’s degree must be met within the 96 hours.
Only 400- and 500-level courses can be applied to the degree. Credit toward a graduate degree is only given for courses in which a student received a grade of A, B, C, CR, or S. Graduate programs may establish higher standards.
Doctoral candidates must be registered for credit the term when they take the preliminary exam. Doctoral students are not eligible for Zero-Hour registration in the term taking the preliminary exam. Students must also register each semester (excluding summer) after passing the preliminary examination and until successfully defending the dissertation. Students must register for the summer term if taking the preliminary exam or defending the dissertation during that term. Students who hold a fellowship, assistantship, or tuition and fee waiver must register each semester for the number of hours required by their award, even if they have completed all degree requirements except the dissertation. (See Course Loads, Financial Awards section).
Students who do not hold a fellowship, assistantship, or tuition and fee waiver, and who have completed all degree requirements except the dissertation, and who do not wish to register for additional coursework, must register for Zero Hours.
Not required by the Graduate College; may be required by the program.
Departmental Qualifying Examination:
Not required by the Graduate College; may be required by the program.
Preliminary Examination (Admission to Candidacy):
Purpose: The purpose of the Preliminary Examination is to determine the candidate’s readiness to undertake dissertation research, and passing it constitutes formal Admission to Candidacy. The examination serves as the last major step toward the Ph.D. degree except for the completion and defense of the dissertation. The examination provides the student with timely feedback of the faculty’s views of his/her potential for completing the Ph.D. Program. The preliminary examination is distinct from the oral defense of the dissertation project.
The preliminary examination is generally administered during or near the end of the time the student has completed most, though not necessarily all, of the coursework, but has not made a major investment of time and effort towards the dissertation research project. A minimum of one year has to elapse before the defense of the dissertation after passing the preliminary examination. Only students in good academic standing are permitted to take the examination.
The committee for the preliminary examination is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College upon the recommendation of the department or program The committee consists of at least five (5) members, of whom at least three (3) are UIC Graduate Faculty with full membership, and two (2) of whom must be tenured. The chair of the Committee must be a full member of the UIC Graduate Faculty.
Students must be registered the term in which the Preliminary Examination is taken, even if the exam will occur in the Summer term. Once the Preliminary Examination is passed, students must maintain registration through the term of successful defense, excluding Summer terms, unless the defense will occur during a Summer term. If the defense occurs during the first official ten days of the term (five days in Summer), the student does not have to register if the student was registered the previous term.
Each member of the examining committee assigns a grade of “pass” or “fail”. A candidate cannot be passed with more than one “fail” vote. The committee may require that specific conditions be met before the “pass” recommendation becomes effective. On the recommendation of the committee, the head or chair may permit a second examination. A third examination is not permitted.
The Dean of the Graduate College appoints the committee upon receipt of the Committee Recommendation Form three (3) weeks prior to the preliminary examination. The results of the examination must be submitted to the Graduate College within two (2) weeks of the completion of the exam. The Examination Report must be signed by all members of the Committee. Once the student has passed the examination, the Dean of the Graduate College will notify the student that s/he has been admitted to candidacy.
Students who do not complete the degree requirements within five (5) years of passing the preliminary examination must retake the examination; programs may specify a shorter time period. Combined programs leading to two degrees may require additional study beyond the period normally involved for completing requirements for the PhD degree; and may require an extension of the 5 year rule.
The format of the dissertation is specified in the booklet, Thesis Manual, available in the Graduate College Office, 606 University Hall. Students should have a draft of their dissertation checked in their department prior to the term they plan to graduate. Programs are responsible for checking the format, and adhering to the guidelines. Students must deposit two copies of their defended and departmentally-approved dissertation to the Graduate College by the deadline for that term. An abstract (350 words maximum) with its own title page must be submitted with the final copy.
Prior Publication of Research Findings:
Candidates engaged in thesis research may find it desirable or expedient to publish, prior to the conferring of the degree, certain findings that later will be incorporated in the dissertation. In such cases, appropriate acknowledgment of the earlier publication should be included in the dissertation. The Graduate College encourages such publication, but the dissertation may not be published in its entirety before all degree requirements, including the defense of the dissertation, have been completed.
The defense of the dissertation is administered after the student has completed all graduation requirements. Only students in good academic standing are permitted to defend their dissertation.
All candidates for the PhD degree must have an advisor who is a member of the UIC graduate faculty. The advisor is considered the primary reader of the dissertation. The defense must be open to the academic community of the university and be publicly announced one week prior to its occurrence.
The dissertation committee is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College on the recommendation of the student’s department or program. The defense committee consists of at least five persons, of whom one must be from outside their program. The chair of the committee must be a full member of the UIC graduate faculty. At least two members of the committee must be tenured faculty at UIC; at least one must be from outside the degree-granting program, which may include graduate faculty from other UIC departments or colleges. The outside member can also be from outside the university, in which case the member must demonstrate equivalent academic standards; the members’ curriculum vitae must accompany the Committee Recommendation Form. A Committee Recommendation Form must be submitted to the Graduate College three weeks prior to the dissertation defense. The committee vote is “pass” or “fail.” A candidate cannot be passed if more than one vote of “fail” is reported. The Department Head or Director of Graduate Studies signature is required on the Committee Recommendation Form before a student is considered to have met the requirements of the dissertation.
Students must be continuously registered from the term in which the Preliminary Examination is taken through the term of a successful defense (not graduation), excluding Summer terms, unless the defense will occur during a Summer term. If the defense occurs during the first official ten days of the term (five days in Summer), the student does not have to register if the student was registered the previous term.
Two final, approved and defended copies of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate College no later than the Graduate College deadline for that term. PhD candidates who successfully defend their dissertation and submit the final dissertation copy to the Graduate College after the deadline will graduate in the next term.
Following the final examination and acceptance of the thesis, candidates must pay a publishing fee. Consult the Thesis Manual for more information.
Students admitted to the Graduate College with a master’s degree or who continue in the Graduate College after completing the master’s degree at UIC must complete the degree requirements within seven consecutive calendar years after initial registration as a doctoral student. Students admitted to the Graduate College without a master’s degree who proceed directly to the doctorate must complete degree requirements within nine consecutive calendar years of initial registration as a doctoral student. Students who do not graduate by these deadlines will be dismissed from the Graduate College for failure to progress. Time spent on a leave of absence approved by the program and the Graduate College is not counted toward the degree time limit (see Leave of Absence (PDF)).
Attendance at commencement is voluntary. Because doctoral candidates are individually recognized and hooded by their research advisor at the ceremony, they must inform the Graduate College whether or not they will attend. The yearly commencement exercises in May recognize all students awarded degrees in the previous three terms. More information.