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Information for Doctoral Students

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8. Information for Doctoral Students

8.1 Information for Doctoral Students

The doctoral degree is awarded for excellence in research scholarship, not merely because a program of courses has been completed or a given amount of time spent in its pursuit. It signifies the attainment of independently acquired and comprehensive learning attesting to general professional competence.

8.2 Requirements for the Doctoral Degree

  • A student should normally expect to spend at least the equivalent of three full academic years beyond the bachelor’s degree to obtain the doctoral degree. During this period the student will take appropriate graduate coursework, successfully complete the general examination, and successfully defend and submit the final dissertation.
  • All coursework applied to the doctoral degree must carry graduate credit.
  • The minimum number of hours required for each doctoral degree program is established by the academic unit offering the program and is subject to approval of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
    • The doctoral degree requires at least 90 post-baccalaureate hours, including both formal coursework and hours of research.
    • The minimum hour requirement for a specific doctoral degree program cannot be waived.

8.2.1.1 Residence Requirement

The primary purpose of the residence requirement is to encourage the educational and professional development of individuals seeking advanced degrees. The opportunity for the student to interact with the faculty and other students in the university community, while freely using all the facilities thereof and being in a position to take advantage of a wide variety of cultural opportunities, justifies a relatively extended campus stay. In addition, the university should be in a position to oversee the development of the candidate, especially during the formal stages of the student’s final preparation for the general examination.

The student must be in residence at OU for at least two consecutive 16-week semesters during the pursuit of the doctoral degree while enrolled and engaged in coursework or research activities as prescribed by the major academic unit.

8.2.1.2 Responsibilities of the Academic Unit

  • Each academic unit offering the doctoral degree is responsible for determining how its graduate program will function within university and Graduate College guidelines.
  • Within these guidelines, academic units determine the overall structure of the program with respect to required coursework, elective coursework, and specific research skills, as well as the minimum number of credit hours required for the degree and the minimum and/or maximum number of dissertation hours that may be applied to the degree.

8.2.1.3 Course Credit Requirements

  • All resident credit applied to a doctoral degree must be taught by members of the graduate faculty of the University of Oklahoma.
  • Credit transferred from other institutions must meet specific criteria and is subject to certain limitations (see Transfer Credit Applied to the Doctoral Degree).
  • Courses completed through correspondence study may not be applied to the doctoral degree.

Transfer credit applied to a doctoral degree at the University of Oklahoma is subject to limitations and must meet criteria established by the Office of Graduate Admissions, the academic unit offering the degree, and the Graduate College. Academic units may set more stringent rules for transfer credit, which must be identified in the section of the University of Oklahoma General Catalog describing the academic unit’s graduate programs.

8.2.2.1 Graduate College Guidelines for Transfer Credit Applied to the Doctoral Degree

Transfer credit must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Official transcripts must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions for verification that the coursework transferred represents valid graduate credit earned in graduate-level courses from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • The credit was not previously applied to a completed bachelor’s or doctoral degree.
  • The credit is not more than five years old at the time of admission or readmission to the University of Oklahoma graduate degree program.
  • The credit is applicable to the degree.
  • The credit carries a grade of A, B, or S on a 4.0 scale. The S grade must be equivalent to a B or higher. For institutions with an expanded grading system (+/- system), the course grade must be equivalent to 3.0 or higher. Transfer credit carrying a grade of B-minus, P, or CR cannot be applied to a graduate degree.
  • The credit is approved by the academic unit, which may have more stringent requirements than those of the Graduate College.
  • The credit is approved by the dean of the Graduate College.

8.2.2.2 Graduate College Limitations on Transfer Credit Applied to the Doctoral Degree

When combined, hours transferred from other institutions and residence credit taken before admission to the doctoral program may not constitute more than 49 percent of the minimum number of credit hours required for the doctoral degree. The number of transfer hours accepted for each student is determined on an individual basis at the advisory conference.

8.2.2.3 Transfer Credit from a Master's Degree Applied to the Doctoral Degree

With approval of the advisory conference committee, the graduate liaison, and the dean of the Graduate College, credit that has been applied to a completed master’s degree (or the equivalent, as determined by the Office of Graduate Admissions) may be applied to a doctoral degree, regardless of the age of the hours at the time of admission or readmission to the University of Oklahoma graduate degree program. In every case:

  • When combined, hours transferred from other institutions and residence credit taken before admission to the doctoral program may not constitute more than 49 percent of the minimum number of credit hours required for the doctoral degree.
  • Transfer credit for thesis research from a completed master’s degree may be applied to a doctoral degree but is limited to the total thesis hours required for the equivalent master’s degree at OU.
  • If credit applied to a completed master’s degree has already been applied to one doctoral degree, it cannot be applied to a second doctoral degree.
  • The transfer credit must meet all other guidelines and limitations set by the Graduate College and the academic unit.

8.2.2.4 Transfer Credit from a Professional Degree Applied to the Doctoral Degree

Graduate-level coursework applied to a completed professional degree (e.g., D.D., M.D., J.D., D.V.M., D.D.S.) may be applied to the doctoral degree with approval of the advisory conference committee and the dean of the Graduate College, provided that the coursework carries graduate credit and meets all other requirements for transfer credit set by the Graduate College and the academic unit offering the degree.

8.2.2.5 Transfer Credit from Advanced Standing Exams

No graduate credit may be earned by advanced standing examinations.

8.2.2.6 Transfer Credit and Grade Point Average Computation

Transfer credit is considered neutral in the computation of the University of Oklahoma grade point averages used to determine satisfactory academic progress.

8.2.3.1 Credit from an OU Master's Degree Applied to the Doctoral Degree

With approval of the advisory conference committee, the graduate liaison, and the dean of the Graduate College, credit that has been applied to a completed OU master’s degree may be applied to a doctoral degree, regardless of the age of the hours at the time of admission or readmission to the doctoral program. In every case:

  • When combined, hours transferred from other institutions and residence credit taken before admission to the doctoral program may not constitute more than 49 percent of the minimum number of credit hours required for the doctoral degree.
  • Credit for thesis research from a completed OU master’s degree may be applied to a doctoral degree but is limited to the total thesis hours required for the master’s degree.
  • If credit applied to a completed OU master’s degree has already been applied to one doctoral degree, it cannot be applied to a second doctoral degree.
  • The credit must meet all other guidelines and limitations set by the Graduate College and the academic unit.

8.2.3.2 Graduate College Guidelines for Residence Credit Taken Before Admission to a Doctoral Degree Program

  • Residence credit taken before admission to an OU doctoral degree program must meet the guidelines for transfer credit (see Graduate College Guidelines for Transfer Credit Applied to the Doctoral Degree). Note that residence credit approved to apply to a doctoral degree is included in the calculation of grade point averages used to determine eligibility for graduation.
  • Residence credit includes:
    • graduate coursework completed while in a non-degree-seeking status at OU
    • graduate coursework completed while pursuing a previous OU graduate degree (but which was not applied to that degree)
    • coursework completed during the junior/senior years of the OU undergraduate degree and approved to carry graduate credit (but which was not applied to that degree)
    • graduate coursework completed at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
  • When combined, hours transferred from other institutions and residence credit taken before admission to a graduate degree program may not constitute more than 49 percent of the minimum hours required for the doctoral degree.

8.2.3.3 Application of Residence Credit More Than Five Years Old

Graduate courses taken at the University of Oklahoma more than five years before admission or readmission to a doctoral program cannot be applied to the doctoral degree unless the courses are part of a completed master’s degree.

8.2.4.1 3000/4000 Level Courses

  • With approval of the academic unit offering the degree, a student may apply up to 15 credit hours of 3000- and/or 4000-level courses that carry graduate credit to the doctoral degree.
  • A maximum of 12 credit hours of the 4000-level courses may be from the academic unit offering the degree.
  • No 3000-level courses from the academic unit offering the degree may apply to the degree.

8.2.4.2 S/U Graded Courses

For coursework applied to an OU doctoral degree:

  • No more than one-half of the credits for OU coursework, excluding Research for Doctoral Dissertation (6980), may be S/U-graded coursework.
  • No more than one-half of the overall coursework (OU credit and transfer credit combined), excluding 6980, may be S/U-graded coursework.

8.2.4.3 Application of Credit from an Unsuccessful Graduate Degree Program to Another Graduate Degree Program

  • No credit hours from an unsuccessful master’s or doctoral program may be applied to a doctoral degree.
  • Credit hours from a completed master’s degree that were applied to an unsuccessful doctoral degree may be applied to another doctoral degree with approval of the academic unit offering the new doctoral degree and the dean of the Graduate College.
  • A student who enters the doctoral program with a bachelor’s degree is expected to pass the general examination within five calendar years of the student’s first enrollment in a graduate course applied to the doctoral degree.
  • A student who enters the doctoral program with a master’s degree is expected to pass the general examination within four calendar years of the student’s first enrollment in a graduate course applied to the doctoral degree which was not applied to the master’s degree.
  • A student becomes a doctoral candidate upon successful completion of the general examination.
  • A doctoral candidate is expected to complete all degree requirements, including the defense and final submission of the dissertation, within five calendar years after passing the general examination.
  • Academic units may set shorter time limits, which must be identified in the section of the University of Oklahoma General Catalog describing their graduate programs. Students in these programs are subject to the shorter time limit.
  • No program may set longer time limits for degree completion than those established by the Graduate College.

8.2.5.1 Extensions for the Doctoral Degree

  • If an academic unit determines that additional time is needed for a student to complete the doctoral general examination or all degree requirements, the student’s committee should request that the dean of the Graduate College approve an extension.
  • The written request for extension should explain why additional time is necessary and specify when the student is expected to complete the exam or the outstanding degree requirements. The request also must be endorsed by the graduate liaison and the student’s committee.

8.3 The Advisory Conference

  • The purpose of the advisory conference is to aid the student in developing an overall plan for attaining a doctoral degree.
  • The student and all committee members are expected to attend the advisory conference.
  • After the advisory conference, the student will submit the signed, completed Advisory Conference Report form (ACR) to the Graduate College (see Advisory Conference Report).

The student should select members of the advisory conference committee in consultation with the academic unit. The advisory conference committee will examine the student’s academic record to determine the coursework required to meet the student’s individual needs. In most cases, the advisory conference committee will become the student’s doctoral committee.

  • The committee must consist of a committee chair, a Graduate College representative, and at least two other members of the graduate faculty.
  • A majority of the committee members must hold an M2 or M3 graduate faculty appointment through the student’s academic unit. Faculty with special member (SM) status are not included in this majority.
  • The dean of the Graduate College must approve the committee membership.

8.3.1.1 The Committee Chair

  • Only one individual may be formally designated as the committee chair on the Advisory Conference Report and must hold an M3 University of Oklahoma graduate faculty appointment through the student’s academic unit. This committee member will be responsible for all chair functions and will sign doctoral paperwork as the committee chair. However, more than one committee member may be identified as “Co-Chair” on the signature page of the final dissertation.
  • The chair serves as the student’s primary advisor for all areas of the doctoral program coursework and the dissertation. The chair, along with the other committee members, is responsible for ensuring that the dissertation meets the standards of the university, the student’s program, and the field of study.

8.3.1.2 The Graduate College Representative

  • The designated Graduate College representative of an advisory conference committee or doctoral committee must hold an M2 or M3 University of Oklahoma graduate faculty appointment outside the student’s academic unit. An individual who holds a graduate faculty appointment through the student’s academic unit is not eligible to serve as the student’s Graduate College Representative.
  • In addition to the responsibilities shared by all committee members, the Graduate College representative is charged with ensuring that the rights and interests of the student and the policies and standards of the Graduate College are maintained. Therefore, the Graduate College representative should be present at all committee meetings.
  • The Graduate College representative must be familiar with the rules, regulations, policies, and quality standards of the Norman campus Graduate College. Therefore, the following categories of faculty are not, under any circumstances, eligible to serve as the designated Graduate College representative of a doctoral student’s committee:
    • College of Law faculty
    • Health Sciences Center faculty
    • faculty from other institutions or organizations
    • retired University of Oklahoma faculty.
  • The dean of the Graduate College may exercise the prerogative to appoint another Graduate College representative to serve as an evaluator for the Graduate College. The evaluator may be one of the required four graduate faculty members of the committee, or may serve only at the time of the examination.

8.3.1.3 Special Faculty Members

  • Special member (SM) graduate faculty status may be assigned to individuals within or outside the university whose participation on a student’s committee is recommended by an academic unit and approved by the dean of the Graduate College.
  • Under no circumstances may a special member serve as the chair or Graduate College representative of an advisory conference committee or doctoral committee.
  • A special member of the graduate faculty must have the approval of the dean of the Graduate College to serve on a student’s committee. The student’s academic unit must provide justification for allowing the special member to serve on the committee.
  • Special members may not make up the majority of the committee membership.

8.3.1.4 Advisory Conference Report

  • After the advisory conference, the student is responsible for submitting the completed Advisory Conference Report (ACR) to the Graduate College. This report lists all coursework to be applied to the doctoral degree, identifies all members of the student’s advisory conference committee, and requires original signatures from the student, all committee members, and the graduate liaison of the student’s academic unit.
  • The ACR must be submitted to the Graduate College no later than one semester before the student plans to take the general examination.
    • Academic units may require earlier submission of this form.
    • Students eligible to receive VA Educational Benefits will need to submit this form before coursework can be certified as eligible for coverage.
  • Final approval of the ACR rests with the dean of the Graduate College.

8.3.1.5 Changes to the Advisory Conference Report

  • Any changes to the coursework or committee membership listed on the approved Advisory Conference Report require the approval of the dean of the Graduate College.
  • To request approval for changes, the student must submit a signed, completed Request for Change in Doctoral Advisory Conference Report form to the Graduate College.
  • The Graduate College will notify the student, committee, and graduate liaison to confirm final approval or denial of the changes requested.
  • No changes in committee membership are permitted 30 calendar days before the general examination or the dissertation defense. For additional guidelines regarding changes to doctoral committee membership, see Changes to the Doctoral Committee.

8.4 The Doctoral Committee

Doctoral committee membership follows the same guidelines and regulations applicable to the advisory conference committee (see Advisory Conference Committee Membership). In most cases, the advisory conference committee will become the student’s doctoral committee.

  • The doctoral committee will be responsible for advising, directing, assisting, and encouraging the student throughout the doctoral program.
  • The student’s doctoral committee will:
    • prepare and conduct the general examination
    • supervise the preparation of the dissertation
    • conduct the final oral examination over the dissertation.
  • A doctoral student who decides it is necessary to change the composition of the doctoral committee should consult the graduate liaison and the doctoral committee chair for advice.
  • If it is determined that a committee change is appropriate, the student must submit a signed, completed Request for Change in Doctoral Advisory Conference Report form. This form requires original signatures from all committee members, including those being removed, with the exception of anyone no longer associated with the University of Oklahoma.
    • Faculty members who are away from campus on a university-approved leave of absence or sabbatical may give electronic approval for committee changes that become necessary during their absence.
    • If faculty members on leave will not be available during their absence, the academic unit chair/director will have authority, with approval of the dean of the Graduate College, to act for them on these changes.
  • The Graduate College will notify the student, committee, and graduate liaison to confirm final approval or denial of the changes requested.
  • No change in committee membership is permitted 30 calendar days before the general examination or the dissertation defense.

8.4.1.1 Committee Members Who Leave the University

  • A faculty member who retires from or is no longer employed by the university cannot continue to serve on a student’s committee without approval of the dean of the Graduate College.
  • A former faculty member who wishes to remain on a student’s committee should work with the student and the academic unit to submit a written request for appointment to the graduate faculty as a special member (see Special Faculty Members). This request must be made before the faculty member has left the university.
  • The dean of the Graduate College will review the request and make a decision as to whether it is appropriate for the former faculty member to remain on the student’s committee.
  • A faculty member who is leaving the university should not expect approval to remain on a student’s committee unless the following criteria can be met:
    • The faculty member is willing to consult regularly with the student, read the dissertation, and attend the final oral examination (dissertation defense). These all must be accomplished with no cost to the university.
    • The student has passed the general examination and will be in the final year of dissertation research when the faculty member leaves the university.

8.5 The General Examination

When the student is enrolled in or has completed the final semester of coursework, the student should prepare for the general examination. The general examination is intended to test the student’s mastery of a number of related fields as well as the student’s capacity for synthesis, sound generalization, and critical ability. The first part of the general examination consists of written examinations. A satisfactory written examination will be followed by an oral examination in the presence of the entire committee.

  • The student’s Advisory Conference Report (ACR) must be approved by the Graduate College before the student may apply to take the general examination. The ACR must be up to date. Any changes to the ACR must be approved by the Graduate College before the exam can be authorized (see Changes to the Advisory Conference Report).
  • The student must apply for the general examination and receive authority from the Graduate College before beginning work on the written portion of the exam. The result of an unauthorized exam will not, under any circumstances, be considered valid.
  • A student may not proceed to the oral portion until the written portion has been satisfactorily completed.
  • Both the written portion and the oral portion must be completed within the same semester.
  • A student must be in good academic standing during the semester the general examination is scheduled. A student who is on probation may not apply to take the exam until probationary status has been cleared.
  • The student must be enrolled in at least two graduate credit hours at the University of Oklahoma during the semester the general examination is held.
  • A student who does not pass the general examination on the first attempt may, at the discretion of the committee, repeat the exam once in a future term. No more than two attempts to pass the general examination are permitted.
  • Before applying to take the general examination, the student must work with the committee to determine the date they will begin work on the written portion of the exam, as well as the date, time, and location for the oral portion of the exam.
  • For the oral portion of the exam, the student, the committee chair, and the Graduate College representative, at minimum, must be physically present at the same location.
  • No changes in committee membership are permitted 30 calendar days before the general examination.
  • The general examination should be held before the deadline indicated on the Academic Calendar. The exam may not be held during the period of final course examinations, nor may it be held while the university is not in session.

Advances in electronic media have made it possible for meetings to be held without the presence of every member at the same location. Nevertheless, the integrity and significance of the oral examination process must not be compromised by the absence of a sound committee. The following rules apply to the oral portion of the general examination:

  • The student, the committee chair, and the Graduate College representative, at minimum, must be physically present at the same location.
  • Other committee members may participate remotely via audio or video conference.
  • The Graduate College must be notified of remote participation before the defense in order to make arrangements for signature acceptance.
  • Copies or electronic signatures of committee members who have been approved to participate remotely will be accepted on the Authority Report Form for the General Examination.
  • Requests for exceptions to the remote participation policy will be considered in extraordinary circumstances. If necessary, one committee member, other than the chair or Graduate College representative, may be absent with prior approval of the dean of the Graduate College.
  • The student must submit the completed General Exam Application for the Doctoral Degree form to the Graduate College no later than the end of the second week of the semester in which the exam will be taken. This form requires original signatures from the student, the committee chair, and the graduate liaison.
  • If the application can be approved, the Graduate College will issue the Authority Report Form for the General Examination to the doctoral committee, the student, and the graduate liaison via OU email. The student may not begin work on the written portion of the exam until this form has been issued. The result of an unauthorized exam will not, under any circumstances, be considered valid.
  • The Authority Report Form is valid only for the period indicated on the form.
    • If no portion of the exam is held during this period, the graduate liaison or committee chair must notify the Graduate College in writing as to why the exam was not held and the form must be returned marked “Not Taken.”  
    • The exam must then be rescheduled for a future term and the student must submit a new General Exam Application for the Doctoral Degree.

After the written portion has been completed, the doctoral committee should meet to determine the result of the written examination.

  • If the result of the written portion is satisfactory, the student may proceed to the oral portion as scheduled.
  • If the result of the written portion is marginal, but not unsatisfactory, the committee may find it appropriate to request to hold the result of the exam in abeyance (see Marginal Result of the General Examination).
  • If the result of the written portion is unsatisfactory, the student has failed the general examination and may not proceed to the oral portion (see Unsatisfactory Result of the General Examination).
  • After the oral portion of the general examination, the committee will report its decision on the Authority Report Form for the General Examination by indicating a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” result for each portion. This completed form, including original signatures from all committee members, must be received in the Graduate College within 72 hours of the exam.
  • In the event that the committee does not reach a unanimous decision:
    • The committee member(s) who dissent from the majority opinion should not sign the Authority Report Form, but should instead attach a memo explaining the rationale for the dissent.
    • The dean of the Graduate College will review the dissenting opinion and may choose to confer with the dissenting member(s), the committee chair or the entire committee.
    • The decision of the dean of the Graduate College is final.
  • If the result of the oral portion is satisfactory, the dean of the Graduate College will admit the student to candidacy for the doctoral degree.

If the result of either portion of the general examination is marginal, but not unsatisfactory, and the committee wishes the student to do further reading, investigations, etc., the committee can request to hold the result of the exam in abeyance.

  • The committee and graduate liaison may submit a written request for abeyance to the dean of the Graduate College.
  • The request must identify the additional work required of the student and state a specific time period, usually limited to two months, during which the student must complete the extra work.
  • If the request for abeyance is approved by the dean of the Graduate College, the student may complete the additional work specified by the doctoral committee.
    • At the end of the time period approved for abeyance, the committee must report its decision to the Graduate College on the Authority Report Form for the General Examination by indicating a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” result for each portion.
  • If the request for abeyance is denied by the dean of the Graduate College, the committee must report the unsatisfactory result of the examination to the Graduate College on the Authority Report Form for the General Examination.

§  If either the written or the oral portion of the general examination is failed, the signed, completed Authority Report Form for the General Examination must be submitted to the Graduate College within 72 hours.

  • A student who has failed the first attempt of the general examination may, at the discretion of the committee, attempt the exam a second time in a future term. If the committee and the graduate liaison approve the second attempt, the student must submit a new General Exam Application for the Doctoral Degree to the Graduate College. Both the written portion and the oral portion must be repeated. The committee must administer a new exam for the student’s second attempt.
  • A student who has failed the second attempt of the general examination will be terminated from the doctoral program. (See Disenrollment and Application of Credit from an Unsuccessful Doctoral Degree to a Master’s Degree.)

8.6 The Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is the final and most important component of the series of academic experiences that culminate in the awarding of the doctoral degree.

  • Three major functions are fulfilled by the dissertation experience:
    • It is a work of original research scholarship that makes a contribution to existing knowledge.
    • It demonstrates the student’s mastery of research methods of the special field.
    • It demonstrates the student’s ability to address a significant intellectual problem and arrive at a successful conclusion.
  • The student should select a dissertation topic in consultation with the committee chair.
  • A student whose dissertation research may involve any of the following should promptly contact the appropriate office for advice:
  • Students whose dissertation research may involve any of the following should review the “Research Issues” section of the Graduate College Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet with their committee chair as early as possible in the research process, and inform their Graduate College counselor of the potential need for an embargo of their dissertation.
    • Information that is protected from dissemination by applicable law or by contract: Review the “Research Holds and IP Holds” section of the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet. Dissertations may not contain material that requires permanent restriction from publication.
    • Intellectual property that may potentially be patentable: Review the “Disclosure of Patentable Inventions” section of the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet.
  • A student who is working on the dissertation during a regular semester or summer session must enroll in at least two hours of 6980, regardless of the total number of hours in which the student is enrolled.
  • The number of credit hours for each enrollment in 6980 will be determined by the student’s committee chair on the basis of the amount of faculty and university services required by the student during that enrollment.
  • Students are required to enroll in 6980 during the summer session if any of the following apply:
    • The student is actively working on the dissertation during summer.
    • The student is seeking committee advice on the dissertation during summer.
    • The student is otherwise using university facilities during summer, and has previously enrolled in 6980.
    • The degree will be conferred in the summer session.
  • After the first enrollment in 6980, the student must maintain continuous enrollment in at least two hours of 6980 during each fall and spring semester until all degree requirements are completed.
    • The continuous enrollment requirement will be waived only for a student who is not working on the dissertation and who is enrolled in at least nine graduate credit hours during a regular semester.
    • If a student has not maintained continuous enrollment in doctoral dissertation hours, the student must retroactively enroll in the number of hours of 6980 for each semester that would have been completed with continuous enrollment.
    • The student must pay a late enrollment fee for each semester that would have been completed with continuous enrollment. Retroactive fees and tuition are assessed at the current semester rates. The collection of the appropriate fees is the responsibility of the Office of Academic Records and Bursar Services.

Candidates for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree are required to complete a written document which differs from a dissertation in content and purpose, but nonetheless demonstrates a high standard of scholarship and contributes to existing knowledge. This document is completed during enrollment in Doctor of Musical Arts Project (MUS 6880).

  • All regulations that apply to enrollment in dissertation research hours (6980) also apply to enrollment in document hours (MUS 6880). See Enrollment Requirements for Dissertation Research above.
  • All regulations that apply to the dissertation defense also apply to the document defense. See Dissertation Defense below.

8.7 Dissertation Defense

  • A student must be admitted to candidacy by the Graduate College before scheduling the dissertation defense.
  • The student’s Advisory Conference Report (ACR) must be up to date. Any changes to the ACR must be approved by the Graduate College before the defense can be authorized. (See Changes to the Advisory Conference Report.)
  • A student must be in good academic standing during the semester the dissertation defense is scheduled. A student who is on probation may not schedule the dissertation defense until probationary status has been cleared.
  • A student should complete the online Request for Degree Check form through the Graduate College website at least four weeks before the intended defense date.
  • A student must submit the Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College and receive authority before defending the dissertation. The result of an unauthorized dissertation defense will not, under any circumstances, be considered valid.
  • Only one attempt to defend the dissertation is permitted. If the defense is unsatisfactory, it cannot be repeated.
  • A student must be enrolled in at least two credit hours of 6980 at the University of Oklahoma during the semester of the dissertation defense.
  • Before scheduling the dissertation defense, the candidate is responsible for providing every member of the doctoral committee with a complete draft of the dissertation. Formatting requirements are explained in the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet.
  • The doctoral committee will determine how far in advance the student should provide the draft to all committee members. This time limit should allow the committee sufficient time to review the dissertation and approve any major revisions required before the deadline for submitting the Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College. This form is due 10 working days before the defense.
  • The committee will read the dissertation and determine whether it demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct original research and makes a significant contribution to the student’s discipline.
    • If the committee rejects the dissertation, the student will have another opportunity to submit an acceptable dissertation to the committee.
    • If the committee accepts the dissertation, the student may be required to make further changes and corrections.

The date, time, and location of the dissertation defense must be scheduled according to the following requirements:

  • The student, the committee chair, and the Graduate College representative, at minimum, must be physically present at the same location.
  • No changes in committee membership are permitted 30 calendar days before the dissertation defense.
  • The defense should be held before the deadline indicated on the Academic Calendar. The defense may not be held during the period of final course examinations, nor may it be held while the university is not in session.
  • The defense is open to the public, unless closed by prior approval of the Office of Technology Development under the University Intellectual Property Policy.

Advances in electronic media have made it possible for meetings to be held without the presence of every member at the same location. Nevertheless, the integrity and significance of the oral examination process must not be compromised by the absence of a sound committee. The following rules apply to the dissertation defense:

  • The student, the committee chair, and the Graduate College representative, at minimum, must be physically present at the same location.
  • Other committee members may participate remotely via audio or video conference.
  • The Graduate College must be notified of remote participation before the defense in order to make arrangements for signature acceptance.
  • Copies or electronic signatures for committee members who have been approved to participate remotely will be accepted on the Authority Report Form for the Dissertation Defense. However, original signatures from all members will be required on the Approval for Thesis/Dissertation Submission to SHAREOK form.
  • Requests for exceptions to the remote participation policy will be considered in extraordinary circumstances. If necessary, one committee member, other than the chair or Graduate College representative, may be absent with prior approval of the dean of the Graduate College. A committee member whose absence is approved by the dean will still be required to sign the Approval for Thesis/Dissertation Submission to SHAREOK form.

The student must complete the online Request for Degree Check form at least four weeks before the defense (i.e., 10 working days before submitting the Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College). The Graduate College will notify the student of the result of the degree check via OU email.

  • After requesting a degree check and scheduling the defense, the student must submit the signed, completed Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College at least 10 working days before the defense. This form requires original signatures from the student, the committee chair, and the graduate liaison.
    • The graduate liaison’s signature on this form acknowledges that all academic unit requirements have been satisfied; it does not constitute the liaison’s approval of the written dissertation.
  • If the request for authority can be approved, the Graduate College will issue the Authority Report Form for the Dissertation Defense to the student, the doctoral committee, and the graduate liaison via OU email. The student may not defend until this form has been issued. The result of an unauthorized defense will not, under any circumstances, be considered valid.
  • The Authority Report Form is valid only for the period indicated on the form.
    • If the defense is not held during this period, the graduate liaison or committee chair must notify the Graduate College in writing as to why the defense was not held and the form must be returned marked “Not Taken.”
    • The dissertation defense must then be rescheduled for a future term and the student must submit a new online Request for Degree Check and a new Request for Authority to Defend form.
  • After the dissertation defense, the committee will report its decision on the Authority Report Form for the Dissertation Defense by indicating a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” result. This completed form, including original signatures from all committee members, must be received in the Graduate College within 72 hours of the dissertation defense.
  • In the event that the committee does not reach a unanimous decision:
    • The committee member(s) who dissent from the majority opinion should not sign the Authority Report Form, but should instead attach a memo explaining the rationale for the dissent.
    • If one committee member dissents, the dissent is recognized as a minority report.
    • If two members dissent, the dean of the Graduate College will investigate and make a final decision.
    • If more than two members dissent, the defense will be judged unsatisfactory.
  • After a satisfactory dissertation defense, the student must complete any revisions required by the committee before submitting the final dissertation to the SHAREOK repository. Submission instructions provided by the Graduate College in the email authorizing the dissertation defense.
  • The final dissertation is due within 60 calendar days of the defense. A student planning to graduate in a given semester may need to submit the final document sooner in order to meet the graduation deadline for that semester indicated on the Academic Calendar.
  • A student who does not submit the final dissertation during the semester of the defense must enroll in at least two hours of 6980 during the semester in which the dissertation is submitted.
  • The semester in which the dissertation is submitted will be the semester of graduation if all other outstanding requirements for the degree have been completed.
  • Before submitting the final dissertation to SHAREOK, the student must:
    • Complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates.
    • Submit the Approval for Thesis/Dissertation Submission to SHAREOK form to the Graduate College.
      • This form requires original signatures from each committee member. SHAREOK submissions completed prior to full committee approval will be rejected.
    • Submit additional documentation from the IRB to the Graduate College (if dissertation involves human subjects research).
  • The final dissertation submitted to SHAREOK must meet all formatting requirements explained in the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet. Submissions that contain formatting errors will be rejected.
  • A student may not graduate until all degree requirements, including submission of the final dissertation and associated items (Survey of Earned Doctorates, Approval for Thesis/Dissertation Submission to SHAREOK form, and IRB documentation if applicable) have been completed.
  • If the dissertation submission is not completed within 60 calendar days of the satisfactory defense, the result of the defense will be set aside and the student will need to repeat the defense.
  • A student required to repeat the dissertation defense under these circumstances will need to repeat the processes described in the Dissertation Defense section of this bulletin, including submission of a new online Request for Degree Check form and a new Request for Authority to Defend form.

8.8 Degree Completion and Graduation

  • Students must apply for graduation online at the beginning of the semester in which they plan to graduate, according to the deadlines indicated on the Academic Calendar.
  • A student may not graduate until all degree requirements are completed, including the application for graduation.
  • A student will graduate during the semester in which all degree requirements are completed.
  • Students will become inactive after graduation and may not continue enrolling at the university unless they are admitted to a new program or non-degree seeking status.
  • Doctoral candidates are individually recognized and hooded on stage at the university-wide Commencement ceremony. Students who wish to participate in Commencement or in a College Convocation ceremony should contact the Graduation Office.

8.9 Checklist for Doctoral Students

Planning Your Program of Study

  • Work with your academic unit to form your committee and schedule the advisory conference. You will need to submit the Advisory Conference Report form (ACR) to the Graduate College no later than one semester before you plan to take the general examination.
    • You should consult your academic unit, since your program may have specific regulations or recommendations for scheduling the advisory conference.
    • If you are eligible to receive VA Educational Benefits, you will need to submit the ACR before coursework can be certified as eligible for coverage.

Before the General Examination

  • If there are any changes to the coursework or committee membership listed on your approved ACR, you will need to submit a Request for Change in Doctoral Advisory Conference Report to the Graduate College before you apply for the general examination.
    • Your ACR must be up to date before the Graduate College can authorize your general examination.
    • Changes in committee membership are not permitted within the 30 calendar days before the general examination.

General Examination

  • When you are enrolled in or have completed the final semester of coursework, you should prepare for the general examination. No later than the second week of the semester in which you will take the exam, submit the General Exam Application for the Doctoral Degree to the Graduate College. After your application is approved, the Graduate College will email the Authority Report Form for the General Examination to you, your committee, and your graduate liaison. You may not begin work for the exam until you receive the Authority Report Form.
  • No later than 72 hours after the exam, submit the completed Authority Report Form, including original signatures from all committee members, to the Graduate College. You will be admitted to doctoral candidacy after satisfactorily completing the general examination.

Beginning Dissertation Research

  • Once you begin enrolling in Research for Doctoral Dissertation (6980), you must enroll in a minimum of two credit hours of 6980 each fall and spring until all degree requirements are completed. (Summer enrollment also is required if you are working on the dissertation during summer; see Enrollment Requirements for Dissertation Research.)
  • Before you begin writing the dissertation, review the Thesis/Dissertation Instruction Packet. This packet contains important information about research-related issues and copyright, and explains the Graduate College formatting requirements for doctoral dissertations. If your dissertation research may involve human subjects research, vertebrate animal research, information that is protected from dissemination by applicable law or contract, or intellectual property that may potentially be patentable, you should discuss this with your committee chair as early as possible in the research process.

Preparing to Graduate

  • At the beginning of the semester you plan to graduate, apply for graduation online according to the deadlines indicated on the Academic Calendar. Contact the Graduation Office for information about attending college convocation ceremonies and May Commencement.
  • If there are any changes to the coursework or committee membership listed on your approved ACR, you will need to submit a Request for Change in Doctoral Advisory Conference Report to the Graduate College before you defend the dissertation.
    • Your ACR must be up to date before the Graduate College can authorize your defense.
    • Changes in committee membership are not permitted within the 30 calendar days before the dissertation defense.
  • Before scheduling your dissertation defense, provide each member of your committee with a complete draft of your dissertation (see Dissertation Draft). Your committee will determine how far in advance you should provide the draft. The committee should have sufficient time to review the draft and approve any major revisions before you submit the Request for Authority to Defend form to the Graduate College. After your committee has approved the draft, arrange the date, time, and location for your defense.

Before Your Defense

  • At least four weeks before your defense, submit the online Request for Degree Check to the Graduate College. The Graduate College will notify you of the result of the degree check via OU email.
  • At least 10 working days before your defense, submit the Request for Authority to Defend and any required attachments (if applicable) from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). After your request for authority is approved, the Graduate College will email the Authority Report Form for the Dissertation Defense to you, your committee, and your graduate liaison. You are not authorized to defend until you receive the Authority Report Form.

After Your Defense

  • No later than 72 hours after the defense, submit the completed Authority Report Form, including original signatures from all committee members, to the Graduate College.
  • If your dissertation involves human subjects research, contact the IRB office to obtain documentation confirming that your involvement as a graduate student in the research project is officially terminated. You will need to submit this additional documentation to the Graduate College before you submit the dissertation to SHAREOK.
  • Complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates. You are encouraged to complete this as soon as possible after your defense.
  • After your committee has approved your final dissertation, submit the Approval for Thesis/Dissertation Submission to SHAREOK form to the Graduate College.
  • Submit your final dissertation to the SHAREOK repository, according to the instructions you received in the Graduate College email authorizing your defense. Your submission is due no later than 60 calendar days after your defense. If you plan to graduate in a particular semester, you must meet the semester submission deadline given on the Academic Calendar, usually the last day of the final examination period.

Congratulations!