Introduction to The Ph.D. Degree

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy was historically the first degree to be conferred by universities. It is granted in recognition of a candidate’s high level of scholarly competence and demonstrated ability to conduct and report significant research independently and effectively. “Doctor” is the Latin Word for “teacher.” “Philosophy” in its broadest definition means “all knowledge.” The modern sense of the title “Doctor of Philosophy” refers to one who comprehends all knowledge in his or her chosen field and has mastered an area of specialization. He or she has added in a significant way to that body of knowledge and has transmitted the new knowledge, thus teaching the world something new. A person who has received the doctorate has mastered appreciation of the ethical questions and has adhered to the highest ethical standards of the discipline. It is further expected that the future work of the candidate for the Ph.D. will maintain and uphold the same standards of scholarship demanded for the degree, so the title and its meaning continue to apply.

The three requirements for the Ph.D. are assessed in the final defense of a dissertation.

• The dissertation should demonstrate significant original work.

• The final dissertation should be presented with clarity of thought and excellence of exposition that make it suitable for publication as a book or a series of papers in learned journals.

• The dissertation should demonstrate a breadth and depth of the candidate’s knowledge beyond the confines of his or her own research and is also critically assessed in the defense and at various examinations during the student’s studies.

Admission to the Graduate School does not automatically qualify a student as a candidate for the Ph.D. degree. Formal recommendation of advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree must be made to the Graduate School by the program after a review of the student’s performance in courses, independent study, and program examinations. A candidate for the Ph.D. degree engages in research leading to a dissertation. Listed below are the minimal requirements mandated by the Graduate School. The individual programs may set additional requirements.