Graduate School

PhD Milestone Timeline

This is a suggested timeline for degree milestones, and does not reflect the degree milestone deadlines set by the Graduate School. For detailed information, and specific deadlines please reference PhD Requirements.

Pre-candidacy PhD Milestones
  Purpose Requirements Timing
Coursework Develops subject-knowledge within area of study.

Specific to program. See program webpages.

It is recommended that students complete their coursework by the end of their 6th semester.
Select Advisor Develops subject-knowledge within area of study. Faculty with Graduate Faculty Status and a regular or affiliated appointment in student's administrative home department or college. At start, may be graduate program director. Permanent advisor must be chosen within two academic-year semesters.
Select Advisory Committee Advises student on courses/research, provides cognate expertise, contributes diverse perspectives, and promotes cross-disciplinary communications. Faculty with Graduate Faculty Status. Minimum of one from outside student's academic home department or college. It is recommended that the committee be appointed within must be chosen within 2 (post-master's) or 4 (post-bachelor's) academic semesters.
Pass Qualifying Exam Test of disciplinary knowledge.
  • Examiners: Standing Committee or Advisory Committee
  • Format: Oral (required); written (optional, determined by program).
  • Requirements: Students must submit an application to apply for candidacy following completion of qualifying exam and research proposal exam.
  • Recommended: Within 3 (post-master's) or 4 (post-bachelor's) academic semesters.
  • Required: No more than 5 years after start.
Pass Research Proposal Examination Test of capability to conduct independent research. 
  • Examinars: Standing Committee or Advisory Committee
  • Format: Oral (required), written (optional; determined by program).
  • Requirements: Students must submit an application to apply for candidacy following completion of qualifying exam and research proposal exam.
Recommended: Within 6 (post-master's) or 10 (post-bachelor's) academic semesters.
Apply for Candidacy Allows students who have completed certain degree milestones to register for research credits at a reduced tuition rate. Students must submit an application to enter candidacy following completion of qualifying exam and research proposal exam. It is recommended that students apply for candidacy by the beginning of their 7th semester.
Post-candidacy PhD Milestones
  Purpose Requirements Timing
Prepare Dissertation and Pass Final Oral Examination Written description and public defense of research. Schedule final oral examination ("defense") at least two weeks ahead of time, submit dissertation to committee and Graduate School, and submit report on final examination. Recommended: Within 6 (post-master's) or 10 (post-bachelor's) academic semesters.
Complete Degree Requirements Leads to awarding of degree. Final dissertation approved. Required: Within 8 years after start.