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Program Requirements

Comprehensive Examinations

All examinations and the defense of the dissertation must be taken during the regular semester. No exams may be performed on any day when the university is closed or on-campus classes are not in session.

Each doctoral student must pass a written comprehensive examination that is designed, administered, and evaluated by the graduate faculty of the major school and by other qualified individuals as specified by the program advisor. This examination may not be taken until the student has:

The major school is responsible for scheduling the date, time, and place of the examination(s). Each student must check the school requirements at the beginning of his/her program.

Once the comprehensive examination session begins, it is considered a take of the examination. If the student leaves the examination session and does not return, the examination will be considered taken and the exam will be evaluated accordingly.

Once the examination has been evaluated, the program advisor must return the signed report form to the Graduate School indicating a pass or failure of the examination.

A retake may not be scheduled during the same semester that the original examination was completed. Failure of the retake of the examination or its equivalent will result in the termination of the student's degree program.

Comprehensive Examinations: Oral

After passing the written comprehensive examination, each doctoral student must pass an oral comprehensive examination. Permits for the oral comprehensive examination will not be released and the oral examination will not be authorized until the written examination report is filed with the Graduate School indicating that the student passed the written examination.

All committee members and the faculty representative must be present at the examination or a substitute assigned according to the guidelines for Doctoral Committee. Any examination that was not scheduled in advance through the graduate school will not be recognized as valid and must be retaken.

The results of the written comprehensive examination must be on file in the Graduate School two weeks prior to the scheduling of the oral comprehensive examination.

The program advisor, who will serve as chairperson of the oral comprehensive examination committee, should direct the student to arrange the date, time, and place of the oral examination. After all arrangements have been made, the student or program advisor will notify the Graduate School by forwarding a completed Request to Schedule Doctoral Examination form two weeks (14 calendar days) before the exam date. Requests submitted with greater advance notice are encouraged and appreciated. The student's performance on the examination will be evaluated as (a) pass, (b) will pass if meets stated conditions, (c) unsatisfactory, retake permitted, (d) fail, retake not permitted, program terminated. At least three-fourths of the committee members must agree on the final evaluation.

The Graduate School will approve and publicize the examination date, time and place in UNC TODAY or in any other appropriate university publication.

All members of the faculty are invited to attend and may ask questions of the student after the committee members finish their questioning. Other graduate students may also attend with permission from the chairperson of the committee.

Passed. If the student passes the examination, the program advisor must obtain the signatures of at least three-fourths of the committee members on the Report of the Oral Comprehensive Examination form and return the form to the Graduate School.

Passed With Conditions. If the student is evaluated as will pass if meets stated conditions, the report stating the conditions must be signed and returned to the Graduate School. The student must subsequently meet the stated conditions. No student will be admitted to candidacy until at least three-fourths of the committee affirm that the conditions have been met.

Failed. If the student's performance was unsatisfactory, the report must be signed and returned to the Graduate School. The student may retake the oral examination during a subsequent semester. At this point, the membership of the student's committee may not be altered without approval by the Graduate School. Failure to pass the oral retest or failure to meet conditions specified after an oral retest will terminate the student's degree program. If the student failed the examination with no retake permitted, the report must be signed and returned to the Graduate School. The Graduate School will terminate the degree program, and the student will not be permitted to do further work or take further examinations in that degree program.

Doctoral Committee

Besides the doctoral program advisor appointed by the school, each doctoral student will have a doctoral committee. At minimum, a doctoral committee must consist of: 1) a chair or co-chair from within the program; (if co-chair, one must hold DR); 2) one additional faculty member from within the program; 3) one additional faculty members from within the area of inquiry; 4) a faculty representative. All committee members must have GL or GF status. The Chair must have DR. The Doctoral Committee is subject to the approval of the advisor. Please consult your advisor for individual program requirements.

The student may nominate a faculty representative from outside the program discipline. The final approval of the faculty representative is the responsibility of the Graduate Dean. The faculty representative is a full voting member with all the rights and responsibilities of any other member and must be present at the student's doctoral oral examination and dissertation defense. The faculty member must hold graduate faculty status and should be in a school program unit different from that of the student's program. The faculty representative is expected to contribute conceptual, theoretical, methodological and /or academic expertise from an alternative disciplinary perspective.

No faculty member will be appointed to a doctoral committee without his/her consent. University employees who are not members of the graduate faculty shall not be appointed as members of doctoral committees.

The doctoral committee must be appointed before the written comprehensive is taken. The appointment shall occur no later than the end of the semester prior to the scheduled comprehensive examination. The student and all members of the doctoral committee will receive confirmation of the approved committee assignments.

Unless the student or committee chairperson otherwise informs the Graduate School or the Graduate School informs the student of the need for a change, the doctoral committee membership will remain the same from the oral comprehensive examination throughout the dissertation research stages of the program. The Graduate School will confirm that the student's committee membership is appropriate as a doctoral research committee at the time the Graduate School receives the results of the oral examination.

If a committee member or faculty representative is absent during an oral examination of defense, the major school shall appoint a replacement committee member who has been approved by the Graduate School. The Graduate School shall appoint an appropriate replacement for the faculty representative. The Graduate School must be notified of the replacement before the exam or defense.

The concerns and recommendations of all committee members, including the faculty representative, are crucial to the dissertation approval process. The student and all members of the doctoral committee will receive confirmation of the approved committee assignments.

Faculty Committee Load Policy

An individual graduate faculty member may serve on ten active doctoral research committees at any one time and may serve as the dissertation director or research advisor for no more than five of these ten committees. Exceptions to the committee maximums may be permitted only if agreed to by the graduate faculty member, school director and college dean as follows:

An individual school may elect to impose more stringent limitations on its faculty with respect to the number of committees on which they may serve. An active doctoral student will be defined as one who is currently enrolled.

Graduation Check

Upon admission to doctoral candidacy, the Graduate School will conduct a preliminary graduation check of those doctoral students newly admitted to candidacy. Any discrepancies between the transcript and the plan of study must be corrected with either a new plan of study or a correction memo initiated by the advisor. Upon receipt of the preliminary graduation check, the student must thereafter notify the Graduate School IN WRITING the semester he/she wishes to graduate. Therefore, doctoral students will not need to file an application for graduation.

All graduating students are encouraged to attend graduation. Those students participating in the graduation ceremony are required to wear appropriate academic regalia. Diplomas are not issued at the graduation ceremony. They will be mailed to addresses supplied by the students to the Graduate School. Failure to supply the mailing address could result in a delay in receipt of the diploma. No diploma will be issued until all requirements for graduation have been met.

Hooding. The candidate's research advisor shall hood the candidate at the graduation ceremony.

Plagiarism

The following is the approved definition of plagiarism: Plagiarism is the act of appropriating the written, artistic, or musical composition of another, or portions thereof; or the ideas, language, or symbols of same and passing them off as the product of one's own mind. Plagiarism includes not only the exact duplication of another's work but also the lifting of a substantial or essential portion thereof.

Regarding written work in particular, direct quotations, statements which are a result of paraphrasing or summarizing the work of another, and other information which is not considered common knowledge must be cited or acknowledged, usually in the form of a footnote. Quotation marks or a proper form of indentation shall be used to indicate all direct quotes.

As long as a student adequately acknowledges his/her sources and as long as there is no reason to believe that the student has attempted to pose as the originator, the student will not be charged with plagiarism even though the form of the acknowledgment may be unacceptable. However, students should be aware that most professors require certain forms of acknowledgment and some may evaluate a project on the basis of form.

Plan of Study

A committee of at least three persons appointed and approved by the major school and, if applicable, by any supporting area school shall supervise the planning of a student's doctoral degree program. In conjunction with the doctoral committee, each doctoral student must prepare a long-range plan of study that clearly specifies core requirements, elective, transfer, double-numbered course work, research tools (if applicable), and doctoral minor (if applicable).

The plan must be formalized on a Plan of Study form and the completed form, including the signatures of the program advisor and committee members, if required by the school, must be filed with the Graduate School by the end of the student's first semester of enrollment after admission. Upon receipt of a properly signed Plan of Study form, the Dean of the Graduate School or his/her designee shall review the plan and approve or disapprove the plan. If approved, the Plan of Study form will be filed in the student's folder. If disapproved, the Plan of Study form will be returned to the student for correction and re-submission. Because the plan of study will be the basis for the graduation check, any deviation from the plan of study must be approved by the program advisor and the Dean of the Graduate School or his/her designee. Requests for changes to the plan of study must be approved by the advisor and submitted in writing to the Graduate School with copies sent to all committee members.

Progress Review

Schools are to evaluate and provide an annual program progress report for each doctoral student until the student passes the oral comprehensive examination.

Doctoral student advisors will be responsible for obtaining and reporting at least the following information for each assigned advisee:

Recommendations for improvement should include specific changes expected in the student's performance or behavior, means of assessing the changes, and the time period by which the change is expected to occur. Improvements or lack of change in areas recommended from prior progress reports should be documented. Signatures of the advisor and all committee members are required on the progress report.

The progress report will include a clear recommendation to the chair of the school Graduate Program Committee (GPC) of whether the student is to be continued each year without conditions, continued with conditions, or not supported for continuation. If conditions for improvement are stipulated, the student must be informed by the school Graduate Program Committee (GPC), in writing, of the conditions and specific changes required to satisfy the conditions. If the school does not have a GPC, the report will be submitted directly to the director of the school.

The following procedures must be followed prior to submitting a recommendation to discontinue a doctoral student's program for causes other than poor academic performance:

If the complaint arises from an unprofessional behavior or other behavioral concerns, the student will be given a clearly defined probationary period during which clear behavioral objectives are provided to either rectify the concerns or change the behavior. Clear means of assessing improvement will be provided.

If the complaint results from an egregious violation of laws or published university or school policy, rules or professional ethics, clear documented evidence of the incident(s) must be provided with the recommendation.

Copies of the progress report are to be provided by the GPC or student doctoral committee to the school director/division director no later than April 15 of each year and copied to the student. A director/division director may agree or disagree with the GPC's or doctoral committee recommendation. If in agreement with the recommendation, the director/division director will approve and submit the progress report to the Dean of the Graduate School and a copy to the college dean by May 1. The student and GPC or doctoral committee will be informed in writing of the approval. If in disagreement with the GPC's or doctoral committee's recommendation, the school director will invite the student's program advisor and the GPC chair or doctoral committee members to discuss the disagreement. After the meeting, the GPC chair or student's doctoral advisor will approve and submit the original progress report recommendation to the Graduate Dean with a copy to the college dean and student.

or

Modify and submit the recommendation to include conditions agreed to by the school director/division director and GPC or doctoral committee (or add conditions) to the Graduate Dean with a copy to the college dean and student.

or

Change and submit the recommendation as agreed to by the school director/division director and GPC or doctoral committee with explanation any additional documentation and signed acknowledgement from the school director/division director and GPC chair or doctoral committee members. The advisor and GPC members or doctoral committee members may submit additional comments or documentation to support the GPC chair's decision or to express opposition to the chair's decision. The changed recommendation will then be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School with a copy to the college dean and student.

Proposal and Dissertation

A dissertation pertaining to a significant topic in the candidate's major subject field is required for each doctoral program. The dissertation proposal (797) is 4 semester hours. Minimum credit for the doctoral dissertation is 12 semester hours. Any program requirement exceeding 12 credits of dissertation hours must first be approved by the Graduate Council and Graduate Dean.

A dissertation proposal is to be developed and presented to the student's doctoral committee for approval and submitted to the Graduate School prior to engaging in final data collection. Preliminary data collection necessary for developing appropriate skills and methods pertaining to the project is acceptable prior to approval of the proposal.

All 797 and 799 hours will result in a grade of "NR" until completion of the proposal and final dissertation. Upon successful completion of the dissertation and submitting the Report of the Dissertation Defense form to the Graduate School with approval signatures, the Graduate School and Registrar are authorized to change all prior grades for 799 to "S".

The proposal is a crucial step in the dissertation process and should culminate with a formal and public dissertation proposal hearing with the full committee present. Approval of the dissertation proposal establishes the expectations for the final dissertation and assures agreement among the committee with the student's methods and research strategy prior to proceeding to the final stages of the project. The proposal hearing also allows the committee to introduce required changes or additions to a student's proposed project while changes are still possible. The student should consult school procedures for scheduling the defense of the proposal.

Candidacy. Doctoral students advance to candidacy upon passing the written and oral comprehensive examinations and filing an approved dissertation proposal in the Graduate School.

Research Proposal. The student should confirm the composition of the research committee prior to registering for 797. This same committee will serve as research and oral comprehensive examination committee unless a change is deemed appropriate by the student and student's research advisor. If there is to be a difference in the doctoral committee structure for the oral comprehensive examination and the dissertation research, the student must submit a change of committee membership form to the Graduate School.

Students should prepare their dissertation proposal in collaboration with their research advisors. Dissertation proposals and proposal hearings are required for all doctoral students. Other committee members are to be consulted when appropriate but the major interaction and editorial work should be with the student's research advisor. Students should avoid sending portions of the dissertation proposal to all committee members for their review and comment. Unless otherwise agreed by the committee members, only completed copies of the proposal or dissertation are to be distributed and reviewed by the committee.

The proposal is then presented to the student's entire committee at least three weeks prior to the scheduled formal proposal hearing. Arrangements for a room are made with the research advisor. Students must make sure all committee members are available and aware of the time and place. The faculty representative must be present at both the proposal hearing and the final dissertation defense which will be a public hearing open to the academic community.

After the proposal hearing, the proposal is to be revised according to committee requirements. During the proposal hearing, committee members will direct questions to the student and point out concerns regarding the proposed project. It is a good idea for the student to take careful notes of all comments and concerns made and then review the notes with the committee before the hearing is over to insure that all the requested changes are included on the list. It will be the student's responsibility, in consultation with the research advisor, to address those concerns in a revised proposal. It is recommended that the student summarize the changes that have been incorporated into the revised proposal to assist the committee in identifying and locating the changes that have been made.

The revised proposal should then be circulated with a signature page to the committee for review and signature if they approve of the revisions. A second committee meeting is optional but could be required by the committee due to the extensive nature of the expected changes or to expedite the approval process. All committee members' signatures are required.

Filing Proposal. The approved proposal is then submitted to the Graduate School. The student shall sign the non-plagiarism affirmation when the proposal is filed and shall be told that another affirmation must be signed and filed in the Graduate School Office with the corrected dissertation following the defense. All doctoral students must submit a paper copy of the signature page with signatures of all committee members. Students must also assume responsibility for maintaining their own paper copy of the entire proposal in a secure location until the time of their graduation.

Electronic submission. Students have the option of submitting a paper copy or electronic copy of the proposal narrative to the Graduate School. Doctoral students who elect to submit an electronic copy of their proposals must remain prepared to submit a paper copy at any time if requested to do so by the Graduate School or by a member of their committee. Students wishing to submit electronic copies should submit the proposal on high-quality floppy, zip, or compact disk. A description of the operating system and word processing system should accompany electronic submissions.

The Graduate School will consider the proposal to be accepted unless the Graduate Dean would object to the proposal. If the Dean objects, the proposal would be sent to the student and research advisor with specific written requests for revision. Students register for prefix 799, Doctoral Dissertation, with the approval of their research advisor. Approval from the appropriate institutional review board (IRB for human subject research or IACUC for animal research) must be obtained prior to collecting data for the dissertation.

Dissertation Defense. The student will complete the project and write the dissertation in close collaboration with the research advisor. The student will submit a Request to Schedule a Doctoral Examination form to the Graduate School to request a defense date. The Graduate School will send the research advisor a copy of the confirmed schedule and a defense evaluation. The scheduled defense date must be at least two weeks (14 calendar days) following the request to allow for publicizing the defense to the academic community. Requests for defense submitted more than two weeks in advance are welcomed and appreciated.

The defense must occur at least five weeks (35 calendar days) before the anticipated graduation date or the student cannot graduate until the following semester.

All members of the graduate faculty may attend the defense and may ask questions of the student after the committee members finish their questioning. Other graduate students may attend with permission from the research advisor.

The research advisor should discuss the nature and purpose of the dissertation defense with the student. Generally, the student is instructed to prepare a brief description of the entire study from the purpose to the results and discussion.

The committee is free to ask any questions pertaining to the dissertation. The student is expected to understand all aspects of the study including the data analyses and theoretical implications and should avoid being unaware of the procedure or logic followed in the data analyses even if he/she contracted the services of a statistical consultant to complete the analyses. The committee will expect the student to demonstrate himself/herself as an expert on the topic and thesis of the dissertation. It should be recommended that the student bring copies of the signature pages for the dissertation to the defense in the event that the committee evaluates the performance as pass. They can then sign the evaluation form and the signature pages. The dissertation committee will evaluate the student's performance at the defense as well as the written dissertation as a "pass," "pass with conditions," or "failure" on the Report of Defense of Dissertation form. If a student fails the defense, the research advisor shall obtain the signatures of the research committee members on the Report of Defense of Dissertation form and submit the form to the Graduate School. The Graduate School shall then notify the student that the degree program is terminated.

If the student passes the defense, the research advisor shall obtain the signatures of the research committee members on the Report of Defense of Dissertation form and submit the form to the Graduate School. The student shall proceed to make any corrections required by the research committee and submit the corrected dissertation to the committee members for their signatures. The student must provide all necessary copies of the signature page.

If the research committee requires the student to meet stated conditions, the research advisor shall list the conditions on the Report of Defense of Dissertation form, obtain the signatures of the committee members on the form, and submit the form to the Graduate School. The list of conditions must include a statement regarding the number of additional defense meetings authorized and the amount of additional time allowed by the research committee.

If the student subsequently satisfies the stated conditions, the research advisor shall obtain the original Report of Defense of Dissertation form from the Graduate School, shall obtain the signatures of the research committee members on SECTION II of the form indicating approval, and resubmit the form to the Graduate School. The student shall proceed to make any corrections required by the research committee and submit the corrected dissertation to the committee members for their signatures.

If the student does not meet the stated conditions, the research advisor shall obtain the original Report of Defense of Dissertation form from the Graduate School, shall obtain the signatures of the research committee members on SECTION II of the form indicating that they do not approve, and resubmit the form to the Graduate School. The Graduate School shall then notify the student that the degree program is terminated.

Dissertation Filing. After completing any necessary revisions and successful approval of the dissertation by the student's committee, one copy of the final dissertation is to be submitted to the Graduate School. The Graduate School will conduct an editorial review to check for grammar, spelling and formatting. The student will then be asked to make revisions and/or submit the additional three copies of the final dissertation for the Dean of the Graduate School to sign. The dissertation is not approved until signed by the Graduate Dean.

The original and each additional copy must contain an originally signed signature page signed by the committee.

If the dissertation is not filed with the Graduate School at least four weeks (28 calendar days) before the student's anticipated graduation date, the student may not graduate until the following semester.

Upon filing the dissertation, the Graduate School will require each doctoral student to complete specific forms relating to the dissertation and will bill the current fees for binding, mailing, microfilming, and publishing the dissertation. All four copies of the dissertation will be bound by the university. The dissertation will be microfilmed and the abstract will be published in Dissertation Abstracts.

After binding, the original and one copy will be filed in the university library, one copy will be forwarded to the student's research advisor, and one copy will be sent to the student.

Dissertation Objection. If a dissertation is filed with all but one of the signatures of the research committee members, the Dean of the Graduate School or his/her designee will ask the non-signing member if he/she wishes to enter a formal objection(s). If a formal objection is filed, the Dean of the Graduate School will appoint a review committee to assess the specific objection(s) of the dissenting dissertation committee member. If the review committee rules that the objection(s) does not justify the rejection of the study, the chairperson of the review committee will sign the dissertation in place of the dissenting faculty member. If the review committee rules that the objection(s) is valid, the student must take appropriate steps to modify the dissertation in order to gain the approval of the original dissertation committee.

Research Requirements

Research Core. Doctoral students must complete a school prescribed core of at least 12 semester hours of research courses or methods of inquiry designated as appropriate to the discipline and approved by the Graduate Council. Courses numbered XXX 622 (Directed Studies) shall not be used to substitute for courses in the research core.

The Graduate School will not waive this requirement but can approve appropriate substitute research courses or methods up to the full 12 semester hours. The program advisor must provide a written request to substitute an alternative course, a syllabus for each course, and rationale for the requested substitute(s) to the Graduate Dean.

Research Tools. All Ph.D. students must demonstrate competency in two acceptable research tools. A research tool is defined as advanced knowledge and/or set of skills related to a specifiable technique or method that contributes to the student's ability to conduct doctoral level research in the discipline. Schools will determine acceptable research tools such as languages, applied statistics, mathematical statistics, and computer languages/applications.

Collateral Field. With the approval of the major school and the Dean of the Graduate School doctoral students may use a collateral field of study as a substitute for one of the research tools. A collateral field of at least 12 credit hours is defined as advanced and specialized or focused knowledge and competence within a specifiable content area or skill area from a related discipline that contributes to the student's ability to conduct doctoral level research in their major discipline (e.g., advanced cognitive theory) applications of distance education technology or multimedia technology to the classroom. The level of competency and the assessment of competency is established by each school and must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Means of evaluating the student's knowledge or skill must be included on the plan of study to indicate how each research tool requirement is to be satisfied. Acceptable evaluation of research tools might include examinations in academic courses, competency demonstrations evaluated by advisors and committee members, or alternative testing or competency demonstration procedures developed within the school or program.

Residency Requirement

Each student must complete at least two terms of full-time study in residence after having been admitted to the doctoral degree program. A term in residence is defined as an academic term during which a student completes nine or more credit hours of on-campus course work applicable to the doctoral degree. Non-scheduled courses (e.g., internships, externships, directed studies and doctoral research) will not be counted in the nine or more credit hours unless a student also completes at least six other credit hours of on-campus course work applicable to the doctoral degree.

Schools may request approval of alternative requirements. Proposals for alternative residency requirements must assure extensive immersion in discipline research or practice under close supervision of school graduate faculty or field professionals approved for graduate faculty equivalent status. Further, alternative proposals should address how the requirements promote appropriate values and professional motivation of a doctoral student beyond the training or academic experience that the individual will receive. Approvals will be applicable only to the program(s) specified in the proposal. Proposals should be submitted as a program curriculum request in accordance with the current curriculum review process. Alternative proposals must be approved by Graduate Council and Graduate Dean prior to implementation for any individual student.

The purpose for this residency requirement is to encourage immersion of the doctoral student in the program of study, the school and the discipline. Part-time or sporadic participation in a doctoral program is discouraged. A residency requirement does not guarantee total focus on doctoral studies. It does extend the message that a doctoral program involves more than attending some classes and completing program requirements. It also includes refinement of professional values and developing the intrinsic motivation required to contribute to the discipline.

If a UNC or Aims Community College employee cannot meet the above prescribed residency requirement due to employment restrictions, he/she may satisfy the requirement by completing 20 or more credit hours of on-campus work applicable to the degree during consecutive, academic year terms. Such a student must receive written permission from his/her immediate supervisor and a recommendation from his/her major school to fulfill the residency requirements in this manner. The supervisor's permission and the school's recommendation must be filed with the Graduate School.

Time Limit

The maximum time allowed for completion of a doctoral degree is eight calendar years beginning with the student's first semester of enrollment after admission has been granted.

However, if a student has approval to count work taken before first enrollment after admission, the student must complete the degree within eight calendar years beginning with the earliest work counted in the program.

If a student has completed a Specialist in Education degree at the time he/she begins a doctoral degree program and if the student is permitted to include 21 semester hours of his/her specialist degree credit in the doctoral program, the student shall have a maximum time limit of five calendar years to earn the doctoral degree.


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