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Professional Doctoral Degrees

Section 7.17 of the Graduate School Handbook

Professional doctoral degrees prepare students for advanced professional knowledge with a practice perspective to the learning, and variable levels of scholarly work. Frequently, professional doctoral degrees will contain training and advanced knowledge that is required by a relevant licensing board and professional organization. The professional doctoral examination, final document, and exit requirements are components that provide examination and capstone experiences consistent with the profession’s standards and the Graduate School’s expectations for professional doctoral programs.

Please note that these degrees differ from professional programs that have been established, report to the Office of Academic Affairs, and are not overseen by the Graduate School (Section 8.1).

The following professional doctoral degrees are offered at the university and are overseen by the Graduate School:


Admissions Criteria

  • an earned baccalaureate or professional degree from an accredited college or university by the expected date of entry
  • a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average (on the 4.0 scale used at Ohio State) in all previous undergraduate and graduate work
  • prerequisite training that will enable the student to pursue the graduate program to which admission is sought
  • a minimum score of 550 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). This requirement applies only to an applicant from a country where the first language is not English, unless a bachelor’s degree or higher was earned in an English-speaking country
  • additional criteria published by the Graduate Studies Committee (e.g., professional accreditation or certification)

Program of Study. Students follow a course of study established by the professional doctoral degree program. Professional doctoral degree programs include a professional doctoral examination, final document, and exit requirement. Professional doctoral degree programs include practicum, internship, or similar clinical or professional experiences designed to provide mastery of the skills needed by doctoral-level practitioners in the field. Professional doctoral degree programs may also have additional discipline-specific requirements that reflect licensing or accreditation standards.

Credit Hours. A minimum of 80 graduate credit hours, or the minimum credit hours approved by the Graduate School for a program, beyond the baccalaureate degree is required to earn a professional doctoral degree.

If a master’s degree has been earned by the student, then a minimum of 50 graduate credit hours, or the minimum credit hours approved by the Graduate School for a program, beyond the master’s degree is required. Of the 50 post-master’s hours, at least 24 graduate hours must be taken at this university. If the master’s degree was earned at another university, it must be transferred to this university. When a professional doctoral student has taken a master’s degree at this university and has earned graduate credit in excess of the minimum required for that degree, the student’s advisor, with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, notifies the Graduate School of the courses to be counted toward the 50 graduate credit hours required for the professional doctoral degree.

A student must be registered for at least three graduate credit hours during the autumn or spring semesters or summer term of the professional doctoral examination, the autumn or spring semester or summer term of the exit requirement, and the autumn or spring semester or summer term of expected graduation.

Professional Doctoral Examination. Students are required to take a professional doctoral examination testing the student’s understanding of the theoretical and applied fundamentals of the field as well as the student’s readiness to engage in a sustained clinical or professional experience. The timing of the professional doctoral examination is set in accordance with the requirements of professional preparation but generally precedes a sustained clinical or professional experience.

The Professional Doctoral Examination cannot be taken the same autumn or spring semester or summer term as the exit requirement or expected graduation. The student must submit an Application for Professional Exam on GRADFORMS at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date of the exam.

Failure. A student who fails the professional doctoral examination twice is not allowed an additional examination. After two unsatisfactory attempts at the professional doctoral examination, a student is not permitted to be a doctoral candidate in the same or any other graduate program at this university.

Final Document. Students in professional doctoral programs submit an original final document demonstrating original thinking and the ability to evaluate research in the field analytically. Students in professional doctoral programs are expected to follow the document formatting standards of their disciplines. Each committee member indicates approval of the student’s final document by posting their decision on the Report on Final Document in GRADFORMS. The final version of the student’s final document is retained permanently by the student’s program. Final documents must not contain material restricted from public disclosure.

Professional doctoral exam Committee. The final exam committee is composed of the advisor, who must be a Category P, or Category M with a degree of the Professional Doctorate, or equivalent, of the student’s home program, as well as at least one other authorized graduate faculty member, and one faculty member approved by the program. Graduate Faculty Representatives do not serve on the final exam committee.

Exit Requirement. Students are required to complete an exit requirement designed by the professional doctoral program to demonstrate candidates’ preparation for advanced application and/or practice in the profession. The exit requirement is structured around the final document.

External Reviewers. External reviewers may assist in the evaluation of professional doctorate candidates by reviewing the final document or by participating in the exit requirement.

Time to Degree. Professional doctoral degree requirements must be completed within five years after a student passes the professional doctoral examination.

Review. On written appeal by the student, the Graduate School Grievance Committee will review the professional doctoral examination or exit requirement to ensure its conformity to Graduate School rules and to determine if it was conducted fairly and without prejudice to the student. The Graduate Council has established review procedures (Appendix D).