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Section 7.7 of the Graduate School Handbook

Definition of Candidacy. Candidacy is defined as that period in a doctoral student’s studies when she or he is deemed ready to undertake independent and original research resulting in a dissertation (PhD) or to meet performance and document requirements (DMA). Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy by passing the written and oral portions of the candidacy examination will subsequently be termed “doctoral candidates.” 

Candidacy should be reached after doctoral students have taken enough course work to become proficient in the field of study, which is generally two to three years after starting the doctoral program or one year after qualifying or preliminary exams. 

Doctoral students who have achieved candidacy status are deemed to have:

  1. Acquired the necessary advanced knowledge of the subject (normally by meeting all of the course requirements for the particular PhD program) 
  2. Developed the needed technical skills (e.g., language, laboratory, computational, etc.) for work in the subject 
  3. Demonstrated the ability to do the research or scholarship necessary to begin work on a dissertation 

Admission to Candidacy. Provided that the student is in good standing at the end of the autumn or spring semester or summer term in which the candidacy examination is completed, satisfactorily completing that examination admits the student to candidacy for the doctoral degree in that program at the end of that semester or term. A student is normally expected to enroll primarily in 8999 or in program-approved courses after satisfactorily completing the candidacy examination. Doctoral candidates who have successfully completed all conditions for candidacy will be considered at full-time status when enrolling for three credit hours. Candidacy status established in one doctoral program is not transferable to another doctoral program. Additionally, candidacy status obtained at another institution cannot transfer to this University. 

Continuous Enrollment. All students who successfully complete the doctoral candidacy examination will be required to be enrolled in every autumn and spring semester of their candidacy (summer term excluded) until graduation. Doctoral candidates must be enrolled for at least three credits per semester. While the Graduate School and the individual graduate programs will monitor the enrollment of all doctoral candidates, it ultimately will be the responsibility of each doctoral candidate to ensure that they are meeting the enrollment provisions of this policy.

Leave of Absence. Doctoral candidates who cannot continue in their doctoral program due to extenuating circumstances (e.g., medical, military, or University State of Emergency) may request leave of absence from their doctoral studies on a semester-by-semester basis for up to a maximum overall leave period of one year (Section 11.2) While there are many situations upon which a leave can be requested, leave will not be granted for the sole reason of financial hardship. A leave request requires the doctoral candidate to submit a Leave of Absence from Program form in GRADFORMS. Once submitted, the form will be available on GRADFORMS for approval by the doctoral candidate’s home program and advisor before being forwarded to the Graduate School for final review. A request for a leave needs to be submitted before the actual leave period begins. Supporting documentation should be included as an attachment on the petition form. If a leave is granted, the doctoral candidate’s candidacy period will be paused until the doctoral candidate returns to continuous enrollment status.

Dismissal from Candidacy. Doctoral candidates who do not enroll in a required semester (unless on an approved leave of absence) will be dismissed from active candidacy status. A doctoral candidate whose candidacy status has been under dismissal will not be allowed to continue on in the doctoral program until reinstated. A hold will be placed on the doctoral candidate’s university record preventing any further registration or access to university resources. A doctoral candidate wishing to be reinstated to the doctoral program and active candidacy status will need to petition the Graduate Studies Committee in their program. If approved, the Graduate Studies chair of the program will send to the Graduate School a formal request to allow the student to resume studies and register.

Upon approval of a doctoral candidacy reinstatement, the doctoral candidate will be retroactively enrolled in every semester of missed enrollment for three credits of 8999 research hours under their advisor. The doctoral candidate will be responsible for paying the past tuition charges as well as the current university per semester late registration penalty. All past due charges will need to be paid before the Graduate School will approve the doctoral candidate for any future enrollment. The doctoral candidate’s five-year candidacy period will not be interrupted in this situation. 

Condition of Reinstatement. As a condition of reinstatement, a doctoral candidate will be required to follow the continuous enrollment guidelines as a doctoral candidate regardless of when they were admitted to the Graduate School.

Time Limit. If a doctoral candidate fails to submit the final copy of the dissertation or DMA document to the Graduate School within five years of being admitted to candidacy, the candidacy is cancelled. In such a case, with the approval of the advisor and the Graduate School, the doctoral candidate may petition for one extra semester after the conclusion of candidacy to complete all outstanding degree requirements. The doctoral candidate may also petition their advisor and their Graduate Studies Committee to take a supplemental candidacy examination. If the student passes this supplemental candidacy examination, the student is readmitted to candidacy and must then complete a dissertation or DMA document within two years. 

Supplemental Candidacy Examination. The nature of the supplemental candidacy examination and the membership of the candidacy examination committee are determined by the doctoral candidate’s advisor within the rules of the Graduate Studies Committee. The examination committee is comprised of the advisor and at least three other authorized Graduate Faculty members. The supplemental candidacy examination must include a written and an oral portion that lasts no more than two hours. A Graduate Faculty Representative is appointed if a prior unsatisfactory examination result is on record. All other rules pertaining to candidacy examinations must be followed. 

Withdrawal from Doctoral Program.

Doctoral candidates who decide to permanently withdraw from their doctoral program must submit a Withdrawal from Program form on GRADFORMS. This form is to be completed prior to the semester in which the withdrawal status will take effect. The candidacy status will be deactivated and university records will reflect that the doctoral candidate will not be permitted to enroll without the approval of the graduate program and submission of a Reactivate Enrollment Eligibility form to the Graduate School.

Should the doctoral candidate later be reactivated in the doctoral program, a new candidacy examination will be required, and the doctoral candidate will have five years from the successful completion of this exam to complete the dissertation. A doctoral candidate may also need to complete additional course work at the discretion of the graduate program.