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Graduate School

Information for Doctoral Students

Full-time students should file their programs before the end of their second semester of graduate study, and part-time students should do so upon the completion of 9 credit hours. A student should prepare the program of study in consultation with the major professor and supervisory committee. The program must be approved by all committee members and the head of the academic unit. It is then submitted for approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Please keep the following points in mind when preparing a program of study (POS):

  1. A minimum of 90 hours is required for a Doctor of Philosophy degree and 94 hours for a Doctor of Education degree.


  2. Of the 24 to 30 hours of course work beyond the master's degree normally required by the supervisory committee, 15 hours should be at the 800-level or above, in addition to doctoral research credit hours.


  3. Course titles, curriculum codes, course numbers, and the semester taken should be listed on the program as they are recorded on your transcript. Research hours should be listed as a total, not by semester.


  4. No more than 6 hours of course work (outside the major field of study) at the 500 level, beyond those on the master's degree, are permitted on a doctoral program of study. For students who bypass the master's degree, no more than 12 hours of course work at the 500 level are permitted.


  5. Only 6 hours of problems or other individualized study (such as Readings) may be applied towards a doctoral degree.


  6. Courses designated as deficiencies by the department at the time of admission cannot be used on a program of study. (Refer to the admission letter sent by the Graduate School.)


  7. A maximum of 30 hours from a master's degree may be used on a doctoral degree, if the supervisory committee decides that the course work is relevant to the doctoral program. If the whole 30 hours is not being included, course work from a master's degree should be listed individually on the doctoral program of study. If the master's degree was in a program different from the doctoral degree, written justification for use on the doctoral program of study must be submitted by the major professor and the supervisory committee. If the master's degree is from another university, an official transcript is required and must be mailed directly from the other university to the Graduate School and be on file in the Graduate School before a program of study can be approved.


  8. If a master's degree was not earned, 10 hours of master's or doctoral-level work taken elsewhere may be transferred. If a master's degree was earned and 30 hours of credit from the degree have been included in a doctoral program, an additional 10 hours of transfer credits may be transferred for doctoral-level work. (These hours must represent credit earned beyond a master's degree, even when the master's program included more than 30 hours.) The Graduate School may grant exceptions to this limit when justified by inter-institutional collaborations. In either case, credits that were earned more than seven years prior to the semester in which the program of study is approved cannot be transferred. (This does not include the credits earned as part of a master's degree.) It should be noted on the program of study if the transfer courses are to be taken in the future. Final program approval in such cases cannot be determined until all transcripts are received. Students must have received an A or B in courses to be transferred.


  9. If a doctoral student does not complete the requirements for the degree within five years after taking preliminary examinations, the student may be dropped from candidacy.


  10. If changes need to be made to a program of study or the committee after approval by the Graduate School, a Program/ Committee Change form must be completed. Unless there are extensive changes, a revised program does not have to be submitted.

The Graduate Handbook also contains information about programs of study and other requirements for graduate study at K-State. The Handbook is available in departmental offices, on our web site, or can be purchased at the K-State Student Union Bookstore.

A reminder

When your Program of Study cannot be approved, either because it violates Graduate Council guidelines or because you have not satisfied certain prerequisites, both you and your committee are confronted by delays and extra work. In an effort to help you avoid such problems we have listed below some of the more common reasons programs are returned. 

  1. A course or courses listed has not been taken for graduate credit.


  2. There are too many credit hours of problems or other individualized study courses listed. A doctoral program may include 6 such hours.


  3. The POS fails to meet the rule that 15 credit hours must be at the 800-level or higher, in addition to doctoral research credit hours.


  4. The POS includes deficiency courses.


  5. Courses listed do not match those appearing on the student's transcript. Course number, curriculum code, and credit hours should appear exactly as they appear on the transcript.


  6. Not all of the committee members listed are members of the Graduate Faculty, or the major professor is not certified to direct doctoral study.


  7. The Graduate School has not received official transcripts for all transfer courses, or such transcripts show that the courses in question do not qualify for transfer credit.


  8. The POS does not have the required signatures.


  9. There is no indication on the program of study if research activities involve the use of human subjects, radioactive materials, live vertebrates, or biohazardous materials.

Preliminary examination

A doctoral student must be given a written preliminary examination, which may be supplemented by an oral examination as prescribed by the supervisory committee. These are designed to test the student's breadth and depth of knowledge in the proposed field of specialization, as well as the student's ability to explore problems on the boundaries of knowledge. Satisfactory performance in the examination is an indication that the student is prepared to perform independent work toward the doctoral degree and results in the student being classified as a doctoral candidate, upon affirmative recommendation by the supervisory committee. The examination may be scheduled after the program of study is filed and at a time deemed appropriate by the supervisory committee. The preliminary examination must be completed at least 7 months before the final oral examination.

Once the supervisory committee and the student decide when the examination is to be taken, the student should notify the Graduate School one month before the scheduled date. A ballot is sent to the major professor by the Graduate School. Copies of the examination are filed with the academic unit and made available on request to any graduate faculty member for a period of two years from the date of examination.

The results of the preliminary examination are indicated on the ballot by the signatures of those members of the departmental or program examining committee responsible for administration and grading of the examination. The format of the examination and the structure of the examining committee may differ among doctoral programs, and in some programs, the examining committee will differ from the supervisory committee. Within one week following the completion and determination of the results of the preliminary examination, including those of any oral portion, the supervisory committee must sign and return the ballot to the Graduate School, indicating that the preliminary examination has been completed and recommending approval or disapproval of the student's admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The student is considered to have passed the examination and to be recommended to candidacy if at least three fourths of the supervisory committee voted to approve candidacy.

In case of failure of the first preliminary examination, the supervisory committee may approve a second examination with no more than one dissenting vote. A second examination can be taken no sooner than three months following the initial failure. Once the supervisory committee and the student decide when the second examination is to be taken, the student should notify the Graduate School one month before the scheduled date. The composition of the supervisory committee shall not be changed before a final decision is reached on admission to candidacy. A second failure constitutes denial of admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree in the field of study of the graduate program. As with the first examination, the signed ballot must be returned to the Graduate School within one week of the determination of the results of the examination.


A full-time doctoral student should normally complete the preliminary examination within three years of entry into the doctoral program, and, upon satisfactory completion of the examination, the student is automatically advanced to candidacy for the degree.

The period of candidacy may last up to five years from the end of the semester in which the preliminary examination was passed. If a student fails to complete both the dissertation and final oral examination within this period, the student will be dropped from candidacy. Any student whose candidacy has thus lapsed may regain the status of a doctoral candidate by successfully retaking the preliminary examination.

Continuous enrollment

A student working for a doctorate must be enrolled at Kansas State University during the semester in which the preliminary examination is taken and in each subsequent semester (fall and spring) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is accepted by the Graduate School. Failure to enroll will result in loss of candidacy. To regain candidacy, the student must successfully petition the Readmission Committee of the Graduate School.

If it is necessary to interrupt progress toward the degree after the preliminary examination has been passed, the student or major professor may petition for a leave of absence of up to 1 year. The petition must be submitted at least 1 month before the effective date of leave. Approval must be granted by the major professor, the department head or chairperson of an interdepartmental program, and the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean will establish the conditions of the leave. An extension of a leave of absence beyond one year may be granted by the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation of the student's supervisory committee.

If, after passing preliminary examinations, a doctoral candidate moves more than 30 miles from Manhattan and is no longer taking course work on campus, the requirement to pay campus privilege fees can be waived. The student must notify the Graduate School if this situation exists. Information about enrollment will then be sent to the student each semester by the Graduate School. Actual enrollment must be done by each student through the K-State Access Technology System (KATS) by phone or via the Web. Students should contact the Graduate School for more information. 


A dissertation is required of all candidates for the award of a doctoral degree. Its purpose is to demonstrate the candidate's ability to conduct significant original research of a type appropriate to the academic discipline, to analyze the information obtained from the research, and to present the results in a form acceptable to the supervisory committee. A dissertation must be written in a form appropriate to the discipline.

The candidate must provide a copy of the dissertation to each member of the final examining committee (see below) at least two weeks before the final examination.

Following a successful final examination and approval of the final form of the dissertation by the examining committtee, the candidate shall submit an electronic dissertation to the Dean of the Graduate School at least one month prior to the commencement at which the degree is to be conferred.

Final Examination

When the student is admitted to candidacy, the Dean of the Graduate School appoints an examining committee. This committee consists of the supervisory committee and a member of the graduate faculty not on the supervisory committee. The additional member serves as a chairperson for the final oral examination.

The outside chairperson, as the representative of the Graduate School, is responsible for conducting the final examination in an orderly manner, evaluating it as a test of the candidate's expertise, submitting the final ballot, and making other reports as appropriate or required. As a member of the examining committee, the chairperson also has the right and the responsibility to evaluate the candidate's performance and to cast a vote.

The final oral examination may be taken when the student has completed the program of study and satisfied all other program requirements. All final examinations must be given on the Manhattan campus and scheduled at least two weeks in advance.

When the dissertation has been approved, the oral final examination has been passed, and all other requirements have been met, the candidate is recommended by the Dean of the Graduate School to the Faculty Senate for approval to award the degree.