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Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

In addition to the requirements described below, individual programs may have their own specific requirements. Students must consult and familiarize themselves with their program requirements.


The degree of Doctor of Philosophy requires a minimum of seventy-five credits earned in courses and in dissertation research, including a minimum of thirty credits of course work, at least fifteen of which must be graded and may not count towards a master’s degree, and a minimum of twenty credits of dissertation research. A minimum of fifteen credits in courses used in compilation of the grade point average must be taken in residence at the University of Vermont following matriculation for the Ph.D. Consult individual programs for additional information on credit hour requirements. Generally, the first year of each doctoral program consists of required courses. With the prior approval of their department and the Graduate College, doctoral students may apply up to six credits of 100-level, or 200-level courses (and not listed in the Graduate Catalog as approved for graduate credit), towards their graduate program. A student's advisor must petition the Graduate College for approval before the student enrolls in the course. Consult individual programs for further limitations. Under no circumstances will a course numbered below 100 be applicable to a doctoral program.  Doctoral students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average.

Minimum Residence Requirements

Candidates for the doctoral degree must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 51 hours in residence. The residency requirement is completed by courses that:

  1. are taken for graduate credit through the University of Vermont, and
  2. are taken after the student has been admitted to the Graduate College.

Some programs may require more than the above minimum hours in residence.

Teaching Requirement

All doctoral candidates must acquire appropriate teaching experience in their chosen fields prior to the award of the degree. The nature and amount of teaching, for which no academic credit is allowed, will be determined by each candidate's program.

Language Requirement

Demonstration of competency in foreign languages may be required in some programs. The requirement may be fulfilled by an examination administered by the program or in conjunction with the appropriate language department. The outcome of the language examination is reported to the Graduate College and will appear as a notation on the transcript. There is no fee for taking the exam.

Graduate Studies Committee

It is the responsibility of the graduate studies committee to supervise the graduate student's program and to review progress at regular intervals. A graduate studies committee consisting of at least four regular members of the graduate faculty is appointed by the department chair or designated departmental representative and approved by the Dean of the Graduate College soon after first enrollment in the Graduate College, unless the student's department employs an alternative approved procedure. The chair of the graduate studies committee serves as the student's academic advisor and also as the dissertation advisor or supervisor. Only a regular member of the graduate faculty can serve as an advisor of a doctoral dissertation. On occasion, it may be appropriate for a professional other than a regular member of the graduate faculty to serve as a member of a graduate studies committee. In such cases, written approval must be obtained from the Dean of the Graduate College prior to the student's beginning dissertation research.

Comprehensive Examination

A written comprehensive examination in the field of study must be passed by the candidate at least six months before the dissertation is submitted. The examination must be prepared by the program concerned, in consultation with the candidate's graduate studies committee. Should the candidate fail the examination, only one reexamination is permitted. Success in the written comprehensive examination is prerequisite to standing for the Dissertation Defense Examination. All examinations are taken on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington. Some programs also require an oral comprehensive examination.

There is no fee for the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. The student's program director or advisor must notify the Graduate College of the outcome of the examination. The result of the examination and the date taken will be recorded as a notation on the academic transcript.

Research and Dissertation

Each candidate, while in residence at the University of Vermont, must complete an acceptable original research project which contributes new knowledge or techniques in an academic field. Each candidate must enroll in a minimum of twenty credits of dissertation research. Only a member of the graduate faculty may supervise dissertation research for the Ph.D.

Dissertation Defense Forms

Defense Committee Membership and Defense Notice forms must be submitted to the Graduate College by the designated deadlines. A Public Notice of the defense is required in order to defend. The Intent to Graduate form must be submitted to the candidate's department before the List of Potential Graduates is due.

Dissertation Format

Students are required by the Graduate College to use a computer software program appropriate to the discipline to create the Table of Contents and the Lists of Tables and Figures from the dissertation text headings.

A dissertation must be prepared and submitted in compliance with the "Guidelines for Writing a Thesis or Dissertation" available from the Graduate College office and the program. A formatted copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate College for a Format/Record Check at least three weeks prior to the scheduled oral defense. Each student must also provide defendable copies of the dissertation to members of the dissertation defense examination committee at least two weeks before the scheduled examination. Individual departments may require earlier deadlines.

Students must notify the Graduate College prior to defending their dissertations.

The oral defense of a dissertation can be scheduled only after successful completion of the comprehensive examination and the submission of an original copy of the dissertation to the Graduate College for a Format/Record Check.

Dissertation Defense Examination Committee

Upon receipt of a completed dissertation, the Dean of the Graduate College will appoint a dissertation defense examination committee based upon nominations submitted by the candidate's advisor. The dissertation defense examination committee consists of a minimum of four University of Vermont faculty members, all regular members of the graduate faculty. At least two graduate faculty members must be from inside the department or program. The chair must be both a member of the graduate faculty and from outside the candidate's department and program. The definition of outside faculty means the faculty member has no appointment of any kind in the department or program. For University-wide interdisciplinary programs, the chair must be outside the department of the candidate's advisor. The chair will be designated by the Graduate College dean upon nomination by the dissertation advisor. Individual programs may require more than four committee members or have other specific membership requirements.  The dissertation defense examination committee and the graduate studies committee do not have to be the same.

The chair of the dissertation defense examination committee has the responsibility for ensuring proper conduct of the examination, appropriate documentation of the results, and that the signatures of endorsement are added to the acceptance page of the dissertation following a successful defense.

The acceptability of the dissertation is determined by the dissertation defense examination committee. The chair of the dissertation defense examination committee notifies the Graduate College of the outcome. A grade of "S" or "U" is awarded. If a student's defense examination performance is not satisfactory, then one reexamination, and one only, is permitted.

After a successful dissertation defense, candidates must electronically upload the corrected dissertation to  for approval by the Graduate College within the time period specified by the dissertation defense examination committee, and/or the Graduate College.