School of Graduate Studies

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Doctoral Degree


Doctoral degrees generally require a course of study of 60 credits beyond a master's degree or 90 credits beyond a bachelor's degree. A dissertation represents a culmination of original research in a specified discipline. For the EdD, 12 research credits are required; for the PhD, a minimum of 12 research credits are required.

The Publication Guide for Graduate Students is required in preparing your dissertation:

Doctoral Degree Forms

Supervisory Committee Approval form

Click here to download the form.
Due: By the end of the third semester
Signatures needed: Major professor, committee members, department head

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A Supervisory Committee Approval form confirms and formalizes the names of authorized individuals who will serve on a student's committee.

When a doctoral student is admitted, the department head appoints a temporary advisor to work with the student until a supervisory committee is established. A Supervisory Committee Approval form must be submitted to the dean of graduate studies for approval by the end of the student's third semester following matriculation. Committee changes are not to be made during the 6 weeks prior to the final defense. When completing the Supervisory Committee Approval form, please follow instructions 1-5 in the lower left corner of the form.

A doctoral supervisory committee must include at least 5 faculty members with doctoral degrees who are approved by the department head and the dean of graduate studies. Three members must be from within and at least 1 must be from outside the department or interdepartmental degree-granting program in which the student is matriculated. Adjunct faculty can serve on the doctoral committees with the approval of the dean of graduate studies. Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees, but may not chair new committees.

For information about the guidelines for supervisory committee appointments, click here.




Program of Study form

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Due: By the end of the third semester
Signatures needed: Major professor, committee members, department head, student

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The Program of Study form constitutes a contract between the student, the committee, and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies regarding what courses a student will take and what competencies the student will meet in completion of his or her program requirements.

The original Program of Study form with signatures in ink should be submitted to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies by the student by the end of the third semester following matriculation. Amendments to the Program of Study form can be made with an e-mail from the major professor to Laura Holley (Laura.Holley@usu.edu) and carbon copies (CCs) must be sent to all committee members. No changes can be made to the Program of Study form within the 2 months prior to the defense.

Hint: Graduate students using university facilities or faculty time must be registered for a minimum of 3 graduate credits every semester until completion of all degree requirements.

A graduate student who is not using university facilities or faculty time may meet the continuous registration requirement by paying the Continuous Registration Fee of $100 per semester (not necessary for summer semester). This alternative requires a written request from the department head, including verification that the student is not using university facilities and/or faculty time. International students usually do not qualify to pay the Continuous Registration Fee because of immigration regulations.

See General Catalog for more information.




Application for Candidacy form

Click here to download the form.
Due: Three months prior to the final defense with the Proposal Cover Sheet
Signatures needed: Major professor, committee members, department head, student

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The Application for Candidacy form must be submitted 3 months before the student's final defense and must accompany a signed copy of the student's dissertation proposal cover sheet. The Application for Candidacy form, signed by all members of the committee and the department head, attests that the student is ready to conduct independent dissertation research.




Proposal Cover Sheet

Click here to see a sample.
Due: Three months prior to the final defense with the Application for Candidacy form
Signatures needed: Committee members

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The Proposal Cover Sheet, signed by all members of the committee and submitted to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies following the proposal defense, formalizes an agreement between the student and committee members regarding the topic and content of the student's dissertation.

Hint: Have questions about getting the proposal into final thesis format? Attend a thesis/dissertation workshop hosted by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.




Appointment for Examination form

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Due: At least 2 weeks or 10 working days prior to the defense
Signatures needed: Major professor, committee members

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The Appointment for Examination form formally notifies the Office of Research and Graduate Studies that the student will be defending his or her dissertation. This allows the Office of Research and Graduate Studies to confirm that all required paperwork has been submitted by the student, and also ensures the student that committee members have read the dissertation ahead of time and agree that it is ready to be defended.

The final defense should be scheduled by the student after all courses and the dissertation are completed. At least 4 weeks prior to the defense, the student should give a copy of the dissertation to each member of the supervisory committee for approval or corrections. An Appointment for Examination form must be completed by the student and committee, indicating approval of the proposed time and place for the examination and defense, and submitted by the student to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies a minimum of 2 weeks or 10 working days prior to the exam.

Hint: You will save yourself time later if you ask all committee members to sign your dissertation title page at the conclusion of your defense. They can hold it until corrections have been made.




Data and Copyright form and Plans for Publication form

*This form is not available online.
Due: Following the final defense
Signatures needed: Major professor, committee members, student

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The Data and Copyright form and the Plans for Publication form formalize an agreement between the student and major professor about copyrighting the dissertation, publishing the student's thesis, and the ownership of the data. Filing these forms makes these agreements clear should future misunderstandings or disputes occur.

The student and all committee members are required to sign a Data and Copyright form and a Plans for Publication form. The forms are given to the student at his or her final defense of the dissertation. The forms must be submitted to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies following the final defense.




Thesis/Dissertation Format and Style form

Click here to download the form.
Due: With the dissertation when submitted to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies
Signatures needed: Major professor, departmental format/style reviewer (check with your department to identify your format/style reviewer)

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The student is responsible for proofreading the dissertation and having it read and approved by the department before submitting a final, committee-approved and signed copy — with the Thesis/Dissertation Format and Style form attached — to the assistant dean in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. The Thesis/Dissertation Format and Style form communicates which dissertation format has been chosen by the student and major professor and who will be responsible for communications about dissertation revisions. The assistant dean will review the dissertation for proper format and conformity to departmental and Office of Research and Graduate Studies standards. The assistant dean will attach a check sheet of formatting, stylistic, and mechanical problems and will mark examples of needed changes on the dissertation.

Format corrections and required rewriting must be completed before the assistant dean will submit the dissertation to the dean of graduate studies for approval. The dean examines each dissertation before approving and signing it. Any dissertation may be selected for further review by members of the faculty not on the student's supervisory committee or by expert reviewers at other institutions before being accepted by the dean.




Doctoral Degree Checklist

Click here to download a printable checklist

  • Supervisory Committee form approved and up-to-date (by the end of the third semester).
  • Program of Study form approved (end of the third semester). All courses listed on the form have been taken and grades submitted. If there is to be any change on the Program of Study form, an e-mail from your major professor, sent to Laura Holley (Laura.Holley@usu.edu), is needed authorizing the change.
  • No coursework (including transfer credit) on the Program of Study form is out-of-date (older than eight years). If so, has the major professor been notified? If revalidation is allowed by the department, the major professor must send a letter to the dean of graduate studies outlining how the courses will be revalidated.
  • Dissertation proposal signed by committee members and submitted to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
  • Application for Candidacy form approved, including verification that comprehensive exams have been passed (three months prior to final defense)
  • Appointment for Examination form submitted to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at least 2 weeks or 10 working days before the final examination.
  • Registered for at least three credit hours the semester of defense.
  • Record of Exam Completion form signed and submitted by the committee to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
  • Data and Copyright and Plans for Publication forms submitted to Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
  • Graduation forms completed, fees paid (see Diploma Fee Payment form), and forms returned to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. These forms are listed below and are given at your final defense; they must all be submitted together:
    • Commencement data card
    • Diploma Fee Payment form ($15)
    • Alumni file card
    • Survey of Earned Doctorate form
    • Student survey
  • Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Approval form is signed. This form is also included with the forms given at your final defense and taken to the library with your dissertation.
  • Incomplete grades for research credits changed.
  • Dissertation completed and signed by all committee members. When this step is completed, the dissertation must be submitted to the assistant dean for review. After the assistant dean is satisfied that it meets the requirements, the dissertation will be submitted to the dean of graduate studies for a signature. When the dean has signed the dissertation, it must be picked up from the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, then copies are made and taken to the second floor of the Merrill-Cazier Library for hard binding. Binding fees will be paid to the Merrill-Cazier Library at that time. Please note that the university requires one copy of the dissertation which remains in the library.
  • After the dean has signed the dissertation, the student's file will be reviewed for completion and processed for graduation.
  • Binding Clearance form returned to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. This is the final document signaling completion of degree.

All requirements and graduation forms must be completed by the last day of the semester you plan to complete your program. Deadlines for spring commencement participation vary.

Diplomas are mailed out 8 to 10 weeks after the end of the semester. The diploma will be mailed to the address provided on the Diploma Fee Payment form.

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