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Washington State University Graduate School

DOCTORAL DEGREE ACADEMIC POLICIES

1. Faculty Advisory Committee

The doctoral committee is nominated on the doctoral student’€™s Committee Request form. A doctoral committee should include at least three faculty members. At the beginning of the third semester of study, the chair of the major program should, in conjunction with the student, appoint an advisor to serve as chair of the student’€™s doctoral committee until a permanent chair is obtained; Ultimately, it is the student’€™s responsibility to obtain a permanent chair and committee members for his/her graduate program committee.

  • Unless specified otherwise in the approved program bylaws, the chair of the doctoral committee must be a permanent WSU tenure-track faculty participating as a graduate faculty of the student’€™s program. Non-tenure WSU faculty (research, clinical, adjunct or affiliate) who are participating as graduate faculty within a program may serve on, co-chair, or chair a committee if approved in the program bylaws.
  • At least two other members of the doctoral committee must be permanent WSU tenure-track faculty and members of the graduate faculty of the student’€™s program.
  • All three members noted above must hold a research doctoral degree comparable to the degree sought by the student.
  • A fourth member may be a member of the graduate faculty of the student’€™s program but is not required to be permanent WSU tenure-track faculty.
  • An additional committee member who holds the highest appropriate degree and whose special knowledge is particularly important to the proposed program, but who is not a member of the graduate faculty, may be requested for approval by the Dean of the Graduate School. This might be a non-tenured/non-tenured track faculty from another graduate program at WSU or from another university, or an individual from an appropriate government, business or industry organization who is not designated as an official graduate faculty of a program. Such an individual may be nominated and approved to serve on a graduate student committee on a case-by-case basis by the program upon written request by the program chair to the Dean of the Graduate School. A current curriculum vita must be included with the written request. A WSU tenured/tenured track faculty member in good standing from another graduate program at WSU can serve as an additional committee member in any graduate program if approved by the committee and program chair on the program of study. No CV or exception to policy is required.
  • If a minor is declared on the doctoral program, at least one member of the committee must be from the approved graduate faculty of the minor program. If this representative is a permanent WSU tenure-track faculty, he/she may fill the requirement of one of the WSU permanent tenure-track faculty members on the committee. When no minor is declared, no outside member is required. However, when outside supporting work is included in the program, an outside member is recommended.
  • Committees may have more than three members; however, members must meet Graduate School policy and program bylaw guidelines. (See Chapter 1, section on Graduate Faculty, for more information.)
  • It is imperative to avoid situations that may constitute or be construed as a conflict of interest when forming a graduate student’s committee.
  • The Graduate School has the final approval for all graduate student committees.

WSU faculty have the right to decline to serve on any specific student’€™s committee. All committee members must sign the Committee Request Form. The doctoral committee is subject to approval by the chair of the major and minor (if applicable) programs and the Dean of the Graduate School. This committee, once approved, has the responsibility of directing the student’€™s progress, supervising the dissertation, and participating in the preliminary and final examinations. Other faculty members of the major and minor graduate programs may participate in the preliminary examination and any faculty member may participate in the final examination. Changes to the doctoral advisory committee may be made by completing the Committee Change form. The Dean of the Graduate School has the authority to remove a faculty member from a student committee after consultation with the program/department chair, the dean of the college and the provost when it is in the best interest of the student and the program.

2. The Preliminary Doctoral Examination

The preliminary doctoral examination is designed to determine the fitness of the student for pursuing a doctoral program in the field in which a degree is desired. The examination is intended to cover both major and minor disciplines (if a minor is approved). The major examination may be written or oral or both, at the discretion of the major program. The minor examination (when applicable) may be written or oral or both, or may be waived at the discretion of the minor program. When the minor examination is waived, the member of the committee from the minor program shall vote with the major program. The minor program is notified if the student has less than a 3.0 grade point average on the student’€™s minor work when the minor examination has been waived.

A preliminary examination is required of each doctoral student for advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The student is responsible for scheduling the preliminary examination (oral exam and/or ballot meeting for written exam). It may be scheduled using the Preliminary Examination Scheduling Form, only after the Program of Study has been approved, a substantial portion of the required course work has been completed (six or fewer graded credits remaining to take), and when the student and committee chair believes the student is prepared for the examination. The student must be registered for a minimum of two hours of 800 as a regular graduate student at the beginning of the semester or summer session in which the preliminary examination is to be taken, and have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and a 3.0 grade point average or higher on the program courses already taken before the preliminary examination may be scheduled. The preliminary examination must be scheduled with the Graduate School at least 10 working days before the examination is held.

A member of the student’s committee will be appointed by the Graduate School to serve as the Graduate School liaison regarding the examination process (balloting, etc.). A student, department chair, graduate program director, committee member, or any other concerned member of the WSU community may request that the Graduate School provide an independent observer to be present at a preliminary examination/ballot meeting. The name of the individual making the request will be held confidential. All such requests will be fulfilled by drawing on a member of the Graduate Mentor Academy. All repeat examinations or defenses will have such an independent, outside representative. During the scheduling process, the Graduate School will notify the student, committee and department chair/program director if a Graduate Mentor has been assigned to an exam.

Examination Environment and Process

  • For students participating in on-campus programs, preliminary examinations shall be held during regular working hours of an academic session in an academic environment either on the Pullman or branch campus, or by video conference over Academic Media Services (AMS) or similar technologies.
  • Students participating in approved Global Campus programs have the option of taking their preliminary examinations during regular working hours of an academic session either on campus or via technology approved and available through the Global Campus. Arrangements are to be approved by the faculty committee and program chair and be made in accordance with the Graduate School’s examination environment policy and process.
  • All members of the doctoral committee must be present in the room at the oral examination and at the ballot meeting, and all must vote. If the program uses an examination committee, then all members of the committee must be present for the oral examination and the balloting meeting. All committee members are not required to be present for a written examination; however, the examination should be proctored.
  • If the examination is administered via AMS video conference, at least one member of the doctoral committee must be physically present in the room with the student. If the examination is administered via approved Global Campus technology, all committee members must be present during the examination session and subsequent balloting session.
  • Individual programs determine in their bylaws which faculty can participate in the graduate program and thus are eligible to vote. Iin all cases, any eligible faculty wishing to vote must be in attendance during all of the examination and must have participated in the assessment of the student’s examination work. At the discretion of the major program (department) chair, members of the WSU faculty from other graduate programs may be present and may ask questions. However, these faculty are not eligible to vote.
  • All faculty members wishing to vote must be in attendance during all of the oral examination and the balloting meeting. If a faculty member wishing to vote must leave the room or the online session during the examination or balloting discussion, the examination or discussion is to be recessed until said member returns.
  • In situations in which faculty participate over AMS video conference or approved Global Campus technology, actual signed ballots may be sent to the major program chair immediately following the exam via confidential fax or emailed as a PDF file.  No other format is acceptable.  The major program chair should include these ballots in the packet for the Graduate School.

Exceptions to this policy regarding the examination environment, including the use of technology and the presence and participation of faculty, must be requested well in advance of the exam and will be made by the Dean of the Graduate School only under unusual circumstances.

The content and conduct of a preliminary examination is the responsibility of the faculty of the degree-granting program and should be administered by the chair/director of that program or someone delegated by him/her. The department/program chair/director (or designee, i.e., student committee chair) shall be responsible for conducting a fair and searching examination and for affording a reasonable opportunity during the oral portion for all examiners to question the student. There is no time limit for either the written or oral portions of the examination, but all aspects of the examination (i.e., the evaluation of any written component, the oral presentation, and/or the balloting meeting) must be completed within 30 days.

Examination Outcome

At the conclusion of the oral examination or at the ballot meeting if only a written examination is given, the candidate’€™s total performance on the examination should be discussed and ballots cast on the basis of the entire examination. The candidate shall pass if a minimum of three-fourths of those voting so indicate (see Table of Doctoral Preliminary and Final Exam Votes under Section 6 of this chapter).

In the event of a failed examination, a student will be re-examined for a second and final attempt. At least three months, but no longer than two academic semesters excluding summer, must lapse between a failed examination and a re-examination. When scheduling for a second exam, the scheduling form must be submitted at least 15 working days in advance of the exam day. A member of the Graduate Mentor Academy will be appointed by the Graduate School and must be present for a re-examination. The entire committee must be present and vote. A student who has failed two preliminary examinations may not become a candidate for the doctorate and the student’€™s enrollment in the Graduate School will be terminated. The only exception to this reexamination policy is if a member of the Graduate Mentor Academy (appointed by the Graduate School) presided over the student’€™s first exam and agrees that a re-examination is not an appropriate disposition of the case (see Chapter 1, Section E.2, Examination (Preliminary or Final Failure). In the event of exam failure, the student has the right to appeal to the Graduate School should there be procedural irregularities or extenuating circumstances during the first or second exam.

A minimum of four months must elapse between the successful completion of a preliminary examination and the scheduling of a final examination.

3. Doctoral Research

Prior approval for use of human or animal subjects, or biohazardous materials  in research is required. If the student plans to utilize human or animal subjects, or biohazardous materials for research, he/she must contact the Office of Research Assurances (see Chapter 11 for additional policies and resources concerning research).

4. The Dissertation Requirement

All doctoral programs require that a candidate prepare a dissertation. The dissertation is a scholarly, original study that represents a significant contribution to the knowledge of the chosen discipline. The student must enroll for research (800) credits while preparing and defending the dissertation.

The doctoral committee is responsible for ensuring that the student has followed an appropriate format and that the content is acceptable. The graduate committee members must read and return drafts of dissertations to the student within a reasonable period of time. The Graduate Studies Committee recommends that committee members hold drafts for no longer than 30 days.

Washington State University participates in the ProQuest Dissertation Publishing Program and submits all dissertations to this organization for publication upon acceptance. No material in the dissertation may be restricted in any way; the dissertation must be made available through the Washington State Libraries and ProQuest for inspection by any interested parties. If copyrighted material is included in the dissertation, written permission must be obtained from the copyright owner to reproduce the material in the dissertation. Such written permission must be submitted to the Graduate School at final acceptance.

Following a passed oral examination, the student must submit the dissertation through the Graduate School’s official dissertation submission process for final acceptance. Detailed instructions for submission of the dissertation can be found in Chapter 6 (General Academic Requirements).

5. Scheduling the Final Defense Examination

The completed Dissertation Acceptance/Final Examination Scheduling form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 10 (ten) working days in advance of the examination date. It is necessary to present an electronic copy of the dissertation that is complete in format at the time of scheduling. The examination must be scheduled at least four months, but less than three years, after satisfactory completion of the preliminary examination.

The Dissertation Acceptance/Final Examination Scheduling Form is to be signed by all members of the student’€™s committee; committee signatures verify that a typed or electronic copy of the dissertation, suitable in format and content for submission to the library, has been given preliminary approval. Responsibility (including financial) for changes in format after the Dissertation Acceptance/Final Examination scheduling form is signed rests with the graduate program rather than with the student. Content changes are always the responsibility of the student. Students must complete the Application for Degree within my.WSU (instructions found at https://gradschool.wsu.edu/graduation-application/) before scheduling a final examination.

All fees, including the graduation fee and the optional copyright fee, must be paid before scheduling the final defense. The Graduate School will schedule the student’€™s final examination upon receipt of the completed Dissertation Acceptance/Final Examination Scheduling Form and a properly formatted, draft copy of the dissertation, which will be returned to the student.

At least 5 (five) working days prior to the oral defense, doctoral candidates must deliver a complete copy of the dissertation to the program chair/director. This copy can serve as the public copy and be displayed at a public place designated by the program. Program requirements for the number of copies of the dissertation to be distributed prior to the examination and after the examination vary. Students should check with their graduate program to ascertain program requirements.

6. Final Doctoral Defense Examination

A candidate for a doctoral degree must pass a final oral examination that primarily shall be a defense of the dissertation but may cover the general fields of knowledge pertinent to the degree. The student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, have completed or be enrolled in all the required coursework, have met all admission contingencies, and be registered for a minimum of 2 (two) hours of 800 credit at the beginning of the semester or summer session in which the final examination is to be taken. Final examinations will include discussion of the completed dissertation (which is suitable in format and content for submission to the library). Under extraordinary circumstances, on the recommendation of the student’€™s committee and program chair, the Dean of the Graduate School may approve alternative arrangements.

The candidate’€™s committee is responsible for approving all aspects of the final dissertation before students may schedule the final examination. When committee members sign the Dissertation Acceptance/Final Examination Scheduling form, they indicate that a typed (or electronic) dissertation, suitable in format and content for submission to the Library has been given their approval; they also indicate their acceptance of the date, time, and place of the final examination.

The examining committee shall include the doctoral committee and any other members of the faculty in attendance. The chair of the student’€™s committee will chair the final examination and be responsible for its conduct.

A member of the student’s committee will be appointed by the Graduate School to serve as the Graduate School liaison regarding the examination process (balloting, etc.). A student, department chair, graduate program director, committee member, or any other concerned member of the WSU community may request that the Graduate School provide an independent observer to be present at any final examination/ballot meeting. The name of the individual making the request will be held confidential. All such requests will be fulfilled by drawing on a member of the Graduate Mentor Academy. All repeat examinations or defenses will have such an independent, outside representative. During the scheduling process, the Graduate School will notify the student, committee, and department chair/program director if a Graduate Mentor has been assigned to an exam.

Examination Environment and Process

  • For students participating in on-campus, final examinations shall be held during regurlar working hours of an academic environment either on the Pullman or branch campus, or by videoconference over Academic Media Services (AMS) or similar technologies.  If held over AMS, at least one committee member must be physically present in the room with the student.
  • Students participating in approved Global Campus programs have the option of taking their preliminary examinations during regular working hours of an academic session either on campus or via technology approved and available through the Global Campus.  Arrangements are to be approved by the faculty committee and program chair and be made in accordance with the Graduate School’s examination environment policy and process.
  • All final examinations are public, and all faculty members, regardless of discipline, are particularly encouraged to attend those of interest to them. Although any member of the public at large may attend final examinations, only faculty members may ask questions and vote.
  • All members of the doctoral committee must be present at the oral examination and ballot meeting, and all must vote.
  • All faculty wishing to vote must be in attendance during all of the oral examination and the balloting meeting, and must have participated in the assessment of the student’s examination work. If a faculty member wishing to vote must leave the room or the online session during the examination or balloting discussion, the examination or discussion is to be recessed until said member returns.
  • The final doctoral examination may not exceed two and one-half hours (including the student’s seminar presentation).
  • There is no separation into major and minor fields; all examiners vote on the total examination.
  • In situations in which faculty participate over AMS videoconference or approved Global Campus technology, actual signed ballots may be sent to the Graduate School’s liaison immediately following the exam via confidential fax or emailed as a pdf file. No other format is acceptable. The Graduate School liaison should include these ballots in the packet for the Graduate School.

Exceptions to this policy regarding the examination environment, including the use of technology and the presence and participation of faculty, must be requested well in advance of the exam and will be made by the Dean of the Graduate School only under unusual circumstances.

Examination Outcome

The candidate shall pass if a minimum of three-fourths of those voting so indicate (see Table of Doctoral Preliminary and Final Exam Votes below). In the event of a failed final examination, a second and last attempt may be scheduled after a lapse of at least three months. When scheduling for a second exam, the scheduling form must be submitted at least 15 working days in advance of the exam day. A member of the Graduate Mentor Academy will be appointed by the Graduate School and must be present for a re-examination. The entire committee must be present and vote. A student who has failed two examinations will be dismissedfrom the Graduate School. The only exception to this reexamination policy is if a member of the Graduate Mentor Academy (appointed by the Graduate School) presided over the student’s first exam and agrees that a re-examination is not an appropriate disposition of the case (see Chapter 1, Section E.2, Examination (Preliminary or Final) Failure). Should there be procedural irregularities or extenuating circumstances during the first or second exam, the student has the right to appeal to the Graduate School in the event of examination failure.

Table of Doctoral Preliminary and Final Exam Votes

 

Number of Examiners Qualified to Vote Number of Examiners Voting to Pass
3 3
4 3
5 4
6 5
7 6
8 6
7. Second Doctoral Degree

Applicants holding a doctoral degree or having completed all requirements for the doctoral degree may be admitted to a second doctoral program at Washington State University under the following conditions and with the following provisions governing enrollment and the academic program:

  • If the applicant is admissible to the Graduate School and to the doctoral program to which he/she is applying and explanations for seeking a second doctorate are acceptable to the program, the applicant may be admitted as a degree-seeking graduate student in the doctoral program of his/her choice.
  • While the process outlined above is underway, the applicant may be considered for admission as a not-advanced degree candidate (NADC) (not a degree candidate) in the program to which he/she is applying for doctoral studies. If accepted by the Graduate School and the program concerned, the applicant may enroll as a NADC student without the usual restrictions controlling transfer of credit from NADC to degree-seeking status. The applicant for a second doctoral program who accepts NADC status should understand that this is not merely a formality prior to admission to a doctoral program. NADC status admission in no way implies ultimate admission to a doctoral program.
  • The Academic Policies of the Graduate School will govern the enrollment and programs of all students studying for the second doctorate. There will be a special requirement that all of the 15 minimum credit core requirements must be graded course work at the graduate (500) level and taken at Washington State University. If the student has taken the first doctoral degree at WSU, the student must take a minimum of 15 core graded credits toward the second degree; none of the research credits from the first degree may count toward the second degree. Second doctoral degree students (NADC status) will be eligible for appointment as teaching and research assistants for a maximum of two academic years and two summer sessions.