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Washington State University Graduate School

Doctoral Degree

Semester one

Find out about the Deadlines and Procedures for Doctoral Degrees.

Select an academic advisor

This person will be key in helping you navigate through the department and Graduate School policies. If you have not already been assigned an academic advisor, check with your department chair or faculty web pages to select one whose research fits your interests.

Resolve Admissions Contingencies

Check your status with the Graduate School and clear any contingencies listed on your original admissions certificate. You will not be able to file a Program of Study (listed below) until all contingencies are cleared. Registration holds may be added that prevent future registration until contingencies have been cleared.

Establish ties in Washington

If you’ve relocated from another state, you should become a Washington resident as soon as possible. Graduate tuition is considerably less for residents than for out-of-state students. Establishing residency can significantly reduce the cost of your graduate education. Non-resident waivers are only guaranteed for one (1) year.

Take Responsible Conduct of Research Training

This online training takes about 30 minutes. All graduate students are REQUIRED to do this (especially if you want your paycheck if you are on an assistantship, or if you want your program of study processed). The training is at

Semester two

Find out about the Deadlines and Procedures for Doctoral Degrees.

Select your committee

By now, you’re probably settled in and have an idea of the type of research you would like to conduct. Before you start, you must select your dissertation committee, which will, which will help guide you through your research. A dissertation committee consists of three faculty members: three permanent tenure-track faculty, all of whom hold the highest appropriate degree comparable to the degree you are seeking, and at least one member from your minor department, if applicable. For more information consult Academic Policies.

Seek IRB approval

The University requires approval for the use of human or animal subjects in research, so before you begin you must seek approval from the Institutional Review Board. You will need to provide proof of said approval in order to use human or animal subjects in your research prior to scheduling your final examination. For more information, contact the Office of Grant and Research Development.

File a Doctoral Program of Study

Your committee chair and other members should aid you in developing your proposed program of study. This is an official list of classes you have taken and/or will take, and research you have conducted or will conduct. After each member signs the proposed Program of Study [PDF], it should then be submitted to your department chair, who will ensure that it meets departmental and Graduate School requirements.

Submit your Program of Study

Program of Study should be submitted no later than the end of the first year of your post-master’s graduate work. If you have not previously earned a master’s degree, submit the program no later than the end of your third semester of graduate work. For more information about filing your program of study, consult Academic Policies.

Subsequent semesters

Find out about the Deadlines and Procedures for Doctoral Degrees.

Be sure to check with your academic department for additional requirements and deadlines that may apply.

Apply for residency

After you have proof that you’ve lived in Washington for twelve straight months, you may apply for residency, which enables you to receive the lower in-state graduate tuition rate.

Schedule and pass your preliminary examination

Consult with your department and the Graduate School academic policies and procedures for more information about preliminary exams. Be sure to complete and submit the Preliminary Examination Scheduling Form at least ten working days prior to your exam date.

Your final semester

Find out about the Deadlines and Procedures for Doctoral Degrees.

File an application for doctoral degree

You should submit an application for degree to the Graduate School at least one semester before you schedule your final examination. There is a $50 graduate fee. The Graduate School will notify you of any final graduation requirements before you enroll in your last semester.

Schedule your final oral exam [PDF]

After you complete your dissertation, be sure to submit the final examination scheduling form, IRB/IACUC approval, and upload a draft of your dissertation to UMI/ProQuest and pay the applicable publishing fees.

Submit your dissertation to the Graduate School in digital format

To avoid delays, be sure that your dissertation is formatted in accordance with Graduate School submission guidelines [PDF]. Check the Graduate School’€™s Web site for other forms that should be submitted along with your dissertation, including the Copyright Acknowledgement [PDF] form, and Survey of Earned Doctorates [PDF]. Your dissertation is due 5 working days after your final exam.

Order your cap and gown

The Bookie begins accepting orders for graduation regalia approximately two months prior to commencement. You can place your order by calling 800-937-4978 extension 318.

Update your mailing address

Diplomas are mailed approximately ten weeks after commencement. In the event that you move during that time, be sure to update your diploma mailing address in your MyWSU account. The last date to update your address (for each graduation) is as follows:

Spring (May) graduating students: JUNE 15
Summer (July/August) graduating students: SEPTEMBER 1
Fall (December) graduating students: FEBRUARY 1

Note: Please continue to monitor your WSU email address until you receive your diploma to ensure you can be reached for questions regarding your degree clearance or other miscellaneous issues.