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Final Oral Examination - Research Doctorate

Research Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) Requirements Policy GCAC-608

Purpose: to define the requirements for the final summative assessment of doctoral student progress, the Final Oral Examination.

Academic Goal: to assess the general scholarly attainments of the candidate. The final oral examination is the culminating summative assessment in a Ph.D. program, and determines if the candidate should be awarded the Ph.D.

Scope: all students enrolled in programs of study leading to the Ph.D.

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 Definitions

Professional Doctoral Degree Program: an integrated program of study combined with understanding of research literature to support application of knowledge to practice at the highest level, culminating in a project, portfolio, or performance that demonstrates expertise in professional practice. Students successfully completing a professional doctoral degree program are awarded the appropriate doctoral degree; professional doctoral degrees at Penn State include D.Ed., D.M.A., D.N.P., and Dr.P.H.

Research Doctoral Degree Program: an integrated program of study combined with investigation of a significant problem, question, or issue in the discipline, culminating in the completion of an original scholarly contribution (in the form of a dissertation) that expands the frontiers of knowledge. Students successfully completing a research doctoral degree program are awarded Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.

Policy Statement

  1. The doctoral candidate who has satisfied all other requirements for the degree will be scheduled by the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services, on the recommendation of the head of the graduate program, to take a final oral examination. Typically, the final oral examination may not be scheduled until at least three months have elapsed since the comprehensive examination was passed, although the director of Graduate Enrollment Services may grant a waiver in appropriate cases.
  2. The graduate student must be in good academic standing and must be registered as a full-time or part-time graduate degree student for the semester in which the final oral examination is taken.
  3. All candidates are required to have a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 for work done at the University at the time the final oral examination is given, and may not have deferred or missing grades.
  4. Final oral examinations are scheduled and announced officially by the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services upon recommendation of the program head, and must not be held without official notification from the Graduate School.
  5. It is expected that doctoral examinations will take place at the campus location of the graduate center offering the program, and the graduate student must be physically present at any doctoral examination.
  6. The final examination of the doctoral candidate is an oral examination administered and evaluated by the entire doctoral dissertation committee. It consists of an oral presentation of the dissertation by the candidate and a period of questions and responses. These will relate in large part to the dissertation, but may cover the candidate's entire program of study, because a major purpose of the examination is also to assess the general scholarly attainments of the candidate. The portion of the examination in which the dissertation is presented is open to the University community and the public; therefore, it is expected that the examination will take place at the campus location of the academic unit offering the program.
  7. The final oral examination) is administered/overseen and evaluated by the entire doctoral dissertation committee. (See GCAC-603 Doctoral Dissertation Committee Responsibilities)

Process

The program head will notify Graduate Enrollment Services, providing two weeks' notice, when the candidate is ready to schedule the final oral examination.

Revision History

Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: June 2018

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