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Minor - Research Doctorate

Research Doctoral (Ph.D.) Degree Requirements Policy GCAC-611

Purpose: to define the requirements for a minor in a research doctoral (Ph.D.) degree program.

Academic Goal: to allow research doctoral students to be formally recognized for a formal program of study in a field related to, but separate from their graduate major program.

Scope: all students in research doctoral (Ph.D.) degree programs.



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. A doctoral minor must require no fewer than 15 credits in a field related to, but different from, that of the student’s graduate major program. A preponderance of courses should be at the 500-level; at a minimum, 6 credits must be at the 500-level.
  2. A minor may be taken in one of the approved graduate degree programs offered at Penn State, or in one of the stand-alone graduate minors approved by Graduate Council.
  3. A Ph.D. candidate is not required by the Graduate Council to have a minor field of study. However, a graduate program may require a candidate to add a minor field, or a student may elect a minor with the permission of the doctoral dissertation committee.
  4. A student seeking a minor must have the approval of the student's major program of study, the minor program, and the Graduate School.
  5. A student may not pursue more than three minors at one time. If a student pursues more than one minor, each minor must have a separate group of courses to support it (i.e., none of the courses may be applied to more than one minor’s requirements).
  6. If the student received a master’s minor in the same field as is being proposed for a doctoral minor, the 15 credits taken must be above and beyond those used for the master’s minor. However, credits earned in the master’s program over and above those applied to either the master’s minor or major may be applied to a minor in the Ph.D. program.
  7. At least one faculty member from the minor field must be on the candidate’s doctoral dissertation committee.(See GCAC-602 Doctoral Dissertation Committee Formation, Composition, and Review - Research Doctorate).


Official requests to add a minor to a doctoral candidate's academic record must be submitted to Graduate Enrollment Services prior to establishing the doctoral dissertation committee and prior to scheduling the comprehensive examination.

Further Information

Graduate Council-Approved Stand-Alone Graduate Minors

Revision History

Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: July 2018

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