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Qualifying Examination - Research Doctorate

Research Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) Requirements Policy GCAC-604

Purpose: to establish the content, form, scheduling, and reporting requirements for the qualifying examination.

Academic Goal: to assess whether the student is capable of conducting doctoral-level research based on evidence of critical thinking and other skills that the Graduate Faculty of the program view as necessary to a successful researcher in the disciplinary field.

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. Every student who wishes to pursue a doctorate must take a qualifying examination administered by the Graduate Faculty in the graduate major program. The purpose of the qualifying examination should be to assess whether the student is capable of conducting doctoral research/scholarship based on evidence of critical thinking or other measures that the Graduate Faculty of the program view as important to a successful doctoral student. The nature of the examination varies with the program and may be the master’s examination, if applicable and so prescribed by the program. The decision to pass the student must be made by the graduate faculty or a designated committee of graduate faculty in the program.
  2. All graduate students are required to have a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 for work done at the University and may not have deferred or missing grades at the time the qualifying examination is given.
  3. 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 (excluding summer session) in which the qualifying examination is taken.
  4. If the student is admitted to an approved dual-title graduate degree program, the dual-title field must be integrated into the qualifying examination of the student’s major program (i.e., a single qualifying examination is administered, which incorporates both the graduate major field and the dual-title field).
  5. For the Ph.D. student, the examination may be given after at least 18 credits have been earned in graduate courses beyond the baccalaureate. The examination must be taken within three semesters (excluding summer sessions) of entry into the doctoral program.
  6. The results of all qualifying examinations, regardless of the outcome, must be reported to Graduate Enrollment Services via the Report on Doctoral Qualifying Examination immediately following the examination.

Forms

Report on Doctoral Qualifying Examination

Revision History

Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: June 2018

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