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Culminating Experience Committee Responsibilities - Professional Doctoral Degrees

Professional Doctoral Degree Requirements Policy GCAC-700-C

Purpose: to define the duties and responsibilities of the Culminating Experience Committee in guiding the professional doctoral student in scholarly work toward their degree.

Academic Goal: to ensure that professional doctoral students receive timely and comprehensive guidance from members of the Graduate Faculty that facilitates progress toward their degree, including meeting the Graduate Council’s Scholarly and Professional Goals for All Graduate Degree Students.

Scope: all students enrolled in programs of study leading to a professional doctoral degree.

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 Definitions

Culminating Project: a culminating experience completed at the end of a professional doctoral program that demonstrates the student’s mastery of the discipline and ability to practice the profession at the highest level of accomplishment

Final Performance: the culminating experience for a DMA student

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 culminating experience committee is responsible for approving the broad outline of the student’s program and should review the program as soon as possible after the student’s admission to candidacy. Moreover, continuing communication among the student, the committee chair, the culminating project/performance adviser, and the members of the committee is strongly recommended, to preclude misunderstandings and to develop a collegial relationship between the candidate and the committee.
  2. Professional Doctoral Examinations
    1. The professional doctoral examinations (the comprehensive examination and the final oral examination/final performance evaluation) are administered/overseen and evaluated by the entire culminating experience committee.
    2. If a committee member is unable to participate in any of the professional doctoral examinations and this results in not enough members serving on the committee (i.e., four or more active members of the Graduate Faculty, or three or more members for a D.N.P. student), another Penn State Graduate Faculty member will need to be appointed officially to the culminating experience committee to replace the absent member in order to constitute a legitimate culminating experience committee. These changes and approvals must occur before the actual examination takes place (ad hoc substitutes are not permitted).
    3. The culminating project adviser, as well as the chair of the culminating experience committee (if not the same individual as the project adviser), along with additional members of the committee to total a minimum of three, also must be physically present at the comprehensive/final examinations. (Thus, for a five-person committee, two members could participate via distance.) Of those approved to participate via distance, no more than one member may participate via telephone; any or all of those approved to participate via distance may participate via interactive videoconferencing. Special arrangements, i.e., requirements for meeting participation via distance, must be communicated to the student and all culminating experience committee members well in advance of the examination.
    4. A favorable vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the committee is required for passing a comprehensive or final oral examination / final performance evaluation. If a candidate fails an examination/performance, it is the responsibility of the culminating experience committee to determine whether the student will be granted a second opportunity to take the examination or to perform. Regardless of the outcome and of the committee’s decision about whether to grant a second opportunity, the program head must report the results of each scheduled examination/performance immediately to Graduate Enrollment Services.
    5. Both the culminating project adviser/committee chair and the student are responsible for ensuring the completion of a draft of the culminating project and for adequate consultation with members of the culminating experience committee well in advance of the final presentation / oral examination. Major revisions of the culminating project should be completed before this examination.
    6. It is the responsibility of the doctoral candidate and committee chair/culminating project adviser to provide a copy of the project write-up to each member of the culminating experience committee at least two weeks before the date of the scheduled presentation/examination. The culminating project should be complete and in its final draft, with correct and polished content and style, appropriate notes, bibliography, tables, etc., at the time it is distributed to the committee members. If a committee member finds that the final draft is not correct and polished with respect to content and style, it is his/her responsibility to notify the committee chair/project adviser at least one week in advance of the final presentation / oral examination date. The committee member should indicate his/her concerns regarding the draft and may recommend consideration of postponement of the examination to the committee chair/project adviser. The chair/adviser, in consultation with committee members, is responsible for notifying the student and assessing whether the student can make the necessary revisions to the final draft before the examination date. If it is determined that revisions cannot be made in time, the final oral examination must be postponed.
    7. If a committee member is unable to attend the final presentation / oral examination, the member may sign as a special signatory, but must be replaced before the final examination following the standard process.
    8. Once any final revisions have been made and the culminating project is deemed acceptable, committee members sign the doctoral signatory page.

Process

  1. Comprehensive or final oral examinations and final performance evaluations must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance by Graduate Enrollment Services.
  2. If a committee member is unable to participate in any of the doctoral examinations and this results in not enough members serving on the committee a revised committee appointment form must be submitted to Graduate Enrollment Services, removing the individual as a regular committee member and requesting the replacement committee member. These changes and approvals must occur before the actual examination takes place (ad hoc substitutes are not permitted).
  3. If a committee member cannot be physically present at the comprehensive and at the final oral examination, requests for exceptions to allow participation via distance must accompany the Examination Request Form, and must be submitted to the director of Graduate Enrollment Services for approval at least two weeks prior to the date of the examination.
  4. If a Committee member has been actively engaged the student’s progress but is unable to participate in the final examination / final performance evaluation, the member may sign as a Special Signatory.
  5. The program head will report the results of all examinations to Graduate Enrollment Services.

Revision History

Adapted from the Graduate Bulletin: June 2018

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