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Professional Degree Policies

GCAC-700-H Time Limitation - Professional Doctoral Degrees

Purpose: to set the maximum time limit for students pursuing a professional doctorate.

Academic Goal: to assure that professional doctoral students complete their degree in a timely manner.

Scope: all students in a professional doctoral program.



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 student is required to complete the program, including acceptance of the doctoral culminating project or the passing of the final performance, within eight years after the date of successful completion of the qualifying examination.
  2. Individual graduate programs may set shorter time limits.
  3. Extensions may be granted by the director of Graduate Enrollment Services in appropriate circumstances.

Revision History

Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: July 2018

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