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Time Limitation - Research Doctorate



To set the maximum time limit for students pursuing a research doctorate (Ph.D.).


Academic Goal

To assure that doctoral students complete their degree in a timely manner.



All students in a research doctoral program (Ph.D.).

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 Ph.D. student is required to complete the program, including acceptance of the doctoral dissertation, within eight years after the date of successful completion of the qualifying examination, not including approved leaves of absence as outlined in GSAD-906.
  2. Individual graduate programs may set shorter time limits.

Further Information

Extensions to Time Limits for Doctoral Students due to COVID-19

Revision History

  • Approved by Graduate Council, December 16, 2020. Effective immediately.
    • Revised to clarify that approved leaves of absence are not counted towards the time limitation.
    • Removed reference to extensions. A Procedures document will be added with details on how to request extensions.
  • Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: July 2018
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