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Minor - Research Doctorate



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


Academic Goal

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



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 a minimum of 15 credits at the 400-, 500-, or 800-level. At least 50% of the credits must be at the 500-level.
    1. All credits must be approved by the graduate major program and graduate minor program heads, who are responsible for ensuring that the student has completed the required number of credits in courses distinct from the student's primary academic and (if relevant) research focus regardless of the course abbreviation/prefix, appropriate to earn a distinct minor credential.
    2. Credits required for a graduate minor program may be counted towards the student’s graduate major degree requirements. A graduate program’s policy restricting the double counting of credits must be approved through the Graduate Council curricular review process and be stated in the graduate program’s Graduate Bulletin listing.
  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 student may not pursue more than three minors while completing their Ph.D. program. 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 the requirements for more than one minor).
  4. If the student completed a minor with a master’s degree in the same field proposed for a doctoral minor, the 6 credits taken for the master’s minor cannot count towards the doctoral minor. However, credits earned in the master’s program beyond those applied to either the master’s minor or major can be applied to the doctoral minor.
  5. At least one Graduate Faculty member from each minor field must be on the student’s Ph.D. committee. (See GCAC-602 Ph.D. Committee Formation, Composition, and Review - Research Doctorate).
  6. Students must be admitted to the minor prior to scheduling the comprehensive examination.
  7. The dissertation adviser, the Ph.D. committee, or the graduate major program may recommend a Ph.D. student to pursue a minor.
  8. A Ph.D. student seeking a minor must have the approval of their  graduate major program head (in consultation with the dissertation adviser, if assigned, and the Ph.D. committee, if appointed) and the graduate minor program head.
  9. The graduate minor program head is responsible for advising students on courses to be taken in the minor field, approving those courses, and certifying that all requirements for the minor have been met.


Requests to add a graduate minor to a student's record must be approved by the student's Graduate Program Head and minor Graduate Program Head, and submitted to Graduate Enrollment Services.

While Graduate Enrollment Services maintains a record of the approved minor program of study, the responsibility for verifying the student meets these requirements for the minor lies with the graduate minor program head.  


P1 - Adding a Minor - Research Doctorate


insert_drive_file Request to Add Graduate Minor (PDF)

Further Information

Graduate Council-Approved Stand-Alone Graduate Minors

Revision History

  • Approved by Graduate Council, March 15, 2023. Effective date: Fall 2023 (8/14/2023)
    • Minor updates for consistency with other graduate minor policies.
  • Approved by Graduate Council, May 4, 2022. Effective date: Fall 2022 (8/15/2022)
    • Policy revised extensively. Major changes include designating responsibility for identifying the courses to earn the minor to the graduate major and minor program heads, clarifying allowance for double counting of credits between the major and minor programs, removal of the requirement for the minor to be added before formation of the Ph.D. committee, and clarifying approvals needed for a student to pursue a minor. 
  • Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: July 2018
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