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Your Doctoral Degree

Academic Process for
Doctoral Students

Choose an Advisor
All admitted students must have an advisor.

In some cases, a program may assign a preliminary or temporary advisor. To select a permanent advisor/dissertation supervisor, a doctoral student selects a consenting advisor or co-advisors from faculty members of the academic program in which the major work is planned.

Doctoral advisors must be members of the doctoral faculty. To determine whether a faculty member has doctoral faculty status, refer to the list of faculty in each academic program in the University catalog. Students can change advisors during their doctoral program. Before registering for each semester or session, the student consults the advisor concerning a program of courses.

If an advisor is unable or unwilling to continue to serve as a student’s advisor, the academic program, led by the director of graduate studies, will ensure a replacement is found. An advisor who retires or leaves MU may continue to serve as a student’s advisor, unless a written academic program policy prohibits such an arrangement.

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Choose a Doctoral Program Committee
Every student must form a faculty committee to oversee the process of dissertation completion.

All members of the doctoral program committee participate actively in the activities of the doctoral student at all the stages of the student’s career at MU, except the qualifying examination or process.

The doctoral program committee is composed of a minimum of four members of MU graduate faculty. The committee must include at least three members from the student’s academic program and one outside member from a different academic program at MU. At least two of the doctoral committee members, including the student’s advisor, must be MU doctoral faculty.

To determine whether a faculty member has graduate or doctoral faculty status, refer to the list of faculty in each academic program in the University catalog.

Submit Plan of Study

A plan of study is a list of courses and the credit to be earned in each of them.

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Take Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination consists of written and oral sections. It must be completed at least seven months before the final defense of the dissertation. The two sections of the examination must be completed within one month.

Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

The student must be enrolled to take this examination. It is to be administered only when MU is officially in session.

Written Section

The written section of the examination may be conducted in one or both of the following ways:
  • The written section may be arranged and supervised by the major advisor, in which case questions are prepared and graded by the doctoral advisory committee;
  • The major advisor may delegate responsibility for arranging, preparing, supervising, and evaluating the written section of the examination to one or more departmental or program committees appointed for this purpose.

Successful Completion

For the comprehensive examination to be completed successfully, the doctoral advisory committee must vote to pass the student on the entire examination, both written and oral sections, with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote.

A report of this decision, the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination Results form (D3), with the signatures of all committee members, must be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies and the student no later than two weeks after the comprehensive examination is completed.

Failure

A failure of either the written or oral section of the exam constitutes failure of the comprehensive exam.

If a failure is reported, the committee also must include in the report an outline of the general weaknesses or deficiencies of the student’s work. This report should be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies as well.

The student and the committee members are encouraged to work together to identify steps the student might take to become fully prepared for the next examination.

Request for Clarification
If at any time the student believes the advice given by the committee is inadequate, the student may send a written request for clarification to the committee.

A copy of this request should be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies as well. The committee must respond to this request in writing within two weeks and a copy must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies.

Retaking the Exam
A student who fails may not take a second comprehensive examination for at least 12 weeks.

Failure to pass two comprehensive examinations automatically prevents candidacy.

Continuous Enrollment After the Exam

Students must maintain continuous-enrollment status during their doctoral candidacy. Continuous enrollment status as a doctoral candidate begins at the onset of the term immediately following successful completion of the comprehensive examination.

Continuous enrollment status provides students with access to the following resources for dissertation completion:

  • Advisor Support
  • Doctoral Program Committee Guidance
  • University Research Facilities

To maintain continuous enrollment, students must register for the required coursework each semester using myZou. Students who have enrollment difficulties should contact their director of graduate studies or the Office of Graduate Studies’ doctoral academic advisor for registration assistance.

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Write Dissertation

The dissertation must:

  • Be written about a subject approved by the candidate’s doctoral program committee
  • Embody the results of original and significant investigation
  • Be the candidate’s own work


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Credits & Requirements

Credit Requirements

MU requires a minimum of 72 credit hours, including 15 hours of 8000-9000 level coursework exclusive of readings, research, problems and independent study experiences, beyond the bachelor’s degree for the PhD and EdD degrees.

A student’s doctoral program committee must approve all course work used to satisfy the credit-hour requirement and may require additional course work beyond these minimums.

Credit Transfer

The doctoral committee may recommend that up to 30 hours of post-baccalaureate graduate credit from a regionally accredited University be transferred toward the total hours required for the doctoral degree.

It is the responsibility of the doctoral committee to determine whether it is appropriate to transfer credit, however the Office of Graduate Studies must make the final review of the transfer request to determine if the credit meets the minimum guidelines. If so, the Office of Graduate Studies will process the request so that the transferred courses appear on the student’s transcript.

All requests for exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies.

Time Limits on Transfer Credits

All courses to be applied to the plan of study must be completed within eight years of filing the plan.

Use of Professional Credit

With program approval, up to 6 hours of coursework for which professional credit was received may be counted toward the 72 credit-hour requirement.

Doctoral Plan of Study

The doctoral advisory committee provides academic program approval of the student’s plan of study — a list of the courses and the credit to be earned in each of them — that will, when completed:
  • Prepare the student for research or scholarly investigation in the chosen field of study
  • Satisfy the credit-hour and residency requirement of the academic program
  • Satisfy any special requirements (proficiency in foreign languages, collateral field, doctoral minor, other special research skills) required by the department or area program
  • Satisfy the Office of Graduate Studies’ requirement for a minimum of 15 hours of MU coursework at the 8000/9000 level (exclusive of research, problems and independent study experiences)

As part of the plan of study, the committee also recommends to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies any request for transfer of graduate credit.

Changes to the Plan of Study

Changes to the plan of study should be submitted on the Plan of Study Course Substitution form.

Foreign Language Proficiency

If required, a student may establish foreign language proficiency by demonstrating an ability to translate English into two foreign languages or by demonstrating a high order of fluency in one language — that is, the ability to read, write, and converse in that language and to translate that language into English and English into that language.


Plan of Study Completion Before Comprehensive Exam

The student must substantially complete the course work outlined in the plan of study to the satisfaction of the doctoral advisory committee and the Office of Graduate Studies before being declared ready for the comprehensive examination.