Section XII. Doctor's Degrees

A. Character of Degree. The Graduate College offers doctoral programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), the highest degree awarded by the university; the Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.); the professional Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.); the professional Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.); and the professional Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.). The Doctor of Philosophy degree indicates marked excellence in original research or other creative work, and superior comprehension in the discipline. The Doctor of Musical Arts degree indicates marked excellence in performance and pedagogy. The Doctor of Physical Therapy degree indicates marked excellence in physical therapy differential diagnosis and clinical integration. The Doctor of Audiology degree indicates marked excellence in theoretical and advanced clinical skills. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree indicates marked excellence in clinical practice and the application of clinical theory in the classroom and administrative venues.

B. Prerequisites. The candidate must present evidence of having completed a satisfactory amount of undergraduate work in the subject proposed for investigation or, in the case of deficiency, must register for prerequisite courses.

C. Academic Registration Requirement. Student registration should reflect accurately the amount and kind of work undertaken in the Graduate College. The Ph.D. and D.M.A. are granted primarily on the basis of achievement, and engagement with one’s discipline is an important part of achieving quality in a dissertation. The purpose of the registration requirement is to promote a high level of intellectual and scholarly activity. These requirements foster intensive, concentrated engagement over an extended period of time with the faculty members and graduate students in a student’s program. All doctoral programs will contain a minimum of 72 semester hours of graduate work. Of those 72 semester hours, at least 39 must be earned while registered in The University of Iowa Graduate College. After completing 21 semester hours of graduate work under Graduate College registration and in compliance with the Graduate College policy for time limits on academic credit, i.e., courses ten years or older may not be counted toward the degree, students must complete an additional 18 semester hours to be taken as follows: (1) enrollment as a full‐time student (9 semester hours minimum) in each of two semesters, or (2) enrollment for a minimum of 6 semester hours in each of three semesters.

A student must be registered in the semester in which (s)he earns her/his degree.

D. Interdisciplinary Studies Programs. A student may prepare a proposal for an interdisciplinary course of study, including the plan of study defining course work, examination requirements, a research plan, and a committee of at least five faculty members, with either the department most directly concerned or the Graduate College designated as the sponsor. Final approval of such individual programs is granted by the Graduate College dean, who may add members to the student's supervising committee from other closely related departmental faculties or from the Graduate Council. The degree will be awarded in interdisciplinary studies (doctorate) stipulated in the approved graduate program and, parenthetically, the name of the sponsoring department.

E. Reduction of Old Credits. Courses taken ten or more years, prior to the doctoral comprehensive examination, must be evaluated by the major department in order to determine the possible use of these credit hours within a student's plan of study. The department, in turn, must send a letter of petition to the Graduate College, requesting the use of any or all of these credits toward the fulfillment of degree requirements.

F. Limit on Professional Courses. Work taken by a student in the colleges of Dentistry, Law, or Medicine while enrolled for a professional degree may be credited to a graduate program leading to a doctoral degree if it is taken after the student has earned a bachelor's degree, or has completed work equivalent to that required for a bachelor's degree at The University of Iowa. The work accepted from the professional colleges must be directly related to the student's major field of study in the Graduate College, and the Plan of Study must be approved by the student's adviser and the major department. Work completed while registered for a professional degree in Law, Medicine, or Dentistry will be counted as part of the one academic year that must be spent in residence as a doctoral student only when the student is registered in a formally established joint degree program.

G. Joint Program for Master's and Doctoral Degrees. Those students who expect to continue their training through the doctoral degree may pursue a joint program for the master's and doctor's degrees. The master's examination may be combined with the comprehensive examination for the doctorate for these candidates. The examining committee will file separate reports of its actions on the final examination for the master's degree and for the comprehensive examination. Upon recommendation of the department and approval of the dean, students who are well qualified by previous training may submit a Plan of Study that leads directly to the doctoral degree without earning the master's degree as an intervening part.

H. Requirement in Foreign Languages. There is no Graduate College-wide requirement in foreign languages. Those departments that do require competence in one or more foreign languages establish standards as to the extent and level of competence, as well as methods of testing. Specific requirements will be found in the departmental statements of standards and procedures. (See Section IV. D.).

Specifications of departmental requirements in foreign languages are filed in the Graduate College and may be changed upon the initiative of the departments.

I. Requirements for the Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.),the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.). Students enrolled in professional D.P.T., D.N.P. and Au.D. programs do not take a comprehensive examination, nor do they deposit a thesis with the Graduate College. The departments will be required to submit a doctoral Plan of Study to the Graduate College during the session of degree conferral. The plan will provide a listing of all graduate courses taken that apply toward the degree and a listing of courses in progress. The plan is to be filed no later than the deadline date printed in the Graduate College academic calendar.

J. Plan of Study. The development of a Plan of Study at the doctoral level is the responsibility of the student working together with his or her adviser. A formal Plan of Study must accompany the departmental request to the Graduate College for permission to conduct the comprehensive examination. The plan will provide a listing of all graduate courses taken that apply toward the degree and a listing of courses in progress or to be completed after the comprehensive examination.

K. Comprehensive Examination. The candidate must satisfactorily complete a comprehensive examination, consisting of written or oral parts or both at the discretion of the major department. Admission to the comprehensive examination is granted upon the recommendation of the major department, the filing of the Plan of Study, and the approval of the dean of the Graduate College. A student must be registered in the Graduate College at the time of the comprehensive examination, which must be satisfactorily completed not later than the session prior to the session of graduation. This examination, administered only on campus, is intended to be an inclusive evaluation of the candidate's mastery of the major and related fields of study, including the tools of research in which competence has been certified.

The comprehensive examination is not a deferred qualifying examination. It is intended to evaluate a candidate's mastery of the subject at or near the end of the candidate's formal preparation and prior to the completion of the dissertation. The comprehensive examination and the final examination, which is concerned chiefly with defense of the thesis and related subjects, are the two principal examinations for the Ph.D and D.M.A. doctoral degrees.

The comprehensive examination will be evaluated by a convened meeting of the committee. Each committee member will sign the examination report as satisfactory, reservations, or unsatisfactory. The completed exam warrant will be submitted to the Graduate College office within fourteen days after the completion of the examination. Two "unsatisfactory" votes will make the committee report unsatisfactory.

A vote of "Reservations" should only be used when a faculty member feels that the deficiencies displayed by the student were modest, and can be readily rectified. In the event of a report with two or more votes of "Reservations," the actions required of the student, by the committee, that are necessary to correct the deficiencies must be recorded and submitted to the Graduate College with the examination report form. Copies of the written statement of necessary actions should be kept by: the appropriate departmental executive, the chair of the examination committee, and the student. The statement must specify the time allowed for completion of the aforementioned actions. The language describing the actions must be specific. For instance, if additional course work is required, a list of suitable courses must be presented. If the candidate needs to rewrite his or her research prospectus, the deficient areas must be identified, etc. If the candidate satisfies the required actions in the specified period of time, the appropriate departmental executive will send a written report to the Graduate College indicating the date for which the examining committee considers the actions to have been satisfied. Upon approval of the Dean of the Graduate College, the comprehensive exam will be recorded as "Satisfactory" as of that date. If the actions are not satisfied on time, or if the actions are not of sufficient quality, the appropriate departmental executive will send a written report to the Graduate College indicating that fact. Upon approval of the Dean of the Graduate College, the comprehensive exam will be recorded as "Unsatisfactory" as of that date. The candidate will not be admitted to the final oral examination of the dissertation until a grade of "Satisfactory" has been recorded for the comprehensive exam.

In the case of a report of unsatisfactory on a comprehensive examination, the committee may grant the candidate permission to present himself or herself for reexamination not sooner than four months after the first examination. The examination may be repeated only once, at the option of the department.

L. Continuous Registration after Completion of the Comprehensive Examination. The student is required to register each fall and spring semester after satisfactorily completing the comprehensive examination until the degree is awarded. If a student fails to register, the student may not be readmitted to candidacy until the student has submitted an application that has been approved by the student's adviser, the departmental executive, and the Graduate College dean.

In order to maintain continuous registration, doctoral students may register (1) for required and/or elective courses, research, and thesis hours to complete the plan of study, or (2) for Doctoral Continuous Registration (DCR). DCR requires a 2 s.h. tuition/fee payment. If a temporary lapse in a student's academic program is required due to military service, medical leave, maternity leave, or personal/family leave, a student may petition the Graduate College to be allowed to register for Ph.D. Postcomprehensive Registration (PCR), which allows for the assessment of a special minimum fee. If a petition is granted, it is to be understood that a student will not make significant use of university resources, or engage in significant consultation with the faculty. In the final semester, doctoral students may register for Doctoral Final Registration (DFR), which requires a 2 s. h. tuition/fee payment, or appropriate course work. The DFR may be repeated if the degree requirements are not completed in this session.

Under no circumstances may courses for which tuition/fees are not assessed (Cooperative Education Internship, for example), be used to satisfy the continuous registration or final registration requirement of the Graduate College.

No registration for the summer or winter session is required. The exceptions are when the student is taking a degree at the end of the summer session, or when enrollment is required by the student's department.

M. Dissertation for the Doctoral Degree. Beginning with the Fall 2009 Semester all doctoral theses must be submitted to the Graduate College in electronic format.

The student's dissertation, complete and in final form, must be presented in ETD (electronic thesis/dissertation) format at the office of the Graduate College by the first-deposit deadline date in the session in which the degree is to be conferred. The final deposit of the approved ETD must be deposited at the office by the appropriate deadline date in the student's graduation semester. The final deposit can be no later than the end of the semester (summers excluded) following the session in which the final examination is passed; failure to meet this deadline will require reexamination of the student. Failure to submit the first and final deposits of the dissertation by the deadline dates established by the Graduate College will result in the postponement of graduation to a future session. [Please review the Graduate College web site for detailed submission and formatting requirements.]

Regulations regarding preparation of the dissertation copy shall be promulgated by the dean of the Graduate College. An external abstract of the dissertation, not to exceed two, double-spaced pages (text and approval lines), is to be deposited with the dissertation. The abstract must be approved and signed by the dissertation advisor. Approved ETDs will be forwarded to ProQuest for microfilming and digital archiving; the doctoral abstracts will be published in Dissertation Abstracts International. The PDF format of all electronic submissions will be forwarded by ProQuest to The University of Iowa Libraries, where they will be catalogued and made available for public use.

Dissertations shall be made available to all members of the examining committee not later than two weeks before the date of the examination.

N. Dissertation Fees. Nonrefundable fees are charged each doctoral candidate to cover processing and publication costs of the dissertation and abstract.

O. Final Examination. The work for the degree culminates in a final oral examination administered on campus. The examination should include: (1) a critical inquiry into the purposes, methods, and results of the investigation - not a mere recapitulation of the procedures followed - and (2) intensive questioning on areas of knowledge constituting the immediate context of the investigation.

The final examination may not be held until the next session after satisfactorily completing the comprehensive examination; however, a student must pass the final examination no later than five years after satisfactorily completing the comprehensive examination. Failure to meet this deadline will result in a reexamination of the student to determine his or her qualifications for taking the final examination. The procedures to be followed are the same as those for the comprehensive examination. (See Section XII. K.)

Final examinations for the doctorate are open to the public. Members of the faculty of the Graduate College are especially invited to attend and, subject to the approval of the chair, to participate in the examination.

The report of the final examination is due in the Graduate College office not later than 48 hours after the examination. The final examination will be evaluated as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Two unsatisfactory votes will make the committee report unsatisfactory. In case of a report of unsatisfactory in the final examination, the candidate may not present himself or herself for reexamination until the next session. The examination may be repeated only once, at the option of the major department.

P. Examining Committees. The Graduate College encourages departments and programs to construct PhD examining committees which are comprised of faculty members with varying, but related, areas of expertise.

The comprehensive and final examinations are conducted by committees of no fewer than five members of the Graduate Faculty appointed by the dean upon recommendation of the major department or program. These committees are composed as follows:

  • At least four of the faculty members must be members of the University of Iowa
    tenure-track faculty.
  • At least two of the faculty members are from the major department (defined as faculty members who hold any appointment in the major department or program), and are members of the University of Iowa tenure-track faculty.

A department or program may impose additional structure on the composition of its examining committees.

Departments and programs may request the dean's permission to replace one of the five members of the Graduate Faculty by a recognized scholar of professorial rank from another academic institution. Also, a voting member may be added at the discretion of the Graduate College Dean.

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