The Doctor of Philosophy Degree program is planned by the student with the advisor to develop the student's ability to conduct research in a specialized field of education.  The College of Education offers the Doctor of Philosophy degree on-campus only.

Program Plan

Upon admission to a Doctor of Philosophy program, each student is assigned an academic advisor in the student's area of specialization. The student and advisor plan a program of study to meet the student’s individual goals and general degree requirements. Departments may require that a copy of the program plan be kept on file.

Time Limits

Graduate students and advisors should be guided by the Graduate College policy on doctoral degree time limits. If a time extension is desired, it may be requested by completing a Graduate Student Petition. These petitions are considered and acted upon by the student’s advisor, the department, and the Graduate College. Each individual who has authority to act on the petition may either approve or deny the petition.

Course Requirements for Ph.D. Students

All students admitted to a Doctor of Philosophy degree program must fulfill Graduate College requirements for the doctoral degree, departmental requirements, and the following College of Education minimum requirements on the Urbana campus or through Urbana off-campus or online courses:

Coursework

Completion of at least 64 hours beyond the master's degree including:

  1. A minimum of 32 hours of coursework in the major subjects.
  2. At least 4 hours, but no more than 20 hours of dissertation research (599) credit.
  3. No more than 12 hours of independent study (595) credit.
  4. A minimum of 16-20 hours, depending on area of methodology focus, in research coursework. The student should submit a plan of study, approved by the advisor, for completion of the Research Area Requirement.
Residency

A total of 64 hours of credit beyond the master's degree must be earned in courses on the Urbana campus or through Urbana off-campus or online courses. These 64 hours may include up to 20 hours of dissertation research credit. 

In the College of Education, Ph.D. study must include a period of full-time engagement on campus, during which time students are expected to interact with faculty and other students, read widely within and beyond the major field, and contemplate scholarly issues as they relate to professional practice. What the department seeks to ensure by this requirement is a period of complete immersion, with the least possible distractions, in the intellectual, collegial, and cultural life of the discipline, not just that of the campus at large.

Ph.D. continuous residence requirements can be satisfied by two consecutive semesters of full-time (12 hours or more) enrollment. Thesis research credit may not be counted in meeting the continuous residence requirements.

During this continuous residency period, a student is expected to participate in non-course work activities available as part of the intellectual activity of the discipline: seminars, colloquies, and informal and often ad hoc discussion groups. Although the quality of the residency cannot be legislated, conditions believed to provide the greatest possible opportunity to achieve the desired quality can be specified. It is the responsibility of the student and advisor to ensure that the spirit, as well as the letter, of this requirement is honored. The student and advisor should plan this period as thoughtfully as any other portion of the doctoral program.

Students not engaged in full-time graduate study may meet the residence requirement by presenting evidence that the spirit of the requirement has been satisfied. This evidence should include full documentation of residence-type activities on campus, approved by the student's advisor.

For those students who hope to satisfy the residence requirement for a period when they were employed full-time, it would be helpful for this documentation to show that at least 25% of their time on the job was devoted to activities in keeping with the spirit of the residence requirement, and to provide a letter from the employer stating that such time was available for the period in question.

Students wishing to fulfill the requirement without full-time enrollment will need to request approval, documenting by letter the activities the student and advisor wish to have considered as meeting the residence requirement. The request should be made to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs, College of Education. (Graduate Faculty Action, September 14, 1988)


Ph.D. Research Area Requirement

The purpose of the Ph.D. Research Area Requirement is to ensure that all Ph.D. students in the College of Education have had sufficient coursework to attain proficiency in at least one research methodology and are able to conduct independent dissertation research.

The three areas of research—Interpretive, Qualitative and Quantitative—were chosen to represent the domain of methodologies prevalent in educational research and pursued by our graduate students and faculty. It is intended that the choice of a focus area will be consistent with a student’s dissertation research. While requirements differ for each area, all require some combination of introductory and advanced methods coursework. All students will use a two-stage approval process in consultation with their academic advisors. Students must maintain a B average for all methodology courses. 

Credit Hours

All students will take a minimum of 16-20 credit hours, depending on area of methodology focus,in approved research methods courses including the Foundational Methods Course. 

Interpretive Methodology Focus Area

Interpretive methods of research and analysis play a role in educational research in two different senses.  In one sense, they are used in many disciplines and fields as primary means to creating a narrative, making meaning, or making cultural or policy critiques.  For example, in humanistic studies of education, such as philosophy of education and history of education, the interpretation of texts, events, human actions, narratives, and concepts forms the basis of research.  In these or other cases, the analysis of language can play a central role.  In legal analysis in education, for example, the use of interpretive methods involves the analysis of case law, legislation, and administrative policy.  In cultural studies or discourse analysis in education, the interpretation of culture, practices and artifacts, or language itself plays a central role in studying social patterns of inclusion, exclusion, and the dynamics of power.  In some varieties of curriculum theory, the interpretation of textbooks and other materials plays a key role in explaining how society reflects judgments about knowledge and value in their curricular choices.  In the history of education, the interpretive research approach yields valuable insights regarding mastery of historical research methods (e.g., oral history, review of original source documents), but also in terms of knowledge about the major interpretive debates in the field that have shaped the scholarship and focus of historical research in education. 

The Interpretive Research focus area: 

  1. Provides a foundation for students to be able to understand general methodological issues and problems in educational research;
  2. Includes basic course work in conceptual analysis, documentary and other kinds of discursive analysis, and epistemological analysis;
  3. Emphasizes coursework that connects method to disciplinary study;
  4. Helps students develop critical and interpretive tools to be used to analyze both the limitations of educational research itself and substantive problems in the field of educational policy and practice;
  5. Prepares students to interpret and analyze a variety of texts and other cultural artifacts, including but not limited to documents, curricula, discursive products, film, theory, policy, and law; and,
  6. Provides students with opportunities to develop skills they will use as independent researchers-either using interpretive methods alone or in conjunction with other research skills. 

This focus area is most useful for students in humanistic disciplines (e.g., philosophy of education, history of education, curriculum theory, cultural or literary studies, or policy and legal analysis). 

Coursework

Foundational Methods Course (4 hours)

All students entering fall 2015 or later, will take a Foundational Methods Course.  It is recommended that students take this introductory foundations course in their first year of the doctoral program.

 Currently available:  
CI 550/EPSY 573/SPED 550/EPOL 550: Methods of Educational Inquiry

 Basic Courses (4-8 hours)

The student must take 4-8 basic research hours. It is recommended that a student take a course from the following list and a basic quantitative course, such as CI 590 Quantitative Research Literacy.

ANTH 411/EPSY 465 Methods of Cultural Anthropology
CI 509 Curriculum Research: QRM Qualitative Research Methodology
CI 509 Curriculum Research: AR Action Research
CI 519 Methods of Child Study
CI 580 QRL Qualitative Research in Language and Literacy Education
EPS 515 Philosophy and Educational Research
EPS 585 Ethnographic Methods
EPSY 490E Case Study Research Methods
EPSY 577 Foundations of Qualitative Methods
EPSY 578 Qualitative Inquiry Methods
GWS 570/SOC 520 Fem Research Soc Sci
HCD 591 Qualitative Methods 

Advanced Courses (8 hours)

AFRO AM 479 Black Freedom Movement 1955-Present
ARTH 593 Theory and Methodology
CINE 461 Film Theory and Criticism
COMM 582 Res Meth in Adv and Comm
CWL 590 Contemp Crit Methods & Theory
ENGL 500 Introduction to Criticism & Research
EOL 547 Educational Law
EPS 503 Seminar in the History of Ed
EPS 510 Traditions in Philosophy of Education
EPS 512 Western Educational Classics
EPS 513 Philosophical Aesthetics and Ed
EPS 517 Ethics and Education
EPS/COMM 575 Cult Studies and Crit Interp
GWS 432 Gender & Language
GWS 435 Commodifying Difference
GWS 480 Gender Roles & Inter. Devl.
GWS 550 Fem Theories Humanities
SOC 501 Contemp. Soc. Theory
SOC 583 Qualitative Methods
SOC 586 Field and Qualitative Methods

Qualitative Methodology Focus Area

The field of qualitative research in education (also spoken of as ethnography, qualitative field study, case study, naturalistic research, and interpretive research) is extremely rich and diverse and encompasses several different versions of its aim and methods as influenced by the Chicago School of Sociology, the Verstehen tradition in sociology (including symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, ethnomusicology, the ethnography of communication, and other types of micro-ethnography), the ethnographic tradition in cultural anthropology and fieldwork sociology, and notions of educational connoisseurship and criticism. In addition, ideas drawn from philosophical hermeneutics, social constructionism, postmodern theory, feminist theory, and critical theory of society shape conceptions of qualitative research as a way of studying the social world.

Some forms of qualitative research involve empirical investigation of the social world by means of field study or fieldwork employing the approach of participant observation.  Qualitative research as field study emphasizes observation in situ-that is, learning by means of a (relatively) sustained presence in a situation or setting and observing the goings-on there.  Moreover, participant observation is not merely a methodology but an epistemology: the inquirer-as-fieldworker assumes that immersion in, intimate familiarity with, and/or empathetic participation in the human action studied is necessary for grasping, understanding, and eventually portraying the meaning of social action.  

Not all qualitative studies, however, are fieldwork in this traditional sense. In fact some contemporary forms of qualitative research are actually quite critical of the traditional approach to fieldwork as participant observation. Some qualitative studies employ life history methodologies, examine the constitution and meaning of cultural artifacts, or focus on the constitution and operation of various discourse practices.

Qualitative research offers an array of meaningful methodological frameworks for exploring a range of educational matters: e.g., examining the intersection of language, culture, and schooling; the relationship between schools and their communities; the formation and enactment of school and curricular reform and other policy initiatives, and so on.  Therefore, students aiming to develop a special focus in qualitative research must seek out opportunities to explore the use of qualitative research in investigating substantive issues in their particular field of interest (e.g., curriculum design, educational policy, language education, higher education, adolescent development).

 The Qualitative Research focus area is intended to help students develop: 

  1. Competence in understanding and addressing methodological, epistemological, ethical, and political issues that cut across the field of qualitative research (and across all of social science research, more generally).
  2. Competence in multiple means of generating, interpreting, and reporting qualitative data.
  3. Competence in locating/situating/linking the understandings and skills comprising (1) and (2) within an interpretive frame of reference (cultural anthropology; traditional naturalistic, Verstehen sociology; feminist epistemology; post-structural theory; critical theory of society, etc.

Coursework

Foundational Methods Course (4 hours)

All students entering fall 2015 or later, will take a Foundational Methods Course. It is recommended that students take this introductory foundations course in their first year of the doctoral program. 

Currently available:  CI 550/EPSY 573/SPED 550/EPOL 550: Methods of Educational Inquiry

Basic Courses (4-8 hours)

The student must take 4-8 basic research hours. It is recommended that a student take a course from the following list and a basic quantitative course, such as CI 590 Quantitative Research Literacy.

ANTH 411/EPSY 465 Methods of Cultural Anthropology
CI 509 Curriculum Research: QRM Qualitative Research Methodology
CI 509 Curriculum Research: AR Action Research
CI 519 Methods of Child Study
EPOL 585 Ethnographic Methods in Educ
EPS 515 Philosophy and Educational Research
EPSY 490E Case Study Research Methods
EPSY 577 Foundations of Qualitative Methods
EPSY 578 Qualitative Inquiry Methods
HCD 591 Qualitative Methods

Advanced Courses (8 hours)

CI 552 Qualitative Writing
CI 562 Linguistics in the School Curriculum
CI 580 QRL Qualitative Research in Language and Literacy Education
CI 590 Narrative Inquiry
CI 590 Research in Progress
SOC 580/COMM 580 Advanced Interpretive Methods
SOC 583 Qualitative Research Methods
SOC 586 Adv Social Statistics I

Quantitative Methodology Focus Area

Expertise in the design, analysis and interpretation of research employing quantitative techniques underlies a substantial portion of educational research.  The purpose of this research methodology is to provide a programmatic approach to developing scholarly expertise in quantitative methodologies.

The area of quantitative methodology has the following purposes: 

  1. To provide a foundation for students to be able to interpret and judge the appropriateness of quantitative aspects of educational research;
  2. To prepare students to conduct quantitative analyses, to articulate the methodology employed, and to interpret and discuss the meaning of the results in lucid discourse; 
  3. To help students understand the strengths and limitations of quantitative methodology;
  4. To help students develop a quantitative research base by becoming familiar with journals and seminal sources of research methodology; and, 
  5. To build a base upon which students can independently extend their knowledge and expertise in quantitative methods as demanded by their own research.

The Quantitative Research focus area enables the student to further specialize in one of three sub areas of quantitative methodology: 

  1. Statistical and/or quantitative analysis and appropriate interpretation of data collected through experimental or quasi-experimental research. 
  2. The development and psychometric analysis of measurement instruments.
  3. The design of experiments.

Coursework

Foundational Methods Course (4 hours)

All students entering fall 2015 or later will take a Foundational Methods Course. It is recommended that students take this introductory foundations course in their first year of the doctoral program.

Currently available: 
CI 550/EPSY 573/SPED 550/EPOL 550: Methods of Educational Inquiry

Basic Course: (8 hours)

The student must take 8 basic research hours. The student must demonstrate a basic level of statistical knowledge by satisfactorily completing either: 

EPSY 580 Statistical Inference in Educ
AND
EPSY 581 Applied Regression Analysis

OR

PSYC 406 Statistical Methods I 
AND 
PSYC 407 Statistical Methods II

 OR

STAT 400 Statistics and Probability 
AND 
STAT 425 Applied Regression and Design

If a course is not offered when the student needs it, courses across departments can be taken (e.g. PSYC 406 followed by EPSY 581) with approval from the advisor. It is recommended that a student take courses from the prior list in addition to a basic qualitative course.

Advanced Courses: (8 hours):

The student must demonstrate expertise in a sub area by satisfactorily completing a minimum of 8 hours from one of the following specializations: 

  • Statistical/Quantitative Analysis Methodology

EPSY 574 Quasi-Experimental Design
EPSY 582 Advanced Statistical Methods
EPSY 584/PSYC 594/SOC 584 Multivar Anlys in Psych and Ed
EPSY/PSYC/STAT 587 Hierarchical Linear Models
EPSY/PSYC/SOC/STAT 588 Covar Struct and Factor Models
EPSY 589/PSYC 589/SOC 579 Categorical Data in Ed/Psyc 
PSYC 435 Math Form in Psych Theory
PSYC 436 Mathematical Models in Psychology
PSYC 506 Psych Scaling: Unidimen Meth
PSYC 509 Psych Scaling: Multidimen Meth
STAT 426 Categorical Data Analysis or EPSY 589 Categorical Data in Ed/Psyc (Credit is not given for both STAT 426 and EPSY 589.)

  • Measurement Methodology

EPSY 585/PSYC 595 Theories of Measurement, 1
PSYC 490 Mea and Test Dev Lab
PSYC 506 Psych Scaling: Unidimen Meth
PSYC 509 Psych Scaling: Multidimen Meth 

  • Experimental Methodology

EPSY 574 Quasi-experimental design
EPSY 582 Advanced Statistical Methods
PSYC 408 Design of Experiments in Psychology
SPED 583 Single Subject Research Design 

Two Stage Approval Process

Stage I-Preliminary Plan

Before completion of the second semester of doctoral coursework, the student must submit a preliminary Research Plan using the Research Area Approval Form.

The plan must include a brief written statement (limit to 500 words) that includes the following:

  1. student’s objective in developing a focus area;
  2. coursework that will support the fulfillment of the requirement; and
  3. tentative timeline for completion of all Research Requirements. 

The student must develop this plan in collaboration with his/her advisor. The plan states why the student has chosen the focus area and the ways in which it is expected to contribute to the student’s doctoral research and/or future career plans (limit to 500 words). The advisor must sign indicating approval of the plan. 

The student submits the advisor-approved plan to the Graduate Student Services Office.  A copy will be made for the student's electronic file and the original returned to the student.

Stage II-Final Approval

When the preliminary plan has been approved, the student proceeds to complete coursework. Upon completion of the courses specified in the plan and prior to taking the preliminary oral examination, the student must submit to the advisor a completed plan. The completed plan should include a revised form, which includes a list of the courses completed with their catalog description and the instructors of these courses, the grades for each course, and a brief expository description (limit to 500 words) of how the objectives stated in the preliminary plan have been fulfilled.

The advisor should read through the student’s completed plan and sign indicating approval of the student’s completion of the research requirements. The student submits the advisor-approved, completed plan to the Graduate Student Services Office.

Oversight and Processes

Oversight of the Research Requirement

The Associate Dean for Academic Programs, the Associate Dean for Research and Research Education, and the Academic Programs Committee will have oversight of the process. They may consult with faculty members with expertise in specific methodologies for questions related to courses.

Course Approval Process

There is a list of approved courses associated with particular focus areas. These listings will be updated annually. All approved courses will be reviewed every three years (on a staggered cycle) to make sure that they are still offered and are relevant to the Research Requirements.

New courses must receive prior approval before they can count to fulfill the requirements of a methodology course. To become an approved course, faculty must submit syllabi and a statement of how the course fulfills the intent of a research methodology course to the Academic Programs Committee. Only courses with permanent course numbers will be considered for the listing of approved courses. Students must petition to have independent studies and omnibus courses included in their preliminary plan. To be considered, independent studies and omnibus courses must clearly meet research methodology requirements and must not duplicate pre-approved courses.

Appeals Process

If there is a problem with the advisor related to the research requirement process, the student can choose to appeal to the Director of Graduate Programs at the department level.

Students who are dissatisfied with the actions of the Director of Graduate Programs should discuss their concerns with the Chair of the Academic Programs Committee or the Associate Dean for Academic Programs.


Early Research Project

All Ph.D. students shall conduct and present an educational research study by the end of their third full year in their graduate programs. This research should be undertaken with the expectation that it will make a contribution to knowledge in the area of the student’s Ph.D. program. In addition, an important objective of the Early Research Project is to familiarize faculty members with new Ph.D. students and their research interests and to examine ways in which these interests might be pursued in the doctoral program.

Early Research Project Requirements

By the end of the first full year of doctoral study, or soon thereafter, all Ph.D. students should consult with their advisors about the formation of an Early Research Project (ERP) committee consisting of the advisor and two other faculty members. Committee members are expected to provide counsel as the early research project develops. Whenever extended work with a faculty member is anticipated, the student should arrange for independent study credit.

The student shall formally present to his or her committee a written and oral report on the early research project. For the work to satisfy the ERP requirement for the Ph.D., all three members of the committee must approve and sign the ERP form. The completed Early Research Project form must be filed with the Graduate Student Services Office.

A student who has completed a master’s thesis as part of earlier graduate work may, upon the advice of his or her advisor, present that research as the ERP. After hearing the presentation, the ERP Committee may accept the written and oral report as satisfying the early research requirement or, should they judge the written and oral report wanting in either quality or relevance to the student’s doctoral program, may recommend that the work be revised or that another line of inquiry be pursued for the early research requirement.

A student who enters a master’s degree program with the intent of subsequently pursuing the Ph.D. is encouraged to discuss with his or her advisor the possibility of forming the ERP Committee prior to conducting the master’s thesis research (Graduate Faculty Action, December 9, 1988). For all early research involving the use of human subjects, approval for use of human subjects or confirmation that human subjects review is not required must be obtained from the Institutional Review Board. A letter showing approval from the Campus Institutional Review Board (IRB) must be provided to the department contact in the Graduate Student Services Office prior to the scheduling of the ERP. Students should begin the approval process eight weeks prior to the ERP. 


Qualifying Examinations

The Qualifying Examinations are written comprehensive examinations administered to doctoral students near the completion of their course work and Early Research Project.  The Early Research Project must be filed in the Graduate Student Services Office prior to scheduling Qualifying Examinations.

The examinations are scheduled by faculty advisors through the Graduate Student Services Office. Purposes of the qualifying examinations in the College of Education include:

  1. assessment of the student's breadth in the discipline and depth in areas of interest
  2. provision of an opportunity to explore, make connections, and integrate content in the discipline
Types

General Field Qualifying Exam

Each Ph.D. student will take a General Field Examination covering the field of study embraced by the home department or division. General Field Exam questions will be developed as per each department's internal procedures. General Field Exams will be evaluated by a faculty committee that is determined as per each department's internal procedures. 

Special Field Qualifying Exam 

All Ph.D. students will take a Special Field Examination covering an area of specialization proposed by the student with the concurrence of the advisor. The Special Field should be a scholarly specialization more broadly conceived than the anticipated dissertation topic.

The advisor will be responsible for developing questions for the Special Field Exam, drawing upon the expertise of other faculty when needed. The advisor, in consultation with the student, will also determine the format of the examination and select at least two additional faculty readers with expertise in the field being examined.

Formats

Formats should be decided well in advance of exam dates. In particular, students should discuss the format of the Special Field Exam with their advisors to arrive at a recommendation that best meets student needs and the expectation of the advisor. The three formats are:

  1. On-Site Format. A room and proctor are scheduled by the department. Normally, the General Field and the Special Field are each scheduled for a four-hour block of time. The time limit will be set by each department (or division).
  2. Take-home Format. A take-home format may be used for the General Field exam (at the option of the department) and for the Special Field exam (at the option of the advisor). In the take-home format the student, with the approval of the advisor, writes the exam at a place of his or her choosing with no restriction on books or other written materials to be used. Because the purpose of the qualifying examination is to assess individual competence, students should not discuss the exam with anyone other than their advisor after they have picked up the questions. The time limit for this take-home exam will be set by each department (or division or program area).
  3. Portfolio Format (Special Field only). This format consists of assembling a focused collection of 3 or 4 high quality papers and/or projects which are then defended before three faculty readers. The number, subject, and length of the required papers or projects are decided by the advisor in consultation with the student. Portfolio submissions can include collaborative work, but independent work must also be reflected in the portfolio. The portfolio may include work completed to satisfy other requirements for the doctoral degree such as course papers, early research papers, master’s theses, and Research Specialization papers. The portfolio must be submitted with an original, independently written synthesis paper that defines the special field and articulates how each piece of the portfolio connects or contributes to the special field and its literature. If the portfolio option is selected, the student will discuss this work at an oral defense before the three faculty readers, after which the readers will determine whether the student has demonstrated competence in the special field.
Process
  1. Student will confer with advisor to determine exam format, dates, and readers.  Readers should be contacted prior to submission of the Qualifying Examination Information Form to determine availability.
  2. Student will submit the Qualifying Examination Information Form prior to beginning exam
  3. Staff in the Graduate Student Services Office will confirm dates and reader agreements.
  4. For a take home format:
    • Advisor will email the question(s) no less than three days prior to the first date of the exam to the Graduate Student Services Office, unless prior arrangements are made.
    • The Graduate Student Services Office contact will email question(s) to the student, unless prior arrangements are made.
    • Students will submit their qualifying exam via email to the Graduate Student Services Office by 5 pm on the deadline date.
    • The Graduate Student Services Office will send the exam and evaluation form to the faculty readers.
    • Faculty readers will have 2 weeks to submit their evaluations unless prior arrangements are made.
    • The Graduate Student Services Office will notify the student and advisor of passing exam results, including comments.  If revisions are required, the Graduate Student Services Office will contact the advisor and the advisor will work with the student and readers to determine revision requirements and deadlines. 
    • A copy of the exam and reader comments will be placed in the student’s file.
  5. For an on-site or portfolio format:
    • The Graduate Student Services Office contact will schedule a room once the Qualifying Examination Information Form has been received.
    • Following the exam the readers of the exam will be notified to complete the evaluation form.
    • The Graduate Student Services Office will notify the student and advisor of the exam results.
    • A copy of the exam and exam results will be placed in the student’s file.
Evaluation

To pass the examination, the student must receive excellent or satisfactory ratings from all faculty readers on each of the General Field, Special Field and Research Methodology exams. There are three possible ratings for all sections of the qualifying exams.

  1. Excellent doctoral work. This rating is given for excellent doctoral work. If more than fifty percent of a student's ratings are excellent, the student is given a letter of special commendation by the department head/chair.
  2. Satisfactory doctoral work. This rating is given for work that demonstrates competence expected of advanced students in the field.
  3. Unsatisfactory doctoral work. This rating is given for exam papers that may range from work with significant gaps in knowledge to work that is completely unsatisfactory. Depending on the nature of the unsatisfactory evaluation, a faculty reader will have three recommendation options for a unsatisfactory paper:
    • Unsatisfactory doctoral work - revision of original exam required: The recommendation that the student be given an opportunity for revision of the unsatisfactory portion(s) of the exam paper. This rating is given for work that demonstrates competence, but requires significant revisions in content and/or the development of ideas to be considered satisfactory as a doctoral examination.
    • Unsatisfactory doctoral work - rewrite with new question required:  The recommendation that the student be given an entirely new exam question for a complete rewrite of the exam paper. This rating is given for work that the committee member does not consider well-developed to the degree that revisions alone could lead to a satisfactory outcome.
    • Unsatisfactory doctoral work - student fails exam

If the examination is rated "unsatisfactory" by any member(s) of the committee, the member(s) making that evaluation shall communicate the major deficiencies to the student and make a collective decision as to the format and scope of the revised or new examination, if applicable. All faculty readers who rated the first exam "unsatisfactory" will evaluate the revised exam.  A satisfactory or excellent rating must be awarded by all readers for the student to pass the revised examination, and should one or more readers judge the second exam unsatisfactory, the readers shall meet to review the student's performance. If extenuating circumstances exist that warrant a third attempt, the advisor may request approval from the department head/chair or designee. Students shall normally be permitted two attempts to pass each of the qualifying examinations.

Promptness of Evaluations

Students should receive results within 3 weeks from the date of the exam. The department will ensure timeliness of review and communicate results to students and to the advisor.

Faculty have two weeks upon receipt of the qualifying exam to submit their results to the Graduate Student Services Office (GSSO).  Shortly thereafter, GSSO will send the results to the student, copying the Director of Graduate Study and advisor.

Report of Examination Results

After all readers for the exams have returned their excellent or satisfactory evaluations, a letter is sent to the student from their department indicating the readers’ decisions. A copy of the letter and evaluations are placed in the student's academic file.

Questions and Problems

The first person a student should consult concerning the qualifying exams is his or her advisor. If irreconcilable differences arise between the student and advisor concerning scheduling, format, content, or rating procedures, the student should consult the department head/chair or designee. If the problem cannot be resolved, consult the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. Normal grievance procedures can be used (see Graduate Student Appeals section of this handbook). If a student wishes to postpone a scheduled examination, the request should be made through the advisor to the department office.

 


Human Subjects Approval

For all dissertations, approval for use of human subjects or confirmation that human subjects review is not required must be obtained from the Institutional Review Board prior to doing research on the dissertation topic. A letter showing approval from the Campus Institutional Review Board (IRB) must be provided to the department contact in the Graduate Student Services Office prior to the scheduling of the preliminary examination. Students should begin the approval process eight weeks prior to the examination.


Preliminary Examination

The preliminary oral examination (prelim) follows successful completion of all required coursework, the early research requirement, the qualifying examinations, the research methods requirement, and human subjects approval. In addition, all incomplete grades must be changed to letter grades prior to the oral examination.

The purpose of a prelim is for a student to present the rationale and format for the dissertation. During the examination, an agreement is reached between the student and the committee concerning the proposed dissertation. Thus, the examination is held prior to the collection of data or other major work on the dissertation. The student must be registered in order to take the prelim. The student should consult the department for additional requirements. 

Preliminary Examination Committee

Students should begin appointing the committee and scheduling the examination at least four weeks prior to the expected date.

The committee must meet the preliminary examination committee requirements of the Graduate College including:

  • The chair must be a member of the Graduate Faculty.
  • The committee must include at least four voting members, at least three of which must be members of the Graduate Faculty, and two of which must also be tenured.
  • If there are more than four voting members on the committee, at least half of the voting members must be members of the Graduate Faculty.

In addition to these requirements, College of Education requirements must be met:

  • The committee chair must be on the tenure-track at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign or have active tenure status awarded by the Graduate College after retirement or resignation that includes graduate faculty membership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 
  • At least one member must be from outside the student’s field of specialization and the budgetary department of the student and advisor.  If the student is a member of the Education Policy, Organization and Leadership department, at least one member must be from outside the graduate concentration of the student and advisor in place of the budgetary department.

For committee members outside of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a letter of justification and curriculum vitae must be submitted by the chair to the Graduate Student Services Office who will then submit it to the Graduate College for approval. In appointing the committee, the student submits committee member information to the Graduate Student Services Office by completing the Request for Appointment of Committee Form. This form must be submitted at least four weeks before the examination. The Graduate Student Services Office will retrieve the appropriate approvals.

Preliminary Exam Expectations and Results

The student must present the dissertation to the prelim examination committee for reading two weeks before the examination; in some cases it may be more reasonable to allow three weeks. Failure to do so may result in delaying or canceling the prelim.

The chair, student, and at least one additional voting member of the committee must be physically present for the entire duration of all oral components of the examination. If the committee has more than one chair, all chairs must be physically present; in these cases, no additional voting member is required to be physically present. All voting members of the committee must be present in person or participate via teleconference or other electronic communication media during the examination, deliberation and results determination.

The chair obtains the Preliminary Exam Result (PER) form from the Graduate Student Services Office before the examination and returns the form immediately after the examination. All voting members must sign the PER.

Decisions of the prelim committee must be unanimous. The committee may make one of the following decisions:

  1. Pass the student.
  2. Fail the student. A program may, but is not required to, grant the student another opportunity to take the examination after completing additional course work, independent study, or research, as recommended by the committee. However, if a second attempt is given, a new committee must be appointed by the Graduate College. The new committee may, but does not have to, consist of the same members as the original committee.
  3. Defer the decision. If this option is chosen:
    1. the same committee must re-examine the student,
    2. the second exam must occur within 180 calendar days of the date of first exam, and
    3. the outcome of the second exam must be pass or fail.

The result of the examination is communicated to the student and the Graduate Student Services Office as soon as possible at the conclusion of the examination.

Number of Attempts: After a fail result, a student will only be allowed to take the preliminary examination one additional time while working toward the completion of any one program of study. 

The preliminary examination must be retaken if the final examination is not passed within five years of the original examination.

Preliminary Exam Registration

The Graduate College requires that all doctoral students be registered for the entire academic term during which they take the prelim. Additional Information on registration requirements can be found on the Graduate College web site under Requirements and Policies for Doctoral Degree.


Dissertation

The Ph.D. dissertation is intended to demonstrate the student’s capacity to conduct independent research. The student’s research should make an original contribution to knowledge (Graduate Faculty Action, February 15, 1973). The dissertation usually requires a year or more of study. Registration in dissertation research hours for on-campus or in-absentia students, after the completion of the required 64 hours beyond the master’s degree, is required. This registration typically comes after the coursework is completed and before the time limits are reached.

Dissertation Editorial Style and Format

The dissertation must be prepared using one of the following commonly accepted editorial styles:

  • American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  • Harvard Law Review Association. (2015). The bluebook: A uniform system of citation (20th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Author.
  • Modern Language Association. (2009). MLA handbook for writers of research papers (7th ed.). New York, NY: Author.
  • Turabian, K. L. (2013). A manual for writers of term papers, theses, and dissertations (8th ed.). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
  • University of Chicago. (2010). The Chicago manual of style (16th ed.). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago.

NOTE: LaTex is not an acceptable editorial style. However, this typesetting system can be used in conjunction with one of the above editorial styles.

The student will consult with the chair and dissertation committee members to choose the style to be used. In exceptional circumstances, style manuals not listed above may be used with prior approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. In addition, the Thesis & Dissertation policies and procedures issued by the Graduate College must be followed. In the case of explicit differences between the Graduate College instructions and the style manual selected, the Graduate College instructions take precedence. For example, students choosing the APA style manual should follow the Graduate College instructions rather than those included in the APA manual for insertion of tables and figures. Every dissertation in final manuscript form must be reviewed and approved by the dissertation director of research and/or chairperson of the dissertation committee to ensure that the dissertation meets the Graduate College and departmental requirements for deposit.

Dissertation Abstract

Abstracts for dissertations in the College of Education must include a synopsis of the following information to fully describe the completed study:

  1. The problem and its theoretical and educational significance.
  2. The research design and/or approach employed (include where appropriate descriptions of subjects and methods).
  3. An overview of the results.
  4. Conclusions, recommendations, and/or implications.


Final Examination

Final examinations are oral and open to the public. The final examination committee chair is responsible for convening the committee, conducting the examination, and submitting the Final Exam Result form to the Graduate Student Services Office.

Final Examination Committee

Students (also know as "candidates" at this stage) should begin appointing the committee and scheduling the final examination (final) at least four weeks prior to the expected date.

The committee must meet the final examination committee requirements of the Graduate College including:

  • The chair must be a member of the Graduate Faculty.
  • The examination committee must include at least four voting members, of which at least three must be members of the Graduate Faculty and at least two must be tenured.
  • If there are more than four voting members on the committee, at least half of the voting members should be members of the Graduate Faculty.

In addition to these requirements, College of Education requirements must be met:

  • The committee chair must be on the tenure-track at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign or have active tenure status awarded by the Graduate College after retirement or resignation that includes graduate faculty membership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • At least one member must be from outside the candidate's field of specialization and the budgetary department of the student and chair.  If the student is a member of the Education Policy, Organization and Leadership department, at least one member must be from outside the graduate concentration of the candidate and advisor in place of the budgetary department.

For committee members outside of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a letter of justification and curriculum vitae must be submitted by the chair to the Graduate Student Services Office who will then submit it to the College of Education Associate Dean for Academic Programs and the Graduate College for approvals. In appointing the committee, the student submits committee member information to the Graduate Student Services Office by completing the Request for Appointment of Committee Form. This form must be submitted at least four weeks before the examination. The Graduate Student Services Office will retrieve the appropriate approvals.

Final Examination Expectations and Results

The final is a public event to be conducted in a room that will accommodate the candidate, the committee, and any attendees. The public may not ask questions or give input during the examination.

The candidate must present the dissertation to the final examination committee for reading two weeks before the examination; in some cases it may be more reasonable to allow three weeks.

The chair, candidate, and at least one additional voting member of the committee must be physically present for the entire duration of the examination. If the committee has more than one chair, all chairs must be physically present; in these cases, no additional voting member is required to be physically present. All voting members of the committee must be present in person or participate via teleconference or other electronic communication media during the examination, deliberation and results determination.

The chair obtains the Final Exam Result (FER) form and the Thesis/Dissertation Approval (TDA) form from the Graduate Student Services Office prior to the examination and returns the forms immediately after the examination. All appointed committee members' signatures are required on the forms; signatories must sign for themselves. Committee members have the right to review the final copy of the dissertation before signing. The committee should meet in private before beginning the examination. At the conclusion of the examination, the committee will meet in private to discuss the results and then inform the candidate of the decision.

Results: Unanimous decisions are not required. Decisions of the committee for the final are recorded on the FER form.  The voting members of the committee must make one of two decisions:

  • Pass the candidate. The candidate passes the final exam if the Director(s) of Research vote pass and no more than one of the remaining committee members votes fail. The committee will indicate on the FER form if revisions are required. The committee will sign the TDA form after the completion of the examination and the completion of any required revisions.
  • Fail the candidate. The candidate fails the final if a Director of Research votes fail or if two or more committee members vote fail. A program may, but is not required to, grant the student another opportunity to take the examination after completing additional research or writing, as recommended by the committee. However, a new committee must be appointed by the Graduate College. The new committee may, but does not have to, consist of the same members as the original committee.

Number of Attempts: After a fail result a candidate will only be allowed to take the final examination one additional time while working toward the completion of any one program of study. 

Final Examination Registration

The Graduate College requires that all doctoral candidates be registered for the entire academic term during which they take the final. Additional Information on registration requirements can be found on the Graduate College web site under Requirements and Policies for Doctoral Degree.

 

Dissertation Deposit

After the passing the final, provide the dissertation in final form to the committee chair and visit the Graduate College Thesis & Dissertation web pages for further deposit instructions. 

All students who have successfully defended their dissertation must obtain departmental dissertation format approval prior to final deposit with the Graduate College Thesis Office. Departmental format approval consists of three parts:

  1. Chair and dissertation committee,
  2. Head/Chair of department/program or authorized signatory, and
  3. Departmental thesis/dissertation format reviewer. Because revisions requested by the chair and dissertation committee may cause a change in pagination or format, students should submit a PDF of the dissertation the Graduate Student Services Office only after all revisions have been approved by the chair, dissertation committee, and the head/chair of department/program or authorized signatory. The departmental dissertation review process will not begin until prior approvals have been received. Dissertations must be received by the Graduate Student Services Office contact two weeks prior to the Graduate College doctoral dissertation deposit deadline to allow an opportunity for revisions. Late submissions may result in a delay of the student's graduation and degree conferral.   

After the departmental format review, dissertations are deposited in the Graduate College using the ETD process.


Evaluation of Academic Progress

Annual evaluations are required for all degree-seeking graduate students and will occur every spring semester.

The student will complete an electronic self-evaluation detailing academic progress. The advisor (or department designee) will assess the progress report and provide online feedback to the student. An additional authorized faculty member may also be asked to review the progress report. The evaluation is kept in the student’s permanent file. Failure to complete the academic self-evaluation by the deadline will result in a hold being placed on the student's account.

When a decision is made that a student is not making satisfactory progress, the student, the advisor, and the Director of Graduate Studies will be informed in writing by the department.

Degree Certification Request

Prior to the date of degree conferral, candidates may need verification that they have completed all requirements for the degree (e.g., for employment or visa renewal). After degree requirements have been satisfied, the student may request a Degree Certification Letter or use the on-line Degree Verification system.