Graduate degree programs are subject to policies and procedures established by the Graduate Council and the dean of the Graduate School. It is the policy of the Graduate School to delegate to the departments and their staff the maximum responsibility for the maintenance of academic standards. The Graduate School staff does not normally counsel individual graduate students relative to their academic programs and degree progress. In all matters concerning a student or the student’s academic program, the Graduate School will take no action (except in unusual cases) without prior approval or recommendation of the student’s major professor, advisory committee, or the head of his or her graduate program. Any necessary communication with the Graduate School should be made through the student’s department. (See Sections I-C , I-D , and I-E )
Although Graduate School deadlines are specified throughout this section of the manual, departments may set earlier deadlines.
A. Departmental Advising and Supervision
- Major Professor
Every student in a degree program is required to select a major professor who acts as the chair of the advisory committee and who agrees to supervise the student’s graduate study, research, and writing. The major professor/student relationship must be a mutually acceptable one.
- Advisory Committee
The student and the major professor are responsible for the selection of an advisory committee. The duties of that committee are to assist the student in the preparation of the plan of study and to offer advice during the period of graduate work, including research and thesis preparation when these are required components of the student’s degree program.
The committee consists of the major professor and at least two other members of the graduate faculty (with the exception of non-thesis master’s degree programs that have approval for a one-member advisory committee. Please refer to Section VII. A. 2. a). Committees must be approved by the head of the graduate program, the college dean (if requested by the college), and the dean of the Graduate School. Because it is crucial for advisory committee members to bring independent thought and decision-making to their advisory committee roles, the Graduate School strongly recommends that major professors, graduate students, and other individuals involved in the advisory committee selection process strive to avoid appointments where there may be potential conflicts of interest. Advisory committee appointments of spouses/partners, partners in business, or those with financial conflicts of interest connected to the graduate student, for example, should be carefully reviewed and alternatives considered. Members of the committee need not be faculty with whom the student has taken coursework, however, at least 51% of the committee members must have regular graduate faculty certification. The request to the dean of the Graduate School for appointment of the advisory committee is made on the same form and at the same time as the request for approval of the student’s plan of study. (See Section VII-B.) The dean of the Graduate School may appoint additional members if it seems advisable.
- One-Member Advisory Committee Flexibility Option
A minimum of one member of the graduate faculty may be permitted to serve and fully constitute the membership of the advisory committee for non-thesis master’s students who are meeting degree requirements entirely through the completion of courses. Departments wishing to pursue this option should submit a request to the Graduate Records Manager in the Graduate School, or the appropriate director of graduate studies at the regional campuses. Being as specific as possible, this request should outline what concentrations, cohorts, delivery methods (distance or campus based) or other features will qualify for this option.
Once approved, all non-thesis students within the department will be given technical access to list just one advisory committee member on the plan of study, even if this option is not appropriate for all. It is the department’s responsibility to carefully review each proposed plan of study; if a student who does not qualify for the one-member advisory committee option lists only one member, the form must be rejected.
Please note that a Final Examination Report Form (G.S. Form 7) must be submitted for all master’s students using the One Member Advisory Committee Flexibility option, unless the department also has an approved Alternative Graduation Criteria option. (See Section VII-F.2.)
- Changes in the Advisory Committee
Changes to the advisory committee must be submitted electronically via myPurdue if the plan of study was submitted electronically. Advisory committee changes on a paper plan of study should be requested using the Request for Change to the Plan of Study (G.S. Form 13). Each request for a change must be accompanied by a rationale and be signed by the student and each committee member whose status is affected by the request. If a paper form is used, it is the responsibility of the chair of the advisory committee to obtain the signatures of all committee members whose status is being changed. The request must be approved by the major professor, the head of the graduate program, and the college dean (if requested by the college). It is important to notify the Graduate School immediately of any change in the major professor to ensure that appropriate signatures are on forms.
In very rare instances in which an advisory committee member in any role does not approve a student’s request for a change in the advisory committee, the student may ask (in writing) for review and assistance from the dean of the Graduate School who will forward it to his/her designee. This action by the student should be utilized after he/she has made at least three contacts (in writing) to the advisory committee member over a period of at least one month to secure approval. The dean of the Graduate School’s designee will convene a committee of three faculty members/administrators, normally including the graduate student’s college associate dean, department head, and departmental graduate committee chair, to consider the situation. A majority vote of this committee is required to ask the dean of the Graduate School’s designee to remove an advisory committee member from that role. The dean of the Graduate School’s designee is a non-voting facilitator and serves as a liaison between the Graduate School, the college/department, and the student. If the student believes that either composition of the committee did not allow him/her to have a fair review or the process was not properly followed, he/she may appeal directly to the dean of the Graduate School within 10 days of the issuance of the committee’s decision.
B. Plan of Study
Each graduate student admitted to a degree program must submit a plan of study. Although there are no Graduate School requirements for the specific number of credit hours of courses that must appear on the plan of study (except for non-thesis plans of study), the plan must be appropriate to meet the needs of the student in his or her chosen field, as determined by the advisory committee and approved by the head of the graduate program, the college dean (if requested by the college), and the dean of the Graduate School.
The plan of study includes a primary area and may include a related area or areas that are chosen on the basis of the student’s interests and needs. It is to include the specific courses the student is expected to complete and other requirements of the particular degree being sought. Research credits (69800 or 69900) are not to appear on the plan of study. The number of credit hours of research should reflect the graduate student’s research and writing efforts.
Doctoral degree requirements may only be satisfied by 69900 credits; however, under certain conditions, 69900 credits may be applied toward the requirements of a thesis master’s degree. A request to use 69900 credits to satisfy master’s degree requirements must be submitted to the Graduate School explaining the need for the use of the 69900 credits and listing which credits (based on session taken) are to be used. This request must be signed by the major professor and the head of the graduate program. These 69900 credits, used to satisfy master’s degree requirements, will no longer be eligible to be used for the Ph.D. degree, unless they are utilized as part of the up to 30 credits potentially allowed for use from a master’s degree toward a doctoral degree. (See Section VI-2-2-c.)
A tentative plan of study should be drawn up in advance of registration for the first session of graduate work, and the formal plan of study should be submitted electronically as soon as possible (by the end of the third session for doctoral students and by the end of the first session for master’s students). For plans of study that are not submitted electronically, the Request for Master’s Degree Advisory Committee and Plan of Study Approval (G.S. Form 6) is used for master’s degree programs. The Request for Ph.D. Degree Advisory Committee and Plan of Study Approval (G.S. Form 4) is used for doctoral degree programs. The Request for Educational Specialist Degree Advisory Committee and Plan of Study Approval (G.S. Form 2) is used for educational specialist degree programs.
- Developing the Plan of Study
- Requirements Applicable to any Plan of Study
Course credits earned by a student whose graduate study and/or professional activity has been inactive for five years or more cannot be used on a plan of study for an advanced degree. A plan of study approved prior to such a period of inactivity is invalid. (See Section III-B-5 .)
Additional requirements that depend on the status of the student when the course was taken are as follows:
- Courses Taken as a Graduate Student at Purdue University
Neither 10000- nor 20000-level courses may appear on a plan of study. Otherwise, requirements for the numerical level (30000 through 60000) of courses are determined by each department or administrative unit subject to the restriction that not more than a total of six 30000- or 40000-level course credit hours, with a grade of B- or better, may appear on a plan of study. (See Section VI-B .)
- Courses Taken in Non-Degree, Teacher License, or Graduate Certificate Status at Purdue University
Although there is no limit to the number of course credit hours that an individual may accumulate while registered in any of these classifications, no more than 12 total hours of credit earned (with a grade of C- or higher) in non-degree, teacher license, or graduate certificate status may be used on a plan of study. However, if an application to a degree program is approved during the session in which a person is enrolled for the 12th credit hour as a non-degree, teacher license, or graduate certificate student, all credits taken prior to and during that session will be eligible for inclusion on a plan of study for a degree program, providing the courses are appropriate to the degree program and the courses and grades are acceptable first to the department and then to the Graduate School.
Please note that the above limitation on course credit hours taken in non-degree, teacher license, or graduate certificate status that can be used on a plan of study will be modified if excess undergraduate credit also is to be applied to the plan of study. [See Section VII-B-1-a-(3) that follows.]
- Courses Taken as Excess Undergraduate Credit
Graduate course credits earned while an undergraduate at Purdue University or other accredited institutions of higher learning may be applied toward an advanced degree if these credits are in excess of any requirements for the baccalaureate degree. Such credits must be certified as available for graduate credit by the institution from which the student received his/her baccalaureate degree, but will be accepted only if:
- The student had junior or senior standing when taking the course,
- The student received a grade of B or better (work taken under the pass/not-pass option is not acceptable),
- The course was designated as a graduate course.
At Purdue University only, if the work is completed satisfactorily on this basis, the academic advisor (or candidate coordinator or other designee) shall then complete the Academic Record Change (Registrar Form 350), which indicates that the course may be used for graduate credit, and submit the form to the registrar, along with the grade reported, at the close of the student’s final term. The academic advisor’s (or candidate coordinator’s or designee’s) signature will attest to the fact that the credit is in excess of that required for the baccalaureate degree so that the registrar can then enter the notation “available for graduate credit” on the student’s record.
The sum of credits earned as undergraduate excess and the credits earned in graduate non-degree, teacher license, or graduate certificate status that can be used on a plan of study is limited to 12 credit hours except as stated in Section VII-B-1-a-(2) above. Any additional conditions under which excess undergraduate credit may be used for graduate credit are determined by the various departments (Graduate Council, April 16, 1992).
- Graduate Courses Taken as a Non-degree Undergraduate Student after Receipt of the Baccalaureate Degree
Graduate courses taken as an undergraduate student, even if completed after receipt of the baccalaureate degree and with the intent to use the credits toward a graduate degree program, are not eligible to satisfy requirements for a graduate degree.
- Combined Degree Program Credits
If students are admitted to an approved combined degree program, they are permitted to use a certain number of credits to apply toward both undergraduate and graduate degrees (as outlined in the approved program proposal). Such courses must be listed on the graduate plan of study, and a supplemental note must be added to the plan of study indicating those courses that are to be used for both degrees.
- Courses Taken as a Graduate Student at Other Accredited Institutions of Higher Learning
Subject to the restrictions stated below, credits earned for graduate study at other universities (both domestic and international) may be applied toward an advanced degree. Only credit hours associated with graduate courses for which grades of B- or better were obtained will be eligible for transfer. Any additional conditions under which credit transfers may be made are determined by the various departments.
- Requirements Applicable to a Master’s Plan of Study
A minimum of 30 hours of graded credits (69800 and 69900 courses are excluded) are required on a plan of study for a non-thesis option master’s degree. Fewer than 30 credit hours of coursework may be listed on the plan of study for a thesis option master’s degree, providing there is a total of at least 30 hours of coursework and research credits.
A maximum of nine Purdue credit hours of coursework at the 50000- and 60000-level used to satisfy the requirements of one (and only one) Purdue master’s degree may be used on the plan of study for a second Purdue master’s degree. However, if an individual is admitted to a second Ph.D. program and has at least two master’s degrees, a maximum of thirty credits from the master’s degree which was not used toward the individual’s first Ph.D. degree may, with the agreement of the advisory committee, be used toward the second degree.
Coursework used to satisfy the requirements of a master’s degree from an institution other than Purdue may not be used on a Purdue master’s plan of study.
- Requirements Applicable to a Ph.D. Plan of Study
Up to 30 credits earned from one (and only one) master’s degree, Educational Specialist degree, or doctoral professional degree may be used on the plan of study for a Doctor of Philosophy degree. For such credits to apply to the doctoral degree program, the number of credits to apply must be noted on the doctoral plan of study.
Graduate students using nine credits from one Purdue master’s degree toward another Purdue master’s degree may use a maximum of 30 credits from only one of the Purdue master’s degrees toward the Purdue Ph.D. degree.
- Filing the Plan of Study
A plan of study should be submitted for approval as early as is feasible (by the end of the third session for doctoral students and by the end of the first session for master’s students) in the student’s study. Furthermore, it must be received by the Graduate School, with all advisory committee, department/school, and college signatures, prior to the first day of the academic session of graduation. Students are encouraged to submit their plan at least one month in advance of the start of the session of anticipated graduation to allow ample time for department review and approval. Departments may set and enforce an earlier student submission deadline, if appropriate.
Students who fail to obtain all department approvals on their plan before the start of the session of anticipated graduation will be assessed a Late Graduation Deadline Fee if they want to remain on the candidate roster for the current term. Students may be asked to register for the following session to receive the degree. The plan of study will not be approved until all technical conditions have been met, and normally all academic conditions of admission must have been met. (See Section III-B-1-a-(2).)
- Course Changes in the Plan of Study
Course changes to the plan of study must be submitted electronically via myPurdue if the plan of study was submitted electronically. Course changes on a paper plan of study should be requested on the Request for Change to the Plan of Study (G.S. Form 13). The Graduate School regards the plan of study as an individualized curriculum designed by the advisory committee to assist the student in achieving his or her educational objectives. Although changes in the plan of study may be necessary, each change requested must be accompanied by a brief rationale in the space provided. Poor performance in a course is not an appropriate reason for removing a course from the plan of study. A request for changes in a plan of study must be signed by the student and approved by the major professor, the head of the graduate program, and the college dean (if requested by the college).
- Fulfilling the Plan of Study Course Requirements
Graduate courses taken while registered as a graduate student at Purdue University may be considered for fulfilling the plan of study requirements only if the student has received grades of C- or better. These course grades must meet departmental requirements, such as limits on the number of C-, C, or C+ grades permitted, grades of A, A-, B, or B- in certain courses, and/or minimum GPA for courses on the plan of study. For courses at the 30000- or 40000- level taken as a graduate student or courses that represent either undergraduate excess credit or transfer credit, grades of B- or better are required for fulfilling plan of study requirements. Once again, departments and advisory committees may set higher standards. (See Sections VII-B-1-a-(3) and (4) for other conditions governing the use of undergraduate excess and transfer credit on a plan of study.)
Courses taken as pass/not pass or satisfactory/unsatisfactory are unacceptable on plans of study, with the exception of students in certain programs within the Krannert School of Management. Beginning with new students enrolling in Fall 2017, Krannert master’s students may take up to 10% of the coursework required for Krannert program as pass/not pass provided that the student also completes a minimum of 30 credits of graded (C- or better) coursework for the program. Only elective courses may be taken as pass/not pass, and a “pass” grade must be earned for the course to count toward meeting the credit requirement of the degree as part of the 10% allowance. Research credits (69800 and 69900) cannot be included on a plan of study. Except in cases of a staff error, grade option changes will not be approved by the Graduate School. It is expected that staff errors will be detected early and corrections requested within the normal drop/add period.
C. Thesis and Dissertation Policies
Purdue University Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Policies and Practices
Thesis-option masters and doctoral students should observe the following policies in order to successfully deposit their thesis or dissertation with the Purdue Graduate School.
Students depositing their thesis (or dissertation) with the Purdue University Graduate School must certify that they have prepared the thesis while observing the provisions if Purdue University Policy III.A.2, November 18, 2011, Policy on Research Misconduct. Students will make the appropriate selection using the Electronic Thesis Acceptance Form (ETAF) 9.
Thesis Copyright Protection
Purdue University Policy I.A.1, May 18, 2007, Intellectual Property, established that copyright ownership now resides with you, the author. The copyright symbol © is not required for works to be copyrighted. All candidates have the additional option of applying for registration of their copyright: This establishes a public record of theses/dissertations and confers additional legal rights, enabling individuals to file infringement suits and seek statutory damages as well as attorneys’ fees. Copyright registration can be filed here.
Specific questions regarding your rights and responsibilities under U.S. copyright law may be addressed to the Purdue University Copyright Office: 765.496.3864 or Stewart Center Room 246A.
Using Material Protected by Copyright
Purdue University promotes compliance with U.S. copyright law and understanding of the appropriate use of copyrighted works: Purdue University Policy I.A.3, January 1, 2015 Use of Copyrighted Materials for Educational and Research Purposes.
When quoting extensively from copyrighted material, the author must obtain written permission from the copyright holder. There is no precise relationship between the amount of text quoted and the requirement for written permission to use the material. The law governing copyright infringement is based on the fair use principle. Ordinarily, if you plan to quote more than 150 words of continuous text from copyrighted material, you should ask permission from the author. If the work you are quoting has significant commercial value, you should obtain permission to quote any complete or nearly complete text item or section. When your quotation of copyrighted material could have a negative impact on the existing commercial value of that material, obtain the copyright holder’s permission. Figures or other graphical material, including Web pages, should not be reprinted in your thesis without the author’s consent. Permission to use copyrighted material is usually granted on condition that acknowledgment is made. You will be responsible for any required payments.
You will be required to upload copyright permissions to HammerRR (Figshare) when depositing your thesis with the Purdue University Graduate School.
By depositing a thesis with the Purdue University Graduate School, you certify that all copyrighted material incorporated into the thesis complies with United States copyright law and that you have received written permission from the copyright owners for the use of their work, which is beyond the scope of the law. You also agree to indemnify and save harmless Purdue University from any and all claims that may be asserted or that may arise from any copyright violation.
Depositing a Thesis or Dissertation with the Purdue University Graduate School
Publication of the thesis or dissertation is a required part of the deposit process. The university currently uses HammerRR to publish the thesis after which, your thesis will become an Open Access document with no additional cost to you.
All theses submitted to HammerRR are considered the final copy and are required to undergo a format review. Candidates will upload their thesis to HammerRR and Graduate School administrators will review the thesis for any format errors. In the event format changes are required, the administration will provide you a list of necessary changes that you should make and re-submit to HammerRR as soon as possible. Format reviews will continue until your format is in an acceptable condition. You may schedule a Formatting Consultation before your Final Exam (Defense) to avoid an extensive format review during the deposit process.
Open Access Theses and Dissertations
Each student grants, without restriction, royalty free to Purdue University the nonexclusive right and license to reproduce, distribute, and display, in whole or in part, all theses and dissertations in any format now known or later developed for preservation and access in accordance with this agreement and will be made to the general public at no charge.
Benefits of an Open Access Thesis or Dissertation:
 Higher Citation Rates
The more users who can access a work, the more researchers that can cite that work.
 Better Global Visibility of Your Work
By making their work globally visible through open access, authors are allowing more scholars, more promising students and future scholars, less wealthy institutions, policy makers, news reporters, and the unexpected reader and citizen scholar to have access to their work who may not have otherwise had the ability or funds to access closed-access scholarship.
 Meeting the Land Grant Mission of the University
Open access at Purdue can publicly showcase the scholarly output of the University and its community members, this provides greater visibility and traffic to your department, school, and ultimately the university. It can also show that scholars and researchers at Purdue think beyond their own disciplines by showcasing the interdisciplinary scholarship and research being created at Purdue. Finally, open access scholarship demonstrates accountability to the public that funds the university, while disseminating knowledge gained and created at Purdue; satisfying the public, land-grant mission of the university.
Students who wish to delay public release of their thesis must make the appropriate selection on the Electronic Thesis Acceptance Form (ETAF), provide the reasoning for the requested embargo, and make the same embargo selection in their HammerRR profile. The information that is provided to ETAF and HammerRR will be validated for consistency at the time of your thesis submission. If inconsistencies are present between the ETAF and HammerRR, the HammerRR profile will be updated by administrators to match what you have selected and what your committee chair has approved on the ETAF. Embargo periods are 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, or indefinite. During the embargo period, the deposited thesis abstract will be available for viewing; however, the main content will remain unpublished until the embargo period has expired. Students may embargo their thesis when applying for patents, have publications pending, or when proprietary rights are involved.
Students who are applying for patents, are including sensitive ITAR/Export Controlled material, have a contract on file with Sponsored Program Services (SPS), or are including proprietary information may request confidentiality of their thesis. Confidentiality can be requested for one or two years and students who have contracts on file with SPS may request longer periods.
ADA Compliance and Accessible Documents
Before depositing your thesis with the Graduate School, the PDF copy of your thesis needs to be made accessible (the file will be accessible to screen readers and other assistive computer technologies) to the best of the author’s ability.
Word users: To check your thesis for accessibility it is recommended that you use Word 2013 or Word 2016 as these versions have a built-in accessibility checker. You can learn more about the accessibility checker from the Microsoft Accessibility Checker page. Once you convert your file to PDF, you should also verify that the accessible Word document has converted to an accessible PDF file.
LaTeX users: Authors using LaTeX should manually check the accessibility of their PDF document using Acrobat Pro.
The Graduate School expects candidates and departments to thoroughly review format and content of theses and dissertations prior to their electronic submission. The Graduate School does not generally permit post-facto revisions to ETDs once they have been accepted for deposit by the Thesis & Dissertation Office. Post acceptance changes are only permitted to correct significant textual, data, or mathematical errors affecting accuracy of content and which could be potentially embarrassing to Purdue University.
If, after appropriate consultation, it is agreed that a candidate’s thesis or dissertation merits post facto revision, please contact the Thesis & Dissertation Office to obtain Graduate School Form 37 - Request for Post Facto Revision of Thesis/Dissertation.
Thesis & Dissertation Structures and Formatting
A thesis authored at Purdue University should be structured and formatted using one of the below methods:
A traditional thesis is a document that provides a complete and systematic account of your research. A typical traditional thesis suggests the following structure:
- Preliminary pages
- Title page
- Statement of Approval page
- Dedication (optional)
- Acknowledgments (optional)
- Table of Contents
- List of Tables
- List of Figures
- Main Body pages
- Literature Review
- Conclusions and Recommendations
- Back Matter pages
- Appendix (optional)
- Vita (optional)
- List of Publications (optional)
* Thesis structure may vary by department. Please consult your committee for specific departmental requirements.
An article-based thesis is a collection of published (or will be published) research articles consisting of an introductory and concluding chapter. A typical article-based thesis suggests the following structure:
- Preliminary pages
- Title page
- Statement of Approval page
- Dedication (optional)
- Acknowledgments (optional)
- Table of Contents
- List of Tables
- List of Figures
- Main Body pages
- Published Article #1
- Published Article #2
- Published Article #3
- Back Matter pages
- Appendix (optional)
- Vita (optional)
- List of Publications (optional)
* Thesis structure may vary by department. Please consult your committee for specific departmental requirements.
Theses authored using this structure will need to include acknowledgement of prior publication within the respective chapter. Although each journal may have specific statement requirements, the acknowledgment should be single spaced and appear 3 single spaces under the chapter title. Consult your publisher regarding required information that should appear in this acknowledgment.
The Graduate School is prepared to accept theses in creative formats subject to departmental and committee approval. Students wishing to submit a creative work as their thesis requirement should consult with their committee chair and contact the Thesis & Dissertation Office with their proposal.
Theses & Dissertations in Languages other than English
If the primary literature on a subject matter is in a language other than English and the thesis or dissertation addresses a community of scholars who publish in a language other than English, a student may elect to write the thesis in a language that all committee members speak and read and support its use in the thesis. In this case, the thesis should contain a title page and abstract page in English.
Required Thesis Form
All West Lafayette, IUPUI, and Northwest candidates are required to submit the ETAF through their Plan of Study portal. This form should be submitted on the day of Defense or no later than the date of the Final Examination Deadline each semester.
Purdue Fort Wayne candidates are required to submit paper versions of Forms 9, 32, and 15. Copies of these forms should be submitted to the Thesis & Dissertation Office prior to submitting the thesis to HammerRR.
Effective September 1, 2014, Purdue’s Graduate School requires that all theses and dissertations be reviewed using the iThenticate software and any issues identified by the software and any issues identified by the software addressed prior to the deposit of the final thesis or dissertation with the Graduate School. Satisfaction of this requirement will be certified by both committee chair and degree candidate on the ETAF. Click here for more information.
Thesis & Dissertation Deposit Fee
All master’s candidates are required to pay a Thesis Deposit Fee of $90 and Ph.D. candidates are required to pay a Thesis Deposit Fee of $125. The fees will be uploaded to a student’s myPurdue account within 3-5 business days after the HammerRR submission is approved.
West Lafayette, PFW, and PNW candidates will pay the fee through their local bursar’s office. IUPUI candidates will receive an e-bill following their successful thesis deposit.
Candidates are required to meet both departmental and Graduate School deadlines each term.
Thesis-option master’s and doctoral students are required to submit their thesis for a final format check to the Graduate School no later than the close of business (5:00pm ET) on the second to last day classes of the session in which their degree is to be awarded. Candidates who miss the deposit deadline at 5:00 pm on the last day of classes, but still wish to graduate, must submit a request for a deposit extension (endorsed by committee chair and department head) to the Graduate School for full consideration. If approved, the student should expect to pay a Late Graduation Deadline Fee. Contact the Thesis & Dissertation Office for questions.
Ph.D. and master’s students are required to complete the Graduate School Exit Questionnaire (GSEQ). In addition to the GSEQ, Ph.D. candidates are required to complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates. These surveys will become available to complete during the semester the student registers as a candidate for graduation.
D. Establishing Examining Committees
All examining committees are established following the same procedures. Preliminary and final examining committees may or may not be identical to the advisory committee. The Request for Appointment of Examining Committee (G.S. Form 8), must be submitted electronically via myPurdue for all students at the West Lafayette campus. Regional campus practices may vary. All Form 8 requests must be signed by the advisory committee chair and the exam form head and must be received by the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the proposed examination date, to allow the Graduate School time to process the Request for Appointment of Examining Committee (G.S. Form 8). In some cases, this two week period may be needed to give the dean of the Graduate School adequate time to appoint and arrange for additional members, if he or she wishes. (Departmental deadlines may be earlier.) Final examinations must be held before the last week of classes.
Because it is crucial for advisory committee members to bring independent thought and decision-making to their advisory committee roles, the Graduate School strongly recommends that major professors, graduate students, and other individuals involved in the advisory committee selection process strive to avoid appointments where there may be potential conflicts of interest. Advisory committee appointments of spouses/partners, partners in business, or those with financial conflicts of interest connected to the graduate student, for example, should be carefully reviewed and alternatives considered.
- Non-thesis Option Master’s Degree
If the student’s department requires a final examination for a non-thesis master’s degree, the examining committee usually will be identical to the advisory committee, in which case, no additional request for appointment of a committee is required. If, however, the examining committee is to be different from the advisory committee (e.g., when a committee member is unable to serve), appointment of a committee of at least three graduate faculty must be requested in the usual manner, by submitting a Request for Appointment of Examining Committee (G.S. Form 8) electronically via myPurdue, or through the link on the Graduate School homepage under forms.
If the graduate program has been approved to use the One-Member Advisory Committee Flexibility option, but does not have approval to use the Alternative Graduation Criteria option, the Master’s Final Examination Report Form (G.S. Form 7), must still be submitted.
- Thesis Option Master’s Degree
The final examining committee must be composed of at least three members of the graduate faculty and may or may not be identical to the advisory committee. Members of the committee need not be faculty with whom the student has taken coursework, however, at least 51% of the committee members must have regular graduate faculty certification.
- Doctoral Qualifying Examinations
Departments may require their doctoral students to complete qualifying or mastery examinations at various stages between admission and the preliminary examination. These examinations do not require Graduate School authorization, nor are the results to be reported to the Graduate School.
- Doctoral Preliminary Examinations
To become eligible to take the preliminary examination, the student must have an approved plan of study, satisfactorily completed most of the formal study, and satisfied any world language requirements. Satisfactory completion of any world language requirement is monitored and determined by the department. The examination should be scheduled as soon as possible and must be completed with at least two sessions of registration (including summer session) before the date of the doctoral final examination. For example, a doctoral student who passes the preliminary examination during a spring session is not eligible to take the final examination (provided that the student is registered for the subsequent summer session and fall session) before the following spring session. The Graduate Council recommends that full-time graduate students take the preliminary examination by the end of their third year of graduate study. Departments are encouraged to add the recommendation that full-time doctoral students take preliminary examinations by the end of their third year to departmental graduate handbooks.
The preliminary examining committee must consist of a minimum of three members of the graduate faculty. At least 51% of the committee members must have regular graduate faculty certification. All members of the examining committee are to be notified of the scheduled examination. Other faculty members may be requested by any member of the examining committee to participate, without vote, in the examination, and any interested faculty member may be present, without vote. Although only three committee members are required, if the committee has four or more members, a single member may withhold his or her signature of approval.
A preliminary examination passed by a student whose graduate study and/or professional activity has been inactive for five years or more is invalid. (See Section III-B-5 .)
- Doctoral Final Examinations
At least two academic sessions of registration devoted to research and writing must elapse between the preliminary and final doctoral examinations. For instance, a doctoral student who passes the preliminary examination in a summer session is eligible to take the final examination (provided that the student is registered the following fall and spring sessions) beginning with the following summer session.
After the research has been completed and the thesis written and presented to the committee, a final oral examination must be held in which the candidate defends the thesis and demonstrates to the examining committee, consisting of a minimum of four members, the capabilities for which the Ph.D. degree is to be awarded. Final examinations must be held before the last week of classes.
Departments, schools, or programs should announce final doctoral examinations so that interested persons may attend. In instances when classified or proprietary information will be discussed, the major professor may exclude external participants who are not members of the examining committee.
When the Request for Appointment of Examining Committee (G.S. Form 8) is approved by the Graduate School, an electronic examination report form will be automatically released to the examining committee for use in reporting the results of the examination.
E. Conducting Examinations
The Graduate Council has recommended that oral examinations not last more than two hours. If additional time is needed, the examination may be continued at a later date.
If the situation warrants, and it is agreeable with the members of the examining committee and the candidate, one member of the examining committee, or even the candidate, may participate in the examination via electronic media.
- Non-thesis Option Master’s Degree
The final examining committee may conduct an oral examination, administer a written examination, or conduct a conference in the absence of the student. Departments may waive the examination process entirely by receiving approval to use the Alternative Graduation Criteria option. (See Section VII-F-2.)
- Thesis Option Master’s Degree
The final examination is usually an oral examination in which the student defends the thesis; however, the examining committee shall set procedures for the examination.
- Doctoral Preliminary Examination
The written as well as the oral preliminary examination will be conducted by the examining committee. In some cases, responsibility for the written examination is delegated to certain other faculty, but the final responsibility for the examination rests with the examining committee.
- Doctoral Final Examination
The examining committee shall set procedures for the examination.
F. Reporting the Results of Examinations
At the conclusion of an examination, the examining committee chair should electronically present the examination committee with the appropriate examination report form. This report should be completed and signed without delay for prompt submission to the Graduate School. In the case of a final examination, the report must be received by the Graduate School before the last week of classes of the academic session in which graduation is expected. After a satisfactory examination involving a thesis defense, committee members who approve the thesis must sign a Thesis Acceptance (G.S. Form 9).
The members of the examining committee may wish to review the deposit copy prior to signing the Thesis Acceptance (G.S. Form 9). Once a committee member has signed the Thesis Acceptance (G.S. Form 9), the document is approved by that individual. A signature either by the thesis format advisor or the examining committee chair (depending on the procedural decision made by the department) indicating that the departmental format requirements have been met is required on the Thesis Acceptance (G.S. Form 9).
- Report of the Final Examination for the Master’s Degree
The exact degree title must be designated on the Report of Master’s Examining Committee (G.S. Form 7). Committee certification for a master’s degree requires that all members of a three-person committee concur that the student has satisfactorily completed the examination (with the exception of departments with an approved one-member flexibility option). Although only three committee members are required, if the committee has four or more members, a single member may withhold his or her signature of approval.
If the examination is unsatisfactory, a candidate must wait at least until the following session to repeat the final examination. A new electronic Request for Appointment of Examining Committee (G.S. Form 8) must be submitted.
- Alternative Graduation Criteria for Non-thesis Master’s Degrees
A department may elect not to submit final examination reports for its students who are candidates for non-thesis, coursework only, master’s degrees. It is suggested that departments use this option that have such a group of students, who complete degree requirements by taking a certain number of credits (minimum of 30) and meet certain other basic departmental requirements to earn the degree. For example, this could be 30 credits of coursework, at least a 3.0 GPA on the plan of study, or no grade less than (department to decide). Satisfaction of these criteria will be monitored jointly by the department and the Graduate School as part of the graduation audit/certification process.
To use this option, a request must be submitted to the Graduate Records Manager in the Graduate School. This request must specify the departmental requirements required for the non-thesis master’s degree.
- Report of the Doctoral Preliminary Examination
It is the responsibility of the examining committee to determine whether the student is qualified and ready to undertake or continue research and proceed toward the Ph.D. degree. The committee should report the examination as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” by completing the Report of Preliminary Examination (G.S. Form 10) immediately following the examination. Graduate students who pass the doctoral preliminary examination are considered doctoral candidates. At least two academic sessions devoted to research and writing must elapse between the preliminary and final examinations. While All But Dissertation/ABD is used by some departments to describe students who are conducting research and writing their dissertations, that term is neither defined nor formally used by the Graduate School. Any reference to All But Dissertation/ABD in graduate departmental or program handbooks should be defined by individual departments.
If the report is unsatisfactory, the examining committee may recommend that the student be permitted to request a second examination by submitting a Request for Appointment of Examining Committee (G.S. Form 8). The student must wait at least until the following session (including summer session) to repeat the examination. Should the preliminary examination be failed twice, the student may not be given a third examination, except upon the recommendation of the examining committee and with special approval of the dean of the Graduate School.
A student who transfers to Purdue with his or her major professor, has passed the preliminary examination that qualifies a doctoral student for candidacy and been admitted to candidacy at the previous institution, may request that the student’s advisory committee (with endorsement of the head of the graduate program) petition the dean of the Graduate School to admit the student to candidacy at Purdue. The petition must include a completed Report of the Preliminary Examination (G.S. Form 10), which can be obtained from the Graduate School, a description of the candidacy examination at the previous institution, and the committee’s analysis of that examination that led to the request.
- Report of the Doctoral Final Examination
At the completion of the final examination, the committee chair should present the examination committee with a Report of the Final Examination (G.S. Form 11), which is sent to the department by the Graduate School upon approval of the request for an examining committee. Each member of the examining committee must indicate approval or disapproval and sign the report form. Only members of the approved examining committee may take part in the evaluation. No more than one dissenting vote is acceptable in certifying a candidate to receive the Ph.D. degree.
If the examination is unsatisfactory, a candidate must wait at least until the following session (including summer session) to repeat the final examination. A Request for Appointment of Examining Committee (G.S. Form 8) must be submitted.
G. Multiple Degrees
Students may pursue multiple Purdue graduate degrees provided they meet the admission and graduation requirements for each degree pursued, and provided that each degree program is unique in the degree title, major, and/or area of concentration granted upon completion. Students may not repeat a degree program in an area in which they already hold a conferred degree from Purdue University.
- Master’s Degrees
A student may earn more than one Purdue master’s degree. The student must meet the requirements for each master’s degree program, and there can be a maximum of nine Purdue credit hours (at the 50000- and 60000-level) of overlap of coursework from one plan of study to another. Coursework from only one Purdue master’s degree may be used to partially satisfy Ph.D. degree requirements.
- Ph.D. Degrees
Although the Graduate School discourages the admission of students who hold a Ph.D. degree from any institution for a second Ph.D. degree, it recognizes that there may be special circumstances in which such an admission is appropriate. Such decisions can be made at the level of the departmental graduate committee and will be processed like other recommendations for admission that come to the Graduate School. (See Section III-B-10.)