• By the end of the second semester

    • Supervisory Committee submitted and approved. If the committee composition is changed, a revision form must be submitted. The committee composition should not be changed within 6 weeks of a defense.
    • Program of Study submitted and approved.
  • By the end of the third semester

    • Application for Candidacy submitted and approved. All regulatory approvals should be in place before this is submitted.
  • Before the end of the degree program

    • Residency Requirement: at least 50% of the credits used to satisfy degree requirements must be from Utah State University
    • Any coursework on the Program of Study (including transfer credits) taken more than 8 years prior to the defense must be revalidated. Revalidation of coursework requires that the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies approve a revalidation plan submitted by the Major Professor.
  • Preparing for Defense

    • The Appointment for Examination form must be submitted to the SGS at least 10 business days before the final examination.
    • The student must be registered for at least three credit hours the semester of defense.
      • If all credit requirements on an approved Program of Study are met, the student may qualify to register for 1 credit in the semester of defense. Registering for 1 credit will not qualify the student for full-time (i.e. they will not qualify for an assistantship).
      • International students should check in with the Office of Global Engagement when making decisions on the number of credits needed.
  • After the Defense

    • Let the student know the outcome of the defense as it concludes.
    • The major professor should let the GPC know the outcome of the defense, and the GPC will submit the Record of Exam through ServiceNow. Once it has been submitted, the committee will approve it (this is in the place of signing the previous paper form).
    • Students are not done at this point! They must meet all degree requirements, including final approval of their dissertation.
  • Dissertation Review Process

    • The student should submit the Format & Style form and the Authorship & Copyright form as soon as the information is available.
    • Once the student’s committee and departmental reviewer (if applicable) have approved all revisions to the dissertation, the GPC should upload it to the student’s Dissertation Review folder in Box and email the SGS dissertation reviewer.
    • The SGS dissertation reviewer will add the dissertation to the queue, and it will be reviewed in the order in which it is received (please note: all required forms must be fully approved before the dissertation is added to the queue).
    • Once the dissertation has been reviewed and approved by the SGS dissertation reviewer, it will be automatically submitted to the Merrill Cazier Library for electronic publication.

When a doctoral student is admitted, the department head may appoint a temporary advisor to work with the student until a supervisory committee is established. A Supervisory Committee Approval form (SCAF) must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies for approval by the end of the student’s third semester in the program. Committee changes must be documented by submitting a SCAF revision form, and are not to be made during the six weeks prior to the final defense.

A doctoral supervisory committee must include at least five faculty members with doctoral degrees who are members of the Graduate Faculty. Three members must be from within and at least one must be from outside the department or interdepartmental degree-granting program in which the student is enrolled.  Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees, but may not chair new committees.

The supervisory committee specifies the student’s Program of Study; supervises the student’s qualifying examination (if there is one) and comprehensive examination, unless some other departmental or program procedure is in place; approves the dissertation proposal; supervises the student’s research and preparation of the dissertation; and conducts the final oral examination. The major professor is the chairperson of the committee and usually directs the student’s research. Continuation in a doctoral program is contingent upon the availability of a major professor.

By the end of the third semester, the student should have submitted a Program of Study to the School of Graduate Studies. Amendments to the Program of Study form may be made by submitting to the School of Graduate Studies a completed Program of Study Revision form. Submission of a new Program of Study is not necessary.

The student and all committee members are required to sign a Data and Copyright form and an Authorship form. The forms are available on the School of Graduate Studies website, and must be approved and submitted prior to School of Graduate Studies review of the student’s dissertation and degree completion.

All University research involving human subjects, animal subjects, radiation materials, recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials, or certain highly toxic chemicals must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate University committee(s) before the research is started. Graduate students are, with the assistance of their advisors, responsible for obtaining the necessary approval for their research. Verification of approval must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies before the student’s Master’s Thesis/Project Approval Form or doctoral Application for Candidacy will be approved. For further information, contact the School of Graduate Studies or the Office of Research.

  • Research Involving Human Participants

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the campus organization responsible for protecting the rights and welfare of human participants recruited to participate in studies conducted by researchers affiliated with Utah State University. This office administers the review of human subjects research proposals to ensure compliance with federal regulations and ethical principles, so that scientific funding and activities can continue at Utah State University.

Whenever faculty members or students wish to conduct research involving human participants, they must submit their research proposal for review and approval by the IRB before the research is started. Some research is considered exempt from full-board IRB review and can be approved more quickly. Only the IRB can make this determination.

For more information about the IRB application and approval process, visit the IRB web site.

  • Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research, Teaching, or Training

All faculty, staff, students and cooperators conducting research, teaching, or training with vertebrate animals are required to adhere to all federal, state, and institution regulations and policies, including the federal Animal Welfare Act and the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is the campus organization responsible for ensuring compliance with these standards so that scientific funding and activities can continue at Utah State University.

Prior approval by the IACUC is required before faculty members or students begin research involving live vertebrate animals. All use of animals in research, teaching, or training must be overseen by a faculty member who may submit proposals for review by the IACUC. More information about the application and approval process is available from IACUC.

  • Research Involving Radioactive Materials, Recombinant DNA, or Biohazardous Materials

Research involving radioactive materials, recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials, or certain highly toxic chemicals is also subject to state and federal regulations. All faculty, staff, and students who wish to conduct research with radioactive materials, recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials, or highly toxic chemicals must submit their research proposal to the Institutional Biosafety Committee for review and approval before the research can be started. For more information about the application and approval processes for these types of research projects, contact the USU Environmental Health and Safety Office.

  • Responsible Conduct of Research

All doctoral (PhD, AUD, EdD) students are required to complete the Utah State University Responsible Conduct of Research course that is offered on the CITI website. This course is also required for students who are supported by funding for some federal agencies (NSF, USDA-NIFA). Students who are supported by funding from NIH are required to complete USU 6900.

All Utah State University students are expected to adhere to the requirements of the Graduate Catalog.

All Utah State University Students are required to adhere to the Student Code.

Some departments or interdepartmental programs administer qualifying examinations. Each department or program has the responsibility of administering comprehensive examinations.

Following completion of all or most courses, successful completion of comprehensive examinations, and approval of a proposal for dissertation research, and at least three months before the final defense, the student must submit an Application for Candidacy form to the School of Graduate Studies, signed by all members of the supervisory committee. Submission of the candidacy form is a major step in the student’s program because the committee and department head thereby attest that the student is ready to conduct independent dissertation research, although successful completion of that requirement is not guaranteed.

The purpose of the doctoral residency requirement is to ensure that the student experiences at least one period of concentrated attention to study, research, and interaction with faculty. This period of immersion in the culture of students’ departments is an important part of the preparation for future work in an academic community.

At least 33 semester credits for a PhD or AUD degree must be taken from Utah State Univercity and must be part of an approved Program of Study. At least three semesters, two of which must be consecutive, of full-time registration in residence at Utah State University are required.

For the EdD, at least 39 semester credits must be taken from Utah State University and must be part of an approved program of study. At least three semesters must be full-time registration in residence at Utah State University; none of the semesters need to be consecutive, but two full-time semesters must be taken on campus prior to registering for dissertation credits.

The following are suggested criteria for determining when a student has met the residency requirement. They should be checked and dated as completed and noted in the Application for Candidacy form. Note that some degree programs (PhD, EdD, and professional doctoral degrees) may set more intense requirements for residency.

The candidate:

  • Has been directly engaged in research or creative endeavors with the major professor.
  • Has had access to the required equipment and resources needed for the research or creative efforts.
  • Has been immersed in the culture or atmosphere of graduate education.
  • Has been engaged in the professional activities of the discipline.
  • Has had the time to concentrate and complete the research or creative activity in a reasonable period.
  • Has been engaged in additional departmental residential requirements (please list).
  • Is aware of additional departmental requirements.

Meeting the residency requirement also means that doctoral students must take part in the academic community of their program. Participation could include collaborative scholarship with faculty or peers, working as a research assistant or graduate instructor, attending professional meetings, being involved with student or professional organizations, participating in colloquia, orientation programs. This participation may or may not coincide with the period of concentrated study. Departments have the responsibility to determine appropriate ways for their doctoral students to participate in the academic life of their field and to provide opportunities for this participation.

Certification of Residency

Residency is certified by the graduate supervisory committee. The required credits and the student’s participation in the academic and intellectual life of the program are noted as acceptable by signatures on the application for candidacy form.

Transfer and Nonmatriculated Credits

Provided Utah State University residency requirements (see specific credit requirements under each degree) will be met, a student’s supervisory committee may recommend transfer of graduate credits earned at another accredited institution, including credits with earned P grades. The credits must not have been used for another degree. Only 12 semester credits may be transferred into a doctoral program at Utah State University prior to matriculation. Credits with P grades may be transferred only with committee approval. Transfer credits cannot replace required residency credits. Transfer credits are subject to approval of the supervisory committee and the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies. Credits more than eight years old may not be acceptable (see Time Limit section). Transfer credits will be shown on official Utah State University transcripts upon completion of the degree. These stipulations apply to nonmatriculated credits.

Doctoral student graduating