Doctor of Philosophy

Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy emphasize an over-all understanding of and high competence in a field of knowledge, familiarity with cognate disciplines, facility in the use of research techniques, and responsibility for the advancement of knowledge. The meeting of the requirements for the doctorate is tested primarily by examination and the presentation of the dissertation rather than by a summation of courses, grades and credits.

Doctoral Plan of Work

Initiated by the student with adviser and the Graduate Committee Chairperson's signatures, submitted before completion of forty graduate credits and before scheduling the qualifying examination. Forms available on Graduate School website.

Report of Oral Qualifying Examination

Exam must be taken within one month (30 days) after having passed the written exam.

Dissertation Outline and Prospectus

Initiated by student with signatures of adviser, dissertation committee, and Graduate Committee Chairperson, after passing written and oral qualifying exams.

Final Defense Form and Manuscript Approval

Initiated by student with signatures of adviser, dissertation committee, and Graduate Committee Chairperson, two weeks before dissertation defense. Students must attach to the final defense form a copy of the flyer or other notice advertising the dissertation defense to the University community. A Final Defense Graduate Examiner is appointed by the Graduate School. The last day for the dissertation defense is determined each semester. Check with the department's Graduate Committee Chairperson, or visit the Ph.D. website for Commencement deadlines.

Change of Grade Memorandum for Dissertation Credits

Filed by adviser immediately after the dissertation defense.


All Doctor of Philosophy PhD degrees are awarded by the Graduate School. Your degree does not attribute the School of Medicine, your Department or Advisor. Your diploma will state "Upon the recommendation of the Faculty of the Graduate School". 

Ph.D. Coursework

To ensure adequate preparation, the Graduate Council has adopted minimum coursework requirements for the University's highest degree. Many programs will exceed these statutory minima.

A minimum of 90 graduate credits beyond the baccalaureate degree are required for completion of the Ph.D. program. Normally, a Ph.D. program will consist of:

  1. Twenty credits of coursework in the major (not including directed study or research credits).
  2. At least one minor composed of eight or more credits elected outside the major department, or an interdisciplinary minor consisting of a minimum of twelve graduate credits.
  3. Thirty-two additional credits of coursework, pre-dissertation research and directed study; and
  4. Thirty credits of dissertation direction.

The Ph.D. program should provide for effective concentration in a major field with supporting courses in related fields. The decision concerning whether the student's Plan of Work will include one minor or two is made by the department.

The total Ph.D. program must include thirty credits, excluding dissertation direction, in courses open only to graduate students (i.e. 7000 level or above).


A Ph.D. Applicant will be advanced to the rank of Ph.D. Candidate when he/she submits an approved Plan of Work, successfully completes the Qualifying Examination and submits and receives the Graduate Dean's approval on the Dissertation Outline and Prospectus.

Time Limitation

Students have a seven-year time limit to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree. The seven-year period begins with the end of the semester during which the student was admitted to doctoral study and was completing work toward meeting the requirements for the degree. In the program leading to the doctor's degree, up to forty-eight quarter or thirty-two semester credits of 'B' or better graduate credit earned prior to the student's admission as a doctoral applicant may be applied toward the degree without regard to lapse of time. Credit earned beyond thirty-two may not be over ten years old at the time of admission. Credit earned after acceptance as a Ph.D. applicant may not be over seven years old at the time the degree is conferred, except when, on the recommendation of the adviser, up to ten credits previously earned at Wayne State University may be specified for revalidation by examination. In the event that any courses have been previously revalidated in connection with the earning of the master's degree, these shall be counted as a part of the total ten. Time extensions beyond these limitations are authorized only for conditions which are clearly beyond the student's control.

How Much Time To Get The PhD? (TTD-Data)