Formulation of the Ph.D. Committee
The Ph.D. Committee will be appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation/request of the IGDP chair or co-chair, in consultation with the student’s advisor. This should be done within six months of passing the candidacy exam or completion of the M.S. thesis. For students entering with a Master’s degree from another university, the committee should be chosen within six months of enrolling at Penn State. The Ph.D. Committee must consist of a minimum of four members of the Graduate Faculty; at least two from the IGDP Faculty. The committee must contain at least one representative from outside the student’s major field. This point requires clarification for an Intercollege Graduate Degree Program: the “outside” member of the student’s committee is a faculty member from a Department that differs from the student’s advisor’s tenure home. The committee chair will normally be an IGDP faculty member, generally the student’s research advisor. If the student is pursuing a minor, a representative from the minor field should be on the committee. Persons from outside of Penn State can be members of the Ph.D. Committee with special approval. See http://gradschool.psu.edu/graduate-education-policies/gcac/gcac-600/gcac....
The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to ensure that the student has developed a comprehensive and integrated knowledge in the field and has developed a sound plan for doctoral thesis research. Students should take the comprehensive exam as soon as possible after completing coursework requirements and passing the candidacy exam. It is appropriate to take the comprehensive exam before preliminary work for the thesis proposal has been published. It is also desirable to take the exam before work is too far along to take full advantage of feedback from the committee at all stages of the project. Although prior versions of the handbook have stipulated that the comprehensive exam should be completed no later than the 7th semester, students are urged to do so earlier. Please review the student handbook on the graduate resources page for complete details.
There is no required minimum number of semesters of study, but over some twelve-month period during the interval between admission to candidacy and completion of the Ph.D. program the candidate must spend at least two semesters (which may include the semester in which the candidacy examination is taken) as a registered full-time student (at least nine credits) engaged in academic work on the University Park campus.
Continuous Registration Requirements
After a student has passed the comprehensive examination and has met the two-semester residence requirement, no further registration for credit is required by the Graduate School. However, status as a student must be maintained by registering continuously each Fall and Spring semester (beginning with the first semester after both of the requirements mentioned above have been met) until the thesis is accepted by the Doctoral Committee.
If a Ph.D. student will not be in residence for an extended period for compelling reasons, the Dean of the Graduate School will consider a petition for a waiver of the continuous registration requirement. The petition must come from the Doctoral Committee chair and carry the endorsement of the graduate program chair or co-chair
Final Oral Examination
Upon completion of the thesis, the Doctoral Committee examines the thesis and administers the final oral examination. The student and advisor are responsible for assuring that the defense draft of the thesis is complete, of acceptable format for the Graduate School, and in a form acceptable for evaluation by the committee, no later than two weeks prior to the defense date. The student must complete paperwork to schedule the oral defense and receive approval from the graduate school at least two weeks in advance of the exam date. Please contact the IGDP office to schedule the Ph.D. defense. Also note that students must be registered during the semester that they complete the thesis defense as described in the Course Registration section of this handbook. Students intending to graduate in a particular semester must activate their intent to graduate, submit the thesis for format review and submit a final version of the thesis to the graduate school by the specific dates listed on the graduate school website. After the defense, the committee then makes recommendations as to the student’s status (pass/fail) to the IGDP Office and Graduate School. When a period of more than six years has elapsed between the passing of the comprehensive examination and the completion of the thesis defense, the student is required to pass a second comprehensive examination before the final oral examination will be scheduled.
The faculty member is required to provide a written evaluation of the student’s progress in academics and research (signed by both the advisor and the student) to the IGDP Office on an annual basis. This typically occurs during the spring semester.