The page uses Browser Access Keys to help with keyboard navigation. Click to learn moreSkip to Navigation

Different browsers use different keystrokes to activate accesskey shortcuts. Please reference the following list to use access keys on your system.

Alt and the accesskey, for Internet Explorer on Windows
Shift and Alt and the accesskey, for Firefox on Windows
Shift and Esc and the accesskey, for Windows or Mac
Ctrl and the accesskey, for the following browsers on a Mac: Internet Explorer 5.2, Safari 1.2, Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape 6+.

We use the following access keys on our gateway

n Skip to Navigation
k Accesskeys description
h Help
South Dakota State University    
  Jan 20, 2018
2006-2008 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements

Click on a link to be taken to the entry below.

Admission Requirements


Applicants for the Doctor of Philosophy degree will usually have a Master’s degree. This degree must be awarded from an approved, accredited institution. In those cases where applicants do not have a Master’s degree, departmental requirements will apply, either requiring completion of a Master’s degree or permitting an individual to move directly into a doctoral program.

Advisory Committee


After consultation with the student, the head of the major department will designate a major advisor. During the student’s first semester in residence (or before the completion of 12 credits) the major advisor will recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School members of an Advisory Committee as follows:

  1. The major advisor who acts as chairperson of the committee.
  2. The head or representative of the major department or of a department in the area of the major.
  3. An additional member of the major department or a related department, or a professional with an outstanding academic record and/or knowledge in the field from outside the University.
  4. The minor advisor or a representative from an area where the supporting courses will be taken if a minor or supporting area is required. If a minor or supporting area is not required, an additional member should be recommended from the major department or a related area.
  5. The Graduate School Dean will select a fifth member from a department representing an area not closely related to the major or minor department or supporting area. This member represents the Graduate Faculty, ensuring that its rules and regulations are followed by the Committee and acts as the student’s advocate, if necessary.

The above five members shall be members of the Graduate Faculty except when an outside representative is used in “C” above. Additional members of the committee may be requested by the student or the major advisor and assigned to the committee by the Dean of the Graduate School.

The Advisory Committee is responsible for assisting the student in developing a suitable graduate program, providing guidance and counsel, evaluating student progress, and certifying the completion of the degree requirements to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Advisory Committee approves the Plan of Study and any revision(s) of it, approves the Dissertation Proposal, reviews the Dissertation, evaluates the student’s progress, conducts the comprehensive examinations and the final examination, supervises the validation of courses, and ensures that professional standards have been met in completing the degree requirements.

Plan of Study Information


Within six weeks after the Advisory Committee is formed, it will schedule a meeting with the student to approve a Plan of Study and to consider a research area for the dissertation. The Plan of Study must be prepared using the form provided by the Graduate School and approved by the Advisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School. Delay in submitting a Plan of Study may result in disapproval of courses taken prior to approval. The student cannot take the comprehensive written examination prior to approval of the Plan of Study. Changes in the approved Plan of Study must be requested using the form provided by Graduate School, and must be approved by the Advisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School. While devising your plan of study, refer to the “Academic Information” section in this catalog, beginning on page 9, in addition to the following information.

Plan of Study Credit Requirements


Total Credits Required- A minimum of three academic years of full-time work beyond the Bachelor’s degree (minimum of 90 semester credits, 90-Credit Plan) or a minimum of two academic years of full time work beyond the Master’s degree (minimum of 60 semester credits, 60-Credit Plan) are required for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Where consideration is given to a master’s degree it must be in the area of the major, minor or a related area, be an academic program from a regionally accredited institution, and be declared at the time the Plan of Study is submitted. The Advisory Committee may require more credits than the minimum listed above if it believes the extra requirements are in the best interest of the student.

Major Courses - At least 60 credits of the 90-Credit Plan or 40 credits of the 60-Credit Plan required for the degree must be earned in the major. Dissertation and transfer credits may apply. Not all courses need to be in a single department or area, but all courses applying to the major should be closely related to the major area.

Minor or Supporting Courses, if required - At least 15 credits of the 90-Credit Plan or 10 credits of the 60-Credit Plan required for the degree must be earned in a minor or in supporting courses (coursework chosen from two or more fields). Transfer credits may apply. All courses applying in the minor or supporting fields must be taken outside the major department or area, unless courses in the major department are considered sufficiently diverse by the Advisory Committee. If the degree program does not require a minor or supporting area, additional coursework from the major or related areas must be substituted for the 15 credits (90-Credit Plan) or 10 credits (60-Credit Plan).

Graduate Credit Requirement - At least 50 percent of the credits on a Plan of Study must be in courses open only to graduate students (600-series or above).

Additional Requirements - The Advisory Committee may require more credits than the minimum indicated above if it feels it is in the best interest of the student.



Proposal - The student in consultation with the major advisor or dissertation advisor shall prepare a written dissertation proposal for approval by the Advisory Committee.

Requirements - The dissertation should represent at least one academic year of full-time research (18-30 credits). Most programs require 30 credits or more for dissertation. Please check with your department. Of no specific length, it should advance or modify knowledge in the major discipline and demonstrate the candidate’s mastery of the subject. The dissertation should be prepared in the style of one of the journals in the major discipline as required by the Major Department and in the format required by the Graduate School as specified in “Instructions for Dissertation.” When submitted, it will include an abstract of no more than 350 words.

The dissertation should be an integrated document reporting philosophic inquiry. The students are encouraged to develop one or more journal articles from their dissertation. Some departments may require that the journal articles be a part of the dissertation. However, the dissertation should be a single document rather than a compilation of individual manuscripts.

Review - It is the responsibility of the student to schedule the oral examination and distribute a copy to each member of the graduate committee including the graduate representative ten working days in advance of the oral examination.

Binding - When the final approved copy of the Dissertation is completed, four copies are submitted to the Library for binding. The cost for binding these copies is the responsibility the student. Two copies, one on at least 50 percent rag content paper (cotton bond), and an additional abstract, printed on at least 50 percent rag content paper (cotton bond) must be returned to the Graduate School with a receipt from the Library showing the binding costs paid at least five working days prior to Commencement.

Electronic Dissertation Submission - All doctoral candidates are required to submit their dissertations in the appropriate format for electronic publication. Students should contact the Graduate School for appropriate guidelines.

Continuing Dissertation Enrollment


Failure to maintain registration or enrollment will automatically terminate the doctoral program. Reinstatement requires retaking the Comprehensive Written Examination with performance approved by the Advisory Committee.



Interim Evaluation - Upon completion of approximately half of the coursework on the Plan of Study, the Advisory Committee will meet to evaluate the progress of the student, provide advice and counsel, and recommend continuance or termination of the program. Because the Doctor of Philosophy is a terminal academic degree, student performance includes an evaluation of progress in the program and academic performance. The Advisory Committee may recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School termination of the student in the program.

Comprehensive Written and Oral Examinations- When coursework has been substantially completed, examinations covering coursework are taken. The comprehensive written examination is followed, on satisfactory completion, by an oral examination. These examinations are to test the student’s knowledge and ability to integrate this knowledge both the major and minor (or supporting courses) areas. All members of the Graduate Faculty may listen to but not participate in the questioning.

The student and advisor arrange for the exam through a memo or mail to the Dean of the Graduate School specifying date, time, place. This memo initiates the “Notification Action” form from the Graduate School to the advisor who uses the form to record results the Comprehensive Examinations. Copies of the written examination are filed in the major department. The Comprehensive Examinations must be completed at least two months before the final examination. Upon satisfactory completion of the Comprehensive Examinations, student is formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Unless a student receives the Ph.D. degree within three years after becoming a candidate, Comprehensive Examinations must be repeated.

Final Examination - This examination is conducted by the Advisory Committee after notifying the Graduate School of the time and place ten working days prior to the examination. While the Advisory Committee determines the character and length of the examination, sufficient time should be devoted to the dissertation, including journal articles, to test the ability of the student to defend the research. In addition, questions to test the student’s general knowledge, judgement and critical thinking powers are usually asked. The final oral examination cannot be taken earlier than two months following successful completion of the comprehensive examinations and must be completed ten working days prior to Commencement.

Time Limitation


Obsolete Program- If the Doctor of Philosophy degree is not completed within eight years from the time of admission to work toward the degree, a reconsideration of the student’s program will be required. In such cases, the rules of the Graduate School in effect at the beginning of the ninth year will become effective for the student.

Obsolete Coursework- Courses completed more than eight years before completion of the doctorate and not part of a previous degree are regarded as obsolete coursework. Such courses may be used in the doctoral degree program if validated. Validation is allowed at the discretion of the Advisory Committee and department involved and can be accomplished by passing a validation examination in the subject matter area. Validated obsolete coursework cannot exceed fifty percent of the total coursework listed on the Plan of Study and must be certified by the Advisory Committee on a form provided by the Graduate School. However, credits earned as a part of a Master’s degree, which are applied toward the doctoral program, remain valid.

Docotor of Philosophy Checklist

When Due
1. Application for Admission to Graduate School  
One month before initial registration
2. Designation of Major Advisor  
Prior to registration for first semester
3. Designation of Advisory Committee  
Within first semester of graduate work or prior to 12 semester hours of graduate work
4. Approval of Plan of Study by Advisory Committee; submit to Graduate School  
Within the first semester of graduate work
5. Approval of Dissertation Proposal by Advisory Committee  
Before beginning research
6. Interim Evaluation by the Advisory Committee  
Not later than halfway through the coursework on the Plan of Study
7. Comprehensive Examinations; Candidacy for Ph.D. Degree  
Near completion of coursework and at least 2 months prior to final oral examination
8. Filing of Graduation Application  
By Graduate School deadline in the semester, student anticipates completing all work and taking oral examination
9. Memo submitted from advisor to Graduate School requesting Final Oral Examination  
At least ten working days prior to final oral examinations
10. Dissertation due to Graduate School and Advisory Committee  
At least ten working days prior to final oral examinations
11. Final Oral Examination  
Both paper and electronic versions due at least ten working days prior to commencement
12. Corrected Copies of Dissertation due to Graduate School  
At least five days prior to commencement
13. Arrangements for microfilming and binding of Dissertation  
At least five days prior to commencement