Graduate Bulletin

V. Doctoral Degree Requirements

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The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) prepares students through interdisciplinary study for scholarly research and professional contribution.

The requirements set forth in this section are in addition to those listed under general academic regulations.

Admission to Doctoral Study

Admission to doctoral study is restricted to applicants whose backgrounds show promise of scholarship in the field of study. Before admission to the doctoral program, an applicant must submit:

  • Evidence of an earned Master’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Official transcripts of all previous college work
  • Two letters of recommendation, at least one from a professional colleague or academic advisor
  • An official standardized score: An English Proficiency Test for international students and a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for US citizens
  • Other specific criteria may be required by concentrations within the Ph.D. program

The final step in the admission process is an invitation to participate in the Assessment Center for the opportunity to show further evidence of analytical writing and collaborative skills necessary for success in the program.

Regardless of English proficiency documentation, all international applicants from non-English speaking countries will be evaluated for English proficiency upon arrival at UIW. If English proficiency is deemed lower than UIW’s 109, the student may not be allowed to take courses other than English as a Second Language until the deficiency is removed.

The admissions decision is based on a comprehensive profile of the applicant. Petitions for unconditional admission with exception to the published criteria must be recommended by the Program Admissions Committee and approved by the Dean of the School of Education and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Exceptions must be documented with explanation. A copy of this explanatory documentation must be included in the student’s permanent file.

Conditional admission may be granted upon approval of the Program Admissions Committee, the Dean of the Dreeben School of Education, and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Criteria and time limit for removing conditions will be specified in the letter of admission and in compliance with the graduation requirements of the current catalog.

A student under conditional admission may be administratively dropped from the program for less than standard performance in any area during the first two (2) regular semesters of attendance. Request for regular admission status must be made upon completion of admissions requirements and no later than the end of the second semester of study. A student may not attend classes for more than two semesters under conditional status.

Once a student has been accepted into the Ph.D. program, continuous enrollment (Fall and Spring) is required through completion of the dissertation. Students who (a) do not begin in the designated semester of their acceptance, (b) withdraw from all classes, or (c) stop out for one or more semesters must apply for re-admission to the University. This no-fee application is available through the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

Continuation in the Doctoral Program

A course may count toward the degree only if the course grade is at least a “B.” A doctoral student will be removed from the program if

  • a grade of “C” is earned in more than one course, or
  • a grade of “F” is earned in one course.

An initial grade of “C” in any course may be repeated for a higher grade which will be used to compute the student’s GPA; however, both grades will appear on the transcript. No more than one course may be repeated and no course may be repeated more than once. Any additional grade of “C” a student earns will result in removal from the program.

A student who chooses to discontinue pursuing a doctoral degree and is in good standing may apply to a Master’s program and request that the courses taken toward the doctoral degree be evaluated for applicability to a Master’s degree plan.

Determination of academic dishonesty, in all of its forms, may be grounds for removal from the program.

Fulfillment of Doctoral Program Requirements

To qualify for the Ph.D. degree, a candidate must

  • Complete a minimum of 66 credit hours toward the degree, including a minimum of 9 hours for Dissertation Writing
  • Complete a minimum residency requirement of 54 credit hours
  • Successfully complete the course of study as specified in the degree plan, including the dissertation, within a ten-year period
  • Pass a Qualifying Examination as designed and administered by the student’s Qualifying Committee and be successfully advanced to candidacy.
  • Successfully defend the doctoral dissertation as directed and approved by the Dissertation Committee

A specific program concentration may require additional completion requirements. The doctoral degree is granted when all requirements are met and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research has signed the Dissertation Clearance Form.

Transfer of Credit for the Doctoral Program

Degree requirements may be satisfied by transfer of graduate credit for courses of a grade of B or better from an accredited college or university and completed outside the first master’s degree. Courses normally taken in an undergraduate program will not be counted as credit toward the doctoral degree. No credit hours can be used to satisfy more than one degree.

Generally, graduate transfer credit that is more than seven years old may not be used to complete a degree. Transfer for Ph.D. work of older courses may be considered depending on the nature of the course. The Program Advisor recommends transfer of credit to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Applications for exception will be submitted to the Doctoral Exception Committee for recommendation to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. The Dean of Graduate Studies and Research sends notice of acceptance or rejection to the Registrar who makes appropriate changes to the student transcript. A maximum of 12 credit hours of a degree program may be gained through transfer.

A student enrolled in the University of the Incarnate Word who wishes to take courses at another institution with the intention of transferring them to UIW must have the prior written permission of the Academic Advisor and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research before registering for such courses.

Waiver of Course Requirements for the Doctoral Program

Courses taken toward the master’s degree that are equivalent to the courses for a UIW program of study may satisfy the course requirements but not the credit hour requirements of the degree. The Academic Advisor submits the student petition to the Director of Doctoral Studies and the Dean of the Dreeben School of Education. If it is accepted, the Registrar is notified to make appropriate changes to the student’s degree plan.

Dismissal from the Doctoral Program

A student dismissed from the doctoral program may not reapply.

Qualifying Examination and Admission to Candidacy

During the final semester of course work, a Qualifying Examination Committee Chair and Committee Members will be selected to gather, organize, and administer the Qualifying Examination. The Dean of Graduate Studies and Research will approve the committee membership after appropriate consultation with the Director of Doctoral Studies.

The Qualifying Examination may include oral and written components. The examination requires a synthesis and application of knowledge acquired during the course of study for the doctoral degree. Consequently, satisfactory performance in course work does not necessarily guarantee successful performance on the Qualifying Examination

Upon assessment of the examination, the Qualifying Committee will record one of two possible results: Pass or Did Not Pass. Successful completion may be re-attempted only once as scheduled at the discretion of the Committee.

Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Examination and the recommendation of the Academic Advisor, the student will apply for Admission to Candidacy. Authority for admitting an applicant to candidacy for a doctoral degree is vested in the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. By written communication, the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research will transmit the decision to the applicant and the Director of Doctoral Studies.


A dissertation is required of every candidate for a Doctor of Philosophy. The dissertation must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the subject matter and its background, a mastery of the appropriate research techniques, and a high degree of skill in organizing and presenting the materials. The dissertation should embody a significant contribution of new information to a subject or a substantial reevaluation of existing knowledge, presented in a scholarly style. The dissertation requirement is separate and apart from other requirements in the doctoral program. Consequently, successful performance in other areas does not necessarily guarantee the successful completion of a dissertation.

Upon admission to candidacy, a Dissertation Committee Chair and Committee Members will be selected to direct the dissertation. The student, in conjunction with the Academic Advisor and the Director of Doctoral Studies, will identify a potential Chair. The Chair and student will recommend the committee membership to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research for approval. The Dissertation Committee Chair and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research must approve changes to the committee after consultation with the appropriate faculty.

The student must submit a proposal for approval by the Dissertation Committee subject to approval by the Institutional Review Board. The student is responsible for securing approval for human subject research by all non-university agencies involved. The proposal with these approvals must be completed before research is begun. All dissertation research on human subjects is constantly under the supervision of the Dissertation Committee. All manuscripts must conform to the published policies and guidelines in the Doctoral Student Handbook and the Dissertation Guide.

All work for the dissertation must be completed within six years after the applicant has been admitted to candidacy, and within the 10-year limit for completion of degree requirements. The student must maintain continuous (Fall and Spring) enrollment while working on the dissertation.