University of California, Riverside

Graduate Division



The Doctoral Degree


General Requirements

The minimum academic residence for the Ph.D. is six quarters in the University of California, three of which must be spent in continuous residence at UCR. Registration in at least 4 units of 100 or 200 level course work is necessary to qualify for each quarter of academic residence.

The normative time required to complete the Ph.D. varies from program to program and is given at the end of each program's Curriculum and Courses description in the UCR General Catalog. It assumes that the student enters with a bachelor's degree and is assigned no course deficiencies or other remedial work.

The Doctorate--the highest degree the University can bestow--is a research degree, conferred on the recommendation of a doctoral committee nominated in consultation with the student by the program faculty and confirmed by the Graduate Dean.

Because the Ph.D. is a research degree, the University gives programs considerable latitude in establishing degree requirements. The individual student's program of study is planned in consultation with the Graduate Advisor, who supervises the student's progress before the appointment of the doctoral committee.

A doctoral program generally involves two stages. The first stage is spent in fulfilling the requirements established by the program or department and the Graduate Council, typically a series of courses culminating in written and oral qualifying examinations. When these are passed, the student is advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D.

The second or in-candidacy stage is devoted primarily to independent study and research and to the preparation of the dissertation. The doctoral dissertation must be an original work of research in the candidate's chosen field of specialization. The doctoral committee determines the acceptability of the dissertation and may require that the student 'defend' its contents in a Final Oral Examination.

The Qualifying Exam Committee

Before advancement to candidacy, the student must pass an oral exam conducted by a Qualifying Committee. This Committee is nominated by the graduate department or program, and officially appointed by the Graduate Dean. The Committee is comprised of five members, a majority of whom are affiliated with the program. The Chair of the Qualifying Committee is normally from the academic unit supervising the student's Ph.D. program and a voting member of the Academic Senate. All Committee members should normally be regular faculty of the University of California. Any exceptions must be supported by a memo of justification from the Graduate Advisor and a vita. A memo need not be written for those holding Adjunct faculty positions unless they are being nominated to serve as the sole chair. For Cooperative Extension specialists a vita and memo of support should be forwarded the first time that they are nominated to serve. Thereafter a memo of support is only necessary if they are nominated to serve as the sole chair of the committee.  One member of the Qualifying Committee, designated the "outside member," must be a voting member of the UC Academic Senate who does not hold an appointment in the student's academic unit or graduate group. This person represents the faculty at large and acts as a "third party ensuring fairness."

The oral exam must be held on a single day and all members must be physically present for the entire exam period as well as deliberation period.  This date is to be communicated in writing to the Graduate Division at least two weeks (preferably one month) before the examination. Any changes in this date or the composition of this committee must be communicated in writing to the Graduate Division not less than 24 hours before the oral examination is held. The chair of the student's committee must be physically present at the oral examination. In exceptional circumstances, determined in advance of examination scheduling and approved by Dean of the Graduate Division, ONE remaining member of the examining committee may participate via video (e.g., Skype) or telephone conferencing. Exceptional circumstances may include (but are not limited to): travel for research, or permanent residence, outside of the United States; participation in academic or research travel within the United States that cannot be shifted to accommodate the intended date of the oral examination or defense; hospitalization or other medical conditions that make it impossible to be physically present. The qualifying oral examination is not open to the general public but members of the Academic Senate may attend. There are no conditional passes.

The findings of the committee must be reported within 48 hours to the Graduate Council through the Graduate Division on Ph.D. Form 3, "Report of Qualifying Examination". A unanimous committee report for or against approval will be accepted for the Graduate Council by the Dean of the Graduate Division. If a student has failed the qualifying examination, the committee should make a recommendation for or against a second examination, ordinarily not to be given until at least three months have elapsed. The date of the second oral examination should be communicated to the Graduate Division in writing at least two weeks prior to its occurrence. A third examination is not permitted. If there is a divided vote, the committee shall first make every effort to arrive at unanimity. Failing unanimity, a committee report that contains only one negative vote will be deemed a pass; a committee report that contains two or more negative votes will be considered a failure. When the vote is split, the committee or any member of the committee may petition (in writing) the Graduate Council to consider a reversal of the judgment. In that event, the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council will make the final determination whether the student has passed. In such cases no statement shall be made to the student regarding passing or failing the examination until the final determination has been made. The student shall be informed within 48 hours that the vote is split and the Graduate Council will make the final determination."

The student must be paid and enrolled the quarter the exam is taken. 

The Dissertation Committee

Upon recommendation of the program's graduate advisor or department chair, doctoral dissertation committees are appointed by the Dean of the Graduate Division. At this stage, the committee (rather than the program) assumes primary responsibility for the student's academic guidance and evaluation.  The committee must consist of at least three members.  All members of the dissertation committee shall normally be faculty members in the student's program. For any nominee who is not a member of the UCR Academic Senate or adjunct faculty, supporting justification is required (including a vita for non-UC faculty) from the program for review and consideration.  To avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest, when domestic partners or spouses are a majority of the faculty overseeing a dissertation, another faculty member will be added to that committee.

 Dissertation committees are charged with guiding the students in their research and passing judgment on the final merits of their dissertation. The committee arranges for such conferences with the candidate as are necessary for the development and elucidation of the research treated in the dissertation. The dissertation committee has responsibility for both the content and the style of the dissertation. The dissertation committee certifies that the completed dissertation is satisfactory through the signatures of all committee members on the signature page of the completed dissertation. All members of the committee must sign the signature page. They may not have anyone else sign for them (such as a Departmental Chair or Graduate Program Assistant).

After acceptance of the dissertation, the candidate is normally examined by the committee in a final oral examination that deals primarily with the relations of the research to the general field in which its subject lies.  The final examination may be waived with the unanimous consent of the committee and the approval of the Dean of the Graduate Division on Ph.D. Form 5, Report of Final Examination, which is provided by the Graduate Division to departments on request.

If an oral examination is held, the Chair of the committee must be physically present. In exceptional circumstances, determined in advance of examination scheduling and approved by Dean of the Graduate Division, ONE remaining member of the examining committee may participate via video (e.g., Skype) or telephone conferencing. Exceptional circumstances may include (but are not limited to): travel for research, or permanent residence, outside of the United States; participation in academic or research travel within the United States that cannot be shifted to accommodate the intended date of the oral examination or defense; hospitalization or other medical conditions that make it impossible to be physically present. 

If the student has passed the defense of their dissertation with “revisions” the student has 120 days from the defense of the dissertation to successfully complete revisions and file the dissertation. 

After the dissertation committee has approved a dissertation it must be submitted electronically to the Graduate Division via the ProQuest Server. The final copy must meet UCR's requirements for style, format, and appearance before the degree can be conferred. Information on filing the dissertation and all forms that must be turned in can be found at http://graduate.ucr.edu/dissertation.html

Lapse of Candidacy

Candidacy for the Ph.D. will normally lapse if the student does not continue to enroll.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

Graduate Division
University Office Building

Tel: (951) 827-4302
Fax: (951) 827-2238
E-mail: graddiv@ucr.edu

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