GRADUATE COLLEGE REQUIREMENTS
- A minimum of 96 hours (including a 32 hour master's degree), divided into 3 stages, is required. The master's degree or its equivalent constitutes Stage 1. Stage 2 ends when all departmental course and credit requirements are fulfilled and the preliminary examination is passed. Stage 3 is devoted to the dissertation (the dissertation prospectus, the dissertation proper, and the final examination on the dissertation).
- At least 64 hours, including thesis credit, must be in courses meeting on the Urbana- Champaign campus or in other locations approved for residence credit for the Ph.D. In absentia registration for thesis credit requires approval of the Graduate College.
- The subject of the dissertation must be reported to the Graduate College at the time of the preliminary examination.
- The dissertation must comply with the requirements set forth in Instructions for the Preparation of Thesis issued by the Graduate College.
- The time limit for the doctorate is seven years from first registration in the Graduate College. Those who begin doctoral work here with a master's degree from another university have a six year limit. Students who have reached or exceeded the time limit for the degree may not continue to register without permission from the Dean of the Graduate College. Such permission can be granted only upon the recommendation of an executive officer of the department showing tangible progress toward the degree and a reasonable completion date.
- Students who have completed the 96 hour credit requirement, have passed the preliminary examination, are making no use of University facilities, and have left campus, are not required to maintain registration. Students must be registered, however, during the term in which they take their final examinations (i.e., oral defense of the dissertation). In that term, students who have completed the 96 hour requirement may enroll in CMN 599 for zero hours.
- If more than five years elapse between preliminary examinations and the final examination, students are required to pass a second preliminary examination as a prerequisite to admission to a final examination. The form of the second preliminary examination need not be identical to that of the first.
DEPARTMENTAL REQUIREMENTS AND INFORMATION
In stages 2 and 3 (after completion of a master's degree) the student must satisfactorily complete:
- A minimum of 40 hours of coursework (not including hours counted toward the methods requirement)
- The research methods requirement
- The Preliminary Examination
- The Dissertation
The details of these requirements are as follows.
COURSEWORK: A minimum of 40 hours of coursework is required (not including hours counted toward the research methods requirement), and at least half of these must be in the department. Not more than eight hours of independent study can be counted toward the 40 hours of coursework; however, special topic courses using an independent study number (e.g., CMN 595) do not come under this limitation if they meet as regular courses or seminars.
Though no specific courses are mandated, every doctoral student is expected to have had exposure (either through Ph.D. coursework or previous courses) to both social-scientific and humanistic facets of the study of communication. Just what coursework this might involve is left to the student's program planning committee.
Each student is expected to develop a major and a minor area of specialization. Given the diversity of specializations, an exhaustive list of alternatives is not possible. In general, each student should design areas of specialization in ways that look toward continued growth and development in a professional career. In the process of constructing areas of specialization, each student should work closely with the advisor and program planning committee.
At least 12 hours of credit must be earned in classes outside the department. These classes may be from more than one department. (Classes taken to fulfill the coursework requirement and classes taken fulfill the research methods requirement can satisfy this outside-credit requirement.)
RESEARCH METHODS: All candidates must demonstrate proficiency in research methods that are appropriate to their research interests. Because the central requirement is methodological competence, there can be no simple general formula for assessing proficiency. But ordinarily proficiency is demonstrated by successful completion of a program of relevant courses in methods that is determined by the student's program planning committee; this program might include work in quantitative, qualitative, historical, or critical methods. In all cases the candidate will be required to have taken a minimum of two such courses, though the normal practice is to require work beyond this minimum.
Proficiency in a foreign language may constitute a part of the methodological preparation if it is relevant to the candidate's specialized research interest (e.g., the dissertation). Satisfactory reading proficiency in a foreign language has usually been treated as scoring 485 or above on the Educational Testing Service French and Spanish tests and 470 or above on the German test, or passing a 2-semester 500 level course in the chosen language with a grade of A or B, or securing written certification from a professor of the chosen language that the candidate reads and understands it. Language credit secured elsewhere is generally not transferable except that ETS scores less than two years old may be accepted.
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION: The examination is administered by the student's preliminary examination committee consisting of at least four faculty members (i.e., the advisor plus three others), all of whom must be members of the Graduate Faculty. At least two of the members must be tenured and at least half of the committee must be departmental faculty. Ordinarily, there will be substantial overlap between the composition of a student's program planning committee and the composition of the preliminary examination committee, but the two committees need not be identical. Students must be enrolled for the entire academic term in which the preliminary exam occurs.
During the student's last semester of course work, the student must enroll in at least four hours of CMN 595, an independent study devoted to the preliminary examination. These hours of CMN 595 will not count as either coursework hours or methods hours; they will not count against the limitation on hours of independent study. Enrollment in this preliminary examination 595 requires permission of the student's preliminary examination committee. Permission is sought by submitting, no later than the mid-point of the semester preceding the desired 595 enrollment, a preliminary version of a dissertation prospectus. Based on the preliminary prospectus, the student's preliminary examination committee will approve enrollment in 595, disapprove enrollment in 595, or request that the preliminary prospectus be revised and resubmitted for evaluation.
When approval to enroll in 595 is granted, the preliminary examination committee will formulate the written portion of the preliminary examination. The written portion of the preliminary examination has three parts:
- The purpose of the general examination is to assess the student's engagement of broader issues that transcend the student's particular specialization.
- The purpose of the specialty examination is to assess the student's mastery of work in the student's specialty area(s), including specifically the student's understanding of material directly relevant to the student's dissertation work.
- The purpose of the methods examination is to assess the student's grasp of relevant research methods and practices, including specifically the student's mastery of the methods relevant to the student's dissertation.
The implementation of each part of the written examination is left to the discretion of individual preliminary examination committees. The specifics of the format are less important than that the three areas of the written preliminary examination be addressed in a manner that suits the purposes of the examination.
When a preliminary examination committee grants permission for a student to enroll in the preliminary examination 595, the advisor should compile a document containing the preliminary examination questions and timetable for preliminary examination completion and 595 enrollment. That document should be shared with the student and the committee.
Upon completion of the written work in the preliminary examination 595, the student (with approval of the advisor) should schedule an oral examination. Before this oral part of the preliminary examination can be held, the Graduate College must appoint a preliminary examination committee.
The request to appoint a committee and therefore schedule an oral examination must be made with the Graduate College at least three weeks before the exam date. To schedule the exam, the student (with approval of the advisor) must contact the Department of Communication graduate program office to request that the Graduate College appoint a final examination committee and, in making the request, specify a date for the examination. The student should ask the department to make this request no less than three weeks before the desired examination date. When the Graduate College has appointed an official final examination committee, the department will receive notification, including a form on which the examining committee's evaluation is to be returned. The committee is forwarded the notification and the form is to be picked up the department's graduate program office prior to the exam.
The oral examination concerns the student's 595 work and any other matters the committee may deem appropriate. The scheduling of the oral examination, its location, and the like are at the discretion of the committee. It is common practice that committee members be given at least two weeks to read the answers to the examination before the oral examination meeting; faculty who do not receive exam responses with sufficient time to read them may request that the meeting be rescheduled.
The committee chair, student, and at least one additional voting member of the committee must be physically present for the entire duration of all oral components of the preliminary exam. All voting members of the committee must be present in person or participate via teleconference or other electronic communication media during the examination, deliberation, and results determination.
Upon completion of the oral examination, the preliminary examination committee (a) submits a grade for the work in 595 and (b) submits an evaluation of the preliminary examination to the Graduate College. The examining committee's evaluation may take one of three forms: Pass, Fail, or Continuation. If the result is Pass, the student moves on to the next stage of doctoral work (the dissertation prospectus and then the dissertation itself). If the examination is judged to be a failure, the student is dropped from candidacy for an advanced degree. If the committee wishes to continue the examination, the committee will determine the appropriate course(s) of action; this may involve the student's rewriting some questions, taking additional class work and then rewriting, producing a paper on some specified topic, etc. At some point, of course, the committee must reach a judgment of Pass or Fail.
The result of the examination is reported on the Graduate College form sent to the department when the preliminary examination committee is appointed. The advisor should give the completed form to the Director of Graduate Studies who will retain a copy in the student's file and return the original of the completed form to the Graduate College.
Upon completion of the work in the preliminary examination 595, the student should be in a position to submit promptly a revised final dissertation prospectus. Indeed, where appropriate, the oral preliminary examination may be expanded to include consideration of the student's revised final dissertation prospectus.
Completion of a suitable dissertation is the final stage of the doctoral program. The following summarizes the required steps in completing the dissertation.
Committee: The dissertation committee must be composed of four or more faculty members. At least three must be members of the Graduate Faculty, at least two must be tenured, and at least half of the committee members must be departmental faculty. Usually the composition of the dissertation committee will substantially overlap with that of the program planning committee and the preliminary examination committee, but these need not be identical. Usually one's advisor will be one's dissertation director, but technically these are different roles that different persons might fill.
Prospectus: A dissertation prospectus must be approved by one's dissertation committee. Prospectus approval requires submission of a complete, written prospectus. Exactly what form the prospectus takes (its length, its detail, the matters covered, and so forth) is at the discretion of the committee. Advisors must complete the Committee-Approved Dissertation Prospectus form and submit it with the approved prospectus to the Director of Graduate Studies. Students should not assume that their dissertation project has been approved until a signed prospectus has been filed.
Defense: The following steps should be completed before the final examination over the dissertation.
1. At least three weeks prior to the expected date of the defense, the student (with approval of the advisor) must contact the Department of Communication graduate program office to request that the Graduate College appoint a final examination committee and, in making the request, specify a date for the examination. When the Graduate College has appointed an official final examination committee, the department will receive notification, including a form on which the examining committee's evaluation is to be returned. The committee is forwarded the notification and the form is to be picked up the department's graduate program office prior to the exam.
2. Committee members must be given at least two weeks to read the dissertation before the oral examination meeting; faculty who do not receive the dissertation with sufficient time to read it may request that the meeting be rescheduled.
3. The committee chair, student, and at least one additional voting member of the committee must be physically present for the entire duration of all oral components of the defense/final exam. All voting members of the committee must be present in person or participate via teleconference or other electronic communication media during the examination, deliberation, and results determination.
Format and Deposit: After the final examining committee has approved the dissertation--including approval of all final revisions--the dissertation should be ready for format checks. Format checking is based on a complete, presumably perfect, copy of the approved dissertation. In preparation of final copy, the candidate should follow exactly the most recent format requirements available from the Graduate College Thesis Office. There are three steps to a format check:
1. The advisor must check the dissertation for form, content, freedom from errors in typography, layout, citations, reference lists, and Graduate College specifications. The advisor must notify the Director of Graduate Studies in print or by electronic mail that s/he is satisfied that the dissertation meets appropriate standards of scholarship and presentation.
2. The department's graduate program office checks the entire dissertation to ensure that it meets the department's standards and to spot any potential problems in relation to the Graduate College specifications. Upon a satisfactory examination of the dissertation or, if necessary, after required corrections have been made, the department's graduate program office will submit a scanned copy of the Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form to the Graduate College.
3. The Thesis Office of the Graduate College checks the dissertation for overall quality and for conformity with the Instructions for Preparation of Thesis. Please view the Graduate College's video of the Electronic Deposit Process here.
Although we makes every effort to complete a format check within two weeks after receiving a dissertation, more time may be needed, especially in the weeks before deposit deadlines when several dissertations are being processed. Moreover, if a dissertation requires a great many corrections and revisions in light of the format check, the candidate must attend to them before the department will certify the dissertation ready for deposit. Candidates should allow plenty of time before the deadline for deposit of dissertations.
THE MECHANICS OF GRADUATING
In a bureaucracy such as the University of Illinois, merely completing all degree requirements will not yield a degree. One's papers must be in order. A key to having one's papers in order is having one's name on the official degree list for the desired graduation date. Thus, if you are expecting to receive a degree you should do two things:
1. Arrange to get your name on the appropriate degree list. This must be done with Student Self-service.
If you are registering in the term in which you expect to graduate, watch the screens of BANNER for the question: Do you expect to receive a degree at the end of this term? Answer Yes.
2. Tell the Director of Graduate Studies that you are expecting to receive a degree at the given graduation date. (This way, when the preliminary version of the degree list is received by the department, the list will be checked to ensure that your name appears on it.)
If you do not do these things, then no matter what else you have done, you might not graduate, because only those on The Degree List graduate.
One need not be enrolled to graduate. One can graduate in August, for example, without having been enrolled in the summer session. Doctoral candidates must be enrolled in the term in which the final oral examination (the dissertation defense) is held, but they need not be enrolled in the term in which the final copy of the dissertation is deposited.
For each graduation, there is a deadline by which the appropriate examining committee (the comprehensive examination committee for master's students, the final dissertation examination committee for doctoral students) must convey its evaluation to the Director of Graduate Studies. The exact deadlines vary from year to year and are available at the Graduate College web page here. A student who hopes to make a certain graduation date will need to plan so that the Director of Graduate Studies will be able to certify (by the deadline) that all degree requirements have been met.