Ph.D. Degree Regulations

Degree Requirements

Residence Requirement

A student must spend at least two consecutive semesters (Fall and Spring, Summer Terms I and II and Fall, or Spring and Summer Terms I and II) in residence as a full-time student taking a minimum of 9 semester credit hours each residence semester.

Grade Point Average

A grade point average of “B” (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) must be maintained in each of the following:

  1. all coursework completed at UTSA
  2. graduate courses in the student’s major
  3. graduate courses in the student’s support field

In computing grade point averages, grades from other institutions are not used.

Course Requirements

No specific number of semester credit hours of coursework has been established for doctoral programs at UTSA, although advanced coursework is an essential part of a doctoral candidate’s preparation. Individual doctoral programs may set minimum semester-credit-hour requirements for the attainment of the degree.

Support Work

In addition to courses and research in a field of specialization within the major, supporting coursework will be taken to broaden or supplement the student’s preparation.

Support work may consist of coursework in one area or several; it may be in conference, laboratory, or problems courses; it may be a supervised activity off campus relevant to the major interest. Some portion, not necessarily all, of the support work is normally outside the major area unless that area is of a multidisciplinary nature. At least three courses, or their equivalents, from outside the area of specialization are generally required.

Language Proficiency

Students are required to possess a competent command of English. Proficiency in a foreign language is a matter of degree option. Students should refer to individual degree descriptions for English and foreign language proficiency requirements.

Time Limitation

All completed work that is included in a doctoral student’s degree program at the time of admission to candidacy must have been taken within the previous six years. The Graduate Program Committee will review the degree program of students who have not completed the degree at the end of two years from admission to candidacy; the committee will review the status of the student’s program yearly thereafter. At those times, the committee may recommend additional coursework, further examinations, or termination of candidacy. In addition, the program of study is subject to review by the Dean of the Graduate School.


Transfer of Credit

Students are expected to complete all coursework at UTSA. Exceptions require approval of the appropriate Graduate Program Committee, the Graduate School, and the administrative office responsible for graduate education and must meet conditions for transfer of credit. Work counted toward a degree at another institution cannot be transferred.

Conditions for transfer of credit:

  1. Students must complete the form “Recommendation for Courses Taken at another Institution to be counted in UTSA degree program.”
  2. The courses must have been completed with a “B” or better.
  3. Coursework must be from an accredited university and have not been used in another degree program.
  4. An official transcript from the institution where the coursework was completed must be submitted.
  5. All coursework must have been completed no more than six years before the degree was awarded.
  6. Coursework is subject to approval of the appropriate Graduate Program Committee and academic College in which the program is administered.
  7. Courses must be defined as graduate-level work at the institution where the credit was earned.

Students should not take courses they plan to transfer from another institution the semester they plan to graduate due to the time limitation on receiving the grades and certifying the student for graduation.

Applicants with a master’s degree in the field of the doctoral program of interest or related field may apply a maximum of 30 semester credit hours of previously earned graduate credit toward their doctoral degree, pending approval from the Graduate Program Committee and Dean of the Graduate School.

Limited Acceptability

UTSA Undergraduate Courses

Credit earned in undergraduate-level courses may not normally be applied to a doctoral degree program. Such courses may be taken to meet background or support requirements, if necessary.

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Not Accepted

Correspondence and Extension Courses

Courses completed by correspondence or extension may not be applied to a doctoral degree program.

Courses Counted for Another Degree

No course counted toward another doctoral degree may be counted toward a doctoral degree at UTSA, either directly or by substitution.

In some circumstances, work completed for the master’s degree may be included in the work for the doctoral degree, when it is applicable, provided it is acceptable to the candidate’s supervising committee, the appropriate Graduate Program Committee, and the Dean of the Graduate School and provided it has not already been used toward another doctoral degree.

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Graduate Program Committee Requirements

The Graduate Program Committee specifies the coursework the student must complete, the qualifying examinations (written, oral, or both) the student must pass, the conditions under which the student may retake all or part of a qualifying examination, and the procedures the student must follow in developing a dissertation proposal.

In consultation with the graduate advisor, the student proposes a Dissertation Committee to advise or direct the student on the research and writing of the dissertation. The student selects the chair of the Dissertation Committee, with the consent of that person and permission of the Dean of the Graduate School.

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Admission to Candidacy

Students seeking a doctoral degree at UTSA must be admitted to candidacy. In order to be admitted to candidacy, the student must comply with the following requirements:

  1. Fulfill the requirements for unconditional admission as a graduate degree-seeking student, which entails the removal of any conditions assigned at the time of admission.
  2. Satisfy any special admission requirements established for the degree program.
  3. Be in good standing.
  4. Have passed a qualifying examination (written, oral, or both) prepared by the Graduate Program Committee and have met any other requirements specified by the Graduate Program Committee for the specific degree program.
  5. Submit a proposed program of study.
  6. Having satisfied the above requirements, be recommended for admission to candidacy by the appropriate Graduate Program Committee, which in the case of interdisciplinary programs is a committee appointed by the Graduate School, consisting of no fewer than five members of the Graduate Faculty, with at least one representative from each of the disciplines included in the program.
  7. Having satisfied the above requirements, be approved for admission to candidacy by the Dean of the Graduate School.

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Completing the Degree

Program of Study

Before admission to candidacy, the student’s proposed program of study is under the direction of the Graduate Program Committee in the major program area through an appropriate program advisor, if designated, and the Graduate Advisor of Record. Upon admission to candidacy and the formation of the student’s dissertation committee, the program of study comes under the purview of the Dissertation Committee, which reviews the proposed program of study and recommends to the Graduate Program Committee any additional course requirements. The final program of study, as approved by the Graduate Program Committee, is then recommended to the Graduate School for approval. Approval of the final program of study by the Graduate School is a degree requirement. All completed coursework included in the final program of study must have been taken within the preceding eight years. No course for which a grade of less than “C” was earned can be applied to the doctoral degree.

Students who are admitted to a doctoral program directly from the bachelor’s-level degree and who complete all requirements for the master’s degree and who pass their doctoral qualifying exam may apply to receive their master’s degree. Courses counted toward the master’s degree may also be included in the overall requirements of the doctorate.

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Qualifying Examination

All students seeking a doctoral degree must pass a qualifying examination. This examination consists of questions to test the candidate’s knowledge and command of the major field. An examination covering support work is not a University-wide requirement, but it may be required at the discretion of the Graduate Program Committee or the Dissertation Committee.

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Registration during Examination Semester

Students must be registered during any semester or term in which they are taking required examinations.

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Dissertation Committee

Upon admission to candidacy and in consultation with the Graduate Advisor of Record, the student selects their supervising professor with that professor’s consent. Upon recommendation of the Graduate Program Committee, the Graduate School appoints the Dissertation Committee. The committee must consist of at least four members, including the supervising professor who consults with other members of the committee as work proceeds.

The Dissertation Committee advises the student on the research and writing of the dissertation, conducts the final oral examination, and approves the dissertation. The chair of the Dissertation Committee ordinarily serves as the supervisor of research. Other members of the committee should be consulted as appropriate. Occasionally, a research professor or researcher who is not a member of the Graduate Faculty may be recommended by the Graduate Program Committee to serve as the supervisor for a specific dissertation because his or her expertise would be valuable to the student. When the research supervisor is not a member of the Graduate Faculty in the student’s area of study, a member of the Graduate Program Committee will be appointed as co-chair of the Dissertation Committee.

In addition to recommending the student’s final program of study to the Graduate Program Committee and supervising the research and writing of the dissertation, the Dissertation Committee certifies to the Graduate School that all degree requirements have been fulfilled.

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Time Limit for Completing Doctoral Degree

All completed work that is included in a doctoral student’s degree program at the time of admission to candidacy must have been taken within the previous six years (exclusive of a maximum of three years of military service). The Graduate Program Committee will review the programs of students who have not completed the degree at the end of two years from admission to candidacy; the committee will review the status of the student’s program yearly thereafter. At those times, the committee may recommend additional coursework, further examinations, or termination of candidacy. In addition, the program is subject to review by the Dean of the Graduate School.

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Doctoral Dissertation

A dissertation is required of every candidate and must be an original contribution to scholarship, based on independent investigation in the major area. It must be approved by the Dissertation Committee. Registration for the dissertation must be for a period of more than one semester. During each semester or term that a student receives advice and/or assistance from a faculty member or supervision by the Dissertation Committee or uses University resources, they are required to enroll in the appropriate dissertation course.

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Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation)

A satisfactory final oral examination is required for the approval of a dissertation. After the Dissertation Committee makes a decision, which must be unanimous, to accept a dissertation for examination, the supervising professor notifies the Graduate School at least two weeks in advance of the date of the final oral examination.

The examination covers the dissertation and the general field of the dissertation, and other parts of the student’s program as determined by the committee. All members of the Dissertation Committee must be satisfied that the student has:

  1. completed the work assigned by the committee;
  2. passed all examinations required by the program’s Graduate Program Committee, including the final oral examination;
  3. completed a dissertation that is an independent investigation in the major field, and that itself constitutes a contribution to knowledge; and
  4. submitted an abstract for publication in Dissertation Abstracts International that meets with the approval of the committee.

Once this is complete, the Dissertation Committee members sign the approval sheets for the doctoral dissertation and make an official recommendation to the Graduate School that the doctoral degree be awarded. Approval must be unanimous.

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Submission and Publication of Dissertation

When the student has successfully defended the dissertation, he or she must arrange for its publication, usually by microfilm reproduction of the complete dissertation. Three unbound copies, including the original of the dissertation, must be forwarded to the Graduate School. The copies are transmitted to the library and sent to UMI for reproduction and binding. The student is required to pay $55 publishing and $10 (per copy) binding fees. Other forms of publication of the dissertation may be accepted to fulfill the publication requirement. A proposal for an alternative to microfilm reproduction must be approved by the Graduate School.

Publication by microfilm does not preclude subsequent publication of the dissertation, in whole or in part, as a monograph or in a journal. Registration of copyright at the author’s expense may be arranged, if desired and appropriate, by completing a form available from the Graduate School. In order to protect patent or other rights, the student or supervising professor may request that the Graduate School delay publication for one year. This request must be supported by a written recommendation by the student’s supervising professor.

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Approval of the Degree

Upon approval by the Dissertation Committee of the dissertation and its defense, the Graduate Program Committee certifies to the Dean of the Graduate School that the student has completed all degree requirements, has passed all required examinations, and is entitled to the award of the doctoral degree.


Graduation Under a Particular Catalog

Degree requirements may be changed from one catalog to the next. The student is normally bound by the requirements of the catalog in force at the time of his or her first registration; the student may choose, however, to fulfill the requirements of a subsequent catalog.

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