Doctoral Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the highest degree offered by The University of Texas at Arlington. The degree is awarded only for academic work of distinction through which the student demonstrates superior scholarship and capacity for original work. Requirements for the doctoral degree listed below are the minimum required by the Graduate School. Meeting all of these requirements does not result automatically in the awarding of the doctoral degree. All departments and programs have additional requirements for a high level of scholarly achievement that must be met by successful doctoral candidates. In all doctoral programs, the basic requirements are that a student 1) attain mastery of a field of knowledge as determined by the appropriate Committee on Graduate Studies and demonstrated in a general examination; and 2) present evidence of a capacity to complete a significant program of original research by preparation of a dissertation.

To be admitted to a doctoral program, an applicant must have completed a master's degree or at least 30 semester credit hours of graduate coursework.

Departmental, Program and College Program Manuals for Students

Many departments and programs issue program manuals, procedures and policy manuals, graduate student handbooks and other informational publications for students and faculty in graduate programs. These publications may provide detailed and useful information; however, they are not statements of official policy of The University of Texas at Arlington nor of The University of Texas System. In all matters the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System, the Handbook of Operating Procedures of The University of Texas at Arlington and the Graduate Catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington shall supersede departmental, program or college publications.

Graduate Program Degree Requirements and Academic Performance Standards for Doctoral Degrees

Degree requirements and academic performance standards in the section entitled "Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree" are the minimum required by Graduate School and University policy.

Satisfying these general requirements does not imply that all degree and program requirements have been met. Many programs set special course requirements and may require higher grade-point averages or other academic standards than those in this section. Such program requirements and standards are included with individual program descriptions in this catalog and in departmental, program, and college program manuals or policy statements. These special course requirements published in departmental, program or college program manuals or policy statements shall not be considered in conflict with this catalog and will have the same force as this catalog.


Residence requirements vary widely among doctoral programs. For specific requirements, consult the Degree Requirements section under individual departments and programs offering the doctoral degree.

Courses and Semester Hour Requirements

The doctoral degree cannot be earned solely by passing certain courses and accumulating a specified number of credit hours; however, a department or program may require a core group of courses for all of its doctoral students. Courses are generally concentrated in the student's major field, but some are normally taken in one or more complementary minor fields. In interdepartmental programs, the major work may be divided among two or more primary fields.

The Graduate School imposes no specific semester-hour requirements for the doctoral degree except for residence requirements included in individual degree program descriptions.

Foreign Language Requirement

Prior to scheduling the doctoral comprehensive examination, the Graduate School requires evidence that the student has a reading knowledge of one foreign language applicable to the student's field of study or has attained proficiency in a research-tool area such as computer sciences or experimental statistics. Other suitable foreign language substitutes may be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

The Ph.D. program in History requires a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language determined by either four semesters of credit in a single foreign language (grade B average), a standardized test, or a translation exam. The Ph.D. program in Chemistry requires competency in an approved computer language, and the Ph.D. program in Psychology has established a computer knowledge requirement in lieu of the foreign language requirement. For information regarding the foreign language requirement in the Program of Linguistics, contact the Graduate Advisor. There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. in the various engineering fields, but a research tool may be required as determined by the student's committee.

The foreign language requirement may be met by: 1) successfully passing an examination prepared by an appointee of the Dean of Graduate Studies; 2) making an acceptable score on the Educational Testing Service Graduate School Foreign Language Test; or 3) earning a grade of B or higher in French, German or Russian 4331 and 4332, or equivalents. The foreign language substitute requirement may be met by a method determined by the appropriate Committee on Graduate Studies and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Diagnostic Evaluation

During the student's first year of doctoral program work, the student must demonstrate potential to successfully complete a degree program. The method of assessing the student's potential will be determined by the appropriate Committee on Graduate Studies and may be in the form of a written or oral examination, personal interviews with faculty members, successful completion of certain courses in the first semester of residence, or by any combination of these methods. Results of the diagnostic evaluation may be: 1) approval to continue in the doctoral program; 2) approval to continue with specified remedial work; 3) failure, but with permission for assessment through a second diagnostic evaluation after a specified period; or 4) failure and termination in the program.

The diagnostic evaluation report must be filed in the Graduate School by the student's Graduate Advisor during the student's first year of doctoral program work but no later than the completion of the first 18 semester hours of coursework beyond appropriate master's level coursework, or the equivalent.

After the student successfully completes the diagnostic evaluation, the Dean of Graduate Studies will approve an examining committee, members of which are recommended by the Graduate Advisor and appropriate Committee on Graduate Studies. The committee will consist of no fewer than 3 voting members, at least two of whom must be from the student's major area. One qualified external person who is not a member of the graduate faculty may serve as a voting member of a committee following a request accompanied by documentation, such as a vita, from the appropriate Committee on Graduate Studies to the Dean of Graduate Studies via the nomination form available from the Graduate School for this purpose and approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies. In interdisciplinary programs the committee must have no fewer than four members with at least two members representing each field concerned. Three members in traditional degree programs or four members in interdisciplinary degree programs constitute minimum requirements set by the Graduate School. Individual programs may require the committee to have more members and students are required to conform to such requirements. Students should consult with their program's Graduate Advisor to make sure their committees have sufficient membership to meet program requirements.

The committee is responsible for design and direction of the student's program. After the student has passed the comprehensive examination, the doctoral supervising committee may be altered or expanded to accommodate the dissertation research needs of the student, but the committee must include at least three voting members. Committees in interdisciplinary programs must include at least four voting members with two members coming from each discipline. Any external, non-voting members in addition to the required number of voting members of the committee must be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Comprehensive Examination

Students are eligible to take the comprehensive examination after giving evidence to their doctoral committee of adequate academic achievement by having completed all or most coursework requirements for a degree. The comprehensive examination usually marks the end of formal coursework and the beginning of concentrated work on dissertation research and preparation. The student must be enrolled in the Graduate School in the semester in which he/she takes the comprehensive examination.

The comprehensive examination may be written, oral or both. Its scope, content and form shall be determined by the student's examining committee with approval of the appropriate Committee on Graduate Studies. The student's Graduate Advisor must submit a Request for the Comprehensive Examination to the Graduate School and the request must indicate the time, place and form (oral and/or written) of the examination and include signatures of all members of the examining committee.

In some departments and programs comprehensive examinations are given semiannually so students should consult their Graduate Advisors in that program for appropriate regulations and procedures.

The comprehensive examination may result in: 1) unconditional pass and recommendation to proceed to the next phase of the program; 2) approval to remain in the program but a requirement to meet certain specified additional criteria; 3) failure, but with permission to retake the examination after a period specified by the examining committee; or 4) failure with recommendation not to continue in the program.


A doctoral candidate/student must be enrolled in the appropriate 3, 6 or 9 hour dissertation course in the semester in which the dissertation is defended. The dissertation represents the culmination of the student’s academic efforts and so is expected to demonstrate original and independent research activity and be a significant contribution to knowledge.

Once the student is enrolled in a dissertation course, continuous enrollment is required. A student receiving advice and assistance from a faculty member in the preparation of a dissertation must register for the appropriate course even if the student is not on campus.

Registration in Doctoral Courses

  1. Registration in an individual study, research or similar course implies an expected level of effort on the part of the student that is at least equivalent to that of an organized course of the same credit value.
  2. Doctoral students will not be required to register for more than nine credit hours during any long semester or summer, except that:
    1. Doctoral students who are enrolled in nine credit hours of organized courses and are also doing research related to their dissertation may be required to register for up to three hours of research for a total of 12 credit hours.
    2. Doctoral students supported as a graduate research or teaching assistant may be required to register for 12 credit hours (no more than nine credit hours to be in organized courses), as determined by the students’ graduate program.
  3. Doctoral students who are required to register solely to satisfy a continuous enrollment requirement shall register for no more than three credit hours during each term.
  4. Doctoral students may not register for more than 12 semester hours in a semester or summer session unless such registration is approved in advance by the Dean of Graduate Studies.


Dissertation Requirements

All doctoral students must be aware of requirements and deadlines associated with the dissertation, final defense and submission of the final copies of the dissertation to the Graduate School. The deadline dates for each semester are published in the UTA Academic Calendar.

Enrollment Requirement

Doctoral students must be enrolled in the appropriate 3, 6, or 9 hour dissertation course in the semester in which the dissertation is defended.

Dissertation Manuscript Preparation

Students pursuing a doctoral degree must have the format of the dissertation manuscript approved by the Graduate School before the degree can be conferred. The Graduate School specifically checks the document for conformity to UT Arlington formatting requirements. Details regarding dissertation formatting requirements are described in the current edition of The UT Arlington Manual of Style, and the Graduate School template available online, and Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. A template for students to use as a guide to proper dissertation formatting and appearance is available under "Thesis and Dissertation" in the section of the Graduate School website.

The Graduate School offers Thesis and Dissertation Seminars each semester and encourages all Dissertation students to attend. These seminars provide attendees with detailed explanations of the style guides and hands-on experience with the template that will help students organize their dissertation in accordance to formatting requirements. In addition, dissertation submission procedures, graduation procedures, and graduation requirements are reviewed in these seminars. Reservations are recommended and can be made online through the Virtual Graduate School Advisor.

Doctoral Dissertation Format Review

The format of all dissertations must be reviewed and approved by the Graduate School before the dissertation will be accepted as satisfying the dissertation requirement of the Doctoral degree. Students must submit dissertations to the Graduate School for checking as an electronic file using the electronic thesis and dissertation submission process.

Preliminary Format Check

Dissertation students have the option to submit a portion of the dissertation to the Thesis and Dissertation Specialist in the Graduate School for a preliminary format check. The preliminary check is not a requirement for graduation and is provided as a service for students who have questions regarding formatting. Students can generally expect feedback from the preliminary check within 72 hours (excluding weekends and holidays). However, students should be aware that completed theses and dissertations submitted for mechanical check will be given priority over those submitted for preliminary checks.

Mechanical Check

In order to fulfill dissertation requirements, doctoral students must submit a copy of the dissertation electronically to the Thesis and Dissertation Specialist in the Graduate School for a complete review of the format of the entire manuscript. This is called the mechanical check. Students may be required to resubmit the document for additional checks depending on the nature and number of formatting errors found. The dissertation submitted for mechanical checking should be complete and as near to being in final format as possible.

Generally, students may expect the mechanical check to be completed within 72 hours of submission (excluding weekends and holidays). However, expect the mechanical check to take longer than 72 hours during peak submission periods which occur around submission deadlines. Semester deadlines for mechanical checks can be found in the Graduate School Calendar.

Final Submission

Students will be notified when their latest submission is accepted and no further submissions are required.

All dissertations must be submitted by the deadline for final submission listed on the online Graduate School Calendar and must be prepared according to regulations described in the current edition of The UTA Manual of Style and the RAFT Template available online through the Virtual Graduate School Advisor and Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (6th ed.). All dissertation students must also submit the Thesis and Dissertation Data Sheet, Intellectual Property Statement, the appropriate Thesis and Dissertation Checklist and the Survey of Earned Doctorates. All forms are available online through the Virtual Graduate School Advisor.

The final copy of the dissertation is University property and a student may make no private agreements with employers, funding sources, or others that restrict or infringe upon University rights. Copyrights, where applicable, are held by the student author. Dissertation fees are explained in the Tuition and Fees section of the Graduate Catalog.

Dissertation Defense

A request for the dissertation defense must be filed in the Graduate School by the student before the date of the defense. The dissertation supervising committee must have copies of the dissertation at least two weeks prior to the dissertation defense.

The dissertation defense will be a public oral examination open to all members (faculty, students and invited guests) of the University community. Questioning of the candidate will be directed by the student's dissertation supervising committee. All members of the student's committee must be present at the defense.

Although the defense is concerned primarily with the dissertation research and its interpretation, the examining committee may explore the student's knowledge of areas relevant to the core of the dissertation problem. The dissertation defense may result in a decision that the candidate has 1) passed unconditionally; 2) passed conditionally with remedial work specified by the committee; 3) failed, with permission to be re-examined after a specified period; or 4) failed and dismissed from the program. The dissertation must be approved unanimously by the student's dissertation supervising committee and by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Regardless of the outcome of the defense, the dissertation defense report must be submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies. When a scheduled defense is postponed or canceled, the Dean of Graduate Studies must receive written notice of this postponement or cancellation.

The dissertation must be finalized with the Dean of Graduate Studies by the date specified in the Graduate School Calendar. Upon acceptance of the final copy by the Graduate School, the student will be billed for the required fees as explained in the Tuition and Fees section of this catalog.

Time Limit

All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within four years after the student unconditionally passes the comprehensive examination.