Policies & Procedures

Ph.D. Policies

Getting Started in Your Doctoral Program

During the first semester each doctoral student will be advised by the program head or Department Chair, or will be assigned a temporary faculty advisor. Before the end of the third semester in the program, each student must submit an electronic Plan of Studies (e-POS).

Advisory Committee

The advisory committee consists of at least three faculty members. Two must be from the major area of study and one from the minor area. The committee chair, who becomes the student's primary advisor, must be a regular faculty member in the major area of specialization. For interdisciplinary minors, the minor representative must be from outside the major. At least two of the faculty members on each doctoral advisory committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty; one may be an adjunct, emeriti, or part-time faculty member.

Electronic Plan of Studies (e-POS)

The e-POS is a coursework plan to fulfil program requirements. These requirements fall into several component categories. The student and the advisory committee chair are responsible for planning and creating the e-POS. The e-POS must then be approved by the Department Chair and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. If any courses listed on the e-POS were not taken at Indiana University, a Request for Transfer of Graduate Credit must be submitted concurrently for approval. An electronic Plan of Studies (e-POS) should be submitted within three semesters of matriculation. Failure to do so can result in a hold on enrollment.

Annual Review

Faculty will formally review their doctoral students’ progress annually, with results reported to the Graduate Studies Office. As part of this review, students will write a self-assessment of their progress, and faculty will provide brief, written feedback. Failure of students to submit their self-assessment will result in a hold being put on their registration.

90 Hour Program

Credit hours earned in a master's degree may be included in the doctoral program as long as they are relevant to the student's doctoral areas of focus. The 90 hours consists of 75 hours of pre-dissertation work, 3 hours of dissertation proposal preparation (795), and 12 dissertation hours (799).

Electronic Plan of Studies (e-POS) Components


A major consisting of a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework in the selected field of specialization is required. Courses from related areas of study may be included in the major component if their relevance to the major can be demonstrated and committee approval can be secured.

In addition to the inquiry core coursework, 6 credit hours of inquiry coursework are required in the major. One of these inquiry courses must be an early inquiry experience, during which a student carries out a research project, including the collection and analysis of data to answer a research question, and the writing of a research manuscript. This research is to be prior to the dissertation and not a direct part of the dissertation research. The early inquiry experience may be implemented through an independent study course (e.g., a 590 course), through a master's thesis (e.g. 599 course), or through a departmental research seminar. Each student must carry out an independent research project. The research manuscript that results from this study must be read and approved by the student's advisory committee.

The second of the two major area inquiry courses is an inquiry linkage course. This is a course in which research relevant to the major field of specialization is studied. Such study, however, focuses more on the research design and methodology of research in the major area than on the findings of the research. Analyzing and critiquing the research methodology are of primary importance in this experience. Each department has a research seminar or a specialized research methodology course for this purpose. The inquiry core courses normally should be completed prior to taking inquiry courses in the major.

Inquiry Core

Inquiry Core courses are to lay a rudimentary methodological foundation for applied inquiry courses in the major, and for dissertation research. This component requires a minimum of 9 credit hours, however many doctoral programs in the school require 12 or 15 credit hours of Inquiry Core coursework. The Inquiry Core includes a survey course in research methodologies (e.g. Y520) and beginning courses in statistics, measurement, program evaluation, or in ethnographic, qualitative, quantitative, and historical research methods. A list of approved Inquiry Core courses is available at the School of Education Graduate Student Portal website. Substitutions or transfer courses for this section must be approved by a member of the Inquiry Methodology faculty as well as your Advisory Committee Chair.


The minor requires a minimum of 12 credit hours of coursework taken in an area of studies outside of the major. The minor must complement the major and have integrity in its own right. The committee member representing the minor field must approve the selection of courses in the minor area. Students may minor in any area of study inside or outside of the School of Education that is listed in the University Graduate School Bulletin.  An interdisciplinary or individualized minor is also possible.


The electives category is designed to allow students freedom in course selection. This is also the place to put foundations courses. Each program area has specified courses in foundations, substantive core perspective, or other areas outside the major and minor, which are required for breadth. Courses that may fall into this category are those needed to meet the doctoral program requirement for 27 credit hours outside of the major program area. This ordinarily includes the 12 credit hours of minor coursework, and the 9 or more credit hours of inquiry core courses.


The dissertation requires 3 credit hours of 795 and 12 credit hours of 799. The focus of the dissertation is on data collection and analysis for the purpose of answering practical questions in the field. Descriptive research, program evaluation, needs assessment, case study, campus audit, and survey research are examples of the kinds of research studies expected.


Workshop courses are intended primarily as a mechanism for the professional development of teachers and other education professionals. The topics covered and the skills learned in workshop courses are generally of a very applied nature, with the intent of giving participants hands-on experience with models and techniques directly useful in school settings. Workshop courses are typically scheduled to meet on a very concentrated schedule and may or may not generate credit hours.

No workshop credit hours can be applied toward a Ph.D. program.


The purpose of a residency requirement in graduate programs is for students to become closely involved in the academic life of their program and of the university; to become fully immersed in their graduate study for a substantial period of time; and to develop a relationship of scholarly and professional collegiality with faculty and fellow students. To this end, it is advantageous for students in graduate programs, especially those in doctoral programs, to be full-time, residential students for a significant period. During their residency period, students are expected not only to take courses, but to participate in other aspects of the intellectual life of their discipline and of the university community. Many doctoral students have research assistantships in which they work closely with faculty members and peers on research and development projects. Some have teaching assistantships. There are also numerous opportunities to attend presentations, colloquia, conferences, and brown- bag lunches in which they are invited to participate in discussions about both theoretical and practical issues in their discipline. Participation in national and regional professional meetings, including the presentation of scholarly papers, is encouraged during this time.

For Ph.D. students, two consecutive semesters in a single academic year (exclusive of summer session) must be spent in residence on the campus where the degree is awarded. This residency period must be subsequent to admission to the program. 8 credit hours of program coursework must be completed in each of these semesters. Students holding appointments as associate instructors, graduate assistants, or research assistants must ordinarily be registered for 6 credit hours during each full semester. Dissertation credit hours (795, 799, and G901) may not be used to fulfill residency requirements.

Students in Residential Programs Taking Online Courses

Students in residential programs may take online courses, but on campus courses must account for at least half of their coursework. Online courses do not count towards the residency requirement. Information on tuition and fees can be found on the Bursar website.

Transfer Courses

Some graduate coursework completed at other universities may be transferred into degree programs at Indiana University. All coursework transferred must be from an accredited college or university. No transfer credit will be given for a course with a grade lower than a B. Courses graded P (Pass) may not ordinarily be transferred into education graduate programs. Courses graded S (Satisfactory) may be transferred only if a letter is received from the course instructor stating that the student's performance in the course was at or above a grade of B.

All transferred courses must be relevant to the student's e-POS. They must be approved by a program advisor and by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. An official final transcript reflecting the courses to be transferred is required.  A course description or syllabus may also be required in order to judge the appropriateness of coursework.

Ph.D. students must complete 60 credit hours of coursework at Indiana University (this includes dissertation credits) while enrolled in that doctoral program. Ph.D. students may transfer no more than 30 credit hours into an IU doctoral program. The form required for students to transfer courses is available on the Graduate Student Portal on the School of Education’s website.

Double Major

Students in a doctoral program may declare a double major. A double major requires students to take all of the required coursework in both majors. No minor is required, and some required courses outside of the major proper may be double-counted (i.e., research courses— including inquiry linkage courses and foundations courses). Please note that the credit hours will not be double-counted. Students must be admitted to each program in which they are intending to major. Double majoring students must include two representatives from each major on both their advisory and research committees, and they must take qualifying examinations in both major areas. Only one dissertation is required. Special forms are available on the University Graduate School website for the appointment of double major advisory and research committees.

Guidelines for Maintaining Doctoral Progress

Qualifying Examinations

In order to be eligible to take the qualifying examinations a student must have:

been admitted unconditionally to the doctoral program;

an appointed doctoral advisory committee and a doctoral electronic Plan of Studies (e-POS) that has been approved by the Graduate Studies Office;

completed all or nearly all doctoral coursework, with no more than 6 credit hours graded as incomplete; and

completed the early inquiry requirement for that doctoral major program.

Prior to beginning a doctoral dissertation, students in the School of Education must pass a qualifying examination in the major area, or areas (for a double major) of study. This examination process is intended to determine if a student is qualified to begin work on a doctoral dissertation.

A minor area qualifying examination may also be required for minors outside the School of Education.

Departments and programs determine the specific form of qualifying examination their students will take and establish the times at which examinations will be administered. Students need to file an application with their major and minor departments in the School of Education to take their qualifying examinations. Such application forms are available in departmental offices.

All qualifying examinations contain written and oral components. The written component will take one of three forms:

A proctored examination: The major area examination is administered in the School of Education in two four-hour sessions on consecutive days. The minor area examination is administered in a four-hour session on a third day. The major and minor examinations may be taken in the same semester or in different semesters.

A take-home examination: Students completing a take-home examination in either their major or minor area should contact the appropriate program or department for examination requirements.

Portfolio: Students work with their doctoral advisory committee to determine the contents of the portfolio and a timeline for its completion. Students taking this form of examination should see their advisors regarding specific requirements for preparation of their portfolios.

Students are not required to register for the semester they are taking qualifying exams. However, continual enrollment is required every fall and spring the semester after passing the qualifying exam until graduation. Summer enrollment is only required if the student is graduating in the summer.

After all portions of the written component of the qualifying examinations are taken, an oral examination must be held. The primary purpose of this examination is for the advisory committee to review the answers to the written qualifying examination questions, to request elaboration or clarification to questions that were poorly or incompletely answered, and to quiz the student in-depth over any or all of the examination material.

Double-Major Examinations

Students with a double-major must take qualifying examinations in both major areas.

Retaking the Exam

Students who fail some or all portions of the qualifying examinations may be allowed to retake these portions. This decision is made by the student's advisory committee and the Department Chair, and is based on the student's overall program performance and the extent of the deficits on the qualifying examinations. Only one retake of the qualifying examinations is allowed.

Seven-Year Rule

The date of passing the oral qualifying examination is a critical date. All coursework must be completed within seven years (prior and post) of the examination date. If coursework has been completed more than seven years prior to the examination date, course revalidation is required.

The dissertation must also be completed within seven years of passing the final component of the qualifying examination. After this time, doctoral candidacy is terminated for students who have not completed the dissertation. Such students may apply for readmission, but will be subject to the current admission criteria. If readmitted, students must retake the current qualifying examinations and fulfill other conditions imposed by the department in order to establish currency (such as taking or auditing selected courses). If the qualifying examinations are passed and the other conditions are met, these students are readmitted to candidacy. They have three years from the passing of second qualifying exam date to complete and submit a dissertation.


To ensure that graduates have current knowledge in their field, coursework must be less than seven years old at the time a student passes the oral qualifying examination (for doctoral students) or at the time of graduation (for Ed.S. or M.S.Ed. students). However, if program faculty feel that a student can clearly demonstrate current knowledge of course material taken more than seven years previously, the faculty may allow course revalidation.

Revalidation is a process whereby a student demonstrates current knowledge of older course material.

Several methods of revalidating old courses are available:

  • Passing an examination specifically covering the material taught in the course (such as a course final examination).
  • Passing a more advanced course in the same subject area, taken more recently (within the seven years).
  • Passing a comprehensive examination (e.g., a doctoral qualifying examination) in which the student demonstrates substantial knowledge of the content of the course. (Only two courses may be revalidated by this method).
  • Teaching a comparable course.
  • Publishing scholarly research that demonstrates substantial knowledge of the course content and understanding of fundamental principles taught in the course.
  • Presenting evidence of extensive professional experience that requires the application of material taught in the course.
E-docs for course revalidation are available in One.IU.  Courses must be justified individually even if a common method is used. A Curriculum Vitae is required when revalidating coursework through professional experience, publications, and teaching. 

The revalidation evidence for each must be assessed by an Indiana University faculty member who teaches the course being revalidated. The revalidating faculty member must be personally convinced, based upon present evidence, that the student has current mastery of basic course concepts and principles.

If the course instructor is not available, a faculty member in the same program specialization area may be substituted. Permission to use a part-time faculty member or a faculty member at another university for course revalidation must be secured from the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

Departments have the right to limit the amount of old coursework to be included in graduate programs.

Transfer credit must be transferred before it can be revalidated.

There are limits on allowable coursework revalidation:
  • Students may revalidate no more than 50% of their coursework for an IU SoE graduate program
  • Students may not revalidate coursework that is more than 14 years old.
  • In accordance with UGS policy/practice, no more than 2 courses may be revalidated via the qualifying exam.
  • Additionally, no more than 3 courses may be revalidated with any single method.

A faculty member may petition the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for an exception to the above limits on behalf of a student if they believe the student can demonstrate current knowledge and the exception is in the best interest of the student and School. If a student withdraws from an advanced degree program with the intention of earning a less advanced degree, coursework used toward the less advanced degree will not require additional revalidation beyond that which would have been required for the more advanced degree. 

Even when a revalidation request falls within established policy, faculty should require students to take current coursework if that is clearly the best way to ensure students have current knowledge in the field. Coursework age, content timeliness, and student performance should be considered in decisions of whether to support revalidation of old coursework.

Nomination to Candidacy

It is the responsibility of the advisory committee, either before or during the oral examination, to review all aspects of the student's doctoral program work, to assess the student's development as a scholar and a professional educator, and, if appropriate, to discuss topics for dissertation research and career goals. Thus, the committee is expected to assess the student's progress in the doctoral program, inventory the work remaining, plan program requirements to ensure a good fit to career goals, and offer criticism, advice, and encouragement.

Examination of all major scholarly works produced by the student during their program is also the responsibility of the advisory committee under the guidance of the committee chair. These works include the research manuscript that resulted from the early inquiry experience study, papers presented at conferences or published, and scholarly works produced in courses taught throughout the program. These may include literature reviews, position papers, curriculum development projects, program evaluation studies, measurement instrument construction studies, needs assessments, library research studies, and data-based research.

When the advisory committee is satisfied with the student's performance in the written and oral qualifying examinations and with the student's overall progress in the doctoral program, the student can be nominated to candidacy.

All non-dissertation coursework must be completed and graded at this time.

Students must submit a Nomination to Candidacy E-doc via One.IU.


Admission to candidacy is approved by the University Graduate School after the student has an approved e-POS, completed all required non-dissertation coursework, and submitted a Nomination to Candidacy e-doc.

Maintaining Active Status

After passing qualifying examinations, doctoral students must register for at least 1 credit hour each semester (not including summer session) in order to maintain active student status. This is ordinarily done by enrolling in 1 or more credit hours of dissertation credit (799). After 90 credit hours of program coursework have been taken and students have been admitted to candidacy (i.e., all but the dissertation hours have been completed and qualifying examinations have been passed), students may enroll in G901 Advanced Research in order to maintain active status. G901 is a 6 credit hour course and is an inexpensive way for students with graduate assistantships to maintain a full load. However, enrollment in G901 is limited to 6 semesters. Permission from the Graduate Studies Office is required to enroll in G901. The G901 request form can be found on the Graduate Student Portal.

Off campus sections of 799 may be available for doctoral students who reside more than 25 miles from the Bloomington campus. Registration should be requested through the department.

Students who fail to register each semester after passing qualifying examinations must back-enroll for all semesters missed, in order to graduate. There is a significant fee per semester, in addition to tuition and fees, for back-enrollment. For current fee please check with the Bursar.

Forming a Research Committee

After admission to candidacy, the student must assemble a research committee. The doctoral research committee has the responsibility to guide the student through the dissertation process and to conduct the final oral defense.

Research committees must have at least four members who are listed on the Graduate Faculty List maintained by the University Graduate School. Two must be associate or full professors in the student's major area of study. The dissertation chair must be an endorsed member of the University Graduate School faculty. The fourth member should be the minor member, however the minor member can be waived if approved by the minor department and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. If the minor representative is waived another member outside of the student’s major must still be added.  They cannot be from the major field of study. One member may be from the faculty of a campus of Indiana University outside the core campus. At least two of the committee members must be tenure-line faculty members. The committee chair must be an endorsed member of the Graduate Faculty.

It is possible to include a committee member who is not an Indiana University faculty member, such as a faculty member at another university, on a doctoral committee. The full committee must still be composed from Indiana University faculty. The outside Indiana University member is in addition to the full committee and is not counted as one of the four required members. To receive approval for such an addition, two conditions must be met:

  • the outside Indiana University member must have special expertise not available among University Graduate School faculty, either in the substantive area of the study or in the research methodology, and
  • the outside Indiana University member must supply evidence of published research.

The procedure for selecting a research committee chair and research committee members varies considerably from student to student. Ideally, the research question that becomes the focus of the dissertation study stems naturally from research experiences, coursework, or graduate assistantship assignments that the student has had during their program. Often the advisory committee chair is the student's mentor and becomes the research committee chair. In such a case, the student and chair typically have had discussions about tentative dissertation topics prior to admission to candidacy and prior to the selection of other research committee members.

It is not required that the advisory committee chair be asked to chair the research committee, nor that the advisory committee chair agree to chair the research committee, if asked. Ultimately, the choice of a research chair involves a combination of personal compatibility and compatibility of the research interests of the student and the chair. The student and the committee chair typically confer regarding the selection of other research committee members.

An emeritus faculty member may remain on program committees and research committees formed prior to retirement and continue to serve as member, chair, co-chair, or director. An emeritus faculty member may not be appointed as chair of either a advisory committee or a research committee. However, an emeritus faculty member who continues to be actively engaged in research and in their professional field may serve as a member of a program committee, or serve as director, co-chair, or member of a research committee, with the recommendation of the chair of the committee and approval of the department chair. Appeals to this policy based upon extraordinary circumstances should be directed to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.


A one- to two-page dissertation prospectus/summary must be submitted with the Nomination of Research Committee e-doc found in One.IU. This prospectus/summary should include a clear statement of the questions to be addressed in the study, an outline of the design of the study, the research methods to be used, and a discussion of the contribution of the study to theory and/or to practice. The prospectus/summary should play an important role in the selection of a research committee. This document allows prospective members to decide whether to participate in the study, based on the area of focus and the integrity of the prospectus.

Dissertation Proposal

After submitting the prospectus/summary, students are next required to submit a dissertation proposal, a document that is considerably more detailed than the prospectus/summary. The proposal should contain the following elements: a statement of purpose, rationale, literature review, research questions, proposed procedures, the source of data, methods of data collection, methods of data analysis or data reduction, and the contribution of the study to theory and/or to practice. Frequently, students are advised by their research committee to write a draft of the first three chapters of the dissertation (purpose and rationale, literature review, and method) as their research proposal.

A meeting of the research committee must be held to discuss and approve the dissertation proposal. A dissertation proposal approval form is available on the Graduate Student Portal. When committee approval has been secured, the form must be submitted to the department who will file it with the Graduate Studies Office. This form must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office before a defense announcement will be approved. If the proposed research has changed since submission of the Nomination of Research Committee e-doc, then a new two-page summary must be attached to the Dissertation Proposal Form.

Use of Human Participants

If the proposed research includes the use of human participants or accessing archival data that includes identifiable information of human beings, the School of Education requires verification of review from the Institutional Review Board. A copy of the Institutional Review Board approval must be submitted with either (a) the Nomination of Research Committee e-doc prior to the dissertation proposal meeting or (b) the Dissertation Proposal Approval Form after the dissertation proposal meeting.

If the proposed research does not involve the use of human participants or accessing archival data that includes identifiable information of human beings, the School of Education requires verification from the dissertation advisor that Institutional Review Board review is not required (by checking the appropriate box on the Dissertation Proposal Approval Form). Note that human research proposals applicable under the exempt category of IRB review still require IRB approval.

Completing Your Doctoral Program

Dissertation Manuscript

A Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations is available through the website for the University Graduate School. This website contains detailed instructions for the preparation and submission of the dissertation manuscript.

Dissertation Defense

A Dissertation Defense is scheduled at the completion of the dissertation research, after the dissertation manuscript is complete, allowing the student to defend the dissertation research. This examination may not be scheduled less than six months subsequent to the date of research committee approval. Committee members must receive a copy of the dissertation manuscript two weeks prior to the final Defense.

A Defense Announcement is available via One.IU. The Defense Announcement must be received by the University Graduate School at least 30 days prior to the defense. Since this document must be approved by both the Graduate Studies Office and committee chair before it reaches the University Graduate School an additional week should be allowed for processing time beyond the 30-day requirement.

Following acceptance by the research committee, the dissertation is submitted to the University Graduate School. Students are expected to submit the final version of the dissertation within six months of the defense date to maintain sufficient academic progress.

Degree Conferral

The Ph.D. degree is conferred by the University Graduate School. Submission of the dissertation defense announcement to the University Graduate School constitutes an application for conferral of the Ph.D. degree. For more information, contact the University Graduate School or visit their website.


There are two Commencement ceremonies per year: May and December. May commencement is intended for students graduating January through August, and December commencement for students graduating September through December. Procedures for participating in Commencement may be obtained online at http://www.commencement.iu.edu. Information will be mailed by the IU Alumni Association to those who applied on time to graduate.

Additional policies apply. Please refer to the "Policies Governing All Graduate Programs " section of this bulletin for more information.

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