Doctor of Philosophy Degree Students

  • Schedule an orientation meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies. This person will serve as your advisor until a major professor has been selected, if you have not already aligned with one.

  • Identify a faculty member to serve as your major professor/research advisor. This should be accomplished during the first semester and must be done within the first year.

  • Work with the major professor to form an advisory committee to approve your curriculum and help guide your research. This should be done as soon as practical, as the committee is not obligated to accept coursework taken prior to its formation or to limit the student's curriculum to such courses. The composition of this committee must be consistent with Graduate School guidelines. Submit the online request for formation of the advisory committee (

  • Continue coursework and initiate research activities. Formulate your research plan for the dissertation (a suggested format is appended).

  • Schedule periodic meetings with the advisory committee to ensure continuity in the program. These meetings must be held at least once (preferably twice) a year at the request of the student. As stipulated by the Graduate School, a record of the proceedings of each meeting must be filed by the major professor with the Director of Graduate Studies and will become part of the permanent file of the student. You are encouraged to consult with members of the committee and the university-at-large for advice outside of the official meeting times.

  • When you have completed the majority of your scheduled courses and feel prepared, petition your committee to schedule the Qualifying Examination. Requirements are listed in the BULLETIN. Regardless of the format used for administering the examination, the purpose of the PhD Qualifying examination “is to verify that students have sufficient understanding of and competence in their fields to become candidates for the degree.” If the advisory committee uses a grant proposal format for the qualifying examination, the following guidelines will apply:
  1. You will select and present topics which interest you to the committee.
  2. The committee chooses one of the above or presents an alternate topic for you to develop into an NIH or USDA style proposal. Examples of proposals will be available for your review through the Director of Graduate Studies.
  3. The examination is based on: 1) the quality of the written proposal; 2) the oral presentation and defense of the proposal; and 3) demonstration of a comprehensive knowledge, ability and understanding of the scholarly subject matter in your area of concentration.

  • After successful completion of the qualifying exam, you attain "candidate" status and continue your research. Post-qualifying students need to enroll in 2 credit hours of VS 767 each semester until the dissertation defense is completed. Maintain close contact with the advisory committee which will monitor your progress. Committee meetings should be scheduled at least once a year.

  • When you and the major professor/committee agree that a point of conclusion has been reached in your research (i.e. the dissertation has been written) AND you have completed two semesters of post-qualifying residency, you are eligible to schedule the final examination. See the BULLETIN for details and timetables which must be met. Submit the online Notification of Intent to Schedule the Final Examination at least 8 weeks prior to the anticipated defense date. The online Request for Final Examination must be submitted 2 weeks prior to the defense date (

  • Within 30 days after the beginning of the semester you intend to graduate, submit the online application for degree through myUK (

  • After you pass the final exam, turn in the final copy of the dissertation to The Graduate School with the required forms and signatures in a timely fashion (within 60 days). Provide two copies to the department for binding (1 for the major advisor, 1 for the department library).