Graduate Catalog

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Doctoral Research
Dissertation Committee
Dissertation Credits
Dissertation Preparation
Dissertation Defense
Doctoral Degree Requirements
Procedure for Opting Out with a Master's Degree

 Doctoral Research

In addition to the other requirements of the University, a candidate for a doctoral degree must complete an acceptable dissertation. The dissertation must satisfy the following criteria:

  1. It should demonstrate the candidate's intellectual competence and maturity in the field of concentration; 
  2. It should make an original and valid contribution to knowledge; and 
  3. It should be an individual achievement and the product of independent research. 

Although doctoral dissertations may result from a project involving collaboration of several scholars, the individual contribution of each doctoral candidate must be substantial, clearly identifiable, and presented separately. The Committee will judge the completed dissertation in terms of the candidate's ability to review and make critical use of the literature; to formulate a problem, develop appropriate methodology, and work systematically toward a solution; and to summarize the material or data and draw conclusions from them. The writing should be of publishable quality. 

 Dissertation Committee 

After a student has chosen an area of research and a research supervisor, a Dissertation Committee is selected by the student and his or her research advisor in accordance with the policy of the department. The Dissertation Committee shall consist of at least three members, one of whom is the research supervisor and at least two of whom shall be from the student's major department. An outside expert from industry or another university may be a member of the committee, but that individual must possess academic credentials which would qualify him or her to serve as a member of the University of Massachusetts Lowell faculty. The responsibilities of the Dissertation Committee shall be to: 

  1. Approve the research topic; 
  2. Supervise the progress of the dissertation; 
  3. Read, evaluate, and approve or disapprove of the written dissertation; 
  4. Hear, evaluate and approve or disapprove of the oral defense of the dissertation; 
  5. Report the completion of all dissertation requirements to the department and the Registrar's Office.

The Thesis Guide is is available on the University Registrar's website at www.uml.edu/docs/thesis_guide_tcm18-3515.pdf.

 Dissertation Credits

If the graduate student requires the use of University resources to continue his or her dissertation but has completed the required number of credits for doctoral research, he or she may sign up for 3, 6, or 9 credits of Continuing Graduate Research (see General Policies). 

Graduate students who have completed all the requirements except the writing and defense of the dissertation and who do not need to use university resources must register for Continued Matriculation (CM.601.201) and pay a fee each semester until they graduate. 

Note:  International students on F-1 or J-1 visas must be registered for a minimum of nine credits each semester. Contact the International Students and Scholars Office for more information.

 Dissertation Preparation

Every graduate student who completes a dissertation is required to bear the cost of binding two copies of the manuscript for the University's files. Copywriting is optional and available for an additional fee.

 Dissertation Defense

One week prior to the dissertation defense, announcements of the defense, listing the graduate student's name, dissertation title, and place and time of the defense, must be submitted to the chairperson of the department, the college dean, the Registrar's Office and posted and distributed throughout the University. The defense is open to the public.

 Doctoral Degree Requirements 

The doctoral degree is conferred upon graduate students who have met all the requirements listed below: 

  1. The student must successfully complete the graduate courses in the major field, including the GPA requirement, and the number of course and dissertation credits required by the particular program. 
  2. If indicated, the language requirement specified by the major department must be satisfactorily completed. 
  3. A qualifying examination, oral and/or written, conducted by the major department, must be passed before any work is begun on the dissertation.  If the student fails the qualifying examination he or she may, at the discretion of the department, be permitted a second and final opportunity.  At this point, having completed steps 1 through 3, the student is admitted to candidacy for the doctorate. 
  4. A dissertation based upon the results of original research, and which is satisfactory to the Dissertation Committee of the major department, must be completed. 
  5. A final oral dissertation defense conducted by the Dissertation Committee, based primarily upon, but not necessarily limited to, the contents of the candidate's dissertation must be passed.  The examination cannot be scheduled until all members of the Dissertation Committee have had seven working days in which to read the dissertation.  The oral examination is to be conducted by the Dissertation Committee, whose membership may be augmented by the non-voting faculty.  In order to pass the defense, the candidate may not receive more than one dissenting vote from the members of the Dissertation Committee. 
  6. All financial obligations (tuition, fees, and expenses) must be satisfied as evidenced by the completion and submission of a Graduate Degree Clearance form to the Registrar's Office. 

 Procedure for Opting Out with a Master's Degree

Students accepted into a doctoral program who elect to instead obtain the master's degree and leave the university must follow the following procedure:

  1. The student must file an Academic Petition requesting to be changed from the doctorate to the master's degree program. 
  2. The student must complete all required courses for the master's degree, compile a minimum 3.0 grade point average, successfully defend his/her thesis, and complete the clearance process at the Registrar's Office. 
  3. All graduate courses (and undergraduate course work used for graduate credit), whether taken for the original doctoral program or for the master's degree, will be included in the grade point average and listed on the student's graduate transcript.