We have a Grad Council ad hoc committee reviewing our PhD degree requirements with regard to (1) the minimum total number of credit hours beyond the baccalaureate/master’s degree required, (2) the division of coursework credit hours vs. research/dissertation credit hours for the PhD degree, and (3) the timeline and definition of PhD candidacy. Could you share with what requirements you have at the university level for PhD credit hours, candidacy, and also whether you allow for variation by PhD discipline on these points?
Hi Mary – at U of Alabama we have minimum requirements that apply to all degrees, and allow some departments to set higher levels of requirements. Our minimum total credits beyond the master’s, for PhD students, is now 36 hours of coursework and 18 hours of dissertation credits. PhD students can transfer in up to 50% of that coursework from a prior master’s, and if they don’t have a prior master’s and are granted one en-route, they can count up to 30 of their master’s hours (in an integrated masters/PhD program of study). We recently lowered our credit-hour requirements from 48 to 36 at the coursework stage and from 24 to 18 at the doctoral research stage. Having recently done this homework, I would be glad to share our data collection with you, from SEC and Big 10 webpages. I will also tell you that trying to compare candidacy hours, from one school to another, may not be productive because how we each bill for dissertation hours is really a billing and continuous-enrollment question, not an academic-credit-hours question. So it differs drastically, from 2 to 12 credits per semester at different schools. Comparing the coursework requirements is much more of an apples-to-apples question and is more useful, based on our experience! Good luck with your review.
Susan Carvalho, U of Alabama