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The Graduate College Handbook

for students, faculty and staff – August 2016

E. Time Limits

The time by which a doctoral candidate is expected to complete all degree requirements varies depending on whether or not the student was accepted with a master’s degree that will fulfill Stage I requirements (see chapter 6.C.) and whether or not the student takes a break (that consists at minimum of a fall or spring semester) from the program after the completion of the master’s degree. A doctoral candidate who must complete all three stages of the degree is expected to complete all degree requirements within seven years of first registering as a degree-seeking student in the graduate degree program, if no break is taken. If the doctoral candidate has completed a master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that will fulfill Stage I requirements (see chapter 6.C.) and took a break of less than 3 years before starting the doctoral program, the student is expected to complete the Stage II and III requirements within five years of first registering as a doctoral student in the graduate degree program. If a break of three or more years occurred between receipt of the master’s degree at Urbana-Champaign that will fulfill Stage I requirements and returning for the doctoral degree, the student is allowed six years to complete Stage II and III requirements after first registering as a doctoral student in the degree program. If the doctoral candidate has completed a master’s degree accepted from another university that will fulfill Stage I requirements (see chapter 6.C.), he or she is allowed six years to complete Stage II and III requirements after first registering as a doctoral student in the degree program, regardless of whether or not any break was taken.

When supporting petitions for extensions of time to degree, it is the program’s responsibility to determine whether old coursework is still relevant to the current degree.

  1. Exceptions: 
    Programs may formally propose different time limits for completion of a doctoral degree program that are different from those of the Graduate College. The exceptions which have been approved are listed in the following table.

    Approved Exceptions

    Program Level Effective Time to Degree
    All College of Education programs PhD and EdD Fall 2000 7 years from first enrollment in doctoral program, after completing the Master's degree*
    Anthropology PhD Fall 1999 10 years from enrollment in doctoral program, if no master's* was earned previously
    Medical Scholars MD/PhD Spring 1991 10 years from enrollment in doctoral program, if no master's* was earned previously; 9 years from enrollment in doctoral program, if master's* was earned previously

    * Master's degree that fulfills Stage I requirements (chapter 6.C.)
     

  2. Time to Degree Completion Chart:
  3. Second Preliminary Examination: 
    If more than five years elapse between a doctoral student's preliminary and final examinations, the student is required to demonstrate that his or her broad knowledge of the field is current by passing a second preliminary examination. It is not adequate that the student has sufficient current knowledge in the area of the dissertation. The form of the second preliminary examination need not be identical to that of the first. Scholarly publications and college-level teaching assignments may be used as partial evidence of the student's current knowledge of his or her field, but a preliminary examination committee must be appointed by the Graduate College, an examination given, and its result reported to the Graduate College.
     
  4. Dissertation Deposit: 
    It is expected that the doctoral dissertation will be deposited within one year of the final examination. If more than one year elapses between the student's final examination and the deposit of the dissertation in the Graduate College, the dissertation must be accompanied by a signed petition and statement from the executive officer of the student's department to the dean of the Graduate College. The statement should recommend accepting the dissertation on the basis that it is essentially the one defended and should also state why the late award of the degree is appropriate.