After passing the Oral Qualifying Examination, a student may apply to be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

At that time, upon the recommendation of the student’s major professor in consultation with the graduate advisor, the dean of Graduate Studies appoints a committee to direct the student’s research and to guide preparation of the dissertation.

A student’s major professor normally is the chair of the student’s dissertation committee and is therefore the faculty member who is most closely involved in the student’s preparation for research. When it is clear that one faculty member suits the academic goals of an entering student, that faculty member may be designated the student’s major professor. Otherwise, the graduate advisor assigns an interim major professor to the student when the student is admitted; the student may then change the interim major professor at any time during the first year with the approval of the graduate advisor. No later than the week preceding fall registration of the first year, the student meets with the (interim) major professor to plan a program of study. The student meets with the (interim) major professor in the first week of each quarter until coursework is completed. The student formally selects the permanent major professor by October 1 of the second year of study.

For the dissertation, each student must develop and carry out an empirical investigation of a significant problem in the chosen area of specialization. Members of the faculty formally review the progress of all doctoral students annually.

Once the dissertation has been completed, the candidate may be asked to defend the dissertation in a formal oral examination. The signatures of the dissertation committee members on the title page of a dissertation submitted in the required format to the Office of Graduate Studies are the final requirement for the Ph.D. degree.